They even tried an ear, and an eye, the savages. Lucky
for me they caught me too late in life. My flesh is withered
and tough. Not like yours. I can’t escape now, too old,
and a cripple. But they must not get you, you are too nice.
“Listen carefully to what I am going to say, for this
is your only chance to live. You must run as far as you
can, in that direction (she pointed with her hand). On a
flat mountain you will see a square boulder. It is not a
rock, for if you look carefully you will see it is a house.
When you get there you are out of the country of the cannibals.
They will not know you have gone before they come back,
and that will not be for some time. They are in the high
mountains making rain and hail. They create the thunderstorms,
you see, and from time to time they send their lightning
to hit a few people, then rain to wash away their victims,
and finally they pick them up and eat them. They need people.”
The two girls were deeply grateful, and gave the old
woman all their ornaments for her kindness. Then they set
off, running, running, running, Downhill, uphill, until
they saw, on the edge of a river bank, a big block of stone.
They knew that it must be the rock house. Inside, they found
all they would need to live—except that the house was very
dirty and neglected. So they swept it with the brooms they
found, lit the fire with the wood in the fire-place, fetched
water from the nearby well, and cooked porridge.
That evening, the two men who lived in that house came
home. They had been out hunting. Surprised as they were
to find the girls, they rather fancied the two girls who,
in turn, liked the men. So when the men asked the girls
to marry them, they happily agreed. It was nice to finally
meet two real men.
Knappert is a retired London University professor of African
and Asian languages; he now devotes his time to writing.
A thorough explanation of the origin of Basotho tales and
one folktale used to educate young chieflings appeared in
our last issue.