Ethnic Origin

The Origin of the Mah and the Gio

They sat in a round thatched house in Gbloyi town, hard by Liberia’s northern border; outside twilight was knitting the shadows into night, and inside the house firelight lacquered the arms and faces of a wise old man and a youth.

The old man was Bai Tee, the oldest living member of the Mah group (commonly called Mano) and Keeper of the Banner, lean and stooped with age but a study of natural dignity and full with the richness of his years; he gazed into the fire and as memories crowded in upon him his slow words tolled the knell of years gone by.

Konmah, a young, vigorous College student proud of his Mano ancestry, listened carefully and translated.

“We came,” the old man said, “from the northeast; from a far, far place which men now call Sudan. Perhaps four hundred years age, or five — no one really knows — there was a town up in Sudan called Beainfenten, and this was the town from which all Mano people came.

In this town there lived two brothers who were strong warriors, and who therefore were respected by all men of that place; their names were Nyan and Sae.

“Men loved Nyan, although he was not rich; but even though was rich few men loved him well. Many strangers came to visit Nyan, and for the necessary feasts he would take cattle from his brother, and kill them; and Sae was vexed. Often and often Nyan took Sae’s cattle, so one day Sae told his sons to go with slaves to a certain far place, cut down the high bush there, and build a town; and this was done.

Sae went to live with his wives, and his sons and their wives, and his slaves and their wives, in this new town.

“Nyan could now find no cattle to kill for the strangers who came to visit him, and he wondered what he should do. In his town of Beainfenten there was a man called San, and the family of San was also richer than Nyan’s own family.

Nyan traveled to the east to a certain Wise Man, bearing gifts, and asked what he should do in order that his family might become richer than the Sans. The Wise Man said that he must sacrifice the leading member of the Sans, and only then would his family become richer.

“When Nyan returned to Beainfenten, Son of the San family asked him what the Wise man said, but Nyan did not want to reveal the answer at that time. He said:

“I must make a sacrifice. The answer is in me and concerns you, but it will not come out on my tongue just now.”

San said: “Give me one ram, and then make your sacrifice!”Nyan then took San into the forest to a lonely place, and the two men sat to rest in a shelter beside the path.

“O Nyan,” San asked, “what is the sacrifice you must make?”

“I must kill you, O San. That is the sacrifice.”

“I have lived, I am old, I must soon die: to kill me is nothing. Before you kill me, O Nyan, you must promise me that your family will always honor and protect my family, and your sons and their sons must see to it that my descendants never live in poverty, shame, or danger.”

“I agree,” said Nyan. “It shall be so.”

The old man then arose, took off his robe and said it on the ground, and he lay on it. Nyan killed him. He placed San’s head in a bowl of brass and carried it to Beainfenten, and there San’s family assembled and dug a grave in the center of the town.

San’s head was buried, and precious stones were thrown on his grave; Nyan killed four cows and gave a feast for the San family, and ever since that day the Mano people have honored and protected his descendants.

“While those things were happening Nyan’s brother Sae had fallen sick in his town. His sons went to a diviner to ask what should be done, and the diviner said that Sae should make a sacrifice with four kola nuts. These nuts could not be found, although people searched in many places, until one of Sae’s sons went into the forest to hunt.

While there he saw the hole of a possum (giant rat) and dug; he found and killed the animal, but also discovered four whit kola nuts. He took the nuts to Sae, who made sacrifice and became well. Sae therefore said to his family:

“The four white kola nuts from the possum’s hole have saved my life. the possum has been killed; let the animal be buried, and let no member of our family ever kill another possum.”

“His wish is honored to this day by his descendants.

“Thus there were at that time the families of Nyan, Sae, and San living in their town, and when Nyan and Sae were old with grandchildren a certain thing took place:

“Sae had three grandsons called Lomia, Zama, and Sanben, and he had also one granddaughter. Lomia became a great warrior and leader, but he broke one of the secret Poro Society’s laws, and people demanded that he be killed. The wise man and tribal elders all decreed that Lomia should die, but Sae was not willing that this should happen, and planned his grandson’s escape.

When a meeting was held so that the matter could be discussed, Sae concealed Lomia where the young warrior could see and hear, discover his danger, and escape.

“Lomia fled that night, with his two brothers and his sister; other members of his family also went with him, and slaves his grandfather gave him. He decided to travel south and west in search of rich new lands, and adventurous young men of the San and Nyan families went with him. It was a strong and warlike band equipped for war which marched southwest from the Sudan; and many were the battles which they fought.

