Walter Skeat went on the Cambridge Expedition to Malaysia in the early part of the 20th century. He collected 26 of these fables, legends, and folk-tales from the inhabitants, and printed them in this book
Some of them are delightful. The Mouse-deer is a frequent subject in the stories. He is the Far-Eastern equivalent of Reynard the Fox, Eulenspiegel, Mercury, and Kokopelli, those trickster heros and gods common to all cultures, in animal or human guise. Several of the fables are common to Western lands as well, with the names or characters appropriately adapted to the muggy jungles and riverbanks of Malaysia.
The sketches by W. H. Townsend are gorgeous, too.
The Notes are full of interesting little tidbits. Skeat adds some of his own personal experiences and observations to some of the stories.
To me, the best, funniest fable, and one that would make a great cartoon, is Tale XVII: The Elephant has a bet with the Tiger.
In the online version, I have incorporated the pertinent Notes at the end of the book to the pertinent story’s page. The original page with all the Notes in one place is on its own page at the end of the online text, as in the printed text.
For convenience, and because many folks will probably not make their way to the Notes at the end, or read all of the Table of Contents, I have incorporated the Map of the Malay Peninsula, the Note on Pronunciation, and the names of the animals in the tail-piece woodcuts at the end of the Introduction. They also retain their usual places on their original pages.
There were only a few typos and these have been emended. You can see the original mistakes in the source-code for the pages.
The book that I have once belonged to the Armstrong College Library, wherever that may be.
And I forgot to scan one of the tail-pieces of an elephant dancing, and will correct that when I am home with my scanner (a long way off). Until then I have put the other elephant tail-piece in its place for now.
Begin the book by clicking on NEXT below.