ONCE upon a time there was a King of Uganda who loved the animals very much and made a law to protect them, and no man was allowed to kill an animal in the forests or jungles or swamps, and he sent a messenger to the Big Grey Elephant to tell him this.
There was great rejoicing among the animals, for they never want to kill men, only they don't like being hunted.
For many years there was peace in the land, and men walked by night without spears and were quite safe.
One day the King wished to send an order to the chiefs of Busoga, and the messenger walked all through Kyagwe until he came to the Nile. That day there had been a terrific storm on the Lake: great waves thundered against the shore, and the waters rushed over the Ripon Falls into the river like a flood, and the canoes by which people cross into Busoga were washed away, and even the huts of the canoe men on the bank were carried away by the water, and when the King's messenger arrived on the bank there was no way for him to get across.
He sat down sadly and wondered what he should do (for a King's messenger cannot return until he has fulfilled his mission), when an old hippo came up and asked him what was the matter.
The man said: "I am the King's messenger, and I am taking an order to the chiefs of Busoga, but the storm has swept away the canoes and I cannot cross."
Then the hippo said: "Wait until the storm is over and we will help you across."
And he went away and called all the other hippos together, and they came where the King's messenger sat. And when the storm was over and the sun shone brightly again the hippos went down into the water, and they made a floating bridge with their bodies and the King's messenger went over safely.
And now if you go to the Ripon Falls you will see a notice:
VISITORS ARE REQUESTED
NOT TO SHOOT
And on moonlight nights when the Great Lake stretches like a sheet of silver away to the horizon, and the water dashes over the Falls sending showers of silver sparks against the rocks, the hippos climb slowly up the bank and read this notice and rejoice, for they remember the days of the good King who protected the animals, and they think he has come back to rule over the land.