The Ape, the Snake, and the Lion
Long, long ago there lived, in a village called Keejee′jee, a woman whose husband died, leaving her with a little baby boy. She worked hard all day to get food for herself and child, but they lived very poorly and were most of the time half-starved.
When the boy, whose name was ’Mvoo′ Laa′na, began to get big, he said to his mother, one day: “Mother, we are always hungry. What work did my father do to support us?”
His mother replied: “Your father was a hunter. He set traps, and we ate what he caught in them.”
“Oho!” said ’Mvoo Laana; “that’s not work; that’s fun. I, too, will set traps, and see if we can’t get enough to eat.”
The next day he went into the forest and cut branches from the trees, and returned home in the evening.
The second day he spent making the branches into traps.
The third day he twisted cocoanut fiber into ropes.
The fourth day he set up as many traps as time would permit.
The fifth day he set up the remainder of the traps.
The sixth day he went to examine the traps, and they had caught so much game, beside what they needed for themselves, that he took a great quantity to the big town of Oongoo′ja, where he sold it and bought corn and other things, and the house was full of food; and, as this good fortune continued, he and his mother lived very comfortably.
But after a while, when he went to his traps he found nothing in them day after day.
One morning, however, he found that an ape had been caught in one of the traps, and he was about to kill it, when it said: “Son of Adam, I am Neea′nee, the ape; do not kill me. Take me out of this trap and let me go. Save me from the rain, that I may come and save you from the sun some day.”
So ’Mvoo Laana took him out of the trap and let him go.
When Neeanee had climbed up in a tree, he sat on a branch and said to the youth: “For your kindness I will give you a piece of advice: Believe me, men are all bad. Never do a good turn for a man; if you do, he will do you harm at the first opportunity.