Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Elephant and the Bees

Once a forest fire raged through the forest.
The elephants were terrified.
They did not know which way to go to escape.

Just then a cloud of bees buzzed over their heads.
“Oh Bees! Bees!
Help us escape!
You can fly high in the air and see where the flames are coming.
Tell us which way to go!”

“Bzzzz Bzzzz sure. We’ll help you.”

The bees flew high into the air.
They looked to the east.
They looked to the west.
They looked to the south.
They looked to the north.
Ohhhh. There was a river.
The elephants could be safe there.

“Come on elephants.
We will lead you to safety.
Follow us!”

And they led the way.
Up the hill.
Down the hill.
Right over the river!

“Wade on in elephants!
You will be safe here!”

The elephants waded into the deep water until only the tips of their little noses were showing.
In those days the elephants had short, short a pig!

Just then the flames came over the hilltop and the smoke began to billow down the hill.

“Oh, HELP! HELP!” buzzed the bees.
“This smoke will kill US!
We saved YOU, elephants.
Now you must save US.
Open your mouths!
Open your mouths and let us come inside so we will be safe from the smoke!”

Open our mouths?”
But the elephants had to repay the bees.
So they opened their mouths wide.
The bees all went inside the elephant’s heads.
The elephants closed their mouths.
Now their heads sounded like “bzzzzzzzzzzz.....” inside!

But they kept their mouths shut to save the bees.
The flames roared down the hill.
When they came to the river the flames JUMPED the river
and roared up the other hill and away.

When the smoke had cleared away the elephants opened their mouths.
“Okay bees! You can come out now.”

“Bzzzzzzz.....never mind.....we LIKE it in here.” Said the bees.
“It is nice and warm and moist and dark.
We are going to stay here and make our honey!”

The elephant’s heads were going “Bzzzzzzzz.....”
They thought they would go crazy!

“Oh my goodness. We HAVE to get those bees out.
What will we do?”

“I know! We can WASH them out!”

“Good idea!”

The elephants each took a BIG mouthful of water and BLEW it out their NOSES!
“Prae Praen!
Prae Praen!
Prae Praen!”

It didn’t work.

“Try harder, elephants!”

“Prae Praen!
Prae Praen!
Prae Praen!”

“It isn’t working!

“Prae Praen!
Prae Praen!
Prae Praen!”

Look what is happening to our NOSES!”

Everytime the elephants blew...their noses got a little longer!
Now they were almost touching the ground!

“This isn’t working.
We have to think of something else.

The bees were afraid of smoke.
Maybe we could SMOKE them out.

The elephants built a little smokey fire.
They all leaned over it and each took a deep breath....and HELD it.

It worked!
Those bees couldn’t stand that smoke.
They flew right out of the elephant’s long noses.
But the bees had really liked living inside the elephant’s heads.
So to this day they make their homes inside hollow trees in the forest.
They look for a dark hole shaped just like the inside of an elephant’s head.
They are called Phung Phrong.

And the elephants...
sometimes they feel as if those bees are STILL crawling around inside their heads.
When that happens they just suck up lots of water and squirt it out their noses to WASH OUT ALL THE

So if you see an elephant squirting water around, tell him “Don’t worry, Mr. Elephant.
The bees are all gone.
The bees are all gone.”
Notes on tale: This story is retold from The Elephants and the Bees in Thai Tales: Folktales of Thailand by Supaporn Vathanaprida, edited by Margaret Read MacDonald (Libraries Unlimited, 1994). The story was shaped by the Mahasarakham Storytelling Troupe through repeated tandem tellings, and especially by Prasong Saihong and Dr. Wajuppa Tossa.
Contributed by
Margaret Read MacDonald

[ Retold from Thai Tales by Supaporn Vathanaprida, Ed. by Margaret Read MacDonald (Libraries Unlimited, 1994). New telling copyright Wajuppa Tossa and Margaret Read MacDonald.]


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