338 TALE OF A TORTOISE AND A MONKEY
it was not worth going so far to get milk, and that he would return home. But the puma easily saw through these excuses, and laughed at him.
' The river is not deep at all,' he said ; ' why, you will never be off your feet. Come, pluck up your courage and follow me.'
The stag was afraid of the river ; still, he was much more afraid of being laughed at, and he plunged in after the puma ; but in an instant the current had swept him away, and if it had not borne him by accident to a shallow place on the opposite side, where he managed to scramble up the bank, he would certainly have been drowned. As it was, he scrambled out, shaking with terror, and found the puma waiting for him. ' You had a narrow escape that time,' said the puma.
After resting for a few minutes, to let the stag recover from his fright, they went on their way till they came to a grove of bananas.
' They look very good,' observed the puma with a longing glance, ' and I am sure you must be hungry, friend stag ? Suppose you were to climb the tree and get some. You shall eat the green ones, they are the best and sweetest; and you can throw the yellow ones down to me. I dare say they will do quite well!' The stag did as he was bid, though, not being used to climbing, it gave him a deal of trouble and sore knees, and, besides, his horns were continually getting entangled in the creepers. What was worse, when once he had tasted the bananas, he found them not at all to his liking, so he threw them all down, green and yellow alike, and let the puma take his choice. And what a dinner he made ! When he had quite done, they set forth once more.
The path lay through a field of maize, where several men were working. As they came up to them, the puma whispered : ' Go on in front, friend stag, and just say " Bad luck to all workers ! " ' The stag obeyed, but the men were hot and tired, and did not think this a good