Black Tales for White Children | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in July 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Lila and Fila

THERE were once upon a time two poor children, one was called Lila and one was called Fila, and they were great friends.

               Fila said one day to Lila, "Our mothers are poor; what can we do for a living, my friend? We have no money with which to repay them for the kindness they have shown towards us. We have now become full-grown lads, and have not yet earned any money to give them. I propose that we set out on a journey and see what we can find."

               Lila agreed to the words of his friend, and so each one went to his mother and said to her, "Mother, make me seven ladu-cakes, for I am going on a journey to a very far country."

               And each mother replied, "Where are you going, my beloved child?"

               Lila's mother said to him, "Do not go with Fila."

               Lila answered, "I am not able to leave my friend Fila for half a second."

               His mother said, "It is he that will leave you, and it is you that will be lost."

               He replied, "If a man is lost for the sake of his friend it is well."

               So they had each one seven ladu-cakes made for him, and each one took a gourd of water, and on the next day they set out.

               After they had gone a day's journey Fila said to Lila, "Bring out one of your ladus, that we may break and eat it. We will eat yours first, and when they are finished then will we eat mine."

               So they ate one of Lila's ladus. On the second day they did likewise, and on the next and the next day, until, on the seventh day, all Lila's ladus were finished.

               On the eighth day Lila said to Fila, "Bring out one of your ladus, my friend, that we may break and eat it, for all mine are now finished, and hunger is hurting me."

               Fila replied, "You must give me that Kanzu shirt of yours first, and then I will give you a share of my ladu."

               So Lila took off his Kanzu and gave it to Fila, and then Fila broke off a bit from one of his ladus and gave it to him.

               On the next day Lila said, "My friend, I am hungry; bring out the second of your ladus, that we may eat it."

               Fila replied, "To-day if I am to give you some of my ladu you must give me your vest."

               So Lila took off his vest and gave it to Fila, and received a piece of ladu for it.

               On the next and the next day it was the same, till, on the twelfth day, Fila had taken away all Lila's clothes.

               On the thirteenth day, when Lila asked for some ladu, Fila said, "You must let me put out one of your eyes if you are to have any ladu to-day."

               Lila replied, "I cannot refuse, for I am very hungry."

               So Fila put out one of his friend's eyes, and Lila said nothing; he put all his misfortunes in the hand of God.

               On the fourteenth day Lila said to Fila, "My friend, have you not treated me evilly? Have you not done wrong? I left my mother to follow you, my friend, and you have deceived me. You have eaten my ladus till they were finished, and now you have taken all my clothes and put out my eye. Will you not to-day give me a piece of your ladu?"

               Fila said, "Yes, I will give you a piece of ladu if you agree to me putting out your other eye."

               Lila said to him, "Go on, put out my other eye."

               So Fila put out his other eye, and then he sat him down under a tree and put his gourd of water and a piece of ladu beside him and went his way, leaving his friend blind and naked in the road.

               Lila sat there awhile, and then he ate his piece of ladu, drank his water, gave praise to God and then slept.

               When it was midnight two birds came and perched on the tree, one on one side and one on the other.

               The first said, "Eh, my friend, I have a song which I will sing."

               The other asked, "What song will you sing?"

               Then the first bird looked down and said, "Look, there is a human asleep underneath."

               The other said, "Oh, that son of Adam is lying just where those jars of money are buried; just opposite him is the tree whose roots are medicine for mad people, and he is leaning against the eye medicine tree."

               Then they flew away; but Lila heard these words, and he groped and took some of the bark of that tree and rubbed it on his eyes, and behold, he could see; both his eyes were whole.

               Then he went to the other tree and dug up some of the roots, and after that he dug down where he had been lying and found jars of money. He took a little money, and the rest he covered up and left.

               Next day he took the road and journeyed on, and that day he arrived at a town, and there he heard the news that the daughter of the Sultan had been seized with madness.

               He was told, "No one is allowed to come to this country unless he knows how to make medicine for the Sultan's daughter. This is now the seventh year since she became mad, and the Sultan has made a vow that he who cures her will marry her, and he who does not cure her will be killed."

               So Lila entered that town, and he was at once taken before the Sultan, who asked him, "Can you cure my child?"

               He replied, "Master, I do not know medicines, but I will try."

               So he was taken in to the Sultan's daughter through seven doors, and he saw her where she had been put. She was fastened with chains on hands and feet.

               He gave her of that medicine, and immediately she became cured.

               Then the Sultan ordered a feast to be prepared, and he married Lila to his daughter. He himself descended from the throne and put Lila in his place. So Lila became the Sultan of that town.

               One day, as he looked out of the palace window, he saw a man passing, and when he came near he recognised that it was his friend Fila.

               He told his soldiers to fetch him and bring him before him.

               When Fila was brought he said to him, "My friend, do you not recognise me?"

               Fila replied, "I do not know you."

               Then Lila said, "Is it not I whose eyes you put out?"

               Then Fila was very afraid, and said, "Then it is you who will now put out mine."

               Lila ordered his soldiers, "Take him out, put out his eyes and leave him in the way."

               So they took him out and did as they were bid. After three days they went to look for him and found that he had died.

               Lila and Fila, it was not possible for them to mix together, and even to-day, if there are two people who cannot agree, or two things which cannot go together, it is said of them: "They are like Lila and Fila."

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Lila and Fila
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 613: The Two Travelers

Back to Top