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Posts Tagged ‘folk tales’

 

Eyamba I. of Calabar was a very powerful king. He fought and conquered all the surrounding countries, killing all the old men and women, but the able-bodied men and girls he caught and brought back as slaves, and they worked on the farms until they died.

This king had two hundred wives, but none of them had borne a son to him. His subjects, seeing that he was becoming an old man, begged him to marry one of the spider’s daughters, as they always had plenty of children. But when the king saw the spider’s daughter he did not like her, as she was ugly, and the people said it was because her mother had had so many children at the same time. However, in order to please his people he married the ugly girl, and placed her among his other wives, but they all complained because she was so ugly, and said she could not live with them. The king, therefore, built her a separate house for herself, where she was given food and drink the same as the other wives. Every one jeered at her on account of her ugliness; but she was not really ugly, but beautiful, as she was born with two skins, and at her birth her mother was made to promise that she should never remove the ugly skin until a certain time arrived save only during the night, and that she must put it on again before dawn. Now the king’s head wife knew this, and was very fearful lest the king should find it out and fall in love with the spider’s daughter; so she went to a Ju Ju man and offered him two hundred rods to make a potion that would make the king forget altogether that the spider’s daughter was his wife. This the Ju Ju man finally consented to do, after much haggling over the price, for three hundred and fifty rods; and he made up some “medicine,” which the head wife mixed with the king’s food. For some months this had the effect of making the king forget the spider’s daughter, and he used to pass quite close to her without recognising her in any way. When four months had elapsed and the king had not once sent for Adiaha (for that was the name of the spider’s daughter), she began to get tired, and went back to her parents. Her father, the spider, then took her to another Ju Ju man, who, by making spells and casting lots, very soon discovered that it was the king’s head wife who had made the Ju Ju and had enchanted the king so that he would not look at Adiaha. He therefore told the spider that Adiaha should give the king some medicine which he would prepare, which would make the king remember her. He prepared the medicine, for which the spider had to pay a large sum of money; and that very day Adiaha made a small dish of food, into which she had placed the medicine, and presented it to the king. Directly he had eaten the dish his eyes were opened and he recognised his wife, and told her to come to him that very evening. So in the afternoon, being very joyful, she went down to the river and washed, and when she returned she put on her best cloth and went to the king’s palace.

Directly it was dark and all the lights were out she pulled off her ugly skin, and the king saw how beautiful she was, and was very pleased with her; but when the cock crowed Adiaha pulled on her ugly skin again, and went back to her own house.

This she did for four nights running, always taking the ugly skin off in the dark, and leaving before daylight in the morning. In course of time, to the great surprise of all the people, and particularly of the king’s two hundred wives, she gave birth to a son; but what surprised them most of all was that only one son was born, whereas her mother had always had a great many children at a time, generally about fifty.

The king’s head wife became more jealous than ever when Adiaha had a son; so she went again to the Ju Ju man, and by giving him a large present induced him to give her some medicine which would make the king sick and forget his son. And the medicine would then make the king go to the Ju Ju man, who would tell him that it was his son who had made him sick, as he wanted to reign instead of his father. The Ju Ju man would also tell the king that if he wanted to recover he must throw his son away into the water.

And the king, when he had taken the medicine, went to the Ju Ju man, who told him everything as had been arranged with the head wife. But at first the king did not want to destroy his son. Then his chief subjects begged him to throw his son away, and said that perhaps in a year’s time he might get another son. So the king at last agreed, and threw his son into the river, at which the mother grieved and cried bitterly.

Then the head wife went again to the Ju Ju man and got more medicine, which made the king forget Adiaha for three years, during which time she was in mourning for her son. She then returned to her father, and he got some more medicine from his Ju Ju man, which Adiaha gave to the king. And the king knew her and called her to him again, and she lived with him as before. Now the Ju Ju who had helped Adiaha’s father, the spider, was a Water Ju Ju, and he was ready when the king threw his son into the water, and saved his life and took him home and kept him alive. And the boy grew up very strong.

