XA.Tale of the Bull and the Ass

A merchant has the ability to hear what animals are saying. One day he hears a Bull moan about the hard work while the Ass does not have to do anything. The Ass advises him to pretend he is ill. He does so and is taken care of by his owner. The merchant advises the owner to let the donkey work. The donkey regrets his advice.

The merchant again overhears a conversation between the Bull and the Ass. This time the Ass advises against continuing the act of the Bull lest he be slaughtered. He does so and the merchant finds this very funny and laughs loudly. The wife of the merchant asks why he laughs but he says he is not allowed to on penalty of death. Still she wants him to, so he will tell her. But before he tells her, he overhears a Dog talking to a Cock and the Cock says the merchant should keep his wife in check by beating her with twigs. He does so and his wife repents and doesn’t want to know the answer.

There is a merchant, experienced in husbandry and agriculture, who can speak with animals. One day he hears a Bull say to an Ass that the Ass has a better life than he. The Bull has to toil, his food is worse than that of the Ass and his place stinks, whereas the Ass has none of that. The Ass replies by giving advice: when they lay the yoke on him he must lie down and rise not again and he has to feign he is sick for a couple of days. The Bull thanks the Ass for this wisdom. The Bull does what the Ass said and is taken care of. The peasant who owns the Bull comes to the merchant-farmer. The merchant understands the situation and lets the peasant take the donkey to work with the plough. The Ass regrets giving the Bull advice.

The Wazir warns Sharahzad that she hasn’t got enough wit to withstand King Shahriyar, but Sharahzad says she must marry the King. The Wazir continues his story of the merchant.

The merchant overhears the Bull saying to the Ass that he will continue doing what he has been doing in refusing work and food. The Ass warns him that he has heard the peasant saying that if the Bull continues pretending to be ill, he will be slaughtered. The Bull takes  the advice of the Ass and starts working again. When the merchant sees this he laughs heartily upon which his wife asks what is going on. He says he can’t tell her because he will die upon telling his secret. He says that he cannot reveal his secret for fear of death. His wife does not believe him and says she will leave him at once, sits down and weeps. She says he must tell her what the secret of the Bull and Ass was. The merchant grows weary and finally decides to tell her. She must bring her father and mother, her family and kindred, and the Kazi, then he will tell her because he loves her.

When everybody is together the trader proclaims he will tell the secret on pain of death. Everybody present tries to persuade the woman to stop wanting to know the secret, but she declines. The merchant hears a farm Dog speaking to the Cock, telling him the merchant will tell the secret and die. The Cock replies that if he can’t manage one woman, his life is not worth prolonging. The Cock advises the Dog the merchant should whip his wife with mulberry-tree twigs a regular beating until she says she will never ask the question as long as she lives. The merchant does so, and the woman swears not to ask the question again and kisses his hand. Thus the merchant learns family discipline from the Cock.

From The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night — Volume 01

3 thoughts on “XA.Tale of the Bull and the Ass

  1. Its very funny I love it

  2. shu amanwi says:

    Quite an interesting story but i need the complete story

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