The GREEN Fairy Book - online children's book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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THE STORY OF CALIPH STORK.                 35
for him. It may be that he will be able to interpret these mysterious characters."
The learned Selim was summoned immediately.
"Selim," said the caliph, "I hear you are a scholar. Look well at this scroll and see whether you can read it. If you can, I will give you a robe of honor; but if you fail, I will order you to receive twelve strokes on your cheeks and twenty-five on the soles of your feet, because you have been falsely called Selim the learned."
Selim prostrated himself and said: "Be it according to your will, 0 master!" Then he gazed long at the scroll. Suddenly he exclaimed: "May I die, oh, my lord, if this isn't Latin!"
"Well," said the caliph, "let us hear whatit means."
So Selim began to translate: "Thou who mayest find this, praise Allah for his mercy. Whoever shall snuff the powder in this box and at the same time shall pronounce the word 'Mutabor!'* can transform himself into any creature he likes and will understand the language of all Einimals. When he wishes to resume the human form, he has only to bow three times toward the east and to repeat the same word. Be careful, however, when wearing the shape of some beast or bird, not to laugh, or thou wilt certainly forget the magic word and remain an animal forever."
When Selim the learned had read this the caliph was delighted. He made the wise man swear not to tell the matter to any one, gave him a splendid robe, and dis­missed him. Then he said to his vizier:
"That's what I call a good bargain, Mansor. I am longing for the moment when I can become some animal. To-morrow morning I shall expect you early. We will go into the country, take some snuff from my box, and then hear what is being said in air, earth, and water."
Xext morning Caliph Chasid had barely finished dressing and breakfasting, when the grand vizier arrived, according toorders, to accompany him in his expedition. The caliph stuck the snuff-box in his girdle, and having desired his servants to remain at home, started off with the grand
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