The Crocodile and the Hunter
This is a Guatemalan folktale. Once upon a time there lived a hunter and he killed a lot of different animals. And was going to eat them. Suddenly a cat came up and asked the hunter to share the food with him. The hunter agreed. Than the hunter saw a crocodile far from the river. The crocodile asked him to lead him to the river and promised to give the hunter five best fishes. When the hunter came to the river the crocodile took him to the island in the middle of the river and was going to eat him. The hunter told him, that it was unfair and he asked a few things about it. They told him that life is an unfair. Than he Asked a cat and the cat helped him by leading them to the place where the hunter and crocodile met and left the crocodile there.
The Crocodile and the Hunter
A hunter went out into the countryside, far from his village, looking for food. After many hours he was sitting by his fire, eating the meat of the animal he had killed, when he noticed two eyes watching him from the bushes.
The hunter picked up his knife, stood, and asked, “Who are you?”
A wildcat then appeared. “I am Boaji,” the cat said. “I can see that your skill has brought you a good day’s kill. I’m afraid I haven’t had such good luck and I’m very hungry. Could you share your meat with me? If you do, I’ll return your kindness in the future.”
The hunter shared his meat with Boaji. Boaji ate well and rested for some time by the fire. He then got up, stretched his long, thin body, repeated his promise to the hunter, and walked away into the bushes.
The next day the hunter went out again. He came to a place where the wild grass grew very tall. It was difficult to see where he was going. As he was pushing through the grass, he found a crocodile.
“What are you doing here?” the hunter asked the crocodile. “You should be in the water.”
The crocodile told the hunter his story. The night before, he had gone hunting. He had traveled too far from the river and now he couldn’t find his way back. He begged the hunter to help him.
“Please show me the way back to the river. If you do this, I’ll bring you five loads of fish.”
The hunter was happy to help. He tied a rope around the crocodile’s foot and led him to the Niger River.
At the water’s edge the crocodile thanked him. “I’m very grateful for your kindness. Now, if you untie the rope, I’ll go into the river and bring you back five loads of fish as I promised.”
The hunter waited high up on the riverbank while the crocodile dived into the dark water.
After a few moments the crocodile rose up out of the water with an enormous fish in his mouth. He swam quickly to the water’s edge, came out of the river, moved slowly up the riverbank, and laid the fish in front of the hunter. He then moved slowly back down the riverbank and slid silently into the water.
The hunter inspected the fish and thought, “This will make a fine meal.”
Soon the crocodile brought out a second load of fish. These fish were smaller but equally fine-looking. He laid this load lower down the riverbank. The hunter came down and carried the load higher, laying it down next to the big fish.
The crocodile then returned with a third enormous load of fish saying, “Oh dear, this is heavy.” This time he left the load at the water’s edge. The hunter came down, took hold of the load, and pulled it further up the riverbank.
The crocodile appeared again with a fourth load, saying, “I’m beginning to feel quite tired, but aren’t these beauties?” He then laid the load in the shallow water near the riverbank. The hunter came down, picked the fish up out of the water, and carried them high up the riverbank to where the first three loads were.
Finally, after some time, the crocodile returned with the fifth load of fish, which he laid at the edge of the deep water. He called to the hunter, “I’m afraid I have no more energy. I just can’t bring these any further. I hope you don’t mind.”
The hunter came down from the riverbank, walked through the shallow water, and came to the edge of the deep water. He was bending down to pick up the fish when the crocodile suddenly jumped out of the river, closed his enormous jaws around the hunter’s foot, and dragged him under the water.
The crocodile raced through the water to his brother crocodiles, who were lying on a small island in the middle of the river. He called to his friends that he had caught a hunter for their dinner and invited them all to come and enjoy the meal. Crocodiles suddenly appeared from every side and crowded round the hunter, moving their heads and tails from side to side and making hungry noises.
“Wait!” shouted the hunter. “I helped your friend! He lost his way and I helped him! And now he’s going to eat me! I ask you, is this fair?”
The crocodiles replied, “Let’s see if it’s fair. You must get four opinions on this question and then we’ll decide.”
Just then an Asubi, a colored mat, floated down the river. It was old and torn.
The hunter shouted to the Asubi, “Asubi! Please help me!”
“What’s wrong?” the mat shouted back.
The hunter told the Asubi what had happened and then asked, “Do you think this is fair?”
