Tales of Wonder Every Child Should Know
Author: Various
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What Every Child Should Know LIBRARY




Edited by



Published by DOUBLEDAY, DORAN & CO., INC., for



52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York


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Doubleday, Page & Company wish to make acknowledgment of their indebtedness to the following publishers:

G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London, for permission to use "The Five Queer Brothers," "The Two Melons" and "What the Birds Said," from "Chinese Nights' Entertainment," by Adele M. Fielde; "The Lac of Rupees," from "Indian Fairy Tales," by Joseph Jacobs; "The Sea-maiden," from "Celtic Fairy Tales," by Joseph Jacobs; "The Black Horse" and "The Farmer of Liddesdale," from "More Celtic Fairy Tales," by Joseph Jacobs; and "The Buried Moon," from "More English Fairy Tales," by Joseph Jacobs.

T. Y. Crowell & Company, New York, for permission to use "The Grateful Crane" from "The Fire-fly's Lovers," by William Elliot Griffis.

Joseph McDonough, Albany, for permission to use "Little Surya Bai," "The Jackal, the Barber and the Brahmin," "Truth's Triumph," "The Raksha's Palace," and "Panch-Phul Ranee," from "Old Deccan Days," by M. Frere.

Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, for permission to use "The Deserter," "Steelpacha" and "The Watch-tower Between Earth and Heaven," from "The Russian Grandmother's Wonder Tales," by L. S. Houghton.

Macmillan & Company, London, for permission to use "The Grateful Foxes" and "The Badger's Money," from "Tales of Old Japan," by A. B. Mitford.

The Review of Reviews Company, London, for permission to use "The Feast of Lanterns" and "The Lake of Gems," from "Books for the Bairns," edited by W. T. Stead.

We also wish to express our appreciation to Mr. Seumas MacManus for the use of his stories, "The Amadan of the Dough," "Hookedy-Crookedy," "Billy Beg and the Bull," and "The Queen of the Golden Mines," from "Donegal Fairy Stories," and "In Chimney Corners," published by us.

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I WONDER (Scandinavian)




LITTLE SURYA BAI (Southern Indian)



THE LAC OF RUPEES (Southern Indian)











DAPPLEGRIM (Scandinavian)













TRUTH'S TRIUMPH (Southern Indian)






THE RAKSHAS'S PALACE (Southern Indian)



PANCH-PHUL RANEE (Southern Indian)


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I wonder if in Samarcand Grave camels kneel in golden sand, Still lading bales of magic spells And charms a lover's wisdom tells, To fare across the desert main And bring the Princess home again— I wonder!

I wonder in Japan to-day If grateful beasts find out the way To those who succoured them in pain, And bring their blessings back again; If cranes and sparrows take the shape And all the ways of mortals ape— I wonder!

In Bagdad, may there still be found That potent powder, finely ground, Which changes all who on it feast, Monarch or slave, to bird or beast? Do Caliphs taste and unafraid, Turn storks, and weeping night-owls aid? I wonder!

I wonder if in far Cathay The nightingale still trills her lay Beside the Porcelain Palace door, And courtiers praise her as before I If emperors dream of bygone things And musing, weep the while she sings— I wonder!

Such things have never chanced to me. I wonder if to eyes that see These magic visions still appear In daily living, now and here; If every flower is touched with glory, If e'en the grass-blades tell a story— I wonder N. A. S.

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There is a Chinese tale, known as "The Singing Prisoner," in which a friendless man is bound hand and foot and thrown into a dungeon, where he lies on the cold stones unfed and untended.

He has no hope of freedom and as complaint will avail him nothing, he begins to while away the hours by reciting poems and stories that he had learned in youth. So happily does he vary the tones of the speakers, feigning in turn the voices of kings and courtiers, lovers and princesses, birds and beasts, that he speedily draws all his fellow-prisoners around him, beguiling them by the spell of his genius.

Those who have food, eagerly press it upon him that his strength may be replenished; the jailer, who has been drawn into the charmed circle, loosens his bonds that he may move more freely, and finally grants him better quarters that the stories may be heard to greater advantage. Next the petty officers hear of the prisoner's marvellous gifts and report them everywhere with such effect that the higher authorities at last become interested and grant him a pardon.

Tales like these, that draw children from play and old men from the chimney-corner; that gain the freedom of a Singing Prisoner, and enable a Scheherazade to postpone from night to night her hour of death, are one and all pervaded by the same eternal magic. Pain, grief, terror, care, and bondage are all forgotten for a time when lakes of gems and enchanted waterfalls shimmer in the sunlight, when Rakshas's palaces rise, full-built, before our very eyes, or when Caballero's Knights of the Fish prance away on their magic chargers. "I wonder when!" "I wonder how!" "I wonder where!" we say as we follow them into the land of mystery. So Youngling said when he heard the sound of the mysterious axe in the forest and asked himself who could be chopping there.

"I wonder!" he cried again when he listened to the faerie spade digging and delving at the top of the rocks.

"I wonder!" he questioned a third time when he drank from the streamlet and sought its source, finding it at last in the enchanted walnut. Axe and spade and walnut each gladly welcomed him, you remember, saying, "It's long I've been looking for you, my lad!" for the new world is always awaiting its Columbus.

No such divine curiosity as that of Youngling's stirred the dull minds of his elder brothers and to them came no such reward. They jeered at the wanderer, reproaching him that he forever strayed from the beaten path, but when Youngling issues from the forest with the magic axe, the marvellous spade, and the miraculous nut to conquer his little world, we begin to ask ourselves which of the roads in the wood are indeed best worth following.

"Childish wonder is the first step in human wisdom," said the greatest of the world's showmen, but there are no wonders to the eyes that lack real vision. In the story of "What the Birds Said," for instance, the stolid jailer flatly denies that the feathered creatures have any message of import to convey; it is the poor captive who by sympathy and insight divines the meaning of their chatter and thus saves the city and his own life.

The tales in this book are of many kinds of wonder; of black magic, white magic and gray; ranging from the recital of strange and supernatural deeds and experiences to those that fore-shadow modern conquests of nature and those that utilize the marvellous to teach a moral lesson. Choose among them as you will, for as the Spaniards might say, "The book is at your feet; whatever you admire is yours!"

"Tales of Wonder" is the fourth and last of our Fairy Series in the Children's Classics, so this preface is in the nature of an epilogue. "The Fairy Ring," "Magic Casements," "Tales of Laughter"—each had its separate message for its little public, and "Tales of Wonder" rings down the curtain.

There was once a little brown nightingale that sang melodious strains in the river-thickets of the Emperor's garden, but when she was transported to the Porcelain Palace the courtiers soon tired of her wild-wood notes and supplanted her with a wonderful bird-automaton, fashioned of gold and jewels.

Time went on, but the Emperor, wisest of the court, began at last to languish, and to long unceasingly for the fresh, free note of the little brown nightingale. It was sweeter by far than the machine-made trills and roulades of the artificial songster, and he felt instinctively that only by its return could death be charmed away.

The old, yet ever new, tales in these four books are like the wild notes of the nightingale in the river-thicket, and many are the emperors to whom they have sung.

Whenever we tire of what is trivial and paltry in the machine-made fairy tale of to-day, let us open one of these crimson volumes and hear again the note of the little brown bird in the thicket.


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Tales of Wonder

I Wonder

Once on a time there was a man who had three sons—Peter, Paul, and the least of all, whom they called Youngling. I can't say the man had anything more than these three sons, for he hadn't one penny to rub against another; and he told the lads, over and over again, that they must go out into the world and try to earn their bread, for at home there was nothing to be looked for but starving to death.

Now near by the man's cottage was the King's palace, and, you must know, just against the windows a great oak had sprung up, which was so stout and tall that it took away all the light. The King had said he would give untold treasure to the man who could fell the oak, but no one was man enough for that, for as soon as one chip of the oak's trunk flew off, two grew in its stead.

A well, too, the King desired, which was to hold water for the whole year; for all his neighbours had wells, but he hadn't any, and that he thought a shame. So the King said he would give both money and goods to anyone who could dig him such a well as would hold water for a whole year round, but no one could do it, for the palace lay high, high up on a hill, and they could only dig a few inches before they came upon the living rock.

But, as the King had set his heart on having these two things done, he had it given out far and wide, in all the churches of his dominion, that he who could fell the big oak in the King's courtyard, and get him a well that would hold water the whole year round, should have the Princess and half the kingdom.

Well! you may easily know there was many a man who came to try his luck; but all their hacking and hewing, all their digging and delving, were of no avail. The oak grew taller and stouter at every stroke, and the rock grew no softer.

So one day the three brothers thought they'd set off and try, too, and their father hadn't a word against it; for, even if they didn't get the Princess and half the kingdom, it might happen that they would get a place somewhere with a good master, and that was all he wanted. So when the brothers said they thought of going to the palace, their father said "Yes" at once, and Peter, Paul, and Youngling went off from their home.

They had not gone far before they came to a fir-wood, and up along one side of it rose a steep hillside, and as they went they heard something hewing and hacking away up on the hill among the trees.

"I wonder now what it is that is hewing away up yonder?" said Youngling.

"You are always so clever with your wonderings," said Peter and Paul, both at once. "What wonder is it, pray, that a wood-cutter should stand and hack up on a hillside?"