After a time Adiaha gave birth to a daughter, and her the jealous wife also persuaded the king to throw away. It took a longer time to persuade him, but at last he agreed, and threw his daughter into the water too, and forgot Adiaha again. But the Water Ju Ju was ready again, and when he had saved the little girl, he thought the time had arrived to punish the action of the jealous wife; so he went about amongst the head young men and persuaded them to hold a wrestling match in the market-place every week. This was done, and the Water Ju Ju told the king’s son, who had become very strong, and was very like to his father in appearance, that he should go and wrestle, and that no one would be able to stand up before him. It was then arranged that there should be a grand wrestling match, to which all the strongest men in the country were invited, and the king promised to attend with his head wife.

On the day of the match the Water Ju Ju told the king’s son that he need not be in the least afraid, and that his Ju Ju was so powerful, that even the strongest and best wrestlers in the country would not be able to stand up against him for even a few minutes. All the people of the country came to see the great contest, to the winner of which the king had promised to present prizes of cloth and money, and all the strongest men came. When they saw the king’s son, whom nobody knew, they laughed and said, “Who is this small boy? He can have no chance against us.” But when they came to wrestle, they very soon found that they were no match for him. The boy was very strong indeed, beautifully made and good to look upon, and all the people were surprised to see how like he was to the king.

After wrestling for the greater part of the day the king’s son was declared the winner, having thrown every one who had stood up against him; in fact, some of his opponents had been badly hurt, and had their arms or ribs broken owing to the tremendous strength of the boy. After the match was over the king presented him with cloth and money, and invited him to dine with him in the evening. The boy gladly accepted his father’s invitation; and after he had had a good wash in the river, put on his cloth and went up to the palace, where he found the head chiefs of the country and some of the king’s most favoured wives. They then sat down to their meal, and the king had his own son, whom he did not know, sitting next to him. On the other side of the boy sat the jealous wife, who had been the cause of all the trouble. All through the dinner this woman did her best to make friends with the boy, with whom she had fallen violently in love on account of his beautiful appearance, his strength, and his being the best wrestler in the country. The woman thought to herself, “I will have this boy as my husband, as my husband is now an old man and will surely soon die.” The boy, however, who was as wise as he was strong, was quite aware of everything the jealous woman had done, and although he pretended to be very flattered at the advances of the king’s head wife, he did not respond very readily, and went home as soon as he could.

When he returned to the Water Ju Ju’s house he told him everything that had happened, and the Water Ju Ju said—

“As you are now in high favour with the king, you must go to him to-morrow and beg a favour from him. The favour you will ask is that all the country shall be called together, and that a certain case shall be tried, and that when the case is finished, the man or woman who is found to be in the wrong shall be killed by the Egbos before all the people.”

So the following morning the boy went to the king, who readily granted his request, and at once sent all round the country appointing a day for all the people to come in and hear the case tried. Then the boy went back to the Water Ju Ju, who told him to go to his mother and tell her who he was, and that when the day of the trial arrived, she was to take off her ugly skin and appear in all her beauty, for the time had come when she need no longer wear it. This the son did.

When the day of trial arrived, Adiaha sat in a corner of the square, and nobody recognised the beautiful stranger as the spider’s daughter. Her son then sat down next to her, and brought his sister with him. Immediately his mother saw her she said—

“This must be my daughter, whom I have long mourned as dead,” and embraced her most affectionately.

The king and his head wife then arrived and sat on their stones in the middle of the square, all the people saluting them with the usual greetings. The king then addressed the people, and said that he had called them together to hear a strong palaver at the request of the young man who had been the victor of the wrestling, and who had promised that if the case went against him he would offer up his life to the Egbo. The king also said that if, on the other hand, the case was decided in the boy’s favour, then the other party would be killed, even though it were himself or one of his wives; whoever it was would have to take his or her place on the killing-stone and have their heads cut off by the Egbos. To this all the people agreed, and said they would like to hear what the young man had to say. The young man then walked round the square, and bowed to the king and the people, and asked the question, “Am I not worthy to be the son of any chief in the country?” And all the people answered “Yes!”

