Sunday, February 22, 2009

Arnomongo and Iput-Iput (The Ape and the Firefly)

One evening the firefly was on his way to the house of a friend, and as
he passed the ape's house, the latter asked him: "Mr. Fire-fly, why do
you carry a light?" The firefly replied: "Because I am afraid of the
mosquitoes." "Oh, then you are a coward, are you?" said the ape. "No,
I am not," was the answer. "If you are not afraid," asked the ape,
"why do you always carry a lantern?" "I carry a lantern so that when
the mosquitoes come to bite me I can see them and defend myself,"
replied the firefly. Then the ape laughed aloud, and on the next day
he told all his neighbors that the firefly carried a light at night
because he was a coward.

When the firefly heard what the ape had said, he went to his house. It
was night and the ape was asleep, but the firefly flashed his light
into his face and awakened him. The firefly was very angry and said:
"Why did you spread the report that I was a coward? If you wish to
prove which of us is the braver, I will fight you on the plaza next
Sunday evening."

The ape inquired: "Have you any companions?" "No," replied the
fire-fly, "I will come alone." Then the ape laughed at the idea of
such a little creature presuming to fight with him, but the firefly
continued: "I shall be expecting you on the plaza about six o'clock
next Sunday afternoon." The ape replied: "You had better bring some one
to help you, as I shall bring my whole company, about a thousand apes,
each as big as myself." This he said, thinking to frighten the strange
little insect, who seemed to him to be crazy. But the firefly answered:
"I shall not need any companions, but will come alone. Good-by."

When the firefly had gone, the ape called together his company, and
told them about the proposed fight. He ordered them to get each one
a club about three feet long and to be on the plaza at six o'clock
the next Sunday evening. His companions were greatly amazed, but as
they were used to obeying their captain, they promised to be ready
at the appointed time and place.

On Sunday evening, just before six o'clock, they assembled on the
plaza, and found the firefly already waiting for them. Just then
the church bells rang the Angelus, so the firefly proposed that they
should all pray. Immediately after the prayer, the firefly signified
that he was ready to begin. The ape had drawn up his company in line,
with himself at the head. Suddenly the firefly lighted upon the ape's
nose. The ape next in line struck at the firefly, but succeeded only
in striking the captain such a terrible blow on the nose as to kill
him. The firefly meanwhile, seeing the blow coming, had jumped upon
the nose of the second ape, who was killed by the next in line just
as the captain had been killed; and so on down the whole line, until
there was but one ape left. He threw down his club and begged the
firefly to spare him. The firefly graciously allowed him to live, but
since that time the apes have been in mortal terror of the fireflies.

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