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Main > Arabic folktales > Fairy tale "VII.The Bird-man"

VII.The Bird-man

And she was the foremost among the women; but among the men the most noticed was an armed man, who rode upon a white horse three times round the assemblage. And all who saw him exclaimed, ‘He is the first.’

“And when the woman returned home again the white bird demanded of her, ‘Who were the foremost among the men and the women who were there assembled together?’ Then said the woman, ‘The foremost among the men was seated upon a white horse, but I knew him not. The foremost of the women was myself.’

“And for eleven days did these things so fall out. But on the twelfth day, when the wife of the bird went to the assemblage, she sat herself down near an old woman. ‘Who,’ said the old woman, ‘is the first in the assemblage this day?’ To this question the wife of the bird replied, ‘Among the men, the rider upon the white horse is beyond all comparison the foremost. Among the women, I myself am so. Would that I were bound unto this man, for my husband is numbered among wild creatures since he is nothing but a bird.’

“Thus spake she, weeping, and the old woman replied as follows:—‘Speak ye no more words like unto these. Amongst the assembled women thou art in all things the foremost. But the rider upon the white horse is thine own husband. To-morrow is the thirteenth day of the feast. Come not to-morrow unto the feast, but remain at home behind the door until thine husband opens his birdhouse, takes his steed from the stable, and rides to the feast. Take ye, then, the open birdhouse and burn it. And when thou hast done this thy husband will remain henceforth and for ever in his true form.’

“The wife of the bird, thereupon, did as she had been told; and when the birdhouse was opened, and her husband had departed, she took the birdhouse and burnt it upon the hearth. When the sun bowed down towards the west the bird returned home, and said to his wife, ‘What, art thou already returned?’ and she said, ‘I am already returned.’ Then said her husband, ‘Where is my birdhouse?

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