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The Brothers Lionheart

I tried to call “Jonathan,” but I think I was crying, since nothing came out except a funny little noise. But Jonathan heard it. He looked up and saw me. Then he cried out and flung down his fishing rod and rushed up to me and hugged me, just as if he wanted to feel that I had really come. Then I cried just a little. Why I should be crying, I don’t know, but I had longed for him so much.

Jonathan laughed instead, and we stood on the slops and hugged each other and were happier than I can say, because we were together again.

And then Jonathan said:

“Oh, so you’ve come at last, have you, Rusky Lionheart!”

Rusky Lionheart--it sounded crazy, so we giggled. And then we laughed more and more, just as if it were the funniest thing we’d heard for ages, though it was probably because we wanted something to laugh at. We were so happy that everything was whirling inside us. And when we’d laughed for ages, we wrestled together, but that didn’t stop our laughing. No, indeed not; we went on until we fell over in the grass and we lay there and rolled around laughing more and more, finally laughing so much that we fell into the stream, and then we laughed so much that I thought we’d drown.

But instead we started to swim. I’ve never been able to swim, although I’ve always wanted to learn. Now I could, just like that. I was swimming away like anything.

“Jonathan, I can swim!” I shouted.

“Yes, of course you can swim,” said Jonathan.

And then I suddenly though of something.

“Jonathan, have you noticed something?” I said. “I’ve stopped coughing.”

“Yes, of course you’ve stopped coughing,” said Jonathan. “You’re in Nangiyala now.”

I swam around for quite a while and then I scrambled up on to the bridge and stood there, wet through, the water running out of my clothes. My trousers were clinging to my legs, which was why I could see so clearly what had happened. Believe it or not, my legs were quite straight, just like Jonathan’s.

Then I thought, suppose I’ve become beautiful too? I asked Jonathan if he thought so, whether he could see if I had grown beautiful.

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Category: Nigerian folktales
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