"Still, I'd like to see what it is, after all," said Youngling, and up he went.

"Oh, if you're such a child, 't will do you good to go and take a lesson," cried out his brothers after him.

But Youngling didn't care for what they said; he climbed the steep hillside toward where the noise came, and when he reached the place, what do you think he saw?

Why, an axe that stood there hacking and hewing, all of itself, at the trunk of a fir.

"Good day," said Youngling. "So you stand here all alone and hew, do you?"

"Yes, here I've stood and hewed and hacked a long, long time, waiting for you, my lad," said the Axe.

"Well, here I am at last," said Youngling, as he took the Axe, pulled it off its haft, and stuffed both head and haft into his wallet.

So when he climbed down again to his brothers, they began to jeer and laugh at him.

"And now, what funny thing was it you saw up yonder on the hillside?" they said.

"Oh, it was only an axe we heard," said Youngling.

When they had gone a bit farther, they came under a steep spur of rock, and up above they heard something digging and shovelling.

"I wonder, now," said Youngling, "what it is digging and shovelling up yonder at the top of the rock?"

"Ah, you're always so clever with your wonderings," said Peter and Paul again; "as if you'd never heard a woodpecker hacking and pecking at a hollow tree."

"Well, well," said Youngling, "I think it would be a piece of fun just to see what it really is."

And so off he set to climb the rock, while the others laughed and made game of him. But he didn't care a bit for that; up he clambered, and when he got near the top, what do you think he saw? Why, a spade that stood there digging and delving.

"Good day," said Youngling. "So you stand here all alone, and dig and delve?"

"Yes, that's what I do," said the Spade, "and that's what I've done this many a long day, waiting for you, my lad."

"Well, here I am," said Youngling again, as he took the Spade and knocked off its handle, and put it into his wallet; and then he climbed down again to his brothers.

"Well, what was it, so strange and rare," said Peter and Paul, "that you saw up there at the top of the rock?"

"Oh," said Youngling, "nothing more than a spade; that was what we heard."

So they went on again a good bit, till they came to a brook. They were thirsty all three, after their long walk, and so they lay down beside the brook to have a drink.

"I have a great fancy to see where this brook comes from," said Youngling.

So up alongside the brook he went, in spite of all that his brothers shouted after him. Nothing could stop him. On he went. And as he went up and up, the brook grew smaller and smaller, and at last, a little way farther on, what do you think he saw? Why, a great walnut, and out of that the water trickled.

"Good day," said Youngling again. "So you lie here and trickle, and run down all alone?"

"Yes, I do," said the Walnut "and here have I trickled and run this many a long day, waiting for you, my lad."

"Well, here I am," said Youngling, as he took a lump of moss and plugged up the hole, so that the water mightn't run out. Then he put the Walnut into his wallet, and ran down to his brothers.

"Well, now," said Peter and Paul, "have you found out where the water comes from? A rare sight it must have been!"

"Oh, after all, it was only a hole it ran out of," said Youngling, and the others laughed and made game of him again, but Youngling didn't mind that a bit.

So when they had gone a little farther, they came to the King's palace; but as every man in the kingdom had heard that he might win the Princess and half the realm, if he could only fell the big oak and dig the King's well, so many had come to try their luck that the oak was now twice as stout and big as it had been at first, for you will remember that two chips grew for every one they hewed out with their axes.

So the King had now laid it down as a punishment that if anyone tried and couldn't fell the oak, he should be put on a barren island, and both his ears were to be clipped off. But the two brothers didn't let themselves be frightened by this threat; they were quite sure they could fell the oak, and Peter, as he was the eldest, was to try his hand first; but it went with him as with all the rest who had hewn at the oak: for every chip he cut two grew in its place. So the King's men seized him, and clipped off both his ears, and put him out on the island.

Now Paul was to try his luck, but he fared just the same! When he had hewn two or three strokes, they began to see the oak grow, and so the King's men seized him, too, and clipped his ears, and put him out on the island; and his ears they clipped closer, because they said he ought to have taken a lesson from his brother.

So now Youngling was to try.

"If you want to look like a marked sheep, we're quite ready to clip your ears at once, and then you'll save yourself some trouble," said the King, for he was angry with him for his brothers' sake.

"Well, I'd just like to try first," said Youngling, and so he got leave. Then he took his Axe out of his wallet and fitted it to its handle.

"Hew away!" said he to his Axe, and away it hewed, making the chips fly again, so that it wasn't long before down came the oak.

When that was done, Youngling pulled out his Spade and fitted it to its handle.

"Dig away!" said he to his Spade, and so the Spade began to dig and delve till the earth and rock flew out in splinters, and he soon had the well deep enough, you may believe.

And when he had got it as big and deep as he chose, Youngling took out his Walnut and laid it in one corner of the well, and pulled the plug of moss out.

"Trickle and run," said Youngling, and so the Nut trickled and ran till the water gushed out of the hole in a stream, and in a short time the well was brimful.

So as Youngling had felled the oak which shaded the King's palace, and dug a well in the palace-yard, he got the Princess and half the kingdom, as the King had said; but it was lucky for Peter and Paul that they had lost their ears, else they might have grown tired of hearing how everyone said each hour of the day:

"Well, after all, Youngling wasn't so much out of his mind when he took to wondering."

What the Birds Said

A lad named Kong Hia Chiang, who lived with his parents among the mountains, understood the language of the birds. One twilight, as he sat at his books, a flock of birds alighted on a tree before his window and sang:

"Kong Hia Chiang, on the southern plain A sheep awaits you by a heap of stones,— A fine fat wether, that the dogs have slain; You eat the flesh and we will pick the bones!"

Kong Hia Chiang went and brought in the torn sheep and cooked it during the night. The next morning a shepherd came and said that one of his sheep was missing; he had found blood on the meadow, had followed the trail, and it had brought him to that house. Kong Hia Chiang acknowledged that he had brought in the sheep, but declared that the dogs had killed it, and that its death and the place where it might be found had been made known to him by birds. His story was considered to be an impudent fabrication, and he was haled away to prison.

While he was awaiting his trial before the magistrate, a bird, flying eastward, perched on the wall, saw him, and piped:

"Foes approach the western border, Banners, bows, and spears in order, While the gate lacks watch or warder."

Kong Hia Chiang thereupon so vehemently besought his jailer to inform the magistrate of the imminent danger of invasion through the unprotected Western Pass, that the jailer, though wholly incredulous, decided to test his power of comprehending the utterances of birds. He took some rice, soaked a part of it in sweetened water, and a part in brine, and then spread the whole on the roof of a shed into which he brought Kong Hia Chiang, and asked him if he knew why so many birds were chirruping overhead. Kong Hia Chiang at once replied that those on the roof were hailing those that were flying past, and saying:

"Call a halt; call a halt; Here is rice fresh and white; Half is sweet, half is salt; Stop a bit; take a bite."

The jailer was at once convinced that the prisoner understood the speech of birds, and therefore hastened to the magistrate to report the warning and the test. The magistrate sent a swift courier to notify the military officers, and a scout was sent out to the west. He soon confirmed the message of Kong Hia Chiang, and troops were dispatched to strengthen the garrison at the pass, the invaders thereby being successfully repelled. The great service rendered to the country by Kong Hia Chiang was acknowledged by his sovereign, who afterward made use of his remarkable talent, invited him to study with the princes, and eventually raised him to a high rank among the nobles of the empire.

The Smith and the Fairies

Years ago there lived in Crossbrig a smith of the name of MacEachern. This man had an only child, a boy of about thirteen or fourteen years of age, cheerful, strong, and healthy. All of a sudden he fell ill; took to his bed and moped whole days away. No one could tell what was the matter with him, and the boy himself could not, or would not, tell how he felt. He was wasting away fast; getting thin, old, and yellow; and his father and all his friends were afraid that he would die.

At last one day, after the boy had been lying in this condition for a long time, getting neither better nor worse, always confined to bed, but with an extraordinary appetite—one day, while sadly revolving these things, and standing idly at his forge, with no heart to work, the smith was agreeably surprised to see an old man, well known for his sagacity and knowledge of out-of-the-way things, walk into his workshop. Forthwith he told him the occurrence which had clouded his life.

The old man looked grave as he listened; and after sitting a long time pondering over all he had heard, gave his opinion thus: "It is not your son you have got. The boy has been carried away by the 'Daione Sith,' and they have left a Sibhreach in his place."

"Alas! and what then am I to do?" said the smith. "How am I ever to see my own son again?"

"I will tell you how," answered the old man. "But, first, to make sure that it is not your own son you have got, take as many empty egg-shells as you can get, go into his room, spread them out carefully before his sight, then proceed to draw water with them, carrying them two and two in your hands as if they were a great weight, and arrange them when full, with every sort of earnestness around the fire."

The smith accordingly gathered as many broken egg-shells as he could get, went into the room, and proceeded to carry out all his instructions.

He had not been long at work before there arose from the bed a shout of laughter, and the voice of the seeming sick boy exclaimed, "I am eight hundred years of age, and I have never seen the like of that before." The smith returned and told the old man.

