WHAT THE ANIMALS DO AND SAY
Illustrated with Engravings
WHAT THE ANIMALS DO AND SAY.
"Could you not tell us a traveller's story of some strange people
that we have never heard of before?" said Harry to his mother, the
After a moment or two of thought, Mis. Chilton said, "Yes, I will
tell you about a people who are great travellers. They take journeys
every year of their lives. They dislike cold weather so much that
they go always before winter, so as to find a warmer climate."
"They usually meet together, fathers, mothers, and children, as well
as uncles, aunts, and cousins, but more especially grandfathers and
grandmothers, and decide whither they shall go. As their party is so
large, it is important that they should make a good decision."
"When they are all prepared, and their mind quite made up, they all
set off together. I am told that they make as much noise, on this
occasion, as our people make at a town-meeting; but as I was never
present at one of the powwows of these remarkable travellers, I
"What is a powwow?" asked Harry.
"It is the name the Indians give to their council meetings," replied
She went on. "This people, so fond of travelling, have no great
learning; they write no books; they have no geographies, no
steamboats, no railroads, but yet never mistake their way."
"Four-footed travellers, I guess," said Harry.
"By no means; they have no more legs than any other great
travellers; but you must not interrupt me."
"Well, to go back to our travellers; every one is ready and glad to
prepare apartments for them, such as they like. They are so lively,
so merry, and good-natured, that they find a welcome every where.
They are such an easy, sociable set of folks that they like a house
thus prepared for them just as well as if they had built it
"I have been told that when they arrive at any place, before they
wash themselves, or brush off the dust of their journey, they will
go directly to one of these houses that has been prepared for them,
and examine every part of it; and, if they like it, they seem to
think they have, of course, a right to it, and they take possession
directly, and say, 'Thank you' to nobody."
"No one is affronted with them; but every one is ready and glad to
accommodate the strangers as well as he can, merely for the sake of
their good company. They come to us in May, and leave our part of
the country in August, to visit other lands.
"The great reason, I think, that all the world welcomes these
travellers is, that they are such a happy, merry set of beings they
make every one around them cheerful; their gayety is never-failing.
They rise with the first streak of light; there are no sluggards
among them. They are all musical, and sing as they go about their
work; but their music pleases me best when they join in their
morning hymn. When the morning star is growing pale, and rosy light
tinges the edges of the soft clouds in the east, this choir of
singers stop for a second, as if waiting, in silent reverence, for
the glad light to appear; then, just as the first ray gilds the hill
tops and the village spire, all pour forth a joyful song, swelling
their little throats, and making such a loud noise that every sleepy
head in the neighborhood awakes."
"Ah! now I have caught you, Mother," said Frank; "these famous
travellers are martins. I wonder, when you said they were not four
footed, I did not think of martins. I heard George say, the other
day, that his father had put up a martin box, and how they came and
looked at it first, before they took it, and that they always sang
before daylight, and what a noise they made.
"But, Mother, when you tell that story again, you must not say little
throats, or any one will know who your travellers are quick enough;
but do please tell us more about them."
"Yes, Frank, you have caught me; these travellers are martins; and,
if you wish, I will tell you more about them. Mr. Wilson, whom I
have been reading to-day, calls them birds of passage."
"What does that mean, Mother?"
"It means that they find it necessary for their support to pass from
one country to another when winter is coming on. At that time they
"Some people think that martins and swallows hide themselves from the
cold in holes in rocks and banks, or in hollow trees; but Wilson,
who spent many years in watching the habits of birds, and learning
their history, thinks that these fly a great way off to a warmer
country as winter approaches, and that they return again in the
"But how can they find the way?" asked Frank.
"All that we know about that, Frank, is, that He who created the
martins has given to them the knowledge that guides them right. In
their long way through the pathless air, they never make a mistake.
Our great vessels and our skilful captains sometimes get lost in the
wide ocean; but these little birds always know the way, and arrive
with unerring certainty at their place of destination.
"Our great poet, Bryant, has written some beautiful lines to a
water-fowl, which express this idea. I will repeat these lines to you
if you like to hear them.
'Whither, 'midst falling dew,
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
Thy solitary way?
Vainly the fowler's eye
Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong,
As, darkly limned upon the crimson sky,
Thy figure floats along.
Seek'st thou the plashy brink
Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
On the chafed ocean side?
There is a Power whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast,—
The desert and illimitable air,—
Lone wandering, but not lost.
All day thy wings have fanned,
At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere;
Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
Though the dark night is near.
And soon that toil shall end;
Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest,
And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend,
Soon, o'er thy sheltered nest.
Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven
Hath swallowed up thy form; yet on my heart
Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given,
And shall not soon depart.
He who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone,
Will lead my steps aright.'"
"I should like to learn that by heart," said Frank; "I like it very
"Come, Mother," said Harry, "what more have you to tell us about
"Not much, Harry. The martin is such a universal favorite that
Wilson says he never knew but one man that did not like them and
treat them kindly. Wherever they, go, they find some hospitable
retreat prepared for their reception. Some people have large
habitations formed for the martins, fitted up with a variety of
apartments and conveniences; these houses are regularly occupied
every spring, and the same individual birds have been known to
return to the same box for many successive years.
"The North American Indians, who have a great regard for martins, cut
off all the top branches of a young tree, and leave the prongs a
foot or two in length, and hang hollow gourds or calabashes on the
ends for nests."
"What are gourds and calabashes, Mother?" said Harry.
"A gourd, my dear, is a vegetable, something like a squash, only
much thicker and harder; when hollowed out, it is as hard as if it
were made of wood, and not so easy to break. It is shaped something
like a short, straight-necked winter squash; a calabash is a large
kind of gourd.
On the banks of the Mississippi, the negroes stick up long poles,
with calabashes on the ends, to accommodate the martins.
Martins have been known, when no house was provided for them, to
take possession of part of a pigeon house; and no pigeon ever dares
to set its foot in the martin's side of the house. The martin is a
very courageous and spirited bird, and will attack hawks, crows, and
even great bald eagles; he whirls around and around them, and
torments them, till, at last, he succeeds in driving them off. This
makes the martin a very valuable friend to the farmer, whose
chickens he defends from their enemies.
The martins are very faithful and affectionate to each other; when
the mother bird is hatching her eggs, her mate often sits by her
side; and sometimes he will take her place, and send her out to take
exercise and get food. He passes a great deal of his time at the
door of her apartment, chattering to her, as if he were telling her
amusing stories; and then he will sing very softly and tenderly to
her, and he does every thing he can to please her.
The martin has very strong and large wings, and short legs, that
they may not interfere with his flight, which is very rapid. It is
calculated by Mr. Wilson that this bird flies as fast as a mile in a
minute. Sometimes you may see a martin flying in the midst of a
crowded street, so near people that it seems as if they might catch
him; and then, quick as thought, he darts out of their reach, and,
in less than a minute, you may see him far up among the clouds,
looking like a little black speck upon their silver edges."
