Once upon a time the wife of
the lion was talking to the wife of the hare.
“My husband, the lion,”
she boasted, “is the bravest and most handsome among all the
The hare’s wife did not like
to hear such boasting but she had no choice but to agree. Her
husband, she knew, could not claim to be as brave or as handsome as
the lion. All she could say in reply was: “My husband, the hare, is
the cleverest among all the animals.”
When the hare returned home
later that day his wife reported what the lion’s wife had said.
“Yes,” agreed the hare, “the lion is far too proud and boastful
about his bravery. It would be good to find some way of proving if he
is really as brave as he claims.” The hare remained quiet for a
long time, thoughtfully stroking his whiskers. At last an amusing
idea came into his mind.
“Go,” said the hare to his
wife, “bring me some beeswax. I also want some feathers, a pair of
horns and my spear. Then you must help me to dress up. I’ll try to
find if the lion is really as brave as he pretends!”
The hare’s wife grinned
cheerfully. She guessed that her clever husband was going to do
something very strange and very exciting. Without asking any further
questions, she went to fetch the things which her husband needed. She returned with the beeswax,
some feathers, a pair of horns and hare’s spear. Being almost as
clever as her husband, she also brought him some red earth and white
clay, which she knew would be useful for smearing on his face and
Then the two animals worked
hard for several hours, trying to make the hare look as fierce and
frightening as possible.
Shortly before darkness fell,
during the same day, the lion set out from his home in the bush
country, far away from the other animals. He raced down the track to
a nearby village where his appearance was greeted with great alarm.
All the chickens cried out in terror. The goats, the cows, and pigs
were equally terrified. The lion was not at all
ashamed of the trouble he had caused. He was a bully, and it amused
him to see the fear on the faces of the people in the village.
Without bothering to ask their permission, he went round with his
basket, filling it with enough grain to keep him from hunger for
several days to come.
As soon as he had taken what
he wanted, the lion set off home, feeling very pleased with himself.
It was very good, he thought, to be a great strong animal who could
make others afraid of him, and take anything he wanted. The path to the lion’s home
wound uphill and across a gully covered with large stones. It was a
dark and sunless place, where no animals lived except a few snakes. The lion shivered slightly as
he came to see the lonely gully. Then he hurried forward, hoping to
reach more pleasant surroundings as quickly as possible. Suddenly, as the lion went
around the corner of one of the largest rocks, a loud and terrifying
cry echoed all around the gully. The lion’s heart missed a beat and
then seemed to stand quite still. Right in front of him stood a most
terrifying figure. Its face was decorated with hideous patches of red
and white. Its head was covered with horns and feathers, as well as a
large pair of ears. The strange creature carried a spear, and
advanced on the lion with wild leaps and yells.
For a moment the lion was so
paralysed with fear that he could neither think nor move. Then, just
as the strange creature seemed about to pounce on him, he gave a
terrified roar, dropped his basket full of the stolen grain and raced
away as fast as he could go. When the lion had disappeared,
the strange creature sat down in the gully and laughed and laughed.
He laughed until the tears ran down his cheeks and he felt quite ill.
Rarely has anyone enjoyed such merriment. Then he picked up the
basket and set off home afterwards, laughing all the way.