A Snail and Iguana Fought and Caused the Moon to Shine
When Hungry Season came and the weaker animals were dying from starvation, Leopard found a bread-nut seed and took it to his family. It was so small that even Baby Leopard scorned to eat it. So great was the animals’ hunger that anyone who laughed or cried would die, but the family laughed at the little seed by holding their lips apart with their paws; and they cried for hunger by damping their eyes with water and letting it trickle down their faces.
Leopardess was a wise woman; she planted the bread-nut seed in the ground, hoping that it might grow to a tree with fruit in later years. But in the darkness of the night a strange and wonderful thing took place: the seed grew to be a mighty tree laden with fruit, and ripe pods were scattered on the ground beneath it, some cooked and others raw.
The Leopard family ate until their stomachs throbbed with fullness.
But Leopard was never a charitable animal and he decided he would hire a watchman who would guard this food for the Leopard family. Such a watchman would have to be some animal who could conquer and outwit such mighty animals as Elephant and Crocodile, and this problem was a thing which caused Leopard much thought and worry.
Leopardess, with her cunning, advised him to choose Snail.
Now, those times were long ago, even before the moon was married to the earth, and Snail was a round, round animal instead of the half-round animal he is; when he was tucked inside his shell no one could tell if he was standing up or lying down. He was full of slime and slipperiness and part of his house was hinged; and so powerful was his slipperiness that a drop of it could cause an ox to skid about on a sandy beach. Snail became the watchman and guarded Leopard’s tree. He sprayed the tree with powerful slime so that animals and birds could not approach it: and then Leopard invited all the animals to come.
“Bring a little strength, a little courage, and your appetites,” he said, “and you shall eat your fill as soon as you have overpowered Snail.”
But how could the starving animals fight when laughter or tears would cause their death?
Elephant advanced to battle with Snail. He tried to squash the little beast, but slippery Snail slid from under him and the clumsy Elephant skidded and fell with a thump. No matter how he thrashed about and trumpeted he could not gain his feet again. Snail pushed him, and Elephant slid helplessly down the trail on the terrible slime of Snail.
Crocodile came, and Buffalo, and grumpy Hippopotamus; and all failed. Then Iguana came, with grim determination in his beady yellow eyes; he had three of them in those days. Iguana was a reptile and accustomed to long periods of starvation: his strength had stayed with him, and his long claws were proof against the slippery slime of Snail. He was a nimble and bouncy animal who always fell on his feet, and his long straight tongue could be used as a handy weapon.
Snail and Iguana rushed upon each other; Iguana scrabbled with his claws and Snail rolled up in a ball to bang and bounce against him like a heavy sea pounding a rocky shore. So rough were Iguana’s scales and so tough was the shell of Snail that as they clashed in mortal combat streams of sparks and lightning flew.
Iguana tossed Snail in the air, high up in the heavens; but when Snail fell he fell on Iguana and flattened out his head. This changed the shape of Iguana’s head and squeezed out his third eye.
Then Snail threw Iguana so high in the air that Iguana saw the moon, which in those times was far away and had never been seen before. Iguana gave his third yellow eye to the blind moon and told her to wait nearby, just in case he needed help. When he fell down to earth he fell on top of Snail with a loud ‘Thump’. The hinged part of Snail’s shell broke off uncovering his vitals, and Snail became a half-long animal where before he had been completely round.
Snail was winded, wounded, and unhinged. Iguana won the battle: but his head was flattened, he split his tongue when swallowing Snail’s broken piece of shell, and he had given his third yellow eye to the moon. The moon still waits close to the earth in case Iguana should need help.