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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

“‘Well, I yust do declare!’ ses she. ‘What do you drop down on a body like dat for? You’s got as much imperence as if you was de biggest bird, instead o’ de smallest.’

“‘All right,’ ses young Tinky. ‘I may be de littlest bird, an’ Ole Baldy may be de biggest, an’ he may a-bin here talkin’ soft to you. But I can yust dust him down any day,’ an’ you should a-seen dat young Tinky stretch-in’ out first one little wing an’ den de oder, like he’s sayin’—‘Look at dat now’.

“But de ladybird ain’t a-listenin’ to none o’ his foolishness. ‘Yes,’ ses she, ‘you ses dat now. But you wait a bit till de Aasvo’el’s King of all you birds, den you’ll ha’ to sing small enough, Mr Tink Tinky.’

“‘Ho!’ ses Tinky. ‘So Ole Baldy’s bin tellin’ you he’s gun’ to be King o’ de birds, is he? But we’ll see about dat. Some’dy else may ha’ sometin’ to say about dat.’

“‘Well, I never,’ ses de ladybird. ‘If dat ain’t yust like your imperence! P’r’aps you ’magines you’s gun’ to be King yourse’f?’

“‘Why not?’ ses he. ‘I’s as good a man as Ole Baldy any day.’

“‘You ses you is, an’ you has cheek enough to tink you is,’ ses de ladybird. ‘But wait till you comes to try. De one dat flies highest is gun’ to be King. I yust heard him settle dat wid Ou’ Jackalse. An’ now where’s you? But p’r’aps you tink you can fly higher dan de Aasvo’el—you has imperence enough.’

“‘An’ I has gumption enough too,’ ses young Tinky. ‘You yust wait an’ see if I ain’t.’

“‘I don’t care what you has if you’ll only go away out o’ dis now,’ ses de ladybird. ‘An’ don’t you come roun’ me any mo’ till you’s beat Ole Baldy flyin’ high.’

“‘Den I’ll be King,’ ses Tinky. ‘Don’t you wish I’d come if I was King?’

“‘No, I don’t,’ ses she.

“‘Den I won’t,’ ses he, an’ off he pops.

“Well, de day comes for choosin’ dis yere King, an’ all de birds dey brings Ou’ Jackalse into de indaba, an’ dey ax him what dey’s got to do to find de right one. An’ Ole Baldy look so hard at Jackalse dat he wrinkle all his head an’ half his neck, an’ Ou’ Jackalse he smile back ’fore he speak.

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