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The Merchant and His Bright Parrot

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 which he set in his house. He expected 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 Turk. During her husband's absence the Turk used to visit her, and she feasted him by day and lay with him by night. When the merchant had made his journey he came home; and questioned the parrot how his wife had behaved while he was away.

The parrot said, "You wife has a man friend who passed every night with her while your were away."

On hearing this the husband went to his wife in a violent rage and bashed her. The woman suspected that one of the slave girls had been tattling to the master. She called them together and questioned them, but all of them said they had kept the secret, but that the parrot had not. "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. A second girl was told to sprinkle water through the cage roof, and a third to run about, right and left, dashing a mirror of bright steel through the livelong night.

Next morning when the husband returned home after visiting one of his friends, he asked the parrot what had happened while he was away.

"Pardon me, master," 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, the man knew, so he cried, "But it did not rain or storm last night, and this is not the time for rains and storms either!" The bird, however, said she had reported what she had seen with her own eyes. Now the man got the idea that his wife had been wrongly accused and became so furious that he pulled the parrot from her cage and dashed her on the ground so that she was killed on the spot.

Some days later one of his slave girls confessed to him the whole truth, but the man would not believe it till he saw his wife's lover coming out of her chamber. Then he drew a knife and slew him, and he did the same with his wife.

The merchant realised that the parrot had told him the truth about his wife and her affair, and mourned for losing the clever bird, but the mourning did not help a bit.


The Bull and the Donkey

A wealthy merchant who lived in the country had a rare gift, he could understand the languages of animals and birds. But if he revealed this wonderful secret, he would die. So he kept it secret.

He had in his cow house 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:

"Hello, donkey, you are taken well care of. Men wait on you and feed you, and you have sifted barley to eat and drink pure spring water, while I am am put to work even in the middle of the night, when they make draw a plough from dawn to sunset. I am forced to bear all manner of ill-treatment in the fields. Then they take me back with my sides torn, my neck flayed, my legs aching, and mine eyelids sored with tears. They shut me up in the byre and throw me beans and crushed straw mixed with dirt and chaff, and I lie in dung and filth and foul stinks through the long night.

But you are ever in a place swept and sprinkled and cleansed, and you are always lying at ease, save when it happens from time to time that the master has some business, when he mounts you and rides you to town and returns with you right afterwards.

So I am toiling and distressed and get contempt while you get goodwill."

When the bull stopped speaking, the donkey turned to him and said: "I understand you lack forethought and good advisers. Now listen to me. Play ill and stop doing the things you have been doing for a day or two days or even three days."

When the bull heard these words, he thanked the donkey, "Right you are."

Next day the driver took the bull and made him work as usual. But the bull began to shirk, and broke the yoke and made off. At night, when he was handed beans and husks, he just sniffed at them and would have nothing. Next morning the ox was lying on his back with legs outstretched and swollen belly. The merchant was sent for and told what was the matter. The merchant-farmer understood what all this meant because he had overheard the talk between the bull and the donkey, so he said, "Take the donkey and set the yoke on his neck, bind him to the plough and make him do bull's work."

It was done as he said. When the donkey came home in the evening he could hardly drag his limbs along, either forehand or hind legs. But as for the bull, he had passed the day lying and resting, eating his fodder with an excellent appetite, and did not cease calling down blessings on the donkey for his good advice. So when night set in and the donkey returned to the byre, the bull rose up and said: "I have good news! I have rested all this day and eaten my food in peace and quiet."

But the donkey only said to himself: "This comes of my folly in giving good counsel," and went weary to his manger while the bull thanked him and blessed him.

Later that night the merchant sat down on the 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.

"Tell me," said the donkey to the bull, "What do you have in mind to do tomorrow?"

The bull answered: "I will go on following your counsel. It was as good as could be, it has given me rest and repose. So when they bring me my meat, I will refuse it and play ill."

The donkey shook his head and said, "Beware. I heard our owner say, "'If the bull is unable to do his work and if he will not eat tomorrow, I send him to the butcher that he may slaughter him. I fear for you. So take my advice, and peace be with you!"

The bull stood up and lowed aloud and thanked the donkey, "Tomorrow I will go forth with them." And 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, and 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 secret."

She, "If you laughed at me, I will leave you at once." And she sat down and cried. In this way she made him so mad that he said, "Summon your father and mother and our kith and kin and sundry of our neighbors, and I will tell why I laughed."

She did, while the merchant sent for people who could make his will before he revealed his secret and died from it, for he loved her overmuch because she was both his cousin and the mother of his children, and he had lived with her for eighty-two 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 heard one of his farm dogs say to the cock, "Our master is making ready for his death, and we dogs know why and mourn, but you just clap your wings and crows."

The cock answered the dog, "Is that really so? Then our master lacks understanding and sense. If he cannot manage just a single wife, his life is out of control. I have a flock of fifty hens to take care of, and they are all well governed by me."

The dog asked the cock, "What should he do, then?"

The cock said, "He should get up and take some twigs from the mulberry tree over there and give her a sound beating till she cries: "I repent! I will not force you to tell your secret." Then our master can sleep free from care and enjoy life."

When the merchant heard the words of his cock to his dog, he stood up quickly and went to his wife's chamber, after cutting some mulberry twigs. Then he said, "Will you keep asking me questions about what is not your concern or not?"

She saw the twigs and understood what they meant, for she cried out: "I repent sincerely and 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 do die.

Thus the merchant learnt a much needed lesson from his cock.


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