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Main > South African folktales > Fairy tale "Why the Tortoise has no Hair on"

Why the Tortoise has no Hair on

“But,” demanded Annie of the old Hottentot, a couple of days later, “after that horrid Little Hare cheated Old Tortoise over the little twinkly fishes, what did Old Tortoise say next time he met him?”

“What did Ou’ Sculpat say to Little Hahsie?” repeated Old Hendrik, with a sudden wide open laugh. “Well, Ainkye, he said a lot; you may bet he said a lot. He yust hatto say a lot ’cause what he ha’ to say wahnt true; an’ when you hain’t got de trufe to tell, den you has to use a mighty lot o’ words to make it stick.”

“But surely Old Tortoise didn’t believe that Little Hare after what he’d done!” protested Annie.

“Oh, but you hain’t never hear dat Little Hahsie talk when he’s a mind to butter some’dy down,” rejoined Old Hendrik. “Ou’ Sculpat’s one o’ dese people what wants to know ’fore dey b’lieves anytin’, an’ he was raungin’ round for blood an’ t’under lookin’ for Little Hahsie. Well, an’ he meet him, an’ de nex’ ting you knows dey’s yust ole chummies a-plantin’ peach-trees togeder. Dat’s fine, ain’t it? But den, de finis’ of it!—an’ de finis’ of it is, Ou’ Sculpat hain’t got no hair on him any mo’.”

“Why! did tortoises ever have hair on?” demanded little Annie in blank astonishment.

“O’ course dey had hair on,” retorted Old Hendrik, protesting at such astonishment in his hearer. “Ain’t his big broder, de otter, got hair on him yet? But Sculpat would get mix’ up wid Little Hahsie, an’ dere you is; he hain’t got no hair on him no more.”

“Oh, how was that? Do tell us,” begged Annie.

“Why, it was dis a-way,” went on Hendrik. “When dey did meet, an’ when Ou’ Sculpat finis’ talkin’ big, an’ Little Hahsie finis’ talkin’ butter, den Hahsie feel dat good an’ harum-scarum inside him dat he hop, an’ he skip, an’ he monkey off across de veldt till he come to a farm, an’ dere was de peach garden right in his way, wid de farm house a bit way off f’m it.

“Well, Little Hahsie he squot an’ he sniff, an’ he tink about de dogs an’ de little boys dat frow stones; but he tink o’ de peaches too, an’ he feel yust dat cussed dat he’s a-gun’ to have a try at dem peaches if he lose his tail for it.

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