They overcame the Ge and enslaved them, and brought them down to a river which was the Mani River of today. Here they fought and defeated the local people, and Lomia built a town called Napa (“Na” means my father, “pa” means town) near Mount Nimba.

“In time they crossed the river and build a town named Gumpa after Gum, who was Lomia’s favorite wife. This town is the important frontier town of Ganta today; it is the oldest town of the Mah, the traditional axis of defense and attack and the core of commercial enterprise.

“The San family settled in Sanniquellie; the descendants of Nyan keep their ancestor’s promise, and at any time a San man may enter a Mah house to find food and shelter. The Mano people will not permit any of San’s descendants to be hungry, in danger, or in shame.

The remnants of the Ge, whom Lomia’s people had enslaved and almost absorbed, branched off to find land of their own and became the Gio. The Gio, Ge, Gwei, Gbe, Da and Ngere are all the same people.

“Lomia had a son called Fynia. Fynia was the boldest warrior in the land, and although in those days great warriors were natural tribal leaders he had no wish to sit in council — he preferred to fight. He became general of the Mano army and built a town called Gbloyi, this town is which we sit, commanding the road south southwest to the Kpelle.

The Kpelle was a powerful neighboring people; fierce fighting persisted for many years between the Mah and these neighbors. With the aid of Sanbeh, Lomia’s brother, Fynia enslaved many of the Kpelle, and the descendants of these slaves now live on the eastern edge of Gio land at Tappita.

“Fynia’s son was another warrior-leader, called Membiasagbli. He was so fierce he would kill any stranger who entered Mah land, and many and great were his victories in war.

Membiasagbli is buried in Gbloyi town; a tall tree grew out of his grave, and all important local meetings are held under this tree, for any talk made under this tree is always sure of success.”


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.


Three Animals Who Made Ku

Leopard, Man and Dog one day made Ku; that is they agreed to work together to cut and plant a common farm. Leopard said:

“We will not eat rotten meat in our Ku. The meat which is fresh and has no maggots, that we will eat.”

They worked in the forest cutting their farm and became hungry.

Man and Dog showed Leopard the day when he should hunt and pay his ku. Leopard went into the forest and killed a bush hog. He brought the bush hog to Man and Dog saying:

“My people, come here. Come and cut the little meat I have caught and eat it with cassava.”

The three ku members made a fire and cooked the meat in a big pot. They all ate. Man and Dog went back to the forest to cut farm, and Leopard continued to hunt. He killed two red deer and one black one. He brought them back and showed them to Man and Dog.

“My people,” he said, “here is a thing for you.” They cooked and ate the meat, and the three ku members went into the forest to cut the farm. When they were hungry again, Dog said:

“Leopard, let us show Man a day to pay his ku.”

“No,” said Man. “Not yet.”

Man and Leopard showed Dog a day to pay his ku. Man said:

“As for me, I will set my trap when my time comes. I cannot catch meat bare-handed.”

Leopard said: “What you say is true.”

They showed Dog two day, and Dog went to hunt. Man and Leopard went to cut farm. Dog hunted in the forest and killed a red deer, and brought it to Man and Leopard.

“My ku people,” he said, “here is something to go with your boiled cassava.”

Leopard knew Dog, so he went and scratched the meat on the head.

“It is still fresh.” They roasted and ate the deer with cassava. Man and Leopard went back to cut farm and Dog hunted again. He killed one black deer and a bush hog, and brought them back.

“Here is another something to eat,” he said. Leopard saw that it was fresh meat. They cooked the meat with rice and ate, and all three went to cut farm. When hunger came again, Dog said:

“Man, you have two days to pay your ku.”

“No, the days you have shown me are short. Show me four.”

Dog said no, but Leopard gave man three.

“Brother Leopard,” said Dog, “you are the big member of the ku, let it be as you say.”

They gave man three days. Man said: “Fine. My hand is under it (I agree).”

Man set his trap in the forest but no meat came. The first day passed. The second day passed, and he grew worried, for he had not paid his ku. He went for a walk in the forest and began cutting palm nuts. An old lady heard him there and said:

“Who is that cutting nuts?”

“It is I.”

“What are you doing there?”

“I am cutting nuts.”

“Come here.” Man went there. “Cut the grass around my kitchen.

