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Created On 15 April 2001
Last Updated On 15 April 2001
Copyright © 2001 Simon E. Phipp

Yinkin and the Cocks' Comb [1] This myth is told by the followers of Yinkin around Kero Fin. As far as I know, it is not told by any of the other Cat Peoples of Genertela.
 

Once, when the world was still good, the Cats lived in fear of the Cocks. Whenever the cats caught mice or birds they had to give half to the cocks. Whenever the cats found grain left over from the harvest the cocks came and took whatever they wanted. The cocks just preened their feathers and strutted around, but the cats put up with this for they were afraid of the cocks' bright red combs because they contained the Fires of Heaven and if the cats fought the cocks they would be burned to pieces. [2]

One cold day a great wind came and blew out Mother Cat's hearth fire [3]. She tutted to herself and asked Yinkin to go to the Cock King and beg him for a gift of his fire, so Yinkin set off and travelled to the King Cock's hut at the foot of the Great Mountain. When he arrived he saw that the King Cock had feasted on some fermented grain [4] and lay fast asleep, snoring contentedly. Nervously, Yinkin mewed that he had come to beg for some fire, but the King Cock carried on sleeping. Again he tried, but this time he miaowed but King Cock still did not hear, so he went home and told Cat Mother what had happened. "You must go back and this time take some dried grass with you and, if the King Cock does not hear you, touch the grass to the comb and steal a little of the fire." Yinkin thanked her and went back to the King Cock's house with a tuft of dry grass. He miaowed and miaowed but the King Cock still slept. Plucking up his courage, Yinkin crept towards King Cock on his belly with his tail in the air and touched the grass to King Cock's red comb, but nothing happened. Again and again he tried but the grass did not light. Feeling angry, Yinkin put his paw on the red comb and it felt cold. Yinkin drew his claws and struck King Cock on the face until he woke up. "We don't fear you any more." he said, "We feared you when we thought you combs contained the Fires of Heaven but now we see that you lied to us. There is no fire and there never has been. If you value your life, you must leave this place and never return." King Cock jumped up and ran away, seeking refuge with Old Man [5], and ever since chickens have lived with men, squawking with fear whenever they think a cat is stalking nearby.
 

Notes

1. This was taken from The Truth About Cock's Comb,a folk tale of the Baganda people of central Africa, taken from African Myths and Legends published by Brockhampton Press.

2. Some think that this is a memory of the slavery of the cat people by the bird people under the Emperor.

3. Yinkin is the son of Kero Fin and Father Cat, but in many tales he can be found at Mother Cat's hearth.

4. This is still recognised as a good way of catching chickens.

5. Some say that King Cock found refuge in Yelm's Palace or Orlanth's stead or Ernalda's Halls or Barntar's farmyard, but the result is still the same.

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