The Willow Wren and the Bear
A bear insults children of the wren. A war breaks out between the birds and the land animals. Who do you think will win?
Once, in the summertime, the Bear and the Wolf were walking in the forest, and the Bear heard such a beautiful song from a bird, and said, 'Brother Wolf, what is that bird that sings so beautifully?' 'That is the king of birds,' said the Wolf, 'to him we must bow down;' but it was the Wren. If that is so,' said the Bear, 'I would also like to see his royal palace, come and take me there.' 'That does not work as you think,' said the Wolf, 'you must wait until the Queen comes.' Soon the Lady Queen came, and had food in her beak, and the Lord King too, and wanted to etch her young. The bear would have liked to go right after them, but the wolf held him by the throat and said, "No, you must wait until Mr. and Mrs. Queen are gone again. So they took care of the hole where the nest stood and trotted off again. The bear, however, had no rest, wanted to see the royal palace, and after a short while went ahead again. Then the king and queen had really flown out: he looked inside and saw five or six cubs lying there. Is this the royal palace?' cried the bear, 'this is a miserable palace! you are not royal children, you are dishonest children. When the young wrens heard this, they became very angry and shouted, 'No, we are not, our parents are honest people; Bear, this shall be settled with you.
The bear and the wolf were afraid, they turned back and sat down in their dens. But the young wrens shouted and made noise, and when their parents brought food again, they said, "We won't touch a fly's leg, and if we starve to death until you find out whether we are honest children or not, the bear has been there and scolded us. Then the old king said, "Be quiet, let's settle this. Then the queen and the bear flew in front of the bear's cave and shouted, "Old grumpy bear, why did you scold my children? this will get you bad, we will settle this in a bloody war. So the war was announced to the bear, and all four-footed animals were summoned, ox, donkey, ox, deer, roe deer, and everything else the earth carries. The wren, however, summoned everything that flies in the air; not only the birds large and small, but also the mosquitoes, hornets, bees and flies had to come.
When the time came for the war to begin, the Wren sent out scouts to find out who the enemy's commanding general was. The mosquito was the most cunning of all, swarmed in the forest where the enemy was gathering, and finally sat down under a leaf on the tree where the watchword was issued. There the bear stood, called the fox before him, and said 'Fox, thou art the cleverest of all the animals, thou shalt be general, and lead us.' 'All right,' said the Fox, 'but what signs shall we agree upon?' No one knew. Then the fox said, 'I have a beautiful long bushy tail, which looks almost like a red plume of feathers; if I hold the tail aloft, the thing goes well, and you must march on it; but if I let it hang down, then run as far as you can.' When the mosquito heard this, it flew home again and told the Wren everything in detail.
When the day dawned when the battle was to be fought, hu, the four-footed creature came running along with a roar that made the earth tremble; Wren also came along through the air with his army, which purred, screamed and swarmed so that one was frightened; and they attacked each other from both sides. But the wren sent the hornet down to sit under the fox's tail and sting him with all his might. When the fox received the first sting, it jerked so that it raised one leg, but it endured it and still held its tail aloft. At the second sting, it had to lower it for a moment, but at the third it could no longer hold itself, screamed and took the tail between its legs. When the animals saw this, they thought all was lost and began to run, each into his cave: and the birds had won the battle.
Then the king and queen flew home to their children, shouting 'Children, be happy, eat and drink to your heart's content, we have won the war'. The young wrens, however, said: "We are not eating yet, the bear must first come before the nest and make amends and say that we are honest children. Then the wren flew in front of the bear's hole and shouted, "Growler, you must go in front of the nest to my children and make amends and say that they are honest children, otherwise your ribs will be crushed in your body. Then the bear crawled in the greatest fear and made amends. Now the young wrens were satisfied, sat down together, ate and drank and made merry until late at night.