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 The Magic Crocodile


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magic crocodile called Mulungu lived on Bimini Island in the Atlantic Ocean, far from the African coast. It was over a thousand years old, and as green as an unripe quince since its back was covered in moss and seaweed. Its yellow sulphurous eyes gleamed with an uncanny phosphorescent light which had magic force. This ancient crocodile embodied the spirit of great Mulungu; it walked upright on its back legs and tail; it controlled rain, storms and lightening and was a master of all the black magic arts. That is why it was greatly feared and also venerated by the king of the island, "Jim Ra", and his subjects. Nobody in the tribe doubted its supernatural abilities, though perhaps its good will, if things occasionally went wrong. The medicine man, Kohobbo, and the wise man, Tumaan, had often been punished because they had sometimes dared to smile sceptically if people refused to listen to them and instead blindly obeyed Mulungu; Ana, the blue parrot, often had to do without water for hours due to its inappropriate comments. Picture 111. Crocodile's Tears over BiminiOnce, on the day of the rain festival, the rain which had been foretold failed to come. The crocodile approached the king amid the pomp and circumstances and all the drums and percussion, the expression on its face indicating that it was about to make an important announcement. The villagers had formed two black human walls on either side of the path, and stood there full of suspense to let the herald pass through. The seats of the village elders were all occupied; the king "Jim Ra", surrounded by some white-bearded descendants of his ancient tribe, waited impatiently for the prophet. The crocodile marched in on its hind legs. "Mulungu, Mulungu..." the frightened villagers murmured. But Mulungu covered its yellow eyes, revolved three times around itself and beat the sand three times with its tail. Fear and curiosity froze all the faces to masks. The crocodile began to speak, its voice choked with tears: "You see my tears falling, my scales standing on end; for the first time in my life I am appalled by my knowledge. My old moss-covered head is full of terrible premonitions. I do not come of my own free will to reveal to you the dark secrets of the future: it is the secret, the frightful secret that forces me to do so which for months has been brooding silently in the black swamps of the jungle!" - All the villagers were now standing in a large circle; they threw themselves on their faces on to the hot sand, some of them burying their heads in it with terror. Picture 112. Mulungu Lying in Wait "Jim Ra" went pale under his dark skin. "Pulla, rum Pulla!" the crocodile continued, drying its big tears. "Well over a thousand years ago, Bimini Island rose out of the sea due to a catastrophe in the interior of the earth. The land lay there, desolate and dead, not a single living creature on it. But in the mud there lay an 'Ovum', an egg, from which the first ancestor of the noble Bantu-tribe or 'Ra' and I were born. Then came the blessing of the sun and the rain, and 'Lo Lama', the earth spirit, brought a woman called 'Mi'. to our first parent. Now, after centuries of prosperity - oh, that I had never been hatched from that egg! oh, that I have to bring you such tidings! - three months from now, our beautiful island will disappear into the ocean just as it once rose out of it. Bimini Island will be destroyed!" Mulungu, the crocodile, hid its tear-filled eyes, revolved three times around itself, beat the sand three times with its tail and made off. Having reached its swamp, Mulungu quickly dried its crocodile's tears; it opened its large jaws and laughed until the raucous sound rang in its ears. Then it lay down expectantly in the mud and waited. It was tired of sea acorns and guinea-pigs; it detested monkeys, who always tasted of bananas and carobs. It wanted tasty human flesh. The hypocritical crocodile was not mistaken. Picture 113. The Destruction of Bimini Island It wasn't long before the fires were burning on the hearths and the kettles steaming. All the pigs, goats, hens and ducks of the village were slaughtered and roasted, all the corn stocks thrown into the cauldrons and boiled, all the calebashes containing beer and other drinks opened: there was no end to the feasting and carousing. Believing they were faced with imminent certain death, the villagers were determined to have one last celebration and to enjoy one final fling beforehand. In vain did the medicine man Kohobbo and the wise man, Tumaan, try to stop them and to expose Mulungu's devilish plan. But it was impossible to get through to the people, such was their euphoria and frenzied revelling. Now the time had come. Mulungu crept up in the tumult and first of all took its opponent, Kohobbo, and Tumaan; the wise man. This time the tears that oozed from its false eyes were tears of gluttony. Nobody in the village noticed what had happened. So Mulungu was able to get himself the best morsels without the slightest difficulty. The last to go was King "Jim Ra", and Mulungu gobbled him up in all friendliness. The magic crocodile had become as fat and heavy as an antediluvian monster, and Bimini Island, having become too small, disappeared with it into the ocean.