A Maiden Who Wedded a Dhevlin

There lived a rich chief whose daughter was so beautiful that men who saw her trembled with desire; her name was Daggu. But although she was of marriageable age, Daggu was too disobedient to follow her father’s good advice and marry such a man as he might choose; and she was too proud to choose a husband from those who begged her hand, for she saw no man who’s beauty matched her own.

The old chief was very sad. He called in diviners and wise men and asked them to discover some solution. The diviners and wise men asked the chief to put them to sleep with gifts, so the chief gave each of them white cloth and silver. They slept, and next morning they revealed the nature of the trouble.

“Your daughter has inherited a discontented Spirit, O Chief,” they said. “We can do nothing. No one else can do anything. Her ways cannot be changed.”

A powerful Dhevlin heard of this proud and beautiful Daggu, and decided he would win her. This Dhevlin had one big leg, one tooth, one large ear and one eye in the center of his forehead. He went into the forest and began to change his form: he borrowed the beautiful eyes of Deer, Otter’s silken coat, Monkey’s teeth, and Pigeon’s pretty pink fee.

Disguised as the most handsome of creatures he went to the chief with gifts, and as soon as Daggu saw him she fell passionately in love. The wise chief cautioned his daughter against marrying this unknown stranger, but she merely laughed. So they were married, the Dhevlin and the maiden, and stayed for a week of feasting the chief gave in their honor: and then they began the journey to the rich, fair land the Dhevlin said he owned.

They met otter, and Dhevlin gave Otter his skin. His own was of slippery yellow scales, and cold; Daggu was alarmed. Dhevlin gave back his beautiful eyes to Deer, his fine white teeth to Monkey, his pretty pink feet to Pigeon. He became once again an ugly monster, and Daggu was forced to live with him in despair and sorrowing until she died.

Such may be the fate of any maiden who is proud and disobedient, and disregards her parents’ good advice.


The Deadly Oracle

The Chief of the land was Ozeky, and his daughter was the wisest of all women. Her name was Tua, and she knew all things and such as the breadth of her wisdom that she became an oracle. The Chief announced that any man who asked a question which she could not answer would be given half the chiefdom; but if the question was well answered he would die.

By river in this land a woman lived with her three sons; they were poor, and rarely had enough to eat. The oldest of the three sons said:

“Mother, I go to win half Chief Okaku’s chiefdom; I shall ask Tua such a question as even she can never answer.”

“My son,” she said, “think well before you go. Wiser men than you have died already.”

But he went. He said to Tua:

“What causes Nefegboi, the yard snake, to bite a man?” The meaning of this was: What is the common cause of a man’s misfortune? Tua answered him:

“Because Nyimi, the black snake, hangs something on that man’s throat.” This meant: Because a man is often betrayed the loose tongue of a friend.

The oldest of the three sons died. The second son them came and said:

“Before God we are fools. What causes the vanity of men?”

Tua answered him:

“Tintala the cricket depends on heat to give a Bolon cry, and all heat comes from God.” The Bolon cry is a signal used by the Bore Society; and the answer meant: Men depend on emotion when they boast and man’s emotions are made by God. The question had been answered and the second son died.

The youngest of the three sons then begged his mother that he might go to Tua, but she would not let him go.

“If you want to be killed I would rather see you die before my eyes,” she said, “thank think of you lying dead in a distant place.”

He begged her day and night for permission to go to Tua, and after man weeks she grew weary and resigned to his early death.

“If you must go, my only so in, then go, but unwillingly I say it. Your brothers have died and so will you, and there will be nothing left.”

She made dough from crushed corn and cooked it with strong poison, and gave it to him for food along the way; for she would rather bury him herself than have him die in a distant place. The young man set out with his dog, and when he came to the river nearby he sat down to wait for the ferry-canoe to come. He took out the corn cake and gave a piece to his do. The dog ate, and died.

“Dead?” the young man muttered. “Is this an omen? It would seem to be an evil one.”

He put the dog in the river. An eagle flew down and alighted on the bloating body. Bird and dog drifted down the river out of sight. The young man went to Tua, and he said:

“Dough killed dog, and the dead carried the living. What does this mean?

Tua considered the question for three days, and could find no answer. The third son lived, for the death of his dog had saved him. Chief Ozeky gave him half his lands, and he mourned his brothers but lived in peace and plenty with his mother until she died.


The Maiden Who Wedded a Sea-Demon

Old men tell of a noble chief who possessed a daughter of surpassing grace and beauty, and called Tola. She was a maiden both talented and fair, as lovely as a rising moon and tutored well in wifely skills, as was the custom of those times; but, over-proud of her perfection and deaf to her father’s wish, she refused to marry any many with a spot or blemish on his skin.

