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The Great Boaster

Category: Stories Gone Astray

Source: Laos Folk-lore Of Farther India

There lived in the south a man who so continually boasted of his
strength and endurance that all the people called him, "Kee-oo-yai"--the
great boaster. Never entered into his ear a tale of danger, but his
mouth opened to speak of a greater one which had been his; never a feat
of strength but he could tell of one requiring greater strength which he
had done, so, when the men of the village talked together and saw him
drawing near, they would derisively say, "There is the great boaster
coming. We must flee from his face for, is not he as strong and brave as
the elephant? And we, compared to him are but as the dogs, or as the
pigs." And the company would separate, so when the boaster reached the
place no one would be there.

Once, a young boy came from a distant province, and, hearing of the
boaster, said, "Verily, I can bring him to have a face of shame before
his neighbors, for, in one thing I can excel any man almost. I can run
for a short distance and my heart does not beat faster, neither can any
man say that my heart is quicker than when I am but seated, doing no
labor. I will challenge the boaster to run up a hill with me, breathing
but four times until the top is reached."

The next day, the boy met and challenged the boaster to run to the top
of a small hill, drawing breath but four times on the way. "If you can
run and draw breath but four times, I can run the same distance and draw
breath but twice," the boaster said.

When the race was run, many men ran along to see that neither of the
runners deceived the other. The boaster ran but a short distance, when
he shouted in pain and shame, "Had we been running down-hill, I am sure
that I could have done more than you."

Then all the men mocked the boaster, saying, "Your words are truly
large, but your works are but small. Never again will we listen to you,
for a young lad has overcome one who says that he is stronger than the
strongest." From that time never were they troubled, for,
"Kee-oo-yai,"--the great boaster, was never heard to boast again.

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