The Clever Mongoose
Narrated by Metekia Libri
The mongoose is the nephew of the leopard. He always calls him uncle. The leopard had many cows, goats and sheep. The mongoose was looking after his uncle’s cattle. The mongoose’s mother was living in a hollow up the tree. The mongoose ate the fruit shaken down by his mother. But the leopard was being fed by his mother with hard work.
The mongoose advised the leopard to eat his mother, “Because I have eaten mine. Then we’ll live together.”
“Yes, all right.”
The leopard listened to the mongoose’s advice and ate his own mother. The mongoose was clever enough to keep his mother up the tree to shake the branches for him, but the leopard was hungry since he had killed his mother.
The leopard asked the mongoose, “Why are you so fat and well fed?”
“I eat the flies,” says the mongoose, “which live on your cattle. There’s nothing special that I get.”
The leopard got weaker and weaker because he wasn’t eating.
The leopard suspected that he was being tricked, so while the mongoose was looking after his cattle he went to the mongoose’s mother and, using the mongoose’s voice, he asked for fruit and she shook it down for him. Then the leopard killed the mongoose's mother.
The next day the leopard saw the mongoose crying.
“Why do you cry?” he asked.
“One of your cows hit me with her horn while I was trying to eat the flies off her.”
So the mongoose had another plan.
“Even worse than that, uncle, it doesn’t matter if I’m attacked, but there is more danger waiting for you because the lion is always coming to eat your cattle and this troubles me.”
“What shall I do?” the leopard asks.
“Come with a spear and attack them, because I am all alone.”
So the mongoose goes and paints spots on the cattle so they would look like lions, and in the evening, at dusk, when it was time for the cattle to go home and it was getting dark, the leopard told him, “When you see the lions, shout, so that I will come and spear them.”
One evening, the mongoose shouted, “Lions have come!”
The leopard began spearing his own cows, thinking they were lions. Then the mongoose suggested to the leopard to sell meat in a certain cave, by slaughtering the rest of the cattle. He said he would be the meat seller and they would go into business together. So the mongoose some more cows and put the meat in a cave with a very narrow entrance, only wide enough for the mongoose to go in. The leopard agreed and they took the meat to the cave. So the mongoose started selling the meat and the leopard wanted to go inside like him. The leopard was jealous and wanted to go in himself.
“How did you manage to go inside because it’s so narrow?”
“Well, just go back a short way and run and run and dive head first in through the entrance.”
The leopard did so and split his head in two and he died.
The mongoose skinned the leopard and foxes and hyenas came to disturb him. And they pretended to buy the meat, intent on killing the mongoose and taking the meat. After skinning the leopard he dried the skin and put some clappers round it to make a frightening noise.
The fox and the hyena came, pretending to be friends.
“How is your business? How are you selling your meat?”
“Oh, it’s all fine. You are my good friends. Sit down at the door of the cave and I’ll invite you.”
He showed them the hide and said, “Be careful not to make a noise or you will anger my uncle. Have some meat. Just sit with your back to me, because I fear that my enemies can come, so watch out for my enemies.”
So they turned their backs and sat down.
He took the hide of the leopard and tied it with a rope made of pubic hair to the tails of the two animals and then he said, “My uncle is running after you.”
And he beat the hide and the clappers sounded and they thought the leopard was after them and they ran away.
That’s how he tricked them. And so he was the owner of all the rest of the cattle, being a wealthy mongoose.
The wisdom of the mongoose should never be underestimated.
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