There was once an armadillo that loved music more than anything else. Every night, no matter how tired, the armadillo would trundle to the frog-pond to delight in the symphony of the frogs as they sang back and forth: their husky echoes serenaded the moon, and each other.
“Oh, I wish I could sing,” said the armadillo quietly, believing nobody could hear.
The armadillo crouched at the edge of the water and watched the frogs dance and swim. The armadillo listened, enraptured, as the frogs chanted back and forth in magnificent, harmonic tones. The armadillo loved their songs, but didn’t understand the words, which was a lucky thing, because the frogs were laughing at the comical, awkward armadillo.
“You are preposterous,” sang the frogs. “Armadillos cannot sing.”
One day, a family of crickets moved in, beside the armadillo, and it was blessed once more with bountiful music; they chirred and sang as magnificently as the frogs!
“Oh dear,” sighed the armadillo, “I wish I could sing.”
“Don’t be absurd,” sang the crickets in their melodious, singsong tones. “Armadillos cannot sing.”
But the armadillo didn’t understand, so it crouched in rapt silence and reveled in the exquisite music of voices laughing.
Many weeks later a man strolled down the path by the frog-pond; he was carrying a cage filled with canaries. The birds chirped and twittered songs that were even more magnificent than those of the crickets and the frogs. The armadillo was stunned. It followed the man with the cage, totally absorbed by the canaries’ songs.
“My, oh my,” said the armadillo, “I wish I could sing.”
The canaries tittered: “Armadillos can’t sing,” they sang; “armadillos have never sung, and never will.” But the armadillo didn’t understand what they said.
The armadillo couldn’t keep pace with the man, and finally it dropped, exhausted, by the home of the Brujo, a great sorcerer. Suddenly understanding whose home he was at, the armadillo was determined to ask for the great man’s aid. With shaking temerity, the armadillo shuffled up to the Brujo, who was relaxing in a chair on the porch in front of his home.
The armadillo gazed up at the great man and — before letting fear obstruct its voice — said, “Eminent Brujo, it is my deepest desire to be able to sing like the frogs and the crickets; and, most especially, the canaries.”
The Brujo was amused: who had ever heard of a singing armadillo? But he could sense that the poor creature was in earnest. The Brujo bent down and glared into the armadillo’s eyes: “I could enable you to sing,” the sorcerer said. “But the price would exact a heavy toll; to be able to sing, it would mean you’d have to die.”
The armadillo’s eyes lit up, and it said, “You mean if I die, I will be able to sing?”
“Yes,” said the Brujo.
“Then I demand death immediately!” said the armadillo.
The Brujo discussed the matter with the armadillo for many hours, because the Brujo was hesitant to end the life of such a discerning being; however, the armadillo was adamant, so the Brujo took the animal’s life, made a harmonically numinous instrument from its shell, and gifted the instrument to the most talented musician he knew.
Whenever the musician played the instrument by the frog-pond, the frogs and crickets would exclaim: “Unbelievable: the armadillo has learned how to sing!”
And, occasionally, the musician would practice in the home of his friend, who owned canaries. And the canaries would listen, and stare with astonished eyes, and say, “Be silent, listen closely: it is the armadillo; it has learned how to sing!”
And so it was.
The armadillo had learned to sing. And its voice was among the sweetest in the world; and, alike the foremost musicians in all the lands, the armadillo had sacrificed its life for its art.