A Bulu folktale from Africa
(This story was submitted to us by Batsy Bybell.)
Once hunger came to the village, the colony, and home of Bat. No rain fell, no flowers bloomed, no fruit grew deep in the tall forest. Batís people were dying of hunger and he knew something had to be done. One night Bat spread his thin wings and fluttered across the sky, searching for food, searching for nectar, searching for life. All that night he fluttered -- up and down, up and down, up and down, pumping his strong long wings frantically. He flew high and low -- constantly seeking, searching, spying for anything to eat. But wait, at one spot he smelled a tantalizing aroma coming from deep inside a tree. He found it was honey hidden away inside a huge hollow tree. Bat landed on the bark and peered around for an entrance. But even as small as he was, no matter how hard he tried to squeeze through the hole into the cavity, he was still too large to fit inside.
What to do, what to do, what to do? Bat thought all through the dark night and into the morning. And then he called on the antelope, called on the leopard, called on the elephant to come and help him. He called them to bring their sharp horns, keen claws, and long tusks. If they worked together, they could push the tree all the way over onto the ground. Push ho, push ho, push ho -- down crashed the tree with a deafening boom. And as it fell, a slim crack opened to the honey.
"Now, letís divide the honey up. Each portion according to size," declared the elephant, remembering how Bat had beat him earlier in a wrestling match. That sounded fair and reasonable to the antelope and leopard, as they greedily realized how much smaller Batís meal would be.
"No, no, that wonít work!" argued Bat. "I need to return to my colony to bring them all here to share with me. If you just wait until tomorrowís dawn, we can divide the honey by the light of day." But when night fell later on, Bat climbed inside the hollow tree and began fluttering, flapping, flitting his slender wings back and forth as fast as he could. He started screaming loudly, "Whu-uh, whu-uh, whu-uh!" The sound echoed through the forest. Faster and louder the weird noise spread in widening circles. The other animals woke up in fright, wondering what was happening around them. They had never heard anything as strange as the sound reverberating throughout the dark forest. They were so scared that they ran away in fright, disappearing into the deep night. Bat came out of the tree, well pleased with his trickery, and took all the honey home to his colony. The feasting lasted for a long time. But as for antelope, leopard, and elephant -- Bat remembers well how he tricked them out of their share of the honey and stays out of their way during the day, preferring instead to fly during the long nights in the deep forest.