THE Uncle Remus stories, which suddenly became so popular about fifty years ago, not only delighted both young and old, but attracted the serious attention of folklore students. It is now generally recognized-though the point was hotly debated at first-that they originally came from Africa, brought by the Negro slaves, who, in the southern states, seem mostly to have belonged to Bantu-speaking tribes. When it was discovered that the Indians of the Amazon had numbers of similar tales it was suggested by some that the Negro stories had been directly or indirectly borrowed from them; by others that the Indians had borrowed them from the Brazilian Negroes. Neither suggestion seems to fit the facts. On the one hand, every story in "Uncle Remus" can be shown to exist in a more primitive shape in Africa, and among people who cannot be suspected of having imported it from America or elsewhere. Thus the "Tar-baby" story is known, in slightly differing forms, to the Duala, the Sumbwa (a tribe to the south of Lake Victoria), the Mbundu of Angola, the Makua, the people of the Lower Congo, and several more.
On the other hand, the more we know of the folk-tales current in different parts of the world the less likely it seems that the Amazonian Indians should have borrowed their stories from the Negroes. In the Malay Peninsula, where the local equivalent for Brer Rabbit is the little mouse-deer, he figures in much the same incidents as the African hare and Hlakanyana. These incidents and the traits of character
[1. Most, as is generally supposed, from the Congo; but there is evidence that slaves were frequently, during the first quarter of the nineteenth century, imported from Mozambique and other ports on the East Coast. "Mombasas," are mentioned among the Negro slaves in Cuba; and many cargoes of slaves were smuggled from Havana into the southern states after the import trade had been declared illegal. This perhaps explains why the African hare (Kalulu of the Nyanja, Sungura of the Swahili) should be such a prominent figure in Negro folklore, while his place is taken on the Congo (where it appears there are no hares) by the little antelope known as the water chevrotain. The slaves of the British West Indies were chiefly West Africans (Yorubas, Ibos, Fantis, etc.), and their 'Nancy' stories are mostly concerned with the spider (Anansi).]
which they illustrate are common to human nature all the world over; the animal actors, of course, vary locally.
In India it is the jackal who plays clever tricks on the stronger and fiercer animals; in Europe the fox; in New Guinea and Melanesia yet others. The tortoise, however, seems a universal favourite, except, perhaps, in North Germany, where one of his best-known adventures is ascribed to the hedgehog.
The jackal is the hero for the Hottentots, and also for the Galla and Somali of North-eastern Africa, who consider the hare a stupid sort of creature, and blame him (at least the Hottentots do) for-like the chameleon elsewhere taking away men's hope of reviving after death. The Moon, angry with him for failing to deliver his message, threw a chunk of wood at, him, which is why his lip is split to this day.
The Basuto have-apparently through contact with the Hottentots-confused the characters of the jackal and the hare, giving to the former the famous story of the Animals and the Well, which will be related presently, though the hare comes into his own on several other occasions.
It is unfortunate that so many writers, no doubt influenced by "Uncle Remus," used the word 'rabbit' in translating African stories. There are, I believe, no rabbits, properly so called, in Africa, and Sungura, Kalulu, Sulwe, and Mutlanyana undoubtedly represent what we mean by a hare. Uncle Remus would naturally speak of the more familiar animal, just as he makes Brer Wolf and Brer Fox take the place of the hyena.
Jacottet, in his translation of a Sesuto tale, speaks of a 'rabbit' victimized by Little Hare. This animal (hlolo) is, according to Mabille and Dieterlen's dictionary, the red hare (Lepus crassicaudatus). Whether this is the same as the 'March Hare' of the Lalas and Lambas-the name literally
[1. The Shona and Sesuto names for the 'little hare.']
means the "Mad Big Hare"-it would be interesting to discover; but I have nowhere met with a description of this latter creature.
The hare, then, we may say, is really the most prominent figure in the tales we are considering. Next to him -indeed, in some ways more successful in triumphing over his enemies, and once, at least, getting the better of the hare himself-is the tortoise.
The lion, the elephant, and, more frequently, the hyena are the foils and dupes, whose strength and fierceness are no match for the nimble wits of the little hare and the slow, patient wisdom of the tortoise. More inoffensive creatures, sad to say-the bush-buck, the duiker, and the monitor lizard-occasionally fall victims.
