Big Bird in the Kola Tree

Big Bird lives in the forest and sits in a kola tree. He bites, and he has big pepper. Spider found the tree and began climbing in it to get nuts. Big Bird put pepper in Spider’s eyes and Spider fell to the ground. He lay there for a time with bad eyes; then he rose and returned to his town. He said to Black Deer:

“Let us go and pick kola nuts.”

They went together to the tree. Spider told Black Deer to climb. Deer Climbed up into the branches and found Big Bird sitting there. Big Bird threw pepper in his eyes and he fell to the ground and began to cry. Spider took a big stick and began to beat him. Deer could not see, the pepper burned his eyes. He begged Spider not to beat him, but Spider kept on beating him and at last he killed Deer. He cut the meat and carried it home to his family.

Next day Spider said to Red Deer: “Let us go to pick kola nuts.”

Red Deer went with him. Red Deer fell from the tree with pepper in his eyes, and Spider killed him and cut the meat. In this way many animals died. One day Spider invited Pigmy Antelope to pick kola nuts in the forest. Antelope is a wise animal who knows too many secrets. He went with Spider to the kola tree. He saw the tracks of many animals leading to the tree, but none led away from it. Antelope thought there must be a Thing in the tree which ate animals. When Spider asked him to climb he said:

“Spider, this kola tree belongs to you. You know where the best nuts are. You climb first.”

Spider began climbing. He tried to hide from Big Bird, but Big Bird saw him there and dropped much pepper in his eyes. Spider also had pepper, and threw his pepper in Big Bird’s eyes. Spider fell down. Big Bird fell down. Antelope killed Big Bird, and when Spider could see again he said:

“Antelope, you’ve killed Big Bird. That makes big palava.”
They dug a hole and buried Big Bird, and Spider said again:
“Give me all your kola nuts and I will tell no one what I have seen.”

Antelope gave all his nuts to Spider and they returned to town. But after a little while Spider went back to the kola tree and took Big Bird. He carried Big Bird home that night and gave the body to his wife to cook. He tied a rope about his leg and said:

“Wife, when Big Bird is cooked, pull on this rope and I will come.”

He went outside to play. Antelope saw the rope tied to his leg and thought about it. He cut the rope and tied it to his own leg to see what might happen. Presently he felt someone pulling on the rope, and went into Spider’s house. All was darkness; he could see nothing, and no one could see him. Spider’s wife heard him there, and said:

“Spider, here is your rice and meat.”

Antelope ate. When he had finished all Big Bird and the rice as well he went outside. Spider became hungry and went in to his wife.

“Where is my rice and meat?”

“Are you mad? How many birds did you give me?”

She told him he had eaten all his food. Spider refused to believe her, and began to beat her. She cried out, and people came.

“What is the matter?” asked Antelope.

“Oh, she cooked crabs and now she can’t find them,” Spider said.

“All this fuss just for a few crabs?”

“It wasn’t crabs! cried Spider’s wife. “It was Big Bird Spider brought me Big Bird to cook, and I cooked. Now Big Bird seems to have eaten the rice I cooked with him, and walked away.”

The cooking of Big Bird caused palaver in the town. Spider was ashamed, and people beat him. He had to go away from the town and live in another place.