HOW ISURO THE RABBIT TRICKED GUDU
Far away in a hot country, where the forests are very
thick and dark, and the rivers very swift and strong, there
once lived a strange pair of friends. Now one of the
friends was a big white rabbit named Isuro, and the other
was a tall baboon called Gudu, and so fond were they
of each other that they were seldom seen apart.
One day, when the sun was hotter even than usual,
the rabbit awoke from his midday sleep, and saw Gudu
the baboon standing beside him.
‘Get up,’ said Gudu; ‘I am going courting, and you
must come with me. So put some food in a bag, and
sling it round your neck, for we may not be able to find
anything to eat for a long while.’
Then the rabbit rubbed his eyes, and gathered a store
of fresh green things from under the bushes, and told
Gudu that he was ready for the journey.
They went on quite happily for some distance, and
at last they came to a river with rocks scattered here and
there across the stream.
‘We can never jump those wide spaces if we are
burdened with food,’ said Gudu, ‘we must throw it into the
river, unless we wish to fall in ourselves.’ And stooping
down, unseen by Isuro, who was in front of him, Gudu
picked up a big stone, and threw it into the water with a
‘It is your turn now,’ he cried to Isuro. And with a
heavy sigh, the rabbit unfastened his bag of food, which
fell into the river.
The road on the other side led down an avenue of trees,
and before they had gone very far Gudu opened the bag
that lay hidden in the thick hair about his neck, and began
to eat some delicious-looking fruit.
‘Where did you get that from?’ asked Isuro enviously.
‘Oh, I found after all that I could get across the rocks
quite easily, so it seemed a pity not to keep my bag,’ answered
‘Well, as you tricked me into throwing away mine,
you ought to let me share with you,’ said Isuro. But
Gudu pretended not to hear him, and strode along the
By-and-bye they entered a wood, and right in front
of them was a tree so laden with fruit that its branches
swept the ground. And some of the fruit was still green,
and some yellow. The rabbit hopped forward with joy,
for he was very hungry; but Gudu said to him: ‘Pluck
the green fruit, you will find it much the best. I will
leave it all for you, as you have had no dinner, and take
the yellow for myself.’ So the rabbit took one of the
green oranges and began to bite it, but its skin was so
hard that he could hardly get his teeth through the rind.
‘It does not taste at all nice,’ he cried, screwing up
his face; ‘I would rather have one of the yellow ones.’
‘No! no! I really could not allow that,’ answered Gudu.
‘They would only make you ill. Be content with the
green fruit.’ And as they were all he could get, Isuro
was forced to put up with them.
After this had happened two or three times, Isuro at
last had his eyes opened, and made up his mind that,
whatever Gudu told him, he would do exactly the opposite.
However, by this time they had reached the village
where dwelt Gudu’s future wife, and as they entered Gudu
pointed to a clump of bushes, and said to Isuro: ‘Whenever
I am eating, and you hear me call out that my food
has burnt me, run as fast as you can and gather some of
those leaves that they may heal my mouth.’
The rabbit would have liked to ask him why he ate
food that he knew would burn him, only he was afraid,
and just nodded in reply; but when they had gone on
a little further, he said to Gudu:
‘I have dropped my needle; wait here a moment while
I go and fetch it.’
‘Be quick then,’ answered Gudu, climbing into a tree.
And the rabbit hastened back to the bushes, and gathered
a quantity of the leaves, which he hid among his fur, ‘for,’
thought he, ‘if I get them now I shall save myself the
trouble of a walk by-and-bye.’
When he had plucked as many as he wanted he returned
to Gudu, and they went on together.
The sun was almost setting by the time they reached
their journey’s end, and being very tired they gladly sat
down by a well. Then Gudu’s betrothed, who had been
watching for him, brought out a pitcher of water—which
she poured over them to wash off the dust of the road—and
two portions of food. But once again the rabbit’s
hopes were dashed to the ground, for Gudu said hastily:
‘The custom of the village forbids you to eat till I
have finished.’ And Isuro did not know that Gudu was
lying, and that he only wanted more food. So he sat
hungrily looking on, waiting till his friend had had
In a little while Gudu screamed loudly: ‘I am burnt!
I am burnt!’ though he was not burnt at all. Now,
though Isuro had the leaves about him, he did not dare
to produce them at the last moment lest the baboon
should guess why he had stayed behind. So he just
went round a corner for a short time, and then came
hopping back in a great hurry. But, quick though he
was, Gudu had been quicker still, and nothing remained
but some drops of water.
‘How unlucky you are,’ said Gudu, snatching the leaves;
‘no sooner had you gone than ever so many people arrived,
and washed their hands, as you see, and ate your
portion.’ But, though Isuro knew better than to believe
him, he said nothing, and went to bed hungrier than he
had ever been in his life.
Early next morning they started for another village,
and passed on the way a large garden where people were
very busy gathering monkey-nuts.
