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A short story by Dean S. Fansler

The Humming-Bird And The Carabao

Title:     The Humming-Bird And The Carabao
Author: Dean S. Fansler [More Titles by Fansler]

Narrated by Eusebio Lopez, a Tagalog from the province of Cavite.

One hot April morning a carabao (water-buffalo) was resting under the shade of a quinine-tree which grew near the mouth of a large river, when a humming-bird alighted on one of the small branches above him.

"How do you do, Friend Carabao?" said the humming-bird.

"I'm very well, little Hum. Do you also feel the heat of this April morning?" replied the carabao.

"Indeed, I do, Friend Carabao! and I am so thirsty, that I have come down to drink."

"I wonder how much you can drink!" said the carabao jestingly. "You are so small, that a drop ought to be more than enough to satisfy you."

"Yes, Friend Carabao?" answered little Hum as if surprised. "I bet you that I can drink more than you can!"

"What, you drink more than I can, you little Hum!"

"Yes, let us try! You drink first, and we shall see."

So old carabao, ignorant of the trick that was being played on him, walked to the bank of the river and began to drink. He drank and drank and drank; but it so happened that the tide was rising, and, no matter how much he swallowed, the water in the river kept getting higher and higher. At last he could drink no more, and the humming-bird began to tease him.

"Why, Friend Carabao, you have not drunk anything. It seems to me that you have added more water to the river instead."

"You fool!" answered the carabao angrily, "can't you see that my stomach is almost bursting?"

"Well, I don't know. I only know that you have added more water than there was before. But it is now my turn to drink."

But the humming-bird only pretended to drink. He knew that the tide would soon be going out, so he just put his bill in the water, and waited until the tide did begin to ebb. The water of the river began to fall also. The carabao noticed the change, but he could not comprehend it. He was surprised, and agreed that he had been beaten. Little Hum flew away, leaving poor old Carabao stupefied and hardly able to move, because of the great quantity of water he had drunk.



That this story was not imported from the Occident is pretty clearly established by the existence in North Borneo of a tale almost identical with it. The Borneo fable, which is told as a "just-so" story, and is entitled "The Kandowei [rice-bird] and the Kerbau [carabao]," may be found in Evans (pp. 423-424). It runs about as follows:--

The bird said to the buffalo, "If I were to drink the water of a stream, I could drink it all."--"I also," said the buffalo, "could finish it; for I am very big, while you are very small."--"Very well," said the bird, "tomorrow we will drink." In the morning, when the water was coming down in flood, the bird told the buffalo to drink first. The buffalo drank and drank; but the water only came down the faster, and at length he was forced to stop. So the buffalo said to the bird, "You can take my place and try, for I cannot finish." Now, the bird waited till the flood had gone down; and when it had done so, he put his beak into the water and pretended to drink. Then he waited till all the water had run away out of the stream, and said to the buffalo, "See, I have finished it!" And since the bird outwitted the buffalo in this manner, the buffalo has become his slave, and the bird rides on his back.

I know of no other Philippine versions, but I dare say that many exist between Luzon and Mindanao.

[The end]
Dean S. Fansler's short story: Humming-Bird And The Carabao