Black Tales for White Children | Annotated Tale

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Lion of Manda, The

ONCE upon a time there was a lion who lived on the island called Manda, which is opposite Shela town, and the people of Shela heard it roaring nightly. In Shela was a rich merchant, and one day he gave out in the bazaar: "I will pay one hundred dollars to whosoever will go and sleep alone one night on the opposite shore, in Manda island." But for fear of the lion no man would do this.

               Now in that same town was a youth and his wife who were very poor, for they had nothing. When this youth heard the talk of the town, he came to his wife and said, "There is a man who will give a hundred dollars to any one who will sleep on the opposite side one night. I will go and sleep there."

               His wife said to him, "Do not go, my husband, the lion will eat you."

               He said, "Let me go, for if Allah loves me I will not die, and by this means we will get the wherewithal to buy some food."

               Then she said to him, "Go. May Allah preserve you."

               So that youth, when evening fell, took a canoe and paddled over to Manda, and there lay down on the shore.

               Now, when the youth had gone, his wife there behind him was sad because she had let him go, and her heart was very heavy with fear for her husband. So she took some embers and some sticks of wood and went down on to Shela beach, and there she kindled a little fire and tended it all night, so that her young man on the opposite side might see it and not be afraid.

               In the morning he returned safely to Shela and went to claim his hundred dollars. But the merchant said, "You have not earned them, for you saw the fire that your wife made, and so you were not afraid."

               The youth, when he heard those words, was very angry, and went to accuse the merchant before the Sultan.

               So the Sultan called that merchant and asked him why he had not paid the youth his hundred dollars.

               The merchant said, "Truly, I did not pay him the dollars because he did not earn them, for he had a fire to comfort him the whole night long. Now, Sultan, see if my words are not true and judge between us."

               The Sultan then asked the youth, "Did you have a fire?" The youth replied that his wife had made a fire, so the Sultan, who wished to favour the rich merchant, said, "Then you did not earn the money."

               As that youth went forth from the presence of the Sultan, he jostled against a sage, who asked him his news; so he told him how he had been defrauded of his hundred dollars.

               Then said the sage, "If I get your money for you, what will you give me?" The youth said, "I will give you a third." So they agreed together after that manner.

               The youth then went his way, and the sage came to the Sultan and said to him, "I invite you to food at noon to-morrow in my plantation." The Sultan replied, "Thank you, I will come."

               Then the sage returned to his house and made ready. He slaughtered an ox and prepared the meat in pots, but did not cook it. When the Sultan arrived next day at noon, the sage had the pots of meat placed in one place apart, and he had fires made in other places, far away from where he had put the pots. Then, having told his servants what to do, he came and sat on the verandah with the Sultan, and they conversed with one another.

               After a while he arose and shouted to his servants, "Oh, Bakari and Sadi, stoke well the fires and turn over the meat."

               When twelve o'clock had long passed the Sultan, feeling hungry, asked the sage, "Is not the food yet ready?"

               The sage answered, "The meat is not yet done." So they continued to converse, till the Sultan became very cross owing to his hunger, and said, "Surely the food must be ready now." So the sage called out, "Oh, Bakari, and oh, Sadi, is not the food ready?"

               They answered him, "Not yet, master." He then said, "Stoke up the fires well and turn the meat, that we may soon get our food;" and they answered him, "We hear and obey, master."

               The Sultan then said, "Surely the meat must be cooked now, after all this time." So he arose to look for himself, and behold! he saw the fires all on one side of the courtyard, with servants busily feeding them, and the cooking pots all on the other side, also with servants tending them.

               He turned to the sage and said, "How is the meat to become cooked, and the pots are in one place and the fires in another?" The sage replied, "They will cook like that, my master."

               Then was the Sultan very wroth and said, "It is impossible to cook food like that."

               "Indeed no," gravely answered the sage; "for is not the case the same between those cooking pots and their fires and the youth to whom you yesterday refused his hundred dollars and his fire, which was on the opposite shore?"

               The Sultan then said, "Your words are true, oh sage! The youth did earn his hundred dollars. Send and tell the merchant to pay him at once."

               So the youth got his dollars for sleeping on the island of Manda, and the sage did not accept from him the fee he had asked for. This is the story of the lion of Manda.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Lion of Manda, The
Tale Author/Editor: Stigand, C. H. & Stigand, Nancy Yulee
Book Title: Black Tales for White Children
Book Author/Editor: Stigand, C. H. & Stigand, Nancy Yulee
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Publication City: Boston
Year of Publication: 1914
Country of Origin: Africa
Classification: unclassified

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