Once there lived a woman who had a son and a nephew living with her. And upon a day they came to her desiring money that they might go and trade in the bazaar. She gave each a piece of silver of equal value, and bade them so to trade and cheat that they might bring home much money.
At the bazaar, one bought a large fish, the other, the head and horns of a buffalo, and, as they rested by the roadside on their way home, they tied the large, living fish and the buffalo head together, and threw them in a muddy stream. When they threw the stones at the fish, it jumped, thus causing the buffalo head to move as though it were alive.
A man saw the head in the water and desired to buy the buffalo. The boys named the price of a live animal, and, having received it, they fled.
As they went along, not long after, they found a deer which a wild dog had killed, but had not eaten of it. It they took with them, and, a drover, seeing it, asked where they had found it.
“Our dog,” said the boys, “is so trained, it goes to the jungle and catches the wild animals for our food.”
The drover desired to buy the dog.
“No,” said the boys, “we will not sell it.”
Their words but made the drover more eager to possess the dog, and he offered ten of his
best cattle in exchange. The exchange pleased the boys, and, having received the cattle for their useless dog, they hastened to a large city, where they sold them for much money and returned home.
On reaching it, they divided the money equally, but the mother was dissatisfied and desired that her son have the larger portion, therefore she insisted that they make an offering to the spirit in the hollow tree near by, before the money could be rightly divided.
While the boys were preparing the offering, the mother ran and hid in the hollow tree, and when they had made their offering and asked the spirit, “What division must we make of the money?” a voice replied, “Unto the son of the widow, give two portions, unto the nephew of the widow, give one portion.”
Greatly angered, the nephew put wood all about the tree and set fire to it. Though he heard the voice of his aunt, saying, “I beg that thou have mercy on me and set me free,” he would not recognize it, and the widow and the tree perished. Thus, she who had taught him to cheat, by her own pupil was destroyed.
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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