In other days Leopard and Deer were the best of friends and always lived together; when sorrows came they mourned together, and when happiness came they shared their joy. People warned Leopard that Deer would one day play him false, but Leopard never listened to such talk. One fine morning Deer said:
“Let’s go hunting and find a thing to eat.”
“Tomorrow,” said Leopard. “Today my bones are weary.”
“Tomorrow they may be dead,” said Deer. “Let us go today.”
Leopard finally agreed, but said:
“We should carry food with us, for we will be out all day.”
Deer, who ate far more often than Leopard, refused to give assistance in collecting food, so Leopard found six bananas and carried them with him, along with his gun. Deer carried nothing. They walked through the woods a long way without finding anything to hunt, and Deer said: “My belly is empty. Let us eat bananas.”
“No,” said Leopard. “Not yet. Wait until we are on our way home.”
Deer was obliged to agree, for the food was Leopard’s food. Sometime later Leopard saw a monkey in a tree, and said to Deer:
“Deer, there is a monkey in that tree. See if you can shoot him down.”
“I am too weak with hunger,” Deer complained. Leopard shot the monkey. The monkey fell in a fork of the tree and stayed there dead.
“See if you can get him, Deer,” asked Leopard.
“I have no strength,” Deer said, and sighed unhappily.
Leopard climbed the tree. He reached the monkey and was about to climb down when he saw Deer nosing the six bananas, as if he was in the mood to eat them. He began to climb down quickly. He slipped, and his back feet became entangled in some vines, so that he found himself hanging there helplessly, upside down.
“Deer,” he cried. “I beg you, climb up and cut me free!”“I am too weak with hunger,” Deer said again. Leopard could hear people working on a nearby farm.
“Then shout for people on the farm nearby to come, or I will die.”
“How can I shout when I am so hungry?” I have not eaten food all day. Particularly bananas.”
“Then eat two bananas, and then shout.”Deer ate two bananas, and shouted in such a small voice that a person four paces distant could scarcely have heard him. Leopard was now in great pain, and begged his friend to make a greater effort.
“Those two bananas hardly touched my throat,” said Deer. “I am still too weak.”
“Then eat two more, and shout for help.”
Deer ate tow more bananas, but his second shout was even weaker than the first.
“Have the bananas stolen your voice?” cried Leopard angrily.
“No, my friend, my voice is coming now. If I could have two more bananas my voice would be loud indeed.”
“Then eat the last two, and be quick before my legs are torn loose from my body.”
Deer ate the last two bananas, and then sat down and laughed and laughed at Leopard. Leopard did not know what to do. Deer looked up at him, still laughing, and said:
“If you can’t get down I shall leave you useless Leopard. Oh, how funny it is to see you hanging by two feet!”
Leopard became very angry. He struggled and struggled, and began to free himself. He said bitterly:
“When I get down I shall eat you, Deer. I will claw you to pieces, I swear.”
“When you get down,” Deer mocked him. But Leopard was pulling free of the vines, and when Deer saw this he grew alarmed and ran away. Leopard came down the tree and began to chase him.
Deer hid behind a tree, and Leopard did not see him. Leopard went home, but Deer remained in the forest, and since that time he has been obliged to run for his life whenever Leopard finds him.