Story From Arabian Nights - A Case Of Curiosity

 A Case Of Curiosity

In a certain city lived a young merchant. He was married to a very rich family. But these were not his only qualifications. He had a rare virtue which nobody other than himself was aware. He could understand the language of the beasts. But the sage who had taught him the secret had warned him against his telling what he heard from the beasts to anybody. If he violated this rule, he was to die instantly. One summer night he was refreshing himself on the roof of his house when he heard one of his bulls telling his donkey, "My brother, I am tired of drawing the plough. You are lucky. Once a week, our master goes out to the market riding you. For that, you are kept fit and elegant. I envy you." The flattered donkey said, "Dear bull, it is not luck that has much to do with the situation but the brains. I have that stuff in plenty." "It must be so. Brother Donkey, won't you exercise a bit of that for my sake and tell me how to get some relief?" asked the bull.

"Well, since you seek my advice, I cannot disappoint you! You feign sickness tomorrow. Do not get up. That will do the trick," said the donkey. The merchant heard the dialogue with attention and tiptoed down to his room. In the morning a servant reported to him of that particular bull behaving strangely. It refused to stand up. "Hm!" said the master. "Drag my donkey to the field and put it under the yoke. Make it plough the land till the sunset." The servants obeyed the master. The donkey had not foreseen such a fate. It was dead tired when it returned to its shed. "I enjoyed my holiday very well, Brother Donk! I am going to do the same thing tomorrow!" the happy bull told the donkey. "Don't do so!" shrieked out the donkey. "I overheard our master saying that if you don't work normally tomorrow, he will sell you to a butcher!" "I thank God that you overheard this. I shall behave tomorrow," said the panicky bull. The merchant was waiting near the shed to hear their conversation.

He was amused at the donkey's invention, so much so that he could not control his laughter even when sitting for dinner. "Why do you laugh?" asked his wife. "I cannot reveal to you," replied the merchant. At this, his wife drew a long face. "What is there so secret about the cause of your laughter that you cannot reveal it to me?" she complained and thereafter refused to talk to him. The merchant was upset. He confided to her that he was capable of understanding the language of the beasts, but he was forbidden to say what he understood. If he would ever say it, he shall die. "You must tell me what you heard today that amused you so much!" insisted his wife. "I cannot. If I tell you, I shall die." "You must tell me." However hard the merchant tried to stop her from being curious about it, she was only more vehement in her demand. The merchant could not bear with the situation any longer. He decided to tell the lady what took place between the bull and the donkey and then die. He took the lady aside, close to the roost. Suddenly he heard a hen telling a cock, "If I ask you to do something that will cause you death, will you do it?"

"I'll do it if that saves your life or does some real good to anybody else!" replied the cock. "If I ask you only to satisfy my idle curiosity?" asked the hen. "I'll give a damn to you!" replied the cock. "And look at this foolish young man who is going to die for no other reason than satisfy to the lady's idle curiosity!" said the hen with anguish. A great change came over the merchant immediately. He called his parents and his wife's parents and told them, "Knowing full well that I shall die if I violate a certain rule, my wife insists that I do so only to satisfy her curiosity. What do you say to this?" "We are ashamed to call you our daughter. Fie on you!" shouted the lady's mother. "Too much love and affection from us have spoilt her. She knows nothing except getting her wish fulfilled, however meaningless it may be!" said the father of the lady. The lady realized her folly. She wept. "Never mind, child, be sensible in the future," the merchant's parents told her affectionately. Her husband just smiled at her knowing very well that she understood her mistake.

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