Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tales of a Parrot: The Goldsmith, the Carpenter, the Taylor, and the Hermit

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 Goldsmith, the Carpenter, the Taylor, and the Hermit, who quarrelled about a Wooden Woman

When the sun descended into the west, and the moon arose from the east, Khojisteh went to the parrot to ask leave, and said, "Give me permission this night to go to my lover."

The parrot answered, "My princess, I have given you leave every night; why do you tarry? I am afraid your husband may arrive unexpectedly, and matters fall out like what happened to four persons."

Khojisteh desiring to hear the story, the parrot said, 

Once on a time, a goldsmith, a carpenter, a taylor, and a hermit, travelling together, halted one night in a desert place and said amongst themselves, "We shall continue in this desert to-night and keep guard, us four persons taking a watch a-piece," to which words they unanimously agreed.

The first watch the carpenter stood guard and, in order to prevent sleep, took an axe and made a figure out of wood.

The second watch, when the goldsmith's turn came, seeing the wooden figure, that it was void of gold and jewels, he said in his heart, "The carpenter has exhibited his art by carving this wooden figure; I must also shew my skill, and make ornaments for the ears, neck, arms, and feet, and put them on the figure, to add to the elegance thereof." In such manner having prepared the jewels, he put them on the puppet.

The third watch, when the taylor's turn came, he awoke. He saw a woman with an exceeding beautiful face and handsome person, decked with exquisite jewels, but naked; on the instant, he made up neat clothes becoming a bride and, putting them on her, thereby added to her elegance.

The fourth watch belonged to the hermit, who, when he came to take the guard, beheld that captivating form. The hermit performed his ablutions and prayers, after which he made supplication, "O God! Give life to this figure!"

Immediately the figure received life, so that it spoke like an human being. When night was ended, and the sun arose, all these four persons were desperately in love with the figure.

The carpenter said, "I am the master of this woman because I carved her with my own hands."

"I will take her," the goldsmith said. "She ought to be my bride, seeing that I have decked her with jewels."

The taylor asserted, "This woman is my property, for when she was naked, I made clothes and dressed her."

The hermit said, "This was a figure of wood; which, having obtained life at my prayers, I will take her."

In short, this dispute had continued a long time, when accidentally there came to the spot a person whom they desired to do justice between them. When this man saw the woman's face, he exclaimed, "This is my lawful spouse, whom you have seduced from my house and separated from me."

After this manner, he seized and carried them before the Cutwal.

When the Cutwal beheld the woman's countenance, he cried out, "This is my brother's wife, whom he took with him on a journey; you have killed my brother, and taken the woman by force."

Hereupon the Cutwal apprehended them, and carried them before the Cazy.

When the Cazy looked at the woman, he interrogated them, saying, "Who are you? For a long time past I have been inquiring after this woman; she is my bondmaid who absconded with a great deal of my money; now, where is my money and effects? Give an answer."

When this quarrel and altercation had run to great length, and many people were collected together to see the sight, an old man, who was present, said, "This dispute will not be decided by any man, but in such a city there is a large old tree called the Tree of Decision; every dispute that men are unable to determine is carried before this tree, from which a voice issues, declaring on whose side there is justice, and whose claim is false."

To shorten the story, these seven men went under the tree, and also carried the woman along with them, and each of them set forth the circumstances of his particular case.

On the instant, the trunk of the tree divided asunder, and the woman ran into the cleft, upon which the tree reunited, and she disappeared.

A voice proceeded from the tree that every thing returns to its first principles, and the seven suitors for the woman were overwhelmed with shame."

The parrot having concluded this tale, said to Khojisteh,"Mistress, I am apprehensive your husband may come unexpectedly and, like the tree, unite you to himself, and you get shame with your lover; arise and go towards your sweet-heart and friend." 

Khojisteh intended to have gone to him, at which instant the cock crowed and the signs of morning appeared, when her visit was put off.


(800 words)






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