The boy then brought his sister out into the middle, leading her by the hand. She was a beautiful girl and well made. When every one had looked at her he said, “Is not my sister worthy to be any chief’s daughter?” And the people replied that she was worthy of being any one’s daughter, even the king’s. Then he called his mother Adiaha, and she came out, looking very beautiful with her best cloth and beads on, and all the people cheered, as they had never seen a finer woman. The boy then asked them, “Is this woman worthy of being the king’s wife?” And a shout went up from every one present that she would be a proper wife for the king, and looked as if she would be the mother of plenty of fine healthy sons.

Then the boy pointed out the jealous woman who was sitting next to the king, and told the people his story, how that his mother, who had two skins, was the spider’s daughter; how she had married the king, and how the head wife was jealous and had made a bad Ju Ju for the king, which made him forget his wife; how she had persuaded the king to throw himself and his sister into the river, which, as they all knew, had been done, but the Water Ju Ju had saved both of them, and had brought them up.

Then the boy said: “I leave the king and all of you people to judge my case. If I have done wrong, let me be killed on the stone by the Egbos; if, on the other hand, the woman has done evil, then let the Egbos deal with her as you may decide.”

When the king knew that the wrestler was his son he was very glad, and told the Egbos to take the jealous woman away, and punish her in accordance with their laws. The Egbos decided that the woman was a witch; so they took her into the forest and tied her up to a stake, and gave her two hundred lashes with a whip made from hippopotamus hide, and then burnt her alive, so that she should not make any more trouble, and her ashes were thrown into the river. The king then embraced his wife and daughter, and told all the people that she, Adiaha, was his proper wife, and would be the queen for the future.

When the palaver was over, Adiaha was dressed in fine clothes and beads, and carried back in state to the palace by the king’s servants.

That night the king gave a big feast to all his subjects, and told them how glad he was to get back his beautiful wife whom he had never known properly before, also his son who was stronger than all men, and his fine daughter. The feast continued for a hundred and sixty-six days; and the king made a law that if any woman was found out getting medicine against her husband, she should be killed at once. Then the king built three new compounds, and placed many slaves in them, both men and women. One compound he gave to his wife, another to his son, and the third he gave to his daughter. They all lived together quite happily for some years until the king died, when his son came to the throne and ruled in his stead.

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The Tortoise With A Pretty Daughter-

There was once a king who was very powerful. He had great influence over the wild beasts and animals. Now the tortoise was looked upon as the wisest of all beasts and men. This king had a son named Ekpenyon, to whom he gave fifty young girls as wives, but the prince did not like any of them. The king was very angry at this, and made a law that if any man had a daughter who was finer than the prince’s wives, and who found favour in his son’s eyes, the girl herself and her father and mother should be killed.

Now about this time the tortoise and his wife had a daughter who was very beautiful. The mother thought it was not safe to keep such a fine child, as the prince might fall in love with her, so she told her husband that her daughter ought to be killed and thrown away into the bush. The tortoise, however, was unwilling, and hid her until she was three years old. One day, when both the tortoise and his wife were away on their farm, the king’s son happened to be hunting near their house, and saw a bird perched on the top of the fence round the house. The bird was watching the little girl, and was so entranced with her beauty that he did not notice the prince coming. The prince shot the bird with his bow and arrow, and it dropped inside the fence, so the prince sent his servant to gather it. While the servant was looking for the bird he came across the little girl, and was so struck with her form, that he immediately returned to his master and told him what he had seen. The prince then broke down the fence and found the child, and fell in love with her at once. He stayed and talked with her for a long time, until at last she agreed to become his wife. He then went home, but concealed from his father the fact that he had fallen in love with the beautiful daughter of the tortoise.

