195. The Obstinate Child

“Child, eat your dinner!” The child refused.
“Stick, beat child!” The stick refused.
“Fire, burn stick!” Fire refused.
“Water, quench fire!” Water refused.
“Ox, drink water!” Ox refused.
“Knife, kill ox!” The knife refused.
“Blacksmith, break the knife!” The blacksmith refused.
“Rope, hang the blacksmith!” The rope refused.
“Rat, gnaw the rope!” Rat refused.
“Cat, eat the rat!”
“Gladly!” said Cat.
Cat scared Rat, who scared the rope, which scared the blacksmith, who scared the knife, which scared the ox, who scared the water, which scared the fire, which scared the stick, which scared the child, who ate her dinner.

[a Berber story from northern Africa]

Inspired by: "The Little Child" in Moorish Literature by Rene Basset, 1901.
Notes: You can read the original story online; it is a Berber story. This famous chain tale has spread across many continents in different forms; this particular version that starts the chain with a stick to beat an obstinate child is new to me, but the rest of the chain follows the standard pattern: stick-fire-water-ox-knife-blacksmith-strap-rat-cat. Compare a famous Jewish version, Had Gadya.

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