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Main > South African folktales > Fairy tale "Who was King?"

Who was King?

Never again would his soft nostrils scent danger in the distance, nor his quick hoofs give the signal for the stampede! No, it was really all up with him this time! When Oom Leeuw gets hold of a thing, he doesn’t let go till it is dead.

“The rest of the herd—ach, but they ran! Soon they were far away, only specks in the distance; all except those that Volstruis had killed. Truly Volstruis was clever! Baasjes know, he can run fast—faster even than the sassaby. So when he saw Leeuw getting ready to spring, he raced up-wind as hard as he could, knowing that was what the herd would do. So there he was waiting for them, and didn’t he play with them! See, baasjes, he stood just so”—in his excitement Outa rose and struck an attitude—“and when they streaked past him he jumped like this, striking at them with the hard, sharp claws on his old two toes.” Outa hopped about like a fighting bantam, while the children hugged themselves in silent delight.

“Voerts! there was one dead!”—Outa kicked to the right. “Voerts! there was another!”—he kicked to the left—“till there was a klomp of bucks lying about the veld giving their last blare. Yes, old Two Toes did his work well that day.

“When Leeuw came up and saw that Volstruis had killed more than he had, he was not very pleased, but Volstruis soon made it all right.

“Leeuw said, ‘You have killed most, so you rip open and begin to eat.’

“‘Oh no!’ said Volstruis, ‘you have cubs to share the food with, so you rip open and eat. I shall only drink the blood.’

“This put Leeuw in a good humour; he thought Volstruis a noble, unselfish creature. But truly, as I said before, Volstruis was clever. Baasjes see, he couldn’t eat meat; he had no teeth. But he didn’t want Leeuw to know. Therefore he said, ‘You eat; I will only drink the blood.’

“So Leeuw ripped open—sk-r-r-r-r, sk-r-r-r-r—and called the cubs, and they all ate till they were satisfied. Then Volstruis came along in a careless fashion, pecking, pecking as he walked, and drank the blood.

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