The lioness said, ‘They have related that there was in Baghdád an envious man, who had a neighbor a poor man and a pious, who passed his days in traversing the waste of fasting with the step of abstinence, and his nights in traveling the roads of worship by the path of nocturnal prayer and spiritual conflict.

His heart, a lamp of love, he did illume;
And every other thing, save God, consume.

The inhabitants of Baghdád turned the face of confidence towards that holy man, and his goodness was talked of in their assemblies and public meetings and the great men of the city used to notice him kindly and by way of present, and, to secure his blessing, used to send offerings of money and goods to him. On these several accounts the envious man envied his good neighbor, and made various attempts to injure him, but every arrow of deceit which he discharged from the bow of calumny was rendered nugatory by the shield of innocence and the armor of piety. At last he was reduced to despair about this, and was utterly wearied. He then bought a slave, and made a point of according to him all possible kindnesses and rewards, and fulfilled all the requirements of compassionate feeling and care towards him. He used constantly to say, ‘I am cherishing thee for a particular object, and bringing thee up for a thing of the greatest importance, and I hope that thou wilt extricate my heart from that load, and free my sad soul from that care.

With the tears I fondly cherish, with the pangs that wring my frame,
I am hopeful, yes! I feel that I shall quench this cruel flame.

After a considerable time had passed, and the slave became firmly obedient, and submissively disposed, he several times begged with the tongue of entreaty to undertake the promised affair, and to enter upon the business in which the wish of his master was contained, and said, ‘I am not able to express by the force of language the various favors and kindnesses which thou hast lavished on this helpless person, nor by the aid of description can I distinctly set forth the condescending attentions and benefits with which thou hast distinguished this humble slave.

Thy favor makes thy slave a lily seem,
Each limb a tongue of praise, and thou the theme.

I desire, in return for these demonstrations of kindness, that I may shew my devotion, and perform service in requital of these benefits.

The coin of life I’ll sacrifice for thee,
And for thy ends my soul shall offered be.’

When the master saw that his slave aimed at shewing his gratitude and was ambitions of proving his attachment, he raised the curtain from before the affair and said, ‘Know and understand that I am tired of my life by reason of this neighbor of mine, and I wish by some means or other to bring a misfortune upon him. In spite of all the artifices I have set on foot, and the expedients I have contrived, the arrow of my counsel has not reached the target of desire; and the fire of envy blazes forth every moment in my heart and makes life odious to me. And from chagrin on his account I loathe the enjoyments of life, and am disgusted with my own existence. I have cherished thee during this long interval, that thou mayest this night kill me on my neighbor’s terrace, and leave me there and depart; in order that, when they see me there in the morning a corpse, they may, as of course they will, apprehend him on suspicion of the murder; and so he will be despoiled of his property and life, and his character for goodness and virtue will be destroyed, and men’s faith in him will end in being marred, and he will no longer be able to boast of his piety and austerity. And to men’s sorrow the meaning of this couplet will come true with regard to him, in that they have said,

The pious man affects too much: O God! his curtain draw away,
And to the world his hidden vice and naughtiness display.’

The slave replied, ‘O master! relinquish this thought, and set about managing this affair differently; and if thy wish is to get rid of the holy man, I will slay him, and will set thy heart at ease with regard to him.’ The master rejoined, ‘That is a complicated and long affair. Perhaps thou mayest not get him into thy power, nor be able to kill him so quickly, and I have no more patience or endurance left. Arise! and perform this service, and make me satisfied with myself; and lo! I hand over to thee a writing of manumission, and I give thee a purse of gold, with which thou wilt be able to support thyself all thy life, that thou mayest depart from this city, and take up thy abode in another country.’ The slave replied, ‘O master! no wise man entertains this thought which thou hast formed; and no one who has drawn in the perfume of good sense, sets forth such a scheme as thou hast set forth. For the misfortune of an enemy may, indeed, be desirable in one’s lifetime; but when thou hast passed beyond the circle of existence, what gratification will there be to thee from his execution? and what advantage from his being racked and imprisoned?

Bid the tulip cease to grow when I have left the gay parterre;
Cypress! wave not in the garden, when I am no longer there.’

