The Tale of the Husband and the Parrot

duenna Any old woman who is employed to guard a younger one; a governess.
kenning To know; to understand; to take cognizance of.

A certain man and a merchant to boot had married a fair wife, a woman of perfect beauty and grace, symmetry and loveliness, of whom he was mad-jealous, and who contrived successfully to keep him from travel. At last an occasion compelling him to leave her, he went to the bird market and bought him for one hundred gold pieces a she parrot which he set in his house to act as duenna, expecting her to acquaint him on his return with what had passed during the whole time of his absence; for the bird was kenning and cunning and never forgot what she had seen and heard.

Now his fair wife had fallen in love with a young Turk, who used to visit her, and she feasted him by day and lay with him by night. When the man had made his journey and won his wish he came home; and, at once causing the Parrot be brought to him, questioned her concerning the conduct of his consort whilst he was in foreign parts. Quoth she, “Thy wife hath a man friend who passed every night with her during thy absence.” Thereupon the husband went to his wife in a violent rage and bashed her with a bashing severe enough to satisfy any body. The woman, suspecting that one of the slave girls had been tattling to the master, called them together and questioned them upon their oaths, when all swore that they had kept the secret, but that the Parrot had not, adding, “And we heard her with our own ears.” Upon this the woman bade one of the girls to set a hand mill under the cage and grind therewith and a second 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.

Tammuz The fourth month of the Jewish ecclesiastical year, supposed to correspond nearly with our month of July. Tammuz

Next morning when the husband returned home after being entertained by one of his friends, he bade bring the Parrot before him and asked what had taken place whilst he was away. “Pardon me, O my master,” quoth the bird, “I could neither hear nor see aught by reason of the exceeding murk and the thunder and lightning which lasted throughout the night.” As it happened to be the summer tide the master was astounded and cried, “But we are now in mid Tammuz and this is not the time for rains and storms.” “Ay, by Allah,” rejoined the bird, “I saw with these eyes what my tongue hath told thee.” Upon this the man, not knowing the case nor smoking the pot, waxed exceeding wroth; and, holding that his wife had been wrongously accused, put forth his hand and pulling the Parrot from her cage dashed her upon the ground with such force that he killed her on the spot.

Some days after wards one of his slave girls confessed to him the whole truth 93 yet would he not believe it till he saw the young Turk, his wife's lover, coming out of her chamber, when he bared his blade 94 and slew him by a blow on the back of the neck; and he did the same by the adulteress; and thus the twain, laden with mortal sin, went straightways to Eternal Fire. Then the merchant knew that the Parrot had told him the truth anent all she had seen and he mourned grievously for her loss, when mourning availed him not.

「‡93 This proceeding is thoroughly characteristic of the servile class; they conscientiously conceal everything from the master till he finds a clew; after which they tell him everything and something more.」
「‡94 Until late years, merchants and shopkeepers in the nearer East all carried and held it a disgrace to leave the house unarmed.」
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