Exercises for The King's Birthmark

Back to the story


A. How much did you understand?


Part One


This story is in three parts. In the first part, a man finds out the secret of the king's birthmark, and he tells it into a hole near the river. In the second part, the musicians' flutes sing about the king's secret at the feast. In the third part, the elders of the king discover the truth.


Put these sentences from Part One of the story in the right order.

  1. After that, he filled the hole again, and went home.
  2. In the old days a king ruled Wolayita.
  3. "Listen," he said to his brother. "I know something."
  4. One day, the king went to take a bath.
  5. He looked in through the bathroom window and saw the king.


Part Two


Put these sentences from Part Two of the story in the right order.

  1. One day, many years later, the king decided to give a big feast.
  2. But the flute began to sing too. 
  3. Reeds soon grew up and covered the hole.
  4. "Let's go down to the river and cut some reeds."
  5. "Take this man away!" he cried. "Take him to the gorge and cut off his head!"


Part Three


Put these sentences from Part Three of the story in the right order.

  1. "The musicians didn't tell your secret. It was the flutes."
  2. The servants found the flutes and brought them to the elders.
  3. The elders came to the king. They asked many questions, and spoke to many people.
  4. The elder went to the river. He talked to many people there.
  5. The king learned his lesson.


B. Make complete sentences


Match the beginnings of these sentences with endings from the list below.

  1. Nobody knew about the birthmark ……
  2. He looked in through the bathroom window ……
  3. The man tried to tell other people the king's secret ……
  4. He ran to the river ……
  5. They went down to the river ……
  6. His servants ran forward ……
  7. But the second flute player's flute began to sing too ……
  8. He took off his turban ……


  1. …… and cut some reeds.
  2. …… and saw the king.
  3. …… and showed his birthmark to the people.
  4. …… and it sang louder than the singer.
  5. …… and the king was ashamed of it.
  6. …… and dug a hole in the bank.
  7. …… but no one listened.
  8. …… and caught the poor flute player.



C. Words and their meanings


Match these words to their definitions.

  1. birthmark 
  2. turban
  3. feast
  4. reed
  5. flute
  6. gorge


  1. a musical instrument
  2. a big meal with many guests and special food
  3. a kind of hat made by a cloth wrapped round the head
  4. a mark that a baby is born with
  5. a deep valley with steep sides
  6. a plant that grows by the water with thick, hollow stems


D. What do you think?


Was the king foolish to hide his birthmark?

Which is more important, good looks or a good character?


E. Make a play


This story can make a good play. If you act the part of the musicians, you could play a musical instrument, and sing the songs.


Check the answers