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The Widow's Punishment

Category: The Gods Know and the Gods Reward

Source: Laos Folk-lore Of Farther India

Once there lived a woman who had a son and a nephew living with her. And
upon a day they came to her desiring money that they might go and trade
in the bazaar. She gave each a piece of silver of equal value, and bade
them so to trade and cheat that they might bring home much money.

At the bazaar, one bought a large fish, the other, the head and horns of
a buffalo, and, as they rested by the roadside on their way home, they
tied the large, living fish and the buffalo head together, and threw
them in a muddy stream. When they threw the stones at the fish, it
jumped, thus causing the buffalo head to move as though it were alive.

A man saw the head in the water and desired to buy the buffalo. The boys
named the price of a live animal, and, having received it, they fled.

As they went along, not long after, they found a deer which a wild dog
had killed, but had not eaten of it. It they took with them, and, a
drover, seeing it, asked where they had found it.

"Our dog," said the boys, "is so trained, it goes to the jungle and
catches the wild animals for our food."

The drover desired to buy the dog.

"No," said the boys, "we will not sell it."

Their words but made the drover more eager to possess the dog, and he
offered ten of his best cattle in exchange. The exchange pleased the
boys, and, having received the cattle for their useless dog, they
hastened to a large city, where they sold them for much money and
returned home. On reaching it, they divided the money equally, but the
mother was dissatisfied and desired that her son have the larger
portion, therefore she insisted that they make an offering to the spirit
in the hollow tree near by, before the money could be rightly divided.

While the boys were preparing the offering, the mother ran and hid in
the hollow tree, and when they had made their offering and asked the
spirit, "What division must we make of the money?" a voice replied,
"Unto the son of the widow, give two portions--unto the nephew of the
widow, give one portion."

Greatly angered, the nephew put wood all about the tree and set fire to
it. Though he heard the voice of his aunt, saying, "I beg that thou have
mercy on me and set me free," he would not recognize it, and the widow
and the tree perished. Thus, she who had taught him to cheat, by her own
pupil was destroyed.

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