Richard F. Burton

The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

Tale of the Wolf and the Fox.150

Know, O King, that a fox and a wolf once cohabited in the same den, harbouring therein together by day and resorting thither by night; but the wolf was cruel and oppressive to the fox. They abode thus awhile, till it so befel that the fox exhorted the wolf to use gentle dealing and leave off his ill deeds, saying, “If thou persist in thine arrogance, belike Allah will give the son of Adam power over thee, for he is past master in guile and wile; and by his artifice he bringeth down the birds from the firmament and he haleth the mighty fish forth of the flood-waters: and he cutteth the mountain and transporteth it from place to place. All this is of his craft and wiliness: wherefore do thou betake thyself to equity and fair dealing and leave frowardness and tyranny; and thou shalt fare all the better for it.” But the wolf would not accept his counsel and answered him roughly, saying, “What right hast thou to speak of matters of weight and importance?” And he dealt the fox a cuff that laid him senseless; but, when he revived, he smiled in the wolf’s face and, excusing himself for his unseemly speech, repeated these two couplets,

“If any sin I sinned, or did I aught
In love of you, which hateful mischief wrought;
My sin I sore repent and pardon sue;
So give the sinner gift of pardon sought.”

The wolf accepted his excuse and held his hand from further ill-treatment, saying, “Speak not of whatso concerneth thee not, lest thou hear what will please thee not.” Answered the fox, “To hear is to obey!”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

150 The wolf (truly enough to nature) is the wicked man without redeeming traits; the fox of Arab folk-lore is the cunning man who can do good on occasion. Here the latter is called “Sa’alab” which may, I have noted, mean the jackal; but further on “Father of a Fortlet” refers especially to the fox. Herodotus refers to the gregarious Canis Aureus when he describes Egyptian wolves as being “not much bigger than foxes” (ii. 67). Canon Rawlinson, in his unhappy version, does not perceive that the Halicarnassian means the jackal and blunders about the hyena.

When it was the One Hundred and Forty-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth the wolf to the fox, “Speak not of whatso concerneth thee not, lest thou hear what will please thee not!” Answered the fox, “To hear is to obey! I will abstain henceforth from what pleaseth thee not; for the sage saith, ‘Have a care that thou speak not of that whereof thou art not asked; leave that which concerneth thee not for that which concerneth thee, and by no means lavish good counsel on the wrongous, for they will repay it to thee with wrong.’” And reflecting on the words of the wolf he smiled in his face, but in his heart he meditated treachery against him and privily said, “There is no help but that I compass the destruction of this wolf.” So he bore with his injurious usage, saying to himself, “Verily insolence and evil-speaking are causes of perdition and cast into confusion, and it is said, ‘The insolent is shent and the ignorant doth repent; and whose feareth, to him safety is sent’: moderation marketh the noble and gentle manners are of gains the grandest. It behoveth me to dissemble with this tyrant and needs must he be cast down.” Then quoth he to the wolf, “Verily, the Lord pardoneth his erring servant and relenteth towards him, if he confess his offences; and I am a weak slave and have offended in presuming to counsel thee. If thou knewest the pain that befel me by thy buffet, thou wouldst ken that even the elephant could not stand against it nor endure it: but I complain not of this blow’s hurt, because of the joy and gladness that hath betided me through it; for though it was to me exceeding sore yet was its issue of the happiest. And with sooth saith the sage, ‘The blow of the teacher is at first right hurtful, but the end of it is sweeter than strained honey.’” Quoth the wolf, “I pardon thine offence and I cancel thy fault; but beware of my force and avow thyself my thrall; for thou hast learned my severity unto him who showeth his hostility!” Thereupon the fox prostrated himself before the wolf, saying, “Allah lengthen thy life and mayst thou never cease to overthrow thy foes!” And he stinted not to fear the wolf and to wheedle him and dissemble with him. Now it came to pass that one day, the fox went to a vineyard and saw a breach in its walls; but he mistrusted it and said to himself, “Verily, for this breach there must be some cause and the old saw saith, ‘Whoso seeth a cleft in the earth and shunneth it not and is not wary in approaching it, the same is self-deluded and exposeth himself to danger and destruction.’ Indeed, it is well known that some folk make the figure of a fox in their vineyards; nay, they even set before the semblance grapes in plates, that foxes may see it and come to it and fall into perdition. In very sooth I regard this breach as a snare and the proverb saith, ‘Caution is one half of cleverness.’ Now prudence requireth that I examine this breach and see if there be aught therein which may lead to perdition; and coveting shall not make me cast myself into destruction.” So he went up to the hole and walked round it right warily, and lo! it was a deep pit, which the owner of the vineyard had dug to trap therein the wild beasts which laid waste his vines. Then he said to himself, “Thou hast gained, for that thou hast refrained!”; and he looked and saw that the hole was lightly covered with dust and matting. So he drew back from it saying, “Praised be Allah that I was wary of it! I hope that my enemy, the wolf, who maketh my life miserable, will fall into it; so will the vineyard be left to me and I shall enjoy it alone and dwell therein at peace.” Saying thus, he shook his head and laughed a loud laugh and began versifying,

“Would Heaven I saw at this hour
The Wolf fallen down in this well,
He who anguisht my heart for so long,
And garred me drain eisel and fel!
Heaven grant after this I may live
Free of Wolf for long fortunate spell
When I’ve rid grapes and vineyard of him,
And in bunch-spoiling happily dwell.”

His verse being finished he returned in haste to the wolf and said to him, “Allah hath made plain for thee the way into the vineyard without toil and moil. This is of thine auspicious fortune; so good luck to thee and mayest thou enjoy the plentiful plunder and the profuse provaunt which Allah hath opened up to thee without trouble!” Asked the wolf, “What proof hast thou of what thou assertest?”: and the fox answered, “I went up to the vineyard and found that the owner was dead, having been torn to pieces by wolves: so I entered the orchard and saw the fruit shining upon the trees.” The wolf doubted not the fox’s report and his gluttony gat hold of him; so he arose and repaired to the cleft, for that greed blinded him; whilst the fox falling behind him lay as one dead, quoting to the case the following couplet,

“For Layla’s151 favour dost thou greed? But, bear in mind
Greed is a yoke of harmful weight on neck of man.”

And when the wolf had reached the breach the fox said, “Enter the vineyard: thou art spared the trouble of climbing a ladder, for the garden-wall is broken down, and with Allah it resteth to fulfil the benefit.” So the wolf went on walking and thought to enter the vineyard; but when he came to the middle of the pit-covering he fell through; whereupon the fox shook for joy and gladness; his care and concern left him and he sang out for delight and improvised these couplets,

“Fortune had mercy on the soul of me,
And for my torments now shows clemency,
Granting whatever gift my heart desired,
And far removing what I feared to see:
I will, good sooth, excuse her all her sins
She sinned in days gone by and much sinned she:
Yea, her injustice she hath shown in this,
She whitened locks that were so black of blee:
But now for this same wolf escape there’s none,
Of death and doom he hath full certainty.
Then all the vineyard comes beneath my rule,
I’ll brook no partner who’s so fond a fool.”

Then the fox looked into the cleft and, seeing the wolf weeping in repentance and sorrow for himself, wept with him; whereupon the wolf raised his head to him and asked, “Is it of pity for me thou weepest, O Father of the Fortlet152?” Answered the fox, “No, by Him who cast thee into this pit! I weep for the length of thy past life and for regret that thou didst not fall into the pit before this day; for hadst thou done so before I foregathered with thee, I had rested and enjoyed repose: but thou wast spared till the fulfilment of thine allotted term and thy destined time.” Then the wolf said to him as one jesting, “O evil-doer, go to my mother and tell her what hath befallen me; haply she may devise some device for my release.” Replied the fox, “Of a truth thou hast been brought to destruction by the excess of thy greed and thine exceeding gluttony, since thou art fallen into a pit whence thou wilt never escape. Knowest thou not the common proverb, O thou witless wolf, ‘Whoso taketh no thought as to how things end, him shall Fate never befriend nor shall he safe from perils wend.” “O Reynard,” quoth the wolf, “thou was wont to show me fondness and covet my friendliness and fear the greatness of my strength. Hate me not rancorously because of that I did with thee; for he who hath power and forgiveth, his reward Allah giveth; even as saith the poet,

‘Sow kindness-seed in the unfittest stead;
’Twill not be wasted whereso thou shalt sow:
For kindness albe buried long, yet none
Shall reap the crop save sower who garred it grow.’”