But the next morning he sent for the treasurer, and got sixty pieces of cloth and three hundred rods, and sent them to the tortoise. Then in the early afternoon he went down to the tortoise’s house, and told him that he wished to marry his daughter. The tortoise saw at once that what he had dreaded had come to pass, and that his life was in danger, so he told the prince that if the king knew, he would kill not only himself (the tortoise), but also his wife and daughter. The prince replied that he would be killed himself before he allowed the tortoise and his wife and daughter to be killed. Eventually, after much argument, the tortoise consented, and agreed to hand his daughter to the prince as his wife when she arrived at the proper age. Then the prince went home and told his mother what he had done. She was in great distress at the thought that she would lose her son, of whom she was very proud, as she knew that when the king heard of his son’s disobedience he would kill him. However, the queen, although she knew how angry her husband would be, wanted her son to marry the girl he had fallen in love with, so she went to the tortoise and gave him some money, clothes, yams, and palm-oil as further dowry on her son’s behalf in order that the tortoise should not give his daughter to another man. For the next five years the prince was constantly with the tortoise’s daughter, whose name was Adet, and when she was about to be put in the fatting house, the prince told his father that he was going to take Adet as his wife. On hearing this the king was very angry, and sent word all round his kingdom that all people should come on a certain day to the market-place to hear the palaver. When the appointed day arrived the market-place was quite full of people, and the stones belonging to the king and queen were placed in the middle of the market-place.

When the king and queen arrived all the people stood up and greeted them, and they then sat down on their stones. The king then told his attendants to bring the girl Adet before him. When she arrived the king was quite astonished at her beauty. He then told the people that he had sent for them to tell them that he was angry with his son for disobeying him and taking Adet as his wife without his knowledge, but that now he had seen her himself he had to acknowledge that she was very beautiful, and that his son had made a good choice. He would therefore forgive his son.

When the people saw the girl they agreed that she was very fine and quite worthy of being the prince’s wife, and begged the king to cancel the law he had made altogether, and the king agreed; and as the law had been made under the “Egbo” law, he sent for eight Egbos, and told them that the order was cancelled throughout his kingdom, and that for the future no one would be killed who had a daughter more beautiful than the prince’s wives, and gave the Egbos palm wine and money to remove the law, and sent them away. Then he declared that the tortoise’s daughter, Adet, should marry his son, and he made them marry the same day. A great feast was then given which lasted for fifty days, and the king killed five cows and gave all the people plenty of foo-foo and palm-oil chop, and placed a large number of pots of palm wine in the streets for the people to drink as they liked. The women brought a big play to the king’s compound, and there was singing and dancing kept up day and night during the whole time. The prince and his companions also played in the market square. When the feast was over the king gave half of his kingdom to the tortoise to rule over, and three hundred slaves to work on his farm. The prince also gave his father-in-law two hundred women and one hundred girls to work for him, so the tortoise became one of the richest men in the kingdom. The prince and his wife lived together for a good many years until the king died, when the prince ruled in his place. And all this shows that the tortoise is the wisest of all men and animals.

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Long ago, in a part of the country not very remote from Kioto, the great gay city, there dwelt an honest couple. In a lonely place was their cottage, upon the outskirts of a deep wood of pine trees. Folks had it that the wood was haunted. They said it was full of deceiving foxes; they said that beneath the mossy ground the elves built their kitchens; they said that long-nosed Tengu had tea-parties in the forest thrice a month, and that the fairies’ children played at hide-and-seek there every morning before seven. Over and above all this they didn’t mind saying that the honest couple were queer in their ways, that the woman was a wise woman, and that the man was a warlock—which was as may be. But sure it was that they did no harm to living soul, that they lived as poor as poor, and that they had one fair daughter. She was as neat and pretty as a princess, and her manners were very fine; but for all that she worked as hard as a boy in the rice-fields, and within doors she was the housewife indeed, for she washed and cooked and drew water. She went barefoot in a grey homespun gown, and tied her back hair with a tough wistaria tendril. Brown she was and thin, but the sweetest beggar-maid that ever made shift with a bed of dry moss and no supper.

