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The Sparrow’s Wonderful Brood
by [?]

Many, many years ago, at the beginning of the world, a little sparrow built her nest on the top of a tall tree that grew near the edge of a lake. In it she laid five little eggs, and never was mother bird prouder than she, and all day long she flew from tree to tree chirping out her joy. So proud in fact was she, and so much noise did she make, that a monkey that lived on the other side of the lake was struck with the remembrance of how he had once dined with great satisfaction on eggs laid by the sparrow’s sister, and in a few minutes he was on his way to repeat the performance.

In vain the little bird cried and begged him to spare her brood, promising to show him where the sweetest plantains in all the country were growing; the monkey only laughed at her and climbed the tree to get the prize.

The next moment the robber would have gotten his spoil, and this wonderful story would never have been told, but just then the great lord Sa Kyah looked earthward and saw the tragedy that was taking place.

Like a drop of rain that falls from a tree when the wind blows after a shower, the mighty lord descended, and when the would-be robber reached the nest his hand entered an empty one.

The eggs were soon brought back from the hpea country where the lord Sa Kyah had taken them for safety, and in due time were hatched. Out of the first protruded a sharp bill, and a kingfisher, bright of plumage and swift of wing, broke out of its speckled prison. The next egg broke and a buffalo came out, to be followed by a lordly striped tiger from the next. A terrible hpea-loo, with head and claws like a bird and body like a man, tore his way out of the next one, already looking around for a man whom he might devour for his first meal.

Only one egg remained, and that the smallest of all, but out of it came a man, and the mighty lord Sa Kyah smiled when he saw him, and said that although he was the smallest and the last, yet he must feed his brothers and take care of them.

One hot day in summer the buffalo that had come out of one of the eggs, walking through the jungle, much troubled by mosquitoes, thought how nice would be a wallow in a hole well known to him under the shade of the trees by the bank of the lake, where the sun had not dried the mud to the hardness of bricks as it had in every other wallow, and accordingly turned his huge body in its direction, and slowly set off toward it.

On his way there he saw on the ground what appeared to him to be a bed of flowers growing on the bank of the lake, and after smelling it carefully over, leisurely ate it all up.

The sun was hot, the earth dry, and the flowers had long ago died, and what the buffalo thought were flowers were really ten white jackets and ten red skirts. But when he had finished his meal he continued his journey to the wallow, and then with a grunt expressive of great satisfaction, sinking into the soft mud till only the tips of his horns and the top of his head were visible, he closed his eyes and enjoyed himself.

By and by there was a great commotion in the water–shouts, laughter, and jokes, together with a great splashing. The lazy buffalo opened one eye and saw ten young girls who were having great fun in the cool water, throwing it over one another and chasing each other here and there. When they came to the place where they had left their clothes, however, their mirth received a sudden check. They had all disappeared! They stood up to their armpits in the water looking at each other with very long faces till, spying the buffalo in his mud bath, they approached him, and in the most courteous language asked him whether he had seen their dresses.