Farísah said, ‘They have related that in the capital of Yaman there was a king, from whose clear countenance beamed the light of the morning of justice, and on the face of whose acts and the forehead of whose desires the rays of the light of equity were manifest.

A king, that heaven in his court’s way showered,
From bright Orion and the Pleiades,
Largesse. Like Kisra, or like Kai, empowered
He banqueted. Obeyed were his decrees,
Like those of Farídún. Most blest his tread
[Success and fortune followed where he led].

One day he was displeased with his Chamberlain and forbade him his palace.* The hapless Chamberlain had not fortitude to meet the eye of the king, and yet thought it not advisable to depart from that city. Compelled by necessity he remained seated in the corner of his house, and was at one time weeping over the embarrassment of his affairs, at another laughing at the marvelous vicissitudes of fortune.

In weeping for my piteous state the livelong night I thus beguile,
I now like wasting taper weep, anon, I tearful sadly smile.

At last from the deficiency of means, and his numerous family, and the embarrassment caused by their utter destitution, he came to the conclusion that he ought to convey himself into the king’s presence, either that his neck might meet the sword of punishment, or his head be adorned with the diadem of acceptance. One day, when the king had a great entertainment and there was a general levée, the Chamberlain sent to all his friends, and having borrowed a horse and a robe, sate thereon, and entered the king’s palace. The warders and chamberlains supposed that the king had renewed his favor towards him, and that they had given the steed and the robe to him by command of the Sulṭan; wherefore no one opposed his entrance. So the Chamberlain boldly entered the court and stood in his proper place. Now the king had taken his seat at a banquet of wine, and was indulging in mirth with his guests. When he saw the Chamberlain, the fire of wrath began to blaze forth; and the executioner, Anger, demanded the chastise­ment of the offender. Again, on reflection, he was unwilling to disturb the convivial meeting, and to exchange the enjoyment of the sweet wine for the ennui of vexation and annoyance. His natural clemency sought to get the preference by pardoning the crime, and his innate generosity viewed the offence as not committed.

Drink wine, be kind, and trust the rest to me.

When the Chamberlain looked on the face of the king, and found the freshness of his mirth and his hilarity unchanged, he applied himself busily to his duties; and having tightly bound the skirt of service on the waist of attendance, he lent a hand in everything that was being done, and engaged in every duty; until, having obtained a good opportunity, he concealed under his tunic a golden dish, which weighed a thousand miḳáls. The king per­ceived that action of his, and understood that narrowness of means and his distressed condition were the cause of this boldness. He therefore deputed clemency to conceal that offence. At the end of the party, those who had charge of the dishes were making search and accusing the people, and their aim was to extract a confession from them by intimidation and threats. The king asked one of the grandees, ‘What has happened to these people that they are in such excessive perturbation?’ The nobleman represented the matter as it was. The king said, ‘Let these people go, for they have not got the dish. He who has it, will not give it back; and he who saw it will not tell.’ The Chamberlain went out and supported himself for a year on the price of that dish. The next year, at the very same time, there was a special banquet and a general levée. Again the Chamberlain introduced himself in the crowd. The king called him up and whispered to him, ‘Is the dish all spent?’ The Chamberlain turned the face of supplication towards the ground, and said,

‘O happy prince! be evil eyes from thy moon’s fortune far away!
And thy life’s mansion to all time replenished and abundant stay.

What I did was for a set purpose, and I thought that the king would see me, or some other would detect it, and convey me to punishment; for, from the sufferings of hunger, I was sick of my life. While, if what I did, remained under the veil of concealment, at least I should secure food for some days. These were my feelings, and I am certain that the truth of my statement will not remain hidden in the mirror of the most luminous mind.

That heart-irradiating lamp full well my pain and anguish knows;
And in this plaint its pure idea a witness to my sufferings shews.*

The king replied, ‘Thou speakest truth, and there is room for com­miseration in thy case.’ He then bestowed on him marks of his favor, and committed to him the same post which he formerly held.

Now the object of citing this story is to shew that the heart of the king ought to be like the billowy sea, so as not to be discolored by the dirt and rubbish of calumny; and the centre of his clemency should be like the stately mountain, firm in a position of stability, so that the furious wind of anger cannot move it.

Not with good minds does wrath assimulate;
Nor in hot places will the citrul grow.
Crumbling to dust, vile things their former state
Abandon; while the mountains undergo
No change; but as they were, continue so.’

