Friday, June 20, 2014

Laos: The Wizard and the Beggar

This story is part of the Laos unit. Story source: Laos Folk-Lore by Katherine Neville Fleeson, with photographs by W.A. Briggs (1899).

The Wizard and the Beggar

Once upon a time there was a poor man who ever begged for food, and as he walked along the road, he thought, “If anyone will give me to eat until I am satisfied, never will I forget the grace or merit of that person.”

Chanting these words as he walked slowly along, he met a wizard.

“What do you say as you walk along, my son?” asked the wizard.

“If any one will give me to eat all I crave, I will never forget the grace or merit of that person,” said the poor man.

“My son, the people of this day are ever careless and ungrateful. They forget benefits,” replied the wizard.

“I will not forget,” vowed the poor man.

“Go on, my son,” said the wizard.

Chanting as before, the poor man went on his way, and as he walked he met a dog.

“What do you say as you go along, my son?” asked the dog.

“Whosoever will give me to eat to my satisfaction, the grace or merit of that person will I never forget,” replied the poor man.

“Men are prone to forget. None remember favors. When I was young and strong, I guarded my master’s house and grounds; now, when I am old, he will not permit me to enter his gate, but curses and beats me and gives me no food. By him are all my services forgotten,” said the dog.

Ever chanting, the poor man walked on, and as he walked he met a buffalo.


“What do you say as you walk along, my son?” asked the buffalo. And the poor man repeated what he had told the wizard and the dog.

“Man is ever ungrateful. When I was young and strong, I plowed the fields so my master could have rice and my master was grateful to me. Now that I cannot work, I am driven out to die,” said the buffalo. And the poor man, discouraged, sought the wizard again.

“My son, will you ever remember benefits?” asked the wizard.

“Never would I forget a benefit,” vowed the poor man, vehemently.

“Then here are two jewels; one, if held in your mouth, will enable you to fly as a bird; the other, if held in the mouth, will give you your desires, and this second one I now give to you,” said the wizard, and he handed the second jewel to the poor man.

“Your grace and merit will ever be remembered by me. More than tongue can utter, do I thank you. Ever will I wish you health and happiness and pray for blessings on your head,” declared the poor man. Having thus spoken, the once poor man sought his home and, through the virtue of the wishing jewel he had every wish for wealth gratified.

“How do you secure your desires?” asked the neighbors of the once poor, begging man.

“A wizard gave me a wishing-jewel and by simply placing it in my mouth, all I wish to possess is mine,” answered he. “Listen to me,” he continued, “the wizard has yet another jewel, which, if placed in the mouth, will enable one to fly as a bird. Come, let us go and kill him that we may all possess it together.”

With one accord they agreed, and, as they approached the home of the wizard, the wizard, espying the man he had so benefited, called to him, “Why have you not visited me, my son?”

“There was no time, much work have I had to do,” replied the ungrateful man.

Now the wizard of course knew the intent of the wicked fellow — that he, with his neighbors, had come to secure the second jewel, and he asked,

“Why do you desire to kill me?”

“Give to me the jewel you have, else I shall kill you, you old wizard,” cried the ungrateful fellow.

“Have you the wishing-jewel with you? If so, show it to me first,” said the wizard.

Eagerly did the greedy fellow thrust it toward the old wizard, but he, having already placed the flying-jewel in his mouth, seized the wishing-jewel and instead of giving the rascal the flying-jewel, flew away, leaving both the man and his neighbors without either.


(700 words)











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