‘You can have a good breakfast at last,’ said Gudu,
pointing to a heap of empty shells; never doubting but
that Isuro would meekly take the portion shown him,
and leave the real nuts for himself. But what was his
surprise when Isuro answered:
‘Thank you; I think I should prefer these.’ And,
turning to the kernels, never stopped as long as there
was one left. And the worst of it was that, with so
many people about, Gudu could not take the nuts from
It was night when they reached the village where dwelt
the mother of Gudu’s betrothed, who laid meat and millet
porridge before them.
‘I think you told me you were fond of porridge,’ said
Gudu; but Isuro answered: ‘You are mistaking me for
somebody else, as I always eat meat when I can get it.’
And again Gudu was forced to be content with the
porridge, which he hated.
While he was eating it, however, a sudden thought
darted into his mind, and he managed to knock over a
great pot of water which was hanging in front of the fire,
and put it quite out.
‘Now,’ said the cunning creature to himself, ‘I shall
be able in the dark to steal his meat!’ But the rabbit
had grown as cunning as he, and standing in a corner
hid the meat behind him, so that the baboon could not
‘O Gudu!’ he cried, laughing aloud, ‘it is you who
have taught me how to be clever.’ And calling to the
people of the house, he bade them kindle the fire, for Gudu
would sleep by it, but that he would pass the night with
some friends in another hut.
It was still quite dark when Isuro heard his name
called very softly, and, on opening his eyes, beheld Gudu
standing by him. Laying his finger on his nose, in token
of silence, he signed to Isuro to get up and follow him,
and it was not until they were some distance from the
hut that Gudu spoke.
‘I am hungry and want something to eat better than
that nasty porridge that I had for supper. So I am
going to kill one of those goats, and as you are a good
cook you must boil the flesh for me.’ The rabbit nodded,
and Gudu disappeared behind a rock, but soon returned
dragging the dead goat with him. The two then set
about skinning it, after which they stuffed the skin with
dried leaves, so that no one would have guessed it was
not alive, and set it up in the middle of a clump of bushes,
which kept it firm on its feet. While he was doing this,
Isuro collected sticks for a fire, and when it was kindled,
Gudu hastened to another hut to steal a pot which he
filled with water from the river, and, planting two branches
in the ground, they hung the pot with the meat in it over
‘It will not be fit to eat for two hours at least,’ said
Gudu, ‘so we can both have a nap.’ And he stretched
himself out on the ground, and pretended to fall fast
asleep, but, in reality, he was only waiting till it was safe
to take all the meat for himself. ‘Surely I hear him
snore,’ he thought; and he stole to the place where Isuro
was lying on a pile of wood, but the rabbit’s eyes were
‘How tiresome,’ muttered Gudu, as he went back
to his place; and after waiting a little longer he got
up, and peeped again, but still the rabbit’s pink eyes
stared widely. If Gudu had only known, Isuro was
asleep all the time; but this he never guessed, and by-and-bye
he grew so tired with watching that he went to sleep
himself. Soon after, Isuro woke up, and he too felt
hungry, so he crept softly to the pot and ate all the meat,
while he tied the bones together and hung them in
Gudu’s fur. After that he went back to the wood-pile
and slept again.
In the morning the mother of Gudu’s betrothed came
out to milk her goats, and on going to the bushes where
the largest one seemed entangled, she found out the trick.
She made such lament that the people of the village came
running, and Gudu and Isuro jumped up also, and pretended
to be as surprised and interested as the rest. But
they must have looked guilty after all, for suddenly an
old man pointed to them, and cried:
‘Those are the thieves.’ And at the sound of his voice
the big Gudu trembled all over.
‘How dare you say such things? I defy you to
prove it,’ answered Isuro boldly. And he danced forward,
and turned head over heels, and shook himself before
‘I spoke hastily; you are innocent,’ said the old
man; ‘but now let the baboon do likewise.’ And when
Gudu began to jump the goat’s bones rattled, and the
people cried: ‘It is Gudu who is the goat-slayer!’ But
‘Nay, I did not kill your goat; it was Isuro, and he
ate the meat, and hung the bones round my neck. So it
is he who should die!’ And the people looked at each
other, for they knew not what to believe. At length one
‘Let them both die, but they may choose their own
Then Isuro answered:
‘If we must die, put us in the place where the wood
is cut, and heap it up all round us, so that we cannot escape,
and set fire to the wood; and if one is burned and the other
is not, then he that is burned is the goat-slayer.’
And the people did as Isuro had said. But Isuro knew
of a hole under the wood-pile, and when the fire was kindled
he ran into the hole, but Gudu died there.
When the fire had burned itself out, and only ashes
were left where the wood had been, Isuro came out of
his hole, and said to the people:
‘Lo! did I not speak well? He who killed your goat
is among those ashes.’