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Contents > Author > Sara Cone Bryant > Who Killed the Otter's Babies? 1873- Unknown
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Sara Cone Bryant
Who Killed the Otter's Babies?
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[Adapted from the story as told in Fables and Folk Tales
From an Eastern Forest, by Walter Skeat.]


Once the Otter came to the Mouse-deer
and said, "Friend Mouse-deer, will you
please take care of my babies while I go
to the river, to catch fish?"

"Certainly," said the Mouse-deer, "go
along."

But when the Otter came back from the
river, with a string of fish, he found his
babies crushed flat.

"What does this mean, Friend Mouse-
deer?" he said. "Who killed my children
while you were taking care of them?"

"I am very sorry," said the Mouse-deer,
"but you know I am Chief Dancer of the
War-dance, and the Woodpecker came
and sounded the war-gong, so I danced.
I forgot your children, and trod on them."

"I shall go to King Solomon," said the
Otter, "and you shall be punished."

Soon the Mouse-deer was called before
King Solomon.

"Did you kill the Otter's babies?" said
the king.

"Yes, your Majesty," said the Mouse-
deer, "but I did not mean to."

"How did it happen?" said the king.

"Your Majesty knows," said the Mouse-
deer, "that I am Chief Dancer of the
War-dance. The Woodpecker came and
sounded the war-gong, and I had to dance;
and as I danced I trod on the Otter's
children."

"Send for the Woodpecker," said King
Solomon. And when the Woodpecker
came, he said to him, "Was it you who
sounded the war-gong?"

"Yes, your Majesty," said the Woodpecker,
"but I had to."

"Why?" said the king.

"Your Majesty knows," said the Woodpecker,
"that I am Chief Beater of the
War-gong, and I sounded the gong because
I saw the Great Lizard wearing his
sword."

"Send for the Great Lizard," said King
Solomon. When the Great Lizard came,
he asked him, "Was it you who were wearing
your sword?"

"Yes, your Majesty," said the Great
Lizard; "but I had to."

"Why?" said the king.

"Your Majesty knows," said the Great
Lizard, "that I am Chief Protector of the
Sword. I wore my sword because the
Tortoise came wearing his coat of mail."

So the Tortoise was sent for.

"Why did you wear your coat of mail?"
said the king.

"I put it on, your Majesty," said the
Tortoise, "because I saw the King-crab
trailing his three-edged pike."

Then the King-crab was sent for.

"Why were you trailing your three-
edged pike?" said King Solomon.

"Because, your Majesty," said the
Kingerab, "I saw that the Crayfish had
shouldered his lance."

Immediately the Crayfish was sent for.

"Why did you shoulder your lance?"
said the king.

"Because, your Majesty," said the
Crayfish, "I saw the Otter coming down to the
river to kill my children."

"Oh," said King Solomon, "if that is
the case, the Otter killed the Otter's children.
And the Mouse-deer cannot be
held, by the law of the land!"
 

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