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

The Thousand and One Nights

The Husband and the Parrot

THERE lived once a good man who had a beautiful wife, of whom he was so passionately fond that he could scarcely bear to have her out of his sight. One day, when some particular business obliged him to leave her, he went to a place where they sold all sorts of birds. Here he purchased a parrot, which was not only highly accomplished in the art of talking, but also possessed the rare gift of telling everything that was done in its presence. The husband took it home in a cage to his wife, and begged of her to keep it in her chamber, and take great care of it during his absence. After this he set out on his journey.

On his return he did not fail to interrogate the parrot on what had passed while he was away; and the bird very expertly related a few circumstances which occasioned the husband to reprimand his wife. She supposed that some of her slaves had betrayed her, but they all assured her they were faithful, and agreed in charging the parrot with the crime. Desirous of being convinced of the truth of this matter, the wife devised a method of quieting the suspicions of her husband, and at the same time of revenging herself on the parrot, if he were the culprit. The next time the husband was absent she ordered one of her slaves during the night to turn a handmill under the bird’s cage, another to throw water over it like rain, and a third to wave a looking-glass before the parrot by the light of a candle. The slaves were employed the greater part of the night in doing what their mistress had ordered them, and succeeded to her satisfaction.

The following day, when the husband returned, he again applied to the parrot to be informed of what had taken place. The bird replied, “My dear master, the lightning, the thunder, and the rain have so disturbed me the whole night, that I cannot tell you how much I have suffered.”

The husband, who knew there had been no storm that night, became convinced that the parrot did not always relate facts, and that having told an untruth in this particular, he had also deceived him with respect to his wife. Being therefore extremely enraged with it, he took the bird out of the cage and, dashing it on the floor, killed it. He, however, afterward learned from his neighbors that the poor parrot had told no falsehood in reference to his wife’s conduct, which made him repent of having destroyed it.