Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Story Of The Speaking Bird

 The Story Of The Speaking Bird [Fairy Tales From The Arabian Nights]

The Story Of The Speaking Bird [Fairy Tales From The Arabian Nights]

There were once two brothers named Bahman and Perviz, who lived in Persia in the closest and most pleasant friendship with their only sister Parizade. They had never known their father, the Sultan Khosroo Shah, nor he them, for they had been stolen away from the palace one after the other when they were but a day old. Now the Sultan had always been away from home at the time of his children's birth, and on each occasion, when he returned and asked to see the babes, two wicked aunts, who lived in the palace, and had a spite against their sister the Sultaness, told him that they were not children at all, only a dead dog, a cat, and a piece of wood. But the aunts had stolen the real babes, wrapped them in flannel, placed them each in a basket, and sent them, one after the other, adrift down the canal.

It so happened that, just after the first babe was sent adrift, the keeper of the Sultan's gardens, a powerful but kind-hearted officer, who lived on the canal bank some way below the palace, was walking along the path and saw something floating in the water. He called to the gardener, who came with his spade, reached out towards the floating object, and drew it to land. To their great surprise they found it to be a basket containing a beautiful little boy. The keeper, to his great grief, had no children of his own, so he immediately determined to adopt this foundling, and picking up the basket, carried the babe to his wife, and bade her take the greatest care of him. They named him Bahman.

After a time the keeper, while walking on the canal banks, saw another floating basket, containing another babe, whom he and his wife adopted in exactly the same way, and named Perviz. Later still there appeared a third basket containing the little princess, whom they called Parizade, and brought up with the two boys. The keeper and his wife grew so extremely fond of these children, whom they taught to call them father and mother, that they determined not to make any inquiries into the mystery of the children's origin, nor to tell them that they were not really their own. All of them were so quick and clever and good that the keeper had them taught by the very best masters he could procure, and although the sister was the youngest, she was soon as proficient in all learning, and in riding, running, and shooting the arrow or javelin as her brothers.

The Story Of The Speaking Bird [Fairy Tales From The Arabian Nights]

The keeper was so overjoyed to find his adopted children so accomplished in body and mind, and so well justifying the care and expense which he had bestowed upon their education, that he determined, before he died, to build them a country house at some distance from the city, surrounded by woods, meadows, and corn-land, and to furnish it most magnificently. He then asked permission of the Sultan to retire from his service, saying that he was growing old, and wished to end his days in peace and tranquillity. The Sultan granted his request, but only six months later the keeper died so suddenly that he was unable to give the princes and princess any account of the mystery which hung over their birth, as he had resolved to do.

The Princes Bahman and Perviz, and the Princess Parizade, who knew no other father, regretted and bewailed him as such, and paid him all the honours at his funeral which their love and filial gratitude required of them. Content with the plentiful fortune he left them, they lived together in the same perfect union, free from any ambition for places of honour and dignity at Court, which they might easily have obtained.

One day when the two princes were hunting, and the Princess Parizade stayed at home, a religious old woman came to the gate, and desired leave to come in and say her prayers, it being then the hour. The servants went and asked the princess, who ordered them to show her into the chapel, which the keeper of the Sultan's gardens had taken care to fit up in his house, for want of a mosque in the neighbourhood. She bade them also, after the good woman had finished her prayers, show her the house and gardens, and then bring her to her.

The religious old woman went into the chapel and said her prayers, and when she came out again, two of the princess's women invited her to see the house and gardens; she accepted, and followed them from one apartment to another, and observed, as a person who understood what belonged to furniture, the nice arrangement of everything. They conducted her also into the garden, which she admired, observing that the person who planned it must have been an excellent master of his art. Afterwards she was brought before the princess, who waited for her in the great hall.

As soon as the princess saw the devout woman, she said to her, 'My good mother, come near and sit down by me. I am overjoyed at the happiness of having the opportunity of profiting for some moments by the good example and conversation of such a person as you, who have taken the right way, by dedicating yourself to the service of God. I wish everybody were as wise.'

The religious woman, instead of sitting upon a sofa, would only sit upon the edge of it. The princess would not permit her to do so, but rising from her seat, and taking her by the hand, obliged her to come and sit by her. The good woman said, 'Madam, I ought not to have so much respect shown me; but since you command me, and are mistress of your own house, I will obey you.' When she had sat down, before they entered into any conversation, one of the princess's women brought a little low table of mother-of-pearl and ebony, with a china dish full of cakes, and a great many others full of the fruits in season, and sweetmeats.

The princess took up one of the cakes and said, 'Eat, good mother, and make choice of what you like best; you had need to eat after coming so far.'

'Madam,' replied the good woman, ' I am not used to eat such nice things, but will not refuse what God has sent me by so liberal a hand as yours.'

While the religious woman was eating, the princess ate something too, to keep her company, and asked her a great many questions about the devotion which she practiced, and how she lived; all which questions she answered with great modesty. At last she asked her what she thought of the house and how she liked it.

'Madam,' answered the devout woman, 'I should certainly have very bad taste to disapprove of anything in it, since it is beautiful, regular, and magnificently furnished, and all its ornaments are in the best manner. Its situation is agreeable, and no garden can be more delightful; but yet, if you will give me leave to speak my mind freely, I will take the liberty of saying that this house would be incomparable, if it had three things which are lacking in it.'

'My good mother,' replied the Princess Parizade, 'what are those three things? I implore you to tell me what they are: I will spare no trouble to get them, if possible.'

' Madam,' replied the devout woman, 'the first of these three things is the speaking bird called Bulbulkezer, which is so singular a creature that it can draw round it all the singing birds of the neighbourhood to accompany its song. The second is the singing tree, the leaves of which form a harmonious concert of different voices, and never cease. The third is the yellow water of gold colour, a single drop of which being poured into a vessel properly prepared, in whatever part of the garden, increases so as to fill it immediately, and rises up in the middle like a fountain, which continually plays, and yet the basin never overflows.'

'Ah! my good mother,' cried the princess 'how much am I obliged to you for the knowledge of these things! I never before heard that there were such curious and wonderful things in the world; but as I am sure you know where they are, do me the favour to tell me.'

'Madam,' replied the good woman, 'I should be unworthy of your goodness if I refused to satisfy your curiosity on that point; and am glad to have the honour to tell you that these three things are to be met with in the same spot on the confines of this kingdom, towards India. The road to it lies before your house, and whoever you send need but follow it for twenty days, and on the twentieth let him but ask the first person he meets where the speaking bird, singing tree, and yellow water are, and he will be informed.' After these words, she rose, took leave, and went her way.

The Princess Parizade's thoughts were so taken up with what the religious woman had told her of the speaking bird, singing tree, and yellow water, that she never perceived she was gone, till she wanted to ask her another question. However, she would not send after her to fetch her back, but tried to remember all she had told her, and took real pleasure in thinking of the satisfaction she would have, if she could get these wonderful things into her possession; but the difficulties she apprehended, and the fear of not succeeding, made her very uneasy.

