There was once a poor woodsman, who went to the jungle to cut wood, so he might sell it and buy food for his wife and child. And upon a day, when the cool evening had come, wearied, the man lay down to rest and fell into a deep sleep.
From his home in the sky, the god who looks after the destiny of man was hot-hearted when he saw the man did not move, and he came down to see if he were dead. When he spake in the wood-cutter’s ear, he awoke and arose, and the fostering god led him home. As they came near the gate, the god said, “Stand here, whilst I go and see to the welfare of thy wife.” Listening without, the god heard the fond wife say to the little child, “I fear some evil hath befallen thy kind father. Ever doth he return as it darkens about us.”
The god knew from her words that the wife was good, and taught the child love and reverence for its father, therefore was he pleased, and returning to the woodsman, sent him in haste to his home, and said, “I, myself, will lay the wood in its place.”
The next morning, when the eye of day opened, the fond wife went for wood to build a fire that her husband might eat of hot food ere he went to his daily labor, and, lo, when she saw the wood which her husband had brought home, all was turned into gold! Thus had the cherishing god rewarded a husband faithful in his work, and a wife loving and thoughtful.
Leaving the house of the worthy woodsman, the god met a man tardily wending his way home with a small, poorly-made bundle of sticks. Approaching him, the god said, “Wait at the steps. I will go first and see how it is with thy wife.” And the god went up unseen, and heard the wife say to her son, “Ever is it thus. Thy father thinks naught of us; he stays away so he need be with us but little.”
Sadly the god returned to the laggard, took the bundle from him, and bade him go to his wife and child, saying he would put the wood in its place.
Late the following day, long after the husband had gone to his work, the wife went for some wood, and, lo, found all the wood had turned to venomous snakes! Then was she afraid, and she grew kinder of heart and strove to make her husband better and happy.
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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