The crocodile is sometimes introduced, and not always in an evil aspect: for instance, a Tumbuka tale shows him helpful to the other animals and treated with gross ingratitude by the tortoise. The hippopotamus also makes an occasional appearance, and it would be possible to make a long list of animals and birds which are mentioned-some of them repeatedly-but play no very conspicuous parts.
I will begin with the story of the Well, though I cannot pretend to arrange the hare's adventures (except for the final and fatal one) in chronological order. Some episodes are linked together in natural sequence, but such groups could, as a rule, be placed anywhere in the series without breaking the connexion.
It was a different matter when some unnamed Low German poet (or succession of poets) combined into the epic of Reynard the Fox (Reinke Vos) the scattered beast fables current in the Middle Ages. I have no doubt that one day a genius will arise in some Bantu tribe to perform the same service for Sungura.
[1. It seems desirable to have a proper name for occasional use, and perhaps it is most convenient to keep to the Swahili form throughout.]
I am not forgetting that the Mosuto Azariel Sekese has done something of the kind in his prose story The Assembly of the Birds. But this is rather a satire than the kind of epic that I have in mind, though it is a very remarkable work in its own way.
Now for the story.
Once upon a time there was a terrible drought over all the country. No rain had fallen for many months, and the animals were like to die of thirst. All the pools and watercourses were dried up. So the lion called the beasts together to the dry bed of a river, and suggested that they should all stamp on the sand and see whether they could not bring out some water. The elephant began, and stamped his hardest, but produced no result, except a choking cloud of dust. Then the rhinoceros tried, with no better success; then the buffalo; then the rest in turn-still nothing but dust, dust! At the beginning of the proceedings the elephant had sent to call the hare, but he said, "I don't want to come."
Now there was no one left but the tortoise, whom they all had overlooked on account of his insignificance. He came forward and began to stamp; the onlookers laughed and jeered. But, behold I before long there appeared a damp spot in the river-bed. And the rhinoceros, enraged that a. little thing like that should succeed where he had failed, tossed him up and dashed him against a rock, so that his shell was broken into a hundred pieces. While he sat, picking up the fragments and painfully sticking them together, the rhinoceros went on stamping, but the damp sand quickly disappeared, and clouds of dust rose, as before. The others repeated their vain efforts, till at last the elephant said, Let the tortoise come and try." Before he had been at work more than a few minutes the water gushed out and filled the well, which had gradually been excavated by their combined efforts.
The animals then passed a unanimous resolution that the hare, who had refused to share in the work, should not be allowed to take any of the water. Knowing his character, they assumed that he would try to do so, and agreed to take turns in keeping watch over the well.
The-hyena took the first watch, and after an hour or two saw the hare coming along with two calabashes, one empty and one full of honey. He called out a greeting to the hyena, was answered, and asked him what he was doing there. The hyena replied, "I am guarding the well because of you, that you may not drink water here." "Oh," said the hare, "I don't want any of your water; it is muddy and bitter. I have much nicer water here." The hyena, his curiosity roused, asked to taste the wonderful water, and Sungura handed him a stalk of grass which he had dipped in the honey. "Oh, indeed, it is sweet! just let me have some more!" I can't do that unless you let me tie you up to the tree; this water is strong enough to knock you over if you are not tied." The hyena had so great a longing for the sweet drink that he readily consented; the hare tied him up so tightly that he could not move, went on to the well, and filled his calabash; then he jumped in, splashed about to his heart's content, and finally departed laughing.
In the morning the animals came and found the hyena tied to the tree. "Why, Hyena, who has done this to you?" "A great host of strong men came in the middle of the night, seized me, and tied me up." The lion said, "No such thing! Of course it was the hare, all by himself." The lion took his turn at watching that night; but, strange to say, he fell a victim to the same trick. Unable to resist the lure of the honey, he was ignominiously tied to the tree.
There they found him next morning, and the hyena, true to his currish nature, sneered: "So it was many men who tied you up, Lion? " The lion replied, with quiet dignity: "You need not talk; he would be too much for any of us."
The elephant then volunteered to keep watch, but with no better success; then the rest of the animals, each in his turn, only to be defeated by one trick or another.
At last the tortoise came forward, saying, "I am going to catch that one who is in the, habit of binding people!" The others began to jeer: "Nonsense! Seeing how he has outwitted us, the elders, what can you do-a little one like you? " But the elephant took his part, and said that he should be allowed to try.
