Mystery Animal #14: Duma

Two time-tested African tales do tell
How I got a few qualities for which I'm known so well
These stories have been around for hundreds of years
They speak of my claws, my speed and my tears

The first tells of a race between a topi and me
None other than God was the referee
Lacking in traction I went to a canine
Borrowed his claws which fit just fine
But back then I was also wanting in speed
And the much quicker antelope took a comfortable lead
But then out of the blue a tragic accident took place
The topi tripped on a rock, was knocked out of the race
His leg was broken I could see as I neared
"Keep going, you'll win," the crowd taunted and jeered
But my heart went out to the lame sassaby
I stopped and helped him; in a word, I was friendly
The Creator was pleased with my kindness and grace
For aiding my opponent when I could have won the race
Great speed he made a gift only mine
And allowed me to keep the claws of the canine
So now I'm capable of lightning fast raids
And I'm the only feline with unretractable blades.

Just as gladly the second story ends
But I tell of it sadly, for my heart it rends
My cubs I left hiding in the bush one day
As I went out on the plain to stalk my prey
And though I've great speed and can hunt in a hurry
Something horrible happened, my very worst worry
For an unkind man was also hunting that day
He snatched my three babes from the grass where they lay
I thought for sure I would never see them again
So I cried night and day, tears without end
But a kind old man heard me cry
And came to my home to find out why
When he learned of the crime committed by his kin
He returned to the people to report the sin
The hunter was banished from the village fold
For hunting unfairly and for being so bold
My cubs were returned to my tender care
But the tears left a mark on my face that's still there.

So I've told you two tales and one tail I've got
But I need still another to explain my spots
So with your imagination I leave it to you
If you can invent such a tale, then I'll have two, too.


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