Simak was the powerful sovereign of a prosperous African kingdom, located south of the Atlas Mountains, in a huge oasis by the Sahara desert. This great lord had two children: Simak, who had to succeed him someday in the throne, and Meluye, his beloved daughter. But Meluye, although surrounded by slaves and the most expensive gifts, was not happy at all: leaving the palace was strictly forbidden for her and nor could she learn to read. Disobeying her fatherâs commands, Meluye secretly learned the noble art of reading.Thus, when his father announced it was time for her to marry, she started to imagine how she could change such an unsatisfactory fate. She begged his father to deliver her in marriage to the one who could catch the Down Bird, which was 'a strange bird, of dazzling colours and sweet trilling, who lived on the green lands, beyond the desert'.
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