S98 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
me, I must confess that it lacks three things to make it absolutely perfect.'
' And what can they be?' cried the princess. 'Only tell me, and I will lose no time in getting them.'
' The three things, madam,' replied the old woman, ' are, first, the Talking Bird, whose voice draws all other singing birds to it, to join in chorus. And second, the Singing Tree, where every leaf is a song that is never silent. And lastly the Golden Water, of which it is only needful to pour a single drop into a basin for it to shoot up into a fountain, which will never be exhausted, nor will the basin ever overflow.'
' Oh, how can I thank you,' cried the princess, ' for telling me of such treasures! But add, I pray you, to your goodness by further informing me where I can find them.'
' Madam,' replied the pilgrim, ' I should ill repay the hospitality you have shown me if I refused to answer your question. The three things of which I have spoken are all to be found in one place, on the borders of this kingdom, towards India. Your messenger has only to follow the road that passes by your house, for twenty days, and at the end of that time, he is to ask the first person he meets for the Talking Bird, the Singing Tree, and the Golden Water.' She then rose, and bidding farewell to the princess, went her way.
The old woman had taken her departure so abruptly that the Princess Parizade did not perceive till she was really gone that the directions were hardly clear enough to enable the search to be successful. And she was still thinking of the subject, and how delightful it would be to possess such rarities, when the princes, her brothers, returned from the chase.
' What is the matter, my sister?' asked Prince Bahman; ' why are you so grave? Are you ill? or has anything happened ?'
Princess Parizade did not answer directly, but at