Tales of a Parrot: The Nobleman who Concealed a Snake in His Sleeve

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 Nobleman who Concealed a Snake in His Sleeve

When the sun went to the western quarter and the moon appeared above the eastern horizon, Khojisteh, whose eyes were full of tears, repaired to the parrot and said, "My heart is consumed with the fire of love; tonight, by all means, I will go to my sweetheart."

When the parrot saw that Khojisteh was particularly anxious this night to go to her lover, he was alarmed and, after considering with himself, said, "My mistress, I wish to God to send you quickly to your lover, and every night I give you leave, but you yourself create delay and are not able to go; I know not what has befallen you. Now arise and go to your lover, but place no confidence in an enemy; otherwise, you must meet with the same return as the nobleman experienced from the snake." 

Khojisteh asked, "What is the nature of the story?"

The parrot began: 


One day as a nobleman was hunting, a frightened snake came to him and said, "O my lord, allow me to conceal myself in some place!"

The nobleman asked, "Why are you afraid?"

He said, "An enemy with a stick is pursuing me to kill me."

The nobleman pitied the snake and admitted him into his own sleeve, where he lay concealed.

An instant after, a person with a stick came to the spot and said, "A black snake escaped from me and ran this way – has anybody seen it?"

The nobleman answered. "No."

The man with the stick in his hand looked about but, not seeing the snake, went his way.

The nobleman said to the snake, "Your enemy is departed; do you also go your own way."

The snake answered, "I will bite and kill you, after which I will go. Know you not that I am your enemy? You are an egregious blockhead to have had reliance on me and out of compassion to have admitted me into your sleeve."

The nobleman said to the snake, "I have done good to you; why want you to render me evil?"

The snake replied, "The sages have said, 'It is not right to do good to every person'."

The nobleman in his own mind was frightened, and repented of what he had done, and thought to himself, "By what means can I deliver my life from his designs and get him out of my sleeve?"

He was prompt in the business and said to the snake, "Here comes another of your species; lay our matter before him and, if he approves of your sentiments, then treat me as you please."

Hereupon the snake turned his head in order to look at the other when the nobleman, seizing the opportunity, struck a stone against the snake's head and killed it.

When Khojisteh had heard the story to the end, she said to the parrot, "I approve of your exhortation, and have listened to your tale; now hear one word of mine – Be pleased to give me leave."

The parrot said, "Arise, and delay not, and go to your lover, for that is my wish." Khojisteh stood up, and set out. The cock crowed; Khojisteh abused the cock, and coming again to the parrot, said, "Now that day has appeared, it is not a time for me to go."

In short, this night also her departure was deferred.


(600 words)






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