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Lizard's Duel with Leopard

Published August 15, 2014
Countries: Sri Lanka, Ceylon
Age Levels: 8 and up

A long time ago, Leopard was hunting for food.  The hunting had been bad.  He had found nothing except for a small Lizard sitting on the branch of a small tree.

"You will be my dinner," Leopard said to Lizard.

"I am very small," answered Lizard.  "I would not make a good meal."

"I am very hungry," growled Leopard.  "You may only make a small bite.  But, I still am going to eat you."

Lizard puffed out his cheeks to look bigger.  "You may try," he hissed.  "But, I will fight you.  You have big sharp teeth while mine are small.  I still will bite you.  Your claws are long and sharp, and mine are short.  But I will scratch you!  You are strong, and I am weak.  But, I will fight you."

Lizard shouted, "You are brave, and I am afraid.  But, I will defend myself.  Try to eat me if you must!"

Lizard's shouts were heard by the monkeys in the trees.  "Leopard is a bully," they shouted.  "Leopard picks on animals that are small and weak."

Leopard was embarrassed.  "I only fight with equals," he said.

"Good," answered Lizard.  "Give me a month to get ready for the fight.  I will become your equal.  Then we can fight."

Leopard was hungry.  But, he agreed to give Lizard one month to prepare for the fight.

Lizard knew he would never be as big or as strong as Leopard.  But, his brain could allow him to act smarter than Leopard.

Lizard walked to the edge of the river.  He found wet mud and clay and rolled over and over in it.  Then he laid out in the hot sun and let it bake hard on his body.

The next day Lizard walked to the rice field.  He rolled over and over in the mud and straw left from the harvested rice.  He again lay in the sun to let the crust of mud dry on his skin.

Each day Lizard rolled in dirt, mud, clay or other stinky and sticky things.  Each day Lizard let them dry on his body.  His body looked like it was getting bigger and bigger.  At the end of the month, Lizard washed the mud off his face and paws, so Leopard could recognize him.  He left the hard mud and clay where it was, sticking on his body like armor.

Lizard met Leopard where he had promised.  Leopard made certain there were no monkeys or other animals there to see him fighting with such a small animal.  Leopard struck first.  He hit Lizard with the claws from his giant paw.  The claws scraped off some of the mud, but Lizard was not hurt.  Lizard hit Leopard on the leg.  He scratched Leopard's leg and made it bleed just a little.

Leopard tried to bite Lizard on the neck.  Yuck!  He only came up with a mouthful of dirt and dead grass.  Lizard jumped on Leopard's back.  He bit Leopard's ears and scratched Leopard on the nose.  Leopard rolled over and knocked Lizard off.  He hit and bit Lizard again and again.  But, each hit only knocked off dried mud.  Each bite tasted like dirt and stinky things that no one should taste.

Lizard's bites were small.  But, Leopard still felt them.  Lizard's scratches were tiny.  But, they made Leopard bleed.  Leopard hurt all over.  The pain finally got so bad that he ran away from the battle.  As he sat and licked his wounds, Leopard said, "Lizard bit me here and here and here.  He bit me all over."

Leopard did not know that a woodcutter had watched the entire fight.  He had seen the large Leopard trying to fight with the small Lizard.  He had seen the Leopard spitting out mouthful after mouthful of mud and had wanted to laugh.  The man watched the Leopard licking himself and crying about the pain caused by the small Lizard.  He could not keep his laughter to himself.  He laughed aloud.

Leopard did not know who was laughing.  He climbed up a tree to get a better look around.  He saw the man and said, "You had better quit laughing.  I will eat you."  Leopard would have eaten the man, but he was worried that Lizard might still be nearby.

"Please do not eat me," said the woodcutter.  He quit laughing and said, "I will not tell anyone."

"You will not tell your wife?" asked the Leopard.

"I will not tell my wife," agreed the man.

"You will not tell your children?" asked the Leopard.  "Or the other villagers?"

"I will not tell my wife or the other villagers," said the man.

The Leopard let him go.  Later the Leopard began to worry.  Men and women are not good at keeping secrets.  If the other animals hear of this, they will all laugh at me.  Then the Leopard left the forest to sit outside of the woodcutter's hut and listened to what was being said inside.  The Leopard heard laughter.

"What is so funny?" asked the man's wife and children?"  But, the woodcutter would not tell them.

"I cannot tell you," said the woodcutter.  "I made a promise, and I intend to keep it."

Leopard watched through the window.  He saw the man and his wife put the children to bed.  The wife laid down to go to sleep.  The man blew out the light.  Leopard was just about to leave when he heard the man laugh aloud again.  "I cannot help it," he said.  "I will not tell the children.  But, I must tell you."  He told her about the fight and how the small Lizard had beaten the large Leopard.  "It was so funny. The Leopard kept saying, 'He bit me here and here and here!'  It was so funny."

Leopard was so angry that he climbed on top of the man's house.  He removed part of the roof and climbed down into the house.  He waited until the man went to sleep.  Leopard crawled under the man's bed and picked it up and carried it out of the house.  He was going to take the man into the forest and eat him.

The man dreamed that he was walking through the woods.  He could see tree branches moving over his head.  It seemed so very real.  Then the moon shined in his eyes.  It WAS real!  He was not in his home.  He looked under the bed and saw Leopard.  The woodcutter knew the Leopard was going to eat him.  He sat up in the bed and then jumped up to grab a tree branch and climbed the tree.

Leopard felt his load get lighter.  He looked up in time to see man climbing the tree.  Leopard threw the bed away and growled.  Nothing would stop him from eating that woodcutter.

That is when the man said, "Mr. Leopard, I am sorry about laughing at you.  But, you should not climb any higher.  Lizard is in the tree with me, and he is going to bite you again.  This frightened Leopard, and he ran away in a hurry.  Leopard ran far away.  He did not wish to fight with Lizard ever again.  The man can now tell his story without fear of the day when Lizard dueled with Leopard.

Dr. Mike Lockett is an educator, storyteller and children's author from Normal, IL. Dr. Lockett has given more than 4000 programs across the USA and as far away as eastern Asia. Contact Mike by writing to in order to book him for a storytelling program or young authors program or to inquire about purchasing his books and CDs. More stories and information about storytelling can be found at