The tortoise then smeared his shell all over with bird-lime, plunged into the well, and sat quite still at the bottom. When the hare came along that night and saw no watcher he sang out, "Hallo! Hallo! the well! Is there no one here?" Receiving no answer, he said, "They're afraid of me! I've beaten them all! Now for the water!" He sat down beside the well, ate his honey, and filled both his gourds, before starting to bathe. Then he stepped into the water and found both his feet caught. He cried out, "Who are you? I don't want your water; mine is sweet. Let me go, and you can try it." But there was no answer. He struggled; he put down one hand to free himself; he put down the other; he was caught fast. There was no help for it: there he had to stay till the animals came in the morning. And when they saw him they said, "Now, indeed, the hare has been shown up!" So they carried him to the bwalo for judgment, and the lion said, "Why did you first disobey and afterwards steal the water?" The hare made no attempt to plead his cause, but said, "just tie me up, and I shall die!" The lion ordered him to be bound, but the hare made one more suggestion. "Don't tie me with coconut-rope, but with green banana-fibre; then if you throw me out in the sun I shall die very quickly."
They did so, and after a while, when they heard the banana-bast cracking as it dried up in the heat, they began to get suspicious, and some one said to the lion that the hare
[1. It is quite common for Africans to speak of the forefeet of a quadruped as 'hands.' But, in any case, animals in the stories are often spoken of as if they had human form. We find the same thing again and again in "Uncle Remus."
2. In the Ila version he is killed on the spot; but I refuse to accept this. Even the tortoise, though more than once too much for the hare, could not bring him to his death; that had to come in the end from a quite unexpected quarter.]
would surely break his bonds. The hare heard him and groaned out, as though at his last gasp, "Let me alone. I'm just going to die!" So he lay still for another hour, and then suddenly stretched himself; the banana-fibre gave way, and he was off before they could recover from their astonishment. They started in pursuit, but he outran them all, and they were nearly giving up despair when they saw him on the top of a distant ant-hill, apparently waiting for them to come up. When they got within earshot he called out, "I'm off! You're fools, all of you!" and disappeared into a hole in the side of the ant-hill. The animals hastened up and formed a circle round the hill, while the elephant came forward and thrust his trunk into the hole. After groping about for a while he seized the hare by the ear, and the hare cried, "That's a leaf you've got hold of. You've not caught me!" The elephant let go and tried again, this time seizing the hare's leg. "O-o-o-o-o! He's got hold of a root." Again the elephant let go, and Sungura slipped out of his reach into the depths of the burrow.
The animals grew tired of waiting, and, leaving the elephant to watch the ant-hill, went to fetch hoes, so that they might dig out the hare. While they were gone the hare, disguising his voice, called out to the elephant, "You who are watching the burrow open your eyes wide and keep them fixed on this hole, so that the hare may not get past without your seeing him!" The elephant unsuspectingly obeyed, and Sungura, sitting just inside the entrance, kicked up a cloud of sand into his eyes and dashed out past him. The elephant, blinded and in pain, was quite unaware of his escape, and kept on watching the hole till the other animals came back. They asked if Sungura was still there. "He may be, but he has thrown sand into my eyes." They fell to digging, and, of course, found nothing.
[1. Compare again Brer Tarrypin when caught by Brer Fox: "Tu'n loose dat stump-root an' ketch hold o' me!" This incident occurs in various connexions; it comes in quite appropriately here.]
Meanwhile the hare had gone away into the bush, plaited his hair in the latest fashion, plastered it with wax taken from a wild bees' nest, and whitened his face with clay, so that he was quite unrecognizable. Then he strolled casually past the place where the animals were at work, asked what they were doing, and offered to help. He was given a hoe, which he used with such vigour that it soon came off the handle. He asked the giraffe for the loan of his leg, used it as the handle of his hoe, and speedily broke it, whereupon he shouted, "I'm the hare!" and, fled, taking refuge in another ant-hill, which had more than one entrance. They started to dig; he escaped through the second hole, which they had not noticed, disguised himself afresh, and came back as before. This time, when his hoe came off the handle, he asked the elephant to let him hammer it in on his head; and he did it with such good-will that he soon killed him. He ran away once more, shouting insults as he went, and the animals, having lost their two principal leaders, returned home, weary and discouraged.
