The Talking Beasts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 288 pages of information about The Talking Beasts.

“Hullo, you there,” said he, “where do you come from?” “I come from the eddy below the rapids,” said the Water-snail, “and I only want to get as far as the head-waters of this river.”  Said the King-crow:  “Wait a bit.  Suppose you go down to the river-mouth as quickly as you can and we will have a wager on it.” (Now rivers are the Water-snail’s domain, in which he has many comrades.)

“What is to be the stake?” asked the Water-snail.  “If I am beaten I will be your slave, and look after your aroids and wild caladiums on which all Water-snails feed.”  Then the King-crow asked:  “And what will you stake?” The Water-snail replied, “If I am beaten, the river shall be handed over to you and you shall be King of the River.”  But the Water-snail begged for a delay of twice seven days, saying that he felt knocked up after ascending the rapids, and the delay was granted accordingly.

Meanwhile, however, the Water-snail hunted up a great number of his friends and instructed them to conceal themselves in each of the higher reaches of the river, and to reply immediately when the King-crow challenged them.

The day arrived, and the King-crow flew off, and in each of the higher reaches the Water-snail’s friends replied to the challenge, while at the river-mouth the Water-snail replied in person.  So the King-crow was defeated and has ever since remained the slave of the Water-snail.

The Elephant Has a Bet with the Tiger

In the beginning Gajah the Elephant and Rimau the Tiger were sworn friends.  But one day they came to a clearing and presently encountered Lotong, the long-tailed Spectacle-monkey.  And when he saw the Monkey, the Elephant said, “Mr. Lotong yonder is far too noisy; let us try and shake him off; if he falls to me I am to eat you; and if he falls to you, you are to eat me—­we will make a wager of it.”  The Tiger said, “Agreed”; and the Elephant replied, “Agreed.”  “Very well!” said the Tiger; “you shall try and menace him first.”  So the Elephant tried to menace the Monkey.  “AU!  AU!  AU!” he trumpeted, and each time he trumpeted the Monkey was scared.  But the Monkey went jumping head foremost through the branches and never fell to the ground at all.

Presently, therefore, the Tiger asked the Elephant, “Well, Friend Elephant, would you like to try your luck again?” But the Elephant said, “No, thank you.  It shall be your turn now; and if he falls to you, you shall eat me—­if you really can make him fall!” Then the Tiger went and roared his longest and loudest, and shortened his body as for a spring and growled and menaced the Monkey thrice.  And the Monkey leaped and fell at the Tiger’s feet, for his feet and hands were paralyzed and would not grip the branches any more.  Then the Tiger said:  “Well, Friend Elephant, I suppose I may eat you now.”  But the Elephant said:  “You have, I admit, won the wager; but I beg you to grant me just seven days’ respite, to enable me to visit my wife and children and to make my will.”  The Tiger granted the request, and the Elephant went home, bellowing and sobbing every foot of the way.

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The Talking Beasts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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