By-and-by the good man her father dies, and the wise woman her mother sickens within the year, and soon she lies in a corner of the cottage waiting for her end, with the maid near her crying bitter tears.

“Child,” says the mother, “do you know you are as pretty as a princess?”

“Am I that?” says the maid, and goes on with her crying.

“Do you know that your manners are fine?” says the mother.

“Are they, then?” says the maid, and goes on with her crying.

“My own baby,” says the mother, “could you stop your crying a minute and listen to me?”

So the maid stopped crying and put her head close by her mother’s on the poor pillow.

“Now listen,” says the mother, “and afterwards remember. It is a bad thing for a poor girl to be pretty. If she is pretty and lonely and innocent, none but the gods will help her. They will help you, my poor child, and I have thought of a way besides. Fetch me the great black rice-bowl from the shelf.”

The girl fetched it.

“See, now, I put it on your head and all your beauty is hidden away.”

“Alack, mother,” said the poor child, “it is heavy.”

“It will save you from what is heavier to bear,” said the mother. “If you love me, promise me that you will not move it till the time comes.”

“I promise! I promise! But how shall I know when the time comes?”

“That you shall know…. And now help me outside, for the sweet morning dawns and I’ve a fancy to see the fairies’ children once again, as they run in the forest.”

So the child, having the black bowl upon her head, held her mother in her arms in a grassy place near the great trees, and presently they saw the fairies’ children threading their way between the dark trunks as they played at hide-and-seek. Their bright garments fluttered, and they laughed lightly as they went. The mother smiled to see them; before seven she died very sweetly as she smiled.

When her little store of rice was done, the maid with the wooden bowl knew well enough that she must starve or go and find more. So first she tended her father’s and mother’s graves and poured water for the dead, as is meet, and recited many a holy text. Then she bound on her sandals, kilted her grey skirts to show her scarlet petticoat, tied her household gods in a blue printed handkerchief, and set out all alone to seek her fortunes, the brave girl!

For all her slenderness and pretty feet she was a rarely odd sight, and soon she was to know it. The great black bowl covered her head and shadowed her face. As she went through a village two women looked up from washing in the stream, stared and laughed.

“It’s a boggart come alive,” says one.

“Out upon her,” cries the other, “for a shameless wench! Out upon her false modesty to roam the country thus with her head in a black bowl, as who should cry aloud to every passing man, ‘Come and see what is hidden!’ It is enough to make a wholesome body sick.”

On went the poor maid, and sometimes the children pelted her with mud and pebbles for sport. Sometimes she was handled roughly by village louts, who scoffed and caught at her dress as she went; they even laid hands upon the bowl itself and sought to drag it from her head by force. But they only played at that game once, for the bowl stung them as fiercely as if it had been a nettle, and the bullies ran away howling.

The beggar-maiden might seek her fortune, but it was very hard to find. She might ask for work; but see, would she get it? None were wishful to employ a girl with a black bowl on her head.

At last, on a fine day when she was tired out, she sat her upon a stone and began to cry as if her heart would break. Down rolled her tears from under the black bowl. They rolled down her cheeks and reached her white chin.

A wandering ballad-singer passed that way, with his biwa slung across his back. He had a sharp eye and marked the tears upon the maid’s white chin. It was all he could see of her face, and, “Oh, girl with the black bowl on your head,” quoth he, “why do you sit weeping by the roadside?”

“I weep,” she answered, “because the world is hard. I am hungry and tired…. No one will give me work or pay me money.”

