A Many Mouths One Stomach Folk-tale


by Nadia Hagen

Once upon a time, a very long time ago…there was a lovely place where there were three lovely villages. The villagers were happy and healthy. Unfortunately, they had one heavy burden to bear and that was, that in each village there was a forest and in each forest lived a horrible hungry monster. The monster was so enormous no one had ever seen all of it at once. Every moon, the villagers had to take a portion of their food and feed the monster or the beast would fume and spew and make a horrible racket so that no one had any peace. This was very hard for the villagers who sometimes had no food to spare. When a village did not feed their monster, the beast would make such a racket and frighten and menace everyone so, that the villagers would give up what little they had to satiate the beast.

One moon the rains did not come and the crops did not grow. The villagers had very little food and none to spare. The monster yowled and howled sputtered and drooled and spat and the people did not know what to do.

The Villagers decided to kill the monster. They gathered their most feared warriors and went to cut off the monsters head. They snuck up behind the head as it wailed and gnashed it’s teeth and in one swoop the fiercest hunter cut off the monster’s head. The wailing stopped but as they stood and stared the head grew back before their eyes. The head stuck out its bumpy red tongue and rolled its protruding eyes and devoured the fiercest hunter. The rest of the hunters ran back to their village to tell everyone their story.

“What will we do?” everyone asked-“We will have to find the stomach” said one of the Villagers-and everyone agreed this was the key to curing the monsters appetite.

The Villagers went into the forest where the monster lived and followed the long necks of the monster. Each group of Villagers followed the necks of the monster thru the brush and tumble until they came into a clearing and there they all bumped into each other and discovered the stomach of the monster. Each head was connected to a single huge stomach that gurgled and bubbled and the Villagers looked at each other in amazement and said “Now what will we do?”

“Lets sleep on it” they said “and we will decide in the morning.” They went back to the village and gave up the last of their food so they could have a quiet nights rest.

In the morning, a council of all the villages was held and people gathered and everyone said ” I had the strangest dream.” One by one everyone went around the circle and told their story and it seemed that they all had the same dream-they had climbed into the mouth of a great cave and walked thru a murky, wet blackness until they came into a great room. They lit a candle and on the wall of the great room were written the words….”MANY MOUTHS ONE STOMACH” – then they had all woken up.

The Villagers were all amazed by this. They discussed and ruminated and discussed some more and then it came to them-If the beast only had one stomach, could they feed the whole monster by feeding each head in turn?

In the following months each Village took a turn feeding it’s head and the monster was happy. The Villagers only had to feed their mouth once every 3 moons so there was enough food for everyone and everyone lived happily ever after.

And the villagers discovered, monster drool makes a lovely tangy sauce for stews and meats and their feathers are very nice for trimming a headdress or adding a dash of color to an otherwise dull ensemble.

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