The majestic elk paused in a beam of sunlight on a prominent ridge. He held his head up high, knowing his antlers were gleaming in the sunlight. He waited. Soon, the murmurs began.
“It’s the king of the forest,” a rabbit whispered.
“Isn’t he amazing?” a finch chirped.
The little animals hurried to make him flower crowns to honor him. The elk waited patiently for them to return. Rabbit and birds and squirrels were soon scampering back. However, just before they reached him, they paused. A squirrel gasped.
“It’s the king of the forest,” the squirrel said.
“He’s wonderful,” a snake said.
The animals hurried closer with their crowns. The elk lifted his chin a little higher, showing off his antlers. But, the animals hurried past him. The elk turned in surprise, his eyes following the animals as they headed up the mountain.
A white tailed deer stood in a beam of sunlight. He was posed on a large rock, looking serene and royal. The elk growled. This was completely unacceptable. Upstaged by an upstart white-tailed deer? Hah. He’d show them.
He casually wandered into the forest. Once out of sight, he raced around to a spot where he knew he’d be framed by a small thicket of young trees. He slowed his pace as he stepped out into view, casually parting the trees with a hoof.
He turned to show his best side at a good three-quarter profile, making sure to use the light to best advantage. Glancing out of the corner of his eye, he saw that the animals had not yet reached the deer. He was just in time. He was careful not to smirk as he heard a gasp.
“It’s the king of the forest,” warbled a robin.
“Wow!” a squirrel said.
The animals ran past the deer. The deer’s head whipped around and he looked up at the elk. Their eyes met and the elk lifted his chin. The corner of his mouth tilted up just a little. He couldn’t help it.
The deer’s eyes narrowed. He turned and walked further into the forest as though he didn’t care whether or not anyone noticed. The elk knew better. He needed to be crowned before the white tailed deer upstaged him again. Or worse, a moose came and overshadowed them both.
What if a bear decided to be king? He could never stand up to a bear. Luckily, bears hated politics. But, that could change. He glanced down at the little animals. Unfortunately, they were slowing down. It was hard for them to pick their way up the slope with their short little legs.
He could hear a crashing sound nearby. Time was almost up. The animals probably would give up and wander off if he tried to outshine the annoying deer a third time. He needed to show he was better than anyone else right now.
The elk turned and smiled at the little animals. He clambered down from the ridge, trying to look graceful. Some of the little trees slapped at him as he pushed past, but he pretended not to notice.
He met the little animals half way and bowed his head to be crowned. A rabbit squealed. The animals hopped and flew, covering his antlers and ears in little flower crowns. It was a little scratchy and his ear tickled, but he ignored it. He raised his head and the animals cheered.
He pretended to look off in the distance. From the corner of his eye, he could see the deer push though the bushes further up the mountain. The elk snorted. Too late. He turned back to the little animals. They all looked up at him adoringly. He smiled.
“I know of a good berry patch nearby, and the fruit is ripe,” he said. Let’s celebrate together, friends,” he said.
The little animals cheered again. “He’s the best king of the forest ever,” a squirrel said. The elk smiled again, looking majestic, while jumping up and down on the inside. The animals left together to celebrate.