Her father sent messengers and envoys to countries near and far, searching for a perfect man to mate his perfect daughter; from far and near came princes, chiefs, the sons of chief’s, great warriors and youths of noble birth to suffer close inspection and in turn be turned away. Many tried to hide their defects but in this they failed: for Tola had a devoted brother, as warped and ugly as she was beautiful, and out of love for her he would change himself into a fly and spy the imperfections of her suitors.

She refused them one and all, for all who came had scars, or moles, or wounds, or warts, or other and worse things. And the rat of unrequited love gnawed the hearts of those who saw her.

A demon who dwelt in the ocean depths heard of Tola’s exceeding loveliness, and made up his mind to have her. Using gentle and fine persuasion he borrowed the soft and flawless skin of the Sea Goddess herself, and with a long canoe fully laden with such treasures as pearls and precious shells and pounds of gold he journeyed to the shore.

When she heard another rich and handsome man had come to ask her hand, Tola sent her brother (as a fly) to see if this new stranger had spots, or sores, or birthmarks. Her brother found the stranger preparing himself to meet the chief, dressing himself in costly clothes and ornaments and anointing himself with the fragrant juices of sweet herbs.

The fly buzzed around and around, searching the suitor’s ears and legs, belly and chest and back for even the smallest blemish; but the skin of the Sea Goddess had none, and in deep wonder the ugly brother returned to his sister to report.

“O Sister,” he announced, “this stranger’s skin is perfect. There is no pimple, spot, or any mark. His skin is whole and pure, and beautiful to see!”

“Then he is the first, “ she said, and calmly added: “I shall marry him.”

But her brother was wise beyond his years, and devotion for her sharpened his natural wit.

“Beloved sister,” he began, “take care! Take time! There is something strange about this man I cannot yet define. He has an evil air. I feel he is —.”

“Be quiet!” she commanded with quick temper. “Who are you to judge a perfect man, or speak against him? A crooked, twisted, hare-lipped creature such as your should learn to keep his place. And besides, “in wistful and more gentle tones, “I have been maiden long enough.”

The demon from the sea entered the Chief’s great court, splendidly dressed and bearing find presents for the Chief; and sadly the old man listened to the young and handsome suitor. At length he said:

“O man, it seems to me you are a fine and worthy fellow; but my daughter will not have you. She is a proud and disobedient girl, and nothing I can say will help you. She will not marry you, or any other man.”

But at that moment Tola came, straight and slender as a palm, exquisite as a dewdrop flaming with dawn’s early light.

“O Father, who is this man?” “He is a prince from a distant land, my daughter, come with the finest gifts and asking for your hand.”
When she saw the demon to be more than twice as handsome as those who came before, her heart was made light with sudden love and she said at once:

“Then give my hand, O Father, and let him marry me!”

The Chief rose from his seat in joy to embrace both his daughter and the demon. He shouted for his heralds, and proclaimed a Day of Days. He seated the stranger at his side and sent urgent messengers through the land to lesser chiefs to attend a Week of Weeks; the city dressed in gaiety and splendor for a festival surpassing any festival which ever went before.

From towns and villages men came with gifts, hunters searched the forests for red meat, palms were tapped for wine, great cooking fires appeared and the leading dancers and musicians of the land were summoned to perform.

Thus it was that the lovely Tola was married to the demon from the Under Sea. And her ugly brother grieved alone, and wondered what it was which made him grieve.

Now, some men lie and others shuffle words, but this I say in truth: the joyful Chief gave the married couple one whole river with its valley, cattle and goats which ten men could not count, and not one town but two whole towns of servants.

And yet in a week and a day the pair departed on their journey to the stranger’s ‘distant land’.

They traveled down to the coast and entered the demon’s long canoe, with silver and gold and treasures which the Chief had given them; and as he paddled to sea with his bride the demon sang a song:

“Pa Ma wei lei, ma ya pa; Pa Ma a li e!”

The name of the demon was Pa Ma, and the song he sang was:

“Pa Ma is going , going far away; Pa Ma sings farewell, forever!”

And every time he came to the ‘wei’ part he paddled more strongly, as people do, so that the canoe sped swiftly and more swiftly out to sea.

When they were far at sea and winds began brushing water from the waves, he said magic words and the ocean opened to them: much to Tola’s horror and despair the canoe descended rapidly to the gloomy world of the Under Sea . . . and there, long frightful shadows and slimy things which crawled and slithered, the demon shed the soft skin of the Sea Goddess.

He was hideous to look upon, a scaly thing with cruel eyes. Tola shrank from him in fear and disgust and tried to run away: but with scabby claws he seized her, dragged her to the entrance of a silent cave, and into the dismal shadow-world inside.