"Well, now," said the sage to him, "did I not tell you that it was not your son you had: your son is in Borracheill in a digh there (that is, a round green hill frequented by fairies). Get rid as soon as possible of this intruder, and I think I may promise you your son. You must light a very large and bright fire before the bed on which this stranger is lying. He will ask you, 'What is the use of such a fire as that?' Answer him at once, 'You will see that presently!' and then seize him, and throw him into the middle of it. If it is your own son you have got, he will call out to you to save him; but if not, the thing will fly through the roof."

The smith again followed the old man's advice: kindled a large fire, answered the question put to him as he had been directed to do, and seizing the child flung him in without hesitation. The Sibhreach gave an awful yell, and sprang through the roof, where a hole had been left to let the smoke out.

On a certain night the old man told him the green round hill, where the fairies kept the boy, would be open, and on that date the smith, having provided himself with a Bible, a dirk, and a crowing cock, was to proceed to the hill. He would hear singing and dancing, and much merriment going on, he had been told, but he was to advance boldly; the Bible he carried would be a certain safeguard to him against any danger from the fairies. On entering the hill he was to stick the dirk in the threshold, to prevent the hill from closing upon him; "and then," continued the old man, "on entering you will see a spacious apartment before you, beautifully clean, and there, standing far within, working at a forge, you will also see your own son. When you are questioned, say you come to seek him, and will not go without him."

Not long after this, the time came round, and the smith sallied forth, prepared as instructed. Sure enough as he approached the hill, there was a light where light was seldom seen before. Soon after, a sound of piping, dancing, and joyous merriment reached the anxious father on the night wind.

Overcoming every impulse to fear, the smith approached the threshold steadily, stuck the dirk into it as directed, and entered. Protected by the Bible he carried on his breast, the fairies could not touch him; but they asked him, with a good deal of displeasure, what he wanted there. He answered, "I want my son, whom I see down there, and I will not go without him."

Upon hearing this the whole company before him gave a loud laugh, which wakened up the cock he carried dozing in his arms, who at once leaped up on his shoulders, clapped his wings lustily, and crowed loud and long.

The fairies, incensed, seized the smith and his son, and throwing them out of the hill, flung the dirk after them, and in an instant all was dark.

For a year and a day the boy never did a turn of work, and hardly ever spoke a word; but at last one day, sitting by his father and watching him finishing a sword he was making for some chief, and which he was very particular about, he suddenly exclaimed, "That is not the way to do it;" and taking the tools from his father's hands he set to work himself in his place, and soon fashioned a sword, the like of which was never seen in the country before.

From that day the young man wrought constantly with his father, and became the inventor of a peculiarly fine and well-tempered weapon, the making of which kept the two smiths, father and son, in constant employment, spread their fame far and wide, and gave them the means in abundance, as they before had the disposition, to live content with all the world and very happily with each other.

The Grateful Crane[1]

"Fighting sparrows fear not man," as the old proverb says. Yet it was not a sparrow but a crane that fell down out of the air. Near the feet of Musai, the farmer's boy, it lay, as he waded in the ooze of his rice field, working from daybreak to sundown.

[Footnote 1: From "The Fire-fly's Lovers," by William Elliot Griffis, copyright, 1008, by T. Y. Crowell & Co.]

The farmer's boy was used to cranes, for in the plough's furrow on the dry land these long-legged birds walked close behind, not the least afraid in the Mikado's dominions. For who would hurt the white-breasted creature, that every one called the Honourable Lord Crane? The graceful birds seemed to love to be near man, when he worked in the wet or paddy fields, where under four inches of water the seeds were planted and the rice plants grew. So graceful in all its movements is the crane that many a dainty little maid who acts politely hears herself spoken of as the "bird that rises from the water without muddying the stream."

Musai hurried to the grassy bank at the edge of the paddy field as fast as he could wade through the liquid mud, to see what was the matter with the crane. Throwing down his hoe, and looking in the grass, he saw that an arrow was sticking in the crane's back, and that red drops of blood dappled its white plumage. Instead of seeming frightened when the man came near, the bird bent down its neck, as if to submit to whatever the farmer's boy should do.

Gently Musai plucked out the arrow and helped the bird to rise, pushing back the undergrowth so that its broad white pinions could have free play. After a few feeble attempts to fly it spread its wings, rose up from the earth, and after circling several times round its benefactor as though to thank him, it flew off to the mountain.

Musai went back to his work, hoping that in season his labor would yield a good crop. He had his widowed mother to support and must needs toil every day. His one delight was to come home, weary after the long hours of labour in the muddy rice field, and have a hot bath. This his mother always had ready for him. Then, clean and with a fresh kimono, and a little rest before supper-time, he was ready for a quiet evening with the neighbours.

So in routine the days passed by until autumn was near at hand. One day, returning before the sun was fully set, he found seated beside his mother a lovely girl. In spite of his contemptible appearance after a day's toil, working barelegged in the mire, she welcomed him with the grace of a princess.

Not thinking of returning the salute in his unwashed condition, he took off his head-kerchief, drew in his breath, and bowing to his mother asked.

"Who is the honourable That Side, and how comes she into this miserable hut?"

"My son," replied his mother, "though you are a man, you have as yet no wife. Your virtues of obedience, filial reverence, fidelity, and politeness have made you well known. Hence this fair damsel is not unwilling to become your wife. But, without your consent, I could not answer her proposal. What do you think about it?"

The young farmer, though highly complimented, at first said little, but he thought hard. "Daintily reared, and perhaps of noble birth is she, but should I gratify her desire, how can she bear the poverty to which we are accustomed? Will she be patient, when she has to suffer hunger? Or, shall we be separated, and that which promises love and happiness last only a little while, to pass away, leaving gloom and sorrow behind?"

But as the days slipped along, and when he saw how kind she was to her new mother, ever patient and self-denying in loving reverence, all his fears were driven away like clouds before the wind. So the young man and woman were married.

But when the full autumn-time came for the rice ears to fill and round out, nothing was found but husk and shell. The crop was a total failure. With heavy taxes unpaid and no food in the house, starvation loomed before them. By winter, all were in dire distress.

Then the patient wife revealed new powers and cheered her husband, saying,

"I can spin such cloth as was never made in this province, if you will build me a separate room. I cannot weave here, or make the fine pattern of red and white except when alone and in perfect silence. Build me a room, and the money you need will flow in."

The old mother was doubtful as to her daughter-in-law's project and even Musai was but half-hearted. Yet he went to work diligently. With beam, and wattle, and thatch, floor of mats and window of latticed paper, with walls made tight because well daubed with clay, he built the room apart. There alone, day by day, secluded from all, the sweet wife toiled unseen. The mother and husband patiently waited, until after a week, the little woman rejoined the family circle. In her hands she bore a roll of woven stuff, white and shining, as lustrous and pure as fresh fallen snow. Yet here and there, a crimson thread in the stuff did but intensify the purity of the otherwise unflecked whiteness. Pure red and pure white were the only colours of this wonderful fabric.

"What shall we call it?" inquired the amazed husband.

"It has no name, for there is none other in the world like it," said the fair weaver.

"But I must have a name. I shall take it to the Daimio. He will not buy, if he does not know how it is called."

"Then," said the wife, "tell him its name is 'White Crane's-down cloth.'"

Quickly passed the snowy fabric into the hands of the lord of the castle, who sent it as a present to the Empress in Kioto. All were amazed by it, and the Empress commanded the donor to be richly rewarded. The farmer husband, bearing a thousand pieces of coin in his bag, hastened home to spread the shining silver at his mother's feet and to thank the wife who had brought him fortune. A feast followed, and for many weeks the family lived easily on the money thus gained. Then, when again on the edge of need, Musai asked his wife if she were willing to weave another web of the wonderful Crane's-down cloth.

Cheerfully she agreed, cautioning him to leave her in privacy, and not to look upon her until she came forth with the cloth.

But alas for the spirit of prying impertinence and wicked curiosity! Not satisfied with having been delivered from starvation by a wife that served him like a slave, Musai stealthily crept up to the paper partition, touched his tongue to the latticed pane, and poked his finger noiselessly through, thus making a round hole to which he glued his eye and looked in.

What a sight! There was no woman at work, but a noble white crane—the same that he had seen in the field, and from whose back he had extracted the hunter's arrow. Bending over the spinning wheel, the bird pulled from her own breast the silky down, and by twining and twisting made it into the finest thread which mortals ever beheld. From time to time, she pressed from her heart's blood red drops with which to dye some strands, and thus the weaving went on. The web of the cloth was nearly finished.

Musai astounded looked on without moving, until suddenly called by his mother, he cried out in response, "Yes, I'm coming."

The startled crane turned and saw the eye in the wall. Throwing down thread and web she moved angrily to the door, gave a shrill scream and flew out under the sky. Like a white speck against the blue hills, she appeared for a little while and then was lost to sight.

Son and mother once more faced poverty and loneliness, and Musai again splashed barelegged in the rice field.

Little Surya Bai

A poor Milkwoman was once going into the town with cans full of milk to sell. She took with her her little daughter (a baby of about a year old), having no one in whose charge to leave her at home. Being tired, she sat down by the roadside, placing the child and the cans full of milk beside her; when, on a sudden, two large eagles flew overhead; and one, swooping down, seized the child, and flew away with her out of the mother's sight.

Very far, far away the eagles carried the little baby, even beyond the borders of her native land, until they reached their home in a lofty tree. There the old eagles had built a great nest; it was made of iron and wood, and was as big as a little house; there was iron all round, and to get in and out you had to go through seven iron doors.

