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Main > South African folktales > Fairy tale "Who was the Thief?"

Who was the Thief?

“‘Ach no, Baas! Would I then do such an ugly thing? And look at my tail. There’s no fat on it. The one whose tail is full of fat is the thief.’

“He turned round and waved his tail in the farmer’s face, and anyone could easily see that there was no fat on it.

“‘But the fat is gone,’ said the farmer, ‘someone must have stolen it,’ and he went on hunting, hunting in the waggon-house.

“At last he came to where Hyena was sleeping, just like a baby, baasjes, so nicely, and snoring a little: not the loud snoring like sawing planks—gorr-korrr, gorr-korr—but nice soft snoring like people do when they sleep very fast—see-uw, see-uw. It is the deepest sleep when a person snores see-uw, see-uw. Hyena’s head was on some chaff, and her tail was sticking out behind her, stiff with fat!

“‘Aha! here is the thief,’ said the farmer, and he began to tie the riem round her.

“Old Brown Sister sat up and rubbed her eyes. ‘What’s the matter?’ she asked. ‘I had a beautiful dream. I dreamt I was eating fat the whole night, and——’

“‘And so you were—my fat,’ said the farmer, and he pulled the rope tighter. ‘And now I’m going to teach you not to steal again.’

“Poor old Brown Sister jumped about when she found out what he was going to do; she ran round and round the waggon-house trying to get away; she called out, and she called out that she did not know about the fat, that she had never tasted it, and had never even seen it. But it was no good.

“‘Look at your tail,’ said the farmer. ‘Will you tell me that your tail went by itself and rubbed itself in the fat?’

“So he tied her to the waggon wheel and beat her, and beat her—ach! she was quite sore—and she screamed and screamed, and at last he drove her away from the farm.

“Poor old Brown Sister! She didn’t even have the fat from her tail to eat, because, baasjes see, with the running round and the beating, it was all rubbed off. But she never went to live on a farm again; the veld was quite good enough for her.”

“Is that the end, Outa?

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