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The Caliph Stork
by [?]

When Selim the Learned had read this, the Caliph was pleased beyond measure. He made the scholar swear never to mention the secret to any one; presented him with a beautiful cloak, and then dismissed him. Then turning to his Vizier, he said–

“I call that a good investment, Mansor. I am impatient to become an animal. Come to me to-morrow morning early. We will then go together to the fields, take a little pinch of this magical snuff, and then listen to what is said in the air and the water, in the forest and field.”


No sooner had the Caliph Chasid dressed and breakfasted on the following morning, than the Grand Vizier arrived, as he had been commanded to do, to accompany him on his walk. The Caliph put the box containing the magic powder in his sash, and after bidding his attendants remain in the castle, started off, attended only by Mansor.

They first took their way through the extensive gardens of the Caliph, vainly searching for some living thing, in order to make their experiment. The Vizier at last proposed that they go farther on, to a pond, where he had frequently seen many creatures, more especially storks.

The Caliph consented to the proposal of Mansor, and went with him towards the pond. Arriving there, they saw a stork walking up and down, looking for frogs, and occasionally striking out before him with his bill. At the same time far up in the sky they discerned another stork hovering over this spot.

“I will wager my beard, Most Worthy Master,” said the Vizier, “that these two storks will hold a charming conversation together. What say you to our becoming storks?”

“Well thought of!” answered the Caliph. “But first let us carefully examine again the directions for resuming our human form. All right! By bowing three times towards the East and saying ‘ Mutabor,’ I shall be once more Caliph, and you Grand Vizier. But, for heavens sake! recollect! No laughing, or we are lost!

While the Caliph spoke, he noticed that the stork above their heads was gradually approaching the earth. Quickly drawing the box from his girdle, he put a good pinch to his nose, held out the box to the Vizier, who also took a pinch, and both then cried out: ” Mutabor!

Their legs at once shrank up and became thin and red; the beautiful yellow slippers of the Caliph and his companion took on the shape of stork’s feet; their arms developed into wings; their necks were stretched until they measured a yard in length; their beards vanished, while white feathers covered their bodies.

“You have a beautiful bill, Mr. Grand Vizier,” cried the Caliph, after a long pause of astonishment. “By the beard of the Prophet! I never saw any thing like it in my life.”

“Thank you most humbly,” replied the Vizier, bowing low; “but, if I dare venture the assertion, Your Highness presents a much handsomer appearance as a stork than as Caliph. But come; if agreeable to you, let us keep watch on our companions over there, and ascertain whether we can really understand Storkish.”

In the meantime the other stork had alighted on the ground, cleaned its feet with its bill, smoothed its feathers nicely, and approached the first stork. The two newly-made storks now made haste to get near them, and, to their surprise, overheard the following conversation:

“Good morning, Mrs. Longlegs! So early in the meadow?”

“Thank you kindly, dear Clapperbill; I was just procuring a little breakfast for myself. How would a portion of lizard suit you, or a leg of a frog?”

“Much obliged; but, I have not the least appetite to-day. I come to the meadow for quite another purpose. I am to dance to-day before my father’s guests, and therefore wish to practice a little in private.”

So saying, the young stork stepped over the field in a series of wonderful evolutions. The Caliph and Mansor looked on in wonder. But when she struck an artistic attitude on one foot, and began to fan herself gracefully with her wings, the two could no longer contain themselves. An irrepressible fit of laughter burst forth from their bills, from which it took them a long time to recover. The Caliph was the first to compose himself.