When the Son of the Chan had done as formerly, spoken the threatening words, and carried off Ssidi, Ssidi asked him as before to tell a tale; but the Son of the Chan shook his head without speaking a word, and Ssidi began as follows:—
“In times gone by there lived in a fair country the father of a family, whose three daughters had daily by turns to watch over the calves. Now it once happened, during the time that the eldest sister should have been watching the calves, that she fell asleep, and one of them was lost. When the maiden awoke and missed the calf, she arose and went forth to seek it, and wandered about until she reached a large house with a red door.
“She went in, and then came to a golden door, next to that to a silver one, and last of all to a brazen door. After she had likewise opened this door she found, close to the entrance of it, a cage decorated with gold and all manner of costly jewels, and within it, on a perch, there stood a white bird.
“‘I have lost a calf,’ said the maiden, ‘and am come hither to seek it.’ At these words the bird said, ‘If thou wilt become my wife I will find the calf for you, but not without.’ But the maiden said, ‘That may not be; among men birds are looked upon but as wild creatures. Therefore I will not become your wife, even though, through refusing, I lose the calf for ever.’ And when she had thus spoken she returned home again.
“On the following day the second sister went forth to tend the calves, and she likewise lost one of them. And it happened unto her as it had done unto the eldest sister, and she too refused to become the wife of the bird.
“At last the youngest sister went forth with the calves, and when she missed one she too wandered on until she reached the house wherein the bird resided. The bird said unto her likewise, ‘If thou wilt become my wife, I will procure for thee the calf which thou hast lost.’ ‘Be it according to thy will.’ Thus spake she, and became the wife of the bird.
“After some time it happened that a mighty thirteen days’ feast was held at a large pagoda in the neighbourhood, and upon this occasion a number of persons assembled together, amongst the rest the wife of the bird.