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to get it between his lips; but for the third time it refused its
office, and Said, overcome by the heat and the horror of his situation,
fainted. After several hours he awoke to see, not the dreaded beast of
prey but a human being.

This was a little man with small eyes and a long beard, who informed
Said, when the latter had somewhat recovered, that he was Kalum Bek, a
merchant, and that he was on a business expedition when he found him
lying half dead in the sand. Said thanked the little man, and gratefully
accepted a seat on his camel. As they were journeying the merchant
related many stories in praise of the justice and acuteness of the
Father of the Faithful.

"My cousin Messour," he said, "is his Lord Chamberlain, and he has often
told me how the Caliph is wont to sally forth at night, attended by
himself alone, to see how his people are cared for. And so, when we go
about the streets at night, we have to be polite to every idiot we meet,
for it is as likely to be the Caliph as some dog of an Arab from the
desert."

Hearing such accounts as these, Said thought himself a lucky fellow to
have the chance of seeing Bagdad and the renowned Al-Raschid. When they
arrived in the city, Kalum invited Said to accompany him home. The next
day the youth had just dressed himself in his most magnificent clothes,
thinking of the sensation he would cause, when the merchant entered,
and, looking at him scornfully, said: "That is all very fine, my young
sir, but it seems to me you are a great dreamer. Have you the money to
keep up that style?"

"It is true, sir," said Said, blushing, "that I have no money; but
perhaps you will be kind enough to lend me sufficient to travel home
with, for my father is sure to repay you."

"Your father, boy," laughed the merchant. "I really think the sun must
have affected your brain. You don't suppose, do you, that I believe the
fable you made up for my benefit? I know all the rich men in Balsora,
but no Benezar. Besides, do you think the disappearance of a whole
caravan would pass unnoticed? And then, you bare-faced liar, that story
about Selim! Why, that man is noted for his cruelty; and do you mean to
tell me that he allowed the murderer of his son to go free - and that,
too, without ransom? Oh, you shameless liar!"

"Indeed, I have spoken the truth," cried Said. "I have no proof of my
words, and can only swear to you that I have spoken no falsehood. If you
will not help me then I must appeal to the Caliph."

"Really!" scoffed the little man; "you will beg, then, from no less
exalted a person than our gracious ruler! Just consider that the Caliph
can only be approached through my cousin Messour, and that with a word I
could - - But I pity your youth. You are not too old yet for reformation.
You shall serve in my shop for a year, and then, if you wish to leave
me, I will pay you your wages, and let you go whither you will. I give
you till mid-day to think over it. If you refuse, I will seize your
clothes and possessions to pay myself for your passage, and throw you on
the streets."

Said was indeed in difficulties; bad luck seemed to press upon him at
every turn. There was no escaping from the room, for the windows were
barred and the door locked. After cudgelling his brains for some time,
he saw that he must submit to the indignity imposed upon him by the
villainous little man, and so the next day he followed him to the shop
in the bazaar. His duty was to stand (his gallant attire a thing of the
past) in the doorway, a veil or a shawl in either hand, and cry his
wares to the passers-by.

Said soon saw why Kalum had been so anxious to retain him as a servant.
No one wished to do business with the hateful old man, but when the
salesman was a handsome youth it was a different matter altogether. One
especially busy day all the porters were employed, when an elderly lady
entered and made some purchases. After she had bought all she wanted she
demanded some one to carry her parcels home for her. In vain did the
merchant promise to send them in half an hour - she would have them then
or never; and her eye falling on Said, she wanted to know why he should
not accompany her. After much remonstrance Kalum had to give in, and
Said found himself following in the wake of the lady, who stopped at
last before a magnificent house. She knocked and they were admitted, and
after mounting a wide marble staircase, Said found himself in a lofty
hall, far grander than he had ever seen before. Here he was relieved of
his burden, and was just going out at the door, when -

"Said," cried a sweet voice behind him. He turned round quickly, and saw
to his amazement a daintily beautiful lady surrounded by attendants,
instead of the old lady he had followed.

"Said, my dear boy," she said, "it is a great misfortune that you left
Balsora before you were twenty; but here in Bagdad there is some chance
for you. Have you still your little whistle?"

