The darvesh replied, ‘They have related that a washerman was wont to be busy in his avocation on the bank of a certain river. Every day he saw there a Crane, which sat on the river’s bank, and used to catch the creatures that are found in the mud, and contenting himself therewith, went back to his nest. One day there came a swift-winged hawk, which made prey of a fat quail, and after eating part of it, left the rest and flew away. The Crane thought to himself, ‘This animal with such a puny body makes prey of large birds, and I of such a huge stature content myself with a trifle; and this state of things is evidently owing to my mean spirit. Why should not I too have a share of magnanimity? My advisable course is hereafter not to stoop to small matters, and not to cast the noose of my efforts save on the battlements of the highest heavens.

The cloud when thirsty seeks the purple ocean,
Nor bows its head to sip the humble dew.*
Hearts that are stirred by proud and high emotion,
Stoop not to mean things, nor for trifles sue.’

He then forsook the chace of worms, and was on the watch to pursue pigeons and quails. Now the washerman had from a distance observed the proceedings of the hawk and the quail. When he saw the amazement of the Crane, and how it gave up its own employment, he was astonished, and opened the eye of amusement. By the will of fate a pigeon appeared in that direction, and the Crane flying up made a stoop at it. The pigeon turning along the edge of the water, outstripped the Crane, which pouncing down behind, fell on the bank of the river, and his leg stuck in the mud. The more he tried to fly away, the more his foot sank in the thick mire, and his feathers and wings became more and more besmeared with the mud. The washerman came up and seized him, and set off home. In the way a friend met him and asked, ‘What’s this?’ The washerman replied, ‘This is a crane that wanted to hunt,’ and that wished to play the part of a hawk, and so destroyed itself.’

And I have adduced this story that thou mayest know that every one ought to attend to his own business and quit that which does not belong to him.’

When the old darvesh had cited this tale, the temptings of my covetous­ness increased, and refusing that speech access to the ear of attention, I persevered in the same idea. So I abandoned the business of a baker, and with the trifling capital I possessed purchased implements for farming, and having sown a quantity of grain, fastened the eye of expectation on the road of looking for the crop. In the meantime my means of subsisting myself and my family became straitened, because what I expended daily had been as regularly procured in the baker’s shop, and now it was necessary for me to wait a year expectant, until the profit should arrive. I said to myself, ‘Thou hast committed an error in not listening to the words of thy venerable seniors, and now thou art in distress for thy current expenses, and there is no channel by which income is obtainable. Thy best course is to get a sum by way of loan, and having re-opened thy baker’s shop, return to thy own business.

From his own business, he who turns aside,
’Twere best that he should there again subside.*

I then betook myself to one of the rich merchants of the city, and having taken up a sum on credit, I opened my shop a second time, and leaving one of my servants to superintend that business, I myself was busy with my farming. Now I started for the country to manage the cultivation, and anon I returned to the market to set off my shop. When two or three months had passed in this way, my servant swindled me, and not a particle either of stock or profit was left. At the same time a variety of misfortunes befell my crops. The tenth of what I had expended was not realised. I then went to the same neighbor, and detailed to him my case, and told him the circum­stance of my taking two things in hand, and my losing by both. The aged darvesh laughed and said, ‘How like thy case is to that of the man of two kinds of hair, who gave up his beard to his wives!’ I asked, ‘How was that?’