The Rhinoceros Hunt part 1/4

The Rhinoceros Hunt
story for children

The Rhinoceros Hunt part 1/4

Editors' Note. This story was originally written in Sundanese,  the language of western Java,  in 1932. Most of the people  there are Muslims and  observe  the fast of Ranadan,  the month  during which  no one eats or smokes between  sunrise and sunset  each day. The rhinoceroses of this story  are a rare  species with a single  horn, found only  in Java. The breed  is now in danger of extinction  and  is being protected by the government.

That morning I woke up late. It was  just after eight, and the day was already getting hot. I was very hungry,  but even after I'd had a bath  there was still no sign of anyone with my breakfast. Curious,  I went out into  the garden and walked around the house  to look  in the kitchen windows. There wasn't even  the smell of cooking. Wondering what was the matter,  I lit a cigarette.

Just then Momo and Datje came  into  the garden. Seeing me, they stopped and Momo  said,  as though surprised:  "Why are you smoking?"

"Oh," I said, "I always have a cigarette  just before  break fast.  "

"But this  is the first day of Ramadan," he said.

With a start I realized he was  right.  "How could I have forgotten?" I said.

"Oh, well," said Momo, "if you forgot, it's all right.  "

"But I really don't feel  like  fasting. I'm very hungry, and besides,  I forgot  to say my Ramadan  prayers  last night."

Dade cut in: "If  you don't feel like fasting, just say so. No use making a fuss about  it."

"Well, as a matter of  fact,  I've been longing  for breakfast ever since I woke up."

"All right, then,"  said Datje, "let's go see  if there aren’t some  leftovers  from  yesterday.  "

The three of us went  into the deserted  kitchen. After looking around, Datje  found some  stale  rice and soup, but it didn't seem at all appetizing; so he went to look in the pantry.

In a minute he came back and said: "All  the cupboards  are locked."

"Isn't  there some eating stall nearby?"  asked Momo.

"Now why would  there be a stall open on the first day of Ramadan?" said Datje.  "But we might try  looking  in the storage shed."

We left the kitchen and, as we were passing  the plantation office, heard old Suanta  talking. Other people were  laughing.

We  turned  into  the room, and Datje said: “What's so funny?"
Someone  said: "Suanta is telling  one of his adventures, about being  chased  by a rhino."

We said we would like  to hear the story  too and asked Suanta  to start again.

"With pleasure," answered  Suanta.  "I was only telling  the exciting part, but now I'll begin at the beginning." And here is his  tale:

This was many  years ago when  I was still young. There was a rumor  that some  rhinos were  in a nearby  forest. So our master-Datje's  father-sent  a man who knew the forest well to have a look, and also sent  two or three hunters to search for the rhinos'  footprints.  The men came back and said there was no doubt about  it: the prints the animals had left around Tjibeureum Swamp were much deeper  than those of a buffalo. So  the master sent a report to the provincial and district authorities.

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