“Now that’s unfortunate,” said the ballad-singer, for he had a kind heart; “but I haven’t a rin of my own, or it would be yours. Indeed I am sorry for you. In the circumstances the best I can do for you is to make you a little song.” With that he whips his biwa round, thrums on it with his fingers and starts as easy as you please. “To the tears on your white chin,” he says, and sings:

The white cherry blooms by the roadside, How black is the canopy of cloud! The wild cherry droops by the roadside, Beware of the black canopy of cloud. Hark, hear the rain, hear the rainfall From the black canopy of cloud. Alas, the wild cherry, its sweet flowers are marred, Marred are the sweet flowers, forlorn on the spray!

“Sir, I do not understand your song,” said the girl with the bowl on her head.

“Yet it is plain enough,” said the ballad-singer, and went his way. He came to the house of a passing rich farmer. In he went, and they asked him to sing before the master of the house.

“With all the will in the world,” says the ballad-singer. “I will sing him a new song that I have just made.” So he sang of the wild cherry and the great black cloud.

When he had made an end, “Tell us the interpretation of your song,” says the master of the house.

“With all the will in the world,” quoth the ballad-singer. “The wild cherry is the face of a maiden whom I saw sitting by the wayside. She wore a great black wooden bowl upon her head, which is the great black cloud in my song, and from under it her tears flowed like rain, for I saw the drops upon her white chin. And she said that she wept for hunger, and because no one would give her work nor pay her money.”

“Now I would I might help the poor girl with the bowl on her head,” said the master of the house.

“That you may if you wish,” quoth the ballad-singer. “She sits but a stone’s throw from your gate.”

The long and short of it was that the maid was put to labour in the rich farmer’s harvest-fields. All the day long she worked in the waving rice, with her grey skirts kilted and her sleeves bound back with cords. All day long she plied the sickle, and the sun shone down upon the black bowl; but she had food to eat and good rest at night, and was well content.

She found favour in her master’s eyes, and he kept her in the fields till all the harvest was gathered in. Then he took her into his house, where there was plenty for her to do, for his wife was but sickly. Now the maiden lived well and happily as a bird, and went singing about her labours. And every night she thanked the august gods for her good fortune. Still she wore the black bowl upon her head.

At the New Year time, “Bustle, bustle,” says the farmer’s wife; “scrub and cook and sew; put your best foot foremost, my dear, for we must have the house look at its very neatest.”

“To be sure, and with all my heart,” says the girl, and she put her back into the work; “but, mistress,” she says, “if I may be so bold as to ask, are we having a party, or what?”

“Indeed we are, and many of them,” says the farmer’s wife. “My son that is in Kioto, the great and gay, is coming home for a visit.”

Presently home he comes, the handsome young man. Then the neighbours were called in, and great was the merry-making. They feasted and they danced, they jested and they sang, many a bowl of good red rice they ate, and many a cup of good saké they drank. All this time the girl, with bowl on her head, plied her work modestly in the kitchen, and well out of the way she was—the farmer’s wife saw to that, good soul! All the same, one fine day the company called for more wine, and the wine was done, so the son of the house takes up the saké bottle and goes with it himself to the kitchen. What should he see there but the maiden sitting upon a pile of faggots, and fanning the kitchen fire with a split bamboo fan!

“My life, but I must see what is under that black bowl,” says the handsome young man to himself. And sure enough he made it his daily care, and peeped as much as he could, which was not very much; but seemingly it was enough for him, for he thought no more of Kioto, the great and gay, but stayed at home to do his courting.

His father laughed and his mother fretted, the neighbours held up their hands, all to no purpose.

“Oh, dear, dear maiden with the wooden bowl, she shall be my bride and no other. I must and will have her,” cried the impetuous young man, and very soon he fixed the wedding-day himself.

When the time came, the young maidens of the village went to array the bride. They dressed her in a fair and costly robe of white brocade, and in trailing hakama of scarlet silk, and on her shoulders they hung a cloak of blue and purple and gold. They chattered, but as for the bride she said never a word. She was sad because she brought her bridegroom nothing, and because his parents were sore at his choice of a beggar-maid. She said nothing, but the tears glistened on her white chin.

“Now off with the ugly old bowl,” cried the maidens; “it is time to dress the bride’s hair and to do it with golden combs.” So they laid hands to the bowl and would have lifted it away, but they could not move it.

