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Two sisters who were jealous.
From Arabian Nights Entertainments by Andrew Lang.
Start of Story
Age Rating 8 Plus.
"It is as you say, sire," answered the princess, "and if you examine
the basin, you will see that it is all in one piece, and therefore the
water could not have been brought through it. What is more astonishing
is, that I only emptied a small flaskful into the basin, and it
increased to the quantity you now see."
"Well, I will look at it no more to-day," said the Sultan. "Take me to
the Talking Bird."
On approaching the house, the Sultan noticed a vast quantity of birds,
whose voices filled the air, and he inquired why they were so much more
numerous here than in any other part of the garden.
"Sire," answered the princess, "do you see that cage hanging in one of
the windows of the saloon? that is the Talking Bird, whose voice you
can hear above them all, even above that of the nightingale. And the
birds crowd to this spot, to add their songs to his."
The Sultan stepped through the window, but the bird took no notice,
continuing his song as before.
"My slave," said the princess, "this is the Sultan; make him a pretty
The bird stopped singing at once, and all the other birds stopped too.
"The Sultan is welcome," he said. "I wish him long life and all
"I thank you, good bird," answered the Sultan, seating himself before
the repast, which was spread at a table near the window, "and I am
enchanted to see in you the Sultan and King of the Birds."
The Sultan, noticing that his favourite dish of cucumber was placed
before him, proceeded to help himself to it, and was amazed to and that
the stuffing was of pearls. "A novelty, indeed!" cried he, "but I do
not understand the reason of it; one cannot eat pearls!"
"Sire," replied the bird, before either the princes or the princess
could speak, "surely your Highness cannot be so surprised at beholding
a cucumber stuffed with pearls, when you believed without any
difficulty that the Sultana had presented you, instead of children,
with a dog, a cat, and a log of wood."
"I believed it," answered the Sultan, "because the women attending on
her told me so."
"The women, sire," said the bird, "were the sisters of the Sultana, who
were devoured with jealousy at the honour you had done her, and in
order to revenge themselves invented this story. Have them examined,
and they will confess their crime. These are your children, who were
saved from death by the intendant of your gardens, and brought up by
him as if they were his own."
Like a flash the truth came to the mind of the Sultan. "Bird," he
cried, "my heart tells me that what you say is true. My children," he
added, "let me embrace you, and embrace each other, not only as
brothers and sister, but as having in you the blood royal of Persia
which could flow in no nobler veins."
When the first moments of emotion were over, the Sultan hastened to
finish his repast, and then turning to his children he exclaimed:
"To-day you have made acquaintance with your father. To-morrow I will
bring you the Sultana your mother. Be ready to receive her."
The Sultan then mounted his horse and rode quickly back to the capital.
Without an instant's delay he sent for the grand-vizir, and ordered him
to seize and question the Sultana's sisters that very day. This was
done. They were confronted with each other and proved guilty, and were
executed in less than an hour.
But the Sultan did not wait to hear that his orders had been carried
out before going on foot, followed by his whole court to the door of
the great mosque, and drawing the Sultana with his own hand out of the
narrow prison where she had spent so many years, "Madam," he cried,
embracing her with tears in his eyes, "I have come to ask your pardon
for the injustice I have done you, and to repair it as far as I may. I
have already begun by punishing the authors of this abominable crime,
and I hope you will forgive me when I introduce you to our children,
who are the most charming and accomplished creatures in the whole
world. Come with me, and take back your position and all the honour
that is due to you."
This speech was delivered in the presence of a vast multitude of
people, who had gathered from all parts on the first hint of what was
happening, and the news was passed from mouth to mouth in a few seconds.
Early next day the Sultan and Sultana, dressed in robes of state and
followed by all the court, set out for the country house of their
children. Here the Sultan presented them to the Sultana one by one,
and for some time there was nothing but embraces and tears and tender
words. Then they ate of the magnificent dinner which had been prepared
for them, and after they were all refreshed they went into the garden,
where the Sultan pointed out to his wife the Golden Water and the
Singing Tree. As to the Talking Bird, she had already made
acquaintance with him.
In the evening they rode together back to the capital, the princes on
each side of their father, and the princess with her mother. Long
before they reached the gates the way was lined with people, and the
air filled with shouts of welcome, with which were mingled the songs of
the Talking Bird, sitting in its cage on the lap of the princess, and
of the birds who followed it.
And in this manner they came back to their father's palace.