"Indeed I have," he cried gladly; "perhaps you are the kindly fairy who
befriended my mother?"

[Illustration: "A DAINTILY BEAUTIFUL LADY" (_p._ 228).]

"Yes, and as long as you are good I will help you. But, alas! I cannot
even deliver you from that wretch, Kalum Bek, for he is protected by
your most powerful enemy."

"But can we do nothing? Can I not go to the Caliph? He is a just man and
will help me."

"Haroun is indeed just, but he is greatly influenced by Messour, who, a
model of uprightness himself, has been already primed by Kalum with his
version of your story. But there are other ways of getting at the
Caliph, and it is written in the stars that you will obtain his favour."

"I am to be pitied if I have to stay much longer with that rascal of a
shopkeeper. But there is one favour I beg of you, most gracious of
fairies. Jousts are held every week, but only for the freeborn. Couldn't
you manage to give me equipments, and make my face so that no one would
know me?"

"That is a wish worthy of a brave man, and I will grant it. Come here
each week, and you will find everything you want. And now, farewell. Be
cautious and virtuous. In six months your whistle will sound, and Zulima
will answer its appeal."

Said took leave of his protectress, and, taking note of the position of
the house, made his way back to the shop. He arrived there in the very
nick of time, for Kalum was surrounded by a crowd of jeering neighbours,
and was literally dancing with rage. This was what had happened. Two men
had asked the merchant if he could direct them to the shop of the
handsome salesman.

"Well! well!" said the old man, smiling, "Heaven has guided you to the
right place this time. What do you want, a shawl or a veil?"

This to the men seemed nothing short of insolence, and they fell upon
him tooth and nail, the neighbours refusing to help the old skinflint.
But Said, seeing his master in such distress, strode to the rescue, and
one of the assailants soon found himself on the ground. Under the
influence of his flashing eyes the crowd soon melted away, for violence
on the wrong side was not to their taste.

"Oh, you prince of shopmen, that is what I call interfering to some
purpose! Didn't he lie on the ground as if he had never used his legs? I
should have lost my beard for ever if you had not come up. How shall I
reward you?"

Said had only acted upon the impulse of the moment; indeed, he now felt
rather sorry that he had deprived the scoundrel of a well-deserved
thrashing. He seized the opportunity, however, and asked for an evening
a week in which to take a walk. This was granted him, and the next
Wednesday he set out for the fairy's house. Here he found everything as
Zulima had promised. First the servants gave him a wash, which changed
him from a stripling to a black-bearded man, whose face was bronzed by
exposure to the sun. Then he was led into a second room, where he saw a
dress that would not have been put to shame by the State robes of the
Caliph. He hastily donned this, and, magnificently equipped, descended
the stairs. As he reached the door, a servant handed him a silk
handkerchief with which to wipe his face when he wished to rid himself
of his disguise. In the court were standing three horses; two were
ridden by squires, but the most magnificent was for his own use. When
Said arrived on the plain set apart for the jousts, all eyes turned on
him, and curiosity was rife as to who the unknown knight could be; that
he was distinguished and of high family none doubted.

When Said entered the lists he gave his name as Almansor of Cairo, and
said that he had come to Bagdad because of the fame of the youths of
that city. The sides were chosen, and the opposing parties charged.
Said's horse was as swift as an eagle, and his prowess with the sword
was so great that even the bravest shunned meeting him, and the Caliph's
brother, who had been on his side, challenged him to single combat. The
two fought, but were so equal that the contest had to be postponed till
the next meeting. On the following day all Bagdad was ringing with the
praises of the gallant young knight; and little did the people guess
that he was then serving in a shop in the bazaar.

At the next tournament Said carried all before him, and received from
the Caliph a golden medallion hanging from a gold chain. This aroused
the envy of the other youths. Was a stranger to come to Bagdad and rob
them of their honour? Said noticed the signs of discontent, and observed
that all viewed him askance, except the brother and son of the Caliph.
By a strange chance the one most bitter against him was the man he had
knocked down before Kalum Bek's shop. Led by this man, the others made a
sudden attack on Said, who must have fallen if the Royal combatants had
not rushed to his aid.

