Multilingual Folk Tale Database


Information

Author: Nguyễn Đổng Chi - 1957

Translated into English
  by Koi Nil - 2017

Original title (Vietnamese):
Chú Cuội Cung Trăng

Country of origin: Vietnam

Translations

English - aligned


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Cuội and the Moon

Nguyễn Đổng Chi / Koi Nil

Long ago, at a certain village, there was Cuội who was a lumberjack. His entire fortune was only his one ax. One day, Cuội brought his ax deep into the woods to work. While he was getting through a small stream, he noticed a tiger cave. He looked around but could only see four little tigers playing around with each other in front of the cave. Cuội dashed forward, raised his ax, swung at each of the cubs; they rolled dead on the ground. At that time, mother tiger just got back. Hearing a thunderous roar behind his back, Cuội was frighted, he threw his ax and climbed up a tall tree nearby. From above, he could see mother tiger struggling in front of her dead cubs but only a while later, she left and ran towards a base of a plant near where Cuội was hiding, grabbed some leaves with her mouth and came back to chew and fed her cubs. Only a moment later, the cubs budged, wiggled their tails and played around like normal again. Knowing this is a magic plant, Cuội waited until the mom and her cubs left before he climbed down, dug up the tree and brought it home.

On his way, Cuội saw an old man lying on the grass. A closer look revealed to him that the old man was dead. The lumberjack put down his luggage, and without any hesitation picked out some leaves, chewed and fed to the old man. Magically, just when he finished feeding, the old man woke up again. He thanked the lumberjack and asked about his story. Being honest, Cuội told everything. The old man, after hearing the story, cried:

Oh God! This old man heard that this tree was once named the Reviving Banyan Tree. I am so in luck to be met by you. Please take care of this tree and save humanity, but remember not to water it with polluted water or it will fly up to the sky.

After giving his words, the old man walked away with his walking stick. And Cuội brought the tree back home and planted it at a corner of his garden to take care of it every day. Always remembering the old man's words, he always watered the tree with the water from the clean well.

From that day, Cuội saved many lives. Whenever he heard someone who had just had their last breath, he immediately brought the leaves to revive them. The rumor of his magic spread everywhere.

One day, Cuội crossed a river and saw a floating dead dog. His kindness willed him to drag it out of the water and revived it with the leaves he had. The dog loyally followed him as gratitude. From that day, Cuội had the smart pet as a friend.

Another time there was a wealthy man in the next village hastily came to Cuội's place begging him to save his dead daughter who had just drowned. Cuội followed the man back to his home and revived his daughter. In a moment, the pale face of the girl puffed pink. She opened her eyes and sat up. The wealthy man was filled with joy, said that the lumberjack could pick whatever he wants. Cuội suggested that he wanted to marry the girl.

Knowing that Cuội was his savior, the daughter was pleased being his wife. The wealthy man didn't mind letting his daughter marry him either.

The couple lived happily with each other. But in the area there were the boys who eyed the wealthy man's daughter, now seeing the sweet flower belonging to a lumberjack, got jealous and tried to find a way to ruin their happiness. One day when the lumberjack left to work, they conspired to kidnap Cuội's wife. Surprisingly, the wife fought back, so the boys murdered her. Knowing Cuội could bring back people to life, they didn't want to get caught so they took out the wife's guts and threw them into the river before leaving. Cuội got back and saw his wife was cold dead for long. He hurriedly picked the leaves to feed his wife but it didn't work no matter how many times he tried; you can not be revived without your guts.

Seeing his owner sobbing, the dog came near, willing to donate its own guts for its dead master. Cuội had never done that, but he followed through and gave it a shot to revive his wife. Magically, his wife lived after he replaced the dog's guts in.

Moved by his pet's good deeds, Cuội shaped the guts out of clay and have it placed in for the dog. He then chewed and fed the leaves and magically the dog revived as well. Man and wife, humans and pet are now happier, cozier than ever.

But the lumberjack also noticed that his wife also changed. The woman had gotten silly; she never does what she got told to do. Cuội was upset. He was very worried because he told his wife many times - "If you pee, pee on the West, not on the East, or the tree soars." But who knows if she remembered it.

One afternoon, when the husband wasn't back from chopping woods, Cuội's wife was picking the vegetables from the the East side of the garden. She felt like peeing, ran up to the tree her husband held dear and couldn't remember what her husband's told; she raised her skirt and peed. When she finished, the entire garden rumbled, the trees around shook up and the wind blew strong. Moment later, the banyan tree ripped itself off the garden and started floating to the sky.

Right then, Cuội was back from work at the gate. Seeing his treasured tree almost floating away, and his wife yelling near by, he figured what was happening and jumped and tried to hold the tree back.

But then, the tree had already floated way past man's height. He tried to hook his ax into the tree's root, but it keeps soaring. Cuội was stubborn, he used his entire body to hold it back, but it keeps soaring, and he ended up on the moon.

From then on, Cuội stayed on the moon with his banyan tree. So now whenever we look up at the moon, we always see his shadow under his treasured magic tree. [4] People say that every year, only one leaf of the tree falls. Anyone who gets the leaf can use it to revive people. The dolphin knows this, so whenever the leaf falls on the ocean, they fight each other to get the leaf and save their own kind.