Talking Thrush, The: And Other Tales from India | Annotated Tale

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Parrot Judge, The

THERE was once a Fowler who caught a young Parrot. He kept the Parrot in his house, hoping that it would pick up something to say, but the Parrot learnt nothing at all. Then he set to work at teaching it; but after six months the Parrot had only learnt to say two things: one was "Of course," and the other was "Certainly."

               Seeing that his trouble was wasted, the Fowler took him to market in a gilt cage, in order to catch the eye of customers. He cried in a loud voice, "Who'll buy! who'll buy! here's a Parrot which can say anything in the world! Here's a clever Parrot who knows what he is talking about! If you want a question answered here's the Parrot to answer you, no matter what it may be! Who'll buy, who'll buy?" Everybody crowded round to see the wonderful Parrot.

               The King happened to be passing by, and heard all this to-do about a Parrot. Said he to the Fowler--

               "Is it really true about your Parrot?"

               "Ask him, sire," said the Fowler.

               "Parrot," said the King, "do you know English?"

               "Of course," said the Parrot, in a tone of scorn, turning up his beak; as who should say, "What a question to ask me."

               "Can you decide knotty points of law?" the King went on.

               "Certainly," said the Parrot, with great confidence.

               "This is the bird for me," said the King, and asked his price. The price was a thousand pounds. The King paid a thousand pounds to the Fowler, and departed.

               A big price, you will say, for a Parrot. So it was; but the King had a reason for paying it. The Judge of the City had just died, and the King could not find another. Hundreds of men offered to do the work. Some wanted too much money, more than the King could pay; some were reasonable, but knew no law; and the cheaper ones who professed to know everything were all Germans, whom the King would not have at any price. When he heard of this wise Parrot, thought he, "Here's my Judge; he will want no wages but sugar and chickweed, and he will take no bribes."

               So the Parrot was made Judge, and sat on a big throne, with a white wig and a red robe lined with ermine.

               Next day, the Parrot was in Court, and a case came up for judgment. It was a murder case, and when the evidence had been heard, the pleader on the murderer's side finished up his speech by saying, "And now, my Lord, you must admit that my client is innocent."

               Said the Parrot, "Of course."

               Everybody thought this rather odd, because the other side had not yet been heard; and, besides, the man was caught in the act. However, they held their tongues and waited.

               Then the prosecutor got up, and made a long speech, at the end of which he said, "It is no longer possible to doubt that the prisoner at the bar is guilty. Two witnesses saw him do the deed, and half-a-dozen caught him just as he was pulling the knife out of the body. I therefore call upon you, my Lord, to pass sentence of death."

               Said the Parrot, "Certainly."

               At this the King pricked up his ears. The man could not be innocent of course, and yet certainly guilty, at the same time. So he turned to the Judge and said--

               "If you go against evidence so clear, Judge, I shall begin to suspect that you killed the man yourself."

               Said the Parrot, "Certainly."

               You may imagine the hubbub that arose in Court when the Judge said this! Everybody saw that the King had made a mistake in his Judge, and even the King himself began to suspect that something was wrong. So he said, rather angrily, to the Parrot--

               "Then it is your head ought to be chopped off."

               Said the Parrot, "Of course."

"Chop off his head, then," cried the King; and they           
took away the Parrot and chopped off his head           
without delay; and all the while he was           
being dragged along, he called out,           
"Certainly," "Certainly,"           


Told by Makund Lál, Mirzápur.

A Bird-catcher had a Parrot which knew only two words, Beshak (undoubtedly) and Cheshak (what doubt)—Took it to market, and gave out that it knew Persian, price 5 lakhs of rupees—Nobleman asks it, "Do you know Persian?"—"Cheshak"—Buys it—Puts it in a gold cage, and gives it good food—King one day began to talk to the Parrot in Persian—It could say nothing but these two words—The owner threw it on the ground and killed it.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Parrot Judge, The
Tale Author/Editor: Crooke, W. & Rouse, W. H. D.
Book Title: Talking Thrush, The: And Other Tales from India
Book Author/Editor: Crooke, W. & Rouse, W. H. D.
Publisher: E. P. Dutton & Co.
Publication City: New York
Year of Publication: 1922
Country of Origin: India
Classification: unclassified

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