"How happy, Mother," said Frank, "the martins must be, to be able to
fly about among the clouds, and travel so far, and go just where
they please so easily!"
"God has made every living thing to be happy," said his mother; "and
in this we see His goodness. Are not you happy, too?"
"Almost always, Mother. Sometimes I am not happy."
"What is the reason why you are not always happy?"
"Why, things trouble me, and I feel cross and impatient."
"But if you try to bear with disagreeable things, and conquer your
ill-humor, and make yourself patient, are you unhappy then?"
"No, Mother; but then I have to try very hard."
"But you are happy when you succeed. Now, what is it in you that
tries to be good, and is happy when it succeeds?"
"It is my mind, Mother."
"Would you, Frank, give up your mind for a pair of martin's wings?"
"O, no, Mother; but I want my mind, and a pair of wings too."
"If you think your mind is better than the martin's wings, my dear,
be thankful for the possession of it; and be thankful too that God
has allowed you the privilege of making yourself happy by your own
efforts, and by the exercise of your thoughts, for they are the
wings of your mind. You do not now see a martin in the air; you are
only thinking of him; and yet you feel how pleasant it might be to
be like him, up among the clouds.
The martin cannot have the pleasure we have now had, but God has
given him wings, and taught him the way through the air, and put
love into his heart for his mate; and let us rejoice in his
happiness, and, more than all, let us rejoice in the goodness of Him
who has put joy into so many hearts. And when, my dear children, you
see the martin cutting his way so swiftly through the air, and when
you think of him travelling away thousands of miles, guided by the
goodness of God to the right place, and you wish that you had wings
like him, and think that he is happier than you are, you can then
remember a far greater gift that God has bestowed upon you.
Although the martin's flight is very swift and very high, yet he can
go but so far, and he knows not what directs him. When his wings are
wearied, and he is nothing but a speck of dust, and when your body
also is nothing but dust, these thoughts of yours, that have pursued
him, will be still travelling on; and, if you stretch the wings of
your mind, and soar upward, as the martin does with his bodily
wings, and like him, use all your powers as God directs you, you
will be rising higher and higher. And you will also know to whom you
go, and who gives you all your powers. The martin knows nothing of
this. He must go and come at such a time, and do just as all other
martins have done; but you are free to choose for yourself, and to
take the right and happy way, because you know it is the right way,
and the path to heaven.
But I must tell you what made me think particularly now of these
travellers through the pathless air. Last week, you remember, I was
ill, and shut up in my room. As I was sitting at my chamber window,
enjoying the perfume of the apple blossoms, and listening to the
song of the birds, and the soft sighing of the south wind, the world
looked as beautiful to me as if it had been that moment created.
You remember that there is an olive jar in the cherry tree close to
my window, which I had last autumn desired to have placed there, in
the hope that the birds would build in it this spring.
While I was looking I saw a bluebird alight on the tree. Presently
she came nearer and nearer to the jar, and looked earnestly at the
small round opening in it, as much as to say, 'That looks like a
nice place for a nest.' Then she came still nearer, and looked round
to see if any one noticed her. I kept very still. At last she grew
bolder, and flew upon the jar. Now she looked around again, as if
she was afraid of something. Then she turned her head sideways, and
looked up and down, this way, and that way, and every way, till she
satisfied herself that no enemy was near. At last, she flew upon the
edge of the hole, and courageously looked in; then she quickly drew
her head out, and looked all around again. I thought she looked
directly into my face, and came to the conclusion that I was a
friend, for she went part way in. Then she suddenly drew her
beautiful head and shoulders out again, and looked about once more.
At last, she seemed satisfied, made one more effort, and flew in.
She staid in long enough to make up her mind that it was a good
place for her nest, and then she flew off, quick as thought. In less
than two minutes she came back with her mate. They alighted upon a
bough near the jar, and it was plain that they were confabulating
together, and that she was urging him to go in and look at the place
she had chosen for her nursery. Her mate looked very wise and grave,
as much as to say, 'My dear, we must not be too hasty. We must
choose this home of ours with great care. Too much of our happiness
depends upon this step to allow of any mistake'; he then flew upon
the outside of the jar, and went through just the same ceremonies
that his better half had performed before, only he was still more
deliberate and cautious about entering. At last, he flew in, and, in
a short time, appeared again, and alighted on a branch near the jar
by the side of his dear mate. There they conversed together in their
bird language for some time, as plainly to me as if they had spoken
good English. 'This,' said he, 'is a nice large comfortable place,
my dear. That great house is rather too near, to be sure, but I am
well informed that its inhabitants, and those of all this
neighborhood, will never molest us. Last year, the cherry birds ate
up all the cherries in all the gardens around here, and not one of
the thieves received the slightest harm. We will, I think, begin our
work immediately, and make a nice soft bed for our young to rest in
when we shall be so happy as to have any.' This, I am sure, was the
result of their confab, for directly they began to pick up hay, and
furze, and feathers, and every soft thing they could find, and carry
them into the jar.
The male bird, which I knew by the greater brightness of his
plumage, and his more slender form, seemed to be fondest of bringing
sticks, one of which was too long for the mouth of the jar to admit.
It was very amusing to witness his efforts to get the stick in; but
it would not do; the stick fell to the ground. All day long, these
pretty creatures were busy at their work; one usually watched while
the other was in the jar arranging the nest for their expected
brood. In about a week, it was evident that their work was
completed, for they carried in no more sticks or dried grass. They
were gone a great part of the day, I suppose playing, after so much
hard work, but they returned at evening. Some one in the
neighborhood fired a gun. This scared the bluebirds so that they
staid away for two whole days; and, when they returned, it was
amusing to see how timidly they entered their house. Then they would
fly off to another tree at a distance, and make believe they had
nothing to do with the one their nest was in. At last, they grew
bolder; and, every evening at sunset, I saw the mother bird go into
her nest while her mate went to roost.
