THE KING OF THE BIRDS
BY THE BROTHERS GRIMM (TRANSLATED)
ONE day the birds took it into their heads that they would
like a master, and that one of their number must be chosen
king. A meeting of all the birds was called, and on a
beautiful May morning they assembled from woods and fields
and meadows. The eagle, the robin, the bluebird, the owl,
the lark, the sparrow were all there. The cuckoo came, and
the lapwing, and so did all the other birds, too numerous to
mention. There also came a very little bird that had no name
There was great confusion and noise. There was piping,
hissing, chattering and clacking, and finally it was decided
that the bird that could fly the highest should be king.
The signal was given and all the birds flew in a
 great flock into the air. There was a loud rustling and
whirring and beating of wings. The air was full of dust, and
it seemed as if a black cloud were floating over the field.
The little birds soon grew tired and fell back quickly to
earth. The larger ones held out longer, and flew higher and
higher, but the eagle flew highest of any. He rose, and
rose, until he seemed to be flying straight into the sun.
The other birds gave out and one by one they fell back to
earth; and when the eagle saw this he thought, "What is the
use of flying any higher? It is settled: I am king!"
Then the birds below called in one voice: "Come back, come
back! You must be our king! No one can fly as high as you."
"Except me!" cried a shrill, shrill voice, and the little
bird without a name rose from the eagle's back, where he had
lain hidden in the feathers, and he flew into the air.
Higher and higher he mounted till he was lost to sight,
then, folding his wings together, he sank to earth crying
shrilly: "I am king! I am king!"
"You, our king!" the birds cried in anger; "you have done
this by trickery and cunning. We will not have you to reign
Then the birds gathered together again and made another
condition, that he should be king who could go the deepest
into the earth.
 How the goose wallowed in the sand, and the duck strove to
dig a hole! All the other birds, too, tried to hide
themselves in the ground. The little bird without a name
found a mouse's hole, and creeping in cried:—
"I am king! I am king!"
"You, our king!" all the birds cried again, more angrily
than before. "Do you think that we would reward your cunning
in this way? No, no! You shall stay in the earth till you
die of hunger!"
So they shut up the little bird in the mouse's hole, and
bade the owl watch him carefully night and day. Then all the
birds went home to bed, for they were very tired; but the
owl found it lonely and wearisome sitting alone staring at
the mouse's hole.
"I can close one eye and watch with the other," he thought.
So he closed one eye and stared steadfastly with the other;
but before he knew it he forgot to keep that one open, and
both eyes were fast asleep.
Then the little bird without a name peeped out, and when he
saw Master Owl's two eyes tight shut, he slipped from the
hole and flew away.
From this time on the owl has not dared to show himself by
day lest the birds should pull him to pieces. He flies about
only at night-time, hating and pursuing the mouse for having
made the hole into which the little bird crept.
 And the little bird also keeps out of sight, for he fears
lest the other birds should punish him for his cunning. He
hides in the hedges, and when he thinks himself quite safe,
he sings out: "I am king! I am king!"
And the other birds in mockery call out: "Yes, yes, the
hedge-king! the hedge-king!"
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