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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, Ole Owl he hadn’t more’n got de mud outen his eyes ’fore de indaba’s finis’, an’ here comes all de birds. ‘Where’s dat Tink Tinky?’ ses dey. ‘Fetch him out!’

“‘He’s in dere a’ right,’ ses de Owl. ‘What’s you all decided on?’

“‘Well,’ ses dey, ‘by de law we cahnt yust say. Ole Baldy ain’t King, ’cause he said he couldn’t get up to Tinky. An’ as to Tinky, he ain’t King ’cause he ain’t big enough nohow. But we’s a-goin’ to hang’ him, so dere won’t be no mistake about him not bein’ King. Trot him out den.’

“‘You better trot him out yourse’f,’ ses Ole Owl. ‘My eyes is yust dat full o’ dirt I cahnt see.’

“Well, de Sec’etary Bird he cock his eye into darie hole, like a ole crow squintin’ down a marrow bone. ‘Come out o’ dat an’ be hanged,’ ses he. ‘Make hurry now! We ain’t a-gun’ to wait all day for a speck like you.’

“But dere ain’t no Tinky come out. ‘Dat’s funny he don’t come out when I shout,’ ses Ole Sec.

“Well, de birds dey ses dey ain’t got no more time to fool about. ‘Come on, Ole Owl,’ ses dey. ‘You’s lookin’ after him anyhow. In you pops, den, an’ outs him.’

“‘A’ right.’ In pops Ole Owl, an’ out don’t pop no Tinky. ‘By gum!’ ses all de birds.

“Ole Owl in de hole he look an’ he crook, an’ he glint, an’ he squint, but he don’t find no Tinky. ‘Dat’s mighty funny,’ ses he, comin’ out. ‘I seen you all shove him in here, an’ I ain’t seen him come out; but he ain’t dere now. He must ha’ spooked!’

“‘Oh, he’s spooked, is he?’ ses all de birds, tearin’ mad. ‘Well, we’ll yust make spook o’ you,’ ses dey, an’ dey make a dive for him like one man.

“Ole Owl he yust glint one glance at de lot, an’ den he turn an’ he fair make a head fust for it into dat hole agen, an’ dat’s de one ting saved him. De birds dey cahnt get at him in dere on’y one at a time, an’ dere ain’t any one o’ ’em feel like facin’ dat ole hook of a beak on his lonesome. So dere dey sits outside de hole, waitin’ for him to come out. An’ dere he sits inside de hole, waitin’ for dem to come in; an’ so dere ain’t needer in nor out, but dey bofe sits an’ waits.

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