"Sir," said the Prince, "I will not sell my parrot."
Then Punchkin got frightened, and said, "Anything, anything; name what price you will, and it shall be yours." The Prince answered, "Let the seven Raja's sons whom you turned into rocks and trees be instantly liberated."
"It is done as you desire," said the Magician, "only give me my parrot." And With that, by a stroke of his wand, Balna's husband and his brothers resumed their natural shapes. "Now, give me my parrot,"
"Not so fast, my master," rejoined the Prince; "I must first beg that you will restore to life all whom you have thus imprisoned."
The Magician immediately waved his wand again; and whilst he cried, in an imploring voice, "Give me my parrot!' the whole garden became suddenly alive: where rocks, and stones, and trees had been before, stood Rajas, and Punts, and Sirdars, and mighty men on prancing horses, and jeweled pages, and troops of armed attendants.
"Give me my parrot!" cried Punchkin. Then the boy took hold of the parrot, and tore off one of its wings; and as he did so the Magician's right arm fell off.
Punchkin then stretched out his left arm, crying, "Give me my parrot!"
The Prince pulled off the parrot's second wing, and the Magician's left arm tumbled off.
"Give me my parrot!" cried he, and fell on his knees. The Prince pulled off the parrot's right leg, and the Magician's right leg fell off: the Prince pulled off the parrot's left leg, down fell the Magician's left.
Nothing remained of him save the limbless body and the head; but still he rolled his eyes, and cried "Give me my parrot!" "Take your parrot, then, cried the boy, and with that. he wrung the bird's neck, and threw it at the magician; and as he did so, Punchkin's head twisted round and, with a fearful groan, he died!
Then they let Balna out of the tower; and she, her son, and the seven Princes went to their own country, and lived very happily ever afterward. And as to the rest of the world, everyone went to his own house.
HOW SUN, MOON AND WIND WENT OUT TO DINNER
By E. Frere
ONE day Sun, Moon, and Wind went out to dine with their uncle and aunt Thunder and Lightning. Their mother (one of the most distant Stars you see far up in the sky) waited alone for her children's return.
Now both Sun and Wind were greedy and selfish. They enjoyed the great feast that had been prepared for them, without a thought of saving any of it to take home to their mother-but the gentle Moon did not forget her. Of every dainty dish that was brought round, she placed a small portion under one of her beautiful long fingernails, that Star might also have a share in the treat.
On their return, their mother, Who had kept watch for them all night long with her little bright eye, said, "Well, children, what have yon brought home for me?" Then Sun (who was eldest) said, "I have brought nothing home for you. I went out to enjoy myself with my friends-not to fetch dinner for my mother!" And Wind said, "Neither have I brought anything home for you, mother. You could hardly expect me to bring a collection of good things for you, when I merely went out for my own pleasure." But Moon said, "Mother, fetch a plate, see what I have brought you." And shaking her hands she showered down such a choice dinner as never was seen before.
Then Star turned to Sun and spoke thus, "Because you went out to amuse yourself with your friends, and feasted and enjoyed yourself, without any thought of our mother at home-you shall be cursed. Henceforth, your rays shall ever be hot and scorching, and shall burn all that they touch. And men shall hate you, and cover their heads when you appear.
(And that is why the Sun is so hot to this day.)
Then she turned to Wind and said, "You also who forgot your mother in the midst of your selfish pleasures-hear your doom. You shall always blow in the hot, dry weather, and shall parch and shrivel all living things. And men shall detest and avoid you from this very time."
(And that is why the Wind in the hot weather is still so disagreeable.)
But to Moon she said, "Daughter, because you remembered your mother, and kept for her a share in your own enjoyment, from henceforth you shall be ever cool, and calm and bright. No noxious glare shall accompany your pure rays, and men shall always call you 'blessed."
(And that is why the Moon's light is so soft, and cool, and beautiful even to this day.)
WHY THE FISH LAUGHED
By Joseph Jacobs
As a certain fisherwoman passed by a palace crying her fish, the queen appeared at one of the windows and beckoned her to come near and show what she had. At that moment a very big fish jumped about in the bottom of the basket.
"Is it a he or a she?" inquired the queen. "I wish to purchase a she fish."
On hearing this the fish laughed aloud.
"It's a he," replied the fisherwoman, and proceeded on her rounds.
The queen returned to her room in a great rage; and on coming to see her in the evening, the king noticed that something had disturbed her.
"Are you indisposed?" he said.
"No; but I am very much annoyed at the strange behavior of a fish. A woman brought me one to-day, and on my inquiring whether it was a male or female, the fish laughed most rudely."
"A fish laugh! Impossible! You must be dreaming."
"I am not a fool. I speak of what I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears."
"Passing strange! Be it so. I will inquire concerning it."
On the morrow the king repeated to his vizier what his wife had told him, and bade him investigate the matter, and be ready with a satisfactory answer within six mouths, on pain of death. The vizier promised to do his best, though he felt almost certain of failure. For live months he labored indefatigably to find a reason for the laughter of the fish. He sought everywhere and from everyone. The wise and learned, and they who were skilled in magic and in all manner of trickery, were consulted. Nobody, however, could explain the matter; and so he returned broken-hearted to his house, and began to arrange his affairs in prospect of certain death, for he had had sufficient experience of the king to know that His Majesty would not go back from his threat. Amongst other things, he advised his son to travel for a time, until the king's anger should have somewhat cooled.
The young fellow, who was both clever and handsome, started off whithersoever Kismet might lead him. He had been gone some days, when he fell in with an old farmer, who also was on a journey to a certain village. Finding the old man very pleasant, he asked him if he might accompany him, professing to be on a visit to the same place. The old farmer agreed, and they walked along together. The day was hot, and the way was long and weary.
"Don't yon think it would be pleasanter if you and I sometimes gave one another a lift?" said the youth.
"What a fool the man is!" thought the old farmer.
Presently they passed through a field of corn ready for the sickle, and looking' like a sea of gold as it waved to and fro in the breeze.
"Is this eaten or not?" said the young man.
Not understanding his meaning, the old man replied, "I don't know."
After a little while the two travelers arrived at a big village, where the young man gave his companion a clasp knife, and said, "Take this, friend, and get two horses with it; but mind and bring it back, for it is very precious."
The old man, looking half amused and half angry, pushed back the knife, muttering something to the effect that his friend was either a fool himself or else tying to play the fool with him. The young man pretended not to notice his reply, and remained almost silent till they reached the city, a short distance outside which was the old farmer's house.
They walked about the bazaar and went to the mosque, but nobody saluted them or invited them to come in and rest.
"What a large cemetery!" exclaimed the young man.
"What does the man mean," thought the old farmer, "calling this largely populated city a cemetery?"
On leaving the city their way led through a cemetery where a few people were praying beside a grave and distributing chupatties and kulchas to Passers-by, in the name of their beloved dead. They beckoned to the two travelers and gave them as much as they would.
"What a splendid city this is!" said the young man.
"Now, the man must surely be demented!" thought the old farmer. "I wonder what he will do next? He will be calling the land water, and the water land; and be speaking of light where there is darkness, and of darkness where it is light." However, he kept his thoughts to himself.
Presently they had to wade through a stream that ran along the edge of the cemetery. The water was rather deep, so the old farmer took off his shoes and pajamas and crossed over; but the young man waded through it with his shoes and pajamas on.