Legodu looked over toward the tree. Kgatwe slapped a foot over Lesedi’s mouth. Legodu started to walk over to the fig tree and Lesedi and Kgatwe held their breath. He was just bending down to peer through the crack when Mrs. Noto let off an even worse stream of insults. This was too much for Legodu; he spread his wings and tried to fly up to the nest. But Mrs. Noto had been clever and built her nest in the fork of the Rain Tree with branches all around, so this proved to be an impossible task for the eagle. He was far too big and couldn’t maneuver his way in. Mrs. Noto danced up and down in glee, making up even more insults as she went along. She wasn’t too worried about the snake. She hadn’t started a family yet so there were no baby chicks or eggs to steal. Lesedi was worried, though. His Ivory Palm Nut was in that nest and that looked just like an egg.
“Kgatwe, do something!” he whispered in a voice verging on panic.
“Do what?” whispered back Kgatwe impatiently. “There is no immediate danger. Mrs. Noto doesn’t have any eggs or chicks in the nest and Legodu can’t get at her.”
“The Ivory Palm Nut is in there!” Lesedi’s voice was now getting beyond a whisper again.
“The Ivory Palm Nut!” exclaimed Kgatwe, also forgetting to whisper. “You put the Ivory Palm Nut in Mrs. Noto’s nest? Whatever made you do that?”
“Well, it seemed the most sensible place,” said Lesedi in a small voice. “It’s such a mess she wouldn’t have noticed, and nobody steals anything from there.”
“Well, that snake will! He is going to think that Nut is an egg. Not very bright that one, just a big thug, that’s why Legodu uses him.”
As Kgatwe said that, the snake had reached the nest and was starting to poke its head inside. Mrs. Noto was still dancing around, flinging the odd insult and in-between calling on her starling friends to come and harass the snake. They arrived and started their dive bombing tactics but it was too late. The snake’s head emerged from the nest with the ivory palm nut in its mouth!
Lesedi went cold. “Kgatwe!” he shrieked, forgetting all caution. He looked around frantically for the gecko, but Kgatwe was gone. He had squeezed out of the crack and was scuttling as fast as his legs would carry him towards the Rain Tree. Lesedi suddenly felt very alone and very scared. What if the Eagle or the snake got Kgatwe? Besides losing his friend he might be left this size forever! How would he explain this to his grandfather? Worse still how would he explain the missing ivory palm nut, and how would he get back to the village anyway? Being this small all number of things could make a snack out of him. The only good thing about this whole mess was that his Aunt Matilda wouldn’t be able to drag him off to school.
He peered anxiously out of the fig tree. Kgatwe had reached the Rain Tree and was climbing up it. He was hoping that if he bit the snake on the tail he would shrink it but he wasn’t too sure if he could do this; he hadn’t had any practice on snakes. If he didn’t manage to shrink it maybe it would get a fright and drop the Nut. There was quite a commotion going on. Legodu was shouting at the snake to come down with the Nut, the starlings were dive bombing the snake with excited shrieks, and Mrs. Noto was jumping up and down on her nest yelling as many rude things as she could think of. She was also wondering how the ivory palm nut had come to be in her nest.
“You didn’t tell us you were in the family way,” said one of the starlings rather cheekily.
“That’s not an egg!” she snapped at the starling, irritated that this dumb bird could mistake a palm nut for one of her precious eggs. “It’s an ivory palm nut!”
“Ivory palm nut? What’s that doing in there?” he said with a cackle. Mrs. Noto didn’t answer. She didn’t remember putting it there, and she couldn’t quite see how she could have; it was far too big for her to carry in her beak.
In the meantime the snake was swaying all over the place with the palm nut in its mouth. It was trying to dodge the starlings’ attacks and all the smaller birds that were joining in with their nasty, sharp little beaks. Legodu, who had now had enough of this place and didn’t realise the significance of the palm nut, started shouting at the snake to drop the nut and come down so that they could get out of there. The starlings and all the rest of the birds had increased in numbers and were now dive bombing him as well. Pesky little creatures, he would make sure to have a few of them for dinner when he was in a better position. Just as the snake was about to drop the palm nut Kgatwe reached it and grabbing onto the end of its tail he bit in as hard as he could. The snake, getting a huge fright, completely lost its balance and after frantically flailing around trying to regain it, it fell through the branches and hit the ground with a heavy thud, Kgatwe still valiantly hanging on. As the snake hit the ground Lesedi stared in horror. It had swallowed the ivory palm nut. Lesedi could see it slowly making its way down the inside of the snake’s body. Kgatwe had landed in a pile of elephant dung and was far too busy trying to extricate himself to notice this new disaster. As Lesedi watched, Legodu flew up in the air shaking off the starlings. He then swooped down and picked up the snake. As he cleared the trees, the snake swinging underneath him, he turned towards the west. The west, the direction of The Hills, The Hills where Bosula was said to be.
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