For more than four months he continued to fight in the lists, but one
night as he was going home he noticed four men who were walking slowly
before him. To his astonishment, he found they were speaking in the
dialect used by Selim's band. He suspected that they were after no good,
and so he crept nearer to hear what they were saying.

[Illustration: "THE TWO FOUGHT" (_p._ 232).]

"He will be in the street to the right of the bazaar to-night, attended
by the Grand Vizier," said one.

"That is good," answered the other; "there is no fear of the Grand
Vizier, but I am not so sure of the Caliph - there might be some of his
guard near."

"No, there won't," broke in a third; "he is always alone at night."

"I think it would be best to throw a lasso over his head," said the
first.

"Very well, an hour after midnight;" and with these words they
separated.

"Well, I have discovered a pretty plot," thought Said, and his first
idea was to go at once to the Caliph; but he remembered how Kalum had
maligned him to Messour, and stopped. No, the only way was for him to
defend the Caliph in person. Accordingly, when night came on, he betook
himself to the appointed street, and waited to see what was going to
happen. Soon the men came and concealed themselves in different parts of
the street. All was quiet for half an hour, and at the end of that time
one of the robbers gave a sign, for the Caliph was in sight. With one
accord the band rushed upon him, but Said rose from his hiding-place,
and laid about him with such hearty goodwill that they were soon glad to
take to their heels with all speed.

"My rescue," said the Caliph, "is no less wonderful than the attack made
upon me. How did you know who I was? How did you get to know of the
plot?"

Said then told how he had followed the men, and, hearing their plans,
determined to frustrate their villainous intention.

"Receive my thanks," said the Caliph, "and accept this ring. Present it
to-morrow at the palace, and we will see what can be done for you."

The Vizier, too, gave him a ring, together with a heavy purse.

Mad with joy, Said hurried home, but here Kalum was awaiting him,
anxious lest he should have lost his handsome servant. The little man
raved at Said, but the latter had seen that his purse was full of money,
and told him flatly that he would stay there no longer. He strode out at
the door, leaving Kalum staring after him in open-mouthed astonishment.
The next morning the merchant set the police on his track, and they
brought him word that his quondam servant, dressed in a most magnificent
fashion, was just setting out with a caravan.

"He has stolen money from me, the thief!" Kalum shrieked, and ordered
the constable to arrest Said. As Kalum was known to be related to
Messour, his commands were promptly attended to, and poor Said found
himself condemned, unheard, as having stolen the purse from his master.
He was sentenced to life-long banishment on a desert island, and all his
protestations of innocence were of no avail. The poor fellow was in
despair, and even the stony-hearted merchant put in a plea for him. He
was thrown into a filthy dungeon, together with nineteen others. He
comforted himself with the thought that his life would be more endurable
on board ship, but here he was mistaken. The atmosphere was foul, and
the men fought like wild beasts for the best places. Food and water were
handed out to them once a day, and at the same time the men who had died
were hauled out.

A fortnight was passed in this misery, but one day they felt the ship
was tossing more than usual, and their discomfort was increased. At last
the survivors burst the hatches open, but to their despair they saw that
the ship had been deserted by all the crew. The storm raged even more
wildly, the ship rocked and settled deeper into the water. At last it
went to pieces, and Said managed to cling to the mast. After he had
floated for about half an hour, he suddenly remembered his whistle. It
still hung round his neck, and holding on well with one hand to the
mast, he put it to his mouth, and this time it did not fail him. At the
sound of the clear, sweet note, the storm ceased as if by magic, and the
sea became like glass, and, what was more wonderful still, the mast by
which Said was supported was changed into a huge dolphin, to his no
small terror. But he soon found there was no need for him to be afraid,
for the fish bore him as swiftly as an arrow through the water.

After some time Said, remembering tales of enchanters, drew out his
whistle, and blowing a shrill blast, wished for a meal. At once a table
rose from the depths of the sea, and Said enjoyed the much-needed
refreshment. The sun was just sinking, when he saw a large town in the
distance which reminded him of Bagdad. The thought of Bagdad was not so
very pleasant, but still he trusted that the fairy, who had guarded him
so far, would not let him fall into the hands of Kalum Bek. As he drew
nearer he noticed a large house on the bank of the river, the roof of
which was crowded with men, who were all gazing in astonishment at
himself. No sooner had Said set foot on the land, than the fish
vanished, and at the same time the servants appeared to lead him before
their master. On the roof were standing three men, who questioned him in
a friendly way. Said at once began to relate his story, from the time
when he left Balsora, and his listeners declared that they believed him;
still, they asked if he could produce the golden chain and the rings of
which he had spoken.

