THE TALKING BIRD

There was a man who had a pet bird, very like a starling, which he taught to talk; and the bird was in the habit of travelling about with him all over the country as his companion. This went on for some years, until once he found himself far away from home with all his money spent and without means of getting home. He was in a great state of perplexity, when suddenly the bird said to him, “Why not sell me? Try to get me into the prince’s palace; I ought to fetch a good sum, and then you will have enough to get home with.” To this the man said, “My dear bird, I couldn’t do it; I couldn’t bear to part with you.” “Never mind that,” said the bird; “Wait for me under the big tree a little way out of the city.” So he took, the bird along, chattering together as they went, until he was seen by a eunuch of the palace, who promptly reported to the prince. The prince at once sent for the man and offered to buy the bird; but the man said that he and the bird were leading their lives together and could not possibly be parted. Then the prince turned to the bird and said, “Would you like to live here? ” “Very much indeed,” replied the bird; “give my master ten ounces of silver for me, not more.” The prince was delighted with the bird, and immediately gave orders for the ten ounces to be weighed out and given to the man, who went away grumbling at his bad luck. The prince had a long conversation with the bird, and by and by sent for some meat for it to eat. After this, the bird said, ” Please, your Highness, may I have a bath ? ” At this the prince told the servants to bring water in a golden bowl, and he opened the cage door for the bird to come out. The bird splashed about in the bath; and when it had finished, flew up and perched on the eaves of the palace, where it shook itself and smoothed its feathers, talking all the time to the prince. When it was quite dry it suddenly said “Good-bye, your Highness ; I’m off! ” And in half a moment the bird was out of sight. The prince was very angry, and immediately sent out to call the man back ; but he had disappeared. Later on some people saw the man and the bird back again in their own old home.

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