56. The Virtue of the Coconut
One day a man took his blow-gun and his dog and went to the forest to hunt. As he was making his way through the thick woods he chanced upon a young coconut tree growing in the ground.
It was the first tree of this kind that he had ever seen, and it seemed so peculiar to him that he stopped to look at it.
When he had gone some distance farther, his attention was attracted by a noisy bird in a tree, and he shot it with his blow-gun. A little later he took aim at a large monkey, which mocked him from another treetop, and that, too, fell dead at his feet.
Then he heard his dog barking furiously in the distant bushes, and hastening to it he found it biting a wild pig. After a hard struggle he killed the pig, and then, feeling satisfied with his success, he took the three animals on his back and returned to the little plant.
“I have decided to take you home with me, little plant,” he said, “for I like you and you may be of some use to me.”
He dug up the plant very carefully and started home, but he had not gone far when he noticed that the leaves had begun to wilt, and he did not know what to do, since he had no water. Finally, in despair, he cut the throat of the bird and sprinkled the blood on the coconut. No sooner had he done this than the plant began to revive, and he continued his journey.
Before he had gone far, however, the leaves again began to wilt, and this time he revived it with the blood of the monkey. Then he hastened on, but a third time the leaves wilted, and he was compelled to stop and revive it with the blood of the pig. This was his last animal, so he made all the haste possible to reach home before his plant died. The coconut began to wilt again before he reached his house, but when he planted it in the ground, it quickly revived, and grew into a tall tree.
This hunter was the first man to take the liquor called tuba from the coconut tree, and he and his friends began to drink it. After they had become very fond of it, the hunter said to his friends, “The coconut tree is like the three animals whose blood gave it life when it would have died. The man who drinks three or four cups of tuba becomes like the noisy bird that I shot with my blow-gun. One who drinks more than three or four cups becomes like the big monkey that acts silly; and one who becomes drunk is like the pig that sleeps even in a mud-hole.”