The World's Reward
Source: South-african Folk-tales
Once there was a man that had an old dog, so old that the man desired to
put him aside. The dog had served him very faithfully when he was still
young, but ingratitude is the world's reward, and the man now wanted to
dispose of him. The old dumb creature, however, ferreted out the plan of
his master, and so at once resolved to go away of his own accord.
After he had walked quite a way he met an old bull in the veldt.
"Don't you want to go with me?" asked the dog.
"Where?" was the reply.
"To the land of the aged," said the dog, "where troubles don't disturb
you and thanklessness does not deface the deeds of man."
"Good," said the bull, "I am your companion."
The two now walked on and found a ram.
The dog laid the plan before him, and all moved off together, until they
afterwards came successively upon a donkey, a cat, a cock, and a goose.
These joined their company, and the seven set out on their journey.
Late one night they came to a house and through the open door they saw a
table spread with all kinds of nice food, of which some robbers were
having their fill. It would help nothing to ask for admittance, and
seeing that they were hungry, they must think of something else.
Therefore the donkey climbed up on the bull, the ram on the donkey, the
dog on the ram, the cat on the dog, the goose on the cat, and the cock
on the goose, and with one accord they all let out terrible
(threatening) noises (cryings).
The bull began to bellow, the donkey to bray, the dog to bark, the ram
to bleat, the cat to mew, the goose to giggle gaggle, and the cock to
crow, all without cessation.
The people in the house were frightened perfectly limp; they glanced
out through the front door, and there they stared on the strange sight.
Some of them took to the ropes over the back lower door, some
disappeared through the window, and in a few counts the house was empty.
Then the seven old animals climbed down from one another, stepped into
the house, and satisfied themselves with the delicious food.
But when they had finished, there still remained a great deal of food,
too much to take with them on their remaining journey, and so together
they contrived a plan to hold their position until the next day after
The dog said, "See here, I am accustomed to watch at the front door of
my master's house," and thereupon flopped himself down to sleep; the
bull said, "I go behind the door," and there he took his position; the
ram said, "I will go up on to the loft"; the donkey, "I at the middle
door"; the cat, "I in the fireplace"; the goose, "I in the back door";
and the cock said, "I am going to sleep on the bed."
The captain of the robbers after a while sent one of his men back to
see if these creatures had yet left the house.
The man came very cautiously into the neighborhood, listened and
listened, but he heard nothing; he peeped through the window, and saw in
the grate just two coals still glimmering, and thereupon started to walk
through the front door.
There the old dog seized him by the leg. He jumped into the house, but
the bull was ready, swept him up with his horns, and tossed him on to
the loft. Here the ram received him and pushed him off the loft again.
Reaching ground, he made for the middle door, but the donkey set up a
terrible braying and at the same time gave him a kick that landed him in
the fireplace, where the cat flew at him and scratched him nearly to
pieces. He then jumped out through the back door, and here the goose got
him by the trousers. When he was some distance away the cock crowed. He
thereupon ran so that you could hear the stones rattle in the dark.
Purple and crimson and out of breath, he came back to his companions.
"Frightful, frightful!" was all that they could get from him at first,
but after a while he told them.
"When I looked through the window I saw in the fireplace two bright
coals shining, and when I wanted to go through the front door to go and
look, I stepped into an iron trap. I jumped into the house, and there
some one seized me with a fork and pitched me up on to the loft, there
again some one was ready, and threw me down on all fours. I wanted to
fly through the middle door, but there some one blew on a trumpet, and
smote me with a sledge hammer so that I did not know where I landed; but
coming to very quickly, I found I was in the fireplace, and there
another flew at me and scratched the eyes almost out of my head. I
thereupon fled out of the back door, and lastly I was attacked on the
leg by the sixth with a pair of fire tongs, and when I was still running
away, some one shouted out of the house, 'Stop him, stop h--i--m!'"
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