The vazír said, ‘They have related that a pair of Pigeons had collected some grains of corn in the beginning of summer, and stored them up in a retired place as a hoard for winter. Now that corn was moist, and when summer drew to a close, the heat of the atmosphere had had such an effect upon the corn, that it dried up and appeared less than it did at first. During these days the male Pigeon was absent from home. When he came back and observed that the corn appeared to be less in quantity, he began to reproach his partner, and said, ‘We had laid up this grain for our food in winter, that when the cold became excessive, and from the quantity of snow no corn was to be found on the fields, we might support ourselves with this. At this time, when pickings are to be met with in mountain and plain, why hast thou eaten our supplies? and why hast thou swerved from the path of prudence? Hast thou not heard, pray, that the sages have said,

‘Now that thou hast food in plenty do thy best it up to store,
That thou may’st still have abundance when the harvest-time is o’er.’

The female Pigeon said, ‘I have eaten none of this grain nor have I used any of it in any way whatever.’ As the male Pigeon saw that the grain had decreased, he did not believe her denial, and pecked her till she died. Afterwards in the winter when the rain fell incessantly, and the marks of dampness were evident on door and wall, the grain imbibed moisture and returned to its former state. The male Pigeon then discovered what had been the cause of the apparent loss, and began to lament and to bewail his separation from his affectionate partner. Thus he wept bitterly and said, ‘Grievous is this absence of my friend, and more grievous still that repentance is unavailing.

With prudence act, for haste will cause thee pain
And loss, and to regret the lost is vain.’

And the moral of this story is, that it behoves a wise man not to be precipitate in inflicting punishment, lest, like the Pigeon, he suffer from the anguish of separation.’ The king said, ‘If I was hasty in word, thou, too, didst show precipitation in deed, and hast plunged me into this distress.’ The vazír replied, ‘Three persons plunge themselves into distress. One, is he who is careless of himself in battle, so that he receives a severe wound. The second, is he who has no heir, and amasses wealth by unlawful means, which will be dissipated by accidents, and bring him punishment in the end. And the third, is the old man who ties the marriage-knot with a profligate and youthful wife, and sets his heart upon her; while that wife every day prays to God for his death, and disagrees with him.’ The king rejoined, ‘From this deed one may derive proof of thy rashness.’ The vazír replied, ‘Rashness is shewn in the conduct of two persons. One, is he who deposits his money with strangers. The other, is he who makes a fool arbiter between himself and his adversary. And I have not chosen to act precipitately in this affair. The utmost that I have done is to seek to obey the king in executing his commands.’ The king replied, ‘I am much grieved for Irán-dukht.’ The vazír answered, ‘It is fitting to grieve for five kinds of women. The first, is she who has a beneficent nature and a noble mind, and graceful form and perfect chastity. The second, is she who is wise and long-suffering, and sincere and attached. The third, is she who chooses the advisable course in everything, and who is kind whether absent or present. The fourth, is she who makes agreement and submission her under and upper garment in good and bad, in welfare and adversity. The fifth, is she who is of fortunate presage and happy augury, and the blessing of whose footstep is manifest to her husband; and Irán-dukht was adorned with all these virtues. If the king evinces grief for her loss it will be but what is right; for without a faithful partner, there is neither enjoyment in life nor happiness in existence.

It is not so pleasurable, friendless, lone to live;
Life, alone and friendless, cannot so much pleasure give.’

The king said, ‘O Balár! thou art bold in thy language, and dost over­step the bounds of respect; and I am of opinion that it is necessary to remove to a distance from thee.’ The vazír replied, ‘Distance is desirable from two persons. One, is he who regards good and bad as equal, and imagines that future rewards and punishments do not exist. The other, is he who outwardly preserves himself pure from things prohibited by law, and inwardly from interdicted pastimes.’ The king answered, ‘Do we appear vile in thy sight, that thou thinkest fit to dare to utter these words?’ The vazír replied, ‘The great appear contemptible in the eyes of three classes of persons. The first, is the impudent servant, who, in season and out of season, in sitting down and getting up, and at supper and breakfast, takes his place with his master; and whose master, too, jokes with him, and relishes his ribaldry. The second, is the villain domestic, who has the control of his master’s goods, and opens the hand of embezzlement there­upon, so that in a short time his wealth surpasses that of his master, and he thinks himself the better of the two. The third, is the servant who, without deserving it, has confidence reposed in him, and, becoming acquainted with the secrets of his master, is puffed up with that honor.’ The king said, ‘I have tried thee, and thou wert better untried.’ The vazír replied, ‘Eight persons cannot be tried save in eight positions: the brave man in battle, and the farmer in cultivation, and great men in the hour of anger, and the merchant in the time of reckoning, and a friend in the season of need, and men of a generous nature in the time of adversity, and the pious man in storing up the rewards of the final state, and the learned man in the moment of discourse and discussion.’ In short, how much soever the king continued making displeased rejoinders to the vazír, so much the more did the latter give back answers sharper than the points of darts dipped in venom; and placing on his tongue* words in keenness like a sword of diamond, kept uttering them; and the king, patiently submitting to them, perseveringly swallowed those bitter draughts.

He that is rational, is patient, too;
But senseless he whom anger masters. True,
Patience, at first, seems sour as poisonous things,
It turns to honey, when it inward springs.

At length, the vazír loosed the tongue of eulogy, and said, ‘May the shade of the glory of the king, the shadow of God, be perpetuated over the faces of mankind, and may the sun of his grandeur continue to shine from the pinnacle of exaltation and the summit of greatness! I, thy slave, who with the steps of boldness have traversed the plain of audacity, and have ventured to chagrin your exalted majesty with the abundance of my galling remarