Tales of a Parrot: The Old Lion and the Cat

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 Old Lion and the Cat, who Having Killed the Mice, Was Turned out of Office

When the sun was set and the moon arose, Khojisteh went to the parrot for leave and, seeing him thoughtful, asked, "Why art thou pensive?"

He answered, "I have no care of my own, but your sadness has thrown me into sorrow. The whole night you listen to my tales; I am afraid lest your husband should arrive unexpectedly and that you should repent of not going, like the cat, who, after the death of the mice, repented."

Khojisteh asked, "Why was it so? It is very wonderful how the cat should have cause to repent of killing mice, seeing that a mouse is a cat's morsel."

The parrot began, saying: 


In a desert dwelt a lion who was very old and decrepit, so that from his age his teeth were decayed; whenever he ate, shreds of meat stuck in them, and there being many mice in that desert, when the lion went to sleep, the mice picked the shreds of meat out of his teeth, whereby his rest was disturbed.

The lion consulted other animals, who were his courtiers, in what manner to drive away the mice. A fox said, "There is a cat, who is your subject; order her to keep watch here all night."

The lion approved of the fox's advice and sent for the cat, and when she came, he appointed her to the office of cutwal. The cat performed the duty of sentinel. When the mice saw the cat, they decamped.

The lion slept at his ease, nothing happening to disturb his repose. The lion shewed great kindness to the cat and increased her rank. The cat frightened the mice, but never killed any of them, thinking to herself, "If I should destroy the mice, the lion, having no further occasion for me, will deprive me of my office."

One day she brought her kitten to the lion and said, "I want to go today to a place on business; if you will permit it, I will go and bring my kitten in my stead, and return tomorrow to wait on you."

The lion granted his assent. The cat, having left the kitten there, went herself to another place.

The kitten killed all the mice she saw and, in one day and night, they were all destroyed.

The next day the cat arrived and saw the mice lying dead. She reprimanded her kitten, "What have you done? Why have you killed the mice?"

The kitten said, "Why did not you speak to me at the time of your departure, and forbid me to kill the mice?"

In short they both repented. After some days the lion dismissed the cat, and deprived her of the office of cutwal.

The parrot, having concluded the story of the mice, the cat, and the lion, said to Khojisteh, "You appear to me very backward, for every night you delay, wherefore I am afraid lest your husband may arrive and you repent, like the cat."

Khojisteh arose and wanted to go to her lover; at that instant, the sound of the morning cock reached her ears and morning appearing, her departure was deferred.

(500 words)

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