Upon a time a man and his wife went a day’s journey from their village to the bazaar to sell their wares, and it fell upon the day of their return that it rained heavily, and as they hurried along the highway, they sought shelter from the head priest of a temple. He, however, would not even let them enter. They begged to be permitted to sleep in the sheltered place at the head of the stairs, but this also the priest refused. Angered, they went under the temple and there rested.
When the priest had lain down on his mat in the room just over the place where the man and his wife were hidden, he heard the man say to his wife, “It will be good to be again with our young and beautiful daughter. I trust all is well with her.”
Having heard these words, the priest arose hastily and called, “Come up, good people, and sleep in the temple. Here, too, are mats to rest upon.” And, as they talked of their beautiful daughter, the priest asked, “When I am out of the temple, released from my vows, will you give me your daughter to wife?”
Looking at his wife, the husband replied, “It is good in our sight.”
When the morning came and they wished to steam some rice for their breakfast, they had no pot, but the priest freely offered the use of his pot and insisted upon their using of the sacred wood for their fire, the wood which was used in propping the branches of the Po tree.
Being ready to go on their way, the priest presented them with gifts of food, silver and gold, saying, “I will soon leave the priesthood and come to marry your beautiful daughter.”
But three days had passed, when the man and his wife came again to the temple and told the priest that their daughter was dead, and a long time they all mourned together.
“I will ever remain true to my love for your daughter. Never will I leave the priesthood,” vowed the priest, while the man and his wife returned to their home, spent the silver and gold the priest had given them, and cheerfully laughed at him, for never had they had a daughter!
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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