Written By: Carol Reinsma

Ambe lived in a hut with his mother, father, and eight brothers and sisters.

“Too many mouths to feed,” Mama said.

Papa said, “Ambe is twelve-years-old now. It’s time for him to find work that brings in food.”

All of Ambe’s brothers and sisters shouted, “No!”

“Ambe feeds us with stories,” the youngest said.

The next said, “we never feel hungry when Ambe tells a tale.”

Mama tipped over an empty dish. “If stories filled bowls, we’d have corn, potatoes and rice flowing like rivers.”

Seeing that Mama was right, Ambe decided he must do something. But what?

He set out in search of food. Perhaps a mango or a banana had fallen from a rich man’s tree. He searched the ground underneath a dozen trees. But the only fruit he saw was what was in the trees. No, he would not become a thief by taking what was not his.

The sun beat down on him. His tongue waggled like a dry leaf. “Sun,” he shouted, “you are very strong. Your heat makes the plants grow. Could you shine on my way to food?”

Giggling voices reached his ears from up in a mango tree. High in the branches, he saw boys with mango juice dripping down their chins.

“Stop eating mangoes that are not yours,” he shouted.

One of the naughty boys threw down a mango stone. “Why would we listen to someone who talks to the sun?”

“Come down out of that tree and I’ll tell you a story. If you don’t you’ll be like Bat and never see the sun again.”

The boys dropped out of the tree faster than overripe mangoes.

Ambe began the story. “Bat had no respect for Sun’s time in the sky. Because Sun did not listen to Bat’s demand to stay out longer, Bat flew into a cave and never came out again when Sun appeared in the sky. And you,” Ambe said in a dark low voice, “will have to hide in damp and musty caves with the bats when the owner catches you eating mangoes.”

The boys covered their ears as if bats attacked them. Then they ran fast and far from the mango tree.

The owner of the trees came running to Ambe. “You have saved my mangoes from the thieves. How did you do it?”

“I just told a story,” Ambe said, “one that Storytalker whispered in my ear.”

The man scratched his head. “That is a humble answer. It deserves a reward. What would you like?”

“Please, just give me work that could earn food for my family.”

“As sure as the corn grows thick in my fields, we have a deal,” the farmer said.

After a noon’s day of work, the farmer gave Ambe a sack of corn.

At home, Mama roasted the corn and Ambe told another story. It was about Sun’s friendship with the corn in the field and the mangoes in the trees.

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