Of the Birth of Miemun; and of Khojisteh falling in love.

ONE of the princes of former times, whose name was Ahmed Sultaun, possessed much riches and ef­fects, with a numerous army, so that one hundred thousand horses, fifteen hundred chains of elephants, and nine hundred strings of camels of burthen, stood ready at his gate. But he had no children, neither son nor daughter. He therefore continually visited the worshippers of God, to engage their intercession in his favour; and day and night, morning and evening, was himself offering up prayers for a son. After some time had passed in this manner, the Creator of heaven and earth bestowed on the aforesaid king a son, of beautiful form, his countenance resplendent as the sun, and his forehead resembling the moon. From the delight occasioned by this event, the heart of Ah-med Sultaun expanded like a new-blown rose; he be­stowed many thousand rupees and huns, or pagodas, on dervieshes and fakeers: for three months con­tinuance, the omrah, viziers, sages, learned men, and teachers in the city, were feasted; and he gave away costly dresses. When the above-mentioned son ar­rived at the age of seven years, he was placed under the direction of a master, perfectly versed in every kind of knowledge.

In a short time he read the alphabet, with the Amudnameh, or conjugations of verbs, and by degrees the Insha Herkeren, the Gulistan, Jammia ul Kewa-neen, Insha Abulsezul, Insha Yousefy, with the Rukaat Jami; and acquired complete skill in the Arabic and Persian sciences. He also learnt the ceremonies to be observed in the royal council, as well as the rules for conversation and deportment at an imperial ban­quet; and met with approbation in the sight of the king, and all the nobles of the court.

His father called him Miemun, or auspicious, and married him to a wife, whose body was fair as the sil­ver moon, and her countenance enlivening as the sun. The name of this lady was Khojisteh, or prosperous. Between Miemun and Khojisteh there was such exces­sive intimacy, friendship, and affection, that every day, from evening till morning, they were inseparable: they slept in one place, and always sat together. One day Miemun rode in a palkee to take a view of the market-place, where he beheld a person standing with a parrot-cage in his hand. Miemun said to the par­rot-seller, Tell me what is the price of this bird? The parrot-seller answered, “The price of it is the sum of a thousand huns.” Miemun replied, “The person who could give so large a sum of money for a handful of feathers, and a cat's morsel, must be an ignorant blockhead.” To this, the parrot-seller was unable to give an answer. At that interval, the parrot thought thus to itself, “If this rich man does not purchase me, his refusal will oc­casion evil and misfortune; for it is only by asso­ciating with great and intelligent minds, that the understanding can be improved.” Then the parrot thus rejoined: “Oh beauteous youth! endowed with riches, and master of every accomplishment, al­though I appear in your sight nothing but a hand­ful of feathers, yet, through the power of wisdom and knowledge, I can soar above the sky; and the eloquent are struck with wonder, and are asto­nished on listening to my sweet discourses. The meanest art that I possess is, that any action of past time, or to come, I know at present: the business of to-morrow I am acquainted with to-day. Now, for instance, the caravans of Cabul will come to this city, and buy all the spikenard that is in it. Do you purchase all the spikenard in the place; hoard it up, and sell it after the arrival of these travelling mer­chants, from which traffic you will derive consider­able advantage.” Miemun, having heard, understood and approved the words of the parrot, gave the owner a thousand huns, the price of the bird; and having bought it, carried it to his own house. He sent for all the spikenard in the city, and asked the sellers the price thereof. The spikenard dealers said, “The price of the whole is ten thousand huns.” In the same hour he paid the aforesaid sum from his own treasury, and purchased the spike­nard, which he stored up in one of his palaces. The third day, according as the parrot had predicted, the people of the caravan of Cabul arrived, and made great search amongst the merchants and tra­ders, but could no where find out any spikenard, be­cause Miemun had bought the whole of that article in the city. The people of the caravan came into the presence of Miemun, and having bought the spikenard for the sum of fifty thousand huns, set out for their own city. At length Miemun was much pleased and delighted with the conversation of the parrot, and bought another bird called a sharuk, or mina, with the view that, by placing it in com­pany with the parrot, the mind of the latter might be freed from the irksomeness of solitude; according to the saying of the sages.