She was lost in these thoughts, when her brothers returned from hunting; when they entered the great hall, instead of finding her lively and gay, as usual, were amazed to see her pensively hang down her head, as if something troubled her.

'Sister,' said Prince Bahman, 'are you not well? or has some misfortune befallen you? Has anybody given you reason to be so melancholy? Tell us, that we may know how to act, and give you relief. If anybody has affronted you, we will resent it.'

The Princess Parizade remained in the same posture for some time without answering, but at last lifted up her eyes to look at her brothers, and then dropped them again, saying that nothing disturbed her.

'Sister,' said Prince Bahman, 'you are concealing the truth from us; there must be something. It is impossible that during the short time we have been absent so sudden a change could take place if there was nothing the matter with you; do not conceal anything from us, unless you would have us believe that you renounce the friendship and union which have been between us from our infancy.'

The princess, who had not the smallest desire to quarrel with her brothers, would not suffer them to entertain such a thought, but said: 'When I told you nothing disturbed me, I meant nothing that was of any great importance to you. To me it is, and since you press me to tell you, I will. We always thought that this house, which our late father built for us, was complete in everything. But this day I have learned that it needs three things, which would render it so perfect that no country-seat in the world could be compared to it These three things are the speaking bird, the singing tree, and the yellow water.' Then she told them all about the visit of the religious woman. 'You,' she added, 'may think as you please, but I am persuaded that they are absolutely necessary, and I shall not be easy without them. Therefore, whether you value them or not, give me your opinion and consider what person I may send on this expedition.'

'Sister,' replied Prince Bahman, 'what concerns you concerns us also. It is enough that you have an earnest desire for the things you mention; but even if it were otherwise, we should be anxious to go and search for them on our own account. Only tell me where the place is, and I will set out to-morrow.'

'Brother,' said Prince Perviz, 'it is not fitting that you, who are the head of the family, should be absent so long. I beg you will abandon your design, and allow me to undertake it.'

'I am sure of your goodwill, brother,' replied Prince Bahman, 'but I have resolved on it, and shall do it. You shall stay at home with our sister, and I need not recommend her to your care.' He spent the remainder of that day in making preparations for his journey, and in learning from the princess the directions the devout woman left her, that he might not miss his way.

Early the next morning, Prince Bahman mounted his horse, and Prince Perviz and the Princess Parizade embraced him and wished him a pleasant journey. But in the midst of their farewells, the princess recollected one thing which she had not thought of before. 'Brother,' said she, 'I had quite forgotten the accidents which attend travellers. Who knows whether I shall ever see you again? Alight, I beseech you, and give up this journey. I would rather be deprived of the sight and possession of the speaking bird, the singing tree, and yellow water, than run the risk of never seeing you more.'

'Sister,' replied Prince Bahman, smiling at the sudden fears of the Princess Parizade, 'my resolution is fixed, and you must allow me to execute it. The accidents you speak of befall only those who are unfortunate. It is true I may be of that number; but there are more who are not than who are, and I may be of the former number. But as events are uncertain, and I may fail, all I can do is to leave you this knife.'

Then Prince Bahman pulled a knife out of his pocket, and presenting it in the sheath to the princess, said: 'Take this knife, sister, and sometimes pull it out of the sheath: while you see it clean as it is now, it shall be a sign that I am alive; but if you find it stained with blood, then you may believe me dead, and favour me with your prayers.'

The Princess Parizade could obtain nothing more from Prince Bahman. He bade farewell to her and Prince Perviz for the last time, and rode away well mounted, armed and equipped.

The Story Of The Speaking Bird [Fairy Tales From The Arabian Nights]

When he got into the road he never turned to the right nor to the left, but went straight forward towards India. On the twentieth day he perceived by the road-side a hideous old man, who sat under a tree some small distance from a thatched house, which was his retreat from the weather.

His eyebrows were white as snow, and so was the hair of his head; his whiskers and beard came up to his nose; his whiskers covered his mouth, and his beard and hair reached down his feet. The nails of his hands and feet were extremely long; a flat broad hat, like an umbrella, covered his head. He had no clothes, but only a mat thrown round his body.

This old man was a dervish, who had for many years retired from the world, and had neglected himself entirely, so that at last he had become what we have described.

Prince Bahman, who had been all that morning very anxious to see if he could meet with anybody that could tell of the place he was going to, stopped when he came near the dervish, as the first person he had met, and alighted from off his horse, according to the directions the religious woman had given to the Princess Parizade; and leading his horse by the bridle, advanced towards him, and saluting him, said: 'God prolong your days, good father, and grant you the fulfilment of your desires.'

The dervish returned the prince's salutation, but so unintelligibly that he could not understand one word he said. Prince Bahman perceived that this proceeded from the dervish's whiskers hanging over his mouth, and unwilling to go any further without the instruction he wanted, he pulled out a pair of scissors, and having tied his horse to a branch of the tree, said to the dervish: 'Good dervish, I want to have a talk with you; but your whiskers prevent my understanding what you say; if you consent, I will cut off part of them and of your eyebrows, for they disfigure you so much that you look more like a bear than a man.'

The dervish did not oppose the prince, but let him do it; and when the prince had cut off as much hair as he thought fit, he perceived that the dervish had a good complexion, and that he did not seem so old as he really was. 'Good dervish,' said he, 'if I had a glass, I would show you how young you look: you arc now a man, but before, nobody could tell what you were.'

The kind behaviour of Prince Bahman made the dervish smile. 'Sir,' said he, 'whoever you are, I am infinitely obliged to you for the good office you have done me, and am ready to show my gratitude by doing anything in my power for you. You must have alighted here for some reason or other. Tell me what it is, and I will endeavour to serve you if I can.'

'Good dervish,' replied Prince Bahman, 'I have come a long way, and am in search of the speaking bird, the singing tree, and the yellow water; I know these three things are not far from here, but cannot tell exactly where they are to be found; if you know, I beg you to show me the way, that I may not lose my labour after so long a journey.'

While the prince was speaking he observed that the dervish changed countenance, looked very serious, and remained silent; which compelled him to say, 'Good father, I fancy you heard me; tell me whether you know what I ask, that I may not lose my time, and have to go and learn for myself somewhere else.'

At last the dervish broke silence. 'Sir,' said he to Prince Bahman, 'I know the way you ask, but the friendship which I felt for you the first moment I saw you, and which has grown stronger from the service you have done me, kept me in suspense as to whether I should tell you what you desire.'

'What can hinder you?' replied the prince; 'and what difficulty do you find in doing so?'

'I will tell you,' replied the dervish. 'The danger to which you are going to expose yourself is greater than you can believe. A great number of gentlemen, of as much bravery and courage as you can have, have passed by here, and asked me the same question. Though I had used all my power to persuade them to desist, they would not believe me; at last I yielded, I was compelled to show them the way, and I can assure you they have all perished, and I have never seen one come back again. Therefore, if you have any regard for your life, take my advice: go no further, but return home.'

Prince Bahman persisted in his resolution. 'I believe,' said he to the dervish, 'that your advice is sincere. I am much obliged to you for your kind feeling; but whatever the danger may be, nothing shall make me change my mind: if any one attacks me, I am well armed, and as brave as any one.'

'But they who will attack you are not to be seen,' replied the dervish, 'and there are a great many of them; how will you defend yourself against invisible persons?'

'It is no matter,' answered the prince; 'all you say shall not persuade me to do anything contrary to my duty. Since you know the way, I beg you once more to tell me, and not refuse.'

When the dervish found he could not prevail upon Prince Bahman, and that he was obstinately bent on pursuing his journey, notwithstanding the wholesome advice he gave him, he put his hand into a bag that lay by him, and pulled out a bowl, which he gave to him. 'Since I cannot prevail on you to take my advice,' said he, 'take this bow], and when you are on horseback throw it before you, and follow it to the foot of a mountain, where it will stop. As soon as the bowl stops, alight, and leave your horse with the bridle over his neck, and he will stand in the same place till you return. As you go up the hill, you will see, right and left, a great quantity of large black stones, and will hear on all sides of you a confusion of voices, which will say a thousand irritating things to discourage you and prevent your climbing to the top of the hill; but take care, and be not afraid; and, above all things, do not turn your head to look behind you, for at that instant you will be changed into a black stone like those you see, which are all so many gentlemen who have failed. If you escape the danger, of which I give you but a slight description, and get to the top of the mountain, you will see a cage, and in that cage is the bird you seek: ask him where are the singing tree and the yellow water, and he will tell you. I have nothing more to say; this is what you have to do, and the danger you have to avoid; but if you would take my advice you would not expose your life. Consider once more, while you have time, that the difficulty is almost insuperable.'

'I am very much obliged to you for your repeated advice,' replied Prince Bahman, after he had received the bowl, 'but I cannot follow it. However, I will endeavour to conform to that part of it which bids me not look behind me as I go up, and I hope to come and see you again soon, and thank you more when I have got what I am in search of.' After these words, to which the dervish made no answer than that he should be overjoyed to see him again, and wished it might be the case, he mounted his horse, took leave of the dervish with a low bow, and threw the bowl before him.

The bowl rolled away with so much swiftness all along that Prince Bahman was obliged to spur his horse to follow without losing sight of it. When it came to the foot of the mountain which the dervish named, it stopped. The prince alighted. and his horse never stirred from the spot, though he had the bridle on his neck; and having first surveyed the mountain, and seen the black stones, the prince began to climb it, but had not gone four steps before he heard the voices mentioned by the dervish, though he could see nobody. Some said, 'Where is that fool going? where is he going? what does he want? don't let him pass.' Others, 'Stop him, catch him, kill him!' and others with a voice like thunder, 'Thief! assassin! murderer!' while some in a gibing tone, cried, 'No, no; do not hurt him; let the pretty fellow pass; the cage and bird are kept for him.'

Notwithstanding all those troublesome voices, Prince Bahman mounted with courage and resolution for some time, but the voices increased with so loud a din and so near him, both in front and behind, that at last he was seized with fear, his legs trembled under him, he staggered, and presently finding that his strength failed, he forgot the dervish's advice, turned about to run down the hill, and was that instant changed into a black stone, as had happened to so many before him. His horse likewise underwent the same change.

From the time of Prince Bahman's departure, the Princess Parizade always wore the knife and sheath in her girdle, and pulled it out several times a day to know whether her brother was alive. She had the consolation of seeing that he was in perfect health, and talked of him frequently with Prince Perviz.

On the fatal day that Prince Bahman was metamorphosed into a stone, as Prince Perviz and the princess were talking together in the evening, as usual, the prince desired his sister to pull out the knife, to know how their brother was. The princess drew out the knife, and, seeing the blood run down the point, was so seized with horror and grief, that she threw it down. 'Ah! my dear brother,' cried she, 'I have been the cause of your death, and shall never see you more! Oh, why did I tell you of the speaking bird, singing tree, and yellow water? Of what importance was it to me to know whether the religious woman thought this house ugly or handsome, or complete or not? I wish to Heaven she had never spoken! Deceitful hypocrite!' added she, 'is this the return you have made me for the kind reception I gave you? Why did you tell me of a bird, a tree, and a water which, imaginary as I am sure they are, yet disturb me by your enchantment?'

Prince Perviz was as much afflicted at the death of Prince Bahman as the princess; but not to waste time in needless regret, as he knew by the princess's sorrow that she still passionately desired the possession of the speaking bird, the singing tree, and the golden water, he interrupted her, and said, 'Sister, our regret for our brother is vain and useless; it cannot restore him to life; it is the will of God, and we must submit to it, and adore the decrees of the Almighty without searching into them. Why should you doubt of the truth of what the holy woman told you? Do you think she spoke to you of three things that were not in existence? that she invented them on purpose to deceive you when you had received her with so much goodness and civility? Let us rather believe that our brother's death is owing to some fault of his, or some accident. It ought not to prevent us from pursuing our object. I offered to go on this journey, and am in the same mind still; his example has no effect upon my resolution; to- morrow I will go myself.'

The princess did all she could to dissuade Prince Perviz, imploring him not to expose her to the danger of losing two brothers instead of one; but all she could urge had no effect upon him. Before he went, that she might know what success he had, he left her a string of a hundred pearls, telling her that if they would not run when she told them upon the string, but remain fixed, that should be a certain sign that he had undergone the same fate as his brother.

Prince Perviz, on the twentieth day from his setting out, met with the same dervish in the same place that his brother Bahman had done before him. He went up to him, and, after he had saluted him, asked him if he could tell him where to find the speaking bird, the singing tree, and the golden water. The dervish made the same remonstrances as he had done to Prince Bahman, telling him that a young gentleman, who very much resembled him, was with him a short time before; that, overcome by his importunity, he had shown him the way, given him a guide, and told him how he should act; but that he had not seen him since, and doubted not he had shared the same fate as all before him.

The Story Of The Speaking Bird [Fairy Tales From The Arabian Nights]

'Good dervish,' answered Prince Perviz, 'I know of whom you speak; he was my elder brother, and I know of his death, but not what it was.'

' I can tell you,' replied the dervish; 'he was changed into a black stone, as all I speak of have been; and you must expect the same fate unless you observe more exactly than he did the good advice I gave him, if you persist in your resolution, which I once more entreat you to renounce.'

