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Animal Folk Tales, Part 4

By Joseph Thomas

Many years ago two brothers were far from home on a hunting expedition. They became lost in the jungle and for several days they drifted further and further from their home. One evening, as they were setting up their camp for the night, they separated to look for food, water, and firewood. After some time the younger brother, unable to find any water or food, sat down to rest. A bluebird began to flutter about in the trees above him and repeated, I know where your parents are! I know where your parents are!. He looked around to see who was addressing him but saw no one. The bluebird again sang, I know where your parents are! I know where your parents are! The young man asked the bluebird where he could find his parents and home. The bluebird said that he would take the brothers through the forest, and to their home in return for three insects. The younger brother ran back to their camp and soon returned with his older brother. They quickly found several insects and offered them to the bluebird. They followed the bluebird for several days, but finally arrived at their home. The two brothers were so overjoyed at finally seeing their parents again, they promised that they and their descendents would always feed hungry birds. This is why, to this day, birds sing to humans, and humans feed birds.

One day the gods looked down on the earth and summoned the dung beetle to deliver a message to the humans. They instructed the dung beetle to tell humans they must eat only once every three days, or the earth would become covered in human waste. If they continue to eat every day, soon the earth will not be fit to farm or live upon, they warned. However, the dung beetle instead told the humans that they must eat three times every day. When the gods asked the beetle what it had told the people, and why they were eating three times a day, the gods were angered at the answer. To punish the dung beetle for its error, the gods have condemned it to spend its days digging to bury dung.

As you can see, long ago all living things could talk. Humans, insects, birds, fish, furry animals, and lizards all conversed. So we should wonder why this is no longer true. The gods looked down one day and saw that this arrangement caused too many problems. Whenever one creature desires to kill and eat another there is an endless discussion amongst all the beasts as to whether this should be allowed, the gods thought. Whenever a fox wishes to eat a chicken, or a bird wants to eat an insect, or a man slaughters an ox or buffalo, there are endless objections and controversies. We must leave man alone to discuss what is right or wrong, and strike all other animals dumb. All other creatures will exist for the benefit of humans; for men to raise, slaughter, and hunt. But this means that all animals can also hunt each other creature, including humans, without dispute, protest or litigation, the gods declared.

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