Nights passed. Night succeeded night, for in the Under Sea there are no days, there is not sufficient light. The daughter of the noble Chief existed in mortal fear of the sly demon, and of the shadowy Shapes which watched her every move. Her one friend was the mother of the demon, who one day said to her:

“Child, you are both beautiful and tender-hearted; what are you doing here? Why did you come? My son is cruel and wicked, even more so than I: many are the girls he has lured here from the land . . . and he has destroyed and devoured them all. Surely this will be your fate. I fear for you!”

From this moment the poor bride lived in hourly fear of both; she wept, she sobbed, she prayed, she would not eat; and then, after days of sobbing, weeping, praying, and not eating a fly buzzed gently by her face.

A fly? But there were no flies in the Under Sea. She ceased weeping and looked up to find her ugly little brother standing by her side. Her eyes grew wide in wonder and delight.

“Oh, beloved brother! Oh, how did you —?”

“Hush, let us waste no time,” he urged her. “I traveled with you in the canoe, for I feared something evil might happen to you. I have discovered the demon’s magic box. The canoe is waiting. It is time to go!”

She rose and went with him. Hand in hand they ran through dark tunnels curtained with waiving seaweed, through rocky places where sea-animals on thin legs clicked and scuttled, and past the gaping mouths of caves, and came to the canoe. Her brother had stolen the demon’s box of magic secrets, and now as they sat in the canoe he said certain magic words and the canoe bore them up to the ocean surface.

They paddled to land singing the demon’s song backwards, and every time they came to the ‘wei’ part they paddled more strongly than before, as people do, so that the canoe sped swiftly and more swiftly to shore.

So it was that they made their way back to their own land, where they were received with treat rejoicing. The Chief’s family held a long and happy palaver and Tola married a loyal and devoted warrior of her father’s choice. She bore many sons; and she loved and respected her ugly, twisted little brother for the strength of his heart and the power of his chivalry.


The Two Cripples That Decided to Commit Suicide

In a village there dwelt two young men, one of whom was blind and the other lame. As champions in adversity they would sit together in the market place and beg for food; but the more fortunate villagers ordered them to leave and find their living in another place.

The blind man used his sound legs to carry his friend into the forest, and the lame man used his eyes to direct his companion along the road. When hunger came to them the lame man saw a bowl of palm oil in a tree, and instructed his blind friend to climb up and steal it.

The blind man climbed the tree and took the bowl, but fell with it, so that the two men were soaked in the stolen oil: and they discussed what they should do.

“If people find us they will kill us,” said one, “for we have stolen oil.”

“It is little difference whether we are killed or starved to death,” observed the other.

“Ours will be a cruel and bloody death,” the first insisted, “if people find us here.”

“Then since we must die anyway, let us drown ourselves.”

They both agreed to this, and went down to the river. When the lame man saw the dark and uninviting waters he felt afraid; but he also saw a large stone at his feet, and said to his companion:

“I will be the first to jump into the river.”

“Well and good,” the blind man said. “I bid you fond farewell; we will meet in heaven or in hell.”

The lame man then took the heavy stone and threw it in the river. There was a loud splash, and then silence. The blind man waited for some time, and a thought came to his mind: ‘when a man drowns in a river one usually hears the sounds of struggling; yet I have heard but a single splash. Has my friend jumped in, or did he only cast a stone? I do not wish to die alone.’

Now, the Spirit of the River was looking on this scene with some amusement, but neither of the men could know this. The blind man heard a slight sound at his side, and beat in that direction with his stick. He hit his friend.

They started fighting. They rolled about upon the river band, scratching, hitting, kicking, biting, till dust arose in clouds and small creatures fled in dear. The River Spirit laughed and laughed, for such a thing he had not seen in years: and with a word he gave the blind man sight, and healed the lame man’s legs.

When the two men realized what had taken place they were once more friends; they returned to their village and labored side by side for a whole year. The fruit of the labors they offered as a giant sacrifice on the river bank, and lived in happiness and wealth until they died.


