THE BIRD OF TRUTH
we tried to persuade them to give up this folly; but they only replied with the utmost insolence.'
'How shocking!' exclaimed the city swallow.
'Yes, it was. And, worse than that, the crested lark, that was formerly so timid and shy, is now no better than a thief, and steals maize and corn whenever she can find them.'
'I am astonished at what you say.'
'You will be more astonished when I tell you that on my arrival here for the summer I found my nest occupied by a shameless sparrow! "This is my nest," I said. "Yoiirs?" he answered, with a rude laugh. "Yes, mine; my ancestors were born here, and my sons will be born here also." And at that my husband set upon him and threw him out of the nest. I am sure nothing of this sort ever happens in a town.'
'Not exactly, perhaps. But I have seen a great deal — if you only knew!'
'Oh! do tell us! do tell us!' cried they all. And when they had settled themselves comfortably, the city swallow began:
'You must know, then, that our king fell in love with the youngest daughter of a tailor, who was as good and gentle as she was beautiful. His nobles hoped that he would have chosen a queen from one of their daughters, and tried to prevent the marriage; but the king would not listen to them, and it took place. Not many months later a war broke out, and the king rode away at the head of his army, while the queen remained behind, very unhappy at the separation. When peace was made, and the king returned, he was told that his wife had had two babies in his absence, but that both were dead; that she herself had gone out of her mind and was obliged to be shut up in a tower in the mountains, where, in time, the fresh air might cure her.'
'And was this not true?' asked the swallows eagerly.