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November's Borneo Legends & Myths

DAMAK AND THE BLACK HAT
 Text & Images Courtesy of SarawakAlive! 

Damak

Lovely shining stones made of gold

ONCE UPON a time there was a man called Damak. He lived in a little house by the sea.  He caught fish from the sea to eat.  He got money for rice by selling wood.

One day, as he was getting wood, he heard someone calling:

"Help! Help!  Save me, quickly!"

Damak dropped the wood he was carrying, and ran to the water.  There in the sea he saw the girl who was shouting.  She could not swim.  She was drowning.

Damak jumped into the water and pulled her out.  Then he took her back to her house.

Her father gave him a present.  It was a lovely hat.  It was black, like the night.  It was light,  like a feather.  It was a beautiful hat, and Damak loved it.

"If I were a king,"  he said,  " I should not ask for a better crown than this."

It was always on his head.  When the sun was hot, it kept him cool.   When it rained, it kept his head dry.  When he was tired he pulled it over his eyes, and he went to sleep.  When the wind blew he pulled it down low to keep his head warm.

He said he would never give it away.  He said he would keep it always.

But he was wrong!  He did not always keep it.

One day, when he was cutting wood, he heard a loud noise above him.   Damak looked up.  He cried out.  But it was too late.

A great bird came down at him.  Damak put up his arm to keep the bird away.  But he did not hold onto his hat.  The bird took his hat!

"My hat! My lovely black hat!"  cried out Damak.   "Drop it, Great  Bird.  Gave me back my hat."

But birds don'ts listen to words like that! It flew away.  It was gone.

Damak ran after it as fast as he could.  There were big stones, and the path was hard to follow.  Up he went, high up into the hills.

At last he found the big bird.  It was resting.  It did not see him coming.  The hat was beside it.

Up went Damak's axe.  Then down it came, hard.  It went deep into the earth.  But it did not hit the bird.  It had missed it.  The bird flew away, but it left the hat behind.

"It's safe.  I've got it again," shouted Damak loudly.

Damak put his lovely hat back on his head.  He took hold of his axe.   But he could not move it.  It would not come out.  He pulled and he pulled.  At last it was free.

What could he see in the hole it had made?

Gold.  Lovely shining stones made of gold.

Damak filled up his pockets with gold and he filled up his hat!  He took so much that his legs would not carry him.

From that day on he was rich.  He did not go fishing.  He did not get wood.  He had a big house, and he married the girl he had saved from the sea.

He was happy from morning until night.  And still had his hat.  He always wore it.

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