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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Do-Pyazah (16th Century)

Diving for an Egg


THE EMPEROR AKBAR was one day sitting with his attendants in the garden of the palace, close to a large cistern full of water. At the suggestion of a courtier, the emperor commanded some of the men present to procure an egg each, and to place it in the cistern in such a manner that it could easily be found when searched for.

Soon after the order had been obeyed, the Mollah Do-pyazah came to this spot. Akbar then turned to his attendants, saying he had dreamed the night before that there were eggs in the cistern, and that all who were his faithful servants had dived in, and brought out an egg. Whereupon the attendants one by one dived into the water, each one issuing forth with an egg in his hand. Do-pyazah, not disposed himself to enter the water, the emperor asked why he alone held aloof. The mollah, thus pressed, divested himself of his outer garments and plunged in.

He searched for a long time, but could not find a single egg. At length he emerged from the cistern, and, moving his arms in the manner of a cock flapping his wings, he cried aloud, “Cock-a-doodle-doo!”

“What,” asked Akbar, “is the meaning of this?”

“Your Majesty,” came the reply, “those who brought you the eggs were hens, but I am a cock, and you must not expect an egg from me.”

At which Akbar laughed heartily, and had Do-pyazah well rewarded.