Once Rustern, who was a brave fighter, saved a wizard from some robbers who had fallen upon him suddenly in a lonely place. Rustern invited the old man to spend the night in his tent, and after supper they sat outside in the cool air, and watched a big fire which Rustern's servants had lighted. It was a clear, starlight night, but there was a quick little breeze fluttering about.
It caught the smoke of the fire so that it danced and whirled about in a thousand queer shapes. The stars seemed to dance with the smoke, they glittered and gleamed between the eddies, and here and there a little tongue of darting flame joined in the dance too. Presently the wizard spoke.
'I should like to make thee a gift, Rustern,' he said, 'in return for what thou hast done for me. What beautiful thing dost thou desire?'"
'I desire nothing,' relpied Rustern. 'What could be more beautiful than that smoke and the fire and the stars?'
'Then I will make a gift for thee out of the smoke and the fire and the stars,' said the wizard.
ANd he took a handful of smoke and a tiny flame from the fire and two of the brightest stars in the night sky, and kneaded them together for a minute.
'There,' he said, 'there is thy gift.'
Rustern was delighted, for the wizard had made a little live vreature, soft and grey like the smoke, with bright, star-like eyes and a little red tobgue like a tiny flame of fire. It danced and capered about, and was a joy to look upon.
'Take it home,' said the wizard. 'It will be a plaything for thy children and an ornament to thy house.'
And Rustern did so.
And that is how the first persian cat came into the world. I ought to know for that kitten was none other that I, Persia.