The hare then went on his way quite happily, till, some time later, he met a lioness, who seized him and was about to kill him. But he pleaded so eloquently for his life, assuring her that he could make himself very useful if she would let him be her servant, that at last she relented and took him home to her den. Next day, when she went out to hunt, she left him in charge of her ten cubs. While she
[1. Various disguises are mentioned as being used by the hare. At Delagoa Bay he makes himself a head-ring (like those worn by Zulu and Thonga men); elsewhere he plasters himself all over with mud, or shaves his head, or even takes off his skin (but I think this stratagem more properly belongs to another and clumsier character), or covers himself all over with leaves. In "Uncle Remus" Brer Rabbit, after spilling some honey over himself, rolls in the fallen leaves and becomes quite unrecognizable.
2 The number of cubs varies in different versions of the story, but several agree in making them ten. The Basuto make the jackal the hero (if so he can be called), and the Akamba the hyena, perhaps thinking a carnivorous bare too great a strain on the probabilities; but probabilities, as we have seen, count for nothing with the Bantu tale-teller.]
was gone Sungura took the cubs down to the stream to play, and suggested that they should wrestle. He wrestled with one of them, threw it, and twisted its neck as they lay on the ground. Returning to the cave with the others, he skinned and ate the dead one at the first convenient opportunity. In the evening the mother came home and, staying outside the cave, told the hare to bring the children out for her to nurse. He brought one, and when she told him to bring the rest he objected, saying it was better to bring them out one by one. Having suckled the first, she handed it back, and he brought her the remaining eight, taking the last twice over.
Next day he did the same, bringing out the last cub three times, and so deceived the mother into thinking she had suckled the whole ten. This went on until he had eaten all but one, which he brought out ten times; when it came to the tenth time the lioness noticed that the cub refused to suck. The hare explained that it had not been well all day, and the lioness was satisfied, and only told him to take good care of it.
As soon as she was gone next day he killed, skinned, and ate the last cub, and, taking the other skins from the place where he had hidden them, set out on his travels. Towards evening he came to the village of the baboons, and found the 'men' playing with teetotums  in the 'forum.' He went and sat down in the usual place for strangers, and when some of them came to greet him said, "I have brought beautiful skins to sell. Does anyone want to buy them?" The baboons crowded round, admiring the skins, and all ten were soon disposed of. They then returned to their game, and the hare sat watching them. Presently he said, "You are not playing right. Shall I show you how?" They handed him a teetotum, and he began to spin it, singing all the time:
"We have eaten the lion's children on the quiet!"
[1. Called in Nyasaland nsika, but found in many other parts of Africa; made of a piece of gourd-shell, with a splinter of wood (the size of a match) stuck through it.]
They listened attentively, and then said, "Let us learn this song"; so he taught them the words, and they practised for the rest of the evening. After which he shared their meal, and was given a hut to sleep in.
In the morning he was off before it was light, and made .his way back to the lions' den, where he found the lioness distractedly searching for her missing cubs. On the way he had been careful to roll in the mud and get himself well scratched by the thorny bushes, so that he presented a most disorderly appearance. On seeing her he set up a dismal wail. "Oh! Oh! Some wild beasts came yesterday and carried off your children. They were too much for me; I could do nothing. See how they knocked me about and wounded me! But I followed them, and I can show you where they live. If you come with me you will be able to kill them all. But you had better let me tie you up in a bundle of grass and put some beans just inside, and I will carry you and tell them that I have brought a load of beans. They have the skins of your children, whom I saw them eating." The lioness agreed, and, having tied her up, the hare started with his load. Arriving at the village, he laid it down in the place for strangers. The baboons were so intent on their game that they hardly noticed him at first, and the lioness could hear them singing with all their might:
"We have eaten the lion's children on the quiet."
After a while they came up and greeted Sungura, and he said that he had brought them a load of beans in return for their hospitality of the day before. He loosened one end of the bundle, to show them the beans, and then eagerly accepted their invitation to join in the game. By the time it was once more in full swing the lioness had worked herself free, and sprang on the nearest baboon, bearing him to the ground. The others tried to escape, but the hare had run round to the gate of the enclosure, closed it, and fastened the bar. Then began "a murder grim and great"; not one of the baboons was left alive, and when the hare had brought out the skins of the poor cubs and laid them before the lioness she knew for a certainty that she had but done justice, and was duly grateful to the hare. He, however, thought it just as well not to remain in her neighbourhood, so took his leave and resumed his wanderings.
