From the land of Africa comes a most unusual story. A big giraffe came upon a family of very happy monkeys that were living in a valley of fruit trees. The giraffe, being quite tall, began eating fruit off the top of one tree that was as high as a house.
“Please, sir, don’t eat all of our fruit,” said a monkey in the tree. “We would be happy to share many different kinds of fruit with you, if you will share with us.”
“What do you mean by the word share?” asked the giraffe.
“I’ll explain,” said the monkey. “This tree is a pear tree. But the family next to us lives in an orange tree. And the family next to them lives in a plum tree. We give some of our fruit to them, and they share some of their fruit with us. That way, everyone is happy.”
“Oh, that’s not so smart,” said the giraffe. “What if you don’t have anything to give to them. Do they still give to you?”
“Of course they do, because friends share with friends,” said the monkey.
“It may be good for you monkeys,” replied the giraffe, “but not for me. I am the tallest animal in the world, and I shall continue to share with myself.” And off he went, eating more leaves and fruit.
But something frightening was coming. That evening, a powerful rainstorm blew over the valley, and there were flashes of lightning and claps of thunder everywhere. The giraffe tried to hide under the tallest tree. But as he stepped under it, a bolt of lightning struck the tree.
A big branch suddenly fell from above and landed on the giraffe’s head and neck, knocking him to the ground. He didn’t move for a long time. And when the storm finally blew away, he slowly woke up. But something terrible had happened. He could not raise his long neck. When he stood up, his head was hanging to the ground.
Several monkeys saw what had happened and came down. “You are in big trouble, Mister Giraffe. How are you going to eat fruit and leaves from the tops of trees?”
“I don’t know,” replied the giraffe. “Please, can’t you and your friends help me?”
“No, I’m sorry,” said one of the monkeys. “We have rules. We only can share our food with those who share with us.”
“But what am I to do?” cried the giraffe.
“I don’t know,” answered the monkey, “but when you get hungry, I am sure you will think of something.” And the monkeys went back into the tree.
It wasn’t long before the giraffe was hungry. But what could he eat? He only saw berry bushes along the ground, and the berries were too small for his mouth. Then he suddenly thought of something, just as the monkey said he would. He picked up all the berries he could find and carried them to the bottom of the tree where the monkeys lived. He then looked up and shouted: “Hey, monkeys, can we be friends? I’ve brought something nice to share with you.”
Several monkeys came down and tasted the berries. “Oh, thank you, Mister Giraffe, these berries taste good. You have made us very happy.”
“Gee,” said the giraffe, “I’ve never made anyone happy before—except myself.”
“Well,” replied one of the monkeys, “now you know how it feels to make someone else happy.” And with that, the monkeys quickly ran up the tree and began throwing fruit and fresh leaves to the ground. Before he could count to ten, there was more food on the ground than the giraffe could eat.
Time passed by, and the giraffe’s neck became well. He could once again eat leaves from the tops of trees. But he decided to stay in the valley near the monkeys and share many meals together, because sharing is what living is all about.