“Old woman,” said Man, “I am in ku with Leopard and Dog. In this ku we cannot eat rotten meat. They showed me three days to pay ku-meat, and two have gone, so I must catch meat in my trap today.What time do I have to cut grass around your kitchen? What time do I have to set my traps?”

She said: “Cut the grass. A person doesn’t ever know what can bless him.”

He cut the grass and cleaned about the kitchen, but then it was too late to set his trap. The old lady came and said:

“You have done well for me, and now I will do well for you, bring two pots from my left, and rice, and the little meat you find there.”

Man did this. He cooked the food and they ate. The old woman took a horn from a small bag.

“There is black powder in this horn. As soon as you go into the forest you will see a black deer. Show him the horn and wish him dead, and he will be dead.”

Man thanked her. He went into the forest, saw a black deer and showed it the horn of black powder. “I kill you,” he said, and the deer fell dead. Man gave the black deer to the old woman, and went away with the horn to hunt for his ku.

Back at the farm Dog was saying to Leopard:

“Let us catch man and eat him. He cannot catch meat for his ku.”

Man came. Dog mocked him, and said he would be eaten because he could catch no meat.

“I bring a bush hog,” Man said. “Also two black deer, and three red deer. This can be our ku-meat for today.”

“Is what you say true?” asked Dog.

“What I say is true,” said man. “Let us eat.”

They went to the meat, and Leopard scratched the heads. “The meat is good.” They cooked and ate. Man went into the forest and returned with four more deer. The ku ate again. That evening Dog said:

“Let us go to a secret place where we can talk ku business, and hang heads together.”

They went to a secret place.

“The things which killed the meat,” Dog said. “Let us show them to each other.”

Leopard scratched a tree with his claws. “That is what killed my meat,” he said.

Dog bit the tree with his teeth. “That is what killed my meat.”

Man said: “Leopard, the thing I have is bad.”

“Show it to us,” said Leopard, “so that we may know.”


“We will kill you if you don’t.”

“Then I will show it.” Man showed his horn of black powder to Leopard and said, “Leopard, I kill you.” Leopard fell down dead and stayed there. Dog was afraid. He stood up wagging his tail and begging Man.

“Because you asked me to show you the thing that killed my meat,” said Man, “and I showed it to Leopard and he fell down and died, is that why you beg me?”

“I beg you, my good friend, do not kill me!”

“I will not kill you. You eat your own thing. We will go into town.”

Dog and Man went to town. Dog wags his tail when he greets people because of that day long ago.


Why Woman Has No Devil

When God brought Devil to earth he decided to give it into the keeping of Woman. “For,” he said, “She can keep things better than Man.”

When he reached earth he found all the people sitting together in one place. He put Devil down before all the people and said: “Wait, I will return soon,” and went away.

While he was gone a small boy came running and told them there were plenty of mushrooms down the road. All the women ran down the road to find mushrooms. God returned and found only a man watching Devil. He said:

“Oh, the woman hold mushroom palaver hard and have already forgotten Devil. If I give them Devil they will be sure to lose him. Therefore I will give Devil to Man, and Woman can find her ‘devil’ where the mushrooms are.”

The only devil the woman found was a tortoise eating a mushroom. They brought it back, ate the flesh, and began to beat the shell and dance. Man said:

“Ah, that is the woman’s devil!

How when the Devil comes to town he cries:

“Women, go inside and hold mushrooms palaver!”

Women are not allowed to go see Devil.


Big Bird in the Kola Tree

Big Bird lives in the forest and sits in a kola tree. He bites, and he has big pepper. Spider found the tree and began climbing in it to get nuts.

Big Bird put pepper in Spider’s eyes and Spider fell to the ground. He lay there for a time with bad eyes; then he rose and returned to his town. He said to Black Deer:

“Let us go and pick kola nuts.”

They went together to the tree. Spider told Black Deer to climb. Deer Climbed up into the branches and found Big Bird sitting there.

Big Bird threw pepper in his eyes and he fell to the ground and began to cry. Spider took a big stick and began to beat him. Deer could not see, the pepper burned his eyes. He begged Spider not to beat him, but Spider kept on beating him and at last he killed Deer. He cut the meat and carried it home to his family.

Next day Spider said to Red Deer: “Let us go to pick kola nuts.”

Red Deer went with him. Red Deer fell from the tree with pepper in his eyes, and Spider killed him and cut the meat. In this way many animals died.

