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The Caliph Stork
by [?]

In great surprise the Caliph asked her in what way she meant.

“The sorcerer who has done this wrong to us both,” she answered, “comes once a month to these ruins. Not far from here there is a room in which he is accustomed to hold a banquet with many of his fellows. Many times have I heard them there. On these occasions they relate to each other their shameful deeds. Perhaps then he will divulge the magic word you have forgotten.”

“O, dearest Princess,” cried the Caliph, “tell us, when does he come, and where is the banqueting hall?”

The owl remained silent for a moment, and then said:

“Do not take it unkindly; but only on one condition can I inform you.”

“Speak out! speak out!” exclaimed Chasid. “Whatever your condition it will be acceptable to me.”

“Well then, I am also desirous of being set free; but this can only happen by one of you offering me his hand.”

The storks were somewhat disconcerted at this proposal; and the Caliph beckoned his follower to leave the room with him.

“Grand Vizier,” said the Caliph, closing the door behind them, “this is a pretty piece of business! But you, now, might take her.”

“Indeed?” answered he, “and thus give my wife cause to scratch my eyes out, when I get home? Then, too, I am an old man; whereas you are young and unmarried, and therefore in a better position to offer your hand to a beautiful young princess.”

“That’s the very point,” sighed the Caliph, as he sadly allowed his wings to droop to the ground. “It would be buying a cat in the bag; for what assurance have you that she is young and beautiful?”

They discussed the matter for a long time, until at last the Caliph, convinced that the Vizier would rather remain a stork than marry the Princess, concluded to fulfill the condition she had imposed on himself.

The owl was greatly rejoiced, and confessed that they could not have come at a better time, as it was probable that the sorcerers would assemble there that very night. The owl then left the room with the storks to show them to the banquet-room. For a long time they walked through a dark passage, when finally there streamed out bright rays of light through a broken wall. As they came up to the wall the owl cautioned the storks to remain perfectly quiet. The gap in which they stood overlooked a large room, adorned on all sides with marble columns, and tastefully decorated; countless colored lamps made the place light as day. In the centre of the room stood a round table covered with various dainty dishes, and upon the divan that encircled it, sat eight men. In one of these men the storks recognized the trader who had sold them the magic powder. The person who sat next to him called on him to relate his latest deeds. The trader then told the story of the Caliph and his Vizier.


“What kind of a word did you give them?” asked the other sorcerer.

“A very hard Latin word– Mutator.”

When the storks from their place in the wall, heard this, they were almost beside themselves with joy. They ran so fast toward the outlet of the ruins that the owl could hardly keep up with their long legs. Once clear of the building, the Caliph said to the owl with much feeling:

“Savior of my life and the life of my friend! As a lasting reward for what you have done, take me for your husband.”

Then he turned to the East. Three times the storks bowed their long necks to the sun just rising above the mountains, ” Mutabor! ” shouted they, and in a trice they were men again. Then, in the joy of their newly-returned life, master and follower were laughing and weeping by turns in each other’s arms.

But who could describe their astonishment when they turned around and saw a beautiful lady, richly dressed, standing before them? With a smile she gave the Caliph her hand.