The Royal Call

Here is a story:

There once was a king who ruled over a great number of people and was a very proficient hunter, killing small and big game. One day, the king killed an elephant and said to the people of his village: I want you all to go and cut the elephant up and bring it back to me without leaving anything behind. The king always did this when he went hunting, and the people were very zealous in their work. But there was just one thing wrong with the king: each time the people went to carry the game-meat and bring it to him, he never gave them anything at all to eat.

One day, the king killed an animal and sent one of his messengers to the village to announce that the people should go and bring the meat. Five men began to complain that the king never gave them any of the meat. They were overcome with laziness and wanted to hide so that they wouldn’t have to go. One of the five men finally said: Let’s just go and make an appearance. When they got there, they found the game-meat was already divided among the people – all except for the bones of the legs. So as not to look empty handed, they carried the bones and they said: In order not to be punished by the king, let us carry the bones. The most important thing is that the king sees that we made an appearance in order to carry the game-meat. On their way back to the village, the men laughed at those who were carrying large loads of meat. They said to them: You are breaking your back and there will be no reward.

When they got to the king’s palace, the king told them: Today, don’t leave the loads of game-meat here, everybody may take home with him the meat he has carried. And the king repeated: I thank you all for your hard work. Everybody took home with him the meat he carried. All of the people were very happy but the ones who carried just the bones were furious and they said: The king hates us because he only gave us these bones! These men forgot they themselves chose to take the bones.

And that is the end of our story.


Written by Daniel England, Cikunta 4th of April 1984. It is a second version of a folk-tale (50) The king’s commands and reward written by Geoffrey Sinyangwe.