How the Louse Got the Black Streak Down His Back
Once upon a time in this wonderful land where we dwell, where the sky is so blue and the mountains so high and the clouds so white and soft and woolly and so very close to the earth, here it was animals and men worked and struggled and spoke together.
At the foot of a great mountain one day a louse and a flea were preparing to go up into the timber and carry down a load of wood. Each had his rawhide strap with which to tie on his load, but before they left, knowing they would be hungry, they stood up three stones and put a big pot of soup and flour and meat upon them; then built a fire under it, leaving it to simmer until they should return, agreeing that whoever came down first with his load could eat it all up.
The flea was sure he would get home first because he could jump so far, but he found every time he jumped his load of wood slipped and some of his sticks fell out and he had to stop and replace and retie it. The louse plodded slowly along, but kept going steadily, so he got there first and ate up the pot of food. When the flea arrived, he was as angry as could be and said, “You’ve eaten all the food,” and grabbing the empty black kettle threw it at the louse, who dodged the blow by turning his back, and the kettle struck him squarely in the middle where it left a long black streak from the soot on the outside of the pot.
So today you can see that mark down the back of a louse if you will take the trouble to catch him and look.
(from the book ‘Tibetan Folk Tales’ compiled by Albert Leroy Shelton)
Image Attribution: The image above from Wikimedia Commons, is taken from an illustration in the booklet ‘Critically Endangered Animal Species of India’ issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India in March, 2011.