[Notes by LKG]
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).
A King Falls in Love. Khojlsteh Is Put to Death by the Hands of Miemun
The parrot said, "My mistress, this night I will exert every means in my power and carry you to your lover. However, if you discover your secret to anyone besides myself, contrive like the daughter of the Emperor of Room, who established her reputation for virtue."
Khojisteh asked, "How is that?"
The parrot began:
Once on a time, there was a king whose dominions bordered on the territory of Room.One day the vizier said to the king: "The emperor of Room has a beautiful daughter; it would be well were he to give her in marriage to your majesty."
The king was pleased at the vizier's discourse and immediately sent an ambassador to the emperor of Room with valuable presents and to ask his daughter in marriage.
The emperor of Room was not satisfied with the proposal. On that the ambassador returned, without having effected his purpose.
The king, with a large army, invaded the territory of Room and desolated the country. The emperor of Room, being reduced to great straits, gave his daughter to the king.
The princess had a son by a former marriage, which circumstance the emperor, her father, charged her never to divulge to the king. When she came to the king's palace, she was continually grieving at being separated from her son. She wanted to contrive some means of discovering the affair to the king.
It happened that one day the king having made her a present of a casket full of jewels, she said, "My father has a slave very skilful in jewels; if he were now here, he would discriminate minutely between the good and the bad."
The king said, "If I were to ask that slave of your father, would he part with him to me?"
She answered, "No, because he considers him as his adopted son, but if your majesty is desirous to have him, I will send a merchant with certain tokens from me to him, who, alluring him by promises of promotion, may perhaps engage him to come."
Accordingly the king sent to Room an intelligent merchant with articles of trade. The emperor's daughter said privately to the merchant, "He is not a slave, but my own son, although, for particular reasons, I have told the king he is a bondman; you must not treat him like a slave."
In short, the merchant, after some time had elapsed, brought him to the king, who, on beholding his beautiful countenance and perceiving his good capacity, was greatly pleased and bestowed on the merchant a dress of state with other valuable gifts.
The youth's mother saw him from a distance, and was delighted with salutations and messages.
It happened that one day, when the king went a hunting, the wife called her son into the palace, kissed his head and face,and, bidding adieu to sorrow, conversed with him freely. The porter being apprised of this mystery, entertained unfavourable suspicions and, when the king returned, told him what he had discovered.
The king was afflicted, and said to himself: "This woman, by practising deceit, has brought her lover here."
Immediately, he entered the haram; the woman, plainly perceiving that the king had learnt the circumstances of the preceding night, said, "Why are you thoughtful?"
The king rejoined, "Why should I not be thoughtful? You, by your artifice, have called your gallant hither from Room and have lain with him; what audaciousness and impudence is this?"
He wanted to have punished her, but was restrained by his affection. He said to himself, "I must revenge myself on this boy."
He accordingly said to someone, "Take this boy into a private place, and immediately separate his head from his body."
The man, when he took him from thence, said to him, "O youth! Were you not apprised that she is the king's wife, and why did you go in?"
He said, "I am her own son by a former husband: she is my mother; through delicacy she avoided mentioning it to the king. You have the power either to kill me, or to spare my life; I have told the truth."
The executioner, on hearing these words, was filled with compassion, and said to himself, "Perhaps this secret will one day be discovered to the king, who may require the boy at my hands and will then repent. It is, at all events, most adviseable that this boy should not be killed for some time." In short, he did not put him to death.
The next day he went to the king and said, "I have killed the boy."
The king's anger was a little abated, but he had no confidence remaining in his wife. The queen wondered what would be the issue, her son being slain and her husband's affection lost.
In the palace was an old woman, who said to the queen, "I perceive you are full of thought."
She communicated to the old woman the whole of her story.
The old woman said, "Set your heart at ease; I will contrive it so that the king will be pleased with you."
The queen answered, "Mother! Only ease this pain, and I will fill your lap and pockets with jewels."
In short, one day the old woman, perceiving the king thoughtful, said, "I observe that your majesty is sad."
The king answered, "Alas! My mother, I have a pain which cannot be fully described, and which is this: my wife sent to Room for a slave, who is her gallant; I have killed the slave, but cannot prevail on myself to put to death my wife because my suspicions may be true, or they may be false."
The old woman said, "I have an amulet; when your wife is asleep, place it on her bosom, and whatever she says in her sleep will be true."
The king said, "Bring the amulet quickly."
The old woman gave it to the king immediately and then, going to the queen, told her, "When the king shall place the amulet on your bosom, feign yourself asleep and tell the whole story truly."
After the first watch of the night, the king having placed the amulet on his wife's bosom, she related all the particulars about her former husband and her son.
When the king comprehended the story, he kissed his wife's face and hair, and said, "Why did you conceal from me this secret?"
The wife said, "Because I was ashamed."
The king immediately sent for the murderer, and said, "Where is the tomb of the youth you killed?"
The man answered, "I did not kill him; he is still alive."
The king was greatly delighted hereat and immediately ordered the boy to be produced. The man brought him, and when the mother saw her son, she embraced him and praised God.
The parrot, having brought the tale to this period, said to Khojisteh, "My mistress, do you also, if any difficulty should occur, assert your own purity. Now arise, and go to your friend."
Khojisteh wanted to have gone; instantly, the cock crowed and, dawn appearing, her departure was deferred.
It so happened that on that very day Miemun returned from his journey. Upon not seeing the sharuk, he asked what was become of her. Khojisteh had not yet opened her lips in order to have given an answer when the parrot said, "Require of me a relation of all the adventures of the sharuk and of Khojisteh."
Miemun said, "Speak!"
The parrot related to Miemun, from beginning to end, all the particulars of Khojisteh falling in love with the young man, and how the sharuk was killed by the hands of Khojisteh.
Miemun immediately put an end to the life of Khojisteh.