We may pass over two or three more of the exploits commonly attributed to him: how he treated an unoffending antelope as Hlakanyana treated the ogre's mother; how, again like Hlakanyana, he got a lion to help him thatch a hut and fastened his tall into the thatch; and how he killed another lion by getting him to swallow a red-hot stone wrapped in a quantity of fat. The Galla and, I think, the Hottentots attribute this exploit to the jackal.
Some of the most popular incidents arise out of his friendship with the hyena. How this friendship originated and why he should have chosen to ally himself with this most unattractive beast is not clear: the stories are apt to begin baldly with the statement that "the hare and the hyena (or the tortoise and the monitor, or various other pairs, as the case may be) made friendship with each other" (anapalana ubwenzi, in Nyanja), no explanation being offered. It will be seen that for any tricks played on the hyena the hare had ample provocation, and the final injury he suffered could by no means be condoned.
One very popular story tells how, being in want of food, they went to the chief of a certain village and offered to cultivate his garden. He agreed, and gave them a pot of beans as their food-supply for the day. When they reached the garden they made a fire and put the beans on to boil. By the time they knocked off for the midday rest the beans were done, and the hyena, saying that he wanted to wash before eating, went to the stream and left the hare to watch the pot. No sooner was he out of sight than he stripped off his skin and ran back. The hare, thinking this was some strange and terrible beast, lost his head and ran away; the hyena sat down by the fire, finished the whole pot full of beans, returned to the stream, resumed his skin, and came back at his leisure. The hare, as all seemed quiet, ventured back, found the pot empty and the hyena clamorously demanding his food. The hare explained that he had been frightened away by an unknown monster, which had evidently eaten up the beans. The hyena refused to accept this excuse, and accused the hare of having eaten the beans himself. The unfortunate hare had to go hungry; but, finding denial useless, contented himself with remarking that if that beast came again he meant to shoot it; so he set to work making a bow. The hyena watched him till the bow was finished, and then said. "You have not made it right. Give it here!" And, taking it from him, he pretended to trim it into shape, but all the while he was cutting away the wood so as to weaken it in one spot. The hare so far suspected nothing, and kept his bow handy against the lunch-hour on the following day. When the 'wild beast' appeared he fitted an arrow to the string and bent the bow, but it broke in his hand, and once more he fled.
By this time his suspicions were awakened, and when he had made himself a new bow he hid it in the grass when the hyena was not looking. On the next occasion when the hyena appeared he shot at him and wounded him, but not seriously, so that he ran back to get into his skin and returned to find the hare calmly eating beans.
In one Nyasaland version of this tale it was not the hyena but the elephant or the dzimwe (zimwi, izimu), a kind of bogy of whom it was difficult to get a clear account, who tricked the hare and was shot dead by him in the end; but the hyena fits in better (the poor, good elephant is more usually the dupe). And, according to some accounts, his end was to come otherwise.
Another time the hare and the hyena went into the bush together after game. They found a guinea-fowl's nest full of eggs, and soon after trapped a guinea-fowl. They carried their spoils home, and the hare said to his friend, "You roast the fowl and the eggs. I'm tired; I want to go to sleep." The hyena made up the fire, spitted the bird on a stick, and put the eggs into the hot ashes. When the savoury steam filled the hut his mouth began to water, and when he had made sure that the guinea-fowl was done he ate it up, all but the legs, which he put into the fire. He then ate the eggs, carefully cleaned the shell of one and put it aside, together with one quill, threw the rest of the feathers into the fire, and lay down to sleep.
The smell of the burning feathers awakened Sungura, who started up, called the hyena, and then noticed that the guinea-fowl was missing. When asked where it was the hyena said he had fallen asleep while it was roasting, and it had got burned. The hare suspected the truth, but said nothing at the time. A little later he suggested that they should go to their respective relations and get some food; so they separated. The hyena went a little way, and as soon as he was out of sight lay down in the grass and slept. The hare, too, did not go far, but hid himself and waited awhile; then he gathered some banana-leaves and stealthily followed his partner. He tied him up and gave him a good beating, which effectually wakened him, so that he cried for mercy, though he could not see who was attacking him. The hare then went away, and a little later pretended to come upon his victim unexpectedly, kicked the supposedly unknown object in his path, and said, "What's this?"
"I'm here, your friend!"
"What's the matter?"
"Some man came along and tied me up and beat me."
