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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

“‘Go ’way, you spot o’ shadda!’ ses Ou’ Jackalse, in a hurry to get back to de dwala. ‘Go ’way, or I’ll blow you away wid de wind of a wink o’ my eye.’

“‘Oh, dat’s it, is it?’ ses young Tink. ‘Well, I was comin’ to see you about dis King o’ de bird business. But if dat’s de sort you is, why I reckon I’ll do it on my own, an’ den I shan’t owe nawtin’ to no such a fathead as you.’

“‘King o’ de birds,’ ses Ou’ Jackalse, an’ he squot on his haunches an’ laugh till he fair wobble. ‘You!’ ses he, an’ he laugh agen till he fall on his side an’ beat de ground wid his tail. ‘Oh, do go an’ be King o’ de rest o’ de birds. Be King over Ole Baldy an’ de big White Owl an’ all dat lot.’

“‘All dat lot o’ big fatheads, like you,’ ses young Tinky, an’ he yust flick down an’ tweak a beakful o’ hair out of Ou’ Jackalse tail. ‘What price dat?’ ses he, as he fly up out o’ reach.

“Ou’ Jackalse yump up like lightnin’ struck him. ‘You young squirt!’ yell’ he. ‘I’ll gi’e you King o’ de birds if I gets hold o you.’

“‘An’ I’ll show you all about King o’ de birds ’fore I’s done wid you,’ ses Tinky. ‘You tinks you’s yust too smart for common everyday. But I’ll show you yust how smart you ain’t. You wait an’ see.’ An’ off he flick for where he seen Ole Baldy fly up. He knows Ou’ Jackalse come f’m dere too.

“Now when Ou’ Jackalse an’ Ole Baldy was a-talkin’ togeder, dey ain’t needer on ’em seen de Hokhi-Khee (dat’s de ladybird) a-sittin’ under a grass blade close by. An’ de Hokhi-Khee she on’y want to keep out o’ sight till dey’s gone, ’cause all de brown lace of her wings is all ruffle down her back, an’ it won’t lie nice an’ straight under dat yella cloak o’ hers wid de black spots. ‘Goodness gracious o’ me,’ ses she to herse’f, ‘I yust ain’t fit to be seen! I hope dese two ole buffers ’ll get away soon.’

“So she kept dat close out o’ sight dey never seen her, an’ as soon as dey’s gone she hop down an’ start to get dat lace straighten’ out an’ tucked away nice an’ neat under her cloak, an’ she’s all in a shake an’ a fluster, when down pops young Tink Tinky.

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