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In Search of the Magic Lake

The crook of a tree trunk is hardly a comfortable bed, but sleeping in the trees can bring unexpected benefits. The next morning Ampata watched, bemused, a pair of scarlet macaws circling overhead, those noisy, gorgeous deep red parrots with white patches on their faces and splotches of blue and yellow on their wings. While she watched, she chewed some toasted corn and nuts, and when the macaws alighted on the next branch, she spread some treats for them, too.

"Kwahh! Kwahh!" The macaws helped themselves to the treats. "What is a human girl doing in the trees?" Said the other bird, "Kwahh!"

These bright and engaging birds, more intelligent than most people realize, enjoy talking and interacting with others. Ampata told them her story - of the prince's mysterious sickness, her brothers' failed attempt to save him, and her determination to find the Magic Lake.

"You will never get there on your own!" said one of the macaws. "Kwahh!" The two birds bobbed their beaks and flew to the edge of the limb.

After a few moments one of them turned to her and said, "We enjoyed your tasty treats! And we know how to help you."

The macaws rubbed their backs against one another in a kind of dance. After three feathers fell, they picked them up and flew to Ampata.

Said one macaw, setting the feathers in her lap, "These three feathers have magic. Hold them together as a fan. They will take you wherever you want to go, and they will protect you from danger."

She spread the three feathers and tied the bottom of the fan with a ribbon of wool from her hair. "I can never thank you enough," she said to the two macaws. Holding the fan before her, she said, "If you please, will you take me to the Magic Lake at the end of the earth?"

As if she were a feather herself, Ampata was lifted far above the trees and whisked to the mountains.

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