"Do you know who it was?
"No, I don't."
The hare condoled with the hyena, and they remained quiet for a few days, when the hyena heard that there was
[1. The Central and Southern Africans, as a rule, do not eat eggs (with some tribes they are tabu to young people only). If they ever do they do not seem to care whether, or how long, they have been sat on.]
to be a dance at his village, and invited the hare to go with him. The hare accepted, but said he wanted to go home first: he would come in the afternoon.
The hyena went and had a bath, got himself up in his best clothes, complete with beads, for the dance, and, as a finishing-touch, put the egg-shell on his head and stuck the feather into it. When the hare arrived he welcomed him warmly, asked him to sit down, and thereupon took his zomari (a kind of clarinet) and played:
"The guinea-fowl and all! Put the blame on the fire! ti! ti! ti!"
These are supposed to be ' riddling words,' maneno ya fumbo. They are explained to mean: "I've eaten up the guinea-fowl and all, though I pretended it had got burned!" The hare understood them well enough; he sprang up, seized a big drum, and fell to beating it and singing:
"I took him and bound him with banana-leaves and beat him! pu! pu! pu!"
Then ensued a free fight, which, strange to say, did not dissolve the partnership.
There is a story, very variously told, of a visit paid by the two to the hyena's wife's relations, in which the hare defeats the hyena's tricks and finally turns the tables on him, but I hasten on to the final break.
In a time of famine, having exhausted every possible food-supply, the hyena proposed that he should kill and eat his mother, and the hare should do the same. The hare agreed, but kept his reflections to himself. The hyena went away, killed his mother, and ate her; the hare went, ostensibly for the same purpose, but hid his mother in a cave which could be reached only by climbing up the face of the
[1. In the original: Kanga pia, singizia moto, ti! ti! ti! As it is impossible to play a wind instrument and sing at the same time, it is perhaps implied that the notes conveyed the words, after the manner of the Ashanti drums.
2. One Swahili version (Blittner, Anthologie, p. 95), which has in the main been followed here, as giving more detail, makes the greedy beast the mungoose (cheche), but the hyena, whom we find elsewhere, is the more probable.]
cliff, and left with her a supply of wild herbs and roots, having first agreed on a signal to make his presence known. Next day, when the hyena had departed on his own business, the hare went to the cave and uttered the password. On hearing his mother's answer he called out to her to let down a rope, by which he climbed up into the cave. She had cooked sufficient food for herself and him, and after a hearty meal he returned to the place where he had left his friend. And this he did day by day.
The hyena, in the meantime, had finished his meat by the second day, and could not make out why the hare never seemed in want of food. So one day he followed him, and, hiding in the bushes, heard him give the password and the mother answer, and saw him drawn up into the cave. Next day he watched his opportunity, went to the cave, and called out the word, but there was no answer, the hare having warned his mother to take no notice should anyone else come. He saw that the hare had deceived him, and went away nursing his grievance, but at a loss what to do about it. He decided to consult the leopard, but got no help from him, only the suggestion that he had better go to the ant-eater.
The ant-eater, on hearing his story, said that there was no hope for him unless he could imitate the hare's voice so skilfully as to deceive his mother; and to make this possible he advised him to go to a nest of soldier-ants and put his tongue in among them; if he got it well stung his voice would be softened. He did this, but was unable to endure the pain for more than a short time. He returned to the ant-eater, who desired him to try his voice, and found that it was not much improved. The ant-eater said, "My friend, you're a coward. If you want to cat the hare's mother you will have to go back and let the ants bite your tongue till it is half its present size!"
The hyena's greed and resentment were stronger than his
[1. The ogre in the story of Tselane (and similar ones) softens his voice by swallowing red-hot iron. He does this on the advice of the witch-doctor. Brer Wolf, in like case, goes to the blacksmith.]
dread of pain, so he went back and let the ants work their will on him till the desired result was obtained. In fact, when he went back to the cave the hare's mother was completely taken in and let down the rope at once-to her undoing.
When the hare went as usual on the following day he got no answer to his call, and, looking round, saw traces of blood on the grass. Then he guessed what had happened, and thought how he might be revenged. When he met the hyena again he said nothing, but went away and made his preparations.
