Once upon a time, the people of Bembole decided to build a new community house. They took a vote and agreed it should be built of logs. But after the vote, they began to discuss what they needed.
"If we're to build a house of logs, we'll need logs," someone said.
"That means we'll have to go into the forest and cut down trees," another said.
"Agreed," said another, "and that means work."
"It does," everyone said.
For the next few hours, they talked about the work they had to do and the equipment they needed. "I have a sledge to pull the logs," someone said.
"And we'll need axes. All the axes we have," said another.
And so they gathered everything they needed and decided to meet at dawn the next morning to go into the forest to work.
When they were gathered, one of the men stood up and said, "Everyone knows I'm the smartest of all of us, so I'll ride the horse and pull the sledge," and off he went on the horse pulling the sledge, with his ax in the sledge.
The other men, their axes in hand, set off walking after him, but they were walking slowly, and before long they could no longer see the smart man, his horse and the sledge. They stopped to talk about this. "Do you think we should keep going?" someone asked.
"I do," one of them said.
"Perhaps," said another.
And for the next hour they argued. Some said yes. Some said no. They couldn't seem to agree.
Meanwhile, the smartest man crossed a bump in the road, and the sledge leapt up in the air, and the ax fell off the sledge. The smart man, smart as he was, didn't notice, so he left his ax behind.
After a while, the other men decided to go on, and so they walked and walked. After a long while, they came to the spot where the smart man's ax lay in the mud. "Look at this," one of them said. "Our friend has left his ax behind."
"I suppose since he's so smart, we ought to leave our axes too," said another, and they all agreed. If the smartest among them left his ax in the road in the mud, surely that was what they were to do.
So they all placed their axes in the mud and walked on without them.
At long last, they reached the spot where the smart man, his horse and the sledge awaited them. There stood the tallest, straightest trees in the forest. "What fine logs these will make!" they all agreed. "Let's cut them down!"
But before long, they realized they had no axes. "How will we cut them down without axes?" one of the men asked, and the others all began to think deeply about this new problem.
"Let's think about this," the smartest man said. "We will find a solution."
"Yes, obviously, we have to think," the others agreed, and so they sat down in a circle and closed their eyes and began to think.
After an hour, the smartest man stood up and said, "I know what to do! We'll break the trees down."
"But how?" some of them asked, shaking their heads. "How do we break a tree?"
"Let me think about that," said the smartest man. Once again, they all closed their eyes and fell quiet in thought.
"I know!" said the smartest man. "I've figured it out. Since I'm the smartest, I will climb up to the top of the tree and climb out on a sturdy branch and hang down from my hands. Then one of you will come up after me and climb out and hang from my legs, and then the next will hang from his legs, and so on, and after a while, we'll be so heavy that the tree will break, and we'll carry it home on the sledge."
"Great idea!" they all agreed. "It's good to have such a smart man among us!"
And so the smartest man climbed to the top of the tallest tree, crawled out on a branch and hung from his hands. The next man climbed up, crawled out, reached for the man's feet and hung. Then the next man followed, then the next and the next.
Soon they felt the tree begin to bend.
"There it is!" someone cried as the tree cracked. Then they heard a second crack, and they cheered.
But the weight of all those men was too heavy for the smartest man.
"Hang as heavily as you can!" he shouted. "Hold on, I have to spit in my hands to get a better grip!" And so he let go of his grip, and spit in his hands. But as he did, they all tumbled in a heap to the ground.
The tree stood tall, and the sun was setting. So they stopped and said, "We'll have to think."
"We'll sleep out in the woods tonight. In the morning, I will come up with a fine idea!" said the smartest man.
They all agreed, and so they curled up and lay down beneath the trees and fell asleep. No one is sure if they pulled down even a single tree. No one knows if they ever built the log house.
"Tell Me a Story 3: Women of Wonder," the third CD in the audiobook series, is now available. For more information, please visit www.mythsandtales.com.