Rejoined the fox, “O witlessest of beasts of prey and stupidest of the wild brutes which the wolds overstray! Hast thou forgotten thine arrogance and insolence and tyranny, and thy disregarding the due of goodfellowship and thy refusing to be advised by what the poet saith?

‘Wrong not thy neighbour e’en if thou have power;
The wronger alway vengeance-harvest reaps:
Thine eyes shall sleep, while bides the wronged on wake
A-cursing thee; and Allah’s eye ne’er sleeps.’”

“O Abu ‘l-Hosayn,” replied the wolf, “twit me not with my past sins; for forgiveness is expected of the generous and doing kind deeds is the truest of treasures. How well saith the poet,

‘Haste to do kindness while thou hast much power,
For at all seasons thou hast not such power.’”

And he ceased not to humble himself before the fox and say, “Haply, thou canst do somewhat to deliver me from destruction.” Replied the fox, “O thou wolf, thou witless, deluded, deceitful trickster! hope not for deliverance, for this is but the just reward of thy foul dealing and its due retaliation.” Then he laughed with chops wide open and repeated these two couplets,

“No longer beguile me,
Thou’lt fail of thy will!
What can’t be thou seekest;
Thou hast sown so reap Ill!”

Quoth the wolf, “O gentlest of ravenous beasts, I fain hold thee too faithful to leave me in this pit.” Then he wept and complained and, with tears streaming from his eyes, recited these two couplets,

“O thou whose favours have been out of compt,
Whose gifts are more than may be numbered!
Never mischance befel me yet from time
But that I found thy hand right fain to aid.”

“O thou ninny foe,” quoth the fox, “how art thou reduced to humiliation and prostration and abjection and submission, after insolence and pride and tyranny and arrogance! Verily, I kept company with thee only for fear of thy fury and I cajoled thee without one hope of fair treatment from thee: but now trembling is come upon thee and vengeance hath overtaken thee.” And he repeated these two couplets,

“O thou who seekest innocence to ‘guile,
Thou’rt caught in trap of thine intentions vile:
Now drain the draught of shamefullest mischance,
And be with other wolves cut off, thou scroyle!”

Replied the wolf, “O thou clement one, speak not with the tongue of enemies nor look with their eyes; but fulfil the covenant of fellowship with me, ere the time of applying remedy cease to be. Rise and make ready to get me a rope and tie one end of it to a tree; then let the other down to me, that I may lay hold of it, so haply I shall from this my strait win free, and I will give thee all my hand possesseth of wealth and fee.” Quoth the fox, “Thou persistest in conversation concerning what will not procure thy liberation. Hope not for this, for thou shalt never, never get of me wherewithal to set thee at liberty; but call to mind thy past misdeeds and the craft and perfidy thou didst imagine against me and bethink thee how near thou art to being stoned to death. For know that thy soul is about the world to quit and cease in it and depart from it; so shalt thou to destruction hie and ill is the abiding-place thou shalt aby!”153 Rejoined the wolf, “O Father of the Fortlet, hasten to return to amity and persist not in this rancorous enmity. Know that whoso from ruin saveth a soul, is as if he had quickened it and made it whole; and whoso saveth a soul alive, is as if he had saved all mankind.154 Follow not frowardness, for the wise forbid it: and it were most manifest frowardness to leave me in this pit draining the agony of death and dight to look upon mine own doom, whenas it lieth in thy power to deliver me from my stowre. So do thy best to release me and deal with me benevolently.” Answered the fox, “O thou base and barbarous wretch, I compare thee, because of the fairness of thy professions and expressions, and the foulness of thy intentions and thy inventions to the Falcon and the Partridge.” Asked the wolf, “How so?”; and the fox began to tell

151 The older “Leila” or “Leyla”: it is a common name and is here applied to woman in general. The root is evidently “layl”=nox, with, probably, the idea, “She walks in beauty like the night.”

152 Arab. Abu ‘l-Hosayn; his hole being his fort (Unexplored Syria, ii. 18).

153 A Koranic phrase often occurring.

154 Koran v. 35.

The Tale of the Falcon155 and the Partridge. 156

Once upon a time I entered a vineyard to eat of its grapes; and, whilst so doing behold, I saw a falcon stoop upon a partridge and seize him; but the partridge escaped from the seizer and, entering his nest, hid himself there. The falcon followed apace and called out to him, saying, “O imbecile, I saw thee an-hungered in the wold and took pity on thee; so I picked up for thee some grain and took hold of thee that thou mightest eat; but thou fleddest from me; and I wot not the cause of thy flight, except it were to put upon me a slight. Come out, then, and take the grain I have brought thee to eat and much good may it do thee, and with thy health agree.” When the partridge heard these words, he believed and came out to him, whereupon the falcon struck his talons into him and seized him. Cried the partridge, “Is this that which thou toldest me thou hadst brought me from the wold, and whereof thou badest me eat, saying, ‘Much good may it do thee, and with thy health agree?’ Thou hast lied to me, and may Allah cause what thou eatest of my flesh to be a killing poison in thy maw!” So when the falcon had eaten the partridge, his feathers fell off and his strength failed and he died on the spot. “Know, then, O wolf!” (pursued the fox), “that he who diggeth for his brother a pit himself soon falleth into it, and thou first deceivedst me in mode unfit.” Quoth the wolf, “Spare me this discourse nor saws and tales enforce, and remind me not of my former ill course, for sufficeth me the sorry plight I endure perforce, seeing that I am fallen into a place, in which even my foe would pity me, much more a true friend. Rather find some trick to deliver me and be thou thereby my saviour. If this cause thee trouble, remember that a true friend will undertake the sorest travail for his true friend’s sake and will risk his life to deliver him from evil; and indeed it hath been said, ‘A leal friend is better than a real brother.’ So if thou stir thyself to save me and I be saved, I will forsure gather thee such store as shall be a provision for thee against want however sore; and truly I will teach thee rare tricks whereby to open whatso bounteous vineyards thou please and strip the fruit-laden trees.” Rejoined the fox, laughing, “How excellent is what the learned say of him who aboundeth in ignorance like unto thee!” Asked the wolf, “What do the wise men say?” And the fox answered, “They have observed that the gross of body are gross of mind, far from intelligence and nigh unto ignorance. As for thy saying, O thou stupid, cunning idiot! that a true friend should undertake sore travail for his true friend’s sake, it is sooth as thou sayest, but tell me, of thine ignorance and poverty of intelligence, how can I be a true friend to thee, considering thy treachery. Dost thou count me thy true friend? Nay, I am thy foe who joyeth in thy woe; and couldst thou trow it, this word were sorer to thee than slaughter by shot of shaft. As for thy promise to provide me a store against want however sore and teach me tricks, to plunder whatso bounteous vineyards I please, and spoil fruit-laden trees, how cometh it, O guileful traitor, that thou knowest not a wile to save thyself from destruction? How far art thou from profiting thyself and how far am I from accepting thy counsel! If thou have any tricks, make shift for thyself to save thee from the risk, wherefrom I pray Allah to make thine escape far distant! So look, O fool, if there be any trick with thee; and therewith save thyself from death ere thou lavish instruction upon thy neighbours. But thou art like a certain man attacked by a disease, who went to another diseased with the same disease, and said to him, ‘Shall I heal thee of thy disease?’ Replied the sick man, ‘Why dost thou not begin by healing thyself?’ So he left him and went his way. And thou, O ignorant wolf, art like this; so stay where thou art and under what hath befallen thee be of good heart!” When the wolf heard what the fox said, he knew that from him he had no hope of favour; so he wept for himself, saying, “Verily, I have been heedless of my weal; but if Allah deliver me from this ill I will assuredly repent of my arrogance towards those who are weaker than I, and will wear woollens157 and go upon the mountains, celebrating the praises of Almighty Allah and fearing His punishment. And I will withdraw from the company of other wild beasts and forsure will I feed the poor fighters for the Faith.” Then he wept and wailed, till the heart of the fox softened when he heard his humble words and his professions of penitence for his past insolence and arrogance. So he took pity upon him and sprang up joyfully and, going to the brink of the breach, squatted down on his hind quarters and let his tail hang in the hole; whereupon the wolf arose and putting out his paw, pulled the fox’s tail, so that he fell down in the pit with him. Then said the wolf, “O fox of little mercy, why didst thou exult in my misery, thou that wast my companion and under my dominion? Now thou art fallen into the pit with me and retribution hath soon overtaken thee. Verily, the sages have said, ‘If one of you reproach his brother with sucking the dugs of a bitch, he also shall suck her.’ And how well quoth the poet,

