King of the Snakes, The: And Other Folk-Lore Stories from Uganda | Annotated Tale

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Story of the Cock and the Hen, The

ONCE upon a time in the very old days the cock and the hen were jungle fowl, and did not know village life at all; they lived in the jungle and were feared by all the animals, because they had large red combs on their heads, and they said that these combs were full of fire.

                Now all animals are very much afraid of fire, so the cock and the hen ruled the jungle, because if ever one of the animals displeased them they said: "If you do not do what I want I will burn you with my comb. Do you not see that it is red-hot?"

                One day the old mother leopard came home and found that the fire in her kitchen had gone out, and she said to her little cub: "Run to the cock's house and ask him to give you a few glowing bits of charcoal to make our fire."

                The cub went obediently, but he found the cock and the hen both sound asleep, and he was afraid to wake them.

                The mother leopard said: "Take a little dry grass and creep up softly to the cock and light the grass from his comb." But the cub was afraid to go alone, so his mother went with him, and they crept up to the sleeping cock and hen and gently put the dry grass against their combs, but it did not light, and the grass was not even scorched, and the mother leopard put out her paw and touched them, and the combs were quite cold, although they looked red-hot.

                Then she knew that the cock and hen had been telling lies all these years, and she roared with laughter and woke them up, and she said: "Now I know that you don't tell the truth; your combs are quite cold; there is no fire in them; the animals will not fear you any more; I am going to tell them all about it."

                The cock and hen did not wait to hear what the jungle thought about it; they packed up their things and ran away to the village, and since that day they never returned to the jungle. They have always lived with men, and they like being safely shut up at night, for even now the leopards have not forgotten, and kill them if they find them out at night.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Story of the Cock and the Hen, The
Tale Author/Editor: Baskerville, Mrs. George (Rosetta)
Book Title: King of the Snakes, The: And Other Folk-Lore Stories from Uganda
Book Author/Editor: Baskerville, Mrs. George (Rosetta)
Publisher: The Macmillan Co.
Publication City: New York
Year of Publication: 1922
Country of Origin: Uganda
Classification: unclassified

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