The Bráhman replied, ‘They have related that in the country of Aleppo, there was a jungle full of various trees and containing gardens and streams.

Rose, willow, poplar, box and cypress made,
Bough within bough a thick o’er-hanging shade.

And in that jungle there was a Lion,* a monster, ready for war and conflict, of elephantine bulk, such that Bahrám in the sky was like a wild ass before it, and the celestial lion, from the awe of its terribleness, fled beneath the earth like the energy infixed there by omnipotence.*

When it its tusks in furious anger showed,
An anvil’s self dissolved with fear and dread.
Like coals of fire* its two eye-balls glowed,
Its mouth a cave with daggers keen was spread.

It was always busied in shedding blood and incessantly besmeared its jaws with the gore of animals. A lynx, who was its attendant, on beholding things going on after this fashion, felt alarmed at the consequences of this cruelty and the fruits of this blood-thirstiness, and bethinking itself of the commination, ‘Whoever abets an oppressor, God will give that oppressor power over him,’ desired to abandon that service.

Of tyrants’ converse ever stand in fear!
Burns must be dreaded when the flame is near.’

Thus reflecting he turned his face toward the desert, on the edge of which he saw a mouse, which was most busily employed in gnawing the root of a tree and in severing with its serrulated teeth the material of its fibres. Meantime the tree with the tongue of its condition, was addressing it thus, ‘O cruel tormentor! why art thou overthrowing with the axe of injury, the foundation of my life? and why dost thou sever with the sword of injustice, the strings of my existence, or in other words, my roots, with which I imbibe water? and thus exclude men from the happiness of my shade and the advantage of my fruit.

Abstain from ill, for ill will ill requite,
Badness is madness* in good people’s sight.’

The mouse paying no attention to his complaints, employed himself in the same cruel proceeding, when suddenly a snake with open mouth came out from a lurking-place, and making a spring at the mouse, all at once swallowed him.’ The lynx carried away fresh experience from these circum­stances, and learned that the injurious person meets with nought but injury, and he who plants a bramble gathers not the rose of his wish.

Thou look’st for good, and yet dost evil do!
The guerdon of ill acts is evil, too.

And at the same time that the snake, after finishing the deglutition of the mouse, coiled itself under the tree, a hedgehog came up, and seized the tail of the snake with its mouth, and pulled it. The snake, from excessive inquietude dashed against it, until all its body was transfixed with the points of its quills, and it yielded up its life to the ruler of hell. The lynx clearly beheld on the page of certainty another writing. But when the snake was disabled, the hedgehog put out its head, and devoured such parts of the snake as were fit for its food, and again drawing back its head under the curtain of concealment, lay in the shape of a ball on the plain of the desert. The lynx was watching the state of the hedge-hog, when all of a sudden a hungry fox came there, and beheld the hedgehog, which was a tit-bit for it, in that posture. The fox knew that owing to the sharpness of the thorns it could not inhale the perfume of the rose of its desire, nor open the door of its wish with the key of artifice and contrivance. He, therefore, threw the hedgehog on its back and dropped some drops of urine on its belly. And the hedgehog, under the idea that it was raining, drew its head from out of the curtain of concealment. Then the fox leapt up and seized his neck, and having bitten off its head, greedily devouredthe rest of its body, so that the skin alone was left. The repast was not quite done when a bounding dog came from a corner like a ravenous wolf, and tore the fox to pieces, and having appeased its canine appetite with a part of it, went to sleep in a retired spot. The lynx was observing these marvels, each of which was a clear proof of the certainty of retribution, and was in expectancy as to what was next to come from the secret chamber of fate into the expanse of the plain of destiny, when suddenly it beheld a leopard, which rushed out from the corner of the desert, and before the dog was aware, tore its heart from its breast with his life-lacerating teeth. It happened that the leopard had sprung out without observing the ambush of a hunter, who was sitting close by with an arrow fitted to his bow. When he saw the leopard busy with the dog he discharged a heart-piercing shaft at it, which entered its right side and came out at the left.

Heaven praised the adroitness of that hand and aim,
And earth approval murmured of the same.

The leopard was as yet scarce fallen to the ground when the hunter nimbly stripped off its skin from its head. Just then a horseman came up there, and took a fancy to that leopard’s skin, which was very beautifully spotted and colored. The hunter, however, being loath to part with it, their proceedings ended in a quarrel and deadly strife, and in the midst of their contest the horseman drew a finely-tempered sword, and rode at the hunter, and before the latter could shake himself free, the horseman made his head roll on the plain, and snatching up the leopard’s skin, set off on his road. He had as yet not gone a hundred paces, when his horse fell on its head, and the rider, being hurled to the ground, broke his neck.