‘When Fortune weighs heavy on some of us,
And makes camel kneel by some other one,158
Say to those who rejoice in our ills: —Awake!
The rejoicer shall suffer as we have done!’

And death in company is the best of things;159 wherefore I will certainly and assuredly hasten to slay thee ere thou see me slain.” Said the fox to himself, “Ah! Ah! I am fallen into the snare with this tyrant, and my case calleth for the use of craft and cunning; for indeed it is said that a woman fashioneth her jewellery for the day of display, and quoth the proverb, ‘I have not kept thee, O my tear, save for the time when distress draweth near.’ And unless I make haste to circumvent this prepotent beast I am lost without recourse; and how well saith the poet,

‘Make thy game by guile, for thou’rt born in a Time
Whose sons are lions in forest lain;
And turn on the leat160 of thy knavery
That the mill of subsistence may grind thy grain;
And pluck the fruits or, if out of reach,
Why, cram thy maw with the grass on plain.’”

Then said the fox to the wolf, “Hasten not to slay me, for that is not the way to pay me and thou wouldst repent it, O thou valiant wild beast, lord of force and exceeding prowess! An thou accord delay and consider what I shall say, thou wilt ken what purpose I proposed; but if thou hasten to kill me it will profit thee naught and we shall both die in this very place.” Answered the wolf “O thou wily trickster, what garreth thee hope to work my deliverance and thine own, that thou prayest me to grant thee delay? Speak and propound to me thy purpose.” Replied the fox, “As for the purpose I proposed, it was one which deserveth that thou guerdon me handsomely for it; for when I heard thy promises and thy confessions of thy past misdeeds and regrets for not having earlier repented and done good; and when I heard thee vowing, shouldst thou escape from this strait, to leave harming thy fellows and others; forswear the eating of grapes and of all manner fruits; devote thyself to humility; cut thy claws and break thy dog-teeth; don woollens and offer thyself as an offering to Almighty Allah, then indeed I had pity upon thee, for true words are the best words. And although before I had been anxious for thy destruction, whenas I heard thy repenting and thy vows of amending should Allah vouchsafe to save thee, I felt bound to free thee from this thy present plight. So I let down my tail, that thou mightest grasp it and be saved. Yet wouldest thou not quit thy wonted violence and habit of brutality; nor soughtest thou to save thyself by fair means, but thou gavest me a tug which I thought would sever body from soul, so that thou and I are fallen into the same place of distress and death. And now there is but one thing can save us and, if thou accept it of me, we shall both escape; and after it behoveth thee to fulfil the vows thou hast made and I will be thy veritable friend.” Asked the wolf, “What is it thou proposest for mine acceptance?” Answered the fox, “It is that thou stand up at full height till I come nigh on a level with the surface of the earth. Then will I give a spring and reach the ground; and, when out of the pit, I will bring thee what thou mayst lay hold of, and thus shalt thou make thine escape.” Rejoined the wolf, “I have no faith in thy word, for sages have said, ‘Whoso practiseth trust in the place of hate, erreth;’ and, ‘Whoso trusteth in the untrustworthy is a dupe; he who re-trieth him who hath been tried shall reap repentance and his days shall go waste; and he who cannot distinguish between case and case, giving each its due, and assigneth all the weight to one side, his luck shall be little and his miseries shall be many.’ How well saith the poet,

‘Let thy thought be ill and none else but ill;
For suspicion is best of the worldling’s skill:
Naught casteth a man into parlous place
But good opinion and (worse) good-will!’

And the saying of another,

‘Be sure all are villains and so bide safe;
Who lives wide awake on few Ills shall light:
Meet thy foe with smiles and a smooth fair brow,
And in heart raise a host for the battle dight!’

And that of yet another,161

‘He thou trusted most is thy worst unfriend;
‘Ware all and take heed with whom thou wend:
Fair opinion of Fortune is feeble sign;
So believe her ill and her Ills perpend!’”

Quoth the fox, “Verily mistrust and ill opinion of others are not to be commended in every case; nay trust and confidence are the characteristics of a noble nature and the issue thereof is freedom from stress of fear. Now it behoveth thee, O thou wolf, to devise some device for thy deliverance from this thou art in, and our escape will be better to us both than our death: so quit thy distrust and rancour; for if thou trust in me one of two things will happen; either I shall bring thee something whereof to lay hold and escape from this case, or I shall abandon thee to thy doom. But this thing may not be, for I am not safe from falling into some such strait as this thou art in, which, indeed, would be fitting punishment of perfidy. Of a truth the adage saith, ‘Faith is fair and faithlessness is foul.’162 So it behoveth thee to trust in me, for I am not ignorant of the haps and mishaps of the world; and delay not to contrive some device for our deliverance, as the case is too close to allow further talk.” Replied the wolf, “For all my want of confidence in thy fidelity, verily I knew what was in thy mind and that thou wast moved to deliver me whenas thou heardest my repentance, and I said to myself, ‘If what he asserteth be true, he will have repaired the ill he did; and if false, it resteth with the Lord to requite him.’ So, look’ee, I have accepted thy proposal and, if thou betray me, may thy traitorous deed be the cause of thy destruction!” Then the wolf stood bolt upright in the pit and, taking the fox upon his shoulders, raised him to the level of the ground, whereupon Reynard gave a spring from his back and lighted on the surface of the earth. When he found himself safely out of the cleft he fell down senseless and the wolf said to him, “O my friend! neglect not my case and delay not to deliver me.” The fox laughed with a loud haw-haw and replied, “O dupe, naught threw me into thy hands save my laughing at thee and making mock of thee; for in good sooth when I heard thee profess repentance, mirth and gladness seized me and I frisked about and made merry and danced, so that my tail hung low into the pit and thou caughtest hold of it and draggedst me down with thee. And the end was that Allah Almighty delivered me from thy power. Then why should I be other than a helper in thy destruction, seeing that thou art of Satan’s host? I dreamt yesterday that I danced at thy wedding and I told my dream to an interpreter who said to me, ‘Verily thou shalt fall into imminent deadly danger and thou shalt escape therefrom.’ So now I know that my falling into thy hand and my escape are the fulfillment of my dream, and thou, O imbecile, knowest me for thy foe; so how couldest thou, of thine ignorance and unintelligence, nurse desire of deliverance at my hands, after all thou hast heard of harsh words from me; and wherefore should I attempt thy salvation whenas the sages have said, ‘In the death of the wicked is rest for mankind and a purge for the earth’? But, were it not that I fear to bear more affliction by keeping faith with thee than the sufferings which follow perfidy, I had done mine endeavour to save thee.” When the wolf heard this, he bit his forehand for repentance. —And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

155 Arab. “Bází,” Pers. “Báz” (here Richardson is wrong s.v.); a term to a certain extent generic, but specially used for the noble Peregrine (F. Peregrinator) whose tiercel is the Sháhín (or “Royal Bird”). It is sometimes applied to the goshawk (Astur palumbarius) whose proper title, however, is Shah-báz (King-hawk). The Peregrine extends from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin and the best come from the colder parts: in Iceland I found that the splendid white bird was sometimes trapped for sending to India. In Egypt “Bazi” is applied to the kite or buzzard and “Hidyah” (a kite) to the falcon (Burckhardt’s Prov. 159, 581 and 602). Burckhardt translates “Hidáyah,” the Egyptian corruption, by “an ash-grey falcon of the smaller species common throughout Egypt and Syria.”

