Once upon a time there were five men so lazy and wicked that no one would speak to them nor have anything to do with them. No one of their native province would speak to them at all, and, to show their contempt for them, the people had christened them by odious names. One was called, “Eyeless-Needle”; one, “Rotten-Egg”; one, “Rotten-Banana”; one, “Old- Fish,” and the fifth, “Broken-Pestle.”
As there was neither shelter nor food for them in the village, they went to live in the woods, and one day they saw a cannibal building a fire. He had both a fine house and much goods, so one of the men said, “Let us go kill him, and take his goods.”
“Eyeless-needle” said, “No, we must not kill him now. When he sleeps we will kill him. I have planned just how it shall be done. You, ‘Rotten-Egg,’ go to the fireplace. You, ‘Old- Fish,’ jump into the water jar. ‘Rotten-Banana,’ lie down at the top of the stairs, and, you, ‘Broken-Pestle,’ lie at the foot.”
As the eye of day had closed and the cannibal slept, “Eyeless-Needle,” from under the bed, pricked him. The cannibal thought insects were biting him, and, unable to sleep, he arose to build a fire.
When he stooped to blow the flame, “Rotten-Egg” broke and flew up into his face; when he sought the water jar to wash his face, “Old-Fish” jumped and broke the jar and all the water was lost.
Taking the dipper to go to the well for water, the cannibal slipped on “Rotten-Banana” and fell downstairs, where “Broken-Pestle” struck him on the head and killed him.
Then, taking much goods, “Eyeless-Needle,” “Rotten-Banana,” “Rotten-Egg,” “Old-Fish,” and “Broken-Pestle” fled, and to this day, has no one either seen or heard of them.
This content is from the Project Gutenberg EBook of Laos Folk-Lore of Farther India, by Katherine Neville Fleeson, originally published 1899.
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