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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 them. selves 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 few 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 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 splendor of the building. Chasid and his companion wandered through the passages, to find a dry spot for themselves. Suddenly the stork Mansor 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 spirit, I should feel much alarmed, for something near by has 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 owi, 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.
When the Caliph had related to the Owl his history, she thanked him, and said : “Hear also my story, and learn that I am not less unhappy than thou. My father is king of India. I, his only unhappy daughter, am called Lusa. That magician Cachnur, who had 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. father, who is a quick-tempered man, ordered him to be pushed down the stairs. The wretch contrived to approach me under another form ; and once, when I would take refreshments in my garden, he brought to me, in the habit of a slave, a draught which transformed me into this frightful shape. Powerless from fright, he brought me hither, and cried, with a dreadful voice, in my ears : ‘Here shalt thou remain, hateful, despised even by the beasts, until thy death, or until some one, with free will, shall desire thee for his wife, even in this horrible shape. Thus I revenge myself upon thee and thy proud father!
Since then, many months have flown away. Solitary and disconsolate, I inhabit these walls as a hermitess. Scorned by the world, a horror even to the beasts; beautiful nature is locked
up from me, for 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 ended, and wiped the tears again from her eyes ; for the relation of her sorrows had drawn them forth anew.
During the relation of the princess, the Caliph appeared sunk in deep thought. •If every thing does not deceive me,' he said, there is a secret connection between our fates ; but where shall I find the key to this riddle ? The Owl answered him: 'Oh, my lord ! I also have such a thought, for it was once prophesied to me, in my earliest youth, that a stork would bring me great happiness; and I may know, perhaps, how we can 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 relate then to one another their shameful deeds ; perchance they may pronounce the magic word which you have forgotten.'
Oh, dearest princess !' exclaimed the Caliph ; 'tell me, when comes he ? where is the hall ?'
The Owl was silent for a moment, and then spake : • Take it not ungraciously, but only upon one condition can your wish be gratified.'
Speak out! speak out! cried the Caliph; 'command! I will obey in any thing.'
• 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.
'Grand Vizier!' said the Caliph,as they closed the door behind them, * this is a stupid business - but
could take her.' • So that my wife should tear out my eyes, when I return home!' said the other. Beside, I am an old man, while you are young and unmarried, and ought willingly to give your hand to a young and beautiful princess.'
• That is just the thing,' sighed the Caliph, while he sadly drooped his wings; "who tells you that she is young and beautiful? It is buying a cat in a bag.'
They talked for a long time together, but at last, when the Caliph saw that his Vizier would rather remain a stork, than marry the Owl, he resolved to fulfil the condition himself. The Owl was overjoyed. She told them that they could not have come at a better time, for probably the magicians would assemble that very night.
She left the chamber, accompanied by the storks, in order to lead them to the hall. They walked for a long time through a dark passageway, when at last a bright light beamed upon them from an opening in a half-ruined wall. When they had arrived thither, the Owl advised them to keep themselves perfectly quiet. From the fissure near which they stood, they had a good view of the large hall. It was adorned round about with pillars, and splendidly decorated. In the middle of the hall stood a circular table, covered with various rare viands ; around the table was placed a sofa, upon which sat eight men. In one of these men, the storks recognised the merchant who had sold them the magic powder. The one who sat next him, desired him to recount his latest exploits. He related, among other things, the history of the Caliph and his Vizier.
• What sort of a word hast thou given them Hinquired the other magician.
* A very hard Latin one; it is ‘Mutabor.'
As the storks heard this, from their place of concealment, they be came 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 emo
tion. * Saviour of my life, and of the life of my friend ! — as an eternal thanks for what thou hast done for us, receive me for thy husband!' Then he turned himself toward the east. Three times the storks bent their long necks towards the sun, which at this moment ascended from behind the hills ; 'Mutabor !' they exclaimed ; in a twinkling they were transformed, and in the delight of newly restored life, lay master and servant, laughing and weeping in each other's arms.
But who can describe their astonishment, as they looked about them! A beautiful woman, magnificently arrayed, stood before them. She gave her hand smiling to the Caliph. Do you no longer recognise your Night Owl?' said she.
It was that veritable bird ! The Caliph was so enraptured with her beauty and grace, that he exclaimed, “It is my greatest happiness that I have been a stork!'
The three travelled now toward Bagdad together. 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 whatever was necessary for their journey, and thus they arrived soon at the gates of Bagdad. The arrival of the Caliph excited the greatest wonder. They had supposed him dead, and the people were overjoyed to have their beloved lord again.
Their hate burned so much the more against the deceiver, Mirza. They entered the palace, and took the old magician and his son prisoner. The Caliph sent the old man to that same chamber which the princess had inhabited as an owl, and ordered him to be there hung up. But to the son, who understood none of the arts of the father, he offered the choice either to die, or snuff. He to snuff,' and chose the latter, when the Grand Vizier offered him the box. A good pinch, and the magic word of the Caliph, changed him into a stork. Î'he Caliph ordered him to be shut up in an iron cage, and placed in his garden. Long and happily lived the Caliph Chasid with his wife the prin
His bappiest hours were when the Grand Vizier visited him in the afternoon. Then they spake of their stork's adventure, and when the Caliph was more than commonly merry, he would so far descend as to imitate the Grand Vizier, and show how he looked as a stork. He walked then gravely up and down the chamber, with precise step, made a clacking noise, fluttered his arms like wings, and showed how he, to no purpose, bowed himself toward the east, and called out · Mu
This was always a great delight to the princess and her children ; but when the Caliph too long clacked, and bowed, and cried, “Mu — mu—,' the Vizier would threaten, smilingly, 'that he would relate to the wife of the Caliph the conversation which took place before the door of the Princess Night Owl !'
Would that my home were in the far wild West!
Within those vales, what glorious creatures bide!
From minstrel bees, that wheel the blossoms round, Comes with the clover's breath, up from the dewy ground.
And when the wind howls through the giant pines, That far aloft the sheltering mountains gird, The pendant tendrils shake not on the vines, In those calm valleye; not a leaf is stirred; Scarce is the surging of the tempest heard : But by the drops the black clouds weep the while, On flower and tree new beauty is conferred; And when the sun looks forth, the green defile Hath won froin Heaven's dark frown a brighter, holier smile!
And then the prairies! Lovely, when the spring Hangs o'er their wastes of green her hazy veil; Sublime, when heaving with an ocean swing, Rolls the tall grass before the autumn gale, Tossing, like foam, the withered flowerets pale. Behold a grander scene! Some hand hath thrown A fire-brand mid the herbage! Words would fail To paint the kindled desert, red and lone, When the flame reaps by night the harvest God hath sown!
Onward, still onward, sweeps the scorching tide;
With vernal days, up from the blackened wild,
Above her lowly, clover-scented nest;