Bedtime Stories in English - Who Caught The Strange Bird

 Who Caught The Strange Bird

Travellers spoke of a strange bird in the forest. One who saw it knew that he had met the most beautiful bird in his life. That was not all. One who heard the bird sing knew that he had heard the sweetest music in the world. Nobody had ever seen another bird of its kind anywhere in the wide world. There were brave people who tried to capture the bird. Among them, there were princes and generals. Not only they failed, but also they turned into stones. The world never saw them again. "I must have that bird," said the Sultan's daughter. "The price I'll pay is high. I'll marry the man who can bring it to me." Everybody in the town heard what the princess said. Many were willing to brave into the forest to try to catch the bird. But what stopped them was the fear of turning into stones. There were three young friends, all boys of noble families. One of them took up the challenge and set out for the forest.

He located the bird, following the direction given by travellers. As he went close to it, the bird began to sing. The song was so charming that at one point the young man could not help repeating the tune. At once he turned into stone. A month passed. It was not difficult for the townsfolk to understand what might have happened to the young man. The second friend set out thereafter. He too did not return. Two months passed. The third friend said, "It is not for possessing the bird or marrying the princess, but I must go into the forest to see if I can rescue my friends." He set out. No sooner his eyes fell on the bird in the wilderness than the bird began singing. He was enchanted. He felt a strong urge to sing out himself. But with great effort, he suppressed his urge. The bird fell silent and he caught it. "Beautiful bird, will you not bring my friends to life?" asked the young man. "Let me fly over them and that will be done," said the bird. The young man released the bird. The bird circled over the stones and the young man's two friends came to life. "Dear bird, will you not bring back to life all those who turned into stones earlier?" the young man pleaded with the bird again. The bird circled over the scattered stones and a number of princes, generals and noblemen got back their lives. They were all praise for the young man. They left for their countries, promising to meet their saviour afterwards with gifts. "I'm grateful to you, O wonderful bird, but won't you come with me to my town?" the young man pleaded with the bird again.

"Why not!" trilled out the bird. The golden cage was ready. "Look here, young man, look at the ring round my left leg. Take it out and put it around one of your fingers. That'll do you good," said the bird, before entering the cage. The young man did as advised. The three friends started for their town. At night, while the young man who saved the other two was asleep, the other two gagged him and carried him to a deserted well and hurled him into it. Luckily there was soft sand at the bottom. The young man fainted but was not harmed. When he recovered his sense, he saw a huge dark figure seated by his side. "Who are you?" asked the young man. "I'm the jinn of the ring. When you fell through the well, the ring got rubbed against the stone wall. So I had to appear. Now I am waiting for your order." "Take me out of the well." That was done instantly. "Become a horse and lead me to my town," was the young man's second command. The jinn became a handsome and strong horse and carried the young man into the town. There was a festival inside the Sultan's palace as the princess had got the strange bird. But, in the outer court, a curious situation had arisen. Each of the two friends who met the Sultan claimed that he had caught the bird. The two were ready to pounce on each other. Such bitter enemies they had become. "My lord, why don't you ask the bird?" proposed the young man.

His sudden appearance turned the two friends' faces pale. "The bird does not speak!" replied the Sultan with some distress. "Let me see the bird. It will speak." The bird was brought from the apartment of the princess. "Sweet bird, won't you say who caught you?" The young man pleaded with it. "Only if I'm set free. I can't say or do anything worthwhile as long as I am a prisoner," said the bird. The princess was consulted. Since it concerned her marriage, she must know who really caught the bird. She agreed to set the bird free. As soon as the cage was opened, the bird flew out and perched on the young man's shoulder and trilled out, "You, you, you caught me!" At once the two other friends took to their heels. But Sultan's guards caught them. "Put them to death!" bellowed the Sultan. "Pardon me, my lord, but please let them live. I brought them to life from stones. It will be very painful for me to see them done to death," said the young man. So the Sultan let the two treacherous youths escape. The young man married the princess. Once a year he went into the forest to meet the bird. The princess accompanied him. Both of them, of course, had to check themselves from singing out under the inspiration of the bird's songs...

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