How a Slave-Clan Won its Freedom

This is a colorful confusion of history and legend such as Grebo men have told around their fires for many generations.
In the peace of evenings old men smoke their pipes and tell of the Bulobos and Gudobos, two clans who lived before the birth of thunder or lightning. The Bulobo were bald and strong and they had a mighty giant named Gbovanh, who was leader of their army. The Gudobo. They paid heavy tribute and worked as slaves in Bulobo fields: they were not permitted to beat drums, play any music, or even laugh. They were very sad.
But among the Gudobos there was a diviner, one rich man, and three powerful warriors. The diviner said to the rich man, whose name was Gekplo:
“Let us send riches to the Wise Woman, who dwells in the Far Forest, and ask for her help and advice. It is not good that we should remain forever slaves.”
Gekplo summoned the three warriors. He gave them riches, and sent them to ask the Wise Woman for help. The three warriors set off, and marched rapidly for a month through forests and swamps, crossed rivers and mountains and came to the high place where the Wise Woman lived. On the way they met a small dwarf woman who carried a heavy burden, and they carried her burden for her. The little woman was a spirit in disguise, and when the three warriors told her of their mission she gave them each a magic stone, and said:
“Each of you take one stone and hold it tightly. Do not let it go until you have done what you want to do.”
The warriors accepted her advice. They went to the Wise Woman and gave her the riches they carried, saying:
“Our people send us with gifts. Our group is small and has been enslaved, for our enemies are numerous and have a giant who leads their army. We beg that you will help us.”
“I have only one giant left,” she said, “and of course, his horn-blower. The giant is known as Doe, and his partner is called Gbia; but Doe is so dreadful, so monstrous and so fierce, that no one wants to have him.”
“We want him,” said the warriors, and held their stones more tightly.
“Can you control him? He can pull up trees like rice stalks, or push a mountain on its side.”
“We can control him.”
The Wise Woman called on Doe, and the giant came. He was a truly terrifying giant; steam issued from his nostrils, and the hair upon his head was like a thousand raffia palms. His horn-blower Gbia, was only slightly smaller. They scorned the three young warriors, but the warriors laid hold of them and overthrew them with the power of the magic stones they held. When the Wise Woman saw that Doe and Gbia would submit, he gave a leopard’s tooth to the warriors and said:
“Drop this tooth in the village pond. Command your woman to search for it, and she who finds it will give birth to twin sons. These will be Doe and Gbia. They will grow to manhood as members of your clan, and will do as you command.”
The three warriors were suddenly transported back to their town, among the Gudobo. They dropped the leopard’s tooth in the pond, and announced to all the young women:
“Go to the pond and search for a leopard’s tooth. She who finds it will bear two sons, and they will lead us from slavery.”
The young woman searched all day and night, groping with their hands and feet and fishing nets, and bailing water; but all they found was fish. Then Gekplo’s wife tried too, although she was old and people laughed; and she found the leopard’s tooth.
On the following year all the young Gudobo girls gave birth to vigorous baby boys, for somehow while searching in the bond they had been seduced by the leopard’s tooth. Gekplo’s wife bore two sons in severe agony. The first to appear was Gbia then horn-blower, who gazed about him in surprise and blew a mighty blast on his horn to announce that Doe was coming. When Doe arrived he wore a cutlass strapped diagonally across his body: and, like all the other babies born around that time, Doe and Gbia refused the breast and demanded nuts and meat, and grew with amazing speed.
The character of the whole clan changed, and all the men felt confident and brave. The infants grew to manhood in two years, strong and lusty men who soon began to fight and kill each other. they drank all the springs and streams dry, killed elephants for pleasure and were in general strong and fierce beyond the nature of normal men.
Doe and Gbia grew into giants, formidable fellows who could pluck trees from the ground like rotten rice stalks. One day Doe saw the tribal drums and asked what their use was. He learned his clan were slaves, and not permitted to make the noise which could be made on drums; and, becoming angry at such foolish words, he beat the drums at once.
The hostile Bulobos heard the drums. They sent a group of warriors to seize and kill the drummer, but Doe crushed their skulls between two fingers like ripe berries and flung the bodies back in the general direction from which they came.
This meant war. The Bulobos wondered what form of madness had seized the weak Gudobos; but when their spies reported that the slaves had somehow raised a formidable army, the Bulobos were alarmed. They assembled an army themselves, consisting of their own warriors and those of friendly groups, and they marched to war against the Gudobos with their giant Gbovanh, and his horn-blower, in the vanguard.
The two armies met, and the killing was a fearful thing to see. For two days the battle raged and neither side would yield; and Gbovanh, the enemy giant, was causing such havoc that the Gudobos called on Doe and Gbia. They had kept their giant and horn-blower in reserve. Doe and Gbia decided to wear iron rings on their ankles to mock the Bulobos, reminding them the Gudobos had once been slaves; so they took iron bars and twisted them round their legs. when Doe walked his anklets rang out a song:
Wloko youm, kpoyo yum!
Wloko youm, kpoyo yum!

They walked towards the battlefield; but on the way they found palm wine, drank deep draughts and fell asleep. Warriors came to wake them, but could not. They thrust red hot irons in the horn-blower’s ear, and he awoke. He took his horn and blew:

“To battle, O mighty Doe.
Kill all you can, O mighty Doe!”

The summons aroused the strongest emotions and the strongest bravery. Doe awoke and seized his sword. Together they entered the battle, hacking and cutting and slashing and thrusting, destroying the very trees so that nothing was left standing. They slew the entire army except the enemy giant and his horn-blower, and then night fell.
Great was the feasting among the Gudobos that night! On the following day Doe and Gbia went forth again.

Wloko youm, kpoyo yum!
Wloko youm, kpoyo yum!
Gbia blew his trumpet.
“To battle, O Mighty Doe
“Kill all you can, O Mighty Doe!”

