A damp mist swirled in
circles along the cold ground, closing in around the bronze lion statues.
It was half an hour before sunrise. There was a silence in the air. Little
traffic was on the street. Now and then a glowing headlight could be seen
through the fog.
High on the top of Nelsonís
Monument, in the heart of London, perched Arthur, the pigeon. He liked to
think of himself as King Arthur. He felt like a king, perched high up,
looking down on his kingdom. Arthur often closed his eyes and pictured
himself with a crown on his head and draped in royal robes. The other
birds didnít like Arthur. They thought he was arrogant. He was the biggest
of all the pigeons and not always nice.
From the top of the
monument he could see when the seed stand opened. A man sold little, red,
plastic cups filled with birdseed to the tourists or Londonerís who came
to sit in the square.
One day, while down on the
ground eating seed, George, a new pigeon whoíd just flown in from
Brighton, flew up and landed on top of Nelsonís Monument. He was as big as
Arthur. Noticing Georgeís arrival, one of the pigeons feeding near Arthur,
pointed up to the top of the tall column and showed Arthur that heíd lost
Arthur flew up and demanded
that George leave. "This is my place! I had it first! Iíve perched here
for years now. You leave!!" Arthur demanded.
George looked at him and
said, "Sorry old chap, but now itís my place!"
Arthur was very angry. He
swooped down repeatedly at George, but he didnít seem to care. Arthur
puffed up his chest, trying to scare George, but he just didnít care.
Arthur ruffled the feathers on his back. George didnít care. All day long
it went like this. Arthur did everything he could think of to try to get
George to leave but George didnít budge. He thought of Arthur as being
nothing but a pest.
Arthur then thought of an
idea. He flew up to George. "I challenge you to a contest. Since both of
us want this spot on the top of the monument and since only one of us can
have it, I suggest we have a contest. Weíll see who can eat the most cups
of birdseed in one day. If you win, I will never bother you again and you
can perch in my seat forever. If I win, then I get my place back and you
can never come here again. Agreed?"
George thought about it for
a while. Arthur was never going to leave him alone. Heíd bother him and
pester him forever, so he agreed to the contest.
The next morning, all of
the pigeons in Trafalgar Square gathered around. They watched as cup,
after cup, after cup of seed was brought to George and Arthur. Whenever
anyone tried to feed any of the others, those pigeons flew away and let
George or Arthur eat it. As the sun began to set, the man gathered all his
little red cups, closed the stand and went home for the night. George and
Arthur were full of birdseed. They were both very fat!
"I counted and Arthur ate
forty seven cups of bird seed today," said one of the pigeons.
"I counted too and George
ate forty five cups of seed. I guess King Arthur gets to sit in the chosen
spot atop Nelsonís Monument," a pigeon said mockingly.
Arthur was happy but too
full to react too much. He spread his wings and tried to fly. He couldnít
move. He couldnít lift his fat body off the ground. George, the loser of
the contest, also tried to fly. He couldnít do it either. Both birds had
eaten so much bird seed that they could do nothing waddle around like
"Look!" cried a different
pigeon, pointing to the top of the monument.
They all looked up. There,
perched atop the column, in Arthurís Seat, sat Victoria, a large female
pigeon. She cooed proudly. "From now on, this kingdom shall have a queen,
not a king. You may call me Queen Victoria."
All the pigeons on the
ground in the Square laughed at Arthur and George. Their greed and desire
to be powerful had made both of them losers. They waddled away, like a
couple of fat geese and never showed their faces at Trafalgar Square