36 THE GREEN FAIRY BOOK.
vizier only in attendance. First they walked through the palace gardens, but they looked in vain for some creature which could tempt them to try their magic power. At length the vizier suggested going further on to a pond which lay beyond the town, and where he had often seen a variety of creatures, especially storks, whose grave, dignified appearance and constant chatter had often attracted his attention.
The caliph consented and they went straight to the pond. As soon as they arrived they remarked a stork strutting up and down with a stately air, hunting for frogs and now and then muttering something to itself. At the same time they saw another stork far above in the sky flying toward the same spot.
"I would wager my beard, most gracious master," said the grand vizier, "that these two long legs will have a good chat together. How would it be if we turned ourselves into storks?"
"Well said," replied the caliph; "but first let us remember carefully how we are to become men once more. True! Bow three times toward the east and say 'Muta-bor!' and I shall be caliph and you my grand vizier again. But for Heaven's sake don't laugh or we are lost!"
As the caliph spoke he saw the second stork circling round his head and gradually flying toward the earth. Quickly he drew the box from his girdle, took a good pinch of the snuff and offered one to Mansor, who also took one, and both cried together "Mutabor!"
Instantly their legs shriveled up and grew thin and red; their smart yellow slippers turned to clumsy stork's feet, their arms to wings; their necks began to sprout from between their shoulders and grew a yard long; their beards disappeared and their bodies were covered with feathers.
" You've got a fine long bill, Sir Vizier," cried the caliph after standing for some time lost in astonishment. "Bv the beard of the Prophet, I never saw such a thing in all my life!"
"My very humble thanks," replied the grand vizier as he bent his long neck; "but, if I may venture to say so, your highness is even handsomer as a stork than as a caliph. But come, if it so pleases you, let us go near our comrades there and find out whether we really do understand the language of storks."