Tiger Tales #111 - How the Lark Gave Songsters to the King of the Deep Sea

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"How the Lark Gave Songsters to the King of the Deep Sea"
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, The Wish Express, "King, King! Double King!", etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 12, 1920.

Once upon a time the King of the Deep Sea visited his brother, the King of the Deep Forest, and great was his wonder at the tall trees, the racing clouds and fragrant flowers.

Surely he would have perished without the waters of his kingdom had not a fairy charm given him by a wood ninie made him like the creatures of earth and air for two months.

And for two long months the kings rode gayly through the forest, and all the merry men of the woods joined them, and there were feastings and tests of skill and amusements of all kinds. Indeed, the King of the Deep Forest never wearied of planning new pleasures for his brother, so that the time passed all too quickly and the day of the Sea King's departure drew near.

Now, of all the things in the forest, the King of the Sea found the birds most delightful. He never tired watching their flight from tree to tree, and their singing filled his heart with rapture.

"Brilliant and beautiful are my fishes, but they are dumb! Would that I had some of these sweet singers in my castle under the waves!" said the king to his brother, and his heart was sad at the thought of leaving them.

The King of the Forest thought over his brother's words and, calling a wood ninie to him, begged her to construct a cage that he might give to his brother one of the forest's sweetest singers.

The little Nin thought and worked, and finally by many magic contrivances, fashioned a cage and coaxed into it a lark. Then joyfully she returned to her master.

The day for the king's going came, and the King of the Deep Forest went with the King of the Sea to the edge of the water, and, after they had embraced, gave him the little cage.

"The lark, by the magic powers of this cage, will live under water and rejoice your ear with the pleasant songs of the forest," said he. And his brother, the Sea King, almost wept for joy.

Down in the dim green depths of the ocean, in his palace of coral, he hung the lark's cage, and called all his subjects to hear it sing.

But the lark drooped in the corner of the cage and looked pleadingly at the King with its bright eyes.

"Sing!" commanded the monarch; and "Sing!" begged all the other people, and they brought it fresh seaweed and sea flowers. But the little lark could not sing.

"I am not a singer!" sighed the little bird. "It is the wind in the tree tops and the clouds scurrying through the sky and the stars that you heard. I am the voice of the forest, and where these things are not I cannot sing! Where are the trees and the stars? Give me back the blue sky!" begged the lark.

"But what shall I do for singers? I cannot live without hearing your voices!"

"Place on the beach a thousand seashells, those with deep hollows and curves, and let me go back!" coaxed the little bird, and the King of the Sea, who was kind at heart, did as the bird told him, though he could not imagine what the lark would do with the shells.

"Come back tomorrow!" said the bird, as the King, holding the lark above the surface of the sea, opened its cage. "Come back tomorrow and get the shells."

That evening as the sun was going to bed he saw a very strange sight. A thousand birds were singing into the seashells, and the next day when the King came for them each held the song of a bird, and now, whenever the King wants music he holds one of the shells to his ear and it sings to him the song of the forest. And every year he leaves thousands of shells on the beach and the kind little birds sing into them. You yourself have heard them sing, and though there is magic in the matter, it is a very pretty magic that puts the voice of a bird in a lovely seashell. Listen for it next time, sweetheart!

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 30, 1919.

A Few Marine Riddles

What letter in the alphabet will give a body of water?

When a child cries what marine creature results?

What word meaning sound health will give another body of water?

A popular outdoor pastime with boys and girls will give another deep-sea creature.

A plant from which they make wreaths to crown poets and such will give still another body of water.

(How are you coming along?)

What season gives a body of water?

The top of a mighty handy tool will give a certain kind of shark.

A word describing the way one might come through a muddy field will give a sea creature often caught in the nets and tossed back into the water.

A word meaning to endure or put up with will give a merry little body of water.

And that is enough riddles for you to dive for today, I think. Five surprises will be sent to the five best-looking and correct lists.

The words omitted from the Forgetful Poet's verse last week were:
1. Suppose.
2. Not.
3. Done.

[Answers next time. This is a historical presentation of Thompson's writing. No surprises will be sent. Sorry.]

Copyright © 2010 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

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