To Aid Beast Is Merit To Aid Man Is But Vanity
Category: The Gods Know and the Gods Reward
Source: Laos Folk-lore Of Farther India
A hunter, walking through a jungle, saw a man in a pit unable to escape.
The man called to him, "If thou wilt aid me to escape from this snare,
always will I remember thy grace and merit." The hunter drew him out of
the pit, and the man said, "I am goldsmith to the head chow, and dwell
by the city's gate. Shouldst thou ever want any benefit, come to me, and
gladly will I aid thee."
As the hunter travelled, he met a tiger caught in a snare set for an
elephant, and the tiger cried, "If thy heart prompts thee to set me
free, thy aid will ever be remembered by me." He helped the tiger from
the snare, and it said, "If ever thou needest aid, call and I will come
Then again the hunter went on his way, and came to a place where a snake
had fallen into a well and could not get out, and the snake cried, "If
thou wilt aid me, I can aid thee also in the time soon to come," and he
assisted the snake. "When the time comes that thou needest me, think of
me, and I will come to thee with haste," said the snake.
Now, it had happened that on the day that the hunter had rescued the
tiger it had killed the chow's child, but of this the hunter knew
nothing. And it came to pass that three days after, the hunter desiring
to test the words of the tiger, went to the forest. Upon calling it, the
tiger came to him immediately and brought with him a long golden chain,
which he gave to the hunter. The hunter took the chain home, and,
wishing to sell it, sought the goldsmith whom he had befriended. But the
goldsmith, seeing it, said, "You are the man who has killed the chow's
child." And he had his men bind the hunter with strong cords and took
him to the chow in the hope of gaining the reward offered to any who
might find him who had killed the child.
The chow put the hunter in chains and commanded he die on the morrow.
The hunter begged for seven days' respite, and it was granted him. In
the night he thought of the snake he had helped, and immediately the
snake came, bringing with him a medicine to cure blindness. While the
household of the chow slept, the snake entered and cast of its venom in
the eyes of the chow's wife, and she was blind.
Throughout all the province the chow sought for some one to restore the
eyes of his afflicted wife, but no one was found.
It happened on a day, that word came to the chow's ears that the hunter
he had in chains for the death of his child, was a man of wisdom and
knew the merit of all the herbs of the field, therefore he sent for him.
When the hunter came into the presence of the chow unto where the wife
sat, he put the medicine which the snake had brought him into the eyes
of the princess, and sight, even like unto that of a young maiden, was
restored unto her.
Then the chow desired to reward the hunter, and the hunter told him how
he had come into possession of the golden chain, of the medicine which
the serpent had given him because he had aided it in its time of
trouble, and of the goldsmith, who had not only forgotten benefits
received, but had accused him so he might gain a reward. And when the
chow learned the truth, he had the ungrateful goldsmith put to death,
but to the hunter did he give half of his province, for had he not
restored the sight of the princess?
17: This only of the Folk Tales has been written before. It is taken
from an ancient temple book and is well-known in all the Laos country.
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