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Full Online Book HomeShort StoriesWhy The Cow's Skin Is Loose On The Neck
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Why The Cow's Skin Is Loose On The Neck Post by :DiaMondBusteR Category :Short Stories Author :Dean S. Fansler Date :November 2011 Read :4080

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Why The Cow's Skin Is Loose On The Neck

Version (a)
Narrated by Francisco M. Africa.

There was once a poor farmer who possessed a cow and a carabao. These two animals were his only wealth. Every day he led them to the field to plough. He worked his animals so hard, that they often complained to him; but the cruel master would not even listen to their words. One day the cow, who had grown tired of this kind of life, said to the carabao, "Let us run away from this evil man! Though we are very dirty, he is not willing for us even to take a bath. If we remain here with him, we shall be as ugly and as filthy as pigs. If we run away from him, however, he will have to do his own work, and then we shall be revenged. Hurry up! Let us go!"

The spirit of the carabao was aroused: he jumped with a loud roar, and said, "I too have long been meditating escape, but I hesitated because I was afraid you might not be willing to join me in flight. We are so ill-treated by our cruel master, that God will have pity on us. Come on! Let us go!"

The two animals at once set out, running as fast as they could, always trying to avoid any human beings. When they came to a river, the cow said, "We are very dirty. Let us take a bath before we go on! The water of this river is so clean and clear, that we shall soon be as clean as we were before our contemptible master got hold of us."

The carabao answered, "We would better run a little farther, for perhaps our master is already in pursuit of us. Besides, we are very tired now, and I have been told that to take a bath when one is tired injures the health."

"Don't believe that!" returned the cow. "Our bodies are so big, that we do not need to fear sickness."

At last the carabao was persuaded by the arguments of the cow; and he said, "All right! Let us take off our clothes before we go into the water!"

The two animals then stripped themselves of all their clothes, then they plunged into the deep, cool river. They had been in the water less than an hour, however, when they saw their master coming after them with a big stick in his hand. They ran up to where their clothes were; but in their haste the carabao put on the cow's clothes, and the cow got the carabao's. As soon as they were dressed, they continued their mad flight; and as their master was very tired, he had to give up the chase and return home disappointed.

Since the carabao was larger than the cow, the skin on the cow's neck has been loose ever since, because the two friends were separated and could never exchange clothes again. And likewise the skin on the carabao's neck has been tight ever since these two animals made their mistake in dressing.


Version (b) The First Loose-Skinned Cow and the First Tight-Skinned Carabao.

Narrated by Amanda Morente, a Tagalog from Pinamalayan, Mindoro. She heard the story from an old woman of her town.

Many years ago, when the people of the world were still few in number and the animals took the place of servants, an old man bought a cow and a carabao from his neighbor. With these animals he travelled until he reached the top of a mountain. There they saw a cave, and the old man told his servants to enter and see if there was any danger inside. With slow and cautious steps the carabao and the cow went in, examining every corner. All at once the cow perceived something moving. In his fright he jumped back, and hid behind his companion; but the slow-going carabao did not see the figure, and suddenly he felt his hind leg seized in a strong grasp. The god of the cave had caught him. Then the god of the cave spoke. His voice was terrifying, but his words were kind. He told them how for many days he had been hungry, and he asked for meat. The cow, whose courage had by this time been somewhat restored, gladly offered him some of her master's provisions, which she was carrying. In return for this kindness, the god gave each of the animals a dress: to the carabao he gave one of gold; and to the cow, one of bronze. He also invited the two to remain with him and be his servants.

Some time after the two friends had been installed in their new home, the god of the cave sent them one day to gather fruits. The carabao and the cow were delighted at this prospect of a change, and they jumped with joy. They rushed out into the woods; and when they came to a pond, they took off their new clothes and plunged into the soft mud. While they were enjoying their bath, they saw their master coming. He was carrying a big stick. They knew very well that he would beat them, for they had been away the whole morning. In their haste to get their clothes back on, they made a mistake: the carabao got into the cow's dress, and the cow into the carabao's. After that they never exchanged their clothes, which finally became their outer skin. So to-day the carabao has a tight bronze-colored skin; and the cow, a loose golden-colored one.


Like the preceding, this story appears to be a native Tagalog tale. I know of no other variants.

(The end)
Dean S. Fansler's short story: Why The Cow's Skin Is Loose On The Neck

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