THE WORLD'S REWARD
South African Folk Tale
by James A. Honey
Once there was a man that had an old
dog, so old that the man desired to
put him aside. The dog had served
him very faithfully when he was still young,
but ingratitude is the world's reward, and the
man now wanted to dispose of him. The old
dumb creature, however, ferreted out the plan
of his master, and so at once resolved to go away
of his own accord.
After he had walked quite a way he met an old
bull in the veldt.
"Don't you want to go with me?" asked the
"Where?" was the reply.
"To the land of the aged," said the dog,
"where troubles don't disturb you and thanklessness
does not deface the deeds of man."
"Good," said the bull, "I am your companion."
The two now walked on and found a ram.
The dog laid the plan before him, and all
moved off together, until they afterwards came
successively upon a donkey, a cat, a cock, and
These joined their company, and the seven
set out on their journey.
Late one night they came to a house and
through the open door they saw a table spread
with all kinds of nice food, of which some robbers
were having their fill. It would help nothing
to ask for admittance, and seeing that they
were hungry, they must think of something else.
Therefore the donkey climbed up on the bull,
the ram on the donkey, the dog on the ram, the
cat on the dog, the goose on the cat, and the
cock on the goose, and with one accord they
all let out terrible (threatening) noises (cryings).
The bull began to bellow, the donkey to bray,
the dog to bark, the ram to bleat, the cat to
mew, the goose to giggle gaggle, and the cock to
crow, all without cessation.
The people in the house were frightened perfectly
limp; they glanced out through the front
door, and there they stared on the strange sight.
Some of them took to the ropes over the back
lower door, some disappeared through the
window, and in a few counts the house was
Then the seven old animals climbed down from
one another, stepped into the house, and satisfied
themselves with the delicious food.
But when they had finished, there still remained
a great deal of food, too much to take
with them on their remaining journey, and so
together they contrived a plan to hold their position
until the next day after breakfast.
The dog said, "See here, I am accustomed to
watch at the front door of my master's house,"
and thereupon flopped himself down to sleep;
the bull said, "I go behind the door," and there
he took his position; the ram said, "I will go
up on to the loft"; the donkey, "I at the middle
door"; the cat, "I in the fireplace"; the goose,
"I in the back door"; and the cock said, "I am
going to sleep on the bed."
The captain of the robbers after a while sent
one of his men back to see if these creatures had
yet left the house.
The man came very cautiously into the neighborhood,
listened and listened, but he heard
nothing; he peeped through the window, and
saw in the grate just two coals still glimmering,
and thereupon started to walk through the
There the old dog seized him by the leg. He
jumped into the house, but the bull was ready,
swept him up with his horns, and tossed him on
to the loft. Here the ram received him and
pushed him off the loft again. Reaching ground,
he made for the middle door, but the donkey set
up a terrible braying and at the same time gave
him a kick that landed him in the fireplace, where
the cat flew at him and scratched him nearly to
pieces. He then jumped out through the back
door, and here the goose got him by the trousers.
When he was some distance away the cock
crowed. He thereupon ran so that you could
hear the stones rattle in the dark.
Purple and crimson and out of breath, he
came back to his companions.
"Frightful, frightful!" was all that they
could get from him at first, but after a while he
"When I looked through the window I saw
in the fireplace two bright coals shining, and
when I wanted to go through the front door to
go and look, I stepped into an iron trap. I
jumped into the house, and there some one
seized me with a fork and pitched me up on to
the loft, there again some one was ready, and
threw me down on all fours. I wanted to fly
through the middle door, but there some one
blew on a trumpet, and smote me with a sledge
hammer so that I did not know where I landed;
but coming to very quickly, I found I was in the
fireplace, and there another flew at me and
scratched the eyes almost out of my head. I
thereupon fled out of the back door, and lastly
I was attacked on the leg by the sixth with a
pair of fire tongs, and when I was still running
away, some one shouted out of the house,
'Stop him, stop h—i—m!'"