The Kitchen in the Sky

During Hungry Season all the animals except Chameleon became quite thin. Baboon was surprised to see that instead of becoming thin Chameleon grew quite fat, and one day he asked him how this could be.

“Every animal has a secret,” said Chameleon, “and that is mine.”

Baboon begged him to tell. “I promise I will tell no other animal,” he said. “I beg you, my good friend, explain how you grow fat while everyone grows thin.”

“Then you must hold to your promise. And especially you must never let Spider know.”

“I promise on my heart’s blood,” Baboon declared, and Chameleon let him know what the secret was.

“The Spirit of my mother lives in the sky,” he said. “Every day she lowers a rope so that I can climb up and eat some of the fine food she has.”

“That is a fine idea,” said Baboon. “I would like to climb up too.”

The following day he went with Chameleon to a secret place, climbed the rope, ate his fill, and returned to earth with his friend. Baboon was excited about his trip to the sky; he forgot about his promise and began telling all the other animals about Chameleon’s rope. Spider heard, Deer heard, Possum and Snake and Ground-hog heard, and they decided they would also climb the rope. Next day they all went together to the secret place and arrived before Chameleon. when the rope came down they began to climb, and as more and more animals swarmed up towards the sky Mother Chameleon wondered why the rope was becoming so heavy. She had to hold the rope, and although she was very strong her tail began to curl in knots with the effort of holding on.

When most of the animals were halfway up Elephant came along. He had not heard about the rope, but he thought that everyone had found an easy way to heaven, so he seized the rope and also began to climb this was too much for poor Mother Chameleon: she almost swooned with the effort of bearing Elephant’s weight as well, and the rope slipped from her hands.

All the animals fell down. Baboon fell on top of Elephant, and everyone also fell on Baboon; he landed so hard on Elephant’s upturned foot that his bottom has been pink and tender ever since. Chameleon saw what had happened and knew that Baboon had betrayed him. He went away to hide in the forest; he learned to change his color whenever anyone approached, and thereafter he was invisible. He would creep slowly every day to another secret place where his mother would lower the rope, and no one has ever found out where it is.