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

Who was King?

“So they went on till the top of the ant-heap was quite loosened by the kicks and blows. Leeuw was getting angrier and angrier, and he could hardly see—his eyes were so full of dust. He gathered himself together for a tremendous spring, but, before he could make it, Volstruis bounded into the air and kicked the whole top off the ant-heap. Arré, but the dust was thick!

“When it cleared away, there lay Leeuw, groaning and coughing, with the great heap of earth and stones on top of him.

“‘Ohé! ohé!’ wailed the cubs, ‘get up, my father. Here he comes, the Toothless One! He who has teeth only on his feet! Get up and slay him.’

“Leeuw shook himself free of the earth and sprang at Volstruis, but his eyes were full of sand; he could not see properly, so he missed. As he came down heavily, Volstruis shot out his strong right leg and caught Leeuw in the side. Sk-r-r-r-r! went the skin, and goops! goops! over fell poor Oom Leeuw, with Volstruis’s terrible claws—the teeth of old Two Toes—fastened into him.

“Volstruis danced on him, flapping and waving his beautiful black and white wings, and tearing the life out of Oom Leeuw.

“When it was all over, he cleaned his claws in the sand and waltzed away slowly over the veld to where his mate sat on the nest.

“Only the cubs were left wailing over the dead King of the Forest.”

The usual babel of question and comment broke out at the close of the story, till at last Pietie’s decided young voice detached itself from the general chatter.

“Outa, what made you say that about pulling the blankets over one’s head and running to get near Mammie if one heard Volstruis bellowing at night? You know quite well that none of us would ever do it.”

“Yes, yes, my baasje, I know,” said Outa, soothingly. “I never meant anyone who belongs to the land of Volstruise. But other little masters, who did not know the voice of old Three Sticks—they would run to their mam-mas if they heard him.”

“Oh, I see,” said Pietie, accepting the apology graciously.

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