The Bráhman said, ‘They have related that in the land of Kinnauj (Kanoj) there lived a man pious and abstemious, and continent and religious. He was assiduous in satisfying the conditions of the daily duties of devotion, and he performed with sincerity the customary ceremonies of worship. The clearness of his purity had obliterated the opacities of earthly connections, and the transparency of his nature removed from before the eyes of the spiritual the curtain of the obscurities of terrestrial concerns. The border of his prayer-carpet was the alighting-place of the manifestations of grace, and the threshold of his closet was the theatre of the exhibitions of the infallible world.

His crown was of the ‘C’* of God’s ‘Code’ made,
The heart his throne, his prayers the ladder were.
His will was in th’ angelic world obeyed,
The kingdom of God’s Oneness owned his care.
Devils he slew, angelic in his mind,
And when he moved he left dull earth behind.*

He expended all his energies in restoring life to the ceremonies of the law, and employed all his zeal in fulfilling the duties of a righteous life. The bird of love of the world did not find a nest in the region of his breast, and the beams of his regard from the sun of his mind did not fall nor shine on this dark earth.

Happy they, who pure as the sun have past!
Nor on this world a shadow e’en have cast.

And notwithstanding* all this piety and abstinence, whatever was his portion from the treasury of ‘Unto God belong the stores of heaven and earth,’* he devoted to [the reception of] guests, and used to bestow the provisions of his own dinner and supper, through the strength of his liberality, on deserving darveshes.

O’er the ethereal sky he raised the stars of generousness,
In bounty’s sign, for great the power that liberal gifts possess.*

One day a traveler came to his cell as guest, and the pious man, as is the custom of bountiful hosts—viz., that their table appears without the vinegar of frowns—advanced to meet him with a fresh countenance and open brow, and displayed the utmost joy and cheerfulness at his visit. After offering his salutations, and the arrangement of the repast, they spread the carpet of conversation. The Holy Man inquired, ‘Whence art thou come? and to what country is it thy intention to go?’ The Guest replied, ‘My story is a long one, and it is a narrative compounded of many points of true experience and subtleties of comparison. But if your illustrious mind feels disposed to hear it, some particulars may be set forth by way of summary.’ The Devotee replied, ‘Whoever has the ear of intelligence open will be able to derive some advantage from every story, and may pass by the bridge of comparison to the road of true wisdom.

From every play we may a hint obtain,
From every story some advantage gain.

Do thou without hesitation recount thy history, and state unreservedly what advantages and detriment have accrued to thee from this journey.’ The Guest replied, ‘O holy man of the age, and incomparable saint! know that I am originally from Europe, and I was employed there as a baker. I was always heating the oven of my bosom with the fire of covetousness, and yet, with a thousand difficulties, I obtained but a single loaf from the table of fortune.

My kidneys turned to blood, ere I could win
My destined loaf, that lay fate’s oven in.

Now I had a friendship with a farmer, and the road of companionship was incessantly trodden by us, and the customs of amicable intercourse observed. The farmer, out of friendly feeling and to assist me, used to send to my shop the grain that I required, and took the money for it as time came round, and when* there happened to be a delay* sometimes in the payment, he was easy with me. One day he took me to an entertainment at one of his gardens, and discharged all the duties of a host, as is customary with liberal people. After we had finished eating our meat, we engaged in conversation. He inquired, ‘What amount of profit dost thou make by thy trade? and what is the extent of thy stock and interest?’ I gave him some slight inkling of my condition, and said, ‘The stock in my shop is twenty kharwárs* of wheat, and the profit I obtain thereon is just enough to support my wife and family, and that may be* about ten or twelve kharwárs.

Since I no trade more gainful have than this,
This then my craft and occupation is.’

The farmer exclaimed, ‘Holy God! the profit of thy profession is not of that degree that one could build thereon. I fancied that in thy trade the profit was great and the income immense.

It was a downright error, what I thought.’

I rejoined, ‘Sir! what kind of business is thine? and what are the profits and capital in it?’ He replied, ‘In my business the capital required is small and the interest vast. Save the seed that we sow the whole crop is clear gain. And in this business we are not content with a return of ten for one.’ I was amazed, and said, ‘How can this be?’ The farmer answered, ‘Don’t be surprised, for there is still greater profit than this. When a single poppy-seed, which is the smallest of all seeds, takes root well in the ground and germinates, it sends up near twenty shoots,* and possibly even more. And at the end of every shoot is a poppy-clump, so that one cannot reckon the number of them; and hence thou mayest imagine that the profit of my business is beyond the range of calculation, and the gain of farming greater than can be computed. And the agriculturists of the field of wisdom have said that <Arabic> zar’a (sowing) is a word of three letters, and that its two first letters are <Arabic> z-r (or zar) ‘gold,’ and its last letter is <Arabic> ’ain, and that, too, is a name for gold, wherefore this business is gold upon gold.

Since Zarā’s two first letters ‘gold’ express; and that behind
Means also ‘gold,’ in this word then ‘gold upon gold,’ we find.

And, according to the belief of the alchymists, the department of husbandry is viewed in such a light that the philosopher’s stone* is supposed to allude to agriculture: as it is said,

To seek the red-hued sulphur* is to squander life in vain,
Turn to black mould and there the one sole alchymy obtain.’

When I heard these words from the farmer, a longing for the gains of agriculture entered my head, and shutting up the door of my shop I busied myself with preparing farming implements. Now, in the quarter of the town in which I resided, there was a darvesh famed for his perfections, and noted for his excellent qualities.

All outward show relinquishing, a lonely life he spent;
All luxuries he put aside, with requisites content.

When he learnt that I was leaving my own business, and going to employ myself in a different profession, he sent for me, and loosing the tongue of rebuke, said, ‘Master baker! be content with that which has been given thee and don’t seek for more, for the quality of greediness is an unlucky one, and the end of the greedy is to be deprecated. But whoever holds in his hand the coin of contentment is the king of his own time, while he that is a prisoner to the baseness of avarice is on a level with devils and brutes.

Be patient, and thy loaf of barley break,
Lest thou the wheat* that ruined Adam take.’

I replied, ‘O shekh! I get but little advantage from this business in which I am engaged, and I have found out that the profits of farming are great. I have formed an idea that I may, perhaps, be benefited by the latter occupation, and that I may subsist more easily.’ The old devotee answered, ‘For a very long time the means of thy subsistence have been procured by this business, and the beverage of thy life has, by this employ­ment, been purified from the rubbish of anxiety; while the undertaking in which thou art at present designing to embark is an affair full of toil. Peradventure thou mayest not be able to labour assiduously in the duties required, nor to discharge fitly what it demands. Nor is everything which shews its head from the secret chamber of desire possible to be acquired according to our wish.

Know, my friend! the way is long, longer far than words express,
From the street of our desires to the market of success.

Meddle not with that which concerns thee not, and withdraw not thine hand from thine own employment, for whoever leaves his own trade and undertakes a thing unsuited to him will meet with what that Crane met with.’ I asked, ‘How was that?’