The Buffalo and the Egret

from Another Forty Fables by Adam Acidophilus


A buffalo was searching for a safe place to graze when an egret landed on its back.

“Do you mind?” asked the buffalo.

“Not at all,” said the egret. “Do you?”

“Well, yes I do,” said the buffalo. “You are invading my personal space!”

“But have you considered,” asked the egret, “the advantages of having an egret?”

The buffalo was nonplussed.

“I’m a status symbol,” said the egret. “And I can take care of ticks and pests. But most importantly, I can lead you to fields of plenty.”

Now this rather impressed the buffalo, as it was absolutely starving, plagued by ticks and pests, and suffered from very low self-esteem. It was always having difficulty finding enough vegetation to support its enormous bulk. If what the egret said was true, this could make life a good deal easier.

“Alright,” said the buffalo. “You’re on!”

So the egret settled on the buffalo’s back.

“Lead me to ’em!” cried the buffalo, optimistically. “Let’s see these fields of plenty!”

“Certainly,” said the egret, immediately grabbing a tick. “But first I have to see a friend.”

The buffalo was suspicious. “What do you mean, see a friend?” it asked.

“Well, I happen to know this giraffe,” said the egret, “and what he doesn’t know about plenty isn’t worth hearing, believe me. So, with your permission, you wait here and I’ll go off and ask if he knows of any fields round here that might suit you.”

And so the egret flew off; and the buffalo stood there, rather hungry and rather confused.

A few days later the egret returned.

“How’s the giraffe?” asked the buffalo.

“He’s doing great,” said the egret, “but it turns out he only knows about trees.”

The buffalo was disappointed; the egret paused to swallow a couple of lice.

“But all is not lost,” the egret continued. “Because he suggested that I had a word with this really big hippo on the coast. So if you just wait here, I’ll go and have a word with him.”

Before the buffalo could protest the egret flew off; and although it really fancied moving on, the buffalo was concerned that the hippo might know a thing or two. So it stayed put, in the mud, with very little to eat, itching all over, rather lonely and totally bewildered.

A couple of days later the egret was back.

“How’s the hippo?” asked the buffalo.

“Busy,” said the egret. “I couldn’t get near him — egrets everywhere! However,” it added, helping itself to an especially juicy hookworm, “I did have a word with a flamingo and he suggested that we try this wart hog,”

“A wart hog?” exclaimed the buffalo. “I don’t like the sound of that!”

“Well, he’s young,” agreed the egret. “But some of these wart hogs can get quite big — and in your position I’d take all the advice I could lay hooves on.”

“Advice?” gasped the buffalo. “From a wart hog?”

“It’s worth a try,” remarked the egret. “He may not know of any fields, but he might lead us to a ditch.”

“A ditch?” said the buffalo. “Led to a ditch by a wart hog? I refuse! If I hadn’t been standing here all week I probably would have found something by now!”

“Oh thanks,” said the egret, sarcastically — tucking in to a flea. “You haven’t got half as many fleas as that flamingo.”

Just then a second egret landed on the buffalo. “Is this egret bothering you?” it asked.

“Yes,” said the buffalo. “It’s ruining my life.”

“Have you considered changing egrets?” asked the new egret.

“He wants me!” said the first one. “We’ve got a special relationship!”

“We have not!” the buffalo protested.

“I know lions,” the new egret announced — establishing a dramatic silence — “And I have made a deal with them: they won’t eat any of my buffalos. May I have a tick?” — and it helped itself to a couple before the buffalo had even given its permission!

“Listen,” said the buffalo. “I’ve had enough. I don’t want any egrets! I can take care of myself — I want you both off my back!”

And it shook its great shoulders and the egrets flew away, offended. And the buffalo continued on its way, unhampered by speculation and hypothetical propositions.

A couple of days later it ambled into some fields of plenty, filled with other buffalo as far as the eye could see. It could hardly wait to start chomping when a mighty king buffalo wandered over.

“You’re new here aren’t you?” said the king buffalo.

“Ur, yes,” said the buffalo, shyly.

“Thought so,” said the king. “I’m afraid you’re not allowed in here without an egret.”

© Adam Acidophilus 2011