WHEN Nang Piew finished washing, the sun had not yet set be
hind the mountain. Its yellow rays shone over the treetops beside
the river, glittering on the rippled water flowing softly down below. She draped the well-wrung cloth over her forearm and prepared to climb back up the
riverbank. Then a shiny object on the ground caught her eye. She
picked it up to look at it more closely. It was heavy . . . valuable--it
was a silver belt! She looked around. A few steps away, down
by the river, two or three people were bathing. They werent
paying any attention to her, so she hid her find under the wet cloth and continued her
walk up the slope toward home, her heart thumping unsteadily. She
hadnt decided yet whether she should go looking for the rightful owner of the belt
or keep it for herself. However, her first reaction was to get away from that area by the
river as quickly as possible before anybody saw her there.
As soon as she was over the bank,
she bumped into Nang Qie, who was half running and half walking to the river with a worried look.
"Have you seen my silver belt?" asked
"Oh no!" Nang Piew answered
automatically, trying to keep her voice as calm as possible.
Nang Cie continued on her way to the river without
any more questions, for she was in a hurry to find her lost possession.
When she arrived home, Nang Piew caressed the belt
with shaky hands. She was not used to stealing or finding lost valuables. After wrapping
the belt around her waist, she turned left and right in front of the mirror. She looked at
her reflection in the mirror and saw an unhappy face full of worries, suspicion. . full of