There was a slight feeling of despondency in my heart when I first
went to look out of this window; but when I saw these birds, and
witnessed the scene of faithful love and domestic industry and
happiness set forth by these little creatures, the spirit of
complaint was rebuked within me, and I learned a new lesson of
serene trust and assurance that all were cared for by the Creator of
But I must tell you the rest of the story of the bluebirds; and I am
sorry to say, they met with sad trials. The first encroacher, as
they supposed him to be, was a woodpecker; he seemed, as I thought,
to mean them no harm; but as soon as they heard his tap, tap, tap,
they flew at him very angrily and drove him away. A more dangerous
enemy was at hand, one that from his size you would not have
supposed dangerous to them. A little wren, not nearly so large as
the bluebird, came one day to the tree; and, seeing the jar, having
examined it, and being pleased with it, resolved to take it for
herself. The little thief waited till the bluebirds had gone upon
some expedition; and then, without any ceremony, without any fear of
any thing, she entered the jar, and was evidently confirmed in her
purpose of taking possession of it. Probably she held a consultation
with her mate; but this I did not witness, as I did that between the
two bluebirds. The next day this pert little Madam Wren, or her
mate, I could not tell which, came again, and, perching on the
topmost branch of the tree, poured forth a loud triumphant song, and
then, as soon as the coast was clear, entered the house she was
resolved to appropriate to herself. In a minute after, she appeared
at the mouth of the jar with her bill full of the dried grass of
which the bluebird's nest was made, which she threw out on the
ground disdainfully. Back again she flew, and in an instant brought
some more and threw it out. This she did with the most impudent look
you can imagine. Then she flew swiftly in and out, like a little
termagant, throwing out of the mouth of the jar, sticks, dead
leaves, grass, with all the nice soft things which the poor bluebird
had been a week in collecting. Every now and then, she came out for
a minute and sang as sweetly as if she were not engaged in such a
piratical work; and the little rogue looked up in my face so
saucily, too, as much as to say, 'Who cares for you?' Then she began
singing at the top of her voice, exulting over her work of
destruction. Can you suppose it was any sense of honesty that
prevented her using the bluebird's nest after having stolen her
house? No, Jenny Wren had no principle. You would have laughed to
see how scornfully she tossed out those dead leaves. Every thing
went out of the nest pell-mell. The little monster! what could the
poor bluebirds say or do? This bird evidently had no conscience, at
least not a good one, that is plain. Never did general rejoice more
over the capture and destruction of a city than this little bit of a
bird rejoiced over the destruction of the bluebird's nest, and at
the unlawful possession of the house. I saw her carrying in a long
stick that suited her better than the short ones that the bluebird
had carried in: she found she could not get it in if she took it in
the middle; so she changed the place, and held it by the end, and so
by that means got it in. She was more cunning than the bluebird. Now
you might hear the two little robbers sing again. They are happier
than any king can be nowadays. Poor, dear, beautiful bluebirds! What
has become of them? Then came the mother. She looked into the jar
and saw the destruction of her nest—all her week's work. How
distressed she seemed! but the victorious wrens had no pity on her.
They drove her away. She disappeared. The saucy conquerors flew in
and out of their stolen house twenty times a minute, caring for
nothing. They could have had no moral sense; but they were very
amusing, and they were nothing but birds; they knew no better; so we
must forgive them."
"I like stories about animals better than any other stories," said
Frank. "I think animals know as much, and sometimes more than we do.
So, Mother, do tell us all you can think of about elephants, bears,
and lions, as well as dogs, and cats, and birds."
"I have laid up in my memory two or three dog and cat stories, which
I will tell you, and then I will see what I can remember of lions,
bears, and elephants. But first I must tell you what I have lately
read about courts of justice among the crows."
"What is a court of justice?" asked Harry.
"A court of justice is an assemblage of men who meet together to
ascertain if any one who is accused of doing a wrong thing has
really done it or not. If he is proved to have committed the
offence, he is declared to be guilty; if he is not proved to have
done it, he is declared not guilty.
A writer on the history of the Feroe Islands describes these
extraordinary courts as if he had witnessed them. He says, these
crow-courts are observed here (in the Feroe Islands) as well as in
the Scotch Isles. The crows collect in great numbers, as if they had
been all summoned for the occasion. A few of the flock sit with
drooping heads, others seem as grave as if they were judges, and
some are exceedingly active and noisy, like lawyers and witnesses;
in the course of about an hour the company generally disperse, and
it is not uncommon, after they have flown away, to find one or two
left dead on the spot.
Dr. Edmondstone, in his View of the Shetland Islands, says that
sometimes the crow-court, or meeting, does not appear to be complete
before the expiration of a day or two,—crows coming from all
quarters to the session. As soon as they are all arrived, a very
general noise ensues, the business of the court is opened, and
shortly after they all fall upon one or two individual crows, (who
are supposed to have been condemned by their peers,) and put them to
death. When the execution is over, they quietly disperse."
"I shall never look at a crow, Mother, again," said Harry, "without
"We don't understand these things," said his mother; "animals have
no compassion for their sick companions; they kill them sometimes
for being sick. It seems very cruel, but we don't understand enough
"Now, Mother, what new story have you about dogs?"
"The story I shall tell you now seems to show that dogs have good
hearts, and are compassionate and magnanimous. A dog was placed to
watch a piece of ground, perhaps a garden. A boy ran across the
forbidden place. The dog chased him. The boy, greatly frightened,
ran very fast, fell, and broke his leg. The dog, when he came up and
heard the boy's cries, did not touch him, but ran up to the passers
by, and barked till he attracted their attention, and brought some
one to the aid of the poor boy, who could not move.
The faithful creature had performed his duty in driving away
intruders; but he had too good a heart, and was too generous to hurt
a fallen enemy. In the account I read he was called a Christian dog.
His conduct would be a good example to all Christians.
I have now a story of a roguish dog that I think we could not praise
so much for his goodness as for his cunning. A gentleman in Paris
was in the habit of crossing every day one of the bridges over the
Seine, on his way to his place of business. One day, a very dirty
poodle dog rubbed himself so against his boots as to make it
necessary to get a man, who sat at one end of the bridge with
blacking, to clean them. The next day the same thing occurred, and
again and again, till, at last, the gentleman suspected that the
bootblack had taught the dog this trick, in order by that means to
get customers. He watched, and saw, when he approached the bridge,
Master Poodle go and roll himself in a mud puddle, and then come and
rub himself against his boots. The gentleman accused the bootblack
of the trick. After a while the man laughed, and confessed his
"That poodle was a brick," said Harry.
"One more story of dogs. A surgeon of Leeds, in England, found a
little spaniel who had been lamed. The surgeon carried the poor
animal home, bandaged up his leg, and after two or three days turned
him out. The dog returned to the surgeon's house every morning till
his leg was perfectly well.
At the end of several months, the spaniel again presented himself,
bringing another dog who had also been lamed, and intimating, as
plainly as piteous and intelligent looks could intimate, that he
desired the same kind assistance to be rendered to his friend as had
been bestowed upon himself.
But I am forgetting poor puss.
Mr. W., a friend of mine, whose word might be taken for any thing,
told me an extraordinary anecdote of a cat, which he said he knew to
A friend of his was setting out on a voyage to some place, I forget
where. Every thing was carried on board, and the two friends were in
the cabin about taking leave of each other. "I asked my friend
before parting," said Mr. W., "whether he had every thing that he
wanted; if there was nothing more that he could think of to make him
more comfortable or happy on his voyage." "One thing," he replied,
"would add to my pleasure very much, if you would bring it to me. In
the counting room of my store is a small white cat; I am very fond
of the poor thing, and she will miss me I know; I should like to
take her with me." I immediately went ashore and found his little
cat looking very sorrowful in his lonely room; I carried her to him.