One day Spider invited Pigmy Antelope to pick kola nuts in the forest. Antelope is a wise animal who knows too many secrets. He went with Spider to the kola tree. He saw the tracks of many animals leading to the tree, but none led away from it.

Antelope thought there must be a Thing in the tree which ate animals. When Spider asked him to climb he said:

“Spider, this kola tree belongs to you. You know where the best nuts are. You climb first.”

Spider began climbing. He tried to hide from Big Bird, but Big Bird saw him there and dropped much pepper in his eyes. Spider also had pepper, and threw his pepper in Big Bird’s eyes. Spider fell down. Big Bird fell down. Antelope killed Big Bird, and when Spider could see again he said:

“Antelope, you’ve killed Big Bird. That makes big palava.”

They dug a hole and buried Big Bird, and Spider said again:

“Give me all your kola nuts and I will tell no one what I have seen.”

Antelope gave all his nuts to Spider and they returned to town. But after a little while Spider went back to the kola tree and took Big Bird. He carried Big Bird home that night and gave the body to his wife to cook. He tied a rope about his leg and said:

“Wife, when Big Bird is cooked, pull on this rope and I will come.”

He went outside to play. Antelope saw the rope tied to his leg and thought about it. He cut the rope and tied it to his own leg to see what might happen. Presently he felt someone pulling on the rope, and went into Spider’s house. All was darkness; he could see nothing, and no one could see him. Spider’s wife heard him there, and said:

“Spider, here is your rice and meat.”

Antelope ate. When he had finished all Big Bird and the rice as well he went outside. Spider became hungry and went in to his wife.

“Where is my rice and meat?”

“Are you mad? How many birds did you give me?”

She told him he had eaten all his food. Spider refused to believe her, and began to beat her. She cried out, and people came.

“What is the matter?” asked Antelope.

“Oh, she cooked crabs and now she can’t find them,” Spider said.

“All this fuss just for a few crabs?”

“It wasn’t crabs! cried Spider’s wife. “It was Big Bird Spider brought me Big Bird to cook, and I cooked. Now Big Bird seems to have eaten the rice I cooked with him, and walked away.”

The cooking of Big Bird caused palaver in the town. Spider was ashamed, and people beat him. He had to go away from the town and live in another place.

Ethnic Origin

Why Gbea Never Eat Chimpanzee

One night during Hungry Season when Chimpanzee was starving he kept walking around and round in one place in the forest saying:

“I am so hungry I cannot sleep. I am really so very hungry that I could not possible sleep.”

When the moon arose he found he was walking around a tree, and presently he climbed into the tree and went to sleep. He did not realize it was a kola tree bearing many nuts. In the morning he saw that he was in a kola tree and looked in surprise at all the nuts about him. He became disgusted with himself, saying:

“Last night I was so hungry I could not sleep, and I walked around this tree many times. I was too stupid to see that it was a kola tree. When I became tired of walking I climbed into the tree and slept; and still I was too stupid to know it was a kola tree, abounding with fine nuts. I will never eat kola nuts again, or at least not till tomorrow.”

Kola nut are the Tien, or taboo of the Gbea Clan; and when the Gbea saw Chimpanzee sitting in the tree without eating any nuts they thought such nuts must be his Tien also, and that he was therefore their brother-by-Tien.

That is why the Gbea never eat Chimpanzee.


The Boy Who Danced: Liberian Cinderella Story

There lived a little orphan boy who had two older sisters; he was a gentle and good-natured lad, but his sisters were cruel and unkind to him. He was only given scraps of food to eat, and his sisters beat him every day and made him to do their work. They were ashamed of him because he had so many yaws and ugly sores.

The two girls excelled at dancing, and whenever there was a feast in any nearby town they were invited; the little boy could always beg to go with them but they would only beat him and give hem extra work to do. On such occasions he would take of his yaws and sores, hide them in a spot, and slip away to dance disguised as a handsome youth.

Before the feast was over he would hurry home, and when his sisters came they would be surprised to find their ragged brother knew of everything which had happened at the dance.

“How do you know these things?” they would ask.

“I dreamed while you were gone, “ he would reply. They would beat him for dreaming, and send him about his work.

One day a poor old lady came to the house; the two sisters drove her from their door, but the boy saw she was hungry, and gave her the poor food he had. On this day a great feast was being held in a neighboring town; the little boy begged to go, but his sisters went without him.

