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Main > South African folktales > Fairy tale "When the Birds would choose a King which tells also why the white owl only flies by night"

When the Birds would choose a King which tells also why the white owl only flies by night

Dat’s what Kings is for.

“Well, de birds dey talks to one anoder, an’ de birds dey gets togeder for a big indaba; but when one ses do dis way, anoder ses do dat way, till dey all dunno what’s it all a-gun’ to end in, an’ at last dey all agrees to ax a outsider to set some way o’ choosin’ dis yere King. An’ what outsider? Why, who but Ou’ Jackalse, o’ course.

“But dey’ll ha’ to wait a day or two ’fore dey gets him. De Aard-Vark is invite’ Ou’ Jackalse to a big dwala drink, an’ it ain’t no use to talk till dat’s over.

“Well, dis yust suit Ole Baldy Aasvo’el. He don’t say a word, but he sail off, an’ by’n’by he’s a-hangin’ yust over de Aard-Vark’s kraal, where de Aard-Vark’s frien’s is drinkin’ dwala, an’ he hang dere till he sees Ou’ Jackalse a-lookin’ up at him. Den he drops down behind de rise a little way off, an’ dere he waits. He knows Ou’ Jackalse ’ll come sniffin’ out, tinkin’ dere’s meat dere.

“Tain’t more’n a minute ’fore here comes Ou’ Jackalse a’ right. ‘Hello! Baldy,’ ses he, ‘where’s de meat?’

“‘Well,’ ses Baldy, ‘dere ain’t no meat here yust now. But dere can be lots an’ lots of it for you ’fore long if you an’ me is frien’s dese nex’ few days.’

“Ou’ Jackalse is pretty full of dwala, an’ de dwala make him pretty full o’ feelin’ yust a’ right, so he on’y laugh an’ sit down. ‘How come dat?’ ses he.

“‘Dis way,’ ses Baldy. ‘All us birds is a-gun’ to make us a King, an’ we’ve agree’ to call you in to gi’e us sometin’ to go by to settle de one it’s to be. You’s to set sometin’ for de birds to do, an’ de one dat does it he’s to be de King. So I’s come to see you about it beforehand.’

“‘You is, hey?’ ses Ou’ Jackalse, de dwala warmin’ him up good an’ happy. ‘An’ how is you come now? Is you a depitation, or is you come on your own? Is you here for all de birds or yust for one—yust for Ole Baldy?’

“Ole Baldy fair scowl to hear Ou’ Jackalse bring it out full an’ ugly like dat. But he reckon it’s de dwala doin’ it, an’ so he’ll try a bit longer. ‘Well,’ ses he, an’ he gi’en hisse’f a look up an’ down.

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