The Parrot and the Thrush.
Which are worse, men or women?
Then the king went back to the sissoo tree to fetch the goblin. When he got there, he took the body with the goblin in it on his shoulder, and started off in silence. And as he walked along, the goblin said to him again: "O King, you must be very tired, coming and going in the night. So to amuse you I will tell another story. Listen."
There is a city called Patna, the gem of the earth. And long ago a king lived there whose name was Lion-of-Victory. Fate had made him the owner of all virtues and all wealth. And he had a parrot called Jewel-of-Wisdom, that had divine intelligence and knew all the sciences, but lived as a parrot because of a curse.
This king had a son called Moon, and by the advice of the parrot this prince married the daughter of the king of the Magadha country; and her name was Moonlight. Now this princess had a thrush named Moony, who was like the parrot, because she had learning and intelligence. And the parrot and the thrush lived in one cage in the palace.
One day the parrot eagerly said to the thrush: "My darling, love me, and share my bed and my chair and my food and my amusements."
But the thrush said: "I will have nothing to do with men. Men are bad and ungrateful."
Then the parrot said: "Men are not bad. It is only women who are bad and cruel-hearted." And they quarrelled.
Then the two birds wagered their freedom with each other and went to the prince to have their quarrel decided. And the prince mounted his father's judgment throne, and when he had heard the cause of the quarrel, he asked the thrush: "How are men ungrateful? Tell the truth." Then she said, "Listen, O Prince," and to prove her point she started to tell this story illustrating the faults of men.
There is a famous city called Kamandaki, where a wealthy merchant lived named Fortune. And in time a son was born to him and named Treasure. Then when the father went to heaven, the young man became very unruly because of gambling and other vices. And the rascals came together, and ruined him. Association with scoundrels is the root from which springs the tree of calamity.
So in no long time he lost all he had through his vices, and being ashamed of his poverty, he left his own country and went to wander in other places. And during his travels he came to a city called Sandal City, and entered the house of a merchant, seeking something to eat. When the merchant saw the youth, he asked him about his family, and finding that he was a gentleman, he entertained him. And thinking that Gate had sent the young man, he gave him his own daughter Pearl, together with some money. And when Treasure was married, he lived in his father-in-law's house.
As time passed, he forgot his former miseries in the comforts of his life, and longed for the old vices, and wanted to go home. So the rascal managed to persuade his father-in-law, who had no other children, took his wife Pearl with her beautiful ornaments, and an old woman, and started for his own country. Presently he came to a wood where he said he was afraid of thieves, so he took all his wife's ornaments. Perceive, O Prince, how cruel and hard are the ungrateful hearts of those who indulge in gambling and other vices. And the scoundrel was ready, just for money, to kill his good wife. He threw her and the old woman into a pit. Then the rascal went away and the old woman perished there.
But Pearl, with the little life she had left, managed to get out by clinging to the grass and bushes, and weeping bitterly, and bleeding, she asked the way step by step, and painfully reached her father's house by the way she had come. And her mother and father were surprised and asked her: "Why did you come back so soon, and in this condition?"
And that good wife said: "On the road we were robbed, and my husband was forcibly carried off. And the old woman fell into a pit and died, but I escaped. And a kind-hearted traveller pulled me from the pit." Then her father and mother were saddened, but they comforted her, and Pearl stayed there, true to her husband.
Then in time Treasure lost all his money in gambling, and he reflected: "I will get more money from the house of my father-in-law. I will go there and tell my father-in-law that his daughter is well and is at my house."
So he went again to his father-in-law. And as he went, his ever-faithful wife saw him afar off. She ran and fell at the rascal's feet and told him all the story that she had invented for her parents. For the heart of a faithful wife does not change even when she learns that her husband is a rogue.
Then that rascal went without fear into the house of his father-in-law and bowed low before his feet. And his father-in-law rejoiced when he saw him and made a great feast with his relatives, for he said: "My son is delivered alive from the robbers. Heaven be praised!" Then Treasure enjoyed the wealth of his father-in-law and lived with his wife Pearl.
Now one night this worst of scoundrels did what I ought not to repeat, but I will tell it, or my story would be spoiled. Listen, O Prince. While Pearl lay asleep trusting him, that wretch killed her in the night, stole all her jewels, and escaped to his own country. This shows how bad and ungrateful men are.