After they had gone he took off all his sores and yaws and put them in the spot, and slipped away. The old woman had secretly been watching him and after he had gone she burned the yaws and sores and threw the ashes in the river.

At the feast the two girls saw a handsome youth who danced better than anyone else, and after a little while they went to him and begged that he would marry them.

“Be patient,” he said. “Wait until the end of the feast.”

He knew he would not be there at the end of the feast. He danced so well that people brought him gifts such as a sheep, and a goat, an cow, and rice, palm wine and oil and other things; and when he left he took them home. He went to the old woman saying:

“I have brought you things which you may keep; for you are poor, and old, and thus my mother might have been. But you must go away, lest my sisters steal your things and beat you.”

He went to find his yaws and sores, but they were gone.

“I took your things,” the woman said, “those ugly things you wore upon your skin. I burned them, and threw the ashes in the river; for now you have no need of them. Know that I am the spirit of your mother, Son, and through you will be blessed a hundred times for your kindness and pure heart; your cruel and wicked sisters shall never find their way back to this house.”

Before the boy could answer her, his mother had disappeared.

He found his single sheep had become a hundred sheep, his goat a hundred fine fat cows. He went into the night and called his sisters, but they never found their way back to their home and no many could say where they had gone.


How a Man Became Unwitched

In the land of the Gios there was a poor man named Keizoe. He was so poor that often his wife and children had nothing at all to eat, and although he had some knowledge of bush medicine and unknown person had witched his medicine powers, and good fortune was a stranger to the house of Keizoe.

A diviner lived in a town beyond the borders of Gio land, in what is now French Guinea, and Keizoe decided to travel there and seek the diviner’s advice. He journeyed from town to town for many days, through high forests and the mountains in the north, and in the course of time he reached the town he sought. The diviner was in his house.

“Wise man,” Keizoe said, “I come from a distant place in the land of the Gios. Some one there has witched me and my times are bad. My crops are poor and the prey of pigs, my children sick and grow thin; my house is old, and so am I. I wish to prosper and see my family grow fat, but everything I do is dust because someone has witched me.

“I will think on this,” the wise man said. “I will read the sands tonight and dream, and tomorrow I will tell you what to do; and to lend my magic strength you must bring me seven white kola nuts, seven mats, and seven chicken eggs.”

On the morrow Keizoe brought him all these things, and the Diviner said:

“If a man lives in one place and is unhappy, then he should leave and live in another place.” He gave Keizoe a cotton tree see, and a long stick with a short hooked limb at one end.

“Travel towards your village,” he said, “and perhaps beyond. Drag this stick behind you, and where it catches in a tree, or rock, or bush, there you must make you house and live.”

“Along in the forest with my small family?” Keizoe felt nervous when he thought of the great forest.

“This cotton tree seed will protect you,” said the Diviner. “Guard this seed, and keep it always with you, and fortune will be your constant guest. Build your house and live there with your family; you will prosper, and your family will grow fat.

Keizoe set forth towards his village dragging the hooked stick behind him. He walked for several days and reached his family and fared on for another week to rich abnd lonely lands, and in a certain place the stick hooked firmly to a tree.

“Zuon-mehn!” he cried. “I have arrived! Here is rich and abundant earth which no man owns, and also a pleasant stream. Let us build our house, and this land will be ours.”

The house was built; the children grew and other houses were built where they lived with their wives and husbands, and the place became a village and grew into a town. Today the place is called Zuen; it is a prosperous town and part of Boo-Quila Chiefdom.

When Keizoe died he was buried, and the seed of the cotton tree was buried with him in a pouch about his neck. A cotton tree grew from his grave, and the people of the town began to worship it for they believed that Keizoe himself was the spirit of the tree.

Even today this tree is given great respect, and no foreign tongue or dialect is spoken in its presence.


The Witch Called Jealous

A farmer had two wives. One of the women gave him a boy-baby and a girl-baby, but the other woman was barren. The farmer said to his childless wife:

“Since you do not bear me any children, I shall not give you cloth. I will only give cloth to the mother of my children.”

The barren wife decided to bewitch the children. She made witch-medicine and threw it on the boy. The boy became sick and died, and went to the Town of Spirits.

The mother took her remaining child to the rice farm, and left it in the shade while she worked. The barren wife made more witch-medicine and changed herself into a large bird. She seized the little girl and flew to a cottonwood tree.