However much he spake after this fashion, it was of no avail; and, when the slave saw that his master’s inclinations lay that way, he cut off his head on the terrace of his neighbor’s house, and left his body, which was a disgrace to the expanse of creation, in that spot, and taking his deed of manumission and the bag of dínárs, he set off for Iṣfahán, and took up his residence in that abode of peace. The next day they found the malevolent merchant lying slain on the terrace of the good man. Thereupon, they seized the latter and detained him in prison. However, as the murder of the accursed envious man was not proved according to law against him, and the majority of the notables and other inhabitants of Baghdád gave their testimony to his virtuous and blameless conduct, no one opposed his acquittal. Still they did not remove his fetters, and he remained for some time imprisoned in the same manner. After an interval, a merchant of distinction saw the slave in Iṣfahán, who asked about the family of his master, and also about the neighbor’s. In the midst of the conversation, they came to speak of that good man and his imprisonment. The slave said, ‘A strange and cruel injustice has been inflicted on that innocent person. The fact is, the thing was done by me at the command and order of my master, and that holy man is quite ignorant of the whole transaction.’ He then detailed all the circumstances, and the rich merchant took a number of persons to witness what he had said; and, on their return to Baghdád, they recounted the story of what had taken place, and the particulars of what had occurred. Thus that true believer obtained his release, and the envious man became a mark for the arrow of execration; while his pious neighbor uttered, with the tongue of his circumstances, this exulting stanza, which is the produce of the mind of an eminent personage,

‘Some rude ones, moved with envy, on my name
Did slanderous breathe, and their foul falsehoods, like
A forge, made hot. In error’s night, the same
Did, with fraud’s bow and envy’s arrow, strike
The hair of selfish aims. Yet to me came
From all their labors good in place of ill,
While their bad deeds were worse rewarded still.’

And I have adduced this story in order that the king may condescend to perceive what actions are done by envious men, and when their feelings towards one another are such, how can birds high in the air, and fishes down in the sea, and beasts in the expanse of the wild plain, be safe from the assaults of the malevolent? And those of thy attendants are not far to seek, who are now inferior to Farísah in dignity, and before held a more honorable position than he does, who have probably contrived a scheme against him, and stir up this treason to degrade him. Pause in thy haste and in these precipitate measures, and adopt a merciful and dignified procedure, and deliberate well in this affair, planning its remedy in a manner becoming thy greatness. Since to-day thou hast pulled in the reins of punishment, and to-morrow the real state of the case will be known and its details understood, one of two things must follow. If he was not worthy of death thou hast exercised a merciful intervention in his behalf, and not impressed on the volume of thy acts innocent blood. While if, in fact, he deserves to be slain, the option is left and there is no excuse for delaying his punishment.

Thou mayst the live man put to death; but, slain,
Thou canst not him resuscitate again.’

The Lion listened to the words of his mother, and having weighed them in the scales of reason, perceived that they contained advice free from selfish ends, and admonition adorned with the ornament of benevolence. He delayed the punishment and commanded them to bring Farísah into the presence, and having summoned him to a private audience, said, ‘I have tried thee before and seen and approved thy qualities and dispositions, and thy words find more acceptance with me than the speeches of thy enemies and of those who envy thee. Return again to the discharge of thy duties, and as to what thou hast said or heard in what has taken place, grieve not over it nor think of it.’ Farísah said, ‘Although the king has spread the shade of his favor on the head of my condition, and manifested towards me all the bounty that kings can evince, nevertheless, I cannot emerge from the chagrin of this calumny, save when the king thinks of a remedy and devises an expedient, that the real truth of the affair and the exact state of the case may be known. Notwithstanding that I am assured of my own perfect honesty, and have the most perfect security in the verdict of acquittal, which my own heart supplies, yet the more cautious the scrutiny your majesty may be pleased to use, the more apparent will be my sincerity and uprightness. And I know that my advantage and welfare is bound up in this matter.

Grieve not, my heart! for gibes of envious men;
There may be good here if thou look’st again.’

Kámjúí said, ‘In what manner can inquiry be made? and by what expedient can the investigation be carried on?’ Farísah replied, ‘The parties who made the false accusation must be brought hither, and your majesty must, in the way of searching inquiry, demand of them what they meant by accusing me in particular of this treason, when I have not eaten flesh for years, and passing over those who eat flesh and cannot do without it. And assuredly when the king is urgent in inquiring into this point, they will give the true account of it. And if they are contentious, by terrifying them with threats of punishment, intelligence may be obtained of the par­ticulars; or if that, too, fails, by holding out hopes of mercy and promising favors, the veil of doubt may be removed from the face of certainty; so that my innocence and unstained honor will be clear to all the court.