In this stronghold they placed the little baby, and because she was like a young eaglet they called her Surya Bai (the Sun Lady). The eagles both loved the child; and daily they flew into distant countries to bring her rich and precious things—clothes that had been made for princesses, precious jewels, wonderful playthings, all that was most costly and rare.

One day, when Surya Bai was twelve years old, the old husband Eagle said to his wife, "Wife, our daughter has no diamond ring on her little finger, such as princesses wear; let us go and fetch her one." "Yes," said the other old Eagle; "but to fetch it we must go very far." "True," rejoined he, "such a ring is not to be got nearer than the Red Sea, and that is a twelve-month's journey from here; nevertheless we will go." So the Eagles started off, leaving Surya Bai in the strong nest, with twelve months' provisions (that she might not be hungry whilst they were away), and a little dog and cat to take care of her.

Not long after they were gone, one day the naughty little cat stole some food from the store, for doing which Surya Bai punished her. The cat did not like being whipped, and she was still more annoyed at having been caught stealing; so, in revenge, she ran to the fireplace (they were obliged to keep a fire always burning in the Eagle's nest, as Surya never went down from the tree, and would not otherwise have been able to cook her dinner), and put out the fire. When the little girl saw this she was much vexed, for the cat had eaten their last cooked provisions, and she did not know what they were to do for food. For three whole days Surya Bai puzzled over the difficulty, and for three whole days she and the dog and the cat had nothing to eat. At last she thought she would climb to the edge of the nest, and see if she could see any fire in the country below; and, if so, she would go down and ask the people who lighted it to give her a little with which to cook her dinner. So she climbed to the edge of the nest. Then, very far away on the horizon, she saw a thin curl of blue smoke. So she let herself down from the tree, and all day long she walked in the direction whence the smoke came. Toward evening she reached the place, and found it rose from a small hut in which sat an old woman warming her hands over a fire. Now, though Surya Bai did not know it, she had reached the Rakshas's country, and this old woman was none other than a wicked old Rakshas, who lived with her son in the little hut. The young Rakshas, however, had gone out for the day. When the old Rakshas saw Surya Bai, she was much astonished, for the girl was beautiful as the sun, and her rich dress resplendent with jewels; and she said to herself, "How lovely this child is; what a dainty morsel she would be! Oh, if my son were only here we would kill her, and boil her, and eat her. I will try and detain her till his return."

Then, turning to Surya Bai, she said, "Who are you, and what do you want?"

Surya Bai answered, "I am the daughter of the great Eagles, but they have gone a far journey, to fetch me a diamond ring, and the fire has died out in the nest. Give me, I pray you, a little from your hearth."

The Rakshas replied, "You shall certainly have some, only first pound this rice for me, for I am old, and have no daughter to help me."

Then Surya Bai pounded the rice, but the young Rakshas had not returned by the time she had finished; so the old Rakshas said to her, "If you are kind, grind this corn for me, for it is hard work for my old hands."

Then she ground the corn, but still the young Rakshas came not; and the old Rakshas said to her, "Sweep the house for me first, and then I will give you the fire."

So Surya Bai swept the house; but still the young Rakshas did not come.

Then his mother said to Surya Bai, "Why should you be in such a hurry to go home? Fetch me some water from the well, and then you shall have the fire."

And she fetched the water. When she had done so, Surya Bai said, "I have done all your bidding, now give me the fire, or I will go elsewhere and seek it."

The old Rakshas was grieved because her son had not returned home; but she saw she could detain Surya Bai no longer, so she said, "Take the fire and go in peace; take also some parched corn, and scatter it along the road as you go, so as to make a pretty little pathway from our house to yours"—and so saying, she gave Surya Bai several handfuls of parched corn. The girl took them, fearing no evil, and as she went she scattered the grains on the road. Then she climbed back into the nest and shut the seven iron doors, and lighted the fire, and cooked the food, and gave the dog and the cat some dinner, and took some herself, and went to sleep.

No sooner had Surya Bai left the Rakshas's hut, than the young Rakshas returned, and his mother said to him, "Alas, alas, my son, why did not you come sooner? Such a sweet little lamb has been here, and now we have lost her." Then she told him all about Surya Bai.

"Which way did she go?" asked the young Rakshas; "only tell me that, and I'll have her before morning."

His mother told him how she had given Surya Bai the parched corn to scatter on the road; and when he heard that, he followed up the track, and ran, and ran, and ran, till he came to the foot of the tree.

There, looking up, he saw the nest high in the branches above them.

Quick as thought, up he climbed, and reached the great outer door; and he shook it, and shook it, but he could not get in, for Surya Bai had bolted it. Then he said, "Let me in, my child, let me in; I'm the great Eagle, and I have come from very far, and brought you many beautiful jewels; and here is a splendid diamond ring to fit your little finger." But Surya Bai did not hear him—she was fast asleep.

He next tried to force open the door again, but it was too strong for him. In his efforts, however, he had broken off one of his finger nails (now the nail of a Rakshas is most poisonous), which he left sticking in the crack of the door when he went away.

Next morning Surya Bai opened all the doors, in order to look down on the world below; but when she came to the seventh door a sharp thing, which was sticking in it, ran into her hand, and immediately she fell down dead.

At that same moment the two poor Eagles returned from their long, wearisome journey, bringing a beautiful diamond ring, which they had fetched for their little favourite from the Red Sea.

There she lay on the threshold of the nest, beautiful as ever but cold and dead.

The Eagles could not bear the sight; so they placed the ring on her finger, and then, with loud cries, flew off to return no more.

But a little while after there chanced to come by a great Rajah, who was out on a hunting expedition. He came with hawks, and hounds, and attendants, and horses, and pitched his camp under the tree in which the Eagles' nest was built. Then looking up, he saw, amongst the topmost branches, what appeared like a queer little house; and he sent some of his attendants to see what it was. They soon returned, and told the Rajah that up in the tree was a curious thing like a cage, having seven iron doors, and that on the threshold of the first door lay a fair maiden, richly dressed; that she was dead, and that beside her stood a little dog and a little cat.

At this the Rajah commanded that they should be fetched down, and when he saw Surya Bai he felt very sad to think that she was dead. And he took her hand to feel if it were already stiff; but all her limbs were supple, nor had she become cold, as the dead are cold; and, looking again at her hand, the Rajah saw that a sharp thing, like a long thorn, had run into the tender palm, almost far enough to pierce through to the back of her hand.

He pulled it out, and no sooner had he done so than Surya Bai opened her eyes, and stood up, crying, "Where am I? and who are you? Is it a dream, or true?"

The Rajah answered, "It is all true, beautiful lady. I am the Rajah of a neighbouring land; pray tell me who are you."

She replied, "I am the Eagles' child."

But he laughed. "Nay," he said, "that cannot be; you are some great Princess."

"No," she answered, "I am no royal lady; what I say is true. I have lived all my life in this tree. I am only the Eagles' child."

Then the Rajah said, "If you are not a Princess born, I will make you one; say only you will be my Queen."

Surya Bai consented, and the Rajah took her to his kingdom and made her his Queen. But Surya Bai was not his only wife, and the first Ranee, his other wife, was both envious and jealous of her.

The Rajah gave Surya Bai many trustworthy attendants to guard her and be with her; and one old woman loved Surya Bai more than all the rest, and used to say to her, "Don't be too intimate with the first Ranee, dear lady, for she wishes you no good, and she has power to do you harm. Some day she may poison or otherwise injure you." But Surya Bai would answer her, "Nonsense! what is there to be alarmed about? Why cannot we both live happily together like two sisters?" Then the old woman would rejoin, "Ah, dear lady, may you never live to rue your confidence! I pray my fears may prove folly." So Surya Bai went often to see the first Ranee, and the first Ranee also came often to see her.

One day they were standing in the palace courtyard, near a tank, where the Rajah's people used to bathe, and the first Ranee said to Surya Bai, "What pretty jewels you have, sister; let me try them on for a minute, and see how I look in them."

The old woman was standing beside Surya Bai, and she whispered to her, "Do not lend her your jewels."

"Hush, you silly old woman," answered she. "What harm will it do?" and she gave the Ranee her jewels.

Then the Ranee said, "How pretty all your things are! Do you not think they look well even on me! Let us come down to the tank; it is as clear as glass, and we can see ourselves reflected in it, and how these jewels will shine in the clear water!"

The old woman, hearing this, was much alarmed, and begged Surya Bai not to venture near the tank, but she said, "I bid you be silent; I will not distrust my sister." And she went down to the tank. Then, when no one was near, and they were both leaning over, looking at their reflections in the water, the first Ranee pushed Surya Bai into the tank, who, sinking under the water, was drowned; and from the place where her body fell there sprang up a bright golden sunflower.

The Rajah shortly afterward inquired where Surya Bai was, but nowhere could she be found. Then, very angry, he came to the first Ranee and said, "Tell me where the child is. You have made away with her."

But she answered, "You do me wrong; I know nothing of her. Doubtless that old woman whom you allowed to be always with her, has done her some harm." So the Rajah ordered the poor old woman to be thrown into prison.

