Why Elephants Flee From Goats

Elephant and Goat went out together to work in the fields, hoeing the soil and planting cassava stems. Goat was thrifty and industrious, but elephant was lazy and ate more than he grew. By midday they were hungry, and Goat, who could not trust Elephant with food, said:

“It is time to eat. Since I am the smallest, I shall prepare the meal.”

“Not at all,” declared the hungry Elephant. “You will not make enough. Since it is I who will eat most, I shall prepare our meal.”

Goat thought: “If Elephant does so, he will eat as he works and my share will be quite small: Therefore he said:

“You are a fool, Elephant. Your head is all bone. I can eat more than you, so I shall prepare our meal.”

Elephant could scarcely believe his ears. He looked down at Goat, a small and homely animal who did not reach his knee,, and protested: “I really cannot believe that you can eat more than I. You are too small. I am too big. I always eat much more than you.”

“Then let us have a competition,” goat suggested, and Elephant agreed. They abandoned their farming for the day, and for several hours they labored to gather a pile of herbs and fruits and grass and roots. This they divided into two equal heaps and started eating.

Elephant ate quickly till his stomach swelled and pained him, and he lay down to sleep a little and wait to see how much Goat would eat. Goat slowly munched, and munched, and when he could eat no more he kept on steadily chewing the same mouthful of grass.

Whenever Elephant woke up he saw that Goat still chewed, and each time he fell asleep again Goat move some of his food to Elephant’s pile. For many hours Goat chewed on and his pile of food grew lower and lower still till there was very little left; and Elephant became amazed that Goat could eat as much.

“How is it, Goat.” he asked, “that you can eat so much?” I am much larger than you, but you have eaten more.”

“Indeed I have,” said Goat. “My appetite is endless. When I finish this pile of food I shall eat the rest of yours; and if I am not satisfied, I swear I’ll eat you too.”

He announced this in such a menacing tone that Elephant became quite alarmed; for truly Goat appeared to have an astonishing capacity. After some reflecting he rose clumsily to his feet, and said off-handedly:

“Goat, I think I’ll go into the forest and find some honey.”
Elephant went deep into the forest, and after traveling for many days he came to the High Forests of the hinterland. He never returned. Since that time Goat has continued to chew his cud steadily, and men abroad in the High forests take Goat with them to frighten elephants away.