The Desmode and the Deer

Deer had her home in a pleasant forest glade close to a tall Desmode, or Dicot tree. No grass grew near the Desmode, and the ground there was quite bare; one day Deer saw that her tracks were plainly visible on this bare ground, and fearing a hunter might notice them she said to the Desmode:

“Good friend, please cover my tracks with your leaves.”

The Desmode refused to do this.

“I beg you, cover my tracks. Some hunter may see them there and know this place to be my home, and so kill me.”

“Whether you live or die is no concern of mine,” the Desmode said.
“Then so be it, “ the Deer exclaimed. “But that thing which kills me will kill you too.”

“You are foolish, Deer,” said an Oweh bush nearby, “and your life is shadowed by foolish fears. No hunter will come here.”

“Men eat animals,” Deer protested, “and they also cut down trees. If my tracks betray us all, then don’t blame me.”

Some days later a hunter discovered the tracks of Deer, and he saw that she walked often, and slept, close to the Desmode. He waited in hiding, and killed Deer when she came, then carried the meat and the skin back to his town. The Chief there said:

“That is a very fine skin you have. Let a tree be cut, and we will make a drum.”

“O Chief,” the hunter said, “there is a Desmode at the place where I killed the deer, and the wood of a Desmode is fine for making drums.”

“Such wood holds a pleasant tone,” the chief agreed. “Then let this Desmode be cut.” Woodsmen went to cut the Desmode tree, and noticed the Oweh bush nearby. They said:

“We also must have resin to rub on the skin of the drum. Let us take this Oweh bush, for the resin it has is good.”

The Oweh bush was also cut and taken to town with the Desmode. The drum was made, using the skin of Deer, the wood of Desmode, and the rosin of Oweh bush. Deer quarreled with Desmode and Oweh abused them both: and when the drum was beaten the echoes of their quarrel filled the air.