He tried to forget Surya Bai and all her pretty ways, but it was no good. Wherever he went he saw her face. Whatever he heard, he still listened for her voice. Every day he grew more miserable; he would not eat or drink; and as for the other Ranee, he could not bear to speak to her. All his people said, "He will surely die."

When matters were in this state, the Rajah one day wandered to the edge of the tank, and bending over the parapet, looked into the water. Then he was surprised to see, growing out of the tank close beside him a stately golden flower; and as he watched it, the sunflower gently bent its head and leaned down toward him. The Rajah's heart was softened, and he kissed its leaves and murmured, "This flower reminds me of my lost wife. I love it, it is fair and gentle as she used to be." And every day he would go down to the tank and sit and watch the flower. When the Ranee heard this, she ordered her servants to go and dig the sunflower up, and to take it far into the jungle and burn it. Next time the Rajah went to the tank he found his flower gone, and he was much grieved, but none dared say who had done it.

Then, in the jungle, from the place where the ashes of the sunflower had been thrown, there sprang up a young mango tree, tall and straight, that grew so quickly, and became such a beautiful tree, that it was the wonder of all the country round. At last, on its topmost bough, came one fair blossom; and the blossom fell, and the little mango grew rosier and rosier, and larger and larger, till so wonderful was it both for size and shape that people flocked from far and near only to look at it.

But none ventured to gather it, for it was to be kept for the Rajah himself.

Now one day, the poor Milkwoman, Surya Bai's mother, was returning homeward after her day's work with the empty milk cans, and being very tired with her long walk to the bazaar, she lay down under the mango tree and fell asleep. Then, right into her largest milk can, fell the wonderful mango! When the poor woman awoke and saw what had happened, she was dreadfully frightened, and thought to herself, "If any one sees me with this wonderful fruit, that all the Rajah's people have been watching for so many, many weeks, they will never believe that I did not steal it, and I shall be put in prison. Yet it is no good leaving it here; besides, it fell off of itself into my milk can. I will therefore take it home as secretly as possible, and share it with my children."

So the Milkwoman covered up the can in which the mango was, and took it quickly to her home, where she placed it in the corner of the room, and put over it a dozen other milk cans, piled one above another. Then, as soon as it was dark, she called her husband and eldest son (for she had six or seven children), and said to them, "What good fortune do you think has befallen me to-day?"

"We cannot guess," they said. "Nothing less," she went on, "than the wonderful, wonderful mango falling into one of my milk cans while I slept! I have brought it home with me; it is in that lowest can. Go, husband, call all the children to have a slice; and you, my son, take down that pile of cans and fetch me the mango." "Mother," he said, when he got to the lowest can, "you were joking, I suppose, when you told us there was a mango here."

"No, not at all," she answered; "there is a mango there. I put it there myself an hour ago."

"Well, there's something quite different now," replied the son. "Come and see."

The Milkwoman ran to the place, and there, in the lowest can, she saw, not the mango, but a little tiny wee lady, richly dressed in red and gold, and no bigger than a mango! On her head shone a bright jewel like a little sun.

"This is very odd," said the mother. "I never heard of such a thing in my life! But since she has been sent to us, I will take care of her, as if she were my own child."

Every day the little lady grew taller and taller, until she was the size of an ordinary woman; she was gentle and lovable, but always sad and quiet, and she said her name was "Surya Bai."

The children were all very curious to know her history, but the Milkwoman and her husband would not let her be teased to tell who she was, and said to the children, "Let us wait. By and by, when she knows us better, she will most likely tell us her story of her own accord."

Now it came to pass that once, when Surya Bai was taking water from the well for the old Milkwoman, the Rajah rode by, and as he saw her walking along, he cried, "That is my wife," and rode after her as fast as possible. Surya Bai hearing a great clatter of horses' hoofs, was frightened, and ran home as fast as possible, and hid herself; and when the Rajah reached the place there was only the old Milkwoman to be seen standing at the door of her hut.

Then the Rajah said to her, "Give her up, old woman, you have no right to keep her; she is mine, she is mine!"

But the old woman answered, "Are you mad? I don't know what you mean."

The Rajah replied, "Do not attempt to deceive me. I saw my wife go in at your door; she must be in the house."

"Your wife?" screamed the old woman—"your wife? you mean my daughter, who lately returned from the well! Do you think I am going to give my child up at your command? You are Rajah in your palace, but I am Rajah in my own house; and I won't give up my little daughter for any bidding of yours. Be off with you, or I'll pull out your beard." And so saying, she seized a long stick and attacked the Rajah, calling out loudly to her husband and sons, who came running to her aid.

The Rajah, seeing matters were against him, and having outridden his attendants (and not being quite certain moreover whether he had seen Surya Bai, or whether she might not have been really the poor Milkwoman's daughter), rode off and returned to his palace.

However, he determined to sift the matter. As a first step he went to see Surya Bai's old attendant, who was still in prison. From her he learned enough to make him believe she was not only entirely innocent of Surya Bai's death, but gravely to suspect the first Ranee of having caused it. He therefore ordered the old woman to be set at liberty, still keeping a watchful eye on her, and bade her prove her devotion to her long-lost mistress by going to the Milkwoman's house, and bringing him as much information as possible about the family, and more particularly about the girl he had seen returning from the well.

So the attendant went to the Milkwoman's house, and made friends with her, and bought some milk, and afterward she stayed and talked to her.

After a few days the Milkwoman ceased to be suspicious of her, and became quite cordial.

Surya Bai's attendant then told how she had been the late Ranee's waiting-woman, and how the Rajah had thrown her into prison on her mistress's death; in return for which intelligence the old Milkwoman imparted to her how the wonderful mango had tumbled into her can as she slept under the tree, and how it had miraculously changed in the course of an hour into a beautiful little lady. "I wonder why she should have chosen my poor house to live in, instead of any one else's," said the old woman.

Then Surya Bai's attendant said, "Have you ever asked her her history? Perhaps she would not mind telling it to you now."

So the Milkwoman called the girl, and as soon as the old attendant saw her, she knew it was none other than Surya Bai, and her heart jumped for joy; but she remained silent, wondering much, for she knew her mistress had been drowned in the tank.

The old Milkwoman turned to Surya Bai and said, "My child, you have lived long with us, and been a good daughter to me; but I have never asked you your history, because I thought it must be a sad one; but if you do not fear to tell it to me now, I should like to hear it."

Surya Bai answered, "Mother, you speak true; my story is sad. I believe my real mother was a poor Milkwoman like you, and that she took me with her one day when I was quite a little baby, as she was going to sell milk in the bazaar. But being tired with the long walk, she sat down to rest, and placed me also on the ground, when suddenly a great Eagle flew down and carried me away. But all the father and mother I ever knew were the two great Eagles."

"Ah, my child! my child!" cried the Milkwoman, "I was that poor woman; the Eagles flew away with my eldest girl when she was only a year old. Have I found you after these many years?"

And she ran and called all her children, and her husband, to tell them the wonderful news.

And there was great rejoicing among them all.

When they were a little calmer, her mother said to Surya Bai, "Tell us, dear daughter, how your life has been spent since first we lost you." And Surya Bai went on:

"The old Eagles took me away to their home, and there I lived happily many years. They loved to bring me all the beautiful things they could find, and at last one day they both went to fetch me a diamond ring from the Red Sea; but while they were gone the fire went out in the nest: so I went to an old woman's hut, and got her to give me some fire; and next day (I don't know how it was), as I was opening the outer door of the cage, a sharp thing, that was sticking in it, ran into my hand and I fell down senseless.

"I don't know how long I lay there, but when I came to myself, I found the Eagles must have come back, and thought me dead, and gone away, for the diamond ring was on my little finger; a great many people were watching over me, and amongst them was a Rajah, who asked me to go home with him and be his wife, and he brought me to this place, and I was his Ranee.

"But his other wife, the first Ranee, hated me (for she was jealous), and desired to kill me; and one day she accomplished her purpose by pushing me into the tank, for I was young and foolish, and disregarded the warnings of my faithful old attendant, who begged me not to go near the place. Ah! if I had only listened to her words I might have been happy still."

At these words the old attendant, who had been sitting in the background, rushed forward and kissed Surya Bai's feet, crying; "Ah, my lady! my lady! have I found you at last!" and, without staying to hear more, she ran back to the palace to tell the Rajah the glad news.

Then Surya Bai told her parents how she had not wholly died in the tank, but become a sunflower; and how the first Ranee; seeing how fond the Rajah was of the plant, had caused it to be thrown away; and then how she had risen from the ashes of the sunflower, in the form of a mango tree; and how when the tree blossomed all her spirit went into the little mango flower, and she ended by saying: "And when the flower became fruit, I know not by what irresistible impulse I was induced to throw myself into your milk can. Mother—it was my destiny, and as soon as you took me into your house, I began to recover my human form."

"Why, then," asked her brothers and sisters, "why do you not tell the Rajah that you are living, and that you are the Ranee Surya Bai?"

"Alas," she answered, "I could not do that. Who knows but that he may be influenced by the first Ranee, and also desire my death. Let me rather be poor like you, but safe from danger."

Then her mother cried, "Oh, what a stupid woman I am! The Rajah one day came seeking you here, but I and your father and brothers drove him away, for we did not know you were indeed the lost Ranee."

As she spoke these words a sound of horses' hoofs was heard in the distance, and the Rajah himself appeared, having heard the good news of Surya Bai's return from her old attendant.

