The FruitBats happily sipped their tea and chatted together until the moon had set and Batnana was yawning. They invited the FoxBat along with DragonFruit and Chip to come back to the fruit grove for a snack and a place to nap away the morning. He agreed and they flew off to the cliff and up to the grove in the pale, dim light of the stars.
In the afternoon of the next day, when they began to stir in the trees and bushes and the temperature began to drop as the breeze came in from the ocean, Mandarin was excited to talk more with their guest.
Vulpes was hanging with Batnana at the top of the banana tree, facing the ocean. Mandarin landed beside them.
“-Well, if you like art, you should visit Italy!” Vulpes was saying “There’s great art everywhere out there, but I love some of the statues you can find in Rome. The people, who I was speaking of last nigtht, they like to carve big statues of themselves from glittering white marble. Seems a little conceeded to me – putting fancy statues of your species everywhere – but maybe they just have an easier time relating. Not a lot of peoples can talk to us other animals very well.”
Batnana sagely nodded her yellow head. “Swooby do da wao,” she agreed.
Even though Strawberry wasn’t there to translate, the Fox seemed to understand her just as well.
“Then again, maybe they are just celebrating their achievements with these statues, and that’s totally acceptable. Always a good thing to know when one has done a good job at something, right?”
At this revelation, Mandarin had one of his own! “Oh, thank you, you gave me an idea!” he shouted, and dropped from the branch, flapping off back to the orange tree. Batnana and Vulpes exchanged a confused glance as they watched him go.
Later in the evening, the fruit grove was filled with the smell of baking cake. It had been several hours since Mandarin had peared into the old hollow log he used as a kitchen beside the base of his tree. He’d only come out once to ask DragonFruit to come help light his little stone oven. Everybat was get getting more and more curious about what he was up to in there, but whenever anyone asked, he shooed them away, telling them he would show them all when he was finished.
“He is obviously at his baking again,” Grape said. “Though he’s never been this secretive about it, not even when he made that big blackberry pie to welcome BlackBerry Bat to the grove.”
Strawberry and Kiwi, who were enjoying a game of tulip tree pistil sword fight, eventually gave up because the smell was so good that their bellies began to growl. Strawberry dismounted Chip and dropped the dried tulip pistil. They were all gathering infront of Mandarin’s “bakery” in anticipation of his newest creation.
“Hey,” Watermelon cried into the opening. “You’ve got everybat out here wondering: What is that amazing smell?”
Mandarin Orange stuck his head out. Just wait a sec, she’s almost finished!”
The whole Bushel was suprised by this, looking around for somebody missing. Who is “she?”
A minute later, Mandarins butt wiggled backward out of the shadow of the log; he was pulling something heavy. They all took a step back to give him some room.
When the creation pulled into the sunlight, Mandarin sat back and admired it. Around the base were flesh flowers in the shape of the paper lining of a cupcake, and in the middle sat a cupcake the size of a bat! In fact, it WAS a bat! Mandarine had baked several different pieces of chocolate cake and put them together to make a life-size CupCake Bat! Pink icing and sprinkles decorated her and her eyes were multicolored candies! The fruit grove filled with gasps of admiration!
“She’s beautiful!” they all cheered.
“And not to mention, she smells delicious!” Blackberry complemented.
At those words, Mandarin froze. For the first time since having the idea of baking the bat, it dawned on him that they would be eating it. In his imagination, all the Bushel’s faces started to look sinister and hungry.
“Oh NO!” he screamed, standing before his creation with his wings spread wide to protect her. “You can’t eat my lovely CupCake Bat!”
His friends frowned.
“But you’ve been baking all day and it smells so good,” Lemon pouted.
“Errr, wait, I have some more batter, I’ll go make another cake for us to have with dinner. But NOBODY better touch my CupCake while I’m gone! You swear!”
“We solemnly swear,” the Bushel agreed, raising their left wings.
Mandarin squinted at them, seemed satisfied, and went in to make them a cake.
“This may lead to trouble,” their new foxy friend told them as the went back to playing in the grove.
“How’s that?” Blueberry asked.
“Let me tell you a very, very old story from a land far away…”