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A Laung Khit
by [?]

[1]

Once upon a time there was a woman who lived in the State of Lai Hka. She was a very pious woman and always gave the best rice and puc to the priests as they walked, rice chattie in hand, through the city in the early morning. Every year when the girls and boys went to the river and filled their chatties with water to throw over the pagodas and idols to insure a good rainy season and abundant crops, she always had the largest bucket of the clearest water and threw it higher than anybody else. She carried the sweetest flowers to the zayat every evening, and on worship days took rice in the prettiest of cups made of banana leaves and offered to the Gautamas in the idol-house.

But she was not happy. When her neighbors went to the pagodas they had their little ones tied upon their backs or running at their sides, but she had no child whom she could take with her, none to whom she could tell stories of the great Lord Sa Kyah who rules over the spirits in the hpea country, and so she was sad. She was getting old too, and often envied the women who lived near who had bright boys to run errands and girls to help in the house. Each year at the Feast of Lights, when she sent her little candle floating down the river, she prayed for a child, but in vain.

At last she made a pilgrimage to a pagoda where folks said was a parah who would give anything that was asked of him. Bright and early she set out, and on her head as an offering she carried an image of a tiger and one of a man, and when she arrived at the pagoda she offered the images and prayed for a son.

While she was praying at the pagoda, Lord Sa Kyah heard her, took pity on her, and promised her a son. But, alas! when he was born, to his mother’s great sorrow, instead of being the beautiful boy she hoped for he was nothing but a frog.

Lord Sa Kyah in order to comfort her, however, told her that her son was really a great hpea, and that after one year and seven months he would change into the most handsome man in all the hill and water country.

All the women scoffed and made fun of the poor mother, and all through the village she was called Myeh Khit, or “Frog’s Mother,” but she bore their jeers in silence and never reviled in return.

Now the king of the country had seven daughters. All were married except one, and one day Myeh Khit went to him to ask for this daughter in marriage for her son. The king was of course very angry that she should ask that his only remaining daughter should marry a frog, but he spoke deceitfully, called his daughter and asked her if she would be willing to accept a frog for a husband. Like a dutiful daughter she told him that she would “follow his words” and do as he wished, as she had no will apart from his.

The king then called the woman and said: “O woman, I will give my only remaining daughter to your son, but I make one stipulation. You must build a road, paved and properly built, from the market-place to my palace; the sides must be decorated with painted bamboos, and the work must be done within seven days or you shall die. Now go, and prepare for the work, and at the end of the seven days I will make ready the marriage feast for my daughter or order the executioner to take off your head.”