156 Arab. “Hijl,” the bird is not much prized in India because it feeds on the roads. For the Shinnár (caccabis) or magnificent partridge of Midian as large as a pheasant, see “Midian Revisted” ii. 18.

157 Arab. “Súf;” hence “Súfi,”=(etymologically) one who wears woollen garments, a devotee, a Santon; from =wise; from =pure, or from Safá=he was pure. This is not the place to enter upon such a subject as “Tasawwuf,” or Sufyism; that singular reaction from arid Moslem realism and materialism, that immense development of gnostic and Neo-platonic transcendentalism which is found only germinating in the Jewish and Christian creeds. The poetry of Omar-i-Khayyám, now familiar to English readers, is a fair specimen; and the student will consult the last chapter of the Dabistan “On the religion of the Sufiahs.” The first Moslem Sufi was Abu Háshim of Kufah, ob. A. H. 150=767, and the first Convent of Sufis called “Takiyah” (Pilgrimage i. 124) was founded in Egypt by Saladin the Great.

158 i.e. when she encamps with a favourite for the night.

159 The Persian proverb is “Marg-i-amboh jashni dáred”—death in a crowd is as good as a feast.

160 Arab. “Kanát”, the subterranean water-course called in Persia “Kyáriz.” Lane (ii. 66) translates it “brandish around the spear (Kanát is also a cane-lance) of artifice,” thus making rank nonsense of the line. Al–Hariri uses the term in the Ass. of the Banu Haram where “Kanát” may be a pipe or bamboo laid underground.

161 From Al–Tughrái, the author of the Lámiyat al-Ajam, the “Lay of the Outlander;” a Kasidah (Ode) rhyming in Lám (the letter “l” being the ráwi or binder). The student will find a new translation of it by Mr. J. W. Redhouse and Dr. Carlyle’s old version (No. liii.) in Mr. Clouston’s “Arabian Poetry.” Muyid al-Din al-Hasan Abu Ismail nat. Ispahan ob. Baghdad A.H. 182) derived his surname from the Tughrá, cypher or flourish (over the “Bismillah” in royal and official papers) containing the name of the prince. There is an older “Lamiyat al-Arab” a pre-Islamitic L-poem by the “brigand-poet” Shanfara, of whom Mr. W. G. Palgrave has given a most appreciative account in his “Essays on Eastern Questions,” noting the indomitable self-reliance and the absolute individualism of a mind defying its age and all around it. Al–Hariri quotes from both.

162 The words of the unfortunate Azízah, vol. ii., p. 323.

When it was the One Hundred and Fiftieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the wolf heard the fox’s words he bit his forehand for repentance. Then he gave the fox fair words, but this availed naught and he was at his wits’ end for what to do; so he said to him in soft, low accents, “Verily, you tribe of foxes are the most pleasant people in point of tongue and the subtlest in jest, and this is but a joke of thine; but all times are not good for funning and jesting.” The fox replied, “O ignoramus, in good sooth jesting hath a limit which the jester must not overpass; and deem not that Allah will again give thee possession of me after having once delivered me from thy hand.” Quoth the wolf, “It behoveth thee to compass my release, by reason of our brotherhood and good fellowship; and, if thou release me, I will assuredly make fair thy recompense.” Quoth the fox, “Wise men say, ‘Take not to brother the wicked fool, for he will disgrace thee in lieu of gracing thee; nor take to brother the liar for, if thou do good, he will conceal it; and if thou do ill he will reveal it.’ And again, the sages have said, ‘There is help for everything but death: all may be warded off, except Fate.’ As for the reward thou declarest to be my due from thee, I compare thee herein with the serpent which fled from the charmer.163 A man saw her affrighted and said to her, ‘What aileth thee, O thou serpent?’ Replied she, ‘I am fleeing from the snake-charmer, for he seeketh to trap me and, if thou wilt save me and hide me with thee, I will make fair thy reward and do thee all manner of kindness.’ So he took her, incited thereto by lust for the recompense and eager to find favour with Heaven, and set her in his breastpocket. Now when the charmer had passed and had wended his way and the serpent had no longer any cause to fear, he said to her, ‘Where is the reward thou didst promise me? Behold, I have saved thee from that thou fearedest and soughtest to fly.’ Replied she, ‘Tell me in what limb or in what place shall I strike thee with my fangs, for thou knowest we exceed not that recompense.’ So saying, she gave him a bite whereof he died. And I liken thee, O dullard, to the serpent in her dealings with that man. Hast thou not heard what the poet saith?

‘Trust not to man when thou hast raised his spleen
And wrath, nor that ’twill cool do thou misween:
Smooth feels the viper to the touch and glides
With grace, yet hides she deadliest venene.’”

Quoth the wolf, “O thou glib of gab and fair of face, ignore not my case and men’s fear of me; and well thou weetest how I assault the strongly walled place and uproot the vines from base. Wherefore, do as I bid thee, and stand before me even as the thrall standeth before his lord.” Quoth the fox, “O stupid dullard who seekest a vain thing, I marvel at thy folly and thy front of brass in that thou biddest me serve thee and stand up before thee as I were a slave bought with thy silver; but soon shalt thou see what is in store for thee, in the way of cracking thy sconce with stones and knocking out thy traitorous dog-teeth.” So saying the fox clomb a hill overlooking the vineyard and standing there, shouted out to the vintagers; nor did he give over shouting till he woke them and they, seeing him, all came up to him in haste. He stood his ground till they drew near him and close to the pit wherein was the wolf; and then he turned and fled. So the folk looked into the cleft and, spying the wolf, set to pelting him with heavy stones, and they stinted not smiting him with stones and sticks, and stabbing him with spears, till they killed him and went away. Thereupon the fox returned to that cleft and, standing over the spot where his foe had been slain, saw the wolf dead: so he wagged his head for very joyance and began to recite these couplets,

“Fate the Wolf’s soul snatched up from wordly stead;
Far be from bliss his soul that perished!
Abu Sirhan!164 how sore thou sought’st my death;
Thou, burnt this day in fire of sorrow dread:
Thou’rt fallen into pit, where all who fall
Are blown by Death-blast down among the dead.”

Thenceforward the aforesaid fox abode alone in the vineyard unto the hour of his death secure and fearing no hurt. And such are the adventures of the wolf and the fox. But men also tell a

163 Arab. “Háwí”=a juggler who plays tricks with snakes: he is mostly a Gypsy. The “recompense” the man expects is the golden treasure which the ensorcelled snake is supposed to guard. This idea is as old as the Dragon in the Garden of the Hesperides—and older.

164 The “Father of going out (to prey) by morning”; for dawn is called Zanab Sirhán the Persian Dum-i-gurg=wolf’s tail, i.e. the first brush of light; the Zodiacal Light shown in morning. Sirhán is a nickname of the wolf—Gaunt Grim or Gaffer Grim, the German Isengrin or Eisengrinus (icy grim or iron grim) whose wife is Hersent, as Richent or Hermeline is Mrs. Fox. In French we have lopez, luppe, leu, e.g.