It is impossible to tell the joy of the Rajah at finding his long-lost wife, but it was not greater than Surya Bai's at being restored to her husband.

Then the Rajah turned to the old Milkwoman, and said "Old woman, you did not tell me true, for it was indeed my wife who was in your hut."

"Yes, Protector of the Poor," answered the old Milkwoman, "but it was also my daughter." Then they told him how Surya Bai was the Milkwoman's child.

At hearing this the Rajah commanded them all to return with him to the palace. He gave Surya Bai's father a village and, ennobled the family; and he said to Surya Bai's old attendant, "For the good service you have done you shall be palace housekeeper," and he gave her great riches; adding, "I can never repay the debt I owe you, nor make you sufficient recompense for having caused you to be unjustly cast into prison." But she replied, "Sire, even in your anger you were temperate; if you had caused me to be put to death, as some would have done, none of this good might have come upon you; it is yourself you have to thank."

The wicked first Ranee was cast, for the rest of her life, into the prison in which the old attendant had been thrown; but Surya Bai lived happily with her husband the rest of her days; and in memory of her adventures, he planted round their palace a hedge of sunflowers and a grove of mango trees.

The Storks and the Night Owl

Chasid, Caliph of Bagdad, which, by the way, is on the river Tigris, and was long, long ago the capital of the ancient Saracen Empire, was comfortably seated upon his sofa one beautiful afternoon. He had slept a little, for it was a very hot day, and he seemed cheerful after his nap.

He smoked from a long pipe made of rosewood; sipped now and then a little coffee, which a slave poured out for him, and stroked his beard very contentedly. So it was very plain that the Caliph was in a good humour. This was generally the case at this hour, as it was the custom of his Grand Vizier Manzor to visit him every day about this time. He came this afternoon, but he seemed very thoughtful. The Caliph looked at him, and said: "Grand Vizier, why is thy countenance so sad?"

The Grand Vizier crossed his arms over his breast, bowed himself before his lord, and said: "My lord, I am sad because in the court below there is a merchant who has such fine wares that I am troubled because I have so little money to spare to purchase them."

The Caliph, who had for a long time past desired to confer a favour upon his Grand Vizier, sent his black slave to bring up the merchant. The slave soon returned with him. The merchant was a short stout man, with a dark brown face, and in ragged attire. He carried a chest, in which he had various kinds of wares, pearls and rings, richly inlaid pistols, goblets and combs. The Caliph and his Vizier looked at them, and the former purchased some beautiful pistols for himself and Manzor. As the merchant was about to pack up his chest the Caliph saw a small drawer, and asked what it contained. The merchant drew out the drawer, and showed therein a box filled with blackish powder and a paper with strange writing upon it, which neither the Caliph nor Manzor could read. "I received these things from a merchant who found them in the streets of Mecca," said he. "I know not what they contain. They are at your service for a trifling price, for I can do nothing with them."

The Caliph, who was a great collector of old manuscripts for his library, even if he could not read them, purchased box and writings, and dismissed the merchant. But it occurred to the Caliph that he would like to know the meaning of the writing, and he asked the Vizier whether he knew anyone who could read it.

"Most worthy lord and master," replied the Vizier, "near the great Mosque there dwells a man who understands all languages; he is called 'Selim the Wise.' Send for him; perhaps he may be able to interpret the writing."

The learned Selim was soon brought. "Selim," said the Caliph, "they say thou art very learned; peep now into this writing, and see if thou canst read it. If thou canst, thou shalt have a rich new garment; if thou canst not, thou shalt be beaten with five-and-twenty strokes upon the soles of thy feet, for in that case thou art without the right to be called 'Selim the Wise.'"

Selim bowed himself and said: "Thy will be done, my lord." For a long time he examined the writing, then suddenly exclaimed, "This is Latin, my lord."

"Say what it means," commanded the Caliph, "if it be Latin."

Selim commenced to translate the documents. "Oh man, thou who findest this, praise Allah for His great goodness to thee. Whoever snuffs of the powder contained in this box, and says thereupon 'Mutabor,' will have the power to change himself into any animal he may choose, and will be able to understand the language of that animal and all others. Should he wish to return to his human form he must bow himself three times to the East, and in the direction of our holy Mecca, and repeat the same word. But beware, when thou art transformed that thou laughest not, otherwise the magic word will disappear completely from thy memory and thou wilt remain a beast."

When Selim the Wise had read this, the Caliph was delighted beyond measure. He bound over the sage that he would disclose the secret to no one, presented him with the promised rich garment, and dismissed him. But to his Grand Vizier he said: "That I call a good purchase, Manzor. I can scarcely restrain my delight until I am a beast. Early to-morrow morning come thou hither; we will go together into the field, snuff a little out of the box, and then listen to what is said in the air, and in the water, in the wood, and in the field."

On the following morning the Caliph had scarcely breakfasted when the Grand Vizier appeared to accompany him upon his walk, as he had commanded him. The Caliph placed the box with the magic powder in his girdle, and, having directed his train to remain behind, he set out alone with his Grand Vizier. They went through the spacious gardens of the Caliph, and looked around, but in vain, for some living thing, that they might try their trick. The Vizier at length proposed that they should go further on, to a pond where he had often seen many of those beautiful creatures called Storks, which, by their grave appearance and their continual clacking, had always excited his attention.

The Caliph approved the proposal of the Vizier, and they went together to the pond. When they had arrived they saw a stork walking gravely up and down looking for frogs, and now and then clacking something to himself. At the same time they saw also, far above in the air, another stork hovering over the pond.

"I am pretty sure," said the Grand Vizier, "that these two long-legged fellows are carrying on a fine conversation with each other. What if we should become storks?"

"Well said!" replied the Caliph. "But first let us consider, once more, how we are to become men again. True! three times must we bend toward the East and in the direction of Mecca, and say 'Mutabor,' then I am Caliph again and thou Vizier. But we must take care whatever we do, not to laugh, or we are lost."

While the Caliph was thus speaking he saw the other stork hover over their heads and slowly descend toward the earth. He drew the box quickly from his girdle, took a good pinch, offered it to the Grand Vizier, who also snuffed it, and both cried out "Mutabor!"

At once their legs began to shrivel up, and soon became thin and red. The beautiful yellow slippers of the Caliph and of his companion were changed into the strange-shaped feet of the stork; their arms were changed to wings; their necks were lengthened out from their shoulders and became a yard long; their beards had disappeared, and their bodies were covered with feathers which were soft, fine and graceful.

"You have a beautiful beak," said the Caliph after a long pause of astonishment. "By the beard of the Prophet, I have never seen anything like it in my life."

"I thank you most humbly," replied the Grand Vizier, while he made his obeisance. "But if it were permitted I might say that your Highness looks even more handsome as a stork than as a Caliph. But come, if it please you, let us listen to our comrades yonder, and find out whether we really understand the language of the storks."

In the meanwhile the other stork had reached the ground. He trimmed his feet with his beak, put his feathers in order, and advanced to his companion. The two new storks hastened to get near them, and to their great surprise heard the following conversation:—

"Good morning, Lady Longlegs, already so early in the meadow."

"Thank you, dear Clatterbeak, I have had only a slight breakfast."

"Would you like, perhaps, a piece of a duck or the leg of a frog?"

"Much obliged, but I have no appetite to-day. I have come into the meadow for a very different purpose. I am to dance to-day before some guests of my father's, and I wish to practise here a little quietly by myself."

The young stork immediately jumped about the field with singular motions. The Caliph and Manzor looked on with wonder; but as she stood in a picturesque attitude upon one foot, and fluttered her wings gracefully, they could no longer contain themselves—an irresistible laughter burst forth from their beaks, from which they could not recover themselves for a long time. The Caliph first collected himself. "That was a joke now," he exclaimed, "that is not to be purchased with gold. Pity that the foolish creatures have been frightened away by our laughter, otherwise perhaps they might even have sung!"

But it now occurred to the Grand Vizier that laughter had been specially forbidden them during their transformation. He told his anxiety to the Caliph. "Dear me, dear me, it would indeed be a sorrowful joke if I must remain a stork. Pray bethink thyself of the magic word. For the life of me I can't remember it."

"Three times must we bow to the East and to Mecca, and then say, 'Mu, mu, mu.'"

They turned toward the East, and bowed and bowed, so that their beaks almost touched the earth. But alas! alas! the magic word would not come. However often the Caliph bowed himself and however anxiously the Vizier called out "Mu, mu," all recollection of it had vanished, and the poor Caliph and Vizier remained storks.

Very mournfully did the enchanted ones wander through the fields. They knew not what to do in their great distress. They could not rid themselves of their storks' skin and feathers; they could not return to the city to make themselves known, for who would have believed a stork, if he had said he was the Caliph? And even if they should believe it, the inhabitants of Bagdad would not have a stork for their Caliph. Thus they wandered about for several days, and nourished themselves with the fruits of the field, which they could not eat very conveniently on account of their long beaks. For ducks and frogs they had no appetite; they were afraid that with such food they might fatally disorder their stomachs. It was their only pleasure in this sad condition that they could fly, and so they often flew upon the roofs of Bagdad to see what passed in the city.