'Dervish,' said Prince Perviz, 'I cannot say how much I am obliged to you for the care you take of my life, as I have done nothing to deserve your kindness; but I thoroughly considered this enterprise before I undertook it, and 1 cannot give it up; therefore I beg you to do me the same favour as you did my brother. Perhaps I may have better success in following your directions.'

'Since,' said the dervish, 'I cannot persuade you to give up your obstinate resolution, if my age did not prevent me and I could stand, I would get up to bring you a bowl I have here, which will show you the way.'

Without giving him time to say more, the prince alighted from his horse and went up to the dervish, who had taken a bowl out of his bag, and gave it him, with the same directions as he had given Prince Bahman; and after warning him not to be frightened at the voices he would hear without seeing anybody, however threatening they might be, but to continue his way up the hill till he saw the cage and bird, he let him go.

Prince Perviz thanked the dervish, and when he had remounted his horse, and taken leave, he threw the bowl before his horse, and followed it. When the bowl came to the bottom of the hill it stopped, and the prince got off his horse, and stood some time to recollect the dervish's directions. He encouraged himself, and began to walk up with a resolution to reach the top; but before he had gone six steps he heard a voice, which seemed to be that of a man behind him, say, in an insulting tone, 'Stay, rash youth, that I may punish you for your boldness.'

At this affront, the prince forgot the dervish's advice, clapped his hand upon his sword and drew it, and turned about to revenge himself; but scarcely had he had time to see that nobody followed him, when he and his horse were changed into black stones.

In the meantime the Princess Parizade strung over her chaplet several times a day; and when she had nothing else to do, she told the pearls over her fingers one after another. When she went to bed she put it about her neck, and in the morning when she awoke counted over the pearls again to see if they would slide.

The day that Prince Perviz was changed into a stone, she was pulling over the pearls as usual, when all of a sudden she could not stir them, and never doubted that it was a certain token that the prince, her brother, was dead. As she had determined beforehand what to do, in case it should so happen, she lost no time in outward show of grief, which she concealed as much as possible; but disguising herself in man's apparel, she mounted her horse the next morning, having told her servants she should return in two or three days, and took the road her brothers had done before her.

The princess, who was used to riding on horseback, supported the fatigue of so long a journey better than other ladies could have done; and as she made the same days' journey as her brothers, she also met the dervish on the twentieth day. When she came near him she alighted off her horse, and leading him by the bridle, went and sat down by the dervish, and after she had saluted him, she said, 'Good dervish, give me leave to rest by you; and do me the favour to tell me if there are somewhere hereabouts a speaking bird, a singing tree, and golden water.'

' Madam,' answered the dervish, 'for so I must call you, since by your voice I know you to be a woman disguised in man's apparel, I thank you, and receive the honour you do me with great pleasure. I know very well the place where these things you speak of are to be found; but what makes you ask this question?'

'Good dervish,' replied the princess, 'I have a very great desire to possess them.'

'Madam,' replied the dervish, 'these things are even more singular and surprising than they have been represented to you; but you have not been told of the difficulties and dangers which must be surmounted in order to obtain them. Take my advice; go no farther; return, and do not urge me to contribute towards your ruin.'

'Good father,' said the princess, 'I have come a long way, and should be sorry to return home without accomplishing my wish. You talk of difficulties and danger to my life, but you do not tell me what those difficulties are, and wherein the danger consists. This is what I desire to know, that I may consider it, and judge whether I can or cannot trust my courage and strength to undertake it.'

Then the dervish repeated to the Princess Parizade what he had said to the Princes Bahman and Perviz, of the difficulty of climbing to the top of the mountain, the noise and din of the terrible threatening voices which she would hear on all sides, without seeing anybody; and the great quantity of black stones, alone sufficient to strike terror into her and everyone else. He entreated her to reflect that those stones were many brave gentlemen, thus enchanted for omitting to observe the principal condition of success, which was not to look behind them before they had got possession of the cage.

When the dervish had done, the princess replied, 'From what I gather, the difficulty in this affair is, first, the getting up to the cage, without being frightened at the terrible din of voices; and, secondly, not looking behind. As to this last, I hope I shall be mistress enough of myself to observe it. As to the first, I own that such voices are capable of striking terror into the most undaunted; but as in all enterprises and dangers every one may use contrivances, I desire to know if I may make use of them.'

'And what do you here intend to do?' said the dervish.

'To stop my ears with cotton,' answered the princess, 'that however loud and terrible the voices may be, they may make less impression upon my imagination, and my mind remain free from the disturbance which might make me lose my reason.'

'Madam,' replied the dervish, 'of all the persons who have addressed themselves to me to ask the way, I do not know that any one made use of the plan you propose. All I know is, they all perished. If you persist in your design, you can make the experiment. You will be fortunate if it succeeds; but I would advise you not to expose yourself to the danger.'

'My good father,' replied the princess, 'nothing prevents my persisting. I am sure I shall succeed, and am resolved to try the experiment. Nothing remains for me but to know which way I must go, a favour I beg you not to refuse me.'

The dervish exhorted her again for the last time to consider well what she was going to do; but finding her resolute, he took out a bowl and said, 'Take this bowl; mount your horse again, and when you have thrown it before you, follow it through all its windings, till it stops at the bottom of the mountain: there stop, alight off your horse, and ascend the mountain. Go, you know the rest; and be sure not to forget what I have told you.'

After the Princess Parizade had thanked the dervish, and taken leave of him, she mounted her horse, threw the bowl before her, and followed it till it stopped at the foot of the mountain.

The princess alighted, and stopped her ears with cotton-wool, and after she had well examined the way by which she was to get to the top, she began at a moderate pace. She heard the voices, and perceived the great service the cotton was to her. The higher she went, the louder and more numerous the voices seemed; but they could not make any impression on her. She heard a great many affronting speeches and jeering very disagreeable to a woman, which she only laughed at. At last she got so high that she began to perceive the cage and bird, which also tried to frighten her, crying in a thundering voice, notwithstanding the smallness of its size, 'Retire, fool, and come no higher.'

The princess, nevertheless, redoubled her haste. At last she got to the top of the mountain, where the ground was level, and running straight to the cage, clapped her hand upon it, and cried, 'Bird, I have you in spite of you, and you shall not escape me.'

While the Princess Parizade was pulling the cotton-wool out of her ears, the bird said to her, 'Brave lady, be not angry with me for joining in with the voices. Though in a cage, I was content; but since I am destined to be a slave, I would rather be yours than any other person's in the world, since you have obtained me so courageously and so worthily. From this instant I swear inviolable faith to you, and an entire submission to all your commands. I know who you are, and will tell you. You do not know yourself; but the time will come when I shall do you a service, for which you will feel obliged to me. As a proof of my sincerity, tell me what you desire, and I am ready to obey you.'

