The Magpie's Nest
English Fairy Tales
All the birds of the air came to the magpie and
asked her to teach them how to build nests. For
the magpie is the cleverest bird of all at building
nests. So she put all the birds round her and
began to show them how to do it. First of all she
took some mud and made a sort of round cake
"Oh, that's how it's done!" said
the thrush, and away it flew - and so that's how thrushes
build their nests.
Then the magpie took some twigs and arranged
them round in the mud.
"Now I know all about it!" said
the blackbird, and off it flew - and that's how the blackbirds
make their nests to this very day.
Then the magpie put another layer of mud over
"Oh, that 's quite obvious!" said
the wise owl, and away it flew - and owls have never made
better nests since.
After this the magpie took some twigs and
twined them round the outside.
"The very thing!" said the sparrow,
and off he went - so sparrows make rather slovenly nests
to this day.
Well, then Madge magpie took some feathers
and stuff, and lined the nest very comfortably
"That suits me!" cried the starling,
and off it flew - and very comfortable nests have starlings.
So it went on, every bird taking away some
knowledge of how to build nests, but none of them
waiting to the end.
Meanwhile Madge magpie went on working
and working without looking up, till the only bird
that remained was the turtle-dove, and that
hadn't paid any attention all along, but only
kept on saying its silly cry, "Take two, Taffy,
At last the magpie heard this just
as she was putting a twig across, so she said, "One's enough."
But the turtle-dove kept on saying,
"Take two, Taffy, take two-o-o-o!"
Then the magpie got angry and said,
"One's enough, I tell you!"
Still the turtle-dove cried, "Take
two, Taffy, take two-o-o-o!"
At last, and at last, the magpie looked up and
saw nobody near her but the silly turtle-dove,
and then she got rarely angry and flew away and
refused to tell the birds how to build nests again.
And that is why different birds build their nests