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Auxiris Story: The Magic Drum (16) Story: The Magic Drum, part II 02 Jul 01


THE MAGIC DRUM, part II (Translated from a French language collection of Senegalese stories and legends published by Fernand Nathan, editor, 1963)

One evening, he sees a huge lake glittering under the reflection of the moon. He is so overcome with joy at the sight of so much water that he leaps into the lake immediately. As soon as he begins to swim, he is irresistably pulled by the current. Like his first voyage, he is pulled down to the bottom of the lake softly lit by moonlight. His friends, the caimans, come to greet him and the birds who were around him become fishes again. Now he sees the reeds, the familiar tree on the riverbank and there, stuck in the mud, is his coupe-coupe, which he picks up. Seydou pierces the surface of the river and finds himself home again, with the little drum under his arm, his only souvenir of his marvellous voyage.

He sits on the ground in his poor, broken down hut and, not really knowing what else to do, begins to play his little drum mechanically. All of a sudden, his hut, which was crooked, straightens up and covers itself with new straw. Seydou continues to play. Calabashes full of millet, beans and even rice and meat appear before him! Seydou plays louder and louder and rich robes and lengths of cloth pile up around him. Everyone in the village comes running to see what is happening and, since the moon is full, a feast is organised. All the poor fisherfolk are amazed to see so much wealth.

The feast continues each night, to the point where the King, who has heard of all these strange festivities and is jealous of this rich and generous fisherman, comes to ask Seydou to explain his sudden prosperity. The fisherman tells the King the story of his marvellous voyage in detail. Well, dear friends, as you might imagine, the King doesn't hesitate a second. He takes Seydou's coupe-coupe and goes to the riverbank, climbs the trees and lets the coupe-coupe fall into the river, plop!. The King dives into the river without a care for his flowing robes embroidered with silver and gold. Just as was Seydou, he is transported and accomplishes a marvellous voyage. He arrives in the shepherd's village, tired and hungry:

"Give me something to eat", says he to the village headman.
"Here, lazy people who do nothing don't eat either", answers the headman, "Those who want to eat must work in order to earn their keep."
"What kind of work do you offer?"
"In our village, the only occupation is that of shepherd, therefore, you'll herd cattle!"
"What, me, heard cattle!" cried the King, "My rank does not permit me to do so!"
"Then you'll have to leave our village and go somewhere else."

The King leaves, annoyed and furious, but still hungry. After a long, tedious trek, he finally comes to the village of drums, still feasting and overflowing with food and all kinds of riches. After having satisfied his hunger, he goes to see his equal, the King of the village of drums.

"Greetings, my brother", says the King of the village of joy and perpetual feasting, "Choose the drum that pleases you the most and return to your own country, for when there are two crowns in a kingdom, there is one too many. "I thank you, my brother", said the King, "I'll promise you that I'll leave this very evening.

Needless to say, only the biggest drum was enough to satisfy his vanity. Indeed, it was so big he had trouble carrying it away on his head.

Running in spite of his heavy load, the King sets off happily, thinking of all the riches he'll have thanks to his big drum as Seydou's little drum was already so generous. He comes to the lake, plunges into the water and takes the return path in the depths of the lake. At last he sees the riverbank, the tree overhanging the river and Seydou's coupe-coupe, which he pushes even deeper into the mud:

"We'll never need to use you again, miserable instrument of sweat and toil!"

When he reaches his palace, he invites all his subjets to a grand celebration that very night. When all the people are assembled, the King starts to play his enormous drum, which produces gloomy and frightening sounds. Immediately, all the evil river spirits, djinns of the plains and forest demons come rushing at the people, not sparing the nobles any more than the farmers and fisherfolk, poking, stabbing, burning and hitting the dancers with thorny branches, all the while wailing about how all vain people deserve to die by fire!

Fortuantely, Seydou arrives in the middle of all this uproar. He starts to play his little drum and all the spirits, djinns, demons and assorted devils disappear by magic, singing as they go about how courageous Seydou is and that he would make a much better king than their present ruler.

The villagers didn't hesitate an instant: they drove away their bad King and put Seydou on the throne. With his magic drum, he was able to satisfy his subjects' needs and reigned wisely for over a hundred years.

This is the story the griot thought of in the instant when he was about to be lost at the bottom of the ocean.

There you go. . . now, as usual, I'll have to type in a few useless lines of garp to keep the machine from slicing off the bottom of the story and blah, blah, blah, patati and patata, etc., etc., and so on and so forth and blah, blah


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