He came forth in the evening most splendidly adorned the details, of course, vary locally, from a wealth of brass and copper chains, pendants, rings, and ear-ornaments to the white shirt, embroidered coat, silver-mounted sword, and jewelled dagger of the coast men. Having thoroughly excited the hyena's admiration and envy, he showed him a mark on the top of his head, and told him that he had had a red-hot nail driven in there, and that if he, the hyena, would submit to the same operation he might be similarly adorned. The foolish beast was quite willing-the hare had the red-hot iron ready-and that, of course, was the end of Hyena.
In Nights with Uncle Remus this story is told (under the curious title "Cutta Cord-La") by an old man who, unlike Remus himself, had been brought from Africa in his youth. The hyena has become Brer Wolf, and Brer Rabbit hides his grandmother "in da top one big coconut-tree"-an African touch which puzzles the child listener. Brer Wolf has a red-hot poker thrust down his throat by the blacksmith, to soften his voice, or "mekky him talk easy."
The story is found in many different parts of Africa, though the actors in it are not always the same. This is also the case with the "Tar-baby" story, which is so well known that I need do no more than refer to it.
In spite of Sungura's pranks (some of them cruel enough, especially when played on the elephant, who, somewhat surprisingly, is not credited with much sense), he is always regarded with a certain affection. And it is only fair to recall one or two incidents which show him in a more amiable light than those hitherto given.
The famous'tug-of-war' story sometimes (as in "Uncle Remus") belongs to the tortoise, but quite as often the hero is the hare. So it is told by the Anyanja, the Baila, the Wawemba, the Ansenga (Northern Rhodesia), and probably many others.
The hare challenged the hippopotamus and the rhinoceros to a trial of strength, going to each in turn and saying, "Take hold of this rope, and let us pull against each other. I am going to the bank yonder." He then disappeared into the bushes, carrying what purported to be his end of the rope, and calling out as he went, "Wait till you feel me pull at my end, and then begin." He had stationed the two on opposite sides of a bush-covered island, and when he reached a point midway between them he pulled the rope in both directions. Rhino and hippo both pulled with all their might; their strength being about equal, neither gave way to any extent, though the former, after a while, was dragged forward a little, and when he recovered himself went back with such a rush that he dragged the hippo out on to the bank, whereat they both ejaculated, "Stupendous!" and Hippo called, "Hare! Hare!" but without receiving any answer. They went on pulling till they were both exhausted, and the rhino said, I will go and see that man who is pulling me," and just then the hippo put his head out of the water, and said, "Who is that pulling me?" And Chipembele (the rhino) said, "Why, Shinakambeza (one of Hippo's 'praise-names'), is it you pulling me?" "It is I. Why, who was he that brought you the rope, Chipembele?" "It was the hare. Was it he who gave it to you, Hippo?" "Yes, it was he."
[1. The Ila version has in the main been followed. See Smith and Dale, The Ila speaking Peoples, vol. ii, p. 377.]
It seems that these two had previously been at enmity, and the rhino had vowed never to set foot in the river. But the fact that both had equally been made fools of disposed them more favourably towards each other.
Thus they became reconciled, and that is why Rhinoceros drinks water to-day. Rhinoceros and Hippopotamus, when they do not see each other in the flesh, Rhinoceros will drink water in the river where Hippo lives, and Hippopotamus comes out to go grazing where Rhinoceros has his home.
This is the conclusion given by the Baila to the story; other people end it differently: either the rope breaks and both competitors fall backward, or the hare (or the tortoise) cuts it asunder in the middle, with the same result. In a Nyanja version it is the elephant who pulls against the hippopotamus; both are tired out, and the hare goes to each in turn and claims a forfeit, which he gets.
It is obvious that after the story had reached America the characters had to be changed. Brer Tarrypin challenged the bear, and, as no other animal of equal size was available, he fastened the other end of the rope to a tree.
There is a very popular tale in which the hare shows himself both wise and helpful. There was a man who lived by hunting. One day, just as he was about to take a pig and an antelope out of his traps, a lion sprang upon him, and threatened to kill him unless he gave him a share of the meat. In fear of his life, he agreed, and allowed the lion to take out the hearts, livers, and such other titbits as he chose, while he himself carried the rest home. This happened every day, and the man's wife was consumed with curiosity, when she found that there was neither heart nor liver in any of the animals he brought home. She insisted, in spite of his denial, that he had given these to
[1. One version of this is to be found in Mr Posselt's Fables of the Veld (p. 51); another, which I have chiefly followed, I took down, in Pokomo, on the Tana river, in 1912. There is a similar story (Yao) in Duff Macdonald's Africana (vol. ii, p. 346), where the hare decides between a man and a crocodile.]