Gbovanh and his horn-blower appeared, and the enemy horn-blower blew such a deafening blast on his horn that rocks crumbled into sand. Gbia put his horn to his lips and blew till his muscles swelled and the veins stood out on his forehead. his rival trembled, his eyes bulged, and he fell down dead on the ground.
Doe and Gbovanh engaged in mortal combat. They struggled briefly, then Doe’s gleaming sword pierced Gbovanh through the throat and slit him from his bobbles to his brain. He tore his rival limb from limb and then ripped out the bones, and went on the massacre and ravished all the towns and people of the Bulobo clan.
Thenceforward the Gudobos lived a happy and peaceful life which did not agree at all with Doe and Gbia. the two giants served their people well and made great drums from the trunks of trees. When they were ready to marry they simply went into any house and took any number of young women until they did not want any more; whether the women were married or not they did not ask or care, and the clan grew and grew in a fashion marvelous to behold.
But since there was no more fighting, Doe and Gbia became less and less content, until one day they decided to leave. They entered a field which was being burned; the fire surrounded them and advanced, and they were burnt. The skies darkened, black clouds appeared, a great storm arose. There was a violent volley of thunder, and lightning stabbed the earth.
It was the first thunder and lightning known to the world. Gbia was up there blowing his mighty horn, and Doe was searching the world for other giants to kill with his gleaming sword.


How Spider Cooked His Children and Found Them Bitter

Spider and Hare made some traps and set them in the woods to see what they could catch. Spider set his traps in the river, and Hare set his on land.

Spider was hungry before Hare was, and very early next morning he went to his traps. He had caught a few fish. Then he began wondering what Hare had caught, and went to sea, and in Hare’s traps he saw some things which he knew were much better to eat than fish; so he took what he found in Hare’s traps, and left his own fish there instead.

Later in the morning Hare went off to see if anything good to eat had been caught in his traps during the night. He went close to them and looked. He went even closer and looked more carefully. finally he looked very carefully; and after a lot of thought he finally came to the conclusion that there were fishes in his traps. He sat down and looked at the fish for a long time, and then said in a small voice:

“This is curious.”

He sat there for even longer time. He tried looking away at the trees, and the sky, and the flowers, and then suddenly looking at his traps again; but each time he did this the fish were still there. Finally he said, in a louder voice:

“This is very curious indeed. how did fish get into my traps?”

After sitting there for a long time indeed he said quite loudly:

“Spider has been at my traps!”

Then he collected the fish and went home. He cooked the fish, pounded them to a paste, and mixed them with dumboy and palm oil and honey. When he saw Spider coming he told his children to hide, and sat down to eat his meal. Spider came in and sniffed.

“That chop smells wonderful.” He tasted a little. “What is it, Hare?”

“Ho,” said Hare, “I was feeling hungry, so I cooked my children.”

“Well,” said Spider thoughtfully, “children are very nice to eat.” He ate half of Hare’s meal and went home. He killed his own children and cooked them, but the food he made was bitter, so he came back to Hare and said:

“I cooked my children too, but they aren’t as sweet as yours.”

Hare laughed and laughed.

“Here are my children, still alive,” he said, and pointed to them.

“Next time you go trapping be content with what you catch.”

Spider went home and cried all night, for he had killed and cooked all his children. It is never wise to steal from another person’s traps.


How Three Brothers Sought Their Fortunes

Three orphan-brothers had land which was so sour and full of stones that they decided to travel to some distant place to find rich soil. They had been raised in a poor and unimportant village, and had learned to love each other. The oldest brother possessed an unusual gift. He could often tell, by dreams and other signs, what would happen in the future.

The second brother was a warrior and a hunter, a tall and powerful man who could spear a kola nut at fifty paces or walk with a bullock on his back for three nights and days.

The youngest brother was the handsomest of them all, as handsome as a godling and skilled in the arts which women most admire. All women fell in love with him, and his own love for women knew no end; so angry were the husbands in that village that he was wise to leave them when he did.

The three brothers journeyed east through foreign lands for many weeks, and came to a large white city on a plain below a mountain. On the mountain lived a hairy monster with teeth the size of elephant tusks and seven legs like palm trunks.

Each year the monster ate a thousand people, so the Chief of the white city had offered a quarter of his lands to the warrior who would rid the country of this awful creature.

When the three brothers arrived the Chief was absent on a journey; and the youngest brother fell in love with the Chief’s first wife. Each night he went to her, although he knew he would be killed if ever the Chief found out; and his brothers feared for him. Each day the eldest brother counted the nuts on a palm beside his door; several fell each day, and when but one was left he said to his youngest brother:

“Beware! Take care! The Chief returns tomorrow.”

This good advice was ignored. On the following night the young man went as usual to the palace; but he knocked on the door in vain. At length he took a stone and beat upon the door suddenly the Chief rushed out, made angry by such noise, cut off the lover’s hand with a single sword-stroke and slammed the door in his face.

