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P. V. Ramaswami Raju

The Wealthy Man and the String

A wealthy man in the East had no knowledge of music; yet he pretended to know a great deal about it. So, whenever a famous singer came to him, he would tie one end of a string to his coat-tail, and give the other end to his wife, who understood music well, and who generally sat behind a screen, according to the custom of ladies in the East. The understanding was that whenever there was anything in the singing that was specially praiseworthy, the wife should pull, that the man might nod his approbation of it.

Once a great singer was displaying his skill, and suddenly the string snapped. The man cried, "Wait a bit, good singer; the string hath snapped!" The whole audience was amazed, and in the end, knowing what he really meant, exclaimed, "A parrot and a fool can do nothing without prompting!"