The Girl Who Married A Lion
Nearly everybody was happy when Kumalo's daughter married. Kumalo was pleased with the many fine cattle which his new son-in-law had given him; his wife was happy that she would no longer have to worry about what sort of man her daughter would marry; and the daughter herself was pleased that she had found such a fine, strong husband.
Only the new wife's brother was unhappy.
"I think that my sister has married a lion," he said to his friends. "This is really a lion disguised as a man."
Nobody took this seriously and they laughed at the young man when he said such things. But the brother knew that what he said was true, and he could not bring himself to talk to this new brother-in-law of his.
"I cannot talk to a lion," he said.
Several years passed and the wife had two strong sons, who were as handsome as their father. Still the wife's brother muttered that the husband was a lion disguised as a man and still he refused to do anything with his brother-in-law.
"You're being stupid," Kumalo said. "Look at all the cattle that my daughter's husband gave me when he married her. Where would a lion get such cattle?"
The young man could not think of an answer to that question, but he refused to change his mind. He knew that sooner or later there would be trouble. And indeed one day his sister came to him and asked to talk to him in private.
"I am worried about this husband of mine," she whispered to her brother. "He has a strange smell on him."
"What sort of smell?" the brother asked.
The woman shrugged her shoulders. "It is a very strange smell," she said. "I cannot describe it."
In order to help his sister, the young man agreed to go to her hut and to smell some of the things that belonged to the husband. The husband was out at the time, and so it was easy for the wife to show the things that he carried with him. The brother smelled them and frowned.
"That is lion smell," he said.
The woman was very worried and she went with her brother to speak to their father. The old man was not happy to hear this news. He did not want to believe that his son-in-law was a lion, and so he said that they would test him to see if he really was a lion.
"We will put a goat outside his hut at night," he said. "If the goat is gone in the morning, then we will know that a lion has eaten it. That will prove that he is a lion."
Everyone agreed that this would be a good test and that night a goat was tied with a rope outside the son-in-law's hut. The next morning, the father and the son went to the hut and saw that only the bones of the goat were left.
"No man would eat a goat like that," the son said triumphantly. "He is surely a lion."
The old man had to agree. It was hard to admit that such a thing had happened, but he had no other choice. There was only one thing to do: to fetch their spears and to chase the son-in-law away from the home. The son-in-law was angry, of course, and tried to resist, but he could not fight the sharp points of the spears. As he ran off into the bush, both the father and his son saw that the marks where his feet had been were marks of a lion. This proved to them that they had been right. The woman was upset to have lost her fine husband, but she understood that it would have been impossible for her to continue to live with a lion. At any time her husband might have threatened to eat her.
Her brother thought that she would now be happy, but she came to see him again and it was clear that once again she was anxious.
"If my husband was a lion," she said to her brother, "then what are my two sons?"
The brother thought for a moment. He had not considered this problem and it made him worried. He loved his two nephews and it would be a sad blow if they turned out to be lions when they grew up. He looked closely at the two boys, but there were no signs that they were lions.
"We must be quite sure about this," he said to his sister. "We will have to test the boys in a special way."
Making a cage out of thin trees, the brother carried this to a lonely place where lions liked to walk. He put the cage on the ground and went back to fetch the two boys. Then he took them to the cage and told them to get into it and sit there.
"I am testing this cage," he explained to the boys. "I want to see if it is strong enough to give protection against lions. I will come back tonight and see if the lions have managed to break into it."
The younger boy became very scared of being left in the cage, but the elder one comforted him.
"Our uncle would not put us in danger," he said. "This cage must be strong enough to keep the lions away."
The uncle had told his nephews that he was going back to his hut, but in fact he hid in some trees nearby and waited to see what happened. After a while, two lions walked up to the cage and began to sniff at it. The two boys cowered in the corner of the cage, and the uncle could hear the younger one weeping.
After they had sniffed at the cage, the lions began to roar. Then they started to dash at the cage, shaking the thin wooden bars with their great weight. The two boys seemed very frightened and the uncle decided that if he did not go down to their rescue they would soon be eaten.
Leaping from his tree, the uncle rushed towards the lions, waving a long spear in his hand. The lions saw the spear and ran off into the bush, leaving the two frightened boys in the cage.
"Thank you, Uncle," the elder boy said. "I thought that we might be eaten by the lions."
The uncle smiled as he let his nephews out of the cage. Now he knew that they were not lions, for if they had been lions the real lions would have smelled it and would not have tried to attack them.
"Your sons are not lions," the uncle said to the boys' mother.
"I am glad," she said.
The take home message from this of course, is that cats lions suck V; Shoulda gotten a dog instead.