A merchant had married such a pretty wife that it kept him jealously away from business travels. At last, when he had to leave her for some time, he went to the bird market and bought a talking she-parrot that he set in his house. He hoped the parrot would pass on to him things that had passed while he was away.
It so happened that his wife had fallen in love with a young man. While her husband was away, she and that man would play. When the merchant came home he asked the parrot how his wife had behaved while he was away.
The parrot said, "You wife has passed every night with a friend while your were away."
On hearing this the husband went to his wife in a violent rage. The woman afterwards called the servant maids together and questioned them. They said the parrot had told it. "We heard her with our own ears," they said.
Now the woman bade one of the girls to set a hand mill under the cage and grind on it all night long. A second girl was told to run about, right and left, dashing a mirror of bright steel through the livelong night.
Next morning the husband returned home after visiting a friend, and asked the parrot what had happened while he was away.
"Pardon me," said the bird, "but I could neither hear nor see anything because of the darkness and the thunder and lightning throughout the night."
It was summer and the weather had been pleasant the whole night, so the man got the idea that his wife had been wrongly accused. He grabbed the parrot and killed him on the spot.
Some days later one of his servant girls confessed to him the whole truth. At first the man could not believe it, but then he saw his wife's lover coming out of her chamber. Then he realised that the parrot had told him the truth about his wife and her affair, and mourned for killing his bird.
A wealthy merchant who lived in the country could understand the languages of animals and birds. But if he revealed this wonderful secret, he would die. So he kept it secret.
In his cow house he had a bull and a donkey standing beside one another. As he was sitting nearby one day with his servans and his children were playing about him, he heard the bull say to the donkey:
"You lucky donkey, you are always lying at ease, save when it happens from time to time that the master has some business. Then he mounts you and rides you to town and returns with you right afterwards. You get goodwill, while I am toiling and distressed and get contempt."
The donkey turned to him and said:
"Just stop doing the things you have been doing for even three days, and play ill."
The bull thanked the donkey. The merchant overheard it all.
Next morning the ox was lying on his back. The merchant was sent for. He said:
"Set the yoke on the donkeys neck, bind him to the plough and make him do bull's work."
It was done, and it was hard for the donkey. When night set in and the donkey returned to the byre, the bull said:
"I have rested all this day and eaten my food in peace and quiet, thanks to your counsel."
The donkey just went weary to his manger.
Later that night the merchant sat down on the flat roof of his house and watched the full moon with his children playing about him. As he sat there, he once again overheard the animals talk. The donkey now said:
"Beware. 'If the bull is unable to do his work and if he will not eat tomorrow, I send him to the butcher,' our owner said. Take care."
The bull stood up, lowed aloud and said:
"Tomorrow feels like a good time to work again."
He at once ate up all his food and even licked the manger.
All this took place when the owner was listening. Next morning he and his wife went to the bull's crib and sat down. The driver came and led forth the bull, who frisked about so much that the merchant laughed loudly and kept laughing.
His wife asked him, "What are you laughing at like this?"
He anwered, "I laughed at something."
She, "If you laughed at me, I will leave you at once."
She sat down and cried. In despair he said to stop her: "All right, call for your father and mother and our kith and kin and sundry of our neighbours. Then I may tell why I laughed."
She did, while he sent for people who could make his will before he revealed his secret and died from it, after living eighty-two long years.
Having gathered all the family and his neighbours, he said to them, "My wife nags me to tell a secret. But if I tell it, I am as well as dead."
His wife would still know the secret, so the merchant prepared to tell them - but then he overheard one of his farm dogs say to the cock, "Our master is making ready for his death. We dogs know why and mourn, but you just clap your wings and crows."
The cock answered the dog, "Our master lacks sense. If he cannot manage just a single wife, his life is not in top order. I have a flock of fifty hens to take care of, and they are all well governed."
The dog asked the cock, "What should he do, then?"
The cock said, "He should get up and make her repent and not force him to tell his secret, of course. Then our master can sleep free from care and enjoy life."
When the merchant heard these words, he stood up quickly and went to his wife's chamber after cutting some mulberry twigs. Then he said to her, "Will you keep asking me questions about what is not your concern?"
She saw the twigs and cried out: "I repent wholesomely! I will ask you no more questions."
Then she kissed him and he led her out of the room to the gathering, and said he did not have to reveal his secret after all, so he would not have to die.
The merchant had learnt enough to live until such a ripe old age that he appreciated the well-wishing: "May you live to be a hundred, with one extra year to repent -"