Originally the elephant had a short nose the size of a boot, flexible but useless for grasping things. One little elephant was insatiably inquisitive. He asked so many questions that all his relations spanked him. One day he asked:
"What does the Crocodile have for dinner?"
They all spanked him and told him to hush. Then he asked the Kolokolo Bird, who told him to go the Limpopo River and find out. On the way there he met and asked the Snake, who also spanked him. Then he came to the river and found the Crocodile, who told him to come and hear the whispered answer. When he came close, the Crocodile caught him by his nose and tried to pull him into the water.
The Elephant’s Child resisted, helped by the Snake, but his nose was pulled out into a long trunk before the Crocodile let go. He found he could use it to swat flies, pick grass, and gather mud to cool his head. It was also useful for picking up litter and for spanking his relatives when he got home. Eventually they all went to the river to get trunks from the Crocodile, and nobody spanked anybody any more.