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The lazy chameleon’s trick

Author

Written by Pirai Mazungunye

Illustrator

Illustrated by Vian Oelofson

Long ago, in the peaceful village of Mudavula, there lived a very lazy chameleon. At that time, all the animals farmed the land to feed themselves and their families. All except Chameleon. Because of his laziness, he did not want to work like everyone else. Instead, he thought up a crooked plan so that he could borrow from others and live well.

 

One Monday morning, Chameleon went to Hare to borrow maize meal. Before he arrived at Hare’s house, he changed his skin colour from brown to green.

 

“Please lend me some maize meal,” Chameleon asked.

 

“And when will you pay me back?” Hare asked.

 

“At the end of the month!” Chameleon promised.

 

Hare filled the empty bucket that Chameleon had brought. Chameleon took the maize meal home, smiling as he went. He was thinking about his crooked plan to trick the other animals. He made up a little song to help him remember his plan.

 

‘I will change my colours

But no one will ever know.

I was green when Hare saw me,

With Lizard I’ll be yellow.

Frog will see a black chameleon

With Tortoise, brown I’ll be.

I will change and change my colours.

They will never know it’s me!’

 

On Tuesday, Chameleon woke up hungry. “I can’t eat porridge every day. I need rice!” Chameleon thought. “I will change my skin colour to yellow and go to Lizard. If I can trick everyone, I will not pay anyone anything!”

 

Chameleon went with his empty bucket to Lizard, who kindly filled it with rice. Chameleon promised to pay Lizard back at the end of the month.

 

On Wednesday, after cooking some rice, Chameleon looked unhappily at his plate. “No! No! Plain rice is not nice. I need meat!” Chameleon thought for a while. “Frog will give me meat!” he decided.

 

Chameleon changed his skin colour to black and ran to Frog’s house with his empty bucket. Frog filled his bucket with meat. Again, Chameleon promised to pay Frog back at the end of the month.

 

“I am missing fruit. I need it!” Chameleon thought on Thursday. “Who has fruit?” Chameleon thought, scratching his head. “Tortoise! Yes, Tortoise!”

 

 

Chameleon changed his skin colour to brown and went to Tortoise with his empty bucket. He asked Tortoise for fruit, and Tortoise filled his bucket with bananas, oranges and apples.

 

“Thank you, thank you, Mr Tortoise. I will pay you back at the end of the month,” he promised.

 

All the time Chameleon kept singing his song so that he would remember his colour tricks.

 

‘I will change my colours

But no one will ever know.

I was green when Hare saw me,

With Lizard I’ll be yellow.

Frog will see a black chameleon

With Tortoise, brown I’ll be.

I will change and change my colours.

They will never know it’s me!’

 

When the end of the month came, the animals waited for Chameleon to come and pay them back what he had borrowed. But Chameleon did not come.

 

First, Hare went to Chameleon’s house. “Those of here! Those of here!” Hare called loudly at the gate.

 

Chameleon peeped through the window. When he saw Hare, he remembered his song. “Aah, Mr Hare, I was green when I borrowed your maize meal,” Chameleon said to himself. Quickly, he changed his skin colour to yellow and went to the gate to meet Hare.

 

“I am looking for a green chameleon,” Hare said surprised.

 

“A green chameleon? I live here alone. I moved in not long ago,” Chameleon lied to Hare.

 

Hare left and Chameleon went back into his house. “I am the clever one,” Chameleon boasted aloud, jumping onto the couch.

 

In the days that followed, Lizard, Frog and Tortoise also came looking for the chameleon who had borrowed rice, meat and fruit from them. Chameleon tricked each one by changing his skin colour so that they would not recognise him.

 

Another month passed by. Then Hare, Lizard, Frog and Tortoise met by a big marula tree to gather its delicious golden fruit. Looking at his basket of marulas, Tortoise said, “A green chameleon has moved in at the brown chameleon’s house. That brown chameleon owes me a bucket of fruit.”

 

“No,” said Hare. “A yellow chameleon stays at that house. I am looking for the green chameleon who owes me a bucket of maize meal.”

 

“No,” Lizard said. “A black chameleon stays at that house. I am looking for the yellow chameleon who owes me a bucket of rice.”

 

“No,” Frog said. “A brown chameleon stays at that house. I am looking for the black chameleon who owes me a bucket of meat.”

 

Then Lizard said, “Could it be that one chameleon has tricked us all by changing his skin colour? Let’s all go to the house at the same time.”

 

So Hare, Lizard, Frog and Tortoise marched to Chameleon’s house and shouted for him to come out.