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    Owl and spider

    Owl teaches spider a lesson (A bushman story adapted and retold by Diana Pitcher and altered a little to make it suitable for older pre-schoolers by L Harris) N.B. In South Africa the first people are the Bushmen. They prefer to be called Bishmen rather than the Khoi - san as the Khoi and the San are two different cultures.

    When the greatest one first made Spider he was bigger than he is now. He was as big as my two hands together, so, and he had only one body, not two as he has now. He used to lie in the sunshine, in the grass or on the branch of a tree, all day, for he was very lazy.

    One evening Owl perched in a tree quite close to spider. Owl was carrying a small field mouse which he had brought home for his supper. Spider was very hungry and his stomach grew warm at the thought of that mouse, but Owl had long talons and a sharp beak so spider did not dare to try to take the mouse from Owl by force. How wonderful it would be if Owl left the mouse for a short time. He could quickly eat the mouse and then disappear into the shadows of the grass and hide.

    In the grass near spider, as still and quiet as a shadow, sat Nogwadja, the hare. Spider did not see him. Owl roused himself, swooped lower down the tree, pushed the mouse into a hole in a trunk and soared off into the darkness. Spider slithered down the trunk and eased himself into the hole, well, half into the hole. Nogwadja twitched his whiskers. He hated Spider because Spider was bigger and stronger than Nogwadja would ever be.

    So through the grass Nogwadja slid, calling softly, ‘Owl, Owl, someone is stealing your mouse.’ Spider’s head and half his body were inside the trunk of the tree, when Owl returned with a swoosh of wings. His anger when he saw Spider was great indeed. ‘Soooo,’ he hooted, ‘Youuuuuuuu are stealing my mouse. Soooo, youuuuuu are robbing my children of their supper. Sooooo, you thief!’ he hooted again. Pulling Spider out of the hole, Owl held him in one powerful claw, pulled a strip of monkey rope from a branch and tied it around Spider’s stomach so that Spider dangled just too far from the tree to be able to reach the hole. Spider struggled and kicked, and kicked and twisted, this way and that, but the monkey rope just got tighter and tighter, squeezing his body in two, one small body below his head and one larger body below that, his slim waist between the two.

    He stayed like that, not being able to eat for many days until at last he became so thin that he just fell out of the monkey rope. He was much smaller as he had starved for so long. He was also very afraid of Owl, so he hid from her and did not come out for a whole month, getting thinner and smaller all the time. Nowadays, Spider never hunts at night when Owl is about, he hunts in the day. He has remained smaller with two bodies to this day! And that is why he is so small!

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