The mat replied, “You are a man. I know what men are like. When a mat is new and can be used for many things, they respect it and care for it. They keep it clean and put it away carefully when they have finished using it. But when a mat is old, they forget that it used to be their friend. They throw it away. They throw it into the river. You ask me if life is fair. Life is not fair. You will be fortunate if the crocodile treats you as well as men have treated me!”
The mat floated away down the river.
The crocodile turned to the hunter and asked, “Did you hear that? Did you hear what the Asubi said?”
Then an old, torn piece of cloth came floating down the river.
The hunter cried,”Cloth! Please help me!”
“What’s wrong?” the piece of cloth shouted back.
The hunter told the piece of cloth what had happened and then asked, “Do you think this is fair?”
The piece of cloth replied, “You are a man. I know what men are like. While a cloth is young, bright, and colorful, they wrap it around their bodies. They believe that the beauty they see in the mirror is their own and not the cloth’s. They say,’Look at me. See how beautiful I am.’ But it is the cloth that is beautiful, not them. And the people know this, although they will not admit it, because they fold the cloth up carefully to keep it beautiful when they are not using it. But as soon as the cloth is old, they forget how it used to make them beautiful. They throw it in the river. You ask me if life is fair. Life is not fair. You will be fortunate if the crocodile treats you as well as men have treated me!”
The piece of cloth then floated away down the river. The crocodile asked, “Did you hear? Did you hear what the cloth said? What do you think now?”
A horse came down to the riverbank to drink. The horse was old and thin. Her owners had forced her to leave their farm because she was too old to work.
The hunter cried, “Horse, please help me!”
“What is the problem?” the horse shouted back.
The hunter told the horse what had happened and then asked, “Tell me. Do you think this is fair?”
The horse replied, “You are a man. I know what men are like. When a horse is young, they look after her well. She has a warm home. The boys brush her and give her the best grass. She is given as much food as she can eat. But when the horse is old and cannot work or have babies, when she is weak and sick, they take her out into the countryside and say, ‘Look after yourself now.’ You ask me if life is fair. Life is not fair. Look at me! You will be fortunate if the crocodile treats you as well as men have treated me!”
The horse then walked slowly away.
The crocodile said to the hunter, “You heard what the old horse said, didn’t you? You’ve had three opinions now.” Then a wildcat came down to the riverbank, looking for fish. It was Boaji.
The hunter cried, “Boaji, please help me!”
“What’s wrong?” asked Boaji.
The hunter told Boaji what had happened and asked him if this was fair. Boaji thought for a moment and replied, “That is difficult to judge. First, I must know all the facts. I want to hear the crocodile’s side of the story too. But if I do this, the crocodile must accept my final decision.
“Of course,” the crocodile replied.
Boaji asked the crocodile, “How did the hunter bring you here?”
“He tied a rope around my foot and dragged me here,” answered the crocodile.
Boaji asked, “Did it hurt?”
The hunter interrupted, “That’s not true! He’s lying! I didn’t drag him!”
Boaji stopped the hunter. “I cannot judge that until I have seen it. Come here and show me exactly what you did.”
So the crocodile and the hunter came out of the river and onto the shore. Boaji told the hunter to tie the rope around the crocodile’s foot exactly as he had done before. The hunter did this.
Boaji then asked the crocodile, “Is this what it was like?”
“Oh yes,” answered the crocodile. “This is what it was like. And soon it began to hurt.”
Boaji said, “I can’t decide that yet. The hunter is going to have to lead you back again so I can examine this accurately. Do as I say and I will follow you.”
The hunter picked up the rope and led the crocodile back into the tall grass, while Boaji followed. They walked for some time in the hot sun until eventually they came to the place where the hunter had met the crocodile. “This is the place,” said the hunter.
Boaji asked the crocodile, “Was it here?”
“Yes, it was here. And from here the hunter dragged me behind him to the river.”
Boaji asked, “And you were not satisfied?”
The crocodile answered, “No, I wasn’t.”
Boaji told the crocodile, “Good. You punished the hunter for hurting you by dragging him into the river. So now this argument is finished. To avoid more quarrels of this kind, the hunter must untie the rope and leave you here in the tall grass. This is my decision.”
“What!” shouted the crocodile angrily. He brought his tail down hard against the earth and spun around to face Boaji and the hunter. “I’ll never find my way back to the river!”
The hunter looked at Boaji and smiled. They then left the crocodile there screaming in anger. The hunter thanked Boaji as they walked away.
The time comes when everyone is treated as he has treated others.