Spider, Leopard, and Lightning Bug
Leopard is fond of fish, and once he build a water fence cross a stream and set fish traps therein. With this simple but clever device he caught many fish, and hunger was a stranger to his house. It happened that Spider heard of this, and one night he called on Lightning Bug.
“I know of a place,” he said, “where we can find many fish, and easily, but they must be caught at night. Therefore bring your light, and let us go.”
Lightning Bug agreed to this, and they went to the water fence.
“These are Leopard’s traps,” said Lightning Bug.
“Fish belong to those who find them,” Spider answered.
They collected all the fish and went away; but Spider, being greedy, gave very few to Lightning Bug. Each night for a week they went to the traps, and finally there came a night when Spider decided to keep all the fish for himself.
Lightning Bug protested, but Spider held to his decision; therefore the little fly resolved to teach some manners to his greedy friend. With his light he led him to Leopard’s house, and Spider, thinking it was his own, walked through the door and said:
“O wife, here are some more of Leopard’s fish.”
Then he saw Leopard sitting by the fire, staring at him with big eyes; and Leopardess lying on the bed, staring at him with big eyes; and the two young leopards, who had ceased their playing and were staring at him with small-big eyes. Leopard rose to his feet and cleared his throat.
“So you are the thief!” he growled. Spider trembled with fear, and dropped the fish. He moved quietly towards the door, and Leopard sprang. He missed his mark, and Spider scurried out of the house and fled into the night: and not daring to go home went far into the forest and made a house of banana leaves. He lived in the forest for some time, and one day Leopard chanced to find the house. He looked carefully at the leaves, walked twice around the house, and sniffed inside it. No one was at home.
“It must be Spider’s home,” he said. “Fat, lazy, thieving Spider. I will wait for him. We shall have a talk.” He crept inside the house and waited for Spider to return. But Spider saw the marks of Leopard’s feet, and noticed that the marks led into his banana-leaf house and did not come out again. He thought that Leopard might be waiting inside for him, so he went a little way off and cried out:
“Ho, my banana-leaf house!”
There was, of course, no answer.
“Ho, my banana-leaf house!”
Spider waited a little while, and then remarked quite loudly:
“Here is a strange thing. Every day when I come home I call to my little house, and it answers me. But today it does not answer. Can it be because some enemy is inside? I will try again. . . Ho, my banana-leaf house!”
Leopard cleared his throat and tried to say in a banana-leaf voice:
“Ho, Spider, welcome home!”
Spider laughed and laughed, for now he knew for certain that Leopard was in his house.
“Just sit there, foolish Leopard,” he called out. He ran far, far away until he came to the house of Man: and since Leopard could not come here he crept inside and there he lived, and still lives to this day.