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A Folk Tale from Ethiopia

Once upon a time a young girl was going down to the river to get some water and Bollo, a young strong man, saw her.

And he said, “Let me look at the beads around your neck.”

And he looked at them, and he looked at them, and then he threw them into the water.

The girl was distressed, and she ran to Bollo’s father, and she said, “Abba Bollo, your son has thrown my necklace into the water. Please beat him for me.”

And Abba Bollo said, “No, I won’t.”

So the girl went running on to the tree stump, and she said, “Tree stump, as Abba Bollo goes by here, please trip him.”

And the tree stump said, “No, why should I do that? Why should I trip Abba Bollo?”

And the girl said, “Because I told Abba Bollo to beat Bollo because Bollo had looked and looked at my beads and thrown them into the water.”

And the tree stump said, “No, I won’t.”

Then the girl went to a mole, and she said to the mole, “Please eat the roots of the stump so that it dies and dies.”

And the mole said, “Why should I do that?”

And she answers, “Because the stump won’t trip Abba Bollo and Abba Bollo won’t beat his son, and Bollo won’t give me back my necklace which he looked at and looked at and threw into the water.”

And the mole said, “No, I won’t.”

So the girl went on to a cat. And she said to the cat, “Please eat the mole.”

And the cat said, “Why should I eat the mole?”

And the girl said, “Because he won’t beat the roots of the stump, and the stump won’t trip Abba Bollo, and Abba Bollo won’t beat his son, and his son won’t give me back my necklace which he looked at and looked at and threw into the water.”

And the cat said, “I won’t eat the mole.”

The girl went on, and she found some men. And she said to them, “Please kill the cat.”

And the men said, “Why should we kill the cat?”

And the girl said, “Because the cat won’t eat the mole, and the mole won’t eat the roots of the stump, and the stump won’t trip up Abba Bollo, and Bollo won’t give me back my amber beads which he looked at and looked at and threw into the water.”

And the men said, “We won’t kill the cat.”

So she went to the fire, and she said, “Fire, please burn the huts with the men in them.”

And the fire said, “Why should I burn the huts with the men in them?”

And she said, “Because the men won’t kill the cat, and the cat won’t kill the mole, and the mole won’t eat the roots of the stump, and the stump won’t trip up Abba Bollo, and Abba Bollo won’t beat Bollo, and Bollo won’t give me back my necklace which he looked at and looked at and threw into the water.”

The fire said, “No, I won’t.”

So she went to the water, and she said, “Water, please put out the fire.”

And the water said, “Why should I put out the fire?”

And the girl said, “Because the fire won’t burn the men, and the men won’t kill the cat, and the cat won’t eat the mole, and the mole won’t eat the roots of the stump, and the stump won’t trip up Abba Bollo, and Abba Bollo won’t beat Bollo, and Bollo won’t give me back my necklace which he looked at and looked at and threw into the water.”

So the water said, “No. Buzz off.”

So she went on to the elephant. And she said to the elephant, “Dear elephant, please drink up all the water.”

And the elephant said, “Why should I drink up all the water?”

She said, “Because the water won’t put out the fire, and the fire won’t burn the men, and the men won’t kill the cat, and the cat won’t eat the mole, and the mole won’t eat the roots of the stump, and the stump won’t trip up Abba Bollo, and Abba Bollo won’t beat Bollo, and Bollo won’t give me back my necklace which he looked at and looked at and threw into the water.”

And the elephant said, “I won’t drink up all the water.”

So then she went to some herdsmen. And she said, “ Please kill the elephant.”

And the herdsmen said, “No, we won’t kill the elephant. Why should we?”

And the girl said, “Look, the elephants refused to drink the water, and the water won’t put out the fire, and the fire won’t burn the men, and the men won’t kill the cat and the cat won’t eat the mole, and the mo1e won’t eat the roots of the stump, and the stump won’t trip up Abba Bollo, and Abba Bollo won’t beat Bollo, and Bollo won’t give me back my necklace which he looked at and looked at and threw into the water.”

So she went on to the tree. And she said to the tree, “Look, tree, please fall on the herdsmen.”

And the tree said, “Why should I do that?”

And the girl said, “Because the herdsmen won’t kill the elephant, and the elephant won’t drink the water, and the water won’t put out the fire, and the fire won’t burn the men, and the men won’t kill the cat, and the cat won’t eat the mole, and the mole won’t eat the roots of the stump, and the stump won’t trip up Abba Bollo, and Abba Bollo won’t beat Bollo, and Bollo won’t give me back my necklace which he looked at and looked at and threw into the water.”

But the tree said, “No, I won’t fall on the herdsmen.”

So the girl went to an axe. And she said to the axe, “Please cut down the tree.”

And the axe said, “What’s wrong? What did it do?”

And the girl said, “Well, you see, the tree won’t fall on the herdsmen, and the herdsmen won’t kill the elephant, and the elephant won’t drink the water, and the water won’t put out the fire, and the fire won’t burn the men, and the men won’t kill the cat, and the cat won’t eat the mole, and the mole won’t eat the roots of the stump, and the stump won’t trip up Abba Bollo, and Abba Bollo won’t beat Bollo, and Bollo won’t give me back my necklace which he looked at and looked at and threw into the water.”

And the axe said, “Oh, how terrible! Don’t worry pretty girl, I’ll help you.”

Then the axe went after the tree, and the tree went after the herdsmen, and the herdsmen went after the elephant, and the elephant went off to the water and the water went after the fire, and the fire went after the men, and the men went after the cat, and the cat went after the mole, and the mole went after the roots of the stump and the stump tripped up Abba Bollo, and Abba Bollo went after his son, and his son went to the stream and he took out the necklace.

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