Venant à la queue, leu, leu,

i.e. going in Indian file. Hence the names D’Urfé and Saint–Loup. In Scandinavian, the elder sister of German, Ulf and in German (where the Jews were forced to adopt the name) Wolff whence “Guelph.” He is also known to the Arabs as the “sire of a she-lamb,” the figure metonymy called “Kunyat bi ‘l-Zidd” (lucus a non lucendo), a patronymic or by-name given for opposition and another specimen of “inverted speech.”

Tale of the Mouse and the Ichneumon165

A mouse and an ichneumon once dwelt in the house of a peasant who was very poor; and when one of his friends sickened, the doctor prescribed him husked sesame. So the hind sought of one of his comrades sesame to be husked by way of healing the sick man; and, when a measure thereof was given to him, he carried it home to his wife and bade her dress it. So she steeped it and husked it and spread it out to dry. Now when the ichneumon saw the grain, she went up to it and fell to carrying it away to her hole, and she toiled all day, till she had borne off the most of it. Presently, in came the peasant’s wife and, seeing much of the grain gone, stood awhile wondering; after which she sat down to watch and find out who might be the intruder and make him account for her loss. After a while, out crept the ichneumon to carry off the grain as was her wont, but spying the woman seated there, knew that she was on the watch for her and said in her mind, “Verily, this affair is like to end blameably; and sore I fear me this woman is on the look-out for me, and Fortune is no friend to who attend not to issue and end: so there is no help for it but that I do a fair deed, whereby I may manifest my innocence and wash out all the ill-doings I have done.” So saying, she began to take the sesame out of her hole and carry it forth and lay it back upon the rest. The woman stood by and, seeing the ichneumon do thus, said to herself, “Verily this is not the cause of our loss, for she bringeth it back from the hole of him who stole it and returneth it to its place; and of a truth she hath done us a kindness in restoring us the sesame, and the reward of those who do us good is that we do them the like good. It is clear that it is not she who stole the grain; but I will not cease my watching till he fall into my hands and I find out who is the thief.” The ichneumon guess what was in her mind, so she went to the mouse and said to her, “O my sister, there is no good in one who observeth not the claims of neighborship and who showeth no constancy in friendship.” The mouse replied, “Even so, O my friend, and I delight in thee and in they neighborhood; but what be the motive of this speech?” Quoth the ichneumon, “The house-master hath brought home sesame and hath eaten his fill of it, he and his family, and hath left much; every living being hath eaten of it and, if thou take of it in they turn, thou art worthier thereof than any other.” This pleased the mouse and she squeaked for joy and danced and frisked her ears and tail, and greed for the grain deluded her; so she rose at once and issuing forth of her home, saw the sesame husked and dry, shining with whiteness, and the woman sitting at watch and ward. The mouse, taking no thought to the issue of the affair (for the woman had armed herself with a cudgel), and unable to contain herself, ran up to the sesame and began turning it over and eating of it; whereupon the woman smote her with that club and cleft her head: so the cause of her destruction were her greed and heedlessness of consequences. Then said the Sultan, “O Shahrazad, by Allah! this be a goodly parable! Say me, hast thou any story bearing on the beauty of true friendship and the observance of its duty in time of distress and rescuing from destruction?” Answered she:—Yes, it hath reached me that they tell a tale of

165 Arab. “Bint’ Arús” = daughter of the bridegroom, the Hindustani Mungus (vulg. Mongoose); a well-known weasel-like rodent often kept tame in the house to clear it of vermin. It is supposed to know an antidote against snake-poison, as the weasel eats rue before battle (Pliny x. 84; xx. 13). In Modern Egypt this viverra is called “Kitt (or Katt) Far’aun” = Pharaoh’s cat: so the Percnopter becomes Pharaoh’s hen and the unfortunate (?) King has named a host of things, alive and dead. It was worshipped and mummified in parts of Ancient Egypt e.g. Heracleopolis, on account of its antipathy to serpents and because it was supposed to destroy the crocodile, a feat with Ælian and others have overloaded with fable. It has also a distinct antipathy to cats. The ichneumon as a pet becomes too tame and will not leave its master: when enraged it emits an offensive stench. I brought home for the Zoological Gardens a Central African specimen prettily barred. Burckhardt (Prov. 455) quotes a line:—

Rakas’ Ibn Irsin wa zamzama ‘l-Nimsu,
(Danceth Ibn Irs whileas Nims doth sing)

and explains Nims by ichneumon and Ibn Irs as a “species of small weasel or ferret, very common in Egypt: it comes into the house, feeds upon meat, is of gentle disposition although not domesticated and full of gambols and frolic.”

The Cat166 and the Crow

Once upon a time, a crow and a cat lived in brotherhood; and one day as they were together under a tree, behold, they spied a leopard making towards them, and they were not aware of his approach till he was close upon them. The crow at once flew up to the tree-top; but the cat abode confounded and said to the crow, “O my friend, hast thou no device to save me, even as all my hope is in thee?” Replied the crow, “Of very truth it behoveth brethren, in case of need, to cast about for a device when peril overtaketh them, and how well saith the poet,

‘A friend in need is he who, ever true,
For they well-doing would himself undo:
One who when Fortune gars us parting rue
Victimeth self reunion to renew.’”

Now hard by that tree were shepherds with their dogs; so the crow flew towards them and smote the face of the earth with his wings, cawing and crying out. Furthermore he went up to one of the dogs and flapped his wings in his face and flew up a little way, whilst the dog ran after him thinking to catch him. Presently, one of the shepherds raised his head and saw the bird flying near the ground and lighting alternately; so he followed him, and the crow ceased not flying just high enough to save himself and to throw out the dogs; and yet tempting them to follow for the purpose of tearing him to pieces. But as soon as they came near him, he would fly up a little; and so at last he brought them to the tree, under which was the leopard. And when the dogs saw him they rushed upon him and he turned and fled. Now the leopard thought to eat the cat who was saved by the craft of his friend the crow. This story, O King, showeth that the friendship of the Brothers of Purity167 delivereth and saveth from difficulties and from falling into mortal dangers. And they also tell a tale of

166 Arab. “Sinnaur” (also meaning a prince). The common name is Kitt which is pronounced Katt or Gatt; and which Ibn Dorayd pronounces a foreign word (Syriac?). Hence, despite Freitag, Catus (which Isidore derives from catare, to look for) = gatto, chat, cat, an animal unknown to the Classics of Europe who used the mustela or putorius vulgaris and different species of viverræ. The Egyptians, who kept the cat to destroy vermin, especially snakes, called it Mau, Mai, Miao (onomatopoetic): this descendent of the Felis maniculata originated in Nubia; and we know from the mummy pits and Herodotus that it was the same species as ours. The first portraits of the cat are on the monuments of “Beni Hasan,” B.C. 2500. I have ventured to derive the familiar “Puss” from the Arab. “Biss (fem. :Bissah”), which is a congener of Pasht (Diana), the cat-faced goddess of Bubastis (Pi–Pasht), now Zagázig. Lastly, “tabby (brindled)-cat” is derived from the Attábi (Prince Attab’s) quarter at Baghdad where watered silks were made. It is usually attributed to the Tibbie, Tibalt, Tybalt, Thibert or Tybert (who is also executioner), various forms of Theobald in the old Beast Epic; as opposed to Gilbert the gib-cat, either a tom-cat or a gibbed (castrated) cat.

167 Arab. “Ikhwán al-Safá,” a popular term for virtuous friends who perfectly love each other in all purity: it has also a mystic meaning. Some translate it “Brethren of Sincerity,” and hold this brotherhood to be Moslem Freemasons, a mere fancy (see the Mesnevi of Mr. Redhouse, Trubner 1881). There is a well-known Hindustani book of this name printed by Prof. Forbes in Persian character and translated by Platts and Eastwick.

