Myth & Lore

Page 85

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Why Leopard & Baboon are Enemies
By Michelangelo2

"Long ago, Leopard and Baboon shared the land in peace. They met here and there, politely nodding to one another as they passed. Early one morning, before the sun had crept far above the horizon, Leopard began chasing Dassie, the rock hyrax, who scuttled along like a large guinea pig. As Leopard chased her, Dassie darted toward a huge anthill and disappeared down its hole. Leopard reached her paw down the hole, but it was too deep, and she could not reach Dassie. For a long time, Leopard scratched at the anthill, but she still could not reach Dassie. As the sun rose higher in the sky, Leopard began to feel hot.

Just then, Baboon passed by. "You look very hot", Baboon said to Leopard. "You should go to the river and take a swim and have a drink of water."

"I do not want to leave", Leopard said. "I am very hungry and must wait for Dassie to emerge from this hole."

"I will stand guard", Baboon said. "You go to the river, and when Dassie emerges, I will grab her and hold her for you."

"Thank you, friend," Leopard said as she ran down the hill toward the river. Baboon settled down against the anthill, happy to sun himself on the warm sand. Soon, he fell asleep and began snoring. Dassie, hearing Baboon's snoring, crept out of the hole. Leopard returned to the anthill just in time to see Dassie disappear into the tall grass. Leopard angrily pounced on Baboon and slapped him awake. "You worthless ape!" she roared, insulting him greatly by calling him an ape, for baboons are not apes. "My breakfast just ran down the hill!"

Leopard's anger frightened Baboon, and he started to back away from her. But Leopard leaped forward and grabbed Baboon by the throat. "You let that tasty, fat Dassie escape," Leopard scolded. "Perhaps I should eat you instead!" And she opened her mouth to take a bite.

"Wait!" squealed Baboon. "Let me pay you for my mistake!"

"How?" Leopard snarled.

"By revealing a secret to you," said Baboon. "This is not the way to kill a baboon. You must drop a baboon from a great height so that it shatters into many bite-sized pieces. We are much tastier that way."

Leopard was astounded.

"Throw me up into the air by this tree," chattered Baboon, "and I will fall and break into a hundred tender little pieces."

Leopard was very hungry, but she couldn't resist the idea of eating Baboon as tender morsels, so she tossed Baboon high into the air. In a flash, Baboon reached out and grabbed a tree branch. Then he screamed that she was ugly before swinging through the highest tree branches until he was far out of sight. Leopard never forgot the embarrassment of being so foolish, and she never forgave Baboon for calling her ugly. To this day, leopards kill and eat baboons whenever they can catch one. And baboons scream insults at leopards—from a safe distance."

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