Why the Cow’s Skin is Loose on the Neck

Narrated by Francisco M. Africa.

There was once a poor farmer who possessed a cow and a carabao. These two animals were his only wealth. Every day he led them to the field to plough. He worked his animals so hard, that they often complained to him; but the cruel master would not even listen to their words. One day the cow, who had grown tired of this kind of life, said to the carabao, “Let us run away from this evil man! Though we are very dirty, he is not willing for us even to take a bath. If we remain here with him, we shall be as ugly and as filthy as pigs. If we run away from him, however, he will have to do his own work, and then we shall be revenged. Hurry up! Let us go!”

The spirit of the carabao was aroused: he jumped with a loud roar, and said, “I too have long been meditating escape, but I hesitated because I was afraid you might not be willing to join me in flight. We are so ill-treated by our cruel master, that God will have pity on us. Come on! Let us go!”

The two animals at once set out, running as fast as they could, always trying to avoid any human beings. When they came to a river, the cow said, “We are very dirty. Let us take a bath before we go on! The water of this river is so clean and clear, that we shall soon be as clean as we were before our contemptible master got hold of us.”

The carabao answered, “We would better run a little farther, for perhaps our master is already in pursuit of us. Besides, [411]we are very tired now, and I have been told that to take a bath when one is tired injures the health.”

“Don’t believe that!” returned the cow. “Our bodies are so big, that we do not need to fear sickness.”

At last the carabao was persuaded by the arguments of the cow; and he said, “All right! Let us take off our clothes before we go into the water!”

The two animals then stripped themselves of all their clothes, then they plunged into the deep, cool river. They had been in the water less than an hour, however, when they saw their master coming after them with a big stick in his hand. They ran up to where their clothes were; but in their haste the carabao put on the cow’s clothes, and the cow got the carabao’s. As soon as they were dressed, they continued their mad flight; and as their master was very tired, he had to give up the chase and return home disappointed.

Since the carabao was larger than the cow, the skin on the cow’s neck has been loose ever since, because the two friends were separated and could never exchange clothes again. And likewise the skin on the carabao’s neck has been tight ever since these two animals made their mistake in dressing.

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