They seemed mutually pleased at meeting."
When the vessel returned, Mr. W. received this account from the
officers of the ship. They said that his friend made a great pet of
the cat, and fed her always at his own meal times. He taught her to
stand on her hind legs and ask for her food; he made her jump over a
stick for his amusement; in short, he taught her to perform a great
many amusing tricks. The officers and men were all very fond of poor
At length, the young man became very ill. The cat would not leave
him night or day. At last, one day, she left the cabin and began to
run about the ship, making the most terrible mewing. The sailors
offered her food; she refused it. She would not be comforted.
Finally, her cries turned into a complete howl. She manifested the
greatest suffering, and, at last, she ran off to the end of the
bowsprit and leaped into the sea. Just at the moment that the poor
little faithful, loving cat was swallowed up by the waves, her human
friend breathed his last, and they both entered the invisible land
Such an extraordinary event, and the gloom which a death at sea
always casts over a ship's company, both together made the sailors
even more than usually superstitious. They all declared that, every
night at that same hour when the sick man died, a white cat was seen
leaping into the ocean. The white crests of the breaking waves might
easily thus appear to an ignorant person who lives, as a sailor
does, in the midst of the wonders and sublime scenes which the ocean
presents, in the awful terrors of its storms, or the serene glory of
its quiet hours. But the love of the poor dumb animal for its
master—that was a beautiful reality.
I have a story now for you, Frank, about a horse, as I know you are
particularly fond of horses. An Arab chief with his tribe had
attacked in the night a caravan, and had plundered it; when loaded
with their spoil, however, the robbers were overtaken on their
return by some horsemen of the Pacha of Acre, who killed several,
and bound the remainder with cords. The horsemen brought one of the
prisoners, named Abou el Mavek, to Acre, and laid him, bound hand
and foot, wounded as he was, at the entrance to their tent. As they
slept during the night, the Arab, kept awake by the pain of his
wounds, heard his horse's neigh at a distance, and being desirous to
stroke, for the last time, the companion of his life, he dragged
himself, bound as he was, to the horse which was picketed at a
"Poor friend," said he; "what will you do among the Turks? You will
be shut up under the roof of a khan, with the horses of a pacha or
an aga; no longer will the women and children of the tent bring you
barley, camel's milk, or dourra, in the hollow of their hands. No
longer will you gallop, free as the wind of Egypt, in the desert. No
longer will you cleave with your bosom the water of the Jordan which
cools your sides, as pure as the foam of your lips. If I am to be a
slave, at least may you go free. Go, return to our tent which you
know so well; tell my wife that Abou el Marek will return no more;
but put your head still into the folds of the tent, lick the hands
of my beloved children."
With these words, he untied with his teeth the fetters, and set the
courser at liberty. But the noble animal, on recovering its freedom,
instead of bounding away alone, bent its head over its master, and,
seeing him in fetters, took his clothes gently in its teeth, lifted
him up, set off at full speed, and, without ever resting, made
straight for the distant but well-known tent in the mountains.
The horse arrived in safety, laid his master down at the feet of his
wife and children, and immediately dropped down dead with fatigue.
The whole tribe mourned him, the poets celebrated his fidelity, and
his name is still constantly in the mouths of the Arabs of Jericho.
And now, boys, let us talk about the elephant a little. I have been
reading something of his history, and I am disposed to think that,
of all animals, he is, on the whole, the most intelligent."
"More intelligent than the dog, Mother?"
"Yes, it seems so to me. He is not so disinterested, so loving, but
he reasons more than any other animal. He is also capable of very
strong attachment, but he will not bear ill treatment. The elephant
seems revengeful. The dog still loves the master who is unkind to
The elephant will learn to assist his master in his work. An
elephant who belonged to the Duke of Devonshire would come out of
her house when her keeper called her, take up a broom, and stand
ready to sweep the paths and grass when he told her to do so. She
would take up a pail or a watering pot, and follow him round the
place, ready to do his bidding. Her keeper usually rode on her neck,
like the elephant drivers in India, and he always spread over her a
large, strong cloth for alighting, which the elephant, by kneeling,
allowed him to do. He desired her to take off the cloth. This she
contrived to do by drawing herself up in such a way that the
shrinking of her loose skin moved the cloth, and it gradually
wriggled on one side, till, at last, it would fall by its own
weight. The cloth, of course, fell all in a heap; but the elephant
would spread it carefully on the grass, and then fold it up, as you
fold your napkin, till it was small enough for her purpose; then she
held it up with her trunk for a moment, and, at last, with one jerk,
threw it up over her head to the centre of her back, where it
remained for use, out of the way, ready for next time, and as nicely
placed as if human hands had put it there.
A few years ago, an elephant in London was taught to take part in a
play. She came in and marched very properly in a procession. At the
waving of her keeper's hand, she would kneel down and salute any
individual, or put a crown on the head of the true prince. She would
eat and drink with great propriety of manner, and make her reverence
to the audience. But all this is nothing to what the elephants were
taught by the Romans. The keepers, by treating their elephants with
the utmost kindness, taking care of them as to health, and doing
every thing to make them happy, acquired over them the greatest
power. The elephants learned to love music. They were at first
frightened by the loud instruments; but, after a while, became very
fond of all, particularly of the gentle flute, at which they would
show their delight by beating time with their great feet. The
keepers accustomed them to the sight of great multitudes of people.
At one time, when a particular exhibition of the docility of
elephants was required, twelve of the most sagacious and well
trained were made to march into the theatre with a regular step. At
the voice of their keeper, they moved in harmonious measure,
sometimes in a circle, and sometimes divided into parties,
scattering flowers around them. In the intervals of the dance, they
would beat time to the music, and were careful to keep in proper
order. After this display, the elephants were feasted, as the Romans
were in the habit of feasting themselves, in grand style. Splendid
couches were placed, ornamented with paintings and covered with
tapestry. Before the couches, upon tables of ebony and cedar, was
spread the banquet, in vessels of gold and silver. When the feast
was prepared, the twelve elephants marched in; six gentleman
elephants dressed in the robes of men, and six lady elephants
attired in women's clothes. They lay down in order upon the couches;
and then, at a certain signal, extended their trunks, and eat their
suppers with the most praiseworthy moderation and propriety. "Not
one of them," says the historian of the elephant, "appeared the
least voracious, or manifested the least desire for more than his
share of the food, or an undue proportion of the delicacies. They
were as moderate also in their drink, and received the cups that
were presented to them with the greatest decorum and temperance."
