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Main > South African folktales > Fairy tale "Why the Ratel is so Keen on Honey"

Why the Ratel is so Keen on Honey

Sure enough, dere’s de honey an’ dere’s de ole daddy a-tastin’ it an’ a-sayin’ what mighty good stuff it is.

“‘Well,’ ses de young fella, ‘I tole you all de time, but you wouldn’t b’lieve me. An’ now what?’ ses he.

“‘Oh, now everytin’s all right,’ ses de ole daddy grinnin’. ‘An’ here you is, Seeunkie, I’s brought dis,’ ses he, pullin’ out a big new goatskin sack. ‘You scrape off all dat honey-gum now onto a big leaf for your ole daddy to eat an’ den you can stop here wid dis sack an’ keep on scrapin’ every mawnin’ till you gets it full.’

“‘Oh, but,’ ses young Seeunkie, ‘it’ll take so long to fill dat!’

“‘Oh, dat’s all right,’ ses his ole daddy, all a-smilin’. ‘In de daytime you can dig yourse’f a little house, an’ your sister Wilhelmina can bring you some scoff every mawnin’, an’ you’ll yust have a fine ole time wid no ole daddy to boss you.’

“Well, wasn’t young Seeunkie s’prise, an’ didn’t he sniff an’ he snivel. But it ain’t no use, he ha’ to stop. An’ when it come ahternoon too, an’ he go up home an’ he howl an he prowl, it still ain’t no manner o’ use eeder, for de ole man just pops out ahter him an’ shambok him away agen.

“‘Now, what’s all dat for?’ scream ole Missis Ratel. ‘Didn’t he show you de tree, an hain’t you eat de sweet gum yourse’f?’

“‘I did,’ ses ole Ratel. ‘Dat’s yust it. If I hadn’t a-eat it I mightn’t a-know’d. But I put rock aloes yuice on de honey dat was in de bag under de bed last night, an’ dis sweet gum f’m de t’orn tree was yust a-stingin’ wid aloes yuice dis mawnin’. If young Seeunkie’s smart enough to steal his daddy’s honey, an’ try to fool him, den he’s big enough an’ smart enough to look out for hisse’f f’m now on. Dere’s lots o’ country out o’ doors for him to dig in.’

“Well, ole Missis Ratel she rage an’ she ramp, but it ain’t no manner o’ use. De ole man stick to what he say, an’ young Seeunkie hatto go, all ’cause he couldn’t leave any honey alone, not even his ole daddy’s.

“So,” concluded the old Hottentot, “now you knows why de Ratel is yust so dead gone on honey—it’s in de blood, an’ you cahnt get dat out nohow.

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