144 THE SACRED MILK OF KOUMONGOE
But Koane only answered sulkily : ' I told you I am not going to drive them out at all. If I have to do without milk, they shall do without grass.'
Thakane did not know what to do. She was afraid to disobey her parents, who would most likely beat her, yet the beasts would be sure to suffer if they were kept in, and she would perhaps be beaten for that too. So at last she took an axe and a tiny earthen bowl, she cut a very small hole in the side of Koumongoe, and out gushed enough milk to fill the bowl.
' Here is the milk you wanted,' said she, going up to Koane' who was still sulking in his corner.
' What is the use of that ? ' grumbled Koane ; ' why, there is not enough to drown a fly. Go and get me three times as much ! '
Trembling with fright, Thakane returned to the tree, and struck it a sharp blow with the axe. In an instant there poured forth such a stream of milk that it ran like a river into the hut.
' Koane ! Koane !' cried she, ' come and help me to plug up the hole. There will be no milk left for our father and mother.' But Koane could not stop it any more than Thakane, and soon the milk was flowing through the hut downhill towards their parents in the fields below.
The man saw the white stream a long way off, and guessed what had happened.
' Wife, wife,' he called loudly to the woman, who was working at a little distance : ' Do you see Koumongo6 running fast down the hill ? That is some mischief of the children's, I am sure. I must go home and find out what is the matter.' And they both threw down their hoes and hurried to the side of Koumongoe.
Kneeling on the grass, the man and his wife made a cup of their hands and drank the milk from it. And no sooner had they done this, than Koumongoe flowed back again up the hill, and entered the hut.
' Thakane,' said the parents, severely, when they reached