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A Child Of The Woods

Category: Tales of the Jungle

Source: Laos Folk-lore Of Farther India

Deep in the forest of the North there is a large village of jungle
people, and, among them is one old woman, who is held in reverence by
all. The stranger who asks why she is honored as a princess is thus
answered by her:

"Verily, I have much boon,[1] for I am but a child of nature. When I
was a young maiden, it fell upon a day that my heart grew hot with
anger. For many days the anger grew until it filled my whole heart, also
were my eyes so red that I could see but dimly, and no longer could I
live in the village or among my own people, for I hated all men and I
felt that the beasts of the forest were more to me than my kindred.
Therefore, I fled from the face of man into the jungle where no human
foot had ever gone. All day I journeyed, running as though my feet would
never weary and feeling no pangs of hunger. When the darkness closed
about me, I was not afraid, but lay down under the shelter of a tree,
and, for a time, slept peacefully, as peacefully as though in my own
home. At length, I was awakened by the breath of an animal, and, in the
clear light of the moon, I saw a large tiger before me. It smelled of my
face, my hands and my feet, then seated itself by my head and watched me
through the night, and I lay there unafraid. In the early morning, the
tiger departed and I continued my journey. Quieter was my heart. Still,
I disliked my own people but had no fear of the beasts or the reptiles
of the forest.

During the day I ate of the fruit which grew wild in abundance, and at
night I slept 'neath a tree, protected and guarded by fierce, wild
beasts which molested not my sleep. For many days I wandered thus, and
the nights were secure; for the wild beasts watched over and protected
me. Thus my heart grew cool in my bosom, and I no longer hated my
people; and, after one moon had gone, I found myself near a village. The
people wondered to see me approach from the jungle, dreaded as being the
jungle of the man-eating tiger. When I related my story, the people were
filled with wonder and brought rich gifts to me. For a year and a day I
abode there, and no more the wild beasts molested their cattle.

But my heart yearned to see the face of my kindred again, so, laden with
silver, gold and rich garments and seated in the howdah[2] of an
elephant, the people escorted me to my own village, and here have I
abode in content these one hundred years.

1: Merit.

2: The car placed on the back of elephants.

Next: The Enchanted Mountain

Previous: The Ostrich Hunt

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