Once, two men, Ali and Mustafa, crossed the desert in the company of a lion, a snake, a hyena and a jackal.
At one point the food ran out and the six travelers began to feel hungry. Luckily, they came to an oasis where they found a camel.
Tired of the long walk, they decided to tie it to a palm tree, saving the next day the opportunity to make a tasty snack.
But the hyena, which is the most earnest animal of all there is on Earth, lay awake wielding a stratagem to keep the camel to itself.
When everyone was asleep, he approached the lion and said to his ear:
– Be careful, the jackal intends to rob us of the camel …
– Oh yes?! Said the lion. – I already give you the rice!
He approached the sleeping jackal and, without any explanation, gave him a brave stab and killed him instantly. And lay back to sleep.
One is already! Thought the hyena.
She, as soon as the lion fell asleep, went to the serpent. He woke her up and said to her in a low voice:
– See what the lion did? He killed the jackal and I suspect he will do the same to us all, so that he can keep the camel for himself! …
– Oh the crook! Commented the snake. “Good thing you warned me, because I’m going to nip it in the bud.”
He reached the lion and bit him with his poisonous teeth, killing him without even waking up.
– Two more! Thought the hyena, rubbing its paws happily and laughing in its characteristic way. In a moment she was standing next to Ali, fanning him.
– Wake up, Ali. Do you know what I just witnessed? The snake murdered the lion and the jackal. Soon you will do the same with us, to be with the camel alone …
– Traitor! Who tells us to trust her? …
There he approached the reptile with a large stone, and without a sound crushed his head.
– Three! Rejoiced the hyena. When Ali fell asleep again, the matron smeared her hands with blood from the dead animals and then rushed to wake Mustafa – Wake up, Mustafa! Look, Ali has already killed the snake, the jackal and the lion. I’m afraid you want to do the same to us, to be alone with the camel.
– Are you serious? Wondered Mustafa.
– Look at him and you’ll see.
Then Mustafa threw himself furiously at his companion, shouting:
– Bastard! Are you pretending to sleep? Is it true that you killed the lion, the jackal and the serpent? Sorry, if you can, otherwise you will pay for your ruse with your life!
Waking awake, Ali spoke only meaningless words, as if he had actually been caught in the act.
Mustafa was already raising his dagger and preparing to do justice with his own hands when a voice was heard:
– Hold on! He is not the killer!
It was the camel that, tied to his palm tree, had witnessed everything from the start and explained blow by blow how things had gone.
But before the camel had finished speaking, the hyena had said to herself, “Legs I want you for.”
Both men thanked the camel very much: one for saving his life, the other for avoiding committing a murder. And after the thanks untied their “meal”.
– You’re free. You can go to your life. But we have to go without food until the next oasis.
“Don’t worry,” the camel reassured them. – I help you find food.
When it was dawn he led them to the castle of the genius of the oasis.
“Here you’ll find everything you want, eat and drink, but leave before dark, the geniuses won’t surprise you when they arrive.”
Ali and Mustafa did so, and in the middle of the afternoon they left the castle, well eaten and drunk …
The hyena, who had followed them from afar, barely saw them leave, decided to enter. But he was unable to restrain his gluttony and ate, ate … without noticing the hours.
At night the geniuses returned to the castle and, seeing her gorge themselves on what belonged to them, killed her, without even wishing her “good appetite”.
From that day it is said: We often look for for truth here and it is on the other side. African Fables Lisbon, Editorial Overseas, 1991