“Kind fly with kind, pigeon with pigeon, hawk with hawk.”

The intention of Miemun in placing the sharuk along with the parrot, was, that these birds might be mutually pleased with the company of each other. One day Miemun said to Khojisteh, “I am now going to perform a journey to a certain country, and shall also make a voyage in order to visit several ports. Whenever you have business to transact, or any weighty affair occurs, carry your intentions into execution, without the advice and consent of the parrot and the sharuk.” After speak­ing to this purport, he commenced his journey. Khojisteh expressed great sorrow at the departure of Miemun; and being separated from the possesser of her heart, she neither slept during the night, nor ate in the day. To be brief, the parrot dispelled the sorrows of her heart, by relating pleasant sto­ries. At the expiration of six months, one day Khojisteh, after having bathed herself, and adorned her person, was looking out of a window at the top of the house into the street; when a prince of another country, who had travelled into this city, having beheld the glowing cheeks of Khojisteh, was distracted with love; and Khojisteh also was fasci­nated at the sight of the prince. The same hour the prince sent a procuress to Khojisteh, privately, with a message, that provided she would only take the trouble to visit his house any night, for four hours, he, in return for this condescension, would present her with a ring estimated at a lack of huns. At first, however, she did not agree to his proposal: but at length the instigations of the procuress pre­vailed; and she returned him for answer, that as day reveals, and night casts a veil over our actions, she would wait upon the prince after midnight. Early at night, after having arrayed herself in her finest and best apparel, she repaired to the sharuk, and sitting down in a chair, thus reflected in her mind: “Because I am woman, and the sharuk is also a female, she will certainly listen to my words on the present occasion, and give me leave to visit the prince.” With this persuasion, she represented to the sharuk all the particular circumstances of her case. The sharuk advised her, saying, “You must not commit such an action, which is con-sidered amongst your tribe as most heinous and disgraceful.” But as love had now gained the ascendancy over Khojisteh, the sharuk's refusal threw her into a rage. Seizing the bird fast by both legs, she pulled her out of her cage, and struck her against the ground with such violence that the soul took flight from the body, and she expired. Then, full of wrath and indignation, she came to the parrot, to whom she represented all her own desires, with the particulars concerning the sharuk. The parrot was endowed with understanding, and thought to himself: “If I refuse my consent, and raise ob-jections like the sharuk, I shall also be mur-dered.” After making this reflection, he thus addressed himself to Khojisteh, in the softest tone imaginable: “The sharuk was a female, many of whom are deficient in wisdom; for which reason, those who are wise themselves, ought not to re-veal their secrets to any of the sex. Be not now uneasy or unsettled in your mind; for, as long as my soul continues in my body, I will exert my endeavours in this business of yours, and will gratify your inclinations. God forbid it should actually so happen! but if this secret of yours should be divulged, and your husband hear of it, I will make peace and tranquillity between you and him, like the parrot of Ferukh Beg.” Khojisteh asked, “What is the story of the parrot of Ferukh Beg? Tell it at full length, and you will oblige me.”