The elder brother tenderly treated the wound with clean red clay and healing herbs, and the middle brother, who was the warrior, pondered what he should do. He decided to hunt and kill the monster, if he could, for this was the only way they could now find favor with the Chief.

That very night he found the monster on the mountain top crunching the bones of an elephant; and here they fought by the light of the moon till trees were splintered and rocks were cleft, and blood lay on the ground. The warrior’s flesh was gashed and slashed by fangs and flailing talons: the monster’s hide was gouged and ripped by spear and knife, and several of his seven legs were broken.

The mountain groaned and trembled, and moon hid fearfully in black steam clouds and high winds came to howl and shriek about the scene of battle. The hideous fight wore on through midnight until dawn, and the gods of men assembled in the shadows in silent admiration of their man.

At length the warrior leapt astride the failing monster’s hairy neck, stabbed out his eyes and plunged his broken spear into the brain.

The monster shuddered, and so died.

As the sun rose over the edge of the plain and gilded the mountain top the warrior stumbled tiredly down the mountain side to report to his two brothers. As he entered the city, heralds were abroad announcing g that no man could leave the city until it was discovered who had knocked at the palace door the previous evening.

The eldest brother tended the warrior’s wounds, then went up to the palace and stood before the Chief.

“O Chief,” he began, “I am the eldest of three brothers who came from a foreign land, and it was my youngest brother who knocked on your door last night.”

“So! Then let him be brought before me.”

“Let him be brought indeed,” agreed the elder brother.

“Let also our other brother be brought here: for it was he who slew your monster on the mountain top. And when our youngest brother came here to report, you cut his hand off. Is that a just reward, O Chief?”

These words amazed the Chief.

“You say the monster is dead?”

“My younger brother slew it.”

“And it was your youngest brother who came here to report?”

“You cut his hand off.”

“Then indeed, you are the worthiest of all men, and have been severely wronged. The three of you shall share half the lands which I possess, rich and fruitful lands, and half my gold as well.”
But for the rest of his life the lack of a hand reminded the youngest brother that he should not toy with the wives of other men.


A Story of Two Monsters

Men tell a tale of two brothers who were orphans. They came of a poor family, and having no land of their own they sought work where they could.

“We are poor,” the elder brother remarked one day. “What should we do to gain riches.?”

Look for them,” the younger one suggested.

“But where? Such things are not easily found.”

“We should look for riches where riches abound, and that is in foreign places far from here.”

“Then let us travel,” agreed the elder. “Let us each take a different direction, and after the moon we will return and see if either of us had been successful.”

Going from their village they came upon two roads; one went towards the rising sun, the other towards the setting moon; and here the brothers parted.

The younger one traveled east with his dog and his spear and a small bag of food; he walked for many days over hills and streams and mountains and valleys, and finally the road, which had starter out so boldly, became an uncertain track snaking thinly through great forests and dark swamps in the most remote corner of the land. The young man grew afraid, but just as he was about to turn back he came upon the ruins of an old town, buried in vines and shrubs.

“Perhaps, in a place like this where men have lived and died,” he reasoned, “there will be hidden treasures.” He began to look, and his dog helped him. For a whole day he hunted in all the hundred places where treasure might have been hidden, but discovered nothing more interest than a large pot.

The pot was too heavy to pick up and too tall for him to see inside; but he knew that such a tall and beautiful post must have been used for some important purpose, and so using all his strength he pushed it over… and a monster out on the ground.

The young man was alarmed. He watched in growing fear as the monster swelled and swelled, just as if it had been stuffed inside the pot like a dog in a peanut shell; and when the thing had grown very big indeed it glared down at the young man. He made an angry growling sound, and forest birds took flight.

“Arrgh! Foolish man! For centuries I have slept, and now you have awakened me. You must now carry me on you back until you die; and if you will not, you shall die at once!”

The young treasure-hunter decided he would have to try, although it seemed an impossible task; for it was a large monster, and although one foot was only as large as a pebble, the other was as large as a house. He managed to barely lift the creature, and for a time he staggered through the ruined town; but such was the demon’s weight that soon the young man was exhausted, and set his burden down.

“Carry me!” the monster roared.

“One moment, Master; I must lay an egg.” The youth withdrew among the weeds and waited, resting, for some time. He knew he could not carry this demon any longer, and stood in danger of losing his life; so he took a small gourd of red pepper from his little bag, and as he returned to the monster he pretended to be eating it. The monster demanded:

“What are you eating?”

“It is a magic powder which will make me strong; strong enough to carry you.”

The creature snatched the gourd and emptied a pound of red pepper into his mouth. Within a moment his eyes had bulged like coconuts, fumes issued from his mouth and streams of perspiration began pouring down his face. He fell down and rolled on the ground in pain, and the young man trust his spear into the monster’s heart.