During the first days they observed great disorder and mourning in the streets, but about the fourth day after their transformation, as they stood upon the Caliph's palace, they saw in the street a splendid procession. Drums and fifes sounded; a man in a scarlet mantle, embroidered with gold, rode a richly caparisoned steed, surrounded by a brilliant train of attendants.

Half Bagdad leaped to meet him, and all cried: "Hail, Mirza, Lord of Bagdad!" The two storks upon the roof of the palace looked at each other, and the Caliph said: "Canst thou now divine, Grand Vizier, why I am enchanted? This Mirza is the son of my deadly enemy, the mighty magician Cachnur, who, in an evil hour, swore revenge upon me. But still I will not give up hope. Come with me, thou true companion of my misfortune! We will wander to the grave of the Prophet. Perhaps on that holy spot this spell will vanish;" and they at once soared from the roof of the palace and flew toward Mecca.

But flying was no easy matter to them, for the two storks had as yet but little practice. "Oh, my lord," sighed the Grand Vizier, after a few hours, "with your permission I must stop, for I can bear it no longer; you fly altogether too fast. Besides it is now evening, and we should do well to seek a shelter for the night." Chasid at once yielded to the prayer of the Vizier, and, as they at this moment perceived a ruin in the valley below, they flew thither. The place in which they had taken refuge for the night seemed formerly to have been a castle. Beautiful columns overtopped the ruins, and several chambers, which were still in a fair state of preservation, gave evidence of the former splendour of the building. Chasid and his companion wandered through the passages to find a dry spot for themselves. Suddenly the stork Manzor stopped. "My Lord and master," he whispered softly, "if it were not folly in a Grand Vizier, and still more in a stork, to be afraid of spirits, I should feel much alarmed, for something near by us sighed and groaned very plainly."

The Caliph also stood still, and heard very distinctly a low weeping that seemed rather to come from a human being than from an animal.

Full of expectation, he was about to advance toward the place from whence came the sounds of weeping and sighing, when the Vizier seized him by the wing with his beak and begged him very earnestly not to plunge into new and unknown dangers But in vain! The Caliph, who bore a brave heart under his stork's wing, tore himself loose, with the loss of some of his feathers, and hastened into a dark passage-way. He soon arrived at a door which seemed to be partly open, and through which he overheard distinct sighs, with a slight moaning. In the ruined chamber, which was but dimly lighted by a small grated window, he saw a large night owl upon the floor. Big tears rolled from her large round eyes, and with a hoarse voice she sent forth her cries from her curved beak. As soon, however, as she saw the Caliph and Vizier she gave a loud scream of joy. Gracefully she wiped the tears from her eyes with her brown-spotted wing, and to the great astonishment of both she exclaimed, in good plain Arabic, "Welcome, ye storks! Ye are a good sign of my rescue, for it has been told me that by a stork I shall attain to great happiness."

When the Caliph had recovered from his astonishment he bowed with his long neck, brought his thin feet into a handsome position, and said:

"Night owl, from thy words I think that thou art a companion in suffering. But alas! the hope that thou wilt be rescued by us is vain. Thou wilt see our helplessness when we have told thee our history."

The night owl begged him to relate it. The Caliph commenced, and repeated what we already know.

When the Caliph had told the owl his history she thanked him and said:

"Hear also my story, and you will see that I am not less unhappy than you. My father is King of India; I, his only daughter, am called Lusa. That magician Cachnur, who has enchanted you, has also plunged me into this misery. He came one day to my father, and desired me for a wife to his son. But my father, who is a quick-tempered man, ordered him to be pushed down the stairs. The bad man contrived to meet me under another form; and once, when taking refreshments in my garden, he brought me, in the person of a slave, a draught in a cup, which changed me into this frightful shape. Powerless from fright, he brought me hither and cried in my ear: 'Here shalt thou remain, hated and despised, even by the beasts, until thy death, or until someone, with free will, shall desire thee for his wife, even in this horrible shape. In this way I revenge myself upon thee and thy proud father!'

"Since then many months have passed. Solitary and disconsolate, I dwell within these walls, scorned by the world, a horror even to the beasts. Beautiful nature is locked up from me, for, like all owls, I am blind by day, and only when the moon pours her pale light over these ruins does the veil fall from my eyes."

The owl stopped speaking and wiped the tears again from her eyes, for the telling of her sorrows had drawn them forth anew.

During the story of the Princess, the Caliph appeared deep in thought. "If everything does not deceive me," he said, "there is a secret connection between our fates; but where can I find the key to this riddle?"

The owl replied: "Oh, my lord, I also have such a thought, for it was once told me when I was a very little girl that a stork would one day bring me great happiness, and I may know perhaps how we may be rescued."

The Caliph was much astonished, and asked her in what way she meant.

"The magician who has made us both miserable," said she, "comes once in every month to these ruins. Not far from this chamber is a hall. There he is accustomed to feast with many of his companions. I have often listened there already. They tell one another their histories, and what they have been doing since last they met. Perhaps on the next occasion they may talk over your story, and let fall the magic word that you have forgotten."

"Oh, dearest Princess," exclaimed the Caliph, "tell me when does he come and where is the hall?"

The owl was silent for a moment and then spoke. "Take it not ungraciously, but only upon one condition can your wish be granted."

"Speak out! speak out!" cried the Caliph. "Command, and whatever it is I will obey?"

"It is this: I also would gladly be free, and this can only happen if one of you offer me his hand." The storks seemed somewhat confused at this proposition, and the Caliph made a sign to his follower to withdraw for a moment with him.

They talked together for a long time, the Caliph urging the Vizier to consent; but he said it was not possible, as he was already an old man, "whilst you, my lord and master, are but young in years." The Caliph at last saw that the Vizier would rather remain a stork than accept the owl, so he resolved to fulfil the condition himself. The owl was overjoyed, and she said they could not have come at a better time, for the magicians would most likely meet that very night.

She then left the chamber in company with the storks, in order to lead them to the hall. They walked for a long time through a dark passage-way, when at last a bright light shone upon them from an opening in a ruined wall. When they had arrived thither the owl advised them to keep perfectly quiet. From the opening near where they stood they had a good view of the hall. It had many pillars, and the whole apartment was richly decorated. In the middle was a round table covered with rich food of various kinds; round the table were placed seats, upon which sat eight men. In one of these men the storks recognized the merchant who had sold them the magic powder. The one who sat next him desired him to relate his history and what had been done during the last few days. He did so, and among the other things he told the story of his visit to the Caliph and Grand Vizier of Bagdad.

"What kind of a word hast thou given them," asked the other magician.

"A very hard Latin one; it is Mutabor."

As the storks heard this from their place of concealment they became almost beside themselves for joy. They ran so quickly with their long legs to the door of the ruin that the owl could scarcely follow them. There, the Caliph addressed the owl with much emotion.

"Saviour of my life, and the life of my friend, as an eternal thanks for what thou hast done for us, accept me as thy husband"; then he turned himself toward the east and toward Mecca. Three times the storks bent their long necks toward the sun, which, by this time, was rising above the distant hills: "Mutabor!" they exclaimed. In a twinkling they were changed, and in the delight of newly restored life, master and servant were laughing and weeping in each other's arms. But who can describe their astonishment as they looked about them?

A beautiful maiden in a splendid dress stood before them. She held out her hand to the Caliph saying: "Do you no longer recognize your night owl?"

Yes, it was indeed that bird. The Caliph looked with wonder at her beauty and grace, and said: "It is my greatest happiness that I have been a stork."

The three now started to travel together for the city of Bagdad. The Caliph found in his clothes not only the box with the magic powder, but also his purse of gold. By this means he purchased at the nearest village all that was necessary for their journey, so that they very soon arrived at the gates of Bagdad. The arrival of the Caliph excited the greatest wonder. They had supposed him dead, but the people were overjoyed to have their beloved lord again.

Their hatred was intense against the deceiver Mirza. They entered the palace and took the old magician and his son prisoners. The Caliph took the old man to that same chamber in which the Princess had lived so long as an owl, and ordered him to be hung up there. But to the son, who did not understand the wicked arts of his father, he offered the choice of either to die or take snuff.

He chose the latter when the Grand Vizier offered the box. A good pinch, and the magic word of the Caliph changed him into a stork. The Caliph then directed that he should be put into a cage and placed in his garden.

Long and happily the Caliph Chasid lived with his wife, the Princess. His happiest hours were when the Grand Vizier visited him in the afternoon. They never tired of talking about their storks' adventure, and when the Caliph was more than usually merry he would imitate the Grand Vizier, and show how he looked when he was a stork. He walked gravely up and down the chamber with slow and solemn steps, made a clacking noise, flapped his arms like wings, and showed how he, to no purpose, bowed himself to the east and called out: "Mu—Mu—Mu." This was always a great delight to the Princess and the children, which were afterward born to her, until they also took delight in calling out to one another: "Mu—Mu—Mu."

So for very many years happiness reigned in the palace, and not only in the palace, but throughout the city of Bagdad, the capital of the ancient Saracen Empire.

The Five Queer Brothers

An old woman had five grown-up sons that looked just alike. The eldest could gulp up the ocean at a mouthful; the second was hard enough to nick steel; the third had extensible legs; the fourth was unaffected by fire; the fifth lived without breathing. They all concealed their peculiar traits, and their neighbours did not even guess that they were queer.

