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  • The Story of the Eel
  • Elder Mark

There was once an old man and an old woman. They had a child. One evening they set out to look for eel fish in a river. The old woman walked along the dry riverbank while the old man waded through the river. He held a bundle of lighted coconut leaves firmly in his left hand, lighting his way as he went, and a spear in his right hand. Soon he saw a large eel swimming toward him. The man tried to catch the eel but the eel escaped from him and swam away very fast. The man ran after the eel, chasing it as it was trying to swim away from him. The chase went on for a while, but the man was catching up fast on the eel with every step he took. Just as he was about to spear the eel, the eel ran into a hole to hide. It was a deep hole at the side of the river. The poor man was so exhausted after the long chase that he didn't know what he should do next to try to catch the eel. He thought to himself for a while, then an idea struck him. He decided that he would block up the mouth of the hole with stones in order to prevent the eel from coming out. So he picked up all the stones he could find in the river nearby and brought them over and placed them firmly against the mouth of the hole. Having done this to his satisfaction, the old man decided to return to the old woman to tell her the story of what had happened. "Oh, I chased a very large eel over there but I could not catch it. It ran into its hole. But it doesn't matter. Let's go home." So the old man and the old woman turned around and went home.

Soon after they had arrived home they both went to bed and slept until the next morning. Early in the morning, the old man got up out of his bed and quickly ran over to the river where the hole was. He wanted to check to see if the stones he had placed there had been removed. He saw that the stones had not been disturbed but remained as he had placed them at the [End Page 357] mouth of the hole the night before. "The eel has not tried to move them," he thought. The old man then murmured to himself excitedly, "Oh good, the eel is still inside the hole." He made up his mind then that he must try to catch the eel this time. To do this he had to first open up the hole by removing all the stones he had placed at its mouth in order that the eel might have an opening to try to escape through. He then set to work removing all the stones one by one from the mouth of the hole. Then he took one of the stones and with it he began to hammer at the hole. He did this repeatedly, cracking the hole and progressively getting closer to the eel at the same time.

The eel was getting very anxious in the hole. It decided to trick the man so that he would stop trying to catch it. So the eel released one of its ten children through the hole for the man to catch and take home. It hoped that if the man caught that eel he would be satisfied and he would leave the mother and the other nine children behind in their hole. As the eel ran out of the hole, the old man chased after it. Soon he caught up with the eel, killed it, and threw it over onto the riverbank. He looked carefully at it and said to himself, "No, this is not the eel I saw yesterday. The one that ran into the hole yesterday is a lot bigger than this one." He then returned to the hole determined to catch the eel, which he believed was still inside the hole. He picked up...


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pp. 357-362
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