The princess's joy at her success was inexpressible, because it had cost her the lives of two beloved brothers, and given her more trouble and danger than she could have imagined before she tried it, notwithstanding what the dervish had said. 'Bird,' said she, 'I wish for many things which are of the greatest importance to me. I have been told that there is not far off a golden water; before all things, I ask you to tell me where it is.' The bird showed her the place, which was close by, and she went and filled a little silver flagon which she had brought with her. She returned to the bird, and said, 'Bird, this is not enough; I want also the singing tree; tell me where it is.'

'Turn round,' said the bird, 'and you will see behind you a wood, where you will find this tree.' The princess went into the wood, and by the harmonious sounds she heard soon knew the tree among many others, but it was very large and high. She came back to the bird and said, 'Bird, I have found the singing tree, but I can neither pull it up by the roots nor carry it.'

The bird replied, 'It is not necessary that you should take it up by the roots; break off a branch, and carry it to plant in your garden; it will take root as soon as it is put into the earth, and in a little time will grow to as fine a tree as this you see.'

When the Princess Parizade had in her hand the three things which the religious woman had told her of, and for which she had felt so great a desire, she said to the bird, 'Bird, all you have done for me as yet is not enough. You have been the cause of the death of my two brothers, who must be among the black stones which I saw as I came up the hill. I wish to take them home with me.'

The bird seemed reluctant to satisfy the princess on this point, and indeed made some difficulty about it. 'Bird,' said the princess, 'remember you told me that you were my slave. You are; and your life is at my disposal.'

'I cannot deny it,' answered the bird; 'but although what you now ask of me is more difficult than all the rest, yet I will do it for you. Cast your eyes around,' added he, 'and look if you can see a little pitcher.'

'I see it already,' said the princess.

'Take it then,' said he, 'and as you go down the hill, spill a little of the water that is in it upon every black stone, and that will be the way to find your brothers again.'

The Princess Parizade took up the pitcher, and carried with her the cage and bird, the flagon of golden water, and the branch of the singing tree; and, as she went down the hill, she spilt a little of the water on every black stone, which was changed immediately into a man; and as she did not miss one stone, all the horses, both of the princes her brothers, and of the other gentlemen, resumed their former shape. She presently recognised Prince Bahman and Prince Perviz, as they did her, and ran to embrace her. She returned their embraces, and expressed her amazement. 'What are you doing here, my dear brothers?' said she. They told her they had been asleep. 'Yes,' replied she, 'and if it had not been for me you might have slept till the day of judgment. Don't you remember that you came here to fetch the speaking bird, the singing tree, and the yellow water? and didn't you see, as you came along, the place covered with black stones? The gentlemen you see here, and their horses which surround us, and you yourselves, were these black stones. If you desire to know how this wonder was performed,' continued she, showing the pitcher, which she set down at the foot of the mountain, having no further use for it, 'it was done by virtue of the water which was in this pitcher, with which I sprinkled every stone. After I had made the speaking bird (which you see in this cage) my slave, by his directions I found out the singing tree, a branch of which I now have in my hand; and the yellow water, with which this flagon is filled; but being unwilling to return home without you, I constrained the bird to show me the means.'

Prince Bahman and Prince Perviz perceived how greatly they were indebted to the princess their sister, as did all the other gentlemen, who had collected round, and heard all that was said. They all declared themselves her slaves, and said they were ready to obey her in whatever she should command.

' Gentlemen,' replied the princess, 'I rejoice with you for the happiness which has come to you by my means. Let us, however, stay no longer in a place where we have nothing to detain us; but mount our horses, and return to our respective homes.'

The Princess Parizade led the way. She went and took her horse, which stood in the place where she had left him. Before she mounted, Prince Bahman desired her to give him the cage to carry. 'Brother,' replied the princess, 'the bird is my slave, and I will carry him myself; if you will be so kind as to carry the branch of the singing tree, there it is; only hold the cage while I get on horseback.' When she had mounted her horse, and Prince Bahman had given her the cage, she turned round and said to Prince Perviz, I leave the flagon of golden water to your care, if it will not be too much trouble for you to carry it.' Prince Perviz took charge of it with pleasure.

When Prince Bahman and Prince Perviz and all the gentlemen had mounted their horses, the Princess Parizade waited for some of them to lead the way. The two princes waited for the gentlemen, and they again for the princess, who, finding that none of them would accept the honour, but that it was reserved for her, said, 'Gentlemen, I do not deserve the honour you do me, and accept it only because you desire it.' So she led the way, and the two princes and the gentlemen followed her all together.

This illustrious company called upon the dervish, as they passed by, to thank him for his kindness and wholesome advice, which they had all found to be sincere. But he was dead; whether from old age, or because he was no longer necessary to show the way to the three curiosities, did not appear. They pursued their way, but lessened in number every day, for the gentlemen who had come from different countries, after repeating their obligations to the princess and her brothers, took leave of them one after another.

As soon as the princess reached home, she placed the cage in the garden, just by the hall; and tile bird no sooner began to sing than he was surrounded by nightingales, chaffinches, larks, linnets, goldfinches, and a great many other birds of the country. As for the branch of the singing tree, it was no sooner set in tile midst of the garden, a little distance from the house, than it took root, and in a short time became a large tree, the leaves of which gave as harmonious a concert as those of the tree from which it was gathered. As to the flagon of golden water, a large basin of beautiful marble was made in the midst of the garden; and when it was finished, the princess poured into it all the yellow water that was in the flagon; and it increased and swelled so much that it soon reached up to the edges of the basin, and afterwards formed in the middle a fountain twenty feet high, which fell again into the basin perpetually, without running ever.

The report of these wonders was presently spread abroad in the neighbourhood, and as the doors of the house and those of the gardens were shut to nobody, a great many people came to admire them.

Some days afterwards, when the Princes Bahman and Perviz had recovered from the fatigue of their journey, they resumed their former way of living; and as their usual diversion was hunting they mounted their horses, and went for the first time since their return, not in their own park, but two or three leagues from the house. As they pursued their sport, the Sultan of Persia came up hunting on the same spot of ground. When they perceived by the number of horsemen in different places that he would soon reach them, they resolved to leave off, and retire to avoid meeting him; but they chanced to meet him in so narrow a path that they could not turn away nor retreat without being seen. In their surprise they had only time to alight and prostrate themselves before the sultan without lifting up their heads to look at him. The sultan, who saw they were as well mounted and dressed as if they had belonged to his court, had some curiosity to see their faces. He stopped, and commanded them to rise. The princes rose up, and stood before the sultan with an easy and graceful air, and respectful modest countenances. The sultan looked them all over from head to foot before he spoke. Then he asked them who they were, and where they lived.

'Sir,' said Prince Bahman, 'we arc the sons of the late keeper of your majesty's gardens, and we live in a house which he built, a little before he died, for us to live in, till we should be fit to serve your majesty when opportunity offered.'

'By what I perceive,' replied the sultan, 'you are fond of hunting.'

