WHAT’S PLAYING: Jimmy Reed “Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby?”
Once upon a time, there was a village on the edge of the Tombigbee River. There were many hunters in this village, all of whom — with one exception — had killed a great many deer.
Although the unlucky hunter often succeeded in getting close to the deer, they always managed to escape just before he drew his bow on them.
Now, this hunter had been away from the village for three days, and during that time, he had seen many deer but had not been able to kill a single one.
On the third day, when the sun was overhead, the hunter saw a huge alligator lying in a dry, sandy spot. This alligator had been without water for many days, and was so weak and shriveled that he could barely speak, but he managed to ask the hunter where he could find some water.
“There is a clear, deep pool of cold water just a short way into the forest,” the hunter replied.
“But I am too weak to go so far. Come nearer so that we may talk. Have no fear, for I cannot harm you,” said the alligator.
Careful to keep a prudent distance between himself and the alligator, the hunter moved closer so that he could hear.
“I know you are a hunter,” the alligator said, “but all the deer escape from you. If you will carry me to the water, I will make you a great hunter and tell you how to kill many, many deer.”
The hunter was afraid of the alligator, but finally he said, “If you will let me bind your legs so that you cannot scratch me, and your mouth so that you cannot bite me, I will carry you.”
The alligator rolled over on his back and held up his legs, saying, “I am helpless. Bind me and do with me as you will.”
The hunter took a cord and bound the alligator’s legs and mouth. Then he lifted the animal to his shoulder and carried him to the water.
When they reached the pool, the hunter loosened the cords and the alligator plunged into the water. It stayed down for a long time.
At last, he rose again to the surface and spoke to the hunter, saying, “Now listen, and if you do as I counsel, you will become a great hunter. Take your bow and arrows and go into the woods. You will first meet a small doe, but do not kill it. Next, you will meet a large doe, but you must not shoot this one either. Then you will see a small buck, but it likewise must be spared. Lastly, you will encounter a very large, old buck. Go very close to it and kill it, and ever afterward you will be able to kill many deer.”
The hunter did as the alligator told him, and was never again without venison in his camp.