While a deer was eating wild fruit, he heard an owl call, “Haak, haak,” and a cricket cry, “Wat,” and, frightened, he fled.
In his flight he ran through the trees up into the mountains and into streams. In one of the streams the deer stepped upon a small fish and crushed it almost to death. Then the fish complained to the court, and the deer, owl, cricket and fish had a lawsuit.
In the trial came out this evidence: As the deer fled, he ran into some dry grass, and the seed fell into the eye of a wild chicken, and the pain of the seed in the eye of the chicken caused it to fly up against a nest of red ants. Alarmed, the red ants flew out to do battle, and in their haste, bit a mon-goose. The mon-goose ran into a vine of wild fruit and shook several pieces of it on the head of a hermit, who sat thinking under a tree.
“Why didst thou, O fruit, fall on my head,” cried the hermit.
The fruit answered: “We did not wish to fall; a mon-goose ran against our vine and threw us down.”
And the hermit asked, “O mon-goose, why didst thou throw the fruit?”
The mon-goose answered: “I did not wish to throw down the fruit, but the red ants bit me and I ran against the vine.”
The hermit asked, “O ants, why did ye bite the mon-goose?”
The red ants replied: “The hen flew against our nest and angered us.”
The hermit asked, “O hen, why didst thou fly against the red ants’ nest?”
And the hen replied: “The seed fell into my eyes and hurt me.”
And the hermit asked, “O seed, why didst thou fall into the hen’s eyes?”
And the seed replied: “The deer shook me down.”
The hermit said unto the deer, “O deer, why didst thou shake down the seed?”
The deer answered: “I did not wish to do it, but the owl called, frightening me and I ran.” “O owl,” asked the hermit, “why didst thou frighten the deer?”
The owl replied: “I called but as I am accustomed to call—the cricket, too, called.”
Having heard the evidence, the judge said, “The cricket must replace the crushed parts of the fish and make it well,” as he, the cricket, had called and frightened the deer. The cricket was smaller and weaker than the owl or the deer, therefore had to bear the penalty.
This content is from the Project Gutenberg EBook of Laos Folk-Lore of Farther India, by Katherine Neville Fleeson, originally published 1899.
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