Once upon a time there lived a poor man named Malcolm who hunted for his food. Indeed, his hunting skills were so poor that he sometimes felt as if the whole world laughed at him. Even the animals seemed to make fun of him. The baboons laughed and the hyena did too, for even they were better hunters.
However, he was a kind man -- decent and soft-spoken, and he was forever doing nice deeds to help others. When he had good luck, he shared it with the villagers. But mostly Malcolm lived on water and the meat of rats and mice, and he dressed in the skins of the rats and mice.
One warm spring day Malcolm had been hunting for many hours, and he was hot and tired and hungry. He hadn't caught even a mouse, and when he came upon a sausage tree, he sat down beneath its shade to rest. Before long he fell fast asleep, and he began to dream. In his dream there was a beautiful woman, and she became his wife. In his dream there was a large tribe, and he became their chief. In his dream he lived in great comfort, never hungry, never tired, never alone.
Suddenly the wind blew through the tree, and one of the fruits of the sausage tree crashed to the ground and woke Malcolm. To his amazement he found an enormous ostrich egg beside the fruit.
"The ostrich ought to be guarding her egg," he said aloud. He looked to his right and to his left, but he saw no ostrich anywhere. He could not resist, so he picked up the egg and carried it back to his hut.
"This egg would taste delicious," he said to no one, for there was no one near him to talk to. He was just about to crack the egg open when he stopped himself. It was so white and round, pure and beautiful, he couldn't imagine harming it. And so he left the egg alone and went to sleep.
The next morning when he saw the egg, he once again thought how good it would taste. But, once again, he was awed by its purity and loveliness, and so he left it alone and went out to hunt.
That evening when he came home, he was amazed to find a loaf of fresh brown bread. "What's this?" he said aloud, but of course nobody answered. When he reached to touch the bread, he found it was still warm and its scent was so delightful that he could not resist. He tore off a piece and ate it.
"I've never tasted anything so delicious," he said aloud, though he knew there was no one to hear him. He ate another piece, and another, and soon the whole loaf was gone.
He fell asleep happy and full. When he woke, he thought he must have dreamed just as he had dreamed beneath the sausage tree. But, to his amazement, he found another loaf of bread, and this time a bowl of steaming soup was beside it.
"What's this?" he asked aloud, and this time, even more surprising, he heard a voice answer. "It's bread and soup I've made for you," the voice said.
He turned to find a beautiful woman standing beside the ostrich egg, which was cracked wide open. "Malcolm, you are a kind and generous man, and I will make you happy for the rest of your life. Marry me and I will always make your favorite food and cook you soup."
Malcolm could not believe his eyes and ears. "How can this be? An ostrich egg's daughter cannot speak or cook or marry me," he said.
"I will make you happy, Malcolm," she said. "You must promise only this: You will never call me the daughter of an ostrich egg."
The gorgeous woman leaned in and kissed him, and Malcolm was the happiest man in the whole world. "I promise," he said.
And so they married.
From that day on, Malcolm was never hungry. Whenever he wished for anything, his wife made it for him. For many years they lived in great happiness, and then one day Malcolm remembered his dream. "I once wished to be a chief," he said to his wife.
"Your wish will be granted," she said. To Malcolm's astonishment, his wife walked outside, beat the dirt with a stick, and moments later they were surrounded by people building huts, herds of cattle and flocks of goats and sheep. And Malcolm was their chief.
They lived this way for many more years, and Malcolm became a wealthy man, and he enjoyed the fine life, but as time passed, he longed to have more. "If one herd of cows is good," he said to his wife, "two is better."
For the first time his wife shook her head. "That may not be true," she said.
Malcolm had become accustomed to his wife's sweetness, generosity and kind words, so this shocked him. "Why do you disagree with me?" he asked.
"Because you might be wrong," she said.
Suddenly Malcolm could not contain himself. After all, he thought, he was the chief. "How would you know?" he asked, growing angry.
"Because I know," she said.
Malcolm could not stop himself. He burst out laughing and without thinking, he said, "But you're only the daughter of an ostrich egg!"
And in a flash he was alone again, living in his hut, wearing his old tattered rat skins. There were no people around anywhere -- no cattle, no goats and no wife.
He understood that he had, indeed, been mistaken to let greed and anger get the better of him and to break his promise to his wife.