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Burton: The Confectioner, His Wife and the Parrot

[Go back to The King and His Wazir's Wife]

Once upon a time there dwelt in Egypt a confectioner who had a wife famed for beauty and loveliness; and a parrot which, as occasion required, did the office of watchman and guard, bell and spy, and flapped her wings did she but hear a fly buzzing about the sugar. This parrot caused abundant trouble to the wife, always telling her husband what took place in his absence. Now one evening, before going out to visit certain friends, the confectioner gave the bird strict injunctions to watch all night and bade his wife make all fast, as he should not return until morning. Hardly had he left the door than the woman went for her old lover, who returned with her and they passed the night together in mirth and merriment, while the parrot observed all. Betimes in the morning the lover fared forth and the husband, returning, was informed by the parrot of what had taken place; whereupon he hastened to his wife's room and beat her with a painful beating. She thought in herself, "Who could have informed against me?" and she asked a woman that was in her confidence whether it was she. The woman protested by the worlds visible and invisible that she had not betrayed her mistress; but informed her that on the morning of his return home, the husband had stood some time before the cage listening to the parrot's talk. When the wife heard this, she resolved to contrive the destruction of the bird. Some days after, the husband was again invited to the house of a friend where he was to pass the night; and, before departing, he enjoined the parrot with the same injunctions as before; wherefore his heart was free from care, for he had his spy at home. The wife and her confidante then planned how they might destroy the credit of the parrot with the master. For this purpose they resolved to counterfeit a storm; and this they did by placing over the parrot's head a hand-mill (which the lover worked by pouring water upon a piece of hide), by waving a fan and by suddenly uncovering a candle hid under a dish. Thus did they raise such a tempest of rain and lightning, that the parrot was drenched and half-drowned in a deluge. Now rolled the thunder, then flashed the lightning; that from the noise of the hand-mill, this from the reflection of the candle; when thought the parrot to herself, "In very sooth the flood hath come on, such an one as belike Noah himself never witnessed." So saying she buried her head under her wing, a prey to terror. The husband, on his return, hastened to the parrot to ask what had happened during his absence; and the bird answered that she found it impossible to describe the deluge and tempest of the last night; and that years would be required to explain the uproar of the hurricane and storm. When the shopkeeper heard the parrot talk of last night's deluge, he said: "Surely O bird, thou art gone clean daft! Where was there, even in a dream, rain or lightning last night? Thou hast utterly ruined my house and ancient family. My wife is the most virtuous woman of the age and all thine accusations of her are lies." So in his wrath he dashed the cage upon the ground, tore off the parrot's head, and threw it from the window. Presently his friend, coming to call upon him, saw the parrot in this condition with head torn off, and without wings or plumage. Being informed of the circumstances he suspected some trick on the part of the woman, and said to the husband, "When your wife leaves home to go to the Hammam-bath, compel her confidante to disclose the secret." So as soon as his wife went out, the husband entered his Harim and insisted on the woman telling him the truth. She recounted the whole story and the husband now bitterly repented having killed the parrot, of whose innocence he had proof. "This I tell thee, O King (continued the Wazir), that thou mayst know how great are the craft and malice of women and that to act in haste leadeth to repent at leisure." So the King turned from slaying his son: but, next day, the favourite came in to him and, kissing the ground before him, said, "O King, why dost thou delay to do me justice? Indeed, the Kings have heard that thou commandest a thing and thy Wazir countermandeth it. Now the obedience of Kings is in the fulfilment of their commandments, and every one knows thy justice and equity: so do thou justice for me on the Prince. I also have heard tell a tale concerning...

[Go to The Fuller and His Son]


Burton, Richard (1821-1890). The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. London. 1885-1888. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Gutenberg Vol. V. Gutenberg Vol. V. Gutenberg Vol. VII. Gutenberg Vol. VIII. Gutenberg Vol. IX. Gutenberg Vol. X. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version.


1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM


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