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Page:Tales of old Lusitania.djvu/135

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THE TOWER OF BABYLON.

waterfowl; and grassy slopes where they could rest and plume their feathers. Fruit trees loaded with ripe luscious fruits attracted hungry and greedy birds, and on the ground and on branches of trees were found worms, grubs, and insects, to supply more substantial food for the subjects of the king of birds.

The fisherman's son, whilst gazing in wonder at the magic scene around him, had his attention drawn to a shady path which led in to a grove. He followed this path, and as he entered the grove he was accosted by an attendant, having the head of a bird and the body of a man. He had large wings which he flapped as he spoke to the young man, asking him what had brought him there, to which he replied that he was seeking his youngest sister. The attendant then led him through the grove.

Within the grove was an enclosure, formed by several trees being joined together by a perfect mantle of creepers, which covered them from top to bottom. These creepers were in full blossom, and rich with their varied colours and perfumes. This enclosure was the palace of the king of birds, and was divided into different compartments and chambers by natural screens, woven of trailers twined together, and all covered with a glowing mass of flowers.

The queen, the young man's sister, was in one of these magic chambers when the page introduced him