Leopard

The Killing of Leopard and his children

It was a time of hunger. There was a tree called vo. This tree stood in the back of an old manís house, and Tokè, the bat, came and ate its fruit. Now at this time Yo* found he had nothing to eat. He told Tokè to take him to eat vo with him. Before they came to the tree, they passed another fruit tree along the path, called asolo. Tokè did not eat the fruit of this tree.

Tokè took Yo to the vo tree and there they ate. But the moment Yo noticed the asolo tree, he left the vo tree and went to eat the other fruit. After Yo ate all that he wanted, he put the rest of the fruit in his sack. In order to let the owner of the tree know that he had eaten his fruit, he threw one into the house of the owner.

Good. But the sack was very heavy, and Yo could not climb down with it. He would have to throw the sack down. The moment the fruit fell into the old manís house, he said, "Something is eating my fruit, I'll go and see". He went out.

Now Yoís sack reached from on high right down to the ground. The old man, seeing the sack, went over to it and touched it. He tried to take the sack, but Yo would not let go. The old man pulled at the sack, and Yo pulled at the sack. Yo said nothing, and the old man, too, said nothing. So they did this (pulling back and forth) from early morning till midday.

A young boy passed. He said to the old man, "What are you doing here?" The old man said, "I want to take my fruit, but the tree won't let go".

The small boy came close, and saw Yo hiding in the branches. He told this to the old man, and soon he brought many men together there. They then made Yo climb down, and they hounded him, and they flogged him, and they left him underneath the tree.

They left the fruit beside Yo as well. As Yo was hungry, he crawled over to the fruit and began to eat it. When the people came to take away the fruit, there was no fruit left. They said, "Where is the fruit we left here? Where is the fruit?"

But Yo said, "You left me bound. I know nothing". The old man's children went home. A goat passed, and Yo said to the goat, "Come and untie me. I stole some fruit, and they bound me". The goat refused. He said, "I don't know what you did. I can't unbind you".

Now Leopard had borne her young and had nothing to feed them. She went to ask Yo to help her and found him bound under the tree. Yo said, "Untie me, and I will help you find food for your family".

Good. Leopard said, "Before I loosen you, you must tell me what I must do to get food for my young". Yo said, "Hide here. They are coming to flog me again". The old man now came back to see whether Yo was still there. Leopard caught him and killed him. Having done this, she unbound Yo. She told Yo to bring the old man to her house.

When Yo and Leopard finished eating the body, Yo went out. He told a hunter that there was a leopard nearby who had given birth to young, and since she had nothing to eat, she had caught an old man and killed him. "If you do not kill the leopard, you yourself will be caught by her. If I did not know tricks, I myself would have been killed and eaten by the leopard".

And Yo said, "If you like, I will show you the way. I know where her lair is". Now Yo went to Leopard and told her that there was a hunter who wanted to kill her. There were two paths leading to Leapardís house. Yo had the hunter lie in wait on one path. He told Leopard that when she wanted to go out, she should take this road. He told Leopard that the hunter lay in wait on the other road.

Now, when Leopard goes out, she runs fast. But Yo told her that to save herself she should walk very softly. They left the house together, walking quietly and softly -- Leopard first, then Yo. When they had taken several steps, the hunter shot Leopard and killed her.

Now, Leopard's children did not know that their mother was dead. Yo came to see them and he said he would take them to his house. He was giving a dance. The oldest said, "Where is my mother? I have not seen her since early morning".

Yo said, "Keep quiet. No one can kill your mother. I am her friend. If your mother were dead, I would not dance. But I am going to dance". Good. Now, the children were dancing. Yo said to them, "I am going to see if your mother has caught an animal yet". He went into the bush, cut up Leopard's body, brought the meat back, and put the meat on the tire to cook.

When Yo and the hunter had finished eating the leopard, Yo said to the hunter, "Leopard was a bad animal. Now that the mother is finished, the turn of the children has come. First you must kill the oldest son".

He brought Leopard's oldest son to the hunter. When they came there, the hunter killed him. Yo went back to the children and said that their mother had kept their brother with her. When the hunter and Yo finished eating the first son, it was the turn of the second. Yo brought him to the hunter. He said to him, "I will take you to your mother and your brother". They did the same with the second.

But the third, who was the youngest, followed Yo and his brother softly, softly. No one saw him. When the hunter shot at his brother, he saw it. The youngest now ran back to Yo's compound and began to dance.

When Yo came home, he found him dancing and he suspected nothing. He said, "Now you must go to join your mother and your brothers". The boy said, "Go tell my mother I do not want to go. I like to stay here". Yo said, "I cannot take this message. When a mother calls a son, the son must come". And Yo said, "All right. I will go and bring your mother here".

He went to get the hunter. But the child ran away and saved himself. When Yo came back he could not find him anywhere. He finally gave up looking for him.

The leopard soon grew up and had a family of his own. That is why we have leopards today. If Yo had killed the last one, there would have been no leopards left to make other ones.


*"Yo" is a gluttonous, selfish spirit (supernatural being).