The Friendship of the Bat and the Rat and How the Rat Stole the Bat’s Wings
Long ago the rat (‘iole) was jealous of the bat (pe’a) because the bat had wings and could fly and the rat could only crawl on the ground. This was the plan of the rat. For several days the rat watched the bat and saw that the bat would eat from a tree which is called ngalu. Then the rat climbed the tree and waited for the bat to come. When the bat came to the tree he saw that the rat was in the tree so he flew to another tree and was eating the fruit of that tree.
The rat climbed down the ngalu tree and went and climbed up the other tree. When the bat saw the rat climbing up after him he flew away. As he flew away the rat called out to the bat, “Sir Bat, do not fly away, because you see, you have been eating illegally from this tree. This is my tree.” The bat flew back and said, “Sir Rat, perhaps you are right. I have been eating from your tree.” The rat answered, “But do not be worried Sir Bat. You see, I will let you eat from my tree because I think that we should be friends.” So the bat said, “That is good, we should be friends,” and the rat started to eat the fruit of the tree.
As he was eating the rat was talking to him. The rat said, “Sir Bat, when you fly so high, aren’t you scared?”
The bat said, “No. I am not scared.”
“You are not scared at all?”
“No. I am not scared.”
Then the rat said, “Sir Bat, feel sorry for me. Let me borrow your wings, because I want to know what it is like to fly and I want to see if we are really friends.” The bat agreed to this and he took off his wings and fastened them to the rat. Then the rat said, “Hold my feet and my tail so that they do not interfere when I fly.” So the bat removed the rat’s feet and tail and he put them on himself.
The bat cautioned the rat: “Do not fly too far I need to go soon.” The rat said, “I will fly over to that tree over there and then I will come back. Eat from my tree until you are full.”
Then the bat flew, far, far away and he did not return. The bat then said, “Aue!
Aue! Aue! (Oh dear! Oh dear! Oh dear!). The rat has taken my wings and is not returning.”
From that time forth, what we call the rat is the bat and he crawls on the ground and what we call the bat is the rat and he flies through the air. In Samoa, if a chief is fooled by another chief acting like a friend, the other chiefs will say to the chief who was fooled, “Didn’t you know about the friendship between the rat and the bat?”
Here is another story about a chief who did not know about the friendship between the rat and the bat. (hyperlink here)
(From the English translation of “The Samoa Islands” by Dr. Augustin Kramer)
Revised: March 1, 1996
Copyright © 1996 Daniel (Taniera) Longstaff