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South-African Folk-Tales by James A. Honey

And Baboon assembled them for trial


FOOTNOTES:

style="text-align: justify;">[3] (In token of approval, according to a Hottentot custom.)

TORTOISES HUNTING OSTRICHES

One day, it is said, the Tortoises held a council how they might hunt Ostriches, and they said, "Let us, on both sides, stand in rows near each other, and let one go to hunt the Ostriches, so that they must flee along through the midst of us." They did so, and as they were many, the Ostriches were obliged to run along through the midst of them. During this they did not move, but, remaining always in the same places, called each to the other, "Are you there?" and each one answered, "I am here." The Ostriches hearing this, ran so tremendously that they quite exhausted their strength, and fell down. Then the Tortoises assembled by-and-by at the place where the Ostriches had fallen, and devoured them.

THE JUDGMENT OF BABOON

One day, it is said, the following story happened:

Mouse had torn the clothes of Itkler (the tailor), who then went to Baboon, and accused Mouse with these words:

"In this manner I come to thee: Mouse has torn my clothes, but will not know anything of it, and accuses Cat; Cat protests likewise her innocence, and says, 'Dog must have done it'; but Dog denies it also,

and declares Wood has done it; and Wood throws the blame on Fire, and says, 'Fire did it'; Fire says, 'I have not, Water did it'; Water says, 'Elephant tore the clothes'; and Elephant says, 'Ant tore them.' Thus a dispute has arisen among them. Therefore, I, Itkler, come to thee with this proposition: Assemble the people and try them in order that I may get satisfaction."

Thus he spake, and Baboon assembled them for trial. Then they made the same excuses which had been mentioned by Itkler, each one putting the blame upon the other.

So Baboon did not see any other way of punishing them, save through making them punish each other; he therefore said,

"Mouse, give Itkler satisfaction."

Mouse, however, pleaded not guilty. But Baboon said, "Cat, bite Mouse." She did so.

He then put the same question to Cat, and when she exculpated herself, Baboon called to Dog, "Here, bite Cat."

In this manner Baboon questioned them all, one after the other, but they each denied the charge. Then he addressed the following words to them, and said,

"Wood, beat Dog. Fire, burn Wood. Water, quench Fire. Elephant, drink Water. Ant, bite Elephant in his most tender parts."

They did so, and since that day they cannot any longer agree with each other.

Ant enters into Elephant's most tender parts and bites him.


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