The Jaguar and the Little Skunk
Mayan Folk Tale
Once there was a gentleman jaguar and a lady skunk. Mrs. Skunk had a son, who was baptized by Mr. Jaguar, so Mrs. Skunk became his comadre (godmother). And as Mr. Jaguar had baptized the little skunk, he was Mrs. Skunk’s compadre (godfather).
Mr. Jaguar decided to go looking for food and came to Mrs. Skunk’s house.
“Well, compadre, what are you looking for? What have you come here for?” the skunk asked the jaguar.
“Comadre, what I have come to do is to look for some food,” said Mr. Jaguar.
“Oh,” said Mrs. Skunk.
“I want my godson to come with me so that he can learn to hunt,” said Mr. Jaguar.
“I don’t think your godson ought to go; he’s still very small and something could happen to him. He better not go, compadre,” said Mrs. Skunk. But the little skunk protested:
“No, mother, I had better go. What my godfather says is true. I need to get some practice, if I’m going to learn to hunt,” said the little skunk.
“But if you go, you’ll be so far away,” said Mrs. Skunk.
“I’m going, I’m going. Come on, let’s go.” So they set off on a long walk.
“We’re going to where there’s a river. That’s where we’re going,” Mr. Jaguar explained to the little skunk, his godson.
“When are we going to get there?” asked the little skunk.
“We’re getting close. Follow me so you won’t get lost,” said Mr. Jaguar.
“All right,” answered the little skunk. They finally came to the river.
“This is where we’re going to eat,” said Mr. Jaguar to the little skunk.
“All right,” said the little skunk.
“Come on over here. I’m going to sharpen my knife,” said Mr. Jaguar.
“All right,” said the little skunk, looking at his godfather.
Mr. Jaguar sharpened his claws, which he called his “knife.”
“I sharpened my knife. Now you’re going to be on guard, because I am going to sleep. When you see them come, wake me up,” said Mr. Jaguar.
“All right,” said the little skunk, “all right, godfather.”
Then Mr. Jaguar told him: “Don’t shout. Just scratch my belly when they come. Scratch my belly, so I won’t alarm them. But don’t wake me up if just any little old animals without antlers come along, only when the one with big antlers gets here. That’s when you’ll wake me up.”
“All right,” said the little skunk. Then the one with the big antlers came, and the skunk awakened Mr. Jaguar. He scratched his belly, and pointed out the deer to Mr. Jaguar, who attacked the animal with big antlers. He went after him and seized him.
“All right, my godson, let’s eat. We’re going to eat meat,” said the jaguar.
“All right,” said the little skunk. And so they ate and ate.
“Now we’re going to take whatever leftovers there are to your mother,” said the jaguar.
“Since we are full, we can take something to your mother. Your mother will have meat to eat, just as we did. We will take some to your mother,” said the jaguar. When they came back to the mother’s house, he told the lady:
“Look at the food here. Look, we’ve brought you some food, the food that we hunted. Eat your fill of the meat, comadre,” the jaguar said to Mrs. Skunk.
“All right,” said the skunk, and ate the meat.
“I’m full,” she said.
“It’s good that you’re satisfied. I’ve seen that you are, so I’ll be leaving now,” said Mr. Jaguar to Mrs. Skunk. And so he left.
After the jaguar left, the little skunk stayed with his mother.
When they ran out of meat, Mrs. Skunk said to her son: Dear, our meat is all gone.”
“Yes, the meat is all gone. I better go and get us some more food,” said the little skunk.
“How can you, son? Do you think you’re big enough? You’re very small. Don’t you think you’ll be killed?” asked Mrs. Skunk.
“No, mother, I already know how to hunt, my godfather taught me how,” replied the little skunk.
“I’m leaving now.” He left, and Mrs. Skunk was very worried.
Her son came once more to the river, the place to which he had come with his godfather to get the meat.
“This is how my godfather did it. Why shouldn’t I be able to do the same thing?” said the little skunk.
“This is how you sharpen a knife,” said the little skunk. He sharpened his “knife.”
“This is the way my godfather did it. I’m not going to hunt the little animals, I’m just going to hunt the one with the great big antlers. I’m going to hunt one for myself just like the one I ate with my godfather. I have my knife here and I’m going to sleep for a little while.” The little skunk lay down to sleep, but then he awakened. He was waiting for the one with the big antlers, and when he came, he attacked him, thinking he was as strong as his godfather. But he just hung from the neck of the one with big antlers. His claws had dug into his skin. He was hanging from his neck and was carried far away and fell on his back. He was left with his mouth wide open.
Since he had not come home to his mother, she wondered: “What could have happened to my son? Why hasn’t he come back yet? Something must have happened to him. I better go and look for him.”
And so Mrs. Skunk went as far as the bank of the river. She was looking everywhere for her son, but couldn’t find him. She began to cry when she found the tracks where the one with the big antlers had come by running.
“They must have come by here,” said Mrs. Skunk, and began to follow the tracks.
She came to the place where her son had been left lying on his back. When the mother caught sight of him, she noticed that his teeth were showing and shouted at him: “Son, what are you laughing at? All your teeth are showing,” she said to him before she had gotten very close. When she did get close she told him: “Give me your hand. I’ve come to get you, but you’re just laughing in my face.” She put her hand on him, thinking that he was still alive, but when she noticed that he was already dead, she began to cry.