The elephants were taught to hurl javelins, and catch them with
their trunks, and to pretend to fight with each other, for the
amusement of their warlike masters, and were taught also to perform
a dance. Finally, these wonderful animals would do what you would
think was utterly impossible. You remember, when the circus riders
were here seeing a man walk and dance on a rope."
"Yes, Mother," said Frank; "but an elephant could not do that, I'm
"Historians of Rome, supposed to give true accounts, say that the
elephants were taught to walk along a rope forward and then
backward. One elephant is described as walking up a slanting rope to
the roof of the theatre with a man on his back."
"I should not have liked to be the man on his back," said Harry.
"It is as astonishing, perhaps more so, that a horse has been taught
to do similar things. When I was in Paris, I saw some horses dance a
quadrille very respectably, and keep excellent time. One of the
Roman historians relates, "An elephant, having been punished for
stupidity in executing some feat which he was required to learn, was
observed, at night, endeavoring to practise what he had failed to
perform in the daytime." It is mentioned that elephants have been
observed practising their lessons by moonlight, without any
directions from the keepers. Think what a good example elephants are
for school boys. I have only told you a very little about this
wonderful animal; yet enough, I hope, to make you want to read some
of the many books about him. You have, I think, read of the story of
the elephant who was wounded in his proboscis or trunk, and, in his
anger, unintentionally killed his keeper, and of what the keeper's
"No, Mother," said Frank; "we have never read it. What did she do?"
"In her despair, not knowing what she did, she held out her son, and
said to the raging animal, "Take him too." The angry elephant became
quiet. He seemed to understand the agony of the poor woman. He
gently lifted and placed upon his back the little child, and ever
after obeyed him for a master."
"You know the story in Evenings at Home, Mother, of the Elephant and
the Cobbler, how the fellow pricked the elephant's trunk, and how
the elephant punished him by squirting muddy water all over him."
"Yes. The elephant's trunk is so susceptible that nothing enrages
him so much as any wound on it. He cannot bear patiently the
Now I will tell you a story of a lion. An English gentleman, who was
living in India, had a fancy to see what effect extreme gentleness,
and kindness, and very simple diet would have upon the character of
the lion. The gentleman had the good fortune to get a baby lion for
the experiment. He made a real pet of him. He fed him with bread and
milk and rice, and such things, and took care always to satisfy him
with food. The young lion loved his master, who was always very kind
to him, and who was really very fond of his lionship. This man
lived, as in India a gentleman often does, in a house by himself,
and could easily have his friend lion with him, without annoying any
one. The baby grew bigger and bigger, and became a good-sized,
full-grown lion. He was gentle and happy, full of play, and rather a
pleasant companion to his two-legged friend. Whether the lion ever
roared for his master's amusement, the friend who told me this story
did not say.
At last, this gentleman wished to return to England to see his old
mother. He was too much attached to his lion to leave him, and so
took him in the place of a dog. The lion was very good all the
voyage. No one had a word to say against him. His conduct and
manners were faultless. He played with the sailors, he obeyed his
master, and, in short, was a very quiet, well-behaved, human lion.
When the gentleman arrived in England, as soon as he could leave the
ship, he called for a carriage to take him to his mother. When he
got into the carriage, the lion jumped in after him. "Your honor,"
said the driver, "I'm afraid of that beast." "O, never mind," said
the gentleman; "he'll not hurt you." "But, your honor, I never in my
born days took a lion in my carriage. It's not a place for such
brutes." "There's always a first time," said the gentleman. "Here's
a crown for my lion; and now get on; I can't wait." The cabman,
thinking it wise to make the best of things, and not quarrel with a
man who had a lion for a friend, stepped up on his box, and drove
away rattlety-bang to Regent's Park, some three or four miles'
drive. The lion was much astonished, and sat bolt upright on his
hind legs, looking out of the window. He did not appreciate the
BEAUTIES of London; he was disgusted with the noise, and growled a
little. The driver heard him, and drove all the faster. Poor Lord
Lion, his temper was tried; but he bore it better than most lions
would. At last, the cab stopped at the house of the gentleman's
mother. He sprang out, and rang the bell: "Does Mrs. B. live here?"
"Yes, sir." "Is she well?" The footman turned pale as ashes, and
scampered off as if he thought the lion would devour him. The
gentleman ran up stairs, and the lion after him. In another moment,
the arms of the son were around his mother. Presently, the lady saw
the lion. She had heard of her son's pet, and saw she was in no
danger. She begged her son, however, to put him down in the yard and
keep him chained, or she should not have a servant in the house. The
lion was not happy chained. The gentleman, finding, moreover, that
he could not go into the streets with his friend without being
followed by a mob, at last placed him in the Tower, where there were
other lions, and gave many charges that the pet lion should be well
treated. Many years afterwards, the gentleman returned from another
voyage to India; and, after seeing his mother, went to the Tower to
see his friend. When he came to the large cage in which the lion was
confined, the keeper said, "This is our finest and our fiercest
lion." "Open the door," said the gentleman. The keeper, not knowing
him, objected. The gentleman insisted, and entered. The lion was
lying down, and, seeing a man in his cage, for a moment looked
angry; in another moment he rose on his hind legs, put his paws
around his old master, and showed the greatest delight at seeing
"Why, he was almost as good as a dog," said Frank. "But now, Mother,
please tell us the story about a bear which you said you heard on
your journey last summer."
"I ought rather," said Mrs. Chilton, "to call it the story of a cow,
for she was the heroine of the tale. I was travelling with a small
party among the White Hills. When we stopped to dine, we saw a
number of people assembled around the door of the hotel, and found
that they were looking at a black bear that had been just shot. This
bear had inspired the neighborhood with some fear, for he was a
large one. They had tried a number of times to shoot him; but all in
vain. Master Bruin was never off his guard. At last, the poor fellow
foolishly left the deep wild wood, where he could easily hide
himself, for a little grove. When the villagers saw his mistake,
they immediately took steps to surround the grove. The number of the
inhabitants was small; so they summoned all the women and children,
as well as the men, and so got an unbroken line all around the
little wood. As soon as the bear sought any part, in order to
escape, he was saluted by the most frightful screams, as well as a
shower of stones. He fled to the opposite side, but there met with
the same reception. This went on for some time. At last, some one
succeeded in shooting him. He measured a little over six feet from
the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail, and his teeth were very
A gentleman who had assisted in the capture of the bear, told me the
story I promised to tell you of the cow and the bear. A little girl,
about twelve or thirteen years of age, was sent by her mother, one
afternoon, to bring home the cows from a neighboring wood, where
they were at pasture. There were many fallen trees, as is often the
case in our wild woods; and the child amused herself by climbing
over the trunks.
Now, one of the black-looking logs was a large bear that was lying
asleep, and the little girl jumped right upon his growling majesty.
