HOW THE LEOPARD GOT HIS SPOTS

Once upon a time the Leopard lived in a place called the Desert. Remember it was a very bare, hot, yellow Desert, where there was sand and sandy-coloured rock and sandy-yellowish grass. The Giraffe and the Zebra and the Antelope and many other animals lived there; and they were sandy-yellow-brownish all over; but the Leopard was the sandiest-yellowest-brownest of them, all, and the colour of his skin was like the colour of the Desert itself. This was very bad for the Giraffe and the Zebra and the rest of them; because they could not see the Leopard and he frightened them to death. He did it many times indeed! And, also, there was an Ethiopian with bows and arrows (he was a greyish-brownish-yellowish man then), who lived in the Desert with the Leopard; and they hunted togetherthe Ethiopian with his bows and arrows, and the Leopard with his teeth and clawstill the Giraffe and the Antelope and the Deer and all the rest of them didn't know where to jump.

After a long time they learned to run away from anything that looked like a Leopard or an Ethiopian; and by and by (the Giraffe began it, because his legs were the longest) they went away from the Desert. They ran for days and days and days till they came to a great forest, full of trees and bushes and shadows, and there they hid; and they stood half in the shade and half out of it; and the shadows of the trees had the form of stripes and spots; and the shadows of the trees fell on the animals; so by and by the Giraffe grew spotty, and the Zebra grew stripy, and the Antelope and the Deer grew darker, with little stripes on their backs; and so, though you could hear them and smell them, you could not see them.

They had a good time in the shadows of the forest; and the Leopard and the Ethiopian ran about the greyish-yellowish Desert, and they could not catch anything for their breakfasts and their dinners, because there were no animals in the Desert. At last the Leopard and the Ethiopian were so hungry that they ate rats and beetles and rabbits, then they had the big tummy-ache, both together; and then at last they went to the Baboon, the Wisest Animal in All South Africa.

The Leopard said to the Baboon (and it was a very hot day), "Where have all the animals gone?"

And the Baboon winked. He knew.

Then the Ethiopian said to the Baboon, "Can you tell me where all the Fauna is now?"

And the Baboon winked. He knew.

Then the Baboon said, "The animals have gone into other spots; and I advise you, Leopard, to go into spots as soon as you can."

And the Ethiopian said, "This is all very fine, but I want to know where all the Fauna has gone."

Then the Baboon said, "The Fauna has joined the Flora because it was high time for a change; and I advise you, Ethiopian, to change as soon as you can."

That puzzled the Leopard and the Ethiopian, but they went to look for the Flora, and after many days they saw a great, high forest full of trees. And the shadows of the trees had the form of stripes and spots.

"What is this," said the Leopard, "that is so dark, and yet so full of little lights?"

"I don't know," said the Ethiopian, "but I think it is the Flora. I can smell Giraffe, and I can hear Giraffe, but I can't see Giraffe."

"That's strange," said the Leopard. "I think it is because we have come into the dark forest out of the sunshine. I can smell Zebra, and I can hear Zebra, but I can't see Zebra".

"Wait a little," said the Ethiopian. "Perhaps we've forgotten what they looked like."

"No," said the Leopard. "I remember them very well. Giraffe is golden-yellow from head to foot; and Zebra is of a greyish-yellowish colour from head to foot."

"Oh," said the Ethiopian, and he looked into the shadows of the forest. "Then they must show up in this dark place like ripe bananas on a black plate."

So they waited till it got dark, and soon the Leopard heard a noise, and he jumped at the noise, and it smelt like Zebra, and when he knocked it down it kicked like Zebra, but he couldn't see it. So he said, "Be quiet, you person without any form. I am going to sit on your head till morning, because there is something about you that I don't understand."

Then he heard a loud noise, and the Ethiopian called out, "I've caught a thing that I can't see. It smells like Giraffe, and it kicks like Giraffe, but it has no form."

"Sit on its head till morning as I am doing," said the Leopard.

So they sat down on them till bright morning-time, and then the Leopard said, "What have you caught, Brother?"

The Ethiopian said, "I think it is Giraffe; but this animal is not orange-brownish from head to foot as the Giraffe was in the Desert. It is covered all over with brown spots. What have you caught, Brother?"

And the Leopard said, "I think it is Zebra; but this animal is not greyish-yellowish from head to foot as the Zebra was in the Desert. It is covered all over with black stripes. What have you done to yourself, Zebra? Don't you know that when you were in the Desert I could see you ten miles off? And now you have no form."

"Yes," said the Zebra, "but this isn't the Desert. Can't you understand it?"

"I can now," said the Leopard. "But yesterday I couldn't. How did it happen?"

"Let us up," said the Zebra, "and we will show you."

They let the Zebra and the Giraffe get up; and the Zebra went to some little thorn-bushes where the sunlight fell stripy, and the Giraffe went to some tall trees where the shadows fell spotty.

"Now look," said the Zebra and the Giraffe. "Onetwothree! And where's your breakfast?"

The Leopard looked and looked, the Ethiopian looked and looked, but they could see only stripy shadows and spotty shadows in the forest, but not a sign of Zebra or Giraffe. They had hidden themselves in the shadowy forest.

"Ha! Ha!" said the Ethiopian. "That was a good trick! Take a lesson by it, Leopard. In short we must do something. I'm going to do what the Baboon advised me. He told me I must change; and as I've nothing to change but my skin I'm going to change that."