The eldest supported the family by fishing, going alone to the sea, and bringing back loads of spoil. The neighbours often besought him to teach their sons how to fish, and he at last let all their boys go with him, one day, to learn his art. On reaching the shore, he sucked the sea into his mouth, and directed the boys to the dry bottom, to collect the fish. When he was tired of holding the water, he beckoned to the boys to return, but they were playing amongst strange objects, and paid no heed to him. When he could contain the sea no longer, he had to let it flow back into its former basin, and all the boys were drowned.

As he went homeward, he passed the doors of the parents, who inquired how many fish their sons had caught, and how long they would be in coming back. He told them the facts, yet they would not excuse him, and they dragged him before the magistrate to account for the loss of their children. He defended himself by saying that he had not invited the boys to go with him, and had consented to their going only when the parents had repeatedly urged him; that, after the boys were on the ocean-bed, he had done his utmost to induce them to come ashore; that he had held the water as long as he could, and had then thrown it in the sea-basin solely because nothing else would contain it. Notwithstanding this defence, the judge decided that, since he took the boys away and did not bring them back, he was guilty of murder, and sentenced him to decapitation. He entreated leave to pay one visit to his aged mother before his execution, and this was granted. He went alone and told his brothers of his doom, and the second brother returned in his stead to the judge, thanked him for having given him permission to perform a duty required by filial piety, and said he was then ready to die. He knelt with bowed head, and the headsman brought the knife down across the back of his neck, but the knife was nicked and the neck was left unscathed. A second knife, and a third of finer steel, were brought and tried by headsmen who were accustomed to sever heads clean off at one stroke. Having spoiled their best blades without marring his neck, they took him back to prison and informed the judge that the sentence could not be executed.

The judge then decreed that he should be dropped into the sea which covered his victims. When he heard this decision, he said that he had taken leave of his mother supposing that his head was to be cut off, and that, if he was to be drowned, he must go to her and make known his fate, and get her blessing anew. Permission being given, he went and told his brothers what had happened, and the third brother took the place of the second, and presented himself before the judge as the criminal that was to be sunk in the sea. He was carried far from shore and thrown overboard, but he stretched his legs till his feet touched bottom and he stood with his head in the air. They hauled him aboard and took him farther from land, but still his extensible legs supported him above the waters. Then they sailed to mid-ocean, and cast him into its greatest depths, but his legs still lengthened so that he was not drowned. They brought him back to the judge, reported what had been done, and said that some other method of destroying him must be followed.

He was then condemned to death by being boiled in oil; and while the caldron was being heated, he begged and obtained leave to go and tell his mother of his late survival, and, of the manner in which he was soon to be taken off. His brothers having heard the latest judgment, the fourth one went to bear the penalty of the law, and was lowered into the kettle of boiling oil, where he disported himself as if in a tepid bath, and even asked the executioners to stir up the fire a little to increase the warmth. Finding that he could not be fried, he was remanded to prison.

Then the populace, the bereaved parents, and the magistrate joined in effort to invent a sure method of putting him to death. Water, fire and sword all having failed, they finally fixed upon smothering him in a vast cream-cake. The whole country round made contributions of flour for the tough pastry, sugar for the viscid filling, and bricks for a huge oven; and it was made and baked on a plain outside the city walls. Meanwhile the prisoner was allowed to go and bid his mother farewell, and the fifth brother secretly became his substitute. When the cake was done, a multitude of people, with oxen, horses, and ropes, dragged it to the execution ground, and within it the culprit was interred. As he was able to exist without air, he rested peacefully till the next midnight. Then he safely crawled forth, and returned to his home, where he dwelt happily for many years with his remarkable brothers.

The Lac of Rupees

A poor blind Brahman and his wife were dependent on their son for their subsistence. Every day the young fellow used to go out and get what he could by begging. This continued for some time, till at last he became quite tired of such a wretched life, and determined to go and try his luck in another country. He informed his wife of his intention, and ordered her to manage somehow or other for the old people during the few months that he would be absent. He begged her to be industrious, lest his parents should be angry and curse him.

One morning he started with some food in a bundle, and walked on day after day, till he reached the chief city of the neighbouring country. Here he went and sat down by a merchant's shop and asked alms. The merchant inquired whence he had come, why he had come, and what was his caste; to which he replied that he was a Brahman, and was wandering hither and thither begging a livelihood for himself, his wife and parents. Moved with pity for the man, the merchant advised him to visit the kind and generous king of that country, and offered to accompany him to the court. Now, at that time it happened that the king was seeking for a Brahman to look after a golden temple which he had just had built. His Majesty was very glad, therefore, when he saw the Brahman and heard that he was good and honest. He at once deputed him to the charge of this temple, and ordered fifty kharwars of rice and one hundred rupees to be paid to him every year as wages.

Two months after this, the Brahman's wife, not having heard any news of her husband, left the house and went in quest of him. By a happy fate she arrived at the very place that he had reached, where she heard that every morning at the golden temple a golden rupee was given in the king's name to any beggar who chose to go for it. Accordingly, on the following morning she went to the place and met her husband.

"Why have you come here?" he asked. "Why have you left my parents? Care you not whether they curse me and I die? Go back immediately, and await my return."

"No, no," said the woman. "I cannot go back to starve and see your old father and mother die. There is not a grain of rice left in the house."

"O Bhagawant!" exclaimed the Brahman. "Here, take this," he continued, scribbling a few lines on some paper, and then handing it to her, "and give it to the king. You will see that he will give you a lac of rupees for it." Thus saying he dismissed her, and the woman left.

On this scrap of paper were written three pieces of advice—First, If a person is travelling and reaches any strange place at night, let him be careful where he puts up, and not close his eyes in sleep, lest he close them in death. Secondly, If a man has a married sister, and visits her in great pomp, she will receive him for the sake of what she can obtain from him; but if he comes to her in poverty, she will frown on him and disown him. Thirdly, If a man has to do any work, he must do it himself, and do it with might and without fear.

On reaching her home the Brahmani told her parents of her meeting with her husband, and what a valuable piece of paper he had given her; but not liking to go before the king herself, she sent one of her relations. The king read the paper, and ordering the man to be flogged, dismissed him. The next morning the Brahmani took the paper, and while she was going along the road to the darbar reading it, the king's son met her, and asked what she was reading, whereupon she replied that she held in her hands a paper containing certain bits of advice, for which she wanted a lac of rupees. The prince asked her to show it to him, and when he had read it gave her a parwana for the amount, and rode on. The poor Brahmani was very thankful. That day she laid in a great store of provisions, sufficient to last them all for a long time.

In the evening the prince related to his father the meeting with the woman, and the purchase of the piece of paper. He thought his father would applaud the act. But it was not so. The king was more angry than before, and banished his son from the country.

So the prince bade adieu to his mother and relations and friends, and rode off on his horse, whither he did not know. At nightfall he arrived at some place, where a man met him, and invited him to lodge at his house. The prince accepted the invitation, and was treated like a prince. Matting was spread for him to squat on, and the best provisions set before him.

"Ah!" thought he, as he lay down to rest, "here is a case for the first piece of advice that the Brahmani gave me. I will not sleep to-night."

It was well that he thus resolved, for in the middle of the night the man rose up, and taking a sword in his hand, rushed to the prince with the intention of killing him. But the prince arose and spoke.

"Do not slay me," he said. "What profit would you get from my death? If you killed me you would be sorry afterward like that man who killed his dog."

"What man? What dog?" he asked.

"I will tell you," said the prince, "if you will give me that sword."

So he gave him the sword, and the prince began his story:

"Once upon a time there lived a wealthy merchant who had a pet dog. He was suddenly reduced to poverty, and had to part with his dog. He got a loan of five thousand rupees from a brother merchant, leaving the dog as a pledge, and with the money began business again. Not long after this the other merchant's shop was broken into by thieves and completely sacked. There was hardly ten rupees' worth left in the place. The faithful dog, however, knew what was going on, and went and followed the thieves, and saw where they deposited the things, and then returned.

"In the morning there was great weeping and lamentation in the merchant's house when it was known what had happened. The merchant himself nearly went mad. Meanwhile the dog kept on running to the door, and pulling at his master's shirt and pajamas, as though wishing him to go outside. At last a friend suggested that, perhaps, the dog knew something of the whereabouts of the things, and advised the merchant to follow its leadings. The merchant consented, and went after the dog right up to the very place where the thieves had hidden the goods. Here the animal scraped and barked, and showed in various ways that the things were underneath. So the merchant and his friends dug about the place, and soon came upon all the stolen property. Nothing was missing. There were all the articles just as the thieves had taken them.

"The merchant was very glad. On returning to his house, he at once sent the dog back to its old master with a letter rolled under the collar, wherein he had written about the sagacity of the beast, and begged his friend to forget the loan and to accept another five thousand rupees as a present. When this merchant saw his dog coming back again, he thought, 'Alas! my friend is wanting the money. How can I pay him? I have not had sufficient time to recover myself from my recent losses. I will slay the dog ere he reaches the threshold, and say that another must have slain it. Thus there will be an end of my debt. No dog, no loan.' Accordingly he ran out and killed the poor dog, when the letter fell out of its collar. The merchant picked it up and read it. How great was his grief and disappointment when he knew the facts of the case!

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