The bear arose, evidently not quite pleased at being made a stepping
stone, took the little girl in his great shaggy paws, and gave her
an ugly hug, such as only a bear can give. Mr. Bear would have
squeezed the breath out of the body of the poor little girl, had not
the good old cow seen the danger. The courageous creature, instead
of running away, turned back immediately, and began goring the bear
with her horns in such a way as to force old Bruin, if he valued a
whole hide, to turn round and defend himself. So he let go his hold
on the little girl, who, though sadly frightened and bruised, was
still strong enough to run towards home. Presently the bear followed
her. Immediately the cow attacked him again with her horns, and
drove him off. This continued till they got out of the wood, when
the bear ran back to his own home. The gentleman who told us this
story said he had seen the little girl, and that she had never quite
recovered from the effect of the horrid squeeze of the grim old
bear, but still suffered in her chest. Still she was thankful that
her life was saved, and always considered the good old cow her
"Why, Mother," said Frank, "I did not think that a cow could be good
for any thing but to give milk."
"In Germany, they use cows for draught, and make them work pretty
hard. There you see cows every day doing the same work that our oxen
do, and giving the poor man his supper at the end of the day
besides; and it is said that the labor does not hurt them. The
Germans feed the cows well, treat them gently and kindly, but make
them, as well as the dogs, work for a living."
"Now I will tell you a story about a pike. We are apt to think fishes
very stupid; that they have no feeling. A gentleman in England,
a surgeon and a naturalist, told me of what he had himself seen. A
pike had struck its head against a tenter hook on a post in the pond
where he was swimming. His agony was so great that he darted
backward and forward with the greatest rapidity, then buried his
head in the mud, then whirled his tail round and round, and threw
himself up into the air to the height of two or three feet, and, at
last, he threw himself out of the pond upon the grass. Dr. Warwick
placed his hand on the fish, examined the injury, and observed that
the hook had entered the skull, wrenching up one side of the bone
and depressing the other, and that a small part of the brain had
escaped. With a toothpick the doctor restored the bones to their
proper places. The patient remained perfectly still during the
operation, and after-ward was returned to his native element. He
seemed restless for a little while, and then lay quiet. Dr. Warwick
then made a sort of cradle in which he placed the poor sufferer, who
seemed disposed to lie still on one side."
"The next day, very early, Dr. Warwick went to the pond. To his
astonishment, he found that the pike knew and remembered him. The
fish came to the edge of the pond, placed his jaw upon the toe of
the doctor's boot, let himself be taken hold of and caressed, and
allowed the wound to be examined. It was much better. When the
doctor walked along the side of the pond, the fish followed him.
When the doctor returned from his walk, he found his patient
watching for him. The pike then swam backward and forward while the
doctor remained there. The fish had lost one eye in consequence of
the wound from the hook, and, when his blind side was towards the
doctor, was always very restless. The poor fellow seemed anxious to
keep his surgical friend in sight. The doctor would often whistle
when he went to the pond; and the pike always came at the call, and
showed pleasure at seeing him. Dr. Warwick introduced his family to
his friend and patient, the pike. The grateful fish allowed them to
give him food, and put aside much of his native shyness. In truth,
he received their attentions very civilly, but he always showed a
decided preference for his medical friend. Dr. Warwick was the
father of my friend, Mrs. A., in Liverpool. He related all these
facts to me himself, and they are all to be perfectly relied upon."
Now I will read you a German story called Caliph Stork.
One pleasant afternoon, the Caliph of Bagdad was sitting comfortably
on his sofa: he had slept a little, (for it was a hot day,) and
looked quite bright after his nap. He was smoking a long rose-wood
pipe, and sipping coffee, which was poured out for him by a slave;
and occasionally he stroked his beard with great satisfaction. In
short, it was evident that he felt quite pleasantly.
This was the best time of day for speaking with him; for at this
hour he was always very good-natured and affable; and, on this
account, the Grand Vizier Mansor always visited him at this hour. He
came also this afternoon, but looking very thoughtful, quite against
his wont. The caliph took the pipe partly away from his mouth, and
said, "What makes you look so thoughtful, Grand Vizier?"
The grand vizier crossed his arms over his breast, bowed to his
master, and answered, "Sir! whether I look thoughtful or not is more
than I know; but certain it is, that there is a pedler down stairs
who has such beautiful things, that it vexes me not to have any
money to spare."
The caliph was very willing to do his grand vizier a favor; so he
sent the black slave to bring the pedler up stairs. The pedler came.
He was a little, dumpy man, with a dark complexion, and dressed in
ragged garments. He bore a chest in which were wares of all sorts:
pearls and rings, richly mounted pistols, drinking cups, and combs.
The caliph and his vizier rummaged over the whole chest, and the
caliph finally bought some pistols for himself and Mansor, and a
comb for the vizier's wife. As the pedler was about to close the
chest, the caliph saw a little drawer, and asked if there was any
thing more in it. The pedler pulled the drawer out, and showed in it
a box of blackish powder, and a paper with curious writing on it,
which neither the caliph nor Mansor could read. "I got these two
things from a merchant who found them at Mecca, in the street; I do
not know what they contain, but you may have them very cheap, for I
cannot do any thing with them."
The caliph, who liked to have old manuscripts in his library,
although he could not read them, bought the paper and the box, and
dismissed the pedler.
The caliph, however, thought he should like to know the contents of
the manuscript, and asked the vizier if he knew any body who could
decipher it. "Most gracious sovereign and master," answered he,
"there is a man at the great mosque, who is called Selim the
Learned; he understands all languages; send for him; perhaps he may
make out these mysterious characters."
The learned Selim was soon brought. "Selim," said the caliph to him,
"they say you are very learned; now just look into this manuscript,
and see whether you can read it; if you can, I will give you a new
dress; but if you cannot, you shall have twelve boxes on the ear,
and twenty-five blows on the soles of your feet, for having been
called, without reason, Selim the Learned."
Selim bowed and said, "Be it as you command, Sir!" He examined the
writing for a long time, and then suddenly cried out, "This is
Latin, sir, or I'll give you leave to hang me." "Let us hear what it
contains, then, if it is Latin," said the caliph.
Selim began to translate: "O man who findest this, praise Allah for
his goodness. Whoever snuffs up some of the powder in this box, and
at the same time says, 'Mutabor,' may change himself into any
animal, and will understand the language of animals. If he wishes to
return to the human shape, let him bow three times towards the East,
and pronounce the same word. But let him take care, after he is
transformed, not to laugh, otherwise the word will disappear
entirely from his memory, and he will remain a beast."