When the thrush had told her story, the prince smiled and said to the parrot: "It is your turn now."
Then the parrot said: "Your Majesty, women are cruel and reckless and bad. To prove it, I will tell you a story. Listen."
There is a city called Joyful, where lived a prince of merchants named Virtue, who owned millions of money. He had a daughter named Fortune, peerless in beauty, dearer to him than life. And she was given in marriage to a merchant's son from Copper City, whose name was Ocean. He was her equal in wealth, beauty, and family; a delight to the eyes of men.
One day when her husband was away from home, she saw from the window a handsome young man. And the moment she saw him, the fickle girl went mad with love, and secretly sent a messenger to invite him in, and made love to him in secret. Thus her heart was fixed on him alone, and she was happy with him.
But at last her husband came home and delighted the hearts of his parents-in-law. And when the day had been spent in feasting, Fortune was adorned by her mother, and sent to her husband's room. But she was cold toward him and pretended to sleep. And her husband went to sleep, too, for he was weary with his journey, and had been drinking wine.
When everyone in the house had gone to sleep after their dinner, a thief made a hole in the wall and came into that very room. And just then the merchant's daughter got up without seeing him, and went out secretly to a meeting with her lover. And the thief was disappointed, and thought: "She has gone out into the night wearing the very jewels that I came to steal. I must see where she goes." So the thief went out and followed her.
But she met a woman friend who had flowers in her hand, and went to a park not very far away. And there she saw the man whom she came to meet hanging on a tree. For the policeman had thought he was a thief, had put a rope around his neck and hanged him.
And at the sight she went distracted, and lamented pitifully: "Oh, oh! I am undone," and fell on the ground and wept. Then she took her lover down from the tree and made him sit up, though he was dead, and adorned him with perfumes and jewels and flowers.
But when in her love-madness she lifted his face and kissed him, a goblin who had come to live in her dead lover, bit off her nose. And she was startled and ran in pain from the spot. But then she came back to see if perhaps he was alive after all. But the goblin had gone, and she saw that he was motionless and dead. So she slowly went back home, frightened and disgraced and weeping.
And the concealed thief saw it all and thought: "What has the wicked woman done? Alas! Can women be so dreadful as this? What might she not do next?" So out of curiosity the thief still followed her from afar.
And the wretched woman entered the house and cried aloud, and said: "Save me from my cruel enemy, my own husband. He cut off my nose and I had done nothing." And her servants heard her cries and all arose in excitement. Her husband too awoke. Then her father came and saw that her nose was cut off, and in his anger he had his son-in-law arrested.
And the poor man did not know what to do. Even when he was being bound, he remained silent and said nothing. Then they all woke up and heard the story, but the thief who knew the whole truth, ran away. And when day came, the merchant's son was haled before the king by his father-in-law. And Fortune went there without her nose, and the king heard the whole story and condemned the merchant's son to death for mistreating his wife.
So the innocent, bewildered man was led to the place of execution and the drums were beaten. Just then the thief came up and said to the king's men: "Why do you kill this man without any good reason? I know how the whole thing happened. Take me to the king, and I will tell all."
So all the king's men took him to the king. And the thief told the king all the adventures of the night, and said: "Your Majesty, if you cannot trust my word, you may find the nose at this moment between the teeth of the dead body."
Then the king sent men to investigate, and when he found it was true, he released the merchant's son from the punishment of death. As for wretched Fortune, he cut off her ears, too, and banished her from the country. And he took from her father, the merchant, all his money, and made the thief the chief of police. He was pleased with him.
O Prince, this shows how cruel and false women are by nature.
As he spoke these words, the parrot changed into a god, for the curse was fulfilled, and went to heaven like a god. And the thrush suddenly became a goddess, for her curse was at an end, and flew up likewise to heaven. So their dispute was never settled at that court.
When the goblin had told this story, he asked the king: "O King, tell me. Are men bad, or women? If you know and do not tell, your head will fly to pieces." And when the king heard these words of the goblin on his shoulder, he said to that magic goblin: "O goblin! Here and there, now and then, there is an occasional bad man like that. But women are usually bad. We hear about many of them."
Then the goblin disappeared from the king's shoulder as before. And the king tried again to catch him.