**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Caliph Stork
by [?]

The Caliph also stopped, and very plainly heard a low sobbing that seemed to proceed from a human being, rather than from an animal. Full of curiosity, he was about to approach the place whence the sounds came, when the Vizier caught him by the wing with his bill, and begged him most earnestly not to plunge into new and unknown dangers. All in vain! for the Caliph, who even under a stork’s wing, carried a stout heart, tore himself away with the loss of a few feathers, and hastened into a dark passage. He shortly came to a door, through which he plainly heard sighs intermingled with low groans. He pushed open the door with his bill, but remained standing on the threshold in surprise.

In the ruined room, lighted but dimly by a small lattice window, he saw a large owl sitting on the floor. Large tears fell from its great round eyes, while in passionate tones it poured forth its complaints from its curved beak. But when the owl saw the Caliph and his Vizier, who by this time had stolen up, it raised a loud cry of joy. Daintily brushing the tears from its eyes with the brown spotted wings, it exclaimed in pure human Arabic, to the wonder of the listeners:

“Welcome, storks! You are a good omen, as it was once prophecied that storks would be the bearers of good fortune to me.”

As soon as the Caliph had sufficiently recovered from his astonishment, he made a bow with his long neck, brought his slender feet into a graceful position, and said–

“O owl of the night! from your words I believe I see in you a companion in misfortune. But, alas! Your hope that we can give you relief is doomed to disappointment. You will yourself appreciate our helplessness when you have heard our story.”

The owl requested him to relate it; which the Caliph did, just as we have heard it.


When the Caliph had concluded his story, the owl thanked him, and said:

“Listen also to my tale, and learn that I am not less unfortunate than yourself. My father is king of India. I, his only and unhappy daughter, am named Lusa. That same Sorcerer, Kaschnur, who transformed you, plunged me also into misery. One day he came to my father and demanded me in marriage for his son Mizra. But my father, who is a quick tempered man, had him thrown down-stairs. The wretch found means, by assuming other forms, of approaching me; and one day, as I was taking the air in my garden, he appeared, dressed as a slave, and handed me a drink that changed me into this horrible shape. He brought me here senseless from fright, and shouted in my ears with a terrible voice: ‘Here you shall remain, ugly, despised by every creature, until death; or till some man voluntarily offers to marry you in your present form! Thus do I revenge myself on you and your proud father!’ Since then many months have passed. Lonely and sad, I live as a hermit within these walls, abhorred by the world, despised even by animals, shut out from all enjoyment of the beauties of nature, as I am blind by day, and only at night, when the moon sheds its pale light over these walls, does the veil fall from my eyes.”

The owl finished her story, and once more brushed away with her wing the tears which the recital of her sufferings had caused.

The Caliph was sunk in deep thought over the story of the Princess.

“Unless I am greatly in error,” said he, “there is a hidden connection between our misfortunes; but where shall I find the key to this riddle?”

“O, Sire,” the owl replied, “I suspect that too, for when I was a little child it was foretold me by a soothsayer that a stork would sometime bring me great good fortune. And I think I know a way by which we can accomplish our own rescue.”