The men of the leopard tribe needed poison"" . . . and so, with the story's first line we are drawn into the beliefs of the Kalahari bushmen where animal spirits are as real as the human bodies they may choose to inhabit. The spirits' power is demonstrated here by the defeat of Marak, a mocking stranger who pretends to be possessed by a leopard in order to murder the band's former leader, usurp his place, and drive his descendants into the arid wastes of the Kalahari. Later, Skankwan, sole survivor of the exiled family and grown to be a superior hunter, revenges himself on Marak's henchman, but it is Marak who causes his own death--charging into a lion's den where Skankwan has been cornered because he thinks his quarry is merely copying his own ruse of animal imitation. The Hobson brothers' tale, which has been read by Afrikaans-speaking South African children since 1930, might initially disappoint readers looking for traditional animal adventure, but its aura of sober strangeness and uncondescending acceptance of the realm of primitive magic are a compelling combination.