Tales of a Parrot: The Frog, the Bee, and the Bird

This story is part of the Tales of a Parrot unit. Story source: The Tooti Nameh or Tales of a Parrot, by Ziya'al-Din Nakhshabi (1801).

The Frog, the Bee, and the Bird, who Killed the Elephant

When the sun was sunk into the west and moonshine appeared, Khojisteh went to the parrot and asked leave.

The parrot said, "Rejoice, my mistress! Be not in the least thoughtful. I will most undoubtedly exert myself in your business and bring about your meeting with your lover."

Khojisteh answered, "O thou greencoat! Notwithstanding you and I, with one mind, exert our joint endeavours, yet they produce no effect. I know not why my stars are so unpropitious."

The parrot replied, "Know you not, madam, that, once on a time, a frog, a bee, and a bird, by means of their unanimity, vanquished an elephant, the most tremendous of all beasts? How is it, then, that our joint exertions cannot effect our purpose?"

Khojisteh desiring to know the story.

The parrot began:




In a certain city was a tree resembling a round umbrella, wherein an inoffensive Saweh [a little bird, resembling a sparrow, with a red head] had laid her eggs. One day an elephant came there and began scrubbing his body against the trunk of the tree, and, from the violence of the shock, the eggs fell out of the tree.

The poor Saweh fluttered about in great perturbation, beat herself against the branches, and wept, but what can a flea do in opposition to an elephant? The Saweh said to herself, "A powerful enemy must be subdued by art and stratagem."

She had a friend, another bird, called the Longbill, to whom she repaired and, making her complaint, said, "An elephant has oppressed me! Contrive some stratagem to revenge me on him, for friends are serviceable to us when we are labouring under misfortunes."

The bird said, "It is an arduous undertaking to war with an elephant, and without assistance cannot succeed. I have a friend, a Bee, who is remarkable for his wisdom; him I will consult."

They accordingly went together to the bee and set forth all the circumstances. When he heard the case, he expressed his apprehensions and said, "I have long devoted myself to the service of my friends; however, out of sincere regard, I wish that this story may be told to the general of the army of frogs."

Thereupon the Saweh, the Bee, and the Longbill, all three went together to the Frog; they acquainted him with the particulars and entreated his assistance. The frog expressed great concern at the destruction of the eggs and said, "Make your mind easy; for, by art, even a mountain may be levelled."

The frog added, "There now occurs to my mind a stratagem whereby the elephant may be overcome, which is this : Let the bee approach the elephant's ear and vex him with a continued gentle buzzing, and when he is furious, the bird with the long bill shall apply the point of his beak to the elephant's eyes, and pluck them both out, and turn his light in this world into darkness. Some days afterwards, when he is tormented with thirst, I will get before him and begin croaking; he will know my voice and say to himself, 'There must be water in a place where there are frogs.' Then, following me, he shall plunge into such a place that he shall not be able to get out of it, and as no one shall hear his cry, after striving some days he will die of himself."

Thus they acted, and by art and stratagem killed the elephant.

The parrot, having brought the tale to this part, said to Khojisteh, "Two or three feeble animals formed a resolution and destroyed such a mighty elephant. We two persons, with our resolutions, how can we fail accomplishing our desire? Now arise quickly and go to your lover."

Khojisteh wanted to have gone; at that instant the cock crowed and, the dawn appearing, her departure was deferred.


(700 words)





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