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the Caliph espied a little drawer, and asked, whether there was also merchandise in that. 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 liked to have old manuscripts in his library, even if he could not read them, purchased box and writing, and dismissed the merchant. But it occurred to the Caliph, that he would like to know the meaning of the writing, and he inquired of the Vizier whether he knew any one who could decipher it. "Most worthy lord and master," answered the latter, " near the great mosque, there dwells a man who understands all languages; he is called Selim the Wise ;' send for him; perhaps he can interpret these mysterious characters."
The learned Selim was soon brought. "Selim," said the Caliph, "they say thou art very learned; peep now into this writing, to see whether thou canst read it; if thou canst, thou shalt have a rich new garment; if thou canst not, thou shalt have twelve blows upon the ear, and five-and-twenty upon the soles of the 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 considered the writing, then suddenly exclaimed: "That is Latin, my lord; or may I be hanged!" "Say what it means," commanded the Caliph, "if it be Latin."
Selim commenced to translate: "Oh man, thou who findest this, praise Allah for his goodness! Whoever snuffs of the powder of this box, and says thereupon Mutabor,' will have the power to change himself into any animal, and will understand also the language of animals. If he wishes again to return to his human form, he must bow himself three times toward the east. 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 made the sage swear that he would disclose the secret to no one, presented him with a 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 morn
ing, come thou hither; we will go together into the field, snuff a little out of my 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, and dressed himself, when the Grand Vizier appeared, to accompany him upon his walk, as he had commanded. 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 first 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 last proposed that they should go farther on, to a pond, where he had often seen many of those animals called storks, which, by their grave appearance, and their continual clacking, had always excited his attention.
The Caliph approved the proposal of his Vizier, and they went together to the pond. When they had arrived there, they saw a stork walking gravely up and down, looking for frogs, and now and then clacking away something to himself. At the same time they saw also, far above in the air, another stork, hovering over the place.
"I wager my beard, most gracious master," said the Grand Vizier," that these two long-footed fellows are about carrying on a fine conversation with one another. What if we
should become storks?"
"But first let us con
Well said!" replied the Caliph. sider, once more, how we are to become men again. True! three times must we bend toward the east, and say, Mutabor; then I am Caliph again, and thou Vizier. But for heaven's sake, do not 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 called out, "Mutabor !"
Their legs then shrivelled up, and became thin and red; the beautiful yellow slippers of the Caliph and of his companion were changed into ill-shapen stork's feet; their arms were turned into wings; their necks were lengthened out from their shoulders, and became a yard long; their beards had disappeared, and their bodies were covered with soft feathers.
"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," returned the Grand Vizier, while he made his obeisance; "but if it were permitted, I might assert 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 actually understand the storkish language."
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 new storks hastened to get near them, and to their surprise, overheard the following conversation :
"Good morning, Lady Longlegs! Already so early upon the meadow !"'
"Thank you, dear Clatterbeak! I have had only a slight breakfast. You would like, perhaps, a piece of a duck, or the leg of a frog ?"
I am to
"Much obliged, but I have no appetite to-day. I have come upon the meadow for a very different purpose. dance to-day before some guests of my father's, and I practice 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 animals 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 forbidden them, during their transformation. He imparted his anxiety to the Caliph. Odds, Mecca and Medina! It would be a bad joke, if I must remain a stork! Bethink thyself of that stupid word; I cannot bring it out."
"Three times must we bow toward the east, and then say, Ми, ти, ти——
They turned toward the east, and bowed and bowed, so that their beaks almost touched the earth; but alas! the magic word had escaped them. However often the Caliph bowed himself, and however anxiously the Vizier called out thereupon,
"Mu mu,"-all recollection of it had vanished, and the poor Chasid and his Vizier remained storks.
MOURNFULLY wandered the enchanted ones through the fields. They knew not what they should do in their distress. They could not rid themselves of their stork's skin; they could not return to the city to make themselves known, for who would have believed a stork, if he 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 around for several days, and nourished themselves sorrowfully 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 morsels 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 remarked great disorder and mourning in the streets; but about the fourth day after their transformation, as they sat upon the Caliph's palace, they saw in the street below a splendid procession. The 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 one another, and the Caliph said: "Canst thou now divine, Grand Vizier, wherefore 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 upon that holy spot, this spell will vanish." They soared from the roof of the palace, and flew toward Medina.
But flying was not such an easy matter to them, for the two storks had as yet had but little practice. "Oh, my lord!" sighed forth the Grand Vizier, after a few hours; with your permission, I can stand it no longer; you fly altogether too fast. Beside, it is now evening, and we should do well to seek a shelter for the night."
Chasid yielded to the prayer of his 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 tolerable 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 audibly.'
The Caliph stood still also, 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 the sounds of lamentation proceeded, when the Vizier seized him by the wing with his beak, and begged him 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 scantily lighted by a small grated window, he perceived a large night owl, seated upon the floor. Big tears rolled from her large round eyes, and with a hoarse voice she sent forth her lamentations from her curved beak. As soon, however, as she spied the Caliph and his Vizier, who also had stalked thither, 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 human Arabic: "Welcome, ye storks! Ye are a good sign of my rescue; for it has been prophesied to me, that by a stork I shall arrive 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 may conclude that thou art a companion in suffering. But alas! the hope that thou wilt be rescued by us, is in vain : thou wilt thyself perceive our helplessness, when thou shalt have heard our history." The Night Owl begged him to relate it. The Caliph commenced, and repeated what we already know.