199. The Tortoise and His Debts

God gave Tortoise some porridge.
"In one year, I'll give you a man as payment," Tortoise promised.
A year passed.
Then Horse ate Tortoise's okra. Tortoise said, "Pay me a man!"
Then Horse stumbled on a Root. Horse told Root, "Pay me a man!"
Then Hen ate some ants walking on Root. "Pay me a man!" Root told Hen.
Then Hawk took Hen's chick. Hen said, "Pay me a man!"
Hawk chased a man, but the man ran.
Result: Hawk didn't pay Hen who didn't pay Root who didn't pay Horse who didn't pay Tortoise, so God never got paid.
[an Igbo story from southern Nigeria]

Inspired by: "The Tortoise and Cuku" in Stories (Abstract) from the Awka Neighbourhood (published in Man) by N. W. Thomas, 1918.
Notes: You can read the original story online. The porridge is called achicha. I am not 100% sure about "ene" which the author glosses as "cob," rendered as "horse" in my story. The man at the end is said to be a "dingwa" who was making palm-wine, but I do not know what "dingwa" means.

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