The Lion responded, ‘Thy words are true, but bitter and rough. Now an antidote ought to be sweet, that the patient may find it easy to swallow; and it is possible that the mind of a sick person may loathe a nauseous medicine, even though he knows that his recovery depends upon it, and hence he remains excluded from the blessing of health.

Who, by sweet speech, could win our hearts to mirth,
Why should his mouth to tart response give birth?’

Farísah replied, ‘The king’s heart is rougher in confirming falsehood, than my words in uttering truth. And since he hears with facility deceit and slander, it would be better if the listening to what is true and whole­some, were not so displeasing to him. Nor, I pray, let him impute this speech to boldness and disrespect, for it comprehends two things of the utmost utility. The first is, that those who have been unjustly treated, find a relief in appealing and in venting their grief, and their minds are cleansed from the dust of grief in lamenting and exclaiming against oppresssion. Moreover, it is better that I should disclose all that is in my heart, that present or absent I may be the same to the king, and that nothing may remain that in future may rankle into hostility. The second thing is, that I wished that the sagacious judgment and world-adorning justice of the king should pronounce on this case. But the decision could be pronounced only after hearing the statement of the injured person; consequently, it appeared imperative, that the latter should state the case of his wrongs to the physician of the court of justice.

How can one hide his ailment from the leech?’

Kámjúí replied, ‘The case is so; but in liberating thee from this whirl­pool, we conferred on thee an infinite benefit; and liberation from the vortex of destruction, after the order for punishment had been issued, is a more manifest favor and a more thorough instance of bounty.’ Farísah rejoined, ‘As long as life lasts I shall be unable to return thanks for the kindness of the king, nor in ages could I acquit myself of my debt to the royal beneficence; and this pardon and condonation after the order for retribution and chastisement, surpasses all other favors; for other benefits have relation only to the sustenance of the body, while this is the cause of tranquillity as regards life itself.

With favor on my life and heart thou didst thy look of kindness cast;
My life is pledged to gratitude, and my heart, blushing, owns the past.

And before this, too, I was always the king’s sincere, obedient, loyal, and attached servant, and I considered my life and soul due as a sacrifice to obtain his approval and to execute his commands; and what I now say, is not to attach blame to the king’s judgment in this affair, or to reproach his prudence and wisdom; but it is an enduring custom, and an inveterate habit, for the ignorant to envy those who possess merit and ability, and it appears impossible to close the path of envy from reaching the eminent and wise.

The rose of worth and merit blooms not free from envy’s rankling thorn.

And an eminent personage has said on this subject,

‘Some worthless fellow may speak ill of me,
’Tis that my merit does his soul distress;
Little care I that men should envious be,
Who is not envied can no worth possess.’

And from the sage’s blessing, ‘Return envied,’ the same subtle sense is intelligible.’ Kámjúí said, ‘What need one care for the envy of foes and the machinations of the envious? for false words carry no weight* with them, and the schemes of the worthless, with respect to the excellencies of people of merit, are like an obscure star in the Lesser Bear in the sun’s splendor, which causes it to remain hid. Falsehood is always defeated and truth triumphant, according to the saying, ‘And the word of God is triumphant:’ the glory of the wise man is not broken by the breach of the envious person, nor is the innocent man stained by the calumnies of the defamer.

What if a worthless foe should thee defame?
Copper can never take the place of gold.
In spite of taunts obscure, the sun will flame
With equal brightness. When will pebbles hold
The market-price that gems can justly claim?

And be thou henceforward secure, that the mischievous attempts of the envious cannot injure thee, for I have learned the truth of their interested remarks, and will not meet them with assent.’ Farísah replied, ‘In spite of all this, I fear lest, God forbid! my enemies should find an opportunity of interfering between us, not by envy, but by way of advice.’ The Lion asked, ‘In what manner can they interfere?’ Farísah answered, ‘They will say, ‘In the heart of such a one alarm has sprung up, inasmuch as thou didst give an order for his punishment; and his brain has become intoxicated with pride, because thou hast augmented thy favor towards him, and at this very time he feels himself wronged by your majesty; and one whose suspicions are excited is not fit to be trusted, nor ought he to be promoted in thy service.

Be not supine with him whom thou hast galled.’