When Selim the Learned had read this, the caliph was exceedingly
delighted. He made Selim swear never to reveal any thing of the
secret to any one; then he gave him a beautiful robe, and dismissed
Then he said to his grand vizier, "That is what I call a good
bargain, Mansor! How impatient I am to become a beast! Come to me
easily to-morrow morning, and we will go out into the fields, snuff
up a little of the powder, and then listen to what is said in the
air and in the water, in the woods and in the fields!"
Scarcely had the caliph breakfasted and dressed, the next morning,
when the grand vizier appeared, according to his orders, to
accompany him in his excursion. The caliph stuck the box with the
magic powder into his girdle, and having commanded his retinue to
remain behind, he set off with only the grand vizier, on his way.
They went first through the spacious gardens of the caliph, but they
could not find any living animal to try their experiment upon. At
last, the vizier proposed to go out to a pond, where he had often
seen many animals, particularly storks, which had attracted his
attention by their grave demeanor and their chattering.
The caliph approved of the vizier's proposal, and went with him
towards the pond. When they got there, they saw a stork, walking
gravely back and forth, searching for frogs, and occasionally
chattering something to himself. At the same time they saw another
stork soaring high in the air, above the place.
"I will wager my beard, most gracious Sir," said the grand vizier,
"that these two long-legs are carrying on a fine conversation
together. What say you to turning ourselves into storks?"
"Well said!" answered the caliph. "But let us see; how is it that
one is to become man again?"
"O, yes! we are to bow three times towards the East, and say,
Mutabor, and then I am caliph again, and you vizier. But for
Heaven's sake don't laugh, or we are lost!"
While the caliph was speaking, he saw the other stork come sailing
down over their heads, and settle in a business manner on the
ground. Quickly he drew the box from his girdle, took a good pinch
of the powder, and handed it to the grand vizier, who also took a
pinch, and then both cried out, "Mutabor!"
Immediately their legs shrivelled up, and became thin and red; the
beautiful yellow slippers of the caliph and his companion turned
into clumsy stork-feet; their arms became wings; their necks
stretched out from their shoulders, and were an ell long; their
beards disappeared, and their bodies were covered with soft
feathers, instead of clothes.
"That's a pretty bill of yours, Mr. Grand Vizier," said the caliph,
after a long pause of astonishment. "By the beard of the Prophet, I
never saw any thing like that in my life."
"Thank you kindly," answered the grand vizier, bowing; "but, if I
may be allowed the observation, your highness looks almost handsomer
as stork than as caliph. But come, if you please, let us listen to
our comrades yonder, and try whether we really do understand
In the mean time the other stork had alighted on the ground. He
arranged his feathers with his bill, put himself to rights, and
walked up to the first stork.
The two new storks made haste to approach them, and overheard, to
their astonishment, the following conversation.
"Good morning, Mrs. Longlegs; you are early on the meadow."
"Thank you, dear blatterbeak! I have been getting a little
breakfast. Will you take a bit of lizard, or a frog's leg?"
"Much obliged, but I have no appetite this morning. I came on to the
meadow for quite a different purpose. I am to dance before the
guests at my father's to-day, and I thought I would exercise a
little in private beforehand."
At the same time the young storkess marched about the field making
the oddest gesticulations. The caliph and Mansor looked on with
wonder. But at last, when she put herself into a picturesque
attitude on one foot, and gracefully waved her wings, they could
stand it no longer; an inextinguishable laugh burst from their
bills, from which they did not recover for some time. The caliph
composed himself first. "What a capital joke!" cried he; "I never
saw any thing better in my life; it is a pity that the stupid birds
were frightened away by our laughter, else she would certainly have
But it now occurred to the grand vizier that they had been forbidden
to laugh during their transformation. He communicated his anxiety to
"By Mecca and Medina!" cried the caliph, "it would be a pretty piece
of business if I had to remain a stork all my life! Try think of the
stupid word; I can't remember it."
"We must bow three times towards the East, and say, Mu—Mu—Mu—."
They turned to the East, and bowed away till their beaks touched the
ground. But, alas! The magic word had vanished, and with all the
caliph's bowing, and his vizier's crying Mu—Mu—, all recollections
of it had disappeared from their memories, and the poor Chasid and
his vizier still remained storks as before.
The caliph and the grand vizier walked in a melancholy mood through
the fields, not knowing what to do in their sad plight. They could
not get out of their stork-skins, and it would not do for them to go
back to the town to tell any one of their condition, for who would
believe a stork if he said that he was the caliph? And even if they
had believed him, would the inhabitants of Bagdad be willing to have
a stork for their caliph? So they sneaked about for several days,
feeding upon wild fruits, which, however, they could not manage very
well, on account of their long bills. For lizards and frogs, they
had no appetite. Their only satisfaction in this sad predicament was
that they could fly; and they often flew over on to the roofs in the
city of Bagdad, to see what was going on.
For the first few days they observed great uneasiness and mourning
in the streets. But, on the fourth day of their enchantment, as they
were sitting on the roof of the caliph's palace, they saw in the
street below a splendid procession. The drums and fifes sounded, and
a man in a scarlet robe, embroidered with gold, came riding along on
a richly caparisoned horse, surrounded by servants in glittering
garments. Half the town were at his heels, and all were shouting,
"Hail to Mizra! Caliph of Bagdad!" The two storks looked at each
other as they sat on the roof, and the Caliph Chasid said, "Do not
you begin to understand how I come to be enchanted, Grand Vizier?
This Mizra is the son of my mortal enemy, the powerful enchanter,
Kaschnur, who in an evil hour vowed vengeance against me. But I do
not yet give up all hope. Come with me, faithful companion in
misfortune; we will make a pilgrimage to the grave of the Prophet;
perhaps the charm may be broken in sacred places."
So they raised themselves from the roof of the palace, and flew in
the direction of Medina.
Flying, however, did not suit the two storks very well, on account
of their want of practice. "Ah, Sir," groaned the vizier, after they
had been flying a couple of hours, "with your permission—I cannot
stand it any longer; you fly too fast! Besides, it is already
growing dark, and we should do well to be looking out for some place
to pass the night."
