There was once a poor father and mother who had a little daughter, called “Poison- Mouth.”
And it happened on a day that a great number of cows came into the garden, and when the mother saw them she cried angrily, “You but destroy our garden. I would you were all dead.”
“Poison-Mouth” hearing her mother’s angry words, called out, “Die, all of you, for you are destroying our garden.” And immediately all the cattle dropped dead.
Upon another day, the bees were swarming and great companies flew over the house, and the mother said complainingly, “Why do you never come to us that we may have honey?”
Little “Poison-Mouth” called: “Come to us that we may have honey.” And, lo, before the eye of day had closed, the house was filled with bees and the poor people had more honey than they could use.
Word of “Poison-Mouth” reached a great chow, and, prompted by the god of love to sweeten the poisoned mouth, he sent ten men with this message to the child’s parents: “Take good care of your child; let her hear no evil, and when she is old enough, I will take her to wife.”
When the men approached the home of “Poison-Mouth” they said, “O, poor people,” but the mother would not permit them to finish, as their words angered her, and she exclaimed, “You are bad dogs!” And the men were no longer men, but dogs, snapping and snarling, for little “Poison-Mouth” had also cried, “Bad dogs are you.”
Though greatly distressed, the chow sent yet again twenty men with his message. And again, when the mother beheld these men, she exclaimed, “See, the dogs coming yonder!” “Poison-Mouth” echoed, “Yes, twenty dogs are coming now,” and they also changed into dogs, fighting on the streets.
“Who can help me?” cried the chow, distressed though not despairing.
An old man answered, “I will help you. I will go to the child.” And, while the mother was
absent, he sought the little one, and thus softly said, “My child, thy tongue is given thee to bless with, and not to curse. Come with me, and learn only that which is good.” The little one answered, “I will come,” and the old man took her to the chow, who, from that time forth, spoke no evil, and, little “Poison-Mouth,” hearing none but beautiful and good words, grew beautiful and good, and her words brought blessings ever.
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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