[Illustration: "A TABLE ROSE FROM THE DEPTHS OF THE SEA" (_p._ 236).]

"Here they are," said Said. "I determined not to part with them while I
had life to defend them."

"By the beard of the Prophet, this is my ring, Grand Vizier - our
deliverer stands before us!"

Said was overcome by finding in whose presence he was, and flung himself
at the Caliph's feet. But Haroun raised him, and overwhelmed him with
praise and thanks. Nothing would do but that Said must return with them
to the palace, where they would conceive some plan to bring the merchant
Kalum to book. On the next day Kalum himself begged for admittance to
the presence of Haroun. A dispute had arisen between himself and a man
of Balsora, and he asked for judgment.

"I will hear him," said the Caliph. "Said," turning to the youth as the
servant left the room, "this is no other than your father. Do you hide
behind that curtain, and you, Grand Vizier, fetch the magistrate who
condemned Said."

In a short time Kalum entered, accompanied by Benezar, and, after the
Caliph had mounted his throne, began his complaint.

"I was standing at my door a few days ago, when this man Benezar came
down the street, offering a purse of gold for news of Said. I at once
claimed the money, and told him how his son, for so I found him to be,
had suffered the penalty for stealing a purse from me. Then the madman
demanded his money back, and wanted to make me responsible for his
rascal of a son."

"Bring the magistrate who condemned the youth," commanded Haroun. He
was produced as if by magic. After much questioning, the justice
confessed that no witness had been brought forward except the purse.

"Why," shouted the Grand Vizier, "that is my purse, you scoundrel; and I
gave it to the gallant youth who saved me."

"Then," thundered the Caliph, "you swore falsely, Kalum Bek. What was
done to Said?"

"I sent him to a desert island," stammered the magistrate.

"Oh, Said, my son, my son!" wept the unhappy father.

"Stand forth, Said," said the Caliph.

Confronted by this apparition, Kalum and the justice flung themselves on
their knees, crying, "Mercy! mercy!"

"Did you have mercy on the misfortunes of this unhappy boy? You, my best
of judges, shall retire to a desert island, so that you may have an
opportunity of studying justice. But, Kalum Bek, what am I to say to
you? You shall pay Said for all the time he has served you, and," as
Kalum was beginning to congratulate himself on coming so well out of the
business, "for the perjury you shall receive a hundred strokes on the
soles of your feet. Take the men away and carry out their sentence."

The wretched beings were led away, and the Caliph took Said and his
father into another apartment. Here their conversation was interrupted
by the yells of Kalum, who was undergoing punishment in the court
outside. The Caliph invited Benezar to bring his goods and settle in
Bagdad. He gladly consented, and Said spent his life in the palace built
for him by the grateful Caliph - indeed, the proverb ran in Bagdad, "May
I be as good and fortunate as Said, the son of Benezar."




Little Blue Flower.




[Illustration]

LITTLE BLUE FLOWER.

FROM THE GERMAN BY MISS F. E. HYNAM.


A STORK swept high over the Bohemian forest. It was a most important
duty that had brought him from his own marshes into this mountainous
region, where far and wide no croak of frog could be heard. In his beak
he carried two little children, a boy and a girl, both intended for the
knight who dwelt in the gloomy fortress below. Smaller and smaller grew
the circles made by the stork in his flight. Lower and lower he sank
towards the earth, until at length he rested on the highest chimney of
the castle.

But before letting the children slip down the narrow black hole he
paused and looked carefully around. While in the air, this old castle,
with its round turrets glittering in the rising sun, had appeared to him
a most stately edifice. But now, when quite close, the stork discovered
many things that did not please him. The walls were sadly out of repair,
there were holes in the roof, whilst the courtyard was overgrown with
weeds.

"I do not like this," said the stork, looking thoughtfully down his
long, red beak. "This place seems to have a very bad landlord. A knight
who cannot keep his castle in proper repair certainly does not deserve
two children. I will take one away with me."

"Which should he have now, the boy or the girl?" thought the stork. He
looked once more thoughtfully down his long beak, and on the two
children smiling happily in their dreams. "I think I will give him the
boy," he said at length. "He will push his way in this wretched place
better than the girl." With these words he made a movement to throw the
little boy down the chimney.

This, however, was not so easy as the stork had thought. In their sleep
the little ones had embraced each other, and would not let go. "I have
never had two such obstinate little creatures in my beak before,"
exclaimed the stork angrily. Then he began to shake them, at first
gently, then harder, and at last so roughly that the children half awoke
from their dreams, and looked at each other with blinking eyes. After
this the boy would not let go his companion, and no wonder, for the
little girl had shown him a pair of blue eyes of such wondrous beauty,
that there were not many like them in the world. But the stork, now
thoroughly angry, gave the poor little fellow a kick that sent him head
first down the castle chimney.

"Now, what shall I do with the other little thing?" said the stork
thoughtfully, scratching the back of his ear. "Ah! I have it," he
cried - the little girl had kept on blinking her eyes, and the stork had
also seen their beautiful blue - "I have it!" he repeated. "Such eyes can
only belong to Norway."

High overhead soared the stork. Powerfully his wings clove the air as
he sailed away towards the north.

In the midst of the blue Baltic Sea a little wooded island lay sparkling
like a green jewel. Here dwelt Bjorn, a grim old sea-king of Norwegian
blood. Every year he and his men ploughed the sea with their swift
ships, and very rich was the spoil he brought home to his strong castle
that stood in the centre of the island, defended by wall and moat.

To this castle the stork bore the little maiden on his strong wings.

Bjorn and his men were sitting in the spacious hall, quaffing from
golden cups the sweet wine they had brought back in their ships from the
sunny land of Greece. Very wild was their joy when the little maiden
came down the chimney, and throughout the whole night their boisterous
songs could be heard far across the wide sea.

And the little, sparkling waves sang in reply a rushing murmuring song,
to celebrate the arrival of the young child. "To our sea-king a little
daughter has been born," they sang. "A beauteous little maiden, with
eyes blue as the sea, locks fair as the sea foam, and lips rosy as the
morning red when it gilds the crests of the waves." Even the stupid
fishes rejoiced, but as they could not sing they leapt into the air,
high up out of the waves, and their scales glittered in the moonlight
like gold and silver.

Many days and many nights Bjorn and his crew drank of the pearly wine.
Then he could rest at home no longer, so ordered his ships and sailed
away, leaving the child, to whom he had given the name of Swanhild, in
charge of a faithful nurse.

On this voyage Bjorn encountered more storms and enemies than he had
ever done before. Often, whilst on the tossing billows, he thought with
longing of the little one at home. Yet many long years passed ere he
could at length return home laden with rich spoil.

As he set foot on the little island he was greeted by a beautiful
maiden, with deep blue eyes, rosy lips, and the fair hair of Norway.
Full of joy, Bjorn clasped his lovely child to his heart. Then he sat
with his men in the castle hall, feasting and quaffing the costly
Grecian wine.

Swanhild had never before seen such noisy feasts. Often, on moonlight
nights, she would leave the castle and wander alone on the sea-shore.

But one evening, as she thus wandered, clad in her white garments, and
with her fair head bent towards the waves, she was seen by a wicked
magician, who had flown thither through the air on a black goat. He came
from the cliffs of Norway, where he had been sent to seize the soul of a
poor Laplander who had stolen his neighbour's reindeer, and he was now
travelling to Blocksberg to take this soul to his master, a powerful
evil spirit.

When the magician saw Swanhild he was much delighted. He had never
before beheld any one so lovely. But alas! while he was lost in
contemplation of her beauty the soul of the little Laplander escaped,
and flew away. He let it go. Seeking a secluded spot, he at once
summoned a number of crabs and water-beetles, which he placed in three
shining mussel-shells. One touch of his staff changed these shells
filled with crabs and water-beetles into magnificent vessels full of
well-armed men. His black goat became a skald, and played the harp. Then
transforming himself into a handsome young Viking, he ordered the sails
to be hoisted, and rounding a wooded promontory, sailed into the bay
where Bjorn's vessel lay.


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