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Payne: The Merchant's Wife and the Parrot

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There was once a merchant who travelled much, and had a fair wife, whom he loved, and was jealous over her, by reason of the greatness of his love. So he bought her for a hundred dinars a green parrot, which talked like a man and used to tell him all that passed in his absence. Whilst he was abroad on one of his voyages, his wife fell in love with a young Turk, who used to visit her, and she entertained him and lay with him whilst her husband was away. When the latter returned, the parrot told him what had happened, whereat he was sore enraged and offered to kill his wife; but she said, "O man, fear God and return to thy wits. How can a bird have sense or understanding? If thou wilt that I make this manifest to thee, so thou mayst know its truth from its leasing, go this night and lie with one of thy friends, and in the morning come back and question the parrot [of what passed during the night,] and thou wilt see if it speak truth or not."

The husband accordingly went forth and passed the night with one of his friends, whilst, as soon as it was dark, the wife covered the parrot's cage with a piece of leather and fell to sprinkling water on it from above. Moreover, she fanned it sharply with a fan and flashed light on it from the lantern, as it were the glancing lightning, grinding the while at the hand-mill. Thus she did, without ceasing, till daybreak; and the parrot thought that the sprinkling of the water on its cage was rain and the fanning a stormy wind and the flashing of the lantern lightning and the noise of the hand-mill thunder. When her husband returned, she bade him question the parrot; so he went up to the cage and began to talk with the bird and question it of the past night. Quoth it, "O my lord, who could see or hear aught last night?" "And why so?" asked he. "Because," replied it, "of the much rain and wind and thunder and lightning." "Thou liest," said the merchant. "There was nothing of all this last night." Quoth the bird, "I tell thee but what I saw and heard." Then was he certified that the parrot had lied in all it had told him of his wife and would have made his peace with the latter; but she said, "By Allah, I will not be friends with thee, till thou kill this parrot that lied to thee of me." So he rose and killed the parrot; but, a few days after, he saw the young Turk come forth of his house and knew that the parrot had spoken the truth and repented of having slain it. Then he went in at once to his wife and cut her throat and casting her into the river, vowed never to take another wife. This,' said the Vizier, 'I tell thee, O King, that thou mayst know how great is the craft of women and that haste begetteth repentance.'

So the King turned from putting his son to death, 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 Vizier 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 me justice on thy son. I have heard tell that...

[Go to The Fuller and His Son]


Payne, John (1842-1916). The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night. London. 1901. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version. Wollamshram Vol. V. Wollamshram Vol. VI. Wollamshram Vol. VII. Wollamshram Vol. VIII. Wollamshram Vol. IX. Please consult the Wollamshram 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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