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You are here : home > Stories > Arabian Nights - Unabridged > The Story of the Husband and the Parrot

The Story of the Husband and the Parrot


A good man had a beautiful wife, whom he loved passionately, and never left if possible.  One day, when he was obliged by important business to go away from her, he went to a place where all kinds of birds are sold and bought a parrot.  This parrot not only spoke well, but it had the gift of telling all that had been done before it. He brought it home in a cage, and asked his wife to put it in her room, and take great care of it while he was away.  Then he departed. On his return he asked the parrot what had happened during his absence, and the parrot told him some things which made him scold his wife.

She thought that one of her slaves must have been telling tales of her, but they told her it was the parrot, and she resolved to revenge herself on him.

When her husband next went away for one day, she told on slave to turn under the bird's cage a hand-mill; another to throw water down from above the cage, and a third to take a mirror and turn it in front of its eyes, from left to right by the light of a candle. The slaves did this for part of the night, and did it very well.

The next day when the husband came back he asked the parrot what he had seen.  The bird replied, "My good master, the lightning, thunder and rain disturbed me so much all night long, that I cannot tell you what I have suffered."

The husband, who knew that it had neither rained nor thundered in the night, was convinced that the parrot was not speaking the truth, so he took him out of the cage and threw him so roughly on the ground that he killed him.  Nevertheless he was sorry afterwards, for he found that the parrot had spoken the truth.

"When the Greek king," said the fisherman to the genius, "had finished the story of the parrot, he added to the vizir, "And so, vizir, I shall not listen to you, and I shall take care of the physician, in case I repent as the husband did when he had killed the parrot."  But the vizir was determined. "Sire," he replied, "the death of the parrot was nothing.

But when it is a question of the life of a king it is better to sacrifice the innocent than save the guilty.  It is no uncertain thing, however.  The physician, Douban, wishes to assassinate you. My zeal prompts me to disclose this to your Majesty.  If I am wrong, I deserve to be punished as a vizir was once punished."  "What had the vizir done," said the Greek king, "to merit the punishment?" "I will tell your Majesty, if you will do me the honour to listen," answered the vizir."

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