THE ENCHANTED CANARY
Now, as he was longing to see the princesses, he was very anxious to come to a river or a fountain, but, though he rode for hours, a river or fountain was nowhere to be seen. Still his heart was light, for he felt that he had got through the most difficult part of his task and the rest was easy.
About mid-day he reached a sandy plain, scorching in the sun. Here he was seized with dreadful thirst; he took his gourd and raised it to his lips.
But the gourd was empty; in the excitement of his joy he had forgotten to fill it. He rode on, struggling with his sufferings, but at last he could bear it no longer.
He let himself slide to the earth, and lay down beside his horse, his throat burning, his chest heaving, and his head going round. Already he felt that death was near him, when his eyes fell on the bag where the oranges peeped out.
Poor Desire, who had braved so many dangers to win the lady of his dreams, would have given at this moment all the princesses in the world, were they pink or golden, for a single drop of water.
' Ah !' he said to himself. ' If only these oranges were real fruitó fruit as refreshing as what I ate in Flanders ! And, after all, who knows ? '
This idea put some life into him. He had the strength to lift himself up and put his hand into his bag. He drew out an orange and opened it with his knife.
Out of it flew the prettiest little female canary that ever was seen.
' Give me something to drink, I am dying of thirst,' said the golden bird.
' Wait a minute,' replied Desire, so much astonished that he forgot his own sufferings; and to satisfy the bird he took a second orange, and opened it without thinking what he was doing. Out of it flew another canary, and she too began to cry:
' I am dying of thirst; give me something to drink.'
Then Tubby's son saw his folly, and while the two canaries flew away he sank on the ground, where, exhausted by his last effort, he lay unconscious.
When he came to himself, he had a pleasant feeling of freshness all about hirn. It was night, the sky was sparkling with stars, and the earth was covered with a heavy dew.