How One-Leg Became Thousand-Legs

In the beginning the world had no water. There were no seas, no rivers or lakes, no pools or springs; and the animals became thirsty. They all gathered in one place to discuss what they should do, and agreed that any creature who could cause water to appear on earth would be rewarded.

Frog tried, Dog tried; Goat and Deer and Leopard tried. Every animal in the world tried to do something, but none of them succeeded in doing anything at all. Then a small, thin animal who had only one leg announced that he would try, but he wanted to know what his reward would be if he succeeded. The other animals only laughed at him, for those days nearly everyone had five legs, and only this absurd little creature walked on a single leg.

“Don’t worry about rewards,” they said. “Everyone has failed and you will fail too. You only have one leg; what can you do?”

“One-leg walked to and fro and round and round praying very hard; and before very long dark clouds began to gather. No one else had thought of praying to Walah, the Sky-god. Rain began to fall and kept on falling for a week, and as one-leg walked about the land he left behind him rivers and streams, springs and lakes; and the rivers and streams emptied into a big hole which became the sea.

“How happy the animals were! The land was green, they were no longer thirsty; they played and gamboled in the water, and some animals loved it well enough to take it as their home: but no one wished to give One-leg his reward. One-leg threatened to cause all the water to dry up, so a council was held and everyone decided to give him one of their legs. Those who had a fifth leg pulled it off, leaving only little bits of skin behind which became tails, and One-leg found he had so many legs and feet he scarcely knew what to do. He was not permitted to eat them, so he sat down to look at them for a long, long while and thought, and finally decided on a thing. He fixed them underneath his belly, and kept stretching and stretching himself until he had put on a thousand legs. He still has them, and he is called Thousand-legs.