Story of the Merchant, his Wife, and
the Parrot

THERE was a merchant, who traded largely, and tra­velled much abroad; he had a wife whom he loved, and to her he was constant.* A journey became necessary for him, and he bought for a hundred dīnars a parrot, that could speak like a human being, that it might inform him of what passed in the house.

Before he departed upon his journey, he committed to the parrot the charge of watching his wife's conduct. When he was gone, the lady sent to her lover, who was a soldier;* and he came, and abode with her during the time of her husband's absence. The parrot observed all that was done. On the merchant's return, he called for the bird, and asked him what had passed, and was informed of his wife's misconduct. When the merchant heard this intelligence, he was enraged against his wife, beat her severely, and kept himself from her. The wife supposed that her neighbours had accused her; but they declared, upon oath, that they had not spoken to him. Then she said: “None can have informed him but the parrot.”

Upon a certain night, the merchant went to visit a friend. Then the wife took a coarse cloth, and put it upon the parrot's cage, and placed over it, on the floor above, the grinding-stones; after which she ordered her slave-girls to grind, throw water over the cloth, and raise a great wind with a fan. Then she took a looking-glass, and made it dazzle in the light of the lamp, by a quick motion.

The bird (being in the dark) supposed that the noise of the grinding was thunder; the gleams from the mirror, lightning; the blasts from the fan, wind; and the water, hard rain.* In the morning, when the merchant returned to his house, the parrot said: “How fared my lord last night, during the wind, the rain, and the dreadful lightning?” The merchant exclaimed: “Villain, thou liest; for I did not see any­thing of it;” and the parrot replied: “I only tell thee what I experienced.”

The merchant now disbelieved the bird, and put confidence in his wife. He went to her, and sought to be reconciled, but she said: “I will not be recon­ciled, unless you destroy the mischief-making parrot, who belied me.” He killed the bird, and after that remained some time happy with his wife. At length the neighbours informed him of her crimes, when he concealed himself, and detected the soldier with her. The fidelity of the parrot was apparent, but the mer­chant repented of putting him to death, when repent­ance would not avail him. He divorced his wife, and took an oath never to marry.*

“I have thus informed thee, O sultan,” added the vazīr, “of the artfulness of women, and proved that rashness produces only fruitless remorse.”—The sultan, upon this, refrained from the execution of his son.

When night set in, the Damsel came to the sultan, and said: “Why hast thou delayed doing me justice? Hast thou not heard that sovereigns should be obeyed in whatever they command, and that an order not enforced is a sign of weakness? Every one knows what must follow. Do me justice, then, upon thy son, or it will happen to you both, as it happened to the fuller and his son.”—Then the king said: “What befell the fuller and his son?” She replied: