Bedtime Stories for Kids: THE DOG THAT HAD NEVER SEEN COCKS AND HENS
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I have learnt to love the beautiful forests and jungles and the deep glades and shady paths and water pools, and the moonlight nights are never so lovely in the capital as they are in the country, and I am sad that I must leave it all and return. Then the dwarf said: "If you are so sad at leaving the country after only three months, how much more sad must the animals be, for this is their home, and in your wonderful Zoo they are only prisoners.
When the King heard that he was thoughtful and silent for some time, and then he called Sekibobo and said: "Send a messenger quickly to the capital and tell the Katikiro that all the animals in the Zoo are to be sent home, everyone to his own forest or jungle or swamp. And now there is a broad road which goes from Kampala to Jinja and passes quite near to the Mukono Forest, and if you go there you will hear the "enjoga "crying in the forest all night, but no one has ever seen them. Some people say they are bats, and some say they are sloths, and some say they are fairy foxes with wings made of the night mists.
Long ago Mount Elgon was a volcano, and there is a crater on the top which is eight miles across. Once upon a time a mischievous young wizard lived on Mount Elgon, and he stirred up the fire in the crater until the flames blazed up to the sky, and when the people who lived in the plains below were frightened and ran away the wizard threw great rocks after them; some of the rocks were as big as houses. You can see them lying about on the plains to this day.
But as the wizard grew older he grew kinder, and left off throwing stones and let the fire die down in the crater till there was just a little left which puffed like a steam engine sometimes, but did no harm; and the people returned to the mountain and climbed up its beautiful green slopes and built houses and planted gardens and were quite happy, and the wizard sat on the top and was happy too.
One day the people in Uganda heard a queer sound like a storm in the distance, and a great black cloud was moving swiftly along, but it did not seem like the usual storms. They ran out of their houses to look, and the old men said: "This is no storm; it is a flight of locusts. Then the locusts settled down on the land and ate up everything. From province to province they went till there was nothing green left in the country. When the wizard on Mount Elgon looked out over the land and saw how the locusts had spoiled it he was very angry, and he sent a hornet with a message to the wizard of the Sesse Islands telling him about it and said:.
When the wizard of the Sesse Islands heard about the locusts he was very angry, too, and he sent the hornet back with a message telling the wizard to get his hurricane ready for the next morning. Then he called all the fireflies together and said: "Go over to the mainland and sing to the locusts all night while they are resting on the ground and persuade them to cross the Lake. So the fireflies flew over at sunset, and all night they sang this song as they danced in and out of the shadows:.
The locusts have no King to teach them wisdom, and they did not know how big the Lake was for you could put Scotland into it , and they thought because they saw islands near the shore there would be more beautiful ones lying far out, so when they heard the fireflies' song they decided to go to the Country of Heart's Delight, and in the morning they rose up from the ground in bands and began to fly over the Lake. Then the wizard from Mount Elgon hurled his hurricane upon them, and they were swept into the water and drowned, and millions and millions and millions of dead locusts were floating on the waters for days afterwards.
That is why the old people in Uganda still call the Lake the Locust-Killer, but the children learn to call it Lake Victoria, for that is its name on the map. O NCE upon a time there was a King of Uganda who loved the animals very much and made a law to protect them, and no man was allowed to kill an animal in the forests or jungles or swamps, and he sent a messenger to the Big Grey Elephant to tell him this. There was great rejoicing among the animals, for they never want to kill men, only they don't like being hunted.
For many years there was peace in the land, and men walked by night without spears and were quite safe. One day the King wished to send an order to the chiefs of Busoga, and the messenger walked all through Kyagwe until he came to the Nile. That day there had been a terrific storm on the Lake: great waves thundered against the shore, and the waters rushed over the Ripon Falls into the river like a flood, and the canoes by which people cross into Busoga were washed away, and even the huts of the canoe men on the bank were carried away by the water, and when the King's messenger arrived on the bank there was no way for him to get across.
He sat down sadly and wondered what he should do for a King's messenger cannot return until he has fulfilled his mission , when an old hippo came up and asked him what was the matter. The man said: "I am the King's messenger, and I am taking an order to the chiefs of Busoga, but the storm has swept away the canoes and I cannot cross. And he went away and called all the other hippos together, and they came where the King's messenger sat. And when the storm was over and the sun shone brightly again the hippos went down into the water, and they made a floating bridge with their bodies and the King's messenger went over safely.
And on moonlight nights when the Great Lake stretches like a sheet of silver away to the horizon, and the water dashes over the Falls sending showers of silver sparks against the rocks, the hippos climb slowly up the bank and read this notice and rejoice, for they remember the days of the good King who protected the animals, and they think he has come back to rule over the land. O NCE upon a time a leopard and a goat were great friends, and they lived together, and the leopard had two little cubs and the goat had two little kids, and the children played together and were very happy.
But every day the kids grew fatter and fatter, and every day the cubs grew thinner and thinner, and the leopard became very jealous and began to hate the goat. At last she thought of a wicked plan; she said to the goat: "My cousins who live across the valley are making a big feast this afternoon and I have promised them a surprise; will you go to the barkcloth makers and buy me a very beautiful cloth to wear at the feast?
While the goat was away the leopard caught the two little kids and tied their mouths to keep them from crying out, and made them into a parcel packed in wide banana-leaves tied up with fibre, and he brought the parcel and put it down in the courtyard. Now the wild cat and the guinea-fowl were great friends and they often visited the leopard and the goat, and it so happened that they were passing through the garden and saw what the leopard did, but they hid behind a tree and said nothing.
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When the leopard returned to the house they followed her as if they had only just arrived, and the leopard greeted them and told them about the feast. Then the wild cat and the guinea-fowl told the goat what they had seen in the garden, and they all three went quickly to the parcel and released the poor little kids, and they caught the leopard cubs and tied them up, and put them into a parcel, and put the parcel back where it was before in the courtyard.
When the leopard was dressed in the new barkcloth she came in feeling very grand, and said to the goat:. It is my contribution to the feast, and a great surprise for my cousins. The goat asked: "What is it that goes the same journey every day? Then she asked: "What is it that has no feet and yet travels all over the country? Then she asked a riddle: "In what land are there no women, only men? The wild cat didn't think this a very good riddle; but the goat did.
Do not open it until it is cooked, and you will be very surprised when you see the contents. So they put the parcel into a big cooking-pot, and the three friends ran very quickly home, and the wild cat and the guinea-fowl helped the goat pack up all her things, and they took the two little kids and fled to the forest and made a new home there, for they knew now that the leopard hated them and would kill them all when she found out the trick they had played her. Meanwhile at the leopard's feast the guests were getting hungry, and at last the stew was cooked, and they all sat down and undid the parcel, wondering what the great surprise would be, and what did they see but two poor little cooked leopard cubs.
They were very angry with the leopard and said: "You heartless creature to cook your own children. So all the leopards went across the valley with their cousin, but the goat and her kids had gone away long before they reached the house, and they never caught them, and since that day leopards and goats have hated each other. Afterwards the wild cat and the guinea-fowl had a quarrel, and became enemies, but that is rather a spiteful story, so I won't tell it to you; they said dreadful things to each other which are best forgotten.
O NCE upon a time the King of Uganda went to Koja to see his herd of cows, and while he was there a strange thing happened. The people near Mount Elgon saw a white patch high up on the mountain, and they said: "It is snow. No one had ever seen such birds before; they flew on over the plain towards the Lake, right across the Great Lion River, which is really a country all to itself. People lived in the river on little islands made of reeds and papyrus, one house on each island and a canoe tied up near the door, and they have no roads; the river is their only road when they go to the banks to buy and sell.
They have their own customs and their own language. The birds did not stop on the river islands; they flew right over into Busoga till they came to the Nile, and then they crossed the Nile and flew right over the forests and hills of Kyagwe till they came to Koja, where the King was, and they settled down on the herd of cows.
Bedtime Stories for Kids: THE DOG THAT HAD NEVER SEEN COCKS AND HENS
All the people marvelled to see these snow-white birds, and the King said: "This is a good omen; something fortunate will happen to the country. The King commanded them to bring the stranger before him, and when he came he asked him questions, but he knew no language that the chiefs knew, only a few words of Swahili, which were no use. At first the people thought he ought to be killed, for they said: "He is different from any man we have ever seen; perhaps he is a spy sent to prepare the way for some enemy who will eat up our country.
But the King remembered the white birds and said: "I will not kill him; he will bring good fortune to the country. Then he called an old chief whom he loved and trusted and said: "Take away this man, and take care of him and his child; teach him Luganda and our customs; some day he will bring us good fortune.
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So the old chief took the stranger to his home and gave him a house to live in and a garden, and boys to wait on him, and an old woman to take care of the child, for she was a little girl, and every day he taught him Luganda, and they became great friends, and at last he was able to speak, and the chief took him to the King. Then the King asked him many questions about his country and his people, and what his name was, but when he said it no man could pronounce it, it was too difficult.
And every day the King called him, and the people all knew that the stranger was the King's friend, and they called him "Mugenyi," which means "Stranger," because they could not pronounce his name.
The little girl grew up different from all the other children in Uganda. She had long golden hair and blue eyes, and a skin like milk, and she grew strong and big, and the people loved her and called her "Joy" or "Snowbird"; but her father said: "Her name is Sorrow. After some time the King heard that a great army was marching against his country, and he collected his soldiers and made his chiefs generals over them, and prepared to march to Budu, where the enemy was advancing.
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Then Stranger said: "I will go with you and teach the chiefs how to build a great fort, and we will stop the enemies of the King from crossing the border. So the King gave him the command of the army, and they marched to Budu and built a great fort and drove back the enemy and killed thousands of warriors, and when those who were left saw Stranger commanding the Baganda they were afraid, for he wore strange clothes made of barkcloth, and they said: "He is a wizard; we cannot fight against him.
Then the King was much pleased and gave Stranger many presents and cows, and the old chief loved him more and more, and they swore the oath of friendship, which is the most sacred oath in the world. As the years went on the old chief noticed that his friend looked sorrowful and sad, and that he sat alone on the hill-side looking over the Great Lake, with only little Sorrow near him, and that he often looked at the child with eyes that were full of tears, and one day he said to him:.
Cannot you tell your sorrow to me, your great friend? So the two friends and little Sorrow set out at sunset, and when they reached a shady spot on the hill-side overlooking the Great Lake they sat down, and the child chased butterflies and picked flowers round them. For a long time they were silent, and then Stranger spoke: "I came to you a stranger, full of sorrow, and you made me welcome, and I learnt your language and your customs, and your country became my country, and I never meant to leave Uganda, but now I look at my little child and I know that I was wrong; I must return to my own people, for a girl must be brought up by the women of her father's tribe.
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Then he told the old chief who he was and all his history, and the old man listened silently, for though he had often wondered, all these years, he had never asked questions. Little Sorrow came and sat on her father's knee, and soon she fell asleep, and the moon rose over the lake, and the stars twinkled in the dark sky, and still the two friends sat on the hill-side while Stranger poured out his history.
And the old chief said: "You are right; a girl must be brought up by the women of her father's tribe. All the chiefs and people were very sorry when they heard that Stranger was going, and brought them many presents, and Sorrow said good-bye to all her friends, and the old chief saw them safely across the borders of Uganda. And when he returned to the capital he found everyone talking of Stranger and the little girl, and telling each other about them, and wondering who they really were and where their country and home really was; but the old chief alone was silent, for he alone knew the real history of Stranger and the secret of his life, and sometimes in the evening he would climb the hill-side and sit where he had sat with his friend, and the tears would roll down his cheeks, for he knew that he would never see him again.
And if you go to the province of Budu you will see the fort which Stranger helped the King to build, for the ruins are still there, and the snowbirds never left Uganda, you will always see them with the cows; but if you ask about little "Joy," whom her father called Sorrow, the people will shake their heads and say: "Perhaps there was a little girl, perhaps it was a spirit, perhaps it was only a snowbird—who knows? Only the old chief ever knew who Stranger really was, and a Muganda will never betray the secret of his friend.
O F all the animals in the forest the hare is the wisest, and the animals all know this. Most of the animals hunt at night and sleep during the day, but the hare sleeps all night in his cosy little house and spends the day wide awake learning things. Sometimes he hides under a bush or the thick grass by the roadside, and his bright little eyes see all that passes, and he knows all about men and their customs, and he has learnt their language, so he understands what they are talking about.
In Uganda there is a great forest called the Mabira Forest, and once upon a time the animals in it were very unhappy, for they were ruled over by an old king lion who was fierce and cruel, and had only one friend in the forest, the hyena, who always went hunting with him and ate up any scraps the king lion left.
The hyena was a good-for-nothing, useless creature, who never did anything for anybody, a stupid animal with no brains and an idiotic laugh which all the other animals found most annoying. Every night when he had settled down to sleep the lion would come by roaring on his way to hunt, and when he had passed and the hare had cuddled down again to sleep the hyena would pass, laughing in his silly way.
At last the animals could stand it no longer, and the hare thought of a plan to be rid of both of them. The hyena was very much pleased, for he was too stupid to see that this was only flattery; he just laughed. On they went, and suddenly the hare tripped. Is there as much under the ground as above?
Suddenly the hare tripped again. Every year the cloth-makers take the bark from the tree, and hammer it into barkcloth with mallets, and dry it in the Sun, and every year people buy new barkcloths. There must be thousands and thousands of barkcloths in the country; one would think they would be lying about in heaps, but it is not so. But the hyena had never thought of anything in his life; he just laughed in his silly way, and the lion said: "We will eat him now, I am hungry. When they started off again the hare said: "There is a hill over there from which there is a lovely view right over the River Nile, but I don't think we have time to go there.
At the top there were two great rocks with a narrow path between them, and the hare ran ahead to show the way, and the lion followed, but he was so fat after his big meal that he got stuck halfway through, and the hare rolled down a rock from above to block the path behind him, and the lion could not go either backwards or forwards, and he roared with rage.
Then the hare ran back to the forest and called the other animals to come to kill the lion, but when they arrived they found him dead. Then they all returned rejoicing, and chose the big grey elephant to be their king, and for many years there was peace and happiness in the Mabira Forest.