And when they essay to move the king’s mind with this artifice, it is not improbable that suspicion will be excited on the king’s part too; and in point of fact, there is ground for kings not feeling secure of a servant, who has been wronged or disgraced from his post, or removed from his office; or whose enemy, who was formerly inferior to him in rank, has been preferred before him.’ Kámjúí replied, ‘How can this affair be remedied? and by what plan can the gates of this approach be closed?’ Farísah made answer, ‘Their words on this score would be very unfounded, and would have nothing but a mere erroneous semblance. For after such occurrences the confidence of both parties becomes more clear; and hence, even if in the mind of the master dissatisfaction has arisen, owing to his discovering some neglect in the service of his minister, yet, after giving vent to his anger, and inflicting the punishment deserved, that resentment will, without doubt, diminish, and no apprehension, little or much, will be left. Moreover, the king will for the future understand the little dependance to be placed in the false reports of messengers, and will give no more heed to the idle whispers of the interested, while the excessive attachment and sagacity, and perfect skill and honesty of the other party become better established. Moreover, even if in the heart of the servant, too, alarm and dread have existed, yet, after having received his chastisement, he feels secure, and ceases to anticipate evil.

I was in grief, and from that grief got free;
In trouble, yet I found security.’

The Lion asked, ‘In how many ways does distrust originate among servants?’ Farísah replied, ‘In three ways: in the first place, if the subject possess a high dignity, which through the supineness of his master is impaired. Secondly, if enemies sally out against him, and by reason of the king’s withdrawal of favor, make an overpowering attack against him. Thirdly, if property and wealth, that he may have acquired, pass from his hands through the king’s want of kindness.’ Kámjúí asked, ‘How can these things be remedied?’ Farisah replied, ‘By one thing, which is, that the favor of his master be regained, and fresh confidence be reposed in him by the king; so that both the rank which he had lost be restored to him, and his rival, too, who had got the better of him, be rebuked; and the property of his, which had been dissipated, be re-collected. For an equivalent can be found for everything save life, specially in the service of kings and great men. And since the king has been pleased to remedy the condition of this his slave, and since I have entirely regained the royal favor and approval, what grievance can yet remain? or how can my enemies find an opportunity to speak? Yet notwithstanding all this, I hope that the King will hold me excused and not draw me again into the net of calamity, and permit me to wander in this wilderness secure and content, and with sincerity of heart offer up daily portions of benediction and praise.

By day thy praise I’ll study to proclaim,
All night repeat due portions of the same.’

Kámjúí answered, ‘Keep a stout heart! for thou art not of those servants that calumniators should make their voices heard respecting thee, and convey to the place of acceptance words tending to asperse thy character. Moreover I have thoroughly proved thee,* and learned that in adversity thou art indued with patience, and in prosperity art conspicuous for thy gratitude; and that thou rejectest all that is contrary to honor and uprightness, and regardest it as a plain obligation to observe generosity, and at the same time honesty in all thy orders. Wherefore rely on my protection and favor, for my confidence in respect to thy ability and truth and sagacity and probity has been doubled; and in no possible way can the words of thy opponents hereafter find a hearing; and whatever wiles they may contrive will be construed into a palpable attack.

Henceforward we no listening ear will lend,
To envy’s words malignant ’gainst a friend.’

Farísah replied, ‘With the existence of all this condescending kindness, what fear should I have of the malice of enemies? and possessing the happiness of the imperial favor, what need I fear from the dissatisfaction of my rivals?

What care I for the arrows now of envy’s bow that aims awry;
For now that my arch-eyebrowed one I’ve gained, I may its shafts defy.’

Then with the utmost assiduity he entered upon his duties, and each day the degree of his authority was augmented, and the rank of his elevation and promotion doubled, until through the abundance of his right-mindedness and rectitude the royal confidence was entirely reposed in him, and he became the depositary of the state-secrets, both financial and political.

His tree to such an elevation grew,
That higher than high heaven, its shade it threw.

This is the story of kings, with regard to what happens between them and their followers; and how, after the manifestation of their dislike and displeasure, they return to gracious and indulgent feelings. And let it not be hidden from the wise, what an amount of profitable instruction they have wrapped up in the composition of these stories and narratives. Whoever is favored by the assistance of heaven, and aided by the divine auspices, will expend all his energies in trying to understand the directions of the sage, and lavish all his zeal in unveiling the dark sayings of the wise; and will have recourse to the physicians of the hospital of spirituality, the exhilarating care-dispellers of truth; in order that by the blessing of the curatives of these spiritual doctors he may escape from the error-blending ailments of ignorance and fatuity.

Of thy soul’s guide the cure of teaching ask,
For man’s worst ailment is his ignorance.
If darkness should the sullied mirror mask,
Vainly in it the fairest face may glance.
Recluse, monk, Ṣúfí, children are astray;
The man is he who walks in God’s own way.