“Try again,” they said, and tugged at it with all their might. But it would not stir.

“There’s witchcraft in it,” they said; “try a third time.” They tried a third time, and still the bowl stuck fast, but it gave out fearsome moans and cries.

“Ah! Let be, let be for pity’s sake,” said the poor bride, “for you make my head ache.”

They were forced to lead her as she was to the bridegroom’s presence.

“My dear, I am not afraid of the wooden bowl,” said the young man.

So they poured the saké from the silver flagon, and from the silver cup the two of them drank the mystic “Three Times Three” that made them man and wife.

Then the black bowl burst asunder with a loud noise, and fell to the ground in a thousand pieces. With it fell a shower of silver and gold, and pearls and rubies and emeralds, and every jewel of price. Great was the astonishment of the company as they gazed upon a dowry that for a princess would have been rich and rare.

But the bridegroom looked into the bride’s face. “My dear,” he said, “there are no jewels that shine like your eyes.”

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Once upon a time Kee′ma, the monkey, and Pa′pa, the shark, became great friends.

The monkey lived in an immense mkooyoo tree which grew by the margin of the sea—half of its branches being over the water and half over the land.

Every morning, when the monkey was breakfasting on the kooyoo nuts, the shark would put in an appearance under the tree and call out, “Throw me some food, my friend;” with which request the monkey complied most willingly.

This continued for many months, until one day Papa said, “Keema, you have done me many kindnesses: I would like you to go with me to my home, that I may repay you.”

“How can I go?” said the monkey; “we land beasts can not go about in the water.”

“Don’t trouble yourself about that,” replied the shark; “I will carry you. Not a drop of water shall get to you.”

“Oh, all right, then,” said Mr. Keema; “let’s go.”

When they had gone about half-way the shark stopped, and said: “You are my friend. I will tell you the truth.”

“Why, what is there to tell?” asked the monkey, with surprise.

“Well, you see, the fact is that our sultan is very sick, and we have been told that the only medicine that will do him any good is a monkey’s heart.”

“Well,” exclaimed Keema, “you were very foolish not to tell me that before we started!”

“How so?” asked Papa.

But the monkey was busy thinking up some means of saving himself, and made no reply.

“Well?” said the shark, anxiously; “why don’t you speak?”

“Oh, I’ve nothing to say now. It’s too late. But if you had told me this before we started, I might have brought my heart with me.”

“What? haven’t you your heart here?”

“Huh!” ejaculated Keema; “don’t you know about us? When we go out we leave our hearts in the trees, and go about with only our bodies. But I see you don’t believe me. You think I’m scared. Come on; let’s go to your home, where you can kill me and search for my heart in vain.”

The shark did believe him, though, and exclaimed, “Oh, no; let’s go back and get your heart.”

“Indeed, no,” protested Keema; “let us go on to your home.”

But the shark insisted that they should go back, get the heart, and start afresh.

At last, with great apparent reluctance, the monkey consented, grumbling sulkily at the unnecessary trouble he was being put to.

When they got back to the tree, he climbed up in a great hurry, calling out, “Wait there, Papa, my friend, while I get my heart, and we’ll start off properly next time.”

When he had got well up among the branches, he sat down and kept quite still.

After waiting what he considered a reasonable length of time, the shark called, “Come along, Keema!” But Keema just kept still and said nothing.

In a little while he called again: “Oh, Keema! let’s be going.”

At this the monkey poked his head out from among the upper branches and asked, in great surprise, “Going? Where?”

“To my home, of course.”

“Are you mad?” queried Keema.

“Mad? Why, what do you mean?” cried Papa.

“What’s the matter with you?” said the monkey. “Do you take me for a washerman’s donkey?”

“What peculiarity is there about a washerman’s donkey?”

“It is a creature that has neither heart nor ears.”