Fate did not him two instants’ pause allow.

These experiences augmented the conviction of the lynx, and coming to the Lion, he demanded permission to quit that jungle. The Lion replied, ‘Thou reposest under the shade of my good fortune, and hast a share from the tray of my beneficence, and the table of my generosity. What may be the cause of thy departure from this station, and of thy abandonment of my service?’ The lynx answered, ‘O King! an idea has exhibited itself to me, and a thought has raised its head from the environs of my heart, which if I conceal, I fear I shall melt; and if I tell, I am in terror lest I should lose my life.

What my heart feels ’tis hard from thee to veil,
From fear of God more hard to tell my tale.

But if your royal highness will pledge me your faith in a manner which it will be quite inadmissible to break, I will truthfully state how the case stands.’ The Lion assured him of his safety, and pledged himself accord­ingly, and confirmed his promise by oaths. Then the lynx said, ‘I observe that the inclinations of the king are restricted to the injury of God’s creatures, and the reins of his power are turned to the annoyance of the innocent. Hearts are wounded by the claw of his tyranny, and breasts lacerated by the scar of the sufferings he inflicts.

Go! dread remorse and leave thy cruel way,
And fear the terrors of the judgment-day.

And I am much alarmed at this state of things, and am aghast at these circumstances.’ As the Lion had that very moment given his promise, he put up with this hard language, and said, ‘Since no wrong is done to thee, and my tyranny does not reach thee, of what use is it to withdraw?’ The lynx replied, ‘The first of two reasons is, that no generous-minded person can endure to see oppression, nor can bear to bear the groans of the victims.

Thy being does all living things distress,
And their afflictions truly please me not.
I am half sallow at my helplessness,
And this my grief is caused by their sad lot.

The second reason is, my fear lest the baneful results of these actions should reach thee, and I too, owing to my association with thee, should be consumed in the fire of punishment.

The fire once kindled burns both moist and dry.’

The Lion said, ‘How hast thou learned the disastrous result of evil actions? and by whom hast thou been taught the happy consequences of acting well?’ The lynx replied, ‘All whose nostrils have inhaled the fragrance of the flower-garden of understanding know that whoever sows the seed of injury will reap nought save the harvest of detriment, and he who plants the young tree of benefit will gather only the fruit of tranquillity. They have compared the world, which is the place of retribution, to a mountain, because whatever thou sayest, good or bad, thou hearest, by way of echo, the response of the same.

This world a hill is, and our acts a shout,
And back the hill to us the echo spurns.
Though long the shadow that a wall throws out,*
That shadow dwindling to the wall returns.

And I have this day beheld with the eye of certainty the realities of retri­bution, and have seen with my own sight the nature of recompense.’ He then began and recounted, in the manner he had observed it, the story of the mouse and the snake, and the hedgehog and fox, and the dog and leopard, and the hunter and the horseman. He then added, by way of admonition, ‘O king! the mouse that gnawed the root of the tree became the food of the snake; and the snake that injured him was overtaken with the calamity of the hedgehog; and the hedgehog that killed the snake fell into the snare of the artifice of the fox; and the fox, which spilled the blood of an animal, was destroyed by the hungry dog; and the dog, on account of this injustice, was crushed under the paw of the leopard; and the leopard, through the disastrous influence of its own cruelty and injuriousness, was made a target for the shaft of fate; and the hunter, owing to his unprovoked attack and mercilessness, lost his life; and the horseman, through his pitiless shedding of innocent blood, was left with his heart crushed and neck broken. Thus the actions of each, since they were based on injury to others, proved, by way of retaliation, injurious to himself. Wherefore it is incumbent on persons of understanding to abandon evil, and to keep aloof from the evilly disposed; and it is a sacred and necessary duty for the wise to reduce their own conduct to rectitude, and let their disposition be towards good actions.

’Tis the first sign of Wisdom’s course begun,
Through every circling year ill acts to shun.’

The Lion was so infatuated with the pride of his own strength, and so intoxicated with the arrogance engendered by his own might and prowess, that he looked upon the words of the lynx as mere idle tales, and regarded his admonitions as a jest; and the more he talked in this fashion the higher rose the flame of the Lion’s cupidity and greediness.

Thou, who dost preach to me ‘gainst love, waste not
Thy words—they do but make my flame more hot.

The lynx saw that his advice had the same effect on the heart of the Lion that the foot of a little ant has on a rock, or on steel; and that his warnings exercised no more influence on the breast [of that savage] than the point of the lance of a thorn on the cuirass of a hard stone.

