Mystery and marvel: The leopard, the dog and the squirrel

This week we are sharing a Central African tale about stealing. To fully understand this tale and the way it was written we recommend you read our introduction to our folklore series.
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One day, the leopard made a peanut garden. It bore many peanuts.
The squirrel began to steal the leopard’s peanuts. He didn’t steal just one or two, but he was stealing them all the time. But the leopard did not know who was stealing his peanuts because he had sent both the squirrel and the dog to guard his garden.

One day the leopard called both the squirrel and the dog and he asked them        ”Who is stealing my peanuts all the time?”. The dog and the squirrel said that they didn’t know. The squirrel did not quit stealing. He stole all the time.

 

One day the leopard went to ask the squirrel ”Show me the one who is stealing my peanuts.” The squirrel said to the leopard, ”Tomorrow morning you come. The dog and I will fall into the water. When we return you will see. When you see the one whose body is shaking, you will know that is the one who is stealing your peanuts all the time. He will be shaking because he is afraid.”

In the morning the leopard came. He said to the dog and the squirrel, ”You go. You fall into the water and then return quickly, because I want to give some work to you”. The dog and the squirrel left quickly. They ran to the water, jumped in, and then they returned. The dog was cold and began to shake his body. The squirrel said to the leopard, ”See, there’s your peanut thief. He sees you, and he is shaking with fear.”

The leopard asked the dog, ”Why are you shaking so? I know you are the one who is always stealing my peanuts.” The leopard continued to question the dog and the dog continued to shake because he was very cold. The leopard was sad because of what the dog had done. The leopard grabbed the dog and killed him. He left the squirrel as the guard of his garden and returned to his home.

One day when the leopard returned to the garden, he saw that someone had stolen his peanuts. He called the squirrel and asked him, ”You told me one day that the dog was stealing my peanuts, so I killed him, but who is stealing my peanuts now? I want you to show me who is stealing my peanuts.”  The squirrel said. ”I don’t know who is stealing your peanuts.”

The leopard became very impatient because he was very unhappy about his peanuts. He wanted to grab the squirrel and kill him. But the squirrel ran off and disappeared into his hole. The leopard waited for him in vain. Finally he returned to his home. When the leopard had left, the squirrel came out of his hole. He said, ”I will not quit stealing the leopard’s peanuts.” He called his children and his wife, and he said to them, ”Come, we are going to make our house right in the middle of the leopard’s peanut garden.” And they ate peanuts every day.

The leopard didn’t know how he could catch them. The children of the dog said, ”The squirrel deceived you and tricked you, Mr. Leopard, so you killed our father.” And the squirrel said, ”Because I tricked the leopard to kill the dog, I had better not stay outside my hole!”

This is the way the squirrel always stays in his hole, and the dog hates the face of the squirrel. They remain enemies even until today. And the leopard hates the squirrel because he stole his peanuts, and they also remain enemies even until today.

The squirrel stole all the time from the leopard, and he blamed the dog, and the dog died without cause. Sometimes events are not fair, for even when the dog didn’t steal, he was punished. When you have two people working, and one is always accusing the other of stealing, the accuser may be the one who is stealing.

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The tales we are sharing in this series were written down by Polly Strong, as told to her mainly by Moussa Andre and Bissafi Jeannot. These tales were originally published in a book  “African Tales, folklore of the Central African Republic” by TELCRAFT in 1992.