some other woman, and so, one day, started early to look at his traps, and was herself caught in one of them. Presently the man and the lion arrived on the scene, and the latter demanded his share of the game. The man refused to kill his wife; the lion insisted on holding him to his bargain. The wretched man, driven to desperation, was about to give in, and the woman would have paid dearly for her suspicions, had the hare not happened to pass by. The husband saw him, and called on him to help; Mwakatsoo said at first that it was no business of his, but, yielding at last to the man's entreaties, he stopped, and heard both sides of the story. He then ordered the man to release his wife, and set the trap again. This having been done, he asked the lion to show him how the woman had got into it. The lion fell into the trap, both figuratively and literally, "and got caught by the hand and foot."So, this is the way it caught her. Now let me go I" But Mwakatsoo turned to the man and said, "You were a great fool to make such a promise. Now be off, you and your wife!" They did not wait to be told so twice, but hastened, home, while the lion called on Mwakatsoo to release him, and received for answer: "I shall do no such thing. You are the enemy!" 
A Giryama story-teller remarks (but this was on a different occasion, when the hare had been supplying the lion with meat):
"So the Little Hare was on good terms with his neighbours and was a nice person in the Lion's opinion, and in the opinion of his neighbours also was he a nice person!" 
[1. So the hare is familiarly called by the Wapokomo.
2. The Rhodesian hare was more ingenious. First he said he could not hear what they were saying for the wind, and they had better all come into a cave, the woman being released for the purpose. Then be called out that the cave was about to fall in, and they must hold up the roof. All four being so engaged, he sent off the man and his wife to get logs for propping it: he and the lion would hold it up till their return. The couple, of course, took the hint and made their escape. The hare ran away, and the lion, in terror lest the rock should fall, went on supporting it till he was tired, and then made a desperate leap to the mouth of the cave, hit his head against a rock, and crawled away half stunned. "Since that day lions. have hunted their own game."
3 Taylor, Giryama Vocabulary, p. 127]
And now for Sungura's sad end, which was due not to force or fraud of an enemy, but to a friend's misplaced sense of humour.
He went one day to call on his friend the cock, and found him asleep, with his head under his wing. The hare had never seen him in this position before, and never thought of doubting the hens' word when they informed him (as previously instructed) that their husband was in the habit of taking off his head and giving it to the herd-boys to carry with them to the pasture. "Since you were born have you ever seen a man have his head cut off and for it to go to pasture, while the man himself stayed at home in the village?" And the hare said, "Never! But when those herd-boys come, will he get up again?" And those women said, "Just wait and see!" At last, when the herd-boys arrived, their mother said, "Just rouse your father there where he is sleeping." The cock, when aroused, welcomed his guest, and they sat talking till dinner was ready, and still conversed during the meal. The hare was anxious to know "how it was done," and the cock told him it was quite easy-"if you think you would like to do it." The hare confidently accepted the explanation, and they parted, having agreed that the cock should return the visit next day.
He was so greatly excited that he began to talk of his wonderful experience as soon as he reached his home. "That person the fowl is a clever fellow; he has just shown me his clever device of cutting off the head till, on your being hit, you see, you become alive again. Well, to-morrow I intend to show you all this device!"
Next morning he told his boys what to do. They hesitated, but he insisted, and when they were ready to go out with the cattle they cut off his head, bored the ears, and put a string through them, to carry it more conveniently. The women picked up the body and laid it on the bed, trusting, in spite of appearances, to his assurance that he was not dead.
By and by his friend arrived, and, not seeing him, inquired for him; the women showed him the body lying on the bed. He was struck with consternation, and, let us hope, with remorse. "But my friend is a simpleton indeed!" They said, "Is not this device derived from you? " but he turned a deaf ear to this hint, and only insisted that the hare was a simpleton. He thought, however, he would wait and see whether, after all, he did get up. The boys came home when the sun declined; they struck their father, as he had told them, "but he did not get up. And the children burst out crying. And the mothers of the family cried. And folks sat a-mourning. And all the people that heard of it were amazed at his death: 'Such a clever man! And for him to have met with his death through such a trifling thing!'"
That was 'Harey's' epitaph.
[1. Taylor, Giryama Vocabulary, p. 133.]