A charming princess was the object of universal admiration. One day an ill-starred Dervish (mendicant) happened to pass by. He was so struck with her beauty that the piece of bread he was carrying in his hands slipped from his fingers. Greatly amused, the girl burst into laughter and walked off merrily. The Dervish was, however, so much enamoured of her smile, scornful though it was, that he could thence­forth think of nothing else but that smile. For seven long years he refused to move from the precincts of her palace. The attendants and servants of the girl were so much annoyed with him that they resolved one day to take his life. The princess, however, did not wish that the unfortunate man should be injured in any way. She, therefore, whispered to him in secret that if he wished to save his life, he had better leave the place forthwith.

“Have I a life that I should think of saving it?” asked the love-sick man. “On the very day on which you favoured me with a smile, my life was sacrificed to you. But pray, tell me why did you smile that day?”

“Oh, you simpleton,” replied the girl. “I laughed because I saw that you had not an iota of sense or reason.”

After the Nightingale had been thus admonished by the Hoopoe, the Parrot came forward and pleaded his inability to undertake the journey because he had been imprisoned in a cage, a penalty he had to pay for his beauty. The Peacock urged that he was quite unworthy of the Royal Presence because of the part he had played in the expulsion of Adam from Paradise. The Duck could not do without water, nor the Partridge without mountains. The Huma said he was gifted with the power to confer sovereignty on those over whose head he flew. Why should he give up such a lofty privilege? Similarly, the Falcon could not brook the idea of relinquishing his place of honour on the hand of kings. The Heron wished to stay in the lagoons, and the Owl in the ruins of which he was the undisturbed monarch. Last came the Wagtail with his excuses for his weakness and physical disabilities that made it impossible for him to embark on the journey.*

The Hoopoe brushed aside all these pretexts and illustrated her precepts by a series of anecdotes and inspiring stories; for instance, in admonishing the owl, she related the following story, illustrating the fate of those who, like the owl, are attached to their worldly possessions.