The Fox and the Crow

A Fox once dwelt in a cave of a certain mountain and, as often as a cub was born to him and grew stout, he would eat the young one, for he had died of hunger, had he instead of so doing left the cub alive and bred it by his side and preserved and cherished his issue. Yet was this very grievous to him. Now on the crest of the same mountain a crow had made his nest, and the fox said to himself, “I have a mind to set up a friendship with this crow and make a comrade of him, that he may help me to my daily bread; for he can do in such matters what I cannot.” So he drew near the crow’s home and, when he came within sound of speech, he saluted him and said, “O my neighbour, verily a true-believer hath two claims upon his true-believing neighbour, the right of neighbourliness and the right of Al–Islam, our common faith; and know, O my friend, that thou art my neighbour and thou hast a claim upon me which it behoveth me to observe, the more that I have long been thy neighbour. Also, there be implanted in my breast a store of love to thee, which biddeth me speak thee fair and obligeth me to solicit thy brothership. What sayest thou in reply?” Answered the crow, “Verily, the truest speech is the best speech; and haply thou speakest with thy tongue that which is not in thy heart; so I fear lest thy brotherhood be only of the tongue, outward, and thy enmity be in the heart, inward; for that thou art the Eater and I the Eaten, and faring apart were apter to us than friendship and fellowship. What, then, maketh thee seek that which thou mayst not gain and desire what may not be done, seeing that I be of the bird-kind and thou be of the beast-kind? Verily, this thy proffered brotherhood168 may not be made, neither were it seemly to make it.” Rejoined the fox, “Of a truth whoso knoweth the abiding-place of excellent things, maketh better choice in what he chooseth therefrom, so perchance he may advantage his brethren; and indeed I should love to wone near thee and I have sued for thine intimacy, to the end that we may help each other to our several objects; and success shall surely wait upon our amity. I have a many tales of the goodliness of true friendship, which I will relate to thee if thou wish the relating.” Answered the crow, “Thou hast my leave to let me hear thy communication; so tell thy tale, and relate it to me that I may hearken to it and weigh it and judge of thine intent thereby.” Rejoined the fox, “Hear then, O my friend, that which is told of a flea and a mouse and which beareth out what I have said to thee.” Asked the crow, “How so?” and the fox answered:—They tell this tale of

168 Among Eastern men there are especial forms for “making brotherhood.” The “Munhbolá-bhái” (mouth-named brother) of India is well-known. The intense “associativeness” of these races renders isolation terrible to them, and being defenceless in a wild state of society has special horrors. Hence the origin of Caste for which see Pilgrimage (i. 52). Moslems, however, cannot practise the African rite of drinking a few drops of each other’s blood. This, by the by, was also affected in Europe, as we see in the Gesta Romanoru, Tale lxvii., of the wise and foolish knights who “drew blood (to drink) from the right arm.”

The Flea and the Mouse

Once upon a time a mouse dwelt in the house of a merchant who owned much merchandise and great stories of monies. One night, a flea took shelter in the merchant’s carpet-bed and, finding his body soft, and being thirsty drank of his blood. The merchant was awakened by the smart of the bite and sitting up called to his slave-girls and serving men. So they hastened to him and, tucking up their sleeves, fell to searching for the flea; but as soon as the bloodsucker was aware of the search, he turned to flee and coming on the mouse’s home, entered it. When the mouse saw him, she said to him, “What bringeth thee in to me, thou who art not of my nature nor of my kind, and who canst not be assured of safety from violence or of not being expelled with roughness and ill usage?” Answered the flea, “Of a truth, I took refuge in thy dwelling to save me from slaughter; and I have come to thee seeking thy protection and on nowise coveting thy house; nor shall any mischief betide thee from me to make thee leave thy home. Nay I hope right soon to repay thy favours to me with all good and then shalt thou see and praise the issue of my words.” And when the mouse heard the speech of the flea, — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the One Hundred and Fifty-first Night

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the mouse heard the words of the flea, she said, “If the case be as thou dost relate and describe, then be at thine ease here; for naught shall befal thee save the rain of peace and safety; nor shall aught betide thee but what shall joy thee and shall not annoy thee, nor shall it annoy me. I will lavish on thee my affections without stint; and do not thou regret having lost the merchant’s blood nor lament for thy subsistence from him, but be content with what sustenance thou canst obtain; for indeed that is the safer for thee. And I have heard, O flea, that one of the gnomic poets saith as follows in these couplets,

‘I have fared content in my solitude
With wate’er befel, and led life of ease,
On a water-draught and a bite of bread,
Coarse salt and a gown of tattered frieze:
Allah might, an He pleased, give me easiest life,
But with whatso pleaseth Him self I please.’”

Now when the flea heard these words of the mouse, he rejoined, “I hearken to thy charge and I submit myself to obey thee, nor have I power to gainsay thee, till life be fulfilled in this righteous intention.” Replied the mouse, “Pure intention sufficeth to sincere affection.” So the tie of love arose and was knitted between them twain, and after this, the flea used to visit the merchant’s bed by night and not exceed in his diet, and house him by day in the hole of the mouse. Now it came to pass one night, the merchant brought home great store of dinars and began to turn them over. When the mouse heard the chink of the coin, she put her head out of her hole and fell to gazing at it, till the merchant laid it under his pillow and went to sleep, when she said to the flea, “Seest thou not the proffered occasion and the great good fortune? Hast thou any device to bring us to our desire of yonder dinars? Quoth the flea, “Verily, it is not good that one strives for aught, unless he be able to win his will; because, if he lack ability thereto, he falleth into that which he should avoid and he attaineth not his wish by reason of his weakness, albeit he use all power of cunning, like the sparrow which picketh up grain and falleth into the net and is caught by the fowler. Thou hast no strength to take the dinars and to transport them out of this house, nor have I force sufficient to do this; on the contrary, I could not carry a single ducat of them; so what hast thou to do with them?” Quoth the mouse, “I have made me for my house these seventy openings, whence I may go out at my desire, and I have set apart a place strong and safe, for things of price; and if thou can contrive to get the merchant out of the house, I doubt not of success, an so be that Fate aid me.” Answered the flea, “I will engage to get him out of the house for thee;” and, going to the merchant’s bed, bit him a fearful bite, such as he had never before felt, then fled to a place of safety, where he had no fear of the man. So the merchant awoke and sought for the flea, but finding him not, lay down again on his other side. Then the flea bit him a second time more painfully than before. So he lost patience and, leaving his bed, went out and lay down on the bench before his door and slept there and woke not till the morning. Meanwhile the mouse came out and fell to carrying the dinars into her hole, till she left not a single one; and when day dawned the merchant began to suspect the folk and fancy all manner of fancies. And (continued the fox) know thou, O wise and experienced crow with the clear-seeing eyes, that I tell thee this only to the intent that thou mayst reap the recompense of thy kindness to me, even as the mouse reaped the reward of her kindness to the flea; for see how he repaid her and requited her with the goodliest of requitals. Said the crow, “It lies with the benefactor to show benevolence or not to show it; nor is it incumbent on us to entreat kindly one who seeketh a connection that entaileth separation from kith and kin. If I show thee favour who art my foe by kind, I am the cause of cutting myself off from the world; and thou, O fox, art full of wiles and guiles. Now those whose characteristics are craft and cunning, must not be trusted upon oath; and whoso is not to be trusted upon oath, in him there is no good faith. The tidings lately reached me of thy treacherous dealing with one of thy comrades, which was a wolf; and how thou didst deceive him until thou leddest him into destruction by thy perfidy and stratagems; and this thou diddest after he was of thine own kind and thou hadst long consorted with him: yet didst thou not spare him; and if thou couldst deal thus with thy fellow which was of thine own kind, how can I have trust in they truth and what would be thy dealing with thy foe of other kind than thy kind? Nor can I compare thee and me but with the saker and the birds.” “How so?” asked the fox. Answered the crow, they relate this tale of

The Saker169 and the Birds.

