THE KING OF THE BIRDS.
A hen, who, as it happened, had heard nothing of the whole matter, wondered greatly at such a large gathering. "Cluck, cluck, cluck ! what are they all going to do ?" she cackled. But thft cock quieted his dear wife, and telling her not to make such a noise, he explained what the birds were about.
Meanwhile the assembly had decided that the bird who could fly the highest should be chosen as king. A green frog who sat in the bushes, when he heard this, croaked dreadfully, and said there would be many tears shed over that arrangement. The crow, however, said, " Caw, caw," for he wished it to be all settled in f friendly manner. They decided to make the experiment of flying the next morning, so that none should be able to say afterwards, " I could have flown higher had it not been evening, and I was too tired to do any more."
Next morning, at the appointed signal, the whole flock rose in the air. There was quite a cloud of dust scattered about, and such a rustling noise and flapping of wings ;—it was as if a dark cloud had passed over the sun. The little birds, however, remained among the branches ; they could not attempt such great flights. The large birds kept up for a long time \ but none could compete with the eagle, for he went so high that if they had followed him, the sun would have put out their eyes.
When the eagle saw that the others could not follow him, he thought to himself, "I need not go any higher; I am sure to be chosen king."
And the birds beneath him cried out, " You must be our king; none can fly as high as you do."
" Excepting I," cried the little fellow without a name, who had crept unseen among the wing-feathers of the eagle, and mounted with him, and as he was not tired, he flew in the air still higher and higher till he could almost peep into heaven. When he had reached this height, he folded his wings together and sunk gradually down to earth, exclaiming in his shrill but delicate voice, "I am king—I am king !"
" You our king ?" cried the birds, in a rage ; " no, no ; you have gained your position through trickery and cunning!"
However, they were obliged to make another condition about who should be king, and they decided that it should be he who sunk lowest into the earth after his flight in the air. . The goose on