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Stilts, Part 2

Not based on true events

“Why do they all have stilts while we are given stumps?” repeated the Black Rhinoceros calf. After a moments silence, without turning her head from the view beyond, his mother replied slowly, “Let me see...” then, quickening her speech, she turned to her calf. “The majestic Giraffes, they must reach the tops of the highest trees so that those who are shorter do not take their food. There is competition if all feed at the same level, and that spells trouble.”

“How can it spell trouble? It is not part of the alphabet.” interrupted her son suddenly. The  mother cast a severe eye upon her young one, but it was a gentle eye still. “Allow me to finish the only question I will answer, my calf.” spoke she “Now, where was I? Ah, the Western Tessebe. Like all antelope, they must flee its predators, and its lengthy limbs aid it. As for the others, I do not know.”

“Then how am I to have my question answered?” Whined the calf, infinitely disappointed. His mother again began to lumber forward through the grasses, and as she did so, she called for her little one. With a scramble, he scampered up beside her, and heard these words: “My child,” She said, “You may ask owners of stilts: the Mantis, and the Secretary Bird, when you meet them on our travels.”

And so, as they trudged their way, the youngster made sure to keep his snout and eyes fixed unwavering to the ground in search of a Mantid. A great  deal  of dry dust wafted into his down-pointed nostrils and he many times found himself running headfirst into a boulder while he walked in this awkward position. But he was rewarded for his efforts. For there at his feet was a praying mantis, his pious limbs folded and his bulbous eyes focused intently on a nearby Katydid. “Why do you have such long legs?” inquired  the calf softly, leaning towards the insect.

The Mantid said nothing, but most rudely ignored his interrogator. Suddenly, there was a flash and the prayerful front limbs of the Mantis shot out and snatched the Katydid at lightening speed.

A thrill came through the rhino child when he beheld this wonder, for he believed that now he knew the reason for the Mantid’s lengthy legs-the first pair at least. He rushed to his mother who was far ahead, and gleefully told all. Then distracted with exultation, he tripped over a thick rope of bent grass and while sprawled upon the dirty ground, he now wondered why Secretary Birds have stilts.

To be continued...

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Wednesday October 28, 2020