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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

‘Don’t you tink I’d be a bit a’ right in de Kingin’ line myse’f? I tinks I’d be full price an’ some change over myself.’

“‘You does? Ho! you does, hey?’ ses Ou’ Jackalse, an’ he drop his nose atween his paws an’ fair root it in de groun’ wid laughin’.

“You should ha’ seen Ole Baldy’s feders stand up. ‘Yes, I does,’ ses he. ‘An’ how come not, I’d like to know?’ ses he. ‘Anyhow, it’s a-gun’ to pay you a lot better to stand in wid me an’ get me King dan wid any o’ de oders. It’ll pay you a lot de best,’ ses he.

“Ou’ Jackalse ain’t got so much dwala in him but what he ketch on to dat word ‘pay’ a’ right. ‘How’s it gun’ to pay me?’ ses he.

“‘Easy,’ ses Baldy. ‘If you gets me King, den every bird dat eats meat’ll ha’ to leave you de one half of it. What price me now?’ ses he. ‘Is dere any oder bird can offer better?’

“‘Well, dat ain’t bad,’ ses Jackalse. ‘But s’posin’ I bargains wid you, den what’s de plan? I s’pose you’s made some sort o’ plan for me to work on?’

“‘Dis,’ ses Baldy. ‘When all de birds at de indaba axes you what dey’s to go by, den you answers an’ tells ’em dat de birds is got wings yust to lift ’em in de air. Well, an’ since de birds is on’y birds so’s dey can rise in de air instead o’ walkin’ on de ground, den de bird dat can do bird’s work best is de best one, an’ it stand to reason de best should be King. So let ’em all fly up, an’ de one dat flies de highest is de King—dat’s fair enough, ain’t it?’ ses he.

“‘It do soun’ a’ right,’ ses Jackalse. ‘An’ you can ax de oder birds weder it’s fair or not if you like. Anyhow, it’s a bargain so far—an’ now I’s off back to de dwala,’ and off he pop.

“Ole Baldy yust stop long enough to watch him out o’ sight. ‘I’s fix’ dat skellum dis time a’ right,’ ses he. ‘King o’ de birds, eh! See me when I’s doin’ de Kingin’. I bet I’ll make ’em all fly round a bit.’ Den off he pop too.

“In de meantime Ou’ Jackalse is a-headin’ back for de dwala, but he hadn’t got half way ’fore up yumps little Tink Tinky. ‘Mawnin’, Oom Jackalse,’ ses he, yust as smart as a new ticky.

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