The Hawk and the Coling
Early one morning a hawk sallied forth from his nest to find something to eat. He flew so high that he could hardly be seen from the earth. He looked down, but as he could not see anything, he flew lower and lower, until he came to the top of a tree.
On one of the branches he saw sitting quietly a coling. The hawk despised the little bird and at once made up his mind to challenge him to a flight upward.
So the hawk said to the coling, “Do you wish to fly up into the sky with me to see which of us can fly the faster and the higher?”
The coling did not answer at once, but he thought of the matter for a while. Then he said to the hawk, “When do you want to have the race?”
“That is for you to decide,” said the hawk. “If you wish to have it now, well and good.”
“Well,” said the coling, “let us have it tomorrow morning before sunrise!”
“All right,” said the hawk.
“But,” said the coling, “each of us is to carry a load with him to make the flight a little more difficult.”
“Well, what do you want to take with you?” said the hawk.
“I will take some salt,” said the coling.
“Then I will take some cotton,” replied the hawk. “Let us meet here in this tree early to-morrow!” This agreed upon, the two birds separated. The hawk went to the cotton-field and got his load of cotton, while the coling went to the sea and got some salt.
The next morning they met in the tree, each having the object he would carry with him in his flight. They asked the crow, who was present, to be the judge of the contest. The crow accepted the commission and said that he would give a caw as a signal for them to start. He did so, and the two contestants were off.
At first the hawk flew faster and higher than the coling. but very soon it began to rain. The cotton on the hawk’s back became soaked with water and soon was very heavy, but the salt on the coling’s back was soon dissolved, and then he had no load at all.
Under these conditions, the coling soon overtook the bigger bird. For a time they flew side by side, but after a few minutes the coling had the best of the race, and in a little while longer the hawk could no longer see his rival.
But the coling flew so high that at last his head touched the sun, and all the feathers on the top were burned off. The hawk now flew down to the crow and said that he had won the race, for the coling had fallen to the ground dead. But by and by the coling himself came. He showed them the top of his head as a proof that he had won the race. The crow gave his decision in favor of the coling, and the hawk flew off disgraced.
From that time all colings have had the tops of their heads bald to show that they are the descendants of the victorious bird.