WHY THE HIPPOPOTAMUS LIVES IN THE WATER

MANY years ago the
hippopotamus, whose name was Isantim, was one of the biggest kings on the land;
he was second only to the elephant. The hippo had seven large fat wives,

of
whom he was very fond. Now and then he used to give a big feast to the people,
but a curious thing was that, although every one knew the hippo, no one, except
his seven wives, knew his name.

At one of the feasts,
just as the people were about to sit down, the hippo said, “You have come
to feed at my table, but none of you know my name. If you cannot tell my name,
you shall all of you go away without your dinner.”
As they could not guess
his name, they had to go away and leave all the good food and tombo behind
them. But before they left, the tortoise stood up and asked the hippopotamus
what he would do if he told him his name at the next feast? So the hippo
replied that he would be so ashamed of himself, that he and his whole family
would leave the land, and for the future would dwell in the water.
Now it was the custom
for the hippo and his seven wives to go down every morning and evening to the
river to wash and have a drink. Of this custom the tortoise was aware. The
hippo used to walk first, and the seven wives followed. One day when they had
gone down to the river to bathe, the tortoise made a small hole in the middle
of the path, and then waited. When the hippo and his wives returned, two of the
wives were some distance behind, so the tortoise came out from where he had
been hiding, and half buried himself in the hole he had dug, leaving the
greater part of his shell exposed. When the two hippo wives came along, the
first one knocked her foot against the tortoise’s shell, and immediately called
out to her husband, “Oh! Isantim , my husband, I have hurt my foot.”
At this the tortoise was very glad, and went joyfully home, as he had found out
the hippo’s name.
When the next feast was
given by the hippo, he made the same condition about his name; so the tortoise
got up and said, “You promise you will not kill me if I tell you your
name?” and the hippo promised. The tortoise then shouted as loud as he was
able, “Your name is Isantim,” at which a cheer went up from all the
people, and then they sat down to their dinner.
When the feast was over,
the hippo, with his seven wives, in accordance with his promise, went down to
the river, and they have always lived in the water from that day till now; and
although they come on shore to feed at night, you never find a hippo on the
land in the daytime.

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