'Sir,' answered Prince Bahman, 'it is our common exercise; none of your majesty's subjects who intend to bear arms in your armies ought, according to the ancient custom of the kingdom to neglect it.'

The sultan, charmed with so prudent an answer, said, 'Since it is so, I should be glad to see you hunt game; make choice of what you like.'

The princes mounted their horses again, and followed the sultan, but had not gone far before they saw a great many wild beasts together. Prince Bahman chose a lion, and Prince Perviz a bear, and pursued them with so much valour that the sultan was surprised. They came up with their game, and darted their javelins with so much skill, that they pierced, the one the lion, and the other the bear, through and through: the sultan, with his own eyes, saw them fall one after the other. Immediately afterwards Prince Bahman pursued another bear, and Prince Perviz another lion, and killed them in a short time, and would have beaten out for fresh game, but the sultan would not let them, and sent for them. When they came he said, 'If I had given you leave, you would soon have destroyed all my game. I am sure your bravery will some time or other be serviceable to me.'

The sultan, in short, felt so kindly disposed towards the two princes, that he invited them immediately to pay him a visit; to which Prince Bahman replied, 'Your majesty does us an honour we do not deserve, and we beg you will excuse us.'

The sultan, who could not comprehend what reason the princes could have for refusing this token of his favour, asked and pressed them to tell him why they excused themselves. 'Sir,' said Prince Bahman, 'we have a younger sister, with whom we live in such perfect union that we undertake and do nothing before we consult her, nor she anything without asking our advice.'

'I commend your brotherly affection,' answered the sultan. 'Consult your sister, meet here me to-morrow hunting, and give me an answer.'

The princes went home, but forgot not only to speak of their adventure in meeting the sultan and hunting with him, but to tell the princess the honour he had done them by asking them to go home with him; yet they did not the next morning fail to meet him at the place appointed. 'Well,' said the sultan, 'have you spoken to your sister, and has she consented? '

The two princes looked at each other and blushed. 'Sir,' said Prince Bahman, 'we beg your majesty to excuse us, for both my brother and I forgot.'

'Then remember to-day,' replied the sultan, 'and be sure to bring me an answer to-morrow.'

The princes were guilty of the same fault a second time, and the sultan was so good-natured as to forgive their carelessness; but to prevent their forgetfulness the third time, he pulled three little golden balls out of a purse, and put them into Prince Bahman's breast. 'These balls,' said he, smiling, ' will prevent your forgetting a third time what I wish you to do for my sake, since the noise they will make by falling on the floor, when you undress yourself, will remind you. if you do not recollect it before.' The event happened just as the Sultan foresaw. For as Prince Bahman unloosed his girdle to go to bed, the balls dropped on the floor, and thereupon he ran into Prince Perviz's chamber, and both went into the Princess Parizade's apartment; and after they had asked her pardon for coming at so unseasonable a time, they told her all about their meeting the sultan.

The Princess Parizade was somewhat surprised at this news. 'Your meeting with the sultan,' said she, 'is very happy and honourable, and may in the end be very advantageous to you, but it is very disagreeable and distressful to me. It was on my account, I know, that you refused the sultan, and I am infinitely obliged to you for it. I know by this that your friendship is as strong as mine, since you would rather be guilty of incivility towards the sultan than break the brotherly union we have sworn to each other. You judged right that if you had once gone, you would by degrees have decided to leave me, to devote yourselves to him. But do you think it an easy matter absolutely to refuse the sultan what he seems so earnestly to desire? Sultans will be obeyed, and it may be dangerous to oppose them; therefore, if I were to dissuade you from showing the assent he expects from you, it might expose you to his resentment, and might render myself and you miserable. This is what I think: but before we decide on anything, let us consult the speaking bird, and hear what he says; he is wise, and has promised his assistance in all difficulties.'

The Princess Parizade sent for the cage, and after she had related the fact to the bird in the presence of her brothers, she asked him what they should do in their perplexity. The bird answered, 'The princes, your brothers, must conform to the sultan's pleasure, and in their turn invite him to come and see your house.'

'But, bird,' replied the princess, 'my brothers and I love one another, and our friendship is unparalleled. Will not this step be injurious to that friendship?'

'Not at all,' replied the bird; 'it will become stronger.'

'Then,' answered the princess, 'the sultan will see me.' The bird told her it was necessary that he should see her, and that everything would go better afterwards.

Next morning the princes met the sultan hunting, who asked them if they had remembered to speak to their sister. Prince Bahman drew near, and answered, 'Sir, your majesty may dispose of us as you please; we are ready to obey you; for we have not only obtained our sister's consent with great ease, but she took it amiss that we should pay her such deference in a matter wherein our duty to your majesty was concerned. But she is so deserving of it that, if we have offended, we hope you will pardon us.'

'Do not be uneasy upon that account,' replied the sultan; 'so far from taking amiss what you have done, I approve of it, and hope you will feel the same deference and attachment to me, if I have ever so little share in your friendship.' The princes, confused at the sultan's goodness, returned no other answer than a low bow, to show their great respect.

The sultan, contrary to his usual custom, did not hunt long that day. Presuming that the princes possessed brains equal to their courage and bravery, he longed with impatience to converse with them more at liberty, and made them ride on each side of him. When the sultan entered his capital, the eyes of the people' who stood in crowds in the streets, were fixed only upon the two princes Bahman and Perviz; and they were anxious to know who they were, whether foreigners or natives.

All, however, agreed in wishing that the sultan had been blessed with two such handsome lovely princes, and said, 'He might have had children just their age, if he had been more fortunate.'

The first thing that the sultan did when he arrived was to show the princes over his palace. Afterwards a magnificent repast was served up, and the sultan made them sit at the same table with him, which they at first refused, but finding that it was his wish, they obeyed. The sultan was a clever and learned man; but in whatever direction he turned the conversation, they showed so much judgment and discernment, that he was struck with admiration. 'Were these my own children,' said he to himself, 'and I had improved their talents by suitable education, they could not have been better informed.' In fact, he took such pleasure in their conversation that, after having sat at table longer than usual, he went into his private room, where he talked a long time with them, a concert following, and then dancing. Seeing night drawing on apace, the two princes prostrated themselves at the sultan's feet; and having first thanked him for the favours and honours he had heaped on them, asked his leave to retire, which was granted them by the sultan, who, however, said 'Remember I brought you to the palace myself only to show you the way; you will always be welcome, and the oftener you come the greater pleasure you will do me.'

Before they went out of the sultan's presence, Prince Bahman said, 'Sir, may we presume to request that your majesty will do us and our sister the favour to pass by our house, and rest and refresh yourself, the first time you go hunting in our neighbourhood? It is not worthy of your presence; but monarchs sometimes have condescended to take shelter in a cottage.'