"What to?" said .the Leopard.

"To a nice blackish-brownish colour, with a little red in it. Then I shall be able to hide in pits and behind trees."

So the Ethiopian took some paint and painted his skin black and brown, with a little red in it. The Leopard looked at him in surprise: for the first time in his life he saw how a man changed his skin.

"But what about me?" he said.

"You must also do what the Baboon advised you to do. He told you to go into spots."

"So I did," said the Leopard. "I went into other spots as fast as I could. I went into this spot with you."

"Oh," said the Ethiopian. "The Baboon didn't mean spots in South Africa. He meant spots on your skin."

"What's the use of that?" said the Leopard.

"Think of Giraffe," said the Ethiopian. "Or if you want stripes, think of Zebra. Spots and stripes are very useful as you see."

"Oh," said the Leopard. "I don't want to look like Zebra,no, I don't."

"Well, make your choice," said the Ethiopian, "because I should like to go hunting with you, but if you look like a ripe banana on a black plate, I shall go hunting without you."

"I'll take spots, then," said the Leopard; "but don't make them too big."

"I'll make them with the ends of my fingers," said the Ethiopian.

Then the Ethiopian put his five fingers close together (there was plenty of black left on his new skin still) and pressed them all over the Leopard, and wherever the five fingers touched him they left five little black spots.

"Now you are very beautiful," said the Ethiopian. "You can lie on the bare ground and look like a heap of little stones. You can lie on the rocks and look like a piece of rock. You can lie on a branch and look like sunshine that falls through the leaves; and you can lie across the centre of a path and look like nothing at all. Think of that and be happy! Now come along and we'll try to hunt."

So they went away and lived happily for many years. That is all.



A. Answer the questions.

  1. Where did the leopard live?
  2. What did the desert look like?
  3. What other animals lived there?
  4. What did they look like?
  5. Why couldn't they see the leopard?
  6. Why was it bad for them?
  7. Who did the leopard hunt with?
  8. How did they hunt?
  9. What did the animals learn to do?
  10. How did they change their appearance?
  11. Why did the Ethiopian and the leopard go to the baboon?
  12. What advice did he give them?
  13. What surprised them in the forest?
  14. How did they hunt?
  15. What did they catch?
  16. How did the zebra and the giraffe run away?
  17. What did the Ethiopian decide to do?
  18. How did he do it?
  19. How did he help the leopard?

B. Read the sentences and say what they are about.

  1. They were sandy-yellow-brownish.
  2. He was the sandiest-yellowest-brownest of them all.
  3. There was sand and sandy-coloured rock and sandy-yellowish grass.
  4. He was a greyish-brownish-yellowish man.
  5. He hunted with his teeth and claws.
  6. He hunted with his bows and arrows.
  7. It was full of trees and bushes and shadows.
  8. He grew spotty.
  9. He grew stripy.
  10. They grew darker, with little stripes on their backs.
  11. They were so hungry that they ate rats and beetles and rabbits.
  12. He was the wisest animal in all South Africa.
  13. They hid themselves in the shadowy forest.
  14. He looked like a ripe banana on a black plate.
  15. He painted his skin black and brown, with a little red in it.
  16. He pressed them all over the leopard.
  17. He was able to hide in pits and behind trees.
  18. He could look like a heap of little stones, a piece of rock, or sunshine that falls through the leaves.

. Fill in the words:

fauna, paint, skin, Baboon, stripes, arrows, claws, spots, shadows, bows, spotty, ripe, bare, stripy, hear, change, smell, frightened, touched, painted, pressed

  1. The leopard lived in a very , hot, yellow desert.
  2. The colour of the leopard's was like the colour of the desert itself.
  3. The animals could not see the leopard and he them to death.
  4. The leopard hunted with his teeth and , and his friend the Ethiopian with his and .
  5. The animals ran away and hid in the of the forest.
  6. By and by they grew and .
  7. The leopard and the Ethiopian couldn't catch anything, and at last they went to the , the wisest animal in all South Africa.
  8. He told them that the had joined the flora and advised them to as soon as they could.
  9. The leopard and the Ethiopian could the animals and them, but they couldn't see them.
  10. They caught a giraffe that was covered with and a zebra that was covered with .
  11. The Ethiopian decided to change the colour of his skin, so he took some and it black and brown, with a little red in it.
  12. The Ethiopian didn't want to hunt with the leopard if he looked like a banana on a black plate.
  13. The Ethiopian put his five fingers close together and them all over the leopard.
  14. Wherever the five fingers him they left five little black spots.

D. Learn the words of exercise for the dictation.

E. Answer the questions.

  1. What is the setting of the story?
  2. Who are the characters in the story? Which of them are the main characters?
  3. What problem do some of the characters have at the beginning of the story?
  4. How do they solve the problem?
  5. What problem do the main characters have?
  6. Who gives them advice how to solve the problem?
  7. What does he advise them to do?
  8. Which of his words have double meanings?
  9. What do the main characters do to find out what happened to the animals?
  10. What do they do to change themselves? Is it a positive or a negative change?
  11. What is the main idea of the story?

F. Retell the story.

G. Tell the story from the point of view of:

a) the leopard or the Ethiopian; b) the zebra or the giraffe.