Nana nodded and ordered impatiently, ‘oh it is hot. Drink it now will you?’ But Ananse did not drink immediately. He continued asking questions and shaking the container for the water to cool down.

       Then he began to sip the lukewarm water pretending that it was still hot. He squeezed his ugly face and shut he left eye. The right shone bright. He let his left hand drop loose.

Nana was about to smile. The queen was happy. Adiefe was glad. All of a sudden Ananse began to drink the warm water more quickly, more noisily. Soon all was gone. He turned the empty cup upside down to show to Nana, the queen, the elders, Adiefe and all the others there that he had successfully done what the king wanted him to do.

First, there was complete silence. The earth stood still. The wind stopped blowing. Had the sun risen from the west? Were rivers flowing upstream? All the people present were quiet. The birds that were singing in the palace garden stopped suddenly. A big hawk that was swooping down to catch a poor chick on the ground stayed still mid-air. All life came to a standstill.

Nine seconds later, life woke up. The sun marched across the blue sky. The cool air fanned the faces of the surprised on-lookers. The birds began to sing again. The big hawk flew away and the lucky chick fled to its mother.

Some of the spectators began to whisper to one another, ‘He’s done it! ‘He’s done it! Nana nearly fell off his stool. The queen fainted and was carried away. Adiefe wishes the earth would open up and swallow her. The elders looked at one another, greatly surprised. They admired Ananse, There stood Ananse, cool, watched and happy. His left hand held his thin waist, with his right hand still holding the empty cup. ‘Nana, great and wise king. I’ve drunk the cup of boiling water and I’m still alive, Let me have Adiefe as my wife. She’s certainly mine now!’ Ananse said with pride.

              ‘No! Never!!’ cried the king in anger. He was shaking with fear. ’Oh Yes!’’ shouted one of the elders, ‘Let him have her or you will no longer remain our king. If a king makes a promise he sticks to it and fulfils it’.

Nana had no choice but to give his daughter to Ananse. Ananse took Adiefe away while she wept bitterly.

Nana cried openly. The elders remained calm and thoughtful. A few, of course, were secretly happy because of what had happened.

And so Ananse proved to all the world that he was the wisest man in Nyansaye. He also proved that often, the wise may win or succeed where the brave, the handsome even the rich, may lose and fail.

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