Fireside Tales from the North
Mike Lewis, the Jesuit Regional Superior, had just picked us up for our twelve hours in Johannesburg. When I mentioned an interest in old books, he drove us straight to Gandolph's, where we found the owner, Arnaud Labuschagne, just opening up the store. This is the one treasure found there that I did not already have. These eighteen tales come from Kenya and Nyasaland; most are aetiological. Page 13 is badly cut and mostly removed; the lack makes it hard to understand what is going on in the first story. In the second, Hen loses Hawk's razor and is still looking for it as she pecks along on the ground today. A greedy Hyena comes across a tethered Calf but decides to eat all of the leather tether before he enjoys the sumptuous Calf…. Wanjohi the Hunter (32) is a version of the fable of getting the capturer to put himself into confinement. Here that is a lion, and Wanjohi has promised the lion the best parts of whatever he traps. Unfortunately, his wife has been caught in one of his traps. He gets his wife free as he gets the lion into the trap. Page 42 is also badly cut. The leopard in The Leopard and the Baboon (38) is tricked into eating his own mother. The Lion, the Hare and the Hyena (44) features this traditional ploy: the hare, accused of treason against the lion, proclaims that the lion needs as his medicine a strip of the skin of the hare's accuser, the hyena. So hyenas have a strip of hairs that stand on end. The rhino scatters its dung to find the porcupine needle it once borrowed. Mr. Hare crawls into dead King elephant's mouth while Mrs. Hare invites all the animals to visit the supposedly dying King--and to bring along their money (71).