A Clever Thief

: Stories Gone Astray
: 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.

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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.