The shark, his curiosity overcoming his haste, thereupon begged to be told the story of the washerman’s donkey, which the monkey related as follows:

“A washerman owned a donkey, of which he was very fond. One day, however, it ran away, and took up its abode in the forest, where it led a lazy life, and consequently grew very fat.

“At length Soongoo′ra, the hare, by chance passed that way, and saw Poon′da, the donkey.

“Now, the hare is the most cunning of all beasts—if you look at his mouth you will see that he is always talking to himself about everything.

“So when Soongoora saw Poonda he said to himself, ‘My, this donkey is fat!’ Then he went and told Sim′ba, the lion.

“As Simba was just recovering from a severe illness, he was still so weak that he could not go hunting. He was consequently pretty hungry.

“Said Mr. Soongoora, ‘I’ll bring enough meat to-morrow for both of us to have a great feast, but you’ll have to do the killing.’

“‘All right, good friend,’ exclaimed Simba, joyfully; ‘you’re very kind.’

“So the hare scampered off to the forest, found the donkey, and said to her, in his most courtly manner, ‘Miss Poonda, I am sent to ask your hand in marriage.’

“‘By whom?’ simpered the donkey.

“‘By Simba, the lion.’

“The donkey was greatly elated at this, and exclaimed: ‘Let’s go at once. This is a first-class offer.’

“They soon arrived at the lion’s home, were cordially invited in, and sat down. Soongoora gave Simba a signal with his eyebrow, to the effect that this was the promised feast, and that he would wait outside. Then he said to Poonda: ‘I must leave you for a while to attend to some private business. You stay here and converse with your husband that is to be.’

“As soon as Soongoora got outside, the lion sprang at Poonda, and they had a great fight. Simba was kicked very hard, and he struck with his claws as well as his weak health would permit him. At last the donkey threw the lion down, and ran away to her home in the forest.

“Shortly after, the hare came back, and called, ‘Haya! Simba! have you got it?’

“‘I have not got it,’ growled the lion; ‘she kicked me and ran away; but I warrant you I made her feel pretty sore, though I’m not strong.’

“‘Oh, well,’ remarked Soongoora; ‘don’t put yourself out of the way about it.’

“Then Soongoora waited many days, until the lion and the donkey were both well and strong, when he said: ‘What do you think now, Simba? Shall I bring you your meat?’

“‘Ay,’ growled the lion, fiercely; ‘bring it to me. I’ll tear it in two pieces!’

“So the hare went off to the forest, where the donkey welcomed him and asked the news.

“‘You are invited to call again and see your lover,’ said Soongoora.

“‘Oh, dear!’ cried Poonda; ‘that day you took me to him he scratched me awfully. I’m afraid to go near him now.’

“‘Ah, pshaw!’ said Soongoora; ‘that’s nothing. That’s only Simba’s way of caressing.’

“‘Oh, well,’ said the donkey, ‘let’s go.’

“So off they started again; but as soon as the lion caught sight of Poonda he sprang upon her and tore her in two pieces.

“When the hare came up, Simba said to him: ‘Take this meat and roast it. As for myself, all I want is the heart and ears.’

“‘Thanks,’ said Soongoora. Then he went away and roasted the meat in a place where the lion could not see him, and he took the heart and ears and hid them. Then he ate all the meat he needed, and put the rest away.

“Presently the lion came to him and said, ‘Bring me the heart and ears.’

“‘Where are they?’ said the hare.

“‘What does this mean?’ growled Simba.

“‘Why, didn’t you know this was a washerman’s donkey?’

“‘Well, what’s that to do with there being no heart or ears?’

“‘For goodness’ sake, Simba, aren’t you old enough to know that if this beast had possessed a heart and ears it wouldn’t have come back the second time?’

“Of course the lion had to admit that what Soongoora, the hare, said was true.

“And now,” said Keema to the shark, “you want to make a washerman’s donkey of me. Get out of there, and go home by yourself. You are not going to get me again, and our friendship is ended. Good-bye, Papa.”

 

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