Aye! when will thorn-points pierce through solid stone?*

He therefore quitted the Lion and went out into a retired place. The Lion, incensed by what had occurred with the lynx, followed close upon him, but the lynx concealed himself in a thicket of thorns. The Lion passed by him and beheld two fawns feeding in the plain of that desert, while their fond mother was, guardian-like, watching their movements. The Lion attempted to seize them, and the deer called out, ‘O king! what wilt thou gain by making prey of these two little ones? or what will it advantage thee to devour them? Cause not my eyes to weep at separation from those who are the solace of my sight, and broil not my heart with the fire of parting from those who are pieces of my liver. Thou too, in fine, hast children. Think of them! lest the same befall them that befalls mine.

Do that to me thou wouldst wish for thyself.’

It happened that the Lion had two young ones, the sight of which made the world bright to him, and he wished for the power of vision simply to gaze on their forms. At the very time that he was about to pounce on the fawns, a hunter, too, was employed in that jungle in capturing the lion-whelps. Here the Lion, giving no heed to the lamentations of the doe, killed her fawns, and then the hunter slew both the lion-whelps and flayed them.

Of thine own children, sure thou art the foe,
On others’ children who inflictest woe.

The doe, flying from the presence of the Lion, and suffering the pangs of separation from her own beloved ones, was running in various directions distractedly. All at once the lynx came up to her, and asked what had befallen her? and, when he had learned what had happened to her, his heart was consumed at her distress, and he began to lament with her.

‘Whene’er my heart for my love’s suffering weeps,
Walls groan, and every door the cry repeats.’

After outcries, and wailing, and sighs, and weeping, and lamentation without end, the lynx consoled her, and said, ‘Grieve not! in a short time he will meet with his punishment and the requital due.

The taper did the moth consume, ’tis true;
Burned in its wax it soon will perish too.’

However, in the other direction, the Lion returned to his jungle and saw his young ones stretched in that manner upon the ground. Hereupon he raised his outcries and roarings to the sky, and said,

‘Anguish has reached my bosom, for the solace of my life is sped;
Alas! my state has come to this that hope and patience’ self are fled.’

The Lion raised so huge an uproar, and commencing a piteous outcry, lamented in such wise that the wild animals of that wilderness wept at his bemoanings, and he expressed his distress in such a fashion that the birds of the air, from sympathy with his sufferings, lamented also.

Blood, like a torrent, flows from my moist eyes,
Why speak of friends, e’en foes must sympathize.

In the neighborhood of the Lion lived a jackal who had shaken his skirt free from worldly associations, and who perused, from the page of resignation and reliance on God, the subtle saying, ‘Whoever is contented, is full.’

In Resignation’s plain he mounted went,
And in the waste of Trust he pitched his tent.

He came to the Lion to condole with him, and said, ‘What is the cause of all this lamentation and groaning?’ The Lion stated the facts. The jackal said, ‘Practice patience, and take to thyself fortitude, for never did any nostril inhale from the flower-garden of the world the perfume of constancy. Nor did any palate ever taste from the hand of the cup-bearer Time the wine of happiness without the smack of suffering.*

To look for fortune’s constancy is vain;
Nor hope Time’s circling course repose will bring.
There is no better medicine for the pain
Of wounded hearts than to endure the sting.

Compose thy heart for a time and open the ear of attention while I read to thee two or three maxims from the volume of wisdom, and point out to thee the true state of the transactions of this perfidious world.’ The sea of the Lion’s mind was calmed from its tumultuous state, and he listened heedfully to the admonitions and counsels of the jackal with the ear of acquiescence. When the latter saw that the Lion was disposed to hearken to his words, he began a captivating harangue, and said, ‘O king! there is an ending appointed to every beginning, and there is a predestined conclusion to the commencement of every affair. Whenever the period of life is finished and the time of fated extinction has arrived, a moment’s respite is impossible, [as it is said], Therefore when their term is expired, they shall not have respite for an hour, neither shall they be anticipated.’* And we may expect joy to follow on the traces of every grief, and after all mirth we must anticipate lamentation.

Like the breeze for years I wandered life’s enchanting gardens round,
Wheresoe’er I found a flower, there I always thorns too found.

In all situations one ought to acquiesce in the divine decree, and lay aside complaints which are altogether unavailing.

Resign thy life! fate’s aim is such, that it
Not by one hair’s point fails the mark to hit.’

The Lion said, ‘Whence has this calamity reached my young ones?’ The jackal replied, ‘This, too, has reached thee from thyself, for thou hast inflicted on others twice as much as the Archer of destiny has inflicted on thee. And this is the requital of thy own deeds which has reached thee, [for it is said], ‘As thou judgest, thou shalt be judged.’ And thy case is very like that of the Seller of Wood, who said, ‘Whence did this fire fall among my wood?’ The Lion asked, ‘How was that?’