There was once a saker who was a cruel tyrant”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

169 The F. Sacer in India is called “Laghar” and tiercel “Jaghar.” Mr. T.E. Jordan (catalogue of Indian Birds, 1839) says it is rare; but I found it the contrary. According to Mr. R. Thompson it is flown at kites and antelope: in Sind it is used upon night-heron (nyctardea nycticorax), floriken or Hobara (Otis aurita), quail, partridge, curlew and sometimes hare: it gives excellent sport with crows but requires to be defended. Indian sportsmen, like ourselves, divide hawks into two orders: the “Siyáh-chasm,” or black-eyed birds, long-winged and noble; the “Gulábi-chasm” or yellow-eyed (like the goshawk) round-winged and ignoble.

When it was the One Hundred and Fifty-second Night

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the crow pursued, “They relate that there was once a saker who was a cruel tyrant in the days of his youth, so that the raveners of the air and the scavengers of the earth feared him, none being safe from his mischief; and many were the haps and mishaps of his tyranny and his violence, for this saker was ever in the habit of oppressing and injuring all the other birds. As the years passed over him, he grew feeble and his force failed him, so that he was often famished; but his cunning waxed stronger with the waning of his strength and redoubled in his endeavour and determined to be present at the general assembly of the birds, that he might eat of their orts and leavings; so in this manner he fed by fraud instead of feeding by fierceness and force. And out, O fox, art like this: if thy might fail thee, thy sleight faileth thee not; and I doubt not that thy seeking my society is a fraud to get thy food; but I am none of those who fall to thee and put fist into thy fist;170 for that Allah hath vouchsafed force to my wings and caution to my mind and sharp sight to my eyes; and I know that whoso apeth a stronger than he, wearieth himself and haply cometh to ruin. Wherefore I fear for thee lest, if thou ape a stronger than thyself, there befal thee what befel the sparrow.” Asked the fox, “What befel the sparrow?” Allah upon thee, tell me his tale.” And the crow began to relate the story of

170 i.e. put themselves at thy mercy.

The Sparrow and the Eagle

I have heard that a sparrow was once flitting over a sheep-fold, when he looked at it carefully and behold, he saw a great eagle swoop down upon a newly weaned lamb and carry it off in his claws and fly away. Thereupon the sparrow clapped his wings and said, “I will do even as this one did;” and he waxed proud in his own conceit and mimicked a greater than he. So he flew down forthright and lighted on the back of a fat ram with a thick fleece that was become matted by his lying in his dung and stale till it was like woollen felt. As soon as the sparrow pounced upon the sheep’s back he flapped his wings to fly away, but his feet became tangled in the wool and, however hard he tried, he could not set himself free. While all this was doing the shepherd was looking on, having seen what happened first with the eagle and afterwards with the sparrow; so he came up to the wee birdie in a rage and seized him. Then he plucked out his wing-feathers and, tying his feet with a twine, carried him to his children and threw him to them. “What is this?” asked one of them; and he answered, “This is he that aped a greater than himself and came to grief.” “Now thou, O fox, art like this and I would have thee beware of aping a greater than thou, lest thou perish. This is all I have to say to thee; so fare from me in peace!” When the fox despaired of the crow’s friendship, he turned away, groaning for sorrow and gnashing teeth upon teeth in his disappointment; and the crow, hearing the sound of weeping and seeing his grief and profound melancholy, said to him, “O fox, what dole and dolour make thee gnash thy canines?” Answered the fox, “I gnash my canines because I find thee a greater rascal than myself;” and so saying he made off to his house and ceased not to fare until he reached his home. Quoth the Sultan, “O Shahrazad, how excellent are these thy stories, and how delightsome! Hast thou more of such edifying tales?” Answered she:—They tell this legend concerning

The Hedgehog and the Wood-Pigeons

A hedgehog once too up his abode by the side of a date-palm, whereon roosted a wood-pigeon and his wife that had built their next there and lived a life of ease and enjoyment. So he said to himself, “This pigeon-pair eateth of the fruit of the date tree and I have no means of getting at it; but needs must I find some fashion of tricking them. Upon this he dug a hole at the foot of the palm tree and took up his lodgings there, he and his wife; moreover, he built an oratory beside the hole and went into retreat there and made a show of devotion and edification and renunciation of the world. The male pigeon saw him praying and worshipping, and his heart was softened towards him for his excess of devoutness; so he said to him, “How many years hast thou been thus?” Replied the hedgehog, “During the last thirty years.” “What is thy food?” “That which falleth from the palm-tree.” “And what is thy clothing?” “Prickles! and I profit by their roughness.” “And why hast thou chosen this for place rather than another?” “I chose it and preferred it to all others that I might guide the erring into the right way and teach the ignorant!” “I had fancied thy case,” quoth the wood-pigeon, “other than this, but now I yearn for that which is with thee.” Quoth the hedgehog, “I fear lest thy deed contradict thy word and thou be even as the husbandman who, when the seed-season came, neglected to sow, saying, ‘Verily I dread lest the days bring me not to my desire and by making hast to sow I shall only waste my substance!’ When harvest-time came and he saw the folk earing their crops, he repented him of what he had lost by his tardiness and he died of chagrin and vexation.” Asked the wood-pigeon, “What then shall I do that I may be freed from the bonds of the world and cut myself loose from all things save the service of my Lord?” Answered the hedgehog, “Betake thee to preparing for the next world and content thyself with a pittance of provision.” Quoth the pigeon, “How can I do this, I that am a bird and unable to go beyond the date-tree whereon is my daily bread? And even could I do so, I know of no other place wherein I may wone.” Quoth the hedgehog, “Thou canst shake down of the fruit of the date-tree what shall suffice thee and thy wife for a year’s provaunt; then do ye take up your abode in a nest under the trunk, that ye may prayerfully seek to be guided in the right way, and then turn thou to what thou hast shaken down and transport it all to thy home and store it up against what time the dates fail; and when the fruits are spent and the delay is longsome upon you, address thyself to total abstinence.” Exclaimed the pigeon, “Allah requite thee with good for the righteous intention wherewith thou hast reminded me of the world to come and hast directed me into the right way!” Then he and his wife worked hard at knocking down the dates, till nothing was left on the palm-tree, whilst the hedgehog, finding whereof to eat, rejoiced and filled his den with the fruit, storing it up for his subsistence and saying in his mind, “When the pigeon and his wife have need of their provision, they will seek it of me and covet what I have, relying upon thy devoutness and abstinence; and, from what they have heard of my counsels and admonitions, they will draw near unto me. Then will I make them my prey and eat them, after which I shall have the place and all that drops from the date-tree to suffice me.” presently, having shaken down the fruits, the pigeon and his wife descended from the tree-top and finding that the hedgehog had removed all the dates to his own place, said to him, “O hedgehog! thou pious preacher and of good counsel, we can find no sign of the dates and know not on what else we shall feed.” Replied the hedgehog, “Probably the winds have carried them away; but the turning from the provisions to the Provider is of the essence of salvation, and He who the mouth-corners cleft, the mouth without victual hath never left.” And he gave not over improving the occasion to them on this wise, and making a show of piety and cozening them with fine words and false until they put faith in him and accepted him and entered his den and had no suspicion of his deceit. Thereupon he sprang to the door and gnashed his teeth, and the wood-pigeon, seeing his perfidy manifested, said to him, “What hath to-night to do with yester-night? Knowest thou not that there is a Helper for the oppressed? Beware of craft and treachery, lest that mishap befal thee which befel the sharpers who plotted against the merchant.” “What was that?” asked the hedgehog. Answered the pigeon:—I have heard tell this tale of