'Gentlemen,' replied the sultan, 'your house cannot be otherwise than beautiful, and worthy of you. I will call and see it with pleasure; you and your sister are already dear to me. I will be there early to- morrow morning, at the place where I shall never forget that I first saw you. Meet me, and you shall be my guides.'

When the Princes Bahman and Perviz went home, they gave the Princess Parizade an account of the honourable reception the sultan had given them, and told her that they had invited him to do them the honour to call at their house, and that he had appointed the next day.

The Story Of The Speaking Bird [Fairy Tales From The Arabian Nights]

'Then,' replied the princess, 'we must think at once of preparing a repast fit for his majesty; I think we should consult the speaking bird: he will tell us, perhaps, what dishes the sultan likes best.' The princes approved of her thought, and after they retired she consulted the bird alone. 'Bird,' said she, 'the sultan will do us the honour to-morrow to come and see our house, and we are to entertain him; tell us what we shall do to please him.'

' Good mistress,' replied the bird, 'you have excellent cooks, let them do the best they can; but, above all, let them prepare a dish of cucumbers stuffed with pearls, which must be set before the sultan in the first course.'

'Cucumbers with pearls!' cried Princess Parizade, in amazement. 'Surely, bird, you do not know what you say; it is an unheard-of dish. The sultan may admire it as a piece of magnificence, but he will sit down to table to eat, and not to admire pearls; besides, the pearls I am worth are not enough for such a dish.'

'Mistress,' said the bird, 'do what I say, and be not uneasy. Nothing but good will follow. As to the pearls, go early to-morrow morning to the foot of the first tree on your right in the park, and dig under it, and you will find more than you want.'

That night the princess ordered a gardener to be ready, and early the next morning took him with her to the tree the bird told her of, and bade him dig at its foot. When the gardener came to a certain depth, he found some resistance to the spade, and presently discovered a gold box about a foot square, which he showed the princess. 'This,' said she, 'is what I brought you for; take care not to hurt it with the spade.'

When the gardener took up the box, he gave it into the princess's hands, who, as it was only fastened with neat little hasps, soon opened it, and found it full of pearls of moderate size, but fit for the use that was to be made of them. Very well satisfied with having found this treasure, she shut the box again, put it under her arm, and went back to the house, while the gardener threw the earth into the hole at the foot of the tree as before.

Princes Bahman and Perviz saw the princess their sister in the garden earlier than usual, as they were dressing in their own apartments; as soon as they could get out, they went to meet her as she was coming back, with a gold box under her arm, which very much surprised them. 'Sister,' said Bahman, 'you carried nothing with you when we saw you before with the gardener, and now we see you have got a golden box; is this some treasure found by the gardener, and did he come and tell you of it? '

'No, brother,' answered the princess, ' I conducted the gardener to the place where this coffer was hid, and showed him where to dig: but you will be more amazed when you see what it holds.'

The princess opened the box, and when the princes saw that it was full of pearls, which, though small, were of great value, they asked her how she came to the knowledge of this treasure. 'Brothers,' said she, 'come with me and I will tell you.' As they returned to the house, the princess gave them an account of her consulting the bird, as they had agreed she should, and the answer he gave her; the objection she raised to preparing a dish of cucumbers stuffed with pearls, and how he had told her where to find this box. The princes and princess wondered greatly what the bird could mean by ordering them to prepare such a dish; and though they could not by any means guess at his reason, they agreed to follow his advice exactly.

As soon as the princess got into the house, she called for the head cook; and after she had given him directions about the entertainment for the sultan, she said, 'besides all this you must prepare an extraordinary dish for the sultan's own eating, which nobody else must have anything to do with besides yourself. This dish must be of cucumbers stuffed with these pearls ;' and she opened the box, and showed him the pearls.

The chief cook, who had never heard of such a dish, started back, and showed his thoughts by his looks. The princess said, 'I see you take me to be mad to order such a dish, which you never heard of, and which one may say with certainty was never made. I know this as well as you; but I am not mad, and give you these orders with the most perfect sincerity. You must go and invent and do the best you can, and bring me back what pearls are left. The cook could make no reply, but took the box and went away with it; and afterwards the princess gave directions to all the servants to have everything in order, both in the house and gardens to receive the sultan.

Then the two princes went to the place appointed; and as soon as the Sultan of Persia came, the chase began, which lasted till the heat of the sun obliged him to leave off. While Prince Bahman waited to conduct the sultan to their house, Prince Perviz rode before to show the way, and, when he came in sight of the house, spurred his horse to tell the Princess Parizade that the sultan was coming; but she had been told by some servants whom she placed to give notice, and the prince found her waiting ready to receive him.

When the sultan entered the court-yard, and alighted at the portico, the Princess Parizade came and threw herself at his feet, and the two princes informed him that she was their sister, and besought him to accept her respects.

The sultan stooped to help her up; and, after he had gazed some time on her beauty, struck with her good person, noble air, and a something indefinable, which seemed different from the country where she lived, he said, 'The brothers are worthy of the sister, and she of them; and to judge of her understanding by her looks, I am not surprised that the brothers would do nothing without their sister's consent; but,' added he, 'I hope to be better acquainted with you, madam, after I have seen the house.'

'Sir,' said the princess, 'it is only a plain country-house, fit for such people as we are, who live retired from the great world. It is not to be compared with houses in great cities, much less with the magnificent palaces of sultans.'

'I cannot perfectly agree with you in opinion,' said the sultan, very obligingly, 'for its first appearance makes me suspect you; however, I will not pass my judgment upon it till I have seen it all; therefore be pleased to conduct me through the apartments.'

The princess led the sultan through all the rooms but the hall; and, after he had considered them all very attentively, and admired their variety, 'My fair one,' said he to the Princess Parizade, 'do you call this a country-house? The finest and largest cities would soon be deserted if all country-houses were like yours. I am no longer surprised that you take so much delight in it, and despise the town. Now let me see the garden, which I doubt not is as fine as the house.'

The princess opened a door which led into the garden; and the first object which presented itself to the sultan's view was the golden fountain. Surprised at so rare a sight, he asked whence came such wonderful water, where was its source, and by what art it was made to play so high that he thought nothing in the world could compare with it? He said he would presently take a nearer view.

Then the princess led him to the spot where the harmonious tree was planted; and there the sultan heard a concert, which was different from all the concerts he had ever heard in his life; and stopping to see where the musicians were, he could discern nobody far or near; but still distinctly heard the music, which ravished his senses. 'My fair one,' said he to the Princess Parizade, 'where are the musicians? Are they underground, or invisible in the air? '

'Sir,' answered the princess, smiling, 'it is not musicians, but the tree your majesty sees before you which makes this concert; and if you will take the trouble to go a little nearer you will not doubt it, and the voices will be the more distinct.'

