The Terrible End of Catfish

Catfish and Rice Bird were once firm friends. One day Rice Bird said:

“I just saw a farmer cut a hole in the top of a palm wine tree, to catch wine in a bowl. Let us go and steal some.”

“It would be nice,” Catfish agreed, “I am tired of always drinking the same old thing. But you know I cannot fly.”

“I will lend you feathers,” Rice Bird said.

He gave Catfish almost half his feathers, and they managed to fly up to the top of the wine palm, where they drank wine. Then Catfish returned to the river, and gave Rice Bird back his feathers. Thereafter they would fly up to the palm and drink whenever they wished.

There came a time when they drank too much. They became very, very drunk, so drunk that they could hardly move, and while they were lying in the bowl the owner of the wine came. He began to climb the tree.

Catfish and Rice Bird stopped their singing and listened. The farmer climbed closer. They became scared. Rice Bird knew that he could not fly now with only half his feathers, for he was too foolish and full of wine: so he pulled his feathers from Catfish, despite the tearful protests of his friend, and managed to flutter away.

Poor Catfish lay there helplessly in the bowl, sobbing and sobbing. The farmer found him there, and was so astonished to find a fish in his wine bowl at the top of a palm that he almost fell down again. But eventually he just shrugged, carried Catfish home and put him in a pot to cook.

As Catfish was cooking he sadly sang a song: “Sometimes a friend does not intend to help one faithfully. Those with such friends will meet their ends and terrible ends they’ll be.