A Child Of The Woods

: Tales of the Jungle
: 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 fille
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.