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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, dey ketches Young Tinky an’ dey takes him over and puts him into a big Aard-Vark hole. ‘Who’ll we put to watch him now?’ ses dey.

“‘Put de White Owl,’ ses Ou’ Jackalse; ‘he’s got de biggest eyes an’ de widest open.’

“So dey put de White Owl to guard de hole, an’ dey all goes back to hold a indaba.

“‘Why, dis is yust a fine place, it’s so reg’lar nice an’ shady,’ ses Young Tinky to de White Owl. ‘I’s gun’ to have a look for a place to be comfy in.’

“‘Do,’ ses de White Owl. ‘Den you won’t bodder me.’

“But what Tinky’s a lookin’ for is a place to get out at, an’ he look, an’ he look, but dere ain’t no sich a place. ‘I ’specs I’ll ha’ to do sometin’ pretty soon if I’s gun’ to keep dis side o’ trouble,’ ses he to hisse’f.

“Well, dere’s on’y one way out o’ de hole, an’ dat’s de way he come in at, an’ dere’s de White Owl standin’ at it wid his tail dis way, an’ a-starin’ out across de veldt to where de indaba’s goin’ on. Den it strike Tinky what he’ll do. ‘Allah Crachty! I knows what. Wait now,’ ses he to hisse’f.

“So he goes to work, an’ he take some dirt, an’ he wet it an’ he work till he’s made a mud mouse. You should ha’ seen darie mouse. If any mouse ’ad a-seen it he’d a-tink it was his grandaddy, it look such a whoppin’ ole mouse. It fair tickle young Tinky so much when he’d finis’ it dat he hatto yust stop an’ laugh.

“Den he go to de hole an’ he stick dat mouse out slow on one side o’ de White Owl till it yust come into de tail of his left eye, an’ afore you can ketch your breaf Ole Owl make a lightnin’ of a strike at it—biff!

“Well, he ain’t made sich a mighty ole strike since he was a young fella, an’ he strike dat hard an’ he strike dat true, dat he biff his beak right troo de mouse, so dat de mud bung up his two eyes an’ chock up his froat, an’ you fair never did see no sich a splosh an’ sich a splutter in your time. ‘Mak’ los’!’ screech he, an’ it sound like a bushman on de mad. ‘Mak’ los’!’ But de mud mouse ain’t a-sayin’ a word, not a word; an’ Young Tink Tinky’s yust a-gettin’ out o’ dat at de rate of half-a-mile in a hunder’ yards—on’y de White Owl ain’t knowin’ nawtin’ about dat.

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