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Nunda the Slayer and the Origin of the One-Eyed

ONCE upon a time there was a Sultan, and he had seven sons, and he gave them ships, and they all went abroad to trade, and came back with much wealth, all except the youngest, who brought back only a dog and a cat, and he kept the dog and the cat till they grew and grew, and at last the dog died.

               Then he kept the cat, and it grew and grew, till at last one day it ate a whole goat.

               And it still grew, till one day the son said to the Sultan, "My father, give me an ox for my cat to eat," and he gave him an ox, and the cat grew and grew, till at last he finished all the camels and oxen of the Sultan.

               So the Sultan said to his son, "You must turn that cat out of the town, as it has eaten all our wealth."

               So that cat was turned out and went to live in the bush, and there it grew and grew, and it was called Nunda.

               Till one day it came into the town and ate everybody in that town, all the people and the Sultan himself and all his sons; but the Sultan's wife was upstairs, and she shut the door and was saved, but everybody else in the town was eaten.

               And when the Nunda thought that he had finished everybody he went again into the bush and there he lived.

               And the Sultan's wife stayed in the upper storey, and there she gave birth to a son, and she called him Mohammed.

               And Mohammed grew up, till one day he said to his mother, "How is it that we two sit alone and there are no other people here?"

               And his mother said to him, "Go and open the window and look out." And he opened the window and looked out.

               And she said to him, "What do you see?" And he said, "I see many houses."

               Then she said to him, "All those houses were once full of people, but the Nunda has killed and eaten them all, even your father and brothers he has eaten."

               So Mohammed said, "Did my father have any weapons?" And his mother said, "He used to go to war, and guns and spears and bows and arrows and shields were the weapons he had."

               Mohammed said to her, "Bows and arrows are the weapons I want."

               So he took a bow and three hundred arrows and set forth, and travelled through the bush, on and on, till one day he met a rhino.

               He said to himself, "This must be the Nunda," so he shot his arrows and shot and shot till he had used all his three hundred arrows and the rhino fell dead.

               Then he cut off a leg and set out for home, carrying it with him. When he got near the house he sung, "This is Nunda, this is Nunda who kills people."

               And his mother, looking out from the upper storey, sang, "My child, that is not Nunda who kills people."

               When he came into the house she said, "My son, that is not Nunda; it is a rhino."

               So he said, "I will sleep here to-night, and to-morrow I will set out again."

               In the morning he took seven bows and one thousand arrows and set out, and travelled and travelled, through forests and plains, till he came to a garden, and there he sat down.

               Presently a great dust arose in the hills and came down into the plains.

               So Mohammed climbed a tree and waited, saying, "This indeed must be Nunda."

               Presently a great animal came out of the dust and came down to the garden to drink, and he drank from three o'clock in the afternoon to six o'clock in the evening.

               And Mohammed, up in the tree, said to himself, "If I am to die I am already dead, and if I am to escape I have already escaped;" so he started shooting his arrows, and when he had shot five hundred the animal looked up from drinking, but he did not yet know that he was hit.

               So Mohammed took his other five hundred arrows and shot and shot till he had used them all, and then he threw away his bow.

               Then the animal arose and went to the tree where Mohammed sat, and jumped and bounded in his pain, but he did not reach him, and in the morning when Mohammed looked down he saw that the animal was dead. Then he descended and cut off a leg, and taking it started for home.

               When he got near home he sang, "This is Nunda, this is Nunda who kills people."

               And his mother looked out from the upper storey and sang, "My child, that is he, Nunda who eats people."

               And she came down to meet him and said, "Hang the leg up in the verandah, and I will go and get you water to wash with."

               So he hung up the leg and went inside to wash himself.

               And the leg said, "By Allah, I feel cold here." And his mother called out, "Mohammed." "Yes, mother." "Why is the leg talking there in the verandah?"

               So Mohammed came out from the bathroom and took the leg and hung it up at the top of the house, and went back to wash.

               Presently the leg said, "I hear some one washing there." And his mother called out, "That leg is still talking upstairs."

               And Mohammed came out again and said, "Give me my knife; I will cut it open and see what is inside."

               So he took his knife and cut open the leg, and there he found his father and brothers and all the people of that town inside the leg; but in cutting it open he stabbed one man in the face and put out his eye.

               And this man, when he came out from the leg, was very angry indeed and said, "Why have you put out my eye? See, you have let all the other people out quite whole; but me, you have put out my eye."

               And Mohammed said, "I am very sorry. I did not know what was in the leg, and my knife slipped in cutting it open, so now be content that you have escaped and forgive me."

               But the man said, "I will not forgive you. You have put out my eye and now you must let me put out your eye."

               Mohammed said, "I do not agree."

               The man said, "If you don't agree to my putting out your eye we must fight."

               Mohammed said, "I don't want many words, so now listen to what I have got to say. Let one of us take a rifle and five cartridges and the other stones, and let us go down to the shore and fight. So now choose which you will take."

               So One-eye chose to take the rifle and five rounds, and Mohammed took a cloth and filled it with stones, and they went down to the shore.

               And Mohammed said, "Now, One-eye, you have the rifle, you begin."

               So One-eye fired the first round and missed, and the second and missed, and so on all five rounds.

               Then Mohammed came near with his bag of stones, and hit him here and there and all over, and came closer and stoned him, and hit him in the other eye, putting that out, till he went down on his knees and said, "I repent; I am satisfied."

               And this is the beginning of all one-eyed and blind men in the world, and this is how they began.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Nunda the Slayer and the Origin of the One-Eyed
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: ATU 550: Bird, Horse and Princess

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