The Merchant and the Two Sharpers

In a city called Sindah there was once a very wealthy merchant, who made ready his camel-loads and equipped himself with goods and set out with his outfit for such a city, purposing to sell it there. Now he was followed by two sharpers, who had made up into bales what merchandise they could get; and, giving out to the merchant that they also were merchants, wended with him by the way. So halting at the first halting-place they agreed to play him false and take all he had; but at the same time, each inwardly plotted foul play to the other, saying in his mind, “If I can cheat my comrade, times will go well with me and I shall have all these goods for myself.” So after planning this perfidy, one of them took food and putting therein poison, brought it to his fellow; the other did the same and they both ate of the poisoned mess and they both died. Now they had been sitting with the merchant; so when they left him and were long absent from him, he sought for tidings of them and found the twain lying dead; whereby he knew that they were sharpers who had plotted to play him foul, but their foul play had recoiled upon themselves. So the merchant was preserved and took what they had. Then quoth the Sultan, “O Shahrazad, verily thou hast aroused me to all whereof I was negligent! So continue to edify me with these fables.” Quoth she:—It hath reached me, O King, that men tell this tale of

The Thief and his Monkey171

A certain man had a monkey and that man was a thief, who never entered any of the street-markets of the city wherein he dwelt, but he made off with great profit. Now it came to pass one day that he saw a man offering for sale worn clothes, and he went calling them in the market, but none bid for them and all to whom he showed them refused to buy of him. Presently the thief who had the monkey saw the man with the ragged clothes set them in a wrapper and sit down to rest for weariness; so he made the ape sport before him to catch his eye and, whilst he was busy gazing at it, stole the parcel from him. Then he took the ape and made off to a lonely place, where he opened the wrapper and, taking out the old clothes, folded them in a piece of costly stuff. This he carried to another bazar and exposed for sale together with what was therein, making it a condition that it should not be opened, and tempting the folk with the lowness of the price he set on it. A certain man saw the wrapper and its beauty pleased him; so he bought the parcel on these terms and carried it home, doubting not that he had done well. When his wife saw it she asked, “What is this?” and he answered, “It is costly stuff, which I have bought at lowest price, meaning to sell it again and take the profit.” Rejoined she, “O dupe, would this stuff be sold under its value, unless it had been stolen? Dost thou not know that whoso buyeth aught without examining it, falleth into error and becometh like unto the weaver?” Quoth he, “And what is the story of the weaver?”; and quoth she:—I have heard this take of

171 I have remarked (Pilgrimage iii.307) that all the popular ape-names in Arabic and Persian, Sa’adán, Maymún, Shádi, etc., express propitiousness—probably euphemistically applied to our “poor relation.”

The Foolish Weaver

There was once in a certain village a weaver who worked hard but could not earn his living save by overwork. Now it chanced that one of the richards of the neighbourhood made a marriage feast and invited the folk thereto: the weaver also was present and found the guests, who wore rich gear, served with delicate viands and made much of by the house-master for what he saw of their fine clothes. So he said in his mind, “If I change this my craft for another craft easier to compass and better considered and more highly paid, I shall amass great store of money and I shall buy splendid attire, so I may rise in rank and be exalted in men’s eyes and become even with these.” Presently, he beheld one of the mountebanks, who was present at the feast, climbing up to the top of a high and towering wall and throwing himself down to the ground and alighting on his feet. Whereupon the waver said to himself, “Needs must I do as this one hath done, for surely I shall not fail of it.” So he arose and swarmed upon the wall and casting himself down, broke his neck against the ground and died forthright. “Now I tell thee this that thou sayst get thy living by what way thou knowest and thoroughly understandest, lest peradventure greed enter into thee and thou lust after what is not of thy condition.” Quoth the woman’s husband, “Not every wise man is saved by his wisdom, nor is every fool lost by his folly. I have seen it happen to a skilful charmer, well versed in the ways of serpents, to be struck by the fangs of a snake172 and killed, and others prevail over serpents who had no skill in them and no knowledge of their ways.” And he went contrary to his wife and persisted in buying stolen goods below their value till he fell under suspicion and perished therefor: even as perished the sparrow in the tale of

172 The serpent does not “sting” nor does it “bite;” it strikes with the poison-teeth like a downward stab with a dagger. These fangs are always drawn by the jugglers but they grow again and thus many lives are lost. The popular way of extracting the crochets is to grasp the snake firmly behind the neck with one hand and with the other to tantalise it by offering and withdrawing a red rag. At last the animal is allowed to strike it and a sharp jerk tears out both eye-teeth as rustics used to do by slamming a door. The head is then held downwards and the venom drains from its bag in the shape of a few drops of slightly yellowish fluid which, as conjurers know, may be drunk without danger. The patient looks faint and dazed, but recovers after a few hours and feels as if nothing had happened. In India I took lessons from a snake-charmer but soon gave up the practice as too dangerous.

The Sparrow and the Peacock

There was once upon a time a sparrow, that used every day to visit a certain king of the birds and ceased not to wait upon him in the mornings and not to leave him till the evenings, being the first to go in and the last to go out. One day, a company of birds chanced to assemble on a high mountain and one of them said to another, “Verily, we are waxed many, and many are the differences between us, and there is no help for it but we have a king to look into our affairs; so shall we all be at one and our differences will disappear.” Thereupon up came that sparrow and counselled them to choose for King the peacock (that is, the prince he used to visit). So they chose the peacock to their King and he, become their sovereign, bestowed largesse upon them and made the sparrow his secretary and Prime Minister. Now the sparrow was wont by times to quit his assiduous serve in the presence and look into matters in general. So one day he absented himself at the usual time, whereat the peacock was sore troubled; and, while things stood thus, he returned and the peacock said to him, “What hath delayed thee, and thou the nearest to me of all my servants and the dearest of all my dependents?” replied the sparrow, “I have seen a thing which is doubtful to me and whereat I am affrighted.” Asked the peacock, “What was it thou sawest?”; and the sparrow answered, “I saw a man set up a net, hard by my nest, peg down its pegs, strew grain in its midst and withdraw afar off. And I sat watching what he would do when behold, fate and fortune drave thither a crane and his wife, which fell into the midst of the net and began to cry out; whereupon the fowler rose up and took them. This troubled me, and such is the reason for my absence from thee, O King of the Age, but never again will I abide in that nest for fear of the net.” Rejoined the peacock, “Depart not thy dwelling, for against fate and lot forethought will avail the naught.” And the sparrow obeyed his bidding and said, “I will forthwith arm myself with patience and forbear to depart in obedience to the King.” So he ceased not taking care of himself, and carrying food to his sovereign, who would eat what sufficed him and after feeding drink his water and dismiss the sparrow. Now one day as he was looking into matters, lo and behold! he saw two sparrows fighting on the ground and said in his mind, “How can I, who am the King’s Wazir, look on and see sparrows fighting in my neighbourhood? By Allah, I must make peace between them!” So he flew down to reconcile them; but the fowler cast the net over the whole number and the sparrow happened to be in their very midst. Then the fowler arose and took him and gave him to his comrade, saying, “Take care of him, “ I never saw fatter or finer.” But the sparrow said to himself, “I have fallen into that which I feared and none but the peacock inspired me with false confidence. It availed me naught to beware of the stroke of fate and fortune, since even he who taketh precaution may never flee from destiny. And how well said the poet in this poetry,

“Whatso is not to be shall ne’er become;
No wise! and that to be must come to pass;
Yea it shall come to pass at time ordained,
And th’ Ignoramus173 aye shall cry ‘Alas!’”

Whereupon quoth the King, “O Shahrazad, recount me other of these tales!”; and quoth she, “I will do so during the coming night, if life be granted to by the King whom Allah bring to honour!”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

173 Arab. “Akh al-Jahálah” = brother of ignorance, an Ignorantin; one “really and truly” ignorant; which is the value of “Ahk” in such phrases as a “brother of poverty,” or, “of purity.”

Last updated on Thu Mar 30 16:01:07 2006 for eBooks@Adelaide.