Each secret that lies veiled beneath the night,
When day appears, will all be brought to light.’

Kámjúí said, ‘I will inquire the state of the case of them by threatening them with punishment, not by promising them pardon and indulgence, for clemency must not be expended in the case of one who acknowledges malice and envy towards my confidant and trusted minister.’ Farísah said, ‘In all cases where pardon is bestowed by those invested with absolute authority and power, it is rightly bestowed, as it is said, ‘Forgiveness is to be found with power.’ The right method of action is, to pass over the offence of an adversary even when we have complete power over him. For the obtaining power over an adversary is an estimable blessing, and our gratitude for such a blessing can only be shewn by pardon and forgiveness of his fault.

Has victory o’er a foe thy struggles blessed?
Then by forgiveness be thy thanks expressed.’

When Kámjúí had heard the words of Farísah, and beheld the marks of truth and right counsel impressed on the pages of those words; he sent separately for each of those parties who had stirred up this dust of mischief, and used the most strenuous exertions, even to the limit of excess, to dis­cover what was concealed, and to develope the intricate points. Moreover he urged them much, with the promise that, if they would state the truth, the pages of their offences should be washed with the water of forgiveness; and, in addition, they should also be rewarded with honors and gifts from the king. At last some of them acknowledged the facts, and the rest, too, being compelled to confess, disclosed truthfully the real state of the case. Thus the sun of the integrity of Farísah came forth from under the cloud of doubt, and the dust of uncertainty was removed from before the eye of conviction.

We’ve tried it, and the state of each is known.

The mother of the Lion said, ‘O my son! thou hast granted immunity to this faction, and to recall it is impossible; but let this be an example to thee, whence thou oughtest to take warning, and hereafter not open the ear of attention to the slanders of any calumniator. Nor till clear proof and demonstration of positive certainty is obtained, which may release thee from doubt, must thou listen to the idle tales of interested persons, nor assent to what they may say of the faults of another, however pithy* and laconic their words may appear. For a thing of little magnitude, by degrees, reaches such a point that the remedy of it does not come within the sphere of possibility. And the source of great rivers, like the Nile, and the Euphrates, and the Jaiḥún, and the Tigris, is but a very small spring, which by the accession of other waters reaches that magnitude that it is impassable save in ships. Wherefore it is necessary to keep back words, whether trifling or the reverse, that are uttered in defamation of any one, and to close the path to the remarks of others that the conclusion of the affair may not terminate in mischief.

A spade may, at its head, the new-born stream restrain,
Which, full, an elephant would try to ford in vain.’*

Kámjúí replied, ‘I accept this advice, and I perceive that without clear proof it is not good to suspect any one.’ His mother answered, ‘O king! the person who, without evident cause, is angry with his friends, is one of those eight classes of people of whose society sages have commanded us to beware.’ Kámjúí replied, ‘Recount to me the detail of this classification.’ The lioness continued, ‘The wise have traced on the leaves of the pages of admonition that it is proper to shun the society of eight classes, and equally incumbent on us to converse and associate with eight other classes. However, the eight persons from whose intercourse we ought to pluck the skirt of agreement are as follows:—The first, is he who does not recognize the debt he owes to benefactors for benefits received, and stigmatizes himself by ingratitude and unthankfulness. The second, is he who is angry without cause, and whose anger overpowers his gentler feelings. The third, is he who through long life becomes pround, and thinks himself freed from the necessity of discharging his duty to his Creator and his fellow-creatures. The fourth, is he who bases his proceedings on perfidy and deceit, and in whose sight these qualities appear venial. The fifth, is he who opens up to himself the path of falsehood and perfidy, and who withdraws from truth and upright­ness. The sixth, is he who gives a swing to his appetite in matters of licentiousness, and accounts sensual gratification as the principal object* of his wishes, and the K’abah of his hopes. The seventh, is he who is characterised by a deficiency of modesty, and conducts himself with impudence and disrespect. The eighth, is he who is causelessly suspicious of persons, and who, without clear proof and demonstration, distrusts the wise. But the eight persons with whom we ought to unite, and whose society we ought to regard as a blessing, are the following:—First, he who regards it as a duty to be thankful for kindness, and who is careful to discharge the duties which he finds devolve upon him. The second, is he the knot of whose friendship and the promise of whose attachment is not broken by the accidents of fortune and the vicissitudes of uncertain time. The third, is he who feels it incumbent on him to shew respect to men of education and honor, and is disposed to reward and requite them by word and deed. The fourth, is he who keeps himself from perfidy, and lying, and pride, and haughtiness. The fifth, is he who is able to control himself in the moment of anger. The sixth, is he who raises the standard of generosity, and who exerts himself to the utmost in obtaining the wishes of the hopeful. The seventh, is he who clings to the train of modesty and honor, and never oversteps the line of good manners. The eighth, is he who is by nature the friend of good and virtuous men, and shuns the debauched and irreligious. And whoever associates and unites with this class that has been mentioned, and who shuns and avoids the parties that have been named before, by the blessing of the said associates the defect of objectionable qualities diminishes in him, and his temperament approximates to the true equilibrium: for when vinegar, with all the sharp­ness and sourness that is natural to it, is mixed with honey, it escapes from its original acidity, and becomes the means of dispelling so many ailments.*

