64. The Leopard's Kola-Tree

"You must guard my kola-tree," King Leopard said to Snail. "Let no one steal the nuts!"
Monkey climbed the tree, but Snail knocked him down and Leopard ate him.
Squirrel climbed the tree. Snail knocked him down too, and Leopard ate him.
Then Tortoise climbed the tree. Snail knocked him down, but Tortoise's shell protected him when he fell. The shell also protected Tortoise when King Leopard tried to eat him.
"I'm not really hungry," Leopard claimed.
Tortoise just laughed. "You're always hungry," he said, "but you can't eat me."
Tortoise is the only animal who doesn't fear King Leopard.
[a story from Liberia]

Inspired by: "Leopard and Tortoise" in Folktales from Liberia (in Journal of American Folklore) by Richard C. Bundy, 1919.

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