There was once a successful trader who had everything – a beautiful wife, adorable children and a big mansion in which they all lived happily. The pride of his life though was his exotic songbird which he kept in a cage and fed delicious tidbits when it entertained his guests.
One day the man had to go on a journey far away. He asked his wife and children what presents they would like from abroad – they asked for fine silks, honeycomb and clockwork toys. Filly he asked his songbird if he would like him to bring anything back.
“I wish only for one small favor,” the songbird replied.
“Anything!” promised his master.
“Just this – when you see my cousins in the trees in the place you’re going to, please tell them about my conditions here.”
“Are you sure? I could bring you back a fine jewel-encrusted mirror or dried tropical fruit?”
“No, just this, thank you,” said the songbird. His master went away feeling a little disconcerted but resolved to carry out his pet’s wishes.
The trader made his trip safely and carried out his business to satisfaction. He then spent his remaining time there buying the presents his family had requested. Filly, he went to a park and saw some birds in the trees that bore a remarkable resemblance to his own songbird. He called up to them and told them about how his own bird lived in cage and sang for him.
But no sooner had he finished speaking than these exotic birds trembled on their perch, then tumbled to the ground and ceased to move. The man was overcome with grief and the incident quite spoiled his trip.
He returned home and greeted his wife and family who were delighted at their presents but he couldn’t share their pleasure as long as the forthcoming encounter with his songbird remained on his conscience. Filly he found the courage to go down to the garden.
“Well?” his songbird asked and, hesitantly, the man told him exactly what had happened. The song bird listened intently, then trembled on his perch and fell to the bottom of his cage, quite motionless.
The man was now beside himself with bewilderment and grief. Weeping, he opened the door of the cage and carried out his beloved songbird in his hands. No sooner had he done so, however, the songbird returned to life and flew up to the branches of the nearest tree and let out a shrill of joy at finding its freedom.
The man scratched his head in wonder and eventually asked: “Okay, you win. But tell me please, what was in the message that contained this trick?”
The songbird looked down at him with pity and said: “My cousins showed me that it was my beauty that kept me in the cage. Were it not for the delight of my singing voice you would have lost interest long ago. I had to give up that life in order to become free.”