Go! and, like vinegar, thy acid blend
With honey, and, disease expelling, so
Make glad the soul. Seek a life-valued friend,
And be not dead of heart, for thou shalt grow
Reanimate through him that is thy life. Attend,
Like their own shadow, on the good; which done,
Fame, round the earth shall bear thee like the sun.’

When the Lion saw the results of the care* and the excellence of the intervention of his mother in obviating this embarrassment, and remedying what had happened, after performing what gratitude and thankfulness prescribed, he said, ‘O queen of the age! by the blessed influences of thy admonitions and the favors of thy advice,

Light in the way that had grown dark, has shone,
And things once difficult, have easy grown,

and an able minister and faithful officer has emerged from the whirlpool of calumny, and I have acquired information as to the character of each of my attendants, and I shall know hereafter what kind of treatment to adopt towards each of them, and how to commence in rejecting or accepting their words.’ His confidence in Farísah then increased, and having offered many apologies, and shewn him much courtesy, he called him before him and said, ‘Thou must regard this aspersion as the cause of an increase of my confidence, and the source of an augmentation of my reliance in thee, and thou canst continue the superintendence of the affairs, which was committed to thee, according to the former fashion.’ Farísah replied, ‘This does not come right so, nor is the knot of my affairs loosened by these caresses. The king slighted his former promises, and gave to the accusations of my enemies a firm place in his mind.*

Thou! who hast from thy heart expunged all truth,
And sided wholly with my enemies,
If this the love thou show’st to all—in sooth
There breathes not one worth loving in thy eyes.’

Kámjúí replied, ‘Thou must not take to heart any of these things, for neither didst thou fall short in thy service, nor I fail in my regard. Be of good cheer! and betake thyself to thy duties with the fullest reliance on my protection.’ Farísah replied,

‘Fresh head and turban are not mine each day.

This time I have escaped, but the world is not void of envious and slanderous persons, and as long as the favor of the king towards me continues, the envy of the malignant will be unchanged. Moreover, from the king having listened to my calumniators to the extent that he has, my enemies have learned, that he is easily won over. They will therefore every moment get ready some new embroilment, and will incessantly thrust in their insinuations; and every king that has lent his ear to the words of the mischievous traducer, and given heed to the falsehoods and wiles of the backbiter and defamer, his service is a risking of life; and to sport with one’s life is not the habit of the wise.

My life will not be re-bestowed each day.

And if the king’s judgment sees fit, I will, by a single word, make my excuse for declining service clear.’ The king said, ‘Say on.’ Farísah continued, ‘In that the king showed compassion upon me in this occurrence, and placed fresh confidence in me, and even augmented his former trust in me, he has acted with graciousness and indulgence, and that may be regarded as a surpassing blessing, and a favor exceeding description. But in that he issued his command for my punishment,* with such rash haste and without inquiry being made, he displayed such precipitancy, that I have lost my confidence in his royal generosity, and have ceased to hope in his imperial kindness and infinite compassion. For he causelessly cancelled his former favors, and unreasonably obliterated my previous services, and on a false accusation—and that too of such a paltry nature that had it been proved would not have deserved such importance to be attached to it—authorised a cruel punishment. Now a king ought to be such that even a gross act of treason would not sully the quality of his mercy, like the King of Yaman,* who, notwithstanding an offence of the gravest nature, did not disgrace his Chamberlain, and covered his bad action with the veil of clemency.’ Kámjúí inquired, ‘How was that?’