Gateway to the Classics: The Oak-Tree Fairy Book by Clifton Johnson
The Oak-Tree Fairy Book by  Clifton Johnson

The Gotham Men and the Cuckoo

T HE men of Gotham thought that the cuckoos were the finest songsters of all the birds. "The only thing I do not like about the cuckoos," said one man, "is that they do not sing all the year through. They stay with us only a few months in the spring and summer, and then they fly away."

"Well," said another man, "why not catch one of the birds and keep it with us always?"

This plan was pleasing to the men of Gotham and they said, "Yes, we will catch a cuckoo and we will fix a place for it near the middle of the village, so that we can all hear it sing every day."

They went to work at once and in a corner of a field built a stout paling fence more than six feet high and filled in all the crevices with brush and willow twigs. "No bird can get through that fence," said they when it was finished.

Then they caught a cuckoo and put it inside of the fence, and they said to the cuckoo, "You must sing there all through the year, or you shall have neither meat to eat nor water to drink."

But the cuckoo as soon as it was set free inside of the fence flew away.

"A vengeance on the bird!" exclaimed the men of Gotham. "We did not make our fence high enough."


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