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The Willow-Wren

In former days every sound had its meaning and application. When the smith's hammer resounded, it cried, "Strike away! strike away." When the carpenter's plane grated, it said, "Here goes! here goes." If the mill wheel began to clack, it said, "Help, Lord God! help, Lord God!" and if the miller was a cheat and happened to leave the mill, it spoke high German, and first asked slowly, "Who is there? who is there?" and then answered quickly, "The miller! the miller!" and at last quite in a hurry, "He steals bravely! he steals bravely! three pecks in a bushel."

At this time the birds also had their own language which every one understood; now it only sounds like chirping, screeching, and whistling, and to some like music without words. It came into the bird's mind, however, that they would no longer be without a ruler, and would choose one of themselves to be their King. One alone amongst them, the green plover, was opposed to this. He had lived free and would die free, and anxiously flying hither and thither, he cried, "Where shall I go? where shall I go?" He retired into a solitary and unfrequented marsh, and showed himself no more among his fellows.

The birds now wished to discuss the matter, and on a fine May morning they all gathered together from the woods and fields: eagles and chaffinches, owls and crows, larks and sparrows, how can I name them all? Even the cuckoo came, and the hoopoe, his clerk, who is so called because he is always heard a few days before him, and a very small bird which as yet had no name, mingled with the band. The hen, which by some accident had heard nothing of the whole matter, was astonished at the great assemblage. "What, what, what is going to be done?" she cackled; but the cock calmed his beloved hen, and said, "Only rich people," and told her what they had on hand. It was decided, however, that the one who could fly the highest should be King. A tree-frog which was sitting among the bushes, when he heard that, cried a warning, "No, no, no!

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