He was curious to know what made one feet so large, and what made the other small, so he slit the little feet with his knife and found a nut inside; and since he did not know what kind of nut it was, he gave it to his dog. The dog ate the nut and began to grow smaller and smaller until finally he disappeared, and only the nut was left. The young man had never seen a nut like this before, so he picked it up and put it in his little bag.

When he slit open the bigger feet he was surprise to see cattle the size of dogs come forth, and they at once began to grow in size until they formed a handsome herd. Here were riches indeed: so he set out to return to his village with the cattle, and at the junction of the two roads he met his brother. His brother had been frightened of the forest and had not journeyed far.

“Greetings. What fortune did you have?” the younger brother asked.

“No fortune, only blistered feet and hunger, red ants and thirst, and other things. and what of you? Are these your cattle?”

“I won them from a monster. Let us return to our village as rich men, and live there with fine clothes and feasts, as rich men do.”

They began driving the cattle towards their village; but the older brother held jealousy in his heart, and began wondering if he would become a slave to his rich brother. He suddenly thrust his spear through the young man’s heart, took his little bag and flung his body carelessly in a ditch. When he reached his village he left the cattle outside in a field, hung the bag upon a bush, and went in to see the Chief.

“O Chief,” he said, “I traveled far abroad, through many hardships and great danger, and killed a monster who had many cattle. I have brought the cattle back and they wait outside the village; but since I have no land to graze them on, I would give half of them to you if you will give me land.”

The Chief agreed to do this, and bade his councilors discover the most suitable grazing land.

“Take me to this herd,” he commanded, and the wicked brother led him outside the village. But during this time one of the cattle had found the bag and eaten the magic nut, which held a fragrance loved by animals, and the beast shrank and disappeared.

Other cattle came and found the nut lying on the ground, ate it, and in turn shrank away, until the whole herd had disappeared. So when the murdered and the Chief came to the appointed place, no sign remained of the beautiful fat herd. The Chief was furious.

“You lying dog! What foolery is this? Do you seek to trade with cattle you do not have? Am I a fool that I should give land to a liar and a cheat? Men, let this rogue be bound and fed on cattle-dung until he dies.”

Riches come, and pass away and murder follows them.


The Fisherman Who Married a Water Spirit

Once upon a time there was a fisherman who went forth every day to sit on the river in his canoe and fish. He was a clever an industrious man and his name was Wana, but always when sitting alone in his canoe he felt a great emptiness within his heart.

“Ah,” he would sigh, “if I only had a wife!”

He would have preferred a wife to all the fishes in the river, for he was a lonely man with no family at all, and every evening he returned to an empty hut, prepared his own meal, and passed the night alone.

As he sat in his canoe he often told the river how much he desired a wife, and prayed that he might be blessed with many children.

A river spirit overheard him. She had the form of a crocodile and lived on the bottom of the river, but when she watched and watched the man and saw that he was gentle, good and honest, she began to plan a plan.

One day, as was his custom, Wana left his fishing early to attend the weekly market. The river spirit waited until he had gone; then she climbed onto the river bank and stepped out of the crocodile skin to reveal herself as a singularly beautiful young maiden. She carefully had her crocodile skin beneath a rock and went to the town market. Many people from neighboring villages attended this weekly market, and everyone wondered whom the beautiful stranger could be.
When nightfall came and the market was over she went to the fisherman’s house; he was preparing his evening meal.

“O fisherman,” she said, “I am a stranger here, and my village is far off. I beg you to let me sleep in your house tonight.”

Wana welcomed her courteously. She prepared his simple meal for him in such a wifely fashion that first he ate from hunger and then from sheer delight: never had he tasted such exquisite cooking. The beauty of this woman filled his heart with such admiration, he gave her his own bed and she slept there in peace.

In the morning the maiden asked him to escort her a little way, but near the river she begged him to leave her and turn back. Alone she went to the river bank, and having carefully looked about she slipped into the crocodile skin and went into the river. During the following days she heard Wana sigh longingly for the lovely maiden who had passed the night within his house.

Next market day the river spirit came out of the water again, hid her crocodile skin beneath the rock, and went to market. Again she begged shelter at Wana’s hut, and he was glad when he saw her. She passed the night, and in the morning went away.

This continued for some time, and Wana came to love her with a great and urgent love. Since he was a humble man and considered her the daughter of some important chief he could not bring himself to ask her hand in marriage; but when he inquired of her village and home and family, the maiden was so evasive in her answers that finally his suspicions were aroused.

There came a certain day when he escorted her, as usual, some little way along the path towards the river, and, as usual, when they reached a certain place she asked him to turn back. Wana pretended to turn back, but walking softly, softly, he followed the maiden until she reached the river bank. Thinking herself alone she took the crocodile skin from beneath the rock, put it on, and went into the river.