The mother screamed. The boy who had died heard the noise and saw the bird in the cottonwood tree with his sister. He said to himself: “That is sister!”

He threw a stone at the bird and killed it. His sister was saved and his mother rejoiced.

Jealousy is a witch who poisons the hearts of men and steals away their honor.


Why Men No Longer Hunt With Fire

There was a hunter so skilled at hunting with fire that no animal could escape him. He would set fire to the forest in such a way that all the animals therein would be forced to flee along a narrow trail, and there they would fall prey to the hunter’s spears. One day the animals appealed to the Bush Devil for protection.

“Then live in my town,” Bush Devil said, and they went to live in his town. They were safe there. Bush Devil went to the hunter with an empty rice-hamper and said:

“Hunter, get into my hamper.”

The hunter called him a fool and beat him with a stick. The next day when Hunter was sitting by his home Bush Devil appeared again and said:

“Hunter, get into my hamper.”

The hunter’s wives picked up sticks and beat Bush Devil. Bush Devil kept on repeating the same words, for the beating did not hurt him.

The Chief of the town called all his men and threw spears at Bush Devil, but it made no difference. They seized him and flung him into a house, then burned the house. Everything burned except Bush Devil. He came out and said:

“Hunter, get into my hamper.”

The hunter found he could not eat. He began to grow thin, and the men of the town held council. They told the hunter to get into Bush Devil’s hamper and finish the palaver. He might be killed and he might not, but if he did nothing he would soon die of thinness anyway. The hunter climbed into the hamper.

Bush Devil tied him up and hurried off with him. He went to his town and untied the hunter. He showed him all the animals.

“The animals have asked for my protection,” he said, “and I have promised they will never be hunted again by fire. As you know I can kill you, but you cannot kill me. If you hunt animals again with fire I will kill you. If you promise you will never hunt with fire again, all the animals will return to the forest and you will be free to find them if you can.”

The hunter swore he would never use fire again to hunt, and the animals went back to the forest. That is why fire is no longer used to hunt.


How Spider’s Son Was Eaten By a Goblin

A goblin lived in the forest and he had a son called Pei. Pei was a great hunter and killed many animals; but one day when he went to hunt he found there were no animals left. He only saw Spider’s son and carried him home. Father Goblin said:

“Clean him and hang him up to dry. Tomorrow we will eat him.”
Pei hung the dead thing up to dry.

When Spider went home he could not find his son, and he wondered where he was. He said to himself: “I will go and look in Goblin’s house. His son, Pei, kills much game.”

When Spider reached Goblin’s house he saw his son hanging up inside. He said to Pei:

“What kind of game is this?”

“Nothing special,” Pei answered.

“It looks just like my son.”

“Oh! I didn’t know it was our son.”

They began to fight. Eggs were hanging by the door in a basket, and they were Goblin’s private eggs. Spider knocked them down, and in a moment he had swallowed them. Pei was silent for a little time, feeling sad about the eggs.

Then he said: “Spider, this palaver between you and I is finished. You have killed my things, and I have killed yours. Go home.”

The eggs made Spider’s stomach happy, and he went home.


The Herald of the Dawn

When Wala made the world and the animals therein, there was a great distinction between Day and Night, and often it was difficult to tell if it was light or dark, or in between, or the other way around.

The animals decided to sent a messenger to Wala to ask for some means of telling when the night was over and day began.

The animals worked long and hard building a ladder, a tall, tall ladder which reached right up to the sky. But when the ladder was finished there was grave doubt if anyone could climb it. Many animals tried, but they either became dizzy and fell down, or were too frightened to climb very far.

In those days Rooster was an ugly and ungainly creature, not so fine a fellow as he is today; and the animals all laughed at him when he tried to climb the ladder. But Rooster ascended the ladder little by little, further and further, until he could see Wala.

Wala listened to his story, and looked kindly on him.

“You are a brave animal,” he said, “to come all this way and tell me of your troubles telling night from day. Such a brave animal should also be beautiful.”

Wala gave Rooster brilliant colors and a better shape, and placed a red crown on his head to be a symbol of the rising sun.

“Henceforth,” he said, “night will be night and very dark, and day will be day and brighter. And you will wear your red crown, and sing a song each morning to announce the dawn.”

That is how Rooster won his colors and his crown, and why he always sings a song at daybreak.