The people in the village were very excited. "Tanko the great storyteller is coming!" they shouted. Men, women, and children ran to greet him. They all gathered in the biggest hut to hear Tanko's story. There was a place for everyone to sit.
Tanko appeared in a large yellow robe. He greeted the people by singing a song. "Ai Ei!" the notes rang out. To welcome Tanko as a guest, the villagers made him a large bowl of yams. After he finished eating the yams, he sat quietly on the floor of the hut.
Tanko then took a small drum out of his big bag, which was made from tiger's skin. He began to tap on the drum, tita, tita, tita. Everyone loved the sound of the drum. "What story will you tell?" asked an elder in the village.
"I will tell the story of the great King Leopard," said Tanko. And that is when he began to tell his unusual tale.
Long ago in the land of animals, there were tribes of animals that lived together in harmony. All the animals could talk, and there was a king who ruled over them. The king had a very beautiful daughter, the Leopard Princess. All the animals obeyed the king.
One day, King Leopard said, "Who will rule the animal kingdom when I am gone? I must find someone who is wise and compassionate. He will also marry my pretty daughter, the Leopard Princess."
After King Leopard made his announcement, he had a great feast. Everyone danced and ate okra and rice. After the dancing and eating, the guests gathered in a circle.
King Leopard told them, "To become the prince and to marry my daughter, the smartest beast must throw a spear into the air and count to ten before it falls."
Everyone whispered, "Oh, who will be prince?"
Many beasts in the jungle wanted to throw the spear to become prince and to marry King Leopard's pretty daughter. The first to throw the king's spear was the elephant. The elephant was the biggest and strongest beast in the jungle.
"I will throw the king's spear the highest and count to ten before it lands," the elephant shouted. But he was too clumsy, and his body was heavy. When he threw the spear into the sky, he only counted, "One, two, three," before the king's spear landed on the ground. The elephant was very embarrassed. He had lost the contest.
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