Chasid yielded to the request of his officer, and perceiving a
ruined building in the valley below, they flew down to it. The place
which they had pitched upon for their night-quarters, seemed to have
been a castle. Beautiful columns were still standing among the
ruins, and numerous chambers, which were in tolerable preservation,
testified to the former splendor of the house. Chasid and his
companion walked about the passages to find a dry spot; suddenly the
stork Mansor stood still. "Lord and Master," whispered he, softly,
"if it were not that it would be foolish for a grand vizier—and
still more so for a stork—to be afraid of ghosts! I do not feel
easy at all, for I heard some one sighing and moaning, quite
plainly." The caliph also stopped, and heard distinctly a noise as
of some one weeping, which sounded more like a human being than like
an animal. Full of expectation, he was about to advance towards the
place whence the sound proceeded; but the vizier seized him by the
wing with his bill, and begged him earnestly not to expose himself
to new unknown dangers; but in vain! The caliph, under whose stork-wings
there beat a valiant heart, tore himself away with the loss of
some feathers, and ran into a dark passage. He soon came to a door,
which appeared not to be fastened, and from which proceeded distinct
sighs and a slight hooting. He pushed the door open with his bill,
but remained standing in astonishment on the threshold. In the
ruinous chamber, which was lighted scantily by a small grated
window, he saw a large owl sitting on the floor. Large tears were
rolling from her great round eyes, and with a hoarse voice she
uttered complaints from her crooked beak. But when she beheld the
caliph and his vizier, who had crept after him in the mean time, she
raised a loud cry of joy. Then she gracefully wiped the tears from
her eyes with her brown-spotted wing, and, to the great astonishment
of both, she cried out, in good human Arabic, "Welcome, ye storks;
ye are a good omen of my deliverance, for it has been prophesied to
me that a great good fortune would come to me through the means of
When the caliph had recovered from his astonishment, he made a bow
with his long neck, placed his thin feet in a graceful position, and
said, "Owl! thy words would lead me to conclude that thou art a
partaker of our misfortune. But alas! thy hope of being delivered by
us is in vain. Thou wilt perceive our helplessness when thou hast
heard our story." The owl begged him to relate it, and the caliph
began, and told her what we already know.
When the caliph had finished telling their story to the owl, she
thanked him, and said, "Hear, alas! my history, and you will see
that I am not less unhappy than you. My father is the King of India,
and I, his only daughter, am named Susa. The enchanter, Kaschnur,
who enchanted you, brought me also into misery. He came one day to
my father, and desired me for wife for his son Mizra. But my father,
who is a quick-tempered person, had him kicked down stairs. The
scoundrel contrived to come into my presence again under another
form; and once, when I wished to take some refreshments in the
garden, he brought to me, in the disguise of a slave, a potion which
transformed me into this horrible shape. As I was powerless from
fright, he brought me hither, and cried with a terrible voice into
"Here shalt thou remain, ugly and despised even by the beasts, until
thy death; or until some one of his own accord shall desire to marry
thee, even in this vile shape. Thus I revenge myself on thee and thy
"Since then, many months have elapsed. Solitary and sad, I live as a
hermit in these walls, despised by the whole world, disgusting even
to the beasts; the beauties of nature are shut from me, since I am
blind by day, and, only when the moon pours her pale light over
these walls, does the veil of darkness fall from my eyes."
She ended, and wiped her tears again with her wing, for the
narration of her sorrows had caused her to weep.
The caliph pondered deeply on the story of the princess. "If I am
not entirely in error," said he, "there is a secret connection
between our misfortunes; but where shall I find the key to this
The owl answered, "Sir, I have also the same feeling; for it was
prophesied to me, in my earliest youth, by a wise woman, that a
stork would bring me great good luck; and perhaps I can tell in what
manner we may deliver ourselves."
The caliph was much amazed, and asked in what manner she meant. "The
enchanter," said she, "who has rendered us both unhappy, comes once
every month to these ruins. Not far from this chamber, there is a
hall in which he is accustomed to revel with many comrades; I have
often watched them there. They relate to each other their villanous
deeds, and perhaps he may pronounce the magic word which you
"O dearest Princess," exclaimed the caliph, "tell me when will he
come, and where is the hall?"
The owl was silent for a moment, and then said,—
"Do not take it ill, but I can fulfil your wish only on one
"What is it? what is it?" cried Chasid; "whatever you please; I will
agree to any thing."
"Why, I should like to obtain my own liberty also; but this is
possible only on condition that one of you shall marry me."
The storks seemed somewhat embarrassed by this proposal, and the
caliph motioned to his officer to go out with him a moment.
"Grand Vizier," said the caliph, when they got outside of the door,
"this is a stupid business, but I should think you might marry her."
"Indeed!" answered he; "do you wish to have my eyes scratched out by
my wife as soon as I get home? Besides, I am an old man, and you are
young and unmarried; it would be more reasonable for you to give
your hand to a beautiful young princess."
"Ay, but there's the rub," sighed the caliph, drooping his wings
composedly; "who told you that she was young and beautiful? That is
what I call buying a pig in a poke!"
So they talked a long while about it, till, at last, as the caliph
saw that his vizier preferred remaining a stork to marrying the owl,
he made up his mind to fulfil the condition himself. The owl was
highly delighted. She informed them that they could not have come at
a better time, for probably the enchanters would assemble that
She left the chamber with the storks, to conduct them to the hall;
they walked for a long time through a dark passage; at last, a
bright light streamed towards them from a ruined wall. Having
reached this, the owl advised them to remain perfectly still. From
the cleft at which they stood, they could see over the whole hall.
It was surrounded by columns, and splendidly ornamented. Numerous
colored lamps supplied the want of daylight. In the midst of the
hall, stood a round table covered with various delicacies. Round the
table, was placed a sofa on which sat eight men. In one of these men
the storks recognized the merchant who had sold them the magic
powder. The one who sat next to him asked him to relate his newest
exploits. He told, among others, the story of the caliph and his
"And what word did you give them?" asked another of the magicians.
"A very hard Latin one; it is called MUTABOR."
When the storks heard this at their chink in the wall, they were
almost out of their senses with joy. They ran so swiftly to the door
of the ruin, with their long feet, that the owl could scarcely keep
up with them. When they had got out, the caliph said with emotion to
the owl, "Deliverer of my life, and of the life of my friend, accept
me for your husband, as an eternal mark of gratitude for what you
have done for us." Then he turned towards the East. Three times the
storks bowed their long necks towards the sun, which just then was
rising over the mountains; cried MUTABOR, and in an instant they
were disenchanted, and the master and servant lay in each other's
arms, weeping for joy. But who could describe their astonishment,
when, on looking round, they saw a beautiful lady in magnificent
attire? "Do you not know your owl?" said she, smiling, as she gave
her hand to the caliph. It was she, and the caliph was so enraptured
with her beauty and grace, that he declared he had been most
fortunate in having been turned into a stork.
All three now returned to Bagdad, where the arrival of the caliph
excited great astonishment. All had supposed that he was dead, and
the people were highly delighted to recover their beloved ruler.
The caliph Chasid lived long and happily with his wife, the
princess; and sometimes, when the grand vizier came to see him of an
afternoon, when he was in particularly good humor, he would
condescend to imitate the appearance of the grand vizier in the
character of the stork; walking gravely about, with feet extended,
chattering, and waving with his arms; and showed how the grand
vizier bowed in vain towards the East, and cried Mu—Mu. But when he
kept this up too long, the vizier used to threaten that he would
tell the caliph's wife the discussion, outside of the door, about
the princess owl.