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A Clever Thief

Category: Stories Gone Astray

Source: Laos Folk-lore Of Farther India

Once a man went into the field of a gardener and stole a melon. Before
he had had time to eat it the gardener discovered him, took the melon
and tied it to the neck of the thief, and led him to the home of the
head man of the village.

As they walked along, the thief took his scarf and covered his head and
shoulders, and, as he was in front, he ate the melon without the
gardener's seeing him.

When they reached the home of the head man, the gardener said, "This man
stole a melon from me. It is tied to his neck under the cloth which
covers his head and shoulders."

"I thought this man but walked along. I did not know he would accuse me
of such a sin. If I stole a melon, where is it?" asked the thief. He
removed the scarf, and, lo, there was nothing to prove his guilt, and
the head man said, "I see no sign of guilt in this man. Do not again
falsely accuse one, or you will be punished."

Eyeless-Needle, Rotten-Egg, Rotten-Banana, Old-Fish and Broken-Pestle.

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.

Next: The Wandering Jew

Previous: The Great Boaster

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