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From The Book of Nature Myths by Florence Holbrook.
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The king of the north once said to himself, "I am master of the country
of ice and snow, but what is that if I cannot be ruler of the land of
sunshine and flowers? I am no king if I fear the king of the south. The
northwind shall bear my icy breath. Bird and beast shall quiver and
tremble with cold. I myself will call in the voice of the thunder, and
this ruler of the south, his king of summer, shall yield to my power."
The land of the south was ever bright and sunny, but all at once the sky
grew dark, and the sun hid himself in fear. Black storm-clouds came from
the north. An icy wind blew over the mountains. It wrestled with the
trees of the southland, and even the oaks could not stand against its
power. Their roots were tough and strong, but they had to yield, and the
fallen trees lay on the earth and wailed in sorrow as the cruel
storm-wind and rain beat upon them. The thunder growled in the hollows
of the mountains, and in the fearful gloom came the white fire of the
forked lightning, flaring through the clouds.
"We shall perish," cried the animals of the sunny south. "The arrows of
the lightning are aimed at us. O dear ruler of the southland, must we
yield to the cruel master of the north?"
"My king," said a little buzzing voice, "may I go out and fight the
wicked master of the storm-wind?"
The thunder was still for a moment, and a mocking laugh was heard from
among the clouds, for it was a little hornet that had asked to go out
and meet the power of the ruler of the north.
"Dear king, may I go?" repeated the hornet.
"Yes, you may go," said the king of the south, and the little insect
went out alone, and bravely stung the master of the storm-wind.
The king of the north struck at him with a war-club, but the hornet only
flew above his head and stung him again. The hornet was too small to be
struck by the arrows of the lightning. He stung again and again, and at
last the king of the north went back to his own country, and drove
before him the thunder and lightning and rain and the black storm-clouds
and the icy wind.
"Brave little hornet," said the king of the south, "tell me what I can
do for you. You shall have whatever you ask."
Then said the little hornet, "My king, on all the earth no one loves me.
I do not wish to harm people, but they fear my sting, and they will not
let me live beside their homes. Will you make men love me?"
"Little hornet," said the king gently, "you shall no longer be a
stinging insect feared by men. You shall be a bright and happy oriole,
and when men see you, they will say, 'See the beautiful oriole. I shall
be glad if he will build his nest on our trees.'"
So the hornet is now an oriole, a bird that is loved by every one. His
nest looks like that of a hornet because he learned how to build his
home before he became an oriole.