The sultan went nearer, and was so charmed with the sweet harmony that he would never have been tired of hearing it, but that his desire to have a nearer view of the fountain of yellow water forced him away. 'Fair one,' said he, 'tell me, I pray you, whether this wonderful tree was found in your garden by chance, or whether it was a present made to you, or did you procure it from some foreign country? It must certainly have come from a great way off; otherwise, as I am curious after natural rarities, I should have heard of it. What name do you call it?'

'Sir,' replied the princess, 'this tree has no other name than that of the singing tree, and is not a native of this country. It would take too long to tell you how it came here; its history is connected with that of the yellow water and the speaking bird, which came to me at the same time, and which your majesty may see after you have taken a nearer view of the golden water. But if it be agreeable to your majesty, after you have rested and recovered from the fatigue of hunting, I will do myself the honour of relating it to you.'

'My fair one,' replied the sultan, 'my fatigue is so well dispelled by the wonderful things you have shown me, that I do not feel it the least. I think only of the trouble I am giving you. Let us see the yellow water. I am impatient to see and admire the speaking bird.'

When the sultan came to the yellow water, his eyes were fixed so steadfastly upon the fountain that he could not take them off. At last, addressing himself to the princess, he said, 'As you tell me, fair one, that this water has no spring or communication hereabouts, I conclude that it is foreign, as well as the singing tree.'

'Sir,' replied the princess, 'it is as your majesty says; and to let you know that this water has no communication with any spring, I must tell you that the basin is one single stone, so that the water cannot come in at the sides or underneath. But what your majesty will think most wonderful is, that all this water proceeded from one flagon, which I emptied into the basin, and increased of itself to the quantity you see, and formed the fountain.'

' Well,' said the sultan' going from the fountain, 'this is enough for one time. I promise to come and visit it very often; but now let us go and see the speaking bird.'

As he went towards the hall, the sultan perceived a prodigious number of singing birds in the trees thereabouts filling the air with their songs and warblings, and asked why there were so many there, and none on the other trees in the garden? 'The reason, sir,' answered the princess, 'is, because they come from all parts round to accompany the song of the speaking bird, which your majesty may perceive in a cage in one of the windows of the hall we are going into; and if you listen you will perceive that his notes are sweeter than those of all the other birds, even the nightingale'

The sultan went into the hall; and as the bird continued singing, the princess raised her voice, and said, 'My slave, here is the sultan; pay your respects to him.'

The bird left off singing that instant, and all the other birds ceased one after another, and said, 'The sultan is welcome here; Heaven prosper him, and prolong his life!'

As the meal was served by the sofa near the window where the bird was, the sultan replied, as he was sitting down at the table, 'Bird, I thank you, and I am overjoyed to find in you the sultan and king of birds.'

As soon as the sultan saw the dish of cucumbers set before him, thinking they were stuffed in the ordinary manner, he reached out his hand and took one; but when he cut it, he was extremely surprised to find it stuffed with pearls. 'What is this?' said he; 'and why were these cucumbers stuffed with pearls, since pearls are not to be eaten?' Then he looked at the two princes and princess, to ask them the meaning of it: when the bird, interrupting him, said, 'Can your majesty be in such great astonishment at cucumbers stuffed with pearls, which you see with your own eyes, and yet could so easily believe that the sultaness your wife had a dog, a cat, and a piece of wood instead of children?'

'I believed it,' replied the sultan, 'because the two aunts assured me of it.'

'The sultaness' two sisters,' replied the bird, 'were envious of her happiness in being preferred by your majesty before them, and, to satisfy their envy and revenge, deceived your majesty so easily. If you question them, they will confess their crime. The two brothers and the sister whom you see before you are your own children whom they sent adrift, and who were taken in by the keeper of your gardens, who provided nurses for them, and looked after their education.'

The Story Of The Speaking Bird [Fairy Tales From The Arabian Nights]

This speech of the bird's illumined the sultan's understanding. 'Bird,' cried he, 'I believe the truth of what you tell me. Come then, my children, come, my daughter, let me embrace you, and give you the first marks of a father's love and tenderness.' Then he rose up, and after having embraced the two princes and the princess, and mingled his tears with theirs, he said, 'It is not enough, my children, you must embrace each other, not as the children of the keeper of my gardens, to whom I have been under great obligations for preserving your lives, but as my own children, of the royal blood of the sultans of Persia, whose glory, I am persuaded, you will maintain.'

After the two princes and princess had embraced with new satisfaction, the sultan sat down again and finished his meal in haste; and when he had done, he said, 'My children, you see in me your father: to-morrow I will bring the sultaness your mother, therefore prepare to receive her.'

Afterwards the sultan mounted his horse, and returned in all haste to his capital. The first thing he did, as soon as he alighted and entered his palace, was to command the grand vizier to try the sultaness' two sisters. They were taken from their houses separately, convicted, and condemned to be executed; which sentence was carried out within an hour.

In the mean time the sultan, followed by all the lords of his court who were then present, went to fetch the sultaness, and embracing her said, with tears in his eyes, 'I come, madam, to ask your pardon for the injustice I have done you, and to make you the reparation I ought to do; which I have begun, by punishing the persons who put the abominable cheat upon me; and I hope you will look upon it as complete, when I present to you two accomplished princes, and a charming lovely princess, our children.' All this was done and said before great crowds of people, who flocked from all parts at the first hint of what was passing, and immediately spread the news through the town.

Early the next morning the sultan and sultaness went with all their court to the house built by the keeper of the gardens, where the sultan presented the Princes Bahman and Perviz, and the Princess Parizade to the sultaness. 'These, madam,' said he, 'are the two princes your sons, and the princess your daughter; embrace them with the same tenderness that I have done, since they are worthy both of me and of you.' The tears flowed plentifully down their cheeks at these tender embraces, especially the sultaness', for the comfort and joy of having two such princes for her sons, and such a princess for her daughter, on whose account she had endured affliction so long.

The two princes and the princess had prepared a magnificent repast for the sultan and sultaness, and their court. As soon as that was over the sultan led the sultaness into the garden, and showed her the harmonious tree and the beautiful effect of the yellow fountain. As for the bird, she had seen him in his cage, and the sultan had spared nothing in his praise during the repast.

When there was nothing to detain the sultan any longer, he took horse again, and with the Princes Bahman and Perviz on his right and left hand, and the sultaness and the princess at his left, preceded and followed by all the officers of his court according to their rank, returned to his capital. Crowds of people came out to meet them, and with acclamations of joy ushered them into the city, where all eyes were fixed not only upon the sultaness, the two princes, and the princess, but also upon the bird, which the princess carried before her in his cage, singing the sweet notes which had drawn all the other birds after him, flying from tree to tree in the country and from one house-top to another in the city. The Princes Bahman and Perviz and the Princess Parizade were at length brought to the palace, and nothing was seen or heard all that night and many days after but illuminations and rejoicings both in the palace and in the utmost parts of the city.

The Story Of The Speaking Bird [Fairy Tales From The Arabian Nights]


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