“It seems to me,” said the Cuckoo, “that things have been going badly with us for some time, and that all would be remedied if we had a king to rule over us. I suggest that we choose a king today.”
Oh, how the birds chirped, and chattered, and peeped at that. The Cuckoo had imagined that they would choose which bird should be king and had in mind one of their own sons. But, each bird was sure that they had royal blood in their veins, and they all began to argue and quarrel about it.
At that time a Rooster and a Hen strutted by and were greatly excited at hearing the commotion. All the birds were talking and arguing.
“Wat? Wat?” clucked the Hen.
“I will go and see,” said the Rooster. He rushed into the midst of the tea party to see what all the hubbub was about. When he found out, he had a plan to offer. He was often called upon to settle disputes among the Hens, so he was always willing give his opinion.
“Have a test! Have a test!” said the Rooster. “You will never decide anything by arguing. The bird who is able to fly the highest shall be your king.”
This seemed a fair way of settling the matter.
The birds lined up and spread their wings. Each flew with all their strength as high as they could, up, up into the air. One by one, though, they dropped back for they did not all have the same strength of wing. The Lark flew higher, indeed, than most of them, but finally he, too, was outstripped by the Eagle, who soared and circled way over their heads.
“The Eagle is our king! The Eagle is king of the birds!” sang all the others.
Way, way above the Eagle flew another bird. So tiny. Looking like nothing but a mote, floating in the sunlight. It was the little Jenny Wren. They had hidden themselves in the Eagle’s feathers and had been carried up with him until he could fly no higher. Then the wren had flown higher still.
“I am the king of the birds!” the wren twittered, swooping down over the others.