LONG ago there lived some hunters who one day took their bows and arrows and went with their dogs to hunt in the forest.
And those hunters walked very far, looking for game, and they caught some animals, and then a very heavy rain fell upon them. So they looked for a place in which they could sit and take shelter until the rain was over, and they found a very big tree with a large hollow in it. Then those hunters and their dogs entered into that tree and sat down. Now that hole in the tree belonged to a large snake, and that snake had gone out to look for game.
The snake hunted and did not find any game, so it returned home hungry and annoyed. When it got near its hole it heard the voices of men talking in its house.
That snake was very surprised, and said to itself, "Who can it be talking in my house?" Then it said in a loud voice, "Who speaks there in my house?"
Those men inside were astonished, and asked one another, "Who can that be talking outside?"
Before they could answer, or look outside, the snake itself arrived at the entrance and blocked the way out. Then it said, "What sort of people are you to come and sit in my house? This is my house in which I sit by myself. Answer me quickly what you mean by going into it?"
Those men answered, "Please, sir, we have come from our village looking for game. We went very far and only caught some small animals, and then it rained very hard, so we came in here to escape the rain. We did not know that it was your house. Now we have nothing to say; we only ask your leave to go out. If you say 'go out' we will go our way at once."
The snake said, "You have no leave to go out."
Then those men asked, "Then what do you wish us to do?"
The snake said, "What you must do is that you must at once give that game you have caught to your dogs to eat, that they may get fat. Then you must eat your dogs, so that you become very fat, and then I will eat you."
Those men said, "We are not able to eat dogflesh, master. If this is indeed your house, perhaps you will eat us. No matter, it is the will of Allah."
Whilst they were talking thus to that big snake an elephant-nosed shrew came out of the bush and heard them talking, and came near to the door of the snake's house.
Then he asked, "What does this snake say?"
Those men said, "This snake is standing in the doorway and preventing us from going out, and he tells us we must give our game to our dogs, and then eat our dogs, that he may eat us. This is because we came to sit in here to escape from the rain."
The elephant-nosed shrew said, "Agree to what he says. When that snake has eaten you and become very fat I will eat him."
When that snake heard those words of the shrew it was very angry, and chased the shrew, and the shrew ran off into the bush, and the snake followed him very far, but did not catch him.
Then those hunters were able to come forth from that hole and escape. So they went out very quickly and ran back to their village.
When the snake came back to his house he found that those men had run away. It was indeed the elephant-nosed shrew who had saved them.