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ON the last house in a little village stood a Stork's nest. The Mother Stork sat in it with her four young ones, who stretched out their heads with the pointed black beaks, for their beaks had not yet turned red. A little way off stood the Father-Stork, all alone on the ridge of the roof, quite upright and stiff; he had drawn up one of his legs, so as not to be quite idle while he stood sentry. One would have thought he had been carved out of wood, so still did he stand. He thought, “It must look very grand, that my wife has a sentry standing by her nest. They can't tell that it is her husband. They certainly think I have been commanded to stand here. That looks so aristocratic!” And he went on standing on one leg.

Below in the street a whole crowd of children were playing; and when they caught sight of the Storks, one of the boldest of the boys, and afterwards all of them, sang the old verse about the Storks. But they only sang it just as he could remember it:

Stork, stork, fly away;

Go and stay at home today.

Your wife is lying in the nest,

With four young beneath her breast.

The first he will be hanged,

The second will be banged,

The third he will be burned,

And the fourth one will be turned

Outside in!

“Just hear what those boys are singing!” said the little Stork-children. “They say we're to be hanged and burned.”

“You're not to care for that!” said the Mother-Stork. “Don't listen to it, and then it won't matter.”

But the boys went on singing, and pointed at the Storks mockingly with their fingers; only one boy, whose name was Peter, declared that it was a sin to make jest of animals, and he would not join in it at all.

The Mother-Stork comforted her children. “Don't you mind it at all,” she said; “see how quiet your father stands, though it's only on one leg.

“We are very much afraid,” said the young Storks and they drew their heads far back into the nest.

Now today, when the children came out again to play, and saw the Storks, they sang their song:

The first he will be hanged,

The second will be hanged-----

“Shall we be hanged and burned?” asked the young Storks.

“No, certainly not,” replied the mother. “You shall learn to fly; I'll exercise you; then we shall fly out into the meadows and pay a visit to the frogs; they will bow before us in the water, and sing ‘Co-ax co-ax!’ and then we shall eat them up. That will be a real pleasure.”

“And what then?” asked the young Storks.

“Then all the Storks will assemble, all that are here in the whole country, and the autumn exercises begin: then one must fly well, for that is highly important, for whoever cannot fly properly will be thrust dead by the general's beak; so take care and learn well when the exercising begins.”

“But then we shall be killed, as the boys say:----and only listen, now they're singing again.”

“Listen to me, and not to them,” said the MotherStork.

“After the great review we shall fly away to the warm countries, far away from here, over mountains and forests. We shall fly to Egypt, where there are three cornered houses of stone, which run up to a point and tower above the clouds; they are called pyramids, and are older than a stork can imagine. There is a river in that country which runs out of its bed, and then all the land is turned to mud. One walks about in the mud, and eats frogs.”

“Oh!” cried all the young ones.

“Yes! It is glorious there! One does nothing all day long but eat; and while we are so comfortable over there, here there is not a green leaf on the trees; here it is so cold that the clouds freeze to pieces, and fall down in little white rags!?”

It was the snow that she meant, but she could not explain it in any other way.

“And do the naughty boys freeze to pieces?” asked the young Storks.

“No, they do not freeze to pieces; but they are not far from it, and must sit in the dark room and cower. You, on the other hand, can fly about in foreign lands, where there are flowers, and the sun shines warm.”

Now some time had elapsed, and the nestlings had grown so large that they could stand upright in the nest and look far around; and the Father-Stork came every day with delicious frogs, little snakes, and all kinds of stork-dainties as he found them. Oh! It looked funny when he performed feats before them! He laid his head quite back upon his tail, and clapped with his beak as if it had been a little clapper; and then he told them stories, all about the marshes.

“Listen! Now you must learn to fly, ” said the Mother-Stork one day; and all the four young ones had to go out on the ridge of the roof . Oh , how they tottered ! how they balanced themselves with their wi............

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