Wana was astonished.

“Can this be true?” he asked himself. “Is she, then a water spirit? How can I win and wed a maiden who lives inside the river for six days of the week?”

Deep in thought he went away, and planned a plan to win her for all time. Next market day the maiden came again, so beautiful that the fisherman was oppressed by burning love. That night, as she slept, he slipped away. He ran to the river bank. He took the crocodile skin from underneath the rock and carried it to a far, far place, buried it, and returned to his house before dawn broke.

As usual he escorted the lady towards the river, and turned back at her request. He waited in his house. The river spirit went to the river and put her head beneath the rock to find her skin.
The skin was gone! It had completely disappeared.

She searched about and about, and up and down the bank, under other rocks and everywhere one could; but search as she would, the skin was nowhere to be seen. What could she do? Spirit laws obliged her to return to her own place, but now she could not. She sat upon the rock and wept a while, then she rose and went to the fisherman who had been so good to her, and whom she hoped would one day take her for his wife.

She entered his house.

“I have come to you,” she said, and she went to him. Thus they were wedded, and passed the night together, and in the morning when she awoke she said:

“O Wana Yoryer, know that I am the happiest of wives. But last night I dreamed a terrible dream, and I tell you this: If any man should bring the skin of a crocodile to this town, I shall surely die! so if you see such a thing yourself anywhere along the river bank, drop it in the river if you love me.”

Thus it is seen that the Sky God hears the prayers of honest men and fills their needs.


A Riddle of Two Women

Two rich women who lived in the same town fell in live with a poor man who lived in the forest.

The first woman built him a fine house and garden, and put cattle and goats in the nearby fields, and sent a messenger to bring him in.

The second woman into the forest to find the poor man; she gave him rich food and wine, and brought him back to town.

Which of these two rich women deserved to have the man?


Leopard and Black Deer

While playing in the forest Black Deer met Leopard, and finding it too late to run she begged for mercy.

“Quickly tell me three true things foremost in your mind,” said Leopard, “and I will let you go.”

Deer thought: “This is the first,” he said. “If I return home and tell my friends I met you, they will call me a liar.”

“Excellent,” Leopard declared. “Go on.”

“The second is that if I say you asked me riddles, they will laugh at me.”

“True enough.”

“The third is that you are not hungry anyway.”

Leopard nodded in agreement, and yawned. “True, Black deer, quite true. If I had been hungry I would have eaten you by now. You are free to go and be laughed at, and called a liar.”


How Quilla Humbled a Crocodile

In some unknown city by a river — the name was forgotten long ago — the people were so rich and lazy they spent all their time at gambling. They gambled day and night, and even animals and spirits came to join them.

A farmer whose name was Quilla came down the river in his canoe seeking land to farm; he brought his wife and baby girl with him. He built a house on the edge of the city and made his farm on the far side of the river. He also made a second canoe and taught his wife to paddle, so that she could bring him his midday food.
Quilla was a good and honest farmer.

One day a crocodile seized the woman and her child as she was crossing the river with Quilla’s noonday meal, and carried them under water.

Quilla meal time came and passed, and he grew weary and impatient; but at length he decided his wife must be sick, and he continued working until dusk.

When he went home he found the second canoe was missing, and so was his wife and child. He became alarmed. He searched for his wife in the city, he cried her name in the forest; he ran to and fro in the darkness, and his heart was heavy inside him when he found no trace of either his wife or child. He wandered along the river bank and came to a place where he saw a curious thing.

He saw a crocodile undress and hang its skin upon a tree; and as the crocodile-man set off towards the city to gamble it sang a little song:

“Crocodiles are clever; Especially under water;Weaker beasts can neverCatch a woman and her daughter.”

Quilla immediately became suspicious. He stole the skin and hid it in his house, then went into the city and sat down beside the crocodile-man to gamble. The crocodile-man called himself Namol.

Namol threw the gamble three times in the air, and each time it fell to the floor he said:

“I win, as I won a man’s wife and daughter today.”

“What do you mean?” Quilla inquired.

“I mean what I said. Let us play.”

Quilla threw the gamble into the air three times, and each time it fell to the floor he said:

“I win, as I won a crocodile’s skin tonight.”

Namol became excited.

“What did you say?”

“Nothing special, let us play.”

But Namol hurried off to see if his skin was safe, and when he found it gone he returned to Quilla’s side and asked:

“What do you know of my skin?”

“What do you know of my wife and child?” Quilla asked, tossing the gamble again. And he sang a song:

“A crocodile is somewhat vileTo steal a woman and her child.I know well that such a sinMay cost that crocodile his skin.”

Namol burst into tears and at one offered to bring back Quilla’s wife and daughter. When he did this, Quilla gave him back his skin: and since then the crocodile has never taken anyone without first paying for him.

Or so people say.