The parrot replied, “In a certain country was a merchant, named Ferukh Beg, in whose house was a sagacious parrot. This merchant, having occasion to travel, gave in charge to the par-rot all his goods and chattels, and also his wife. After which he set out on his journey, in order to trade in different countries; and continued absent some time, transacting his commercial concerns. Shortly after his departure, his wife became acquainted and enamoured with a young Moghul. Every night she introduced this young Moghul into her house; they slept in one bed, and continued together in the same apart-ment till morning. The parrot saw these pro-ceedings, and overheard all their conversation; however he was as secret as if he had neither seen nor heard. At the expiration of a year and a half the merchant returned home, and inquired of the parrot all the particulars concerning his household. The parrot informed the merchant of all the affairs of his house; but did not tell any circumstances concerning the woman, because it would have occasioned a separation between man and wife. At the expiration of a fortnight, the merchant was greatly astonished to hear from the tongue of a stranger all the circumstances regard-ing his wife and the young Moghul; according to what the sages have said,—that musk and love cannot be concealed. In short the merchant was enraged at his wife, reproved and punished her. The wife naturally suspected the parrot of having discovered to her husband all her pranks; and thus believing the parrot her enemy, she took an op-portunity at midnight of plucking off the bird's feathers; and, flinging him out of doors, call-ed out to the male and female slaves of the family, that a cat had carried away the parrot. The woman concluded in her own mind that the parrot was dead; but although he had been greatly injured by the fall, still some life remained; and at the expiration of an hour the parrot's body re-covered a little strength and power of motion. Near the place was a burying-ground, whither the parrot repaired, and remained some days in the hollow part of a tomb. He fasted all day, and came out of the hole at night; and, as travellers were used to alight in this burying-ground, and there eat their victuals, during the night the parrot picked up their leavings, and then, taking a drink of water, returned into his hole in the morning. After some time, all the parrot's feathers having begun to grow again, he was able to fly a short distance, just from one tomb to another, and then perching himself: and he ate such seeds as he could discover. Early in the morning after that night on which the parrot departed, the merchant got out of bed, and came to the cage, when, seeing that the parrot was not in it, he cried out aloud, and threw his turband on the ground, being greatly troubled in mind. He was so enraged at his wife, that he separated her from his bed and board; and, giving no credit to her protestations, drove her out of his house. The wife thought to herself, as I am repudiated by my husband, all the people of the town will speak ill of me; therefore, it is most adviseable for me to repair to the burying-ground adjoining to the house, and expire for want of food and sleep. Summarily she went to the burying-ground, and fasted one day. At night the parrot called out from his hole, O woman! shave all the hair off your head and body with a razor, and remain forty days in the burying-ground without food, when I will pardon all the sins you have committed during the whole course of your life, and will make peace between you and your hus-band. The woman was astonished at hearing this voice, and thought to herself, certainly there is in the burying-ground the tomb of some pious, just and upright man, who will absolve me from my sins, and restore peace and concord between me and my husband. Then, under this persuasion, she shaved all the hair off her head and body, and continued some time longer in the burying-ground. One day the parrot came out of the hole or tomb before described, and said, O woman! thou, with-out my having committed any fault, pluckedst out my feathers, and afflicted me grievously. It is well thou hast executed what my stars had ordained. However, I have eaten your salt, and from that con-sideration will act well and friendly by you, because I am the purchased parrot of your lord, and thou art my lady. I spoke the words which came to you from the hole in the tomb; namely, that I will unite you to your husband. Be assured of my fidelity, and that I am not a back-biter, that I should have told your faults to your husband; but, on the contrary, I have preserved my allegiance to your bread and salt. Behold, even now I am going to your husband, and will reconcile him to you. The parrot, having spoken these words, went to his master's house, and, standing before him, made obeisance, imploring for him the bless-ing of long life, and increase of riches. The master asked, Who art thou, and from whence do you come? Then recollecting the bird, he said, Where have you been for some time past, and in what man's house have you dwelt? Tell me every item of your story. The bird answered, I am your old parrot, whom a cat took out of the cage, and imprisoned in her belly. The master asked, How was you restored to life again? The parrot replied, You drove from your house your in-nocent wife, who thereupon retired to the cemetery, and, after she had fasted forty days with great grief and lamentation, the Almighty, in commiseration of her condition, restored me to life, and said, O parrot! go to this woman's husband, and make peace between them; be thou even an evidence in this cause. The bird's master felt the force of the relation. The sum of the story is this: he departed from his house, and, having mounted a horse, came to his wife, and said, Alas, my love! I have persecuted you, without your having committed any fault; but now pardon my trans-gression. Then he brought his wife home, and from that time they lived together in perfect har-mony and good understanding, in the full enjoy-ment of love and delight.”

Miemun's parrot thus finished the tale of the merchant's parrot, and said to Khojisteh, Arise quick­ly, and go to the prince, that your promise may not be broken and violated. If, which God forbid! your husband gets intelligence hereof, I am ready to establish peace and friendship, like the merchant's parrot. Khojisteh, delighted at these words, was ready to go to the prince; but, at that instant the dawn beginning to appear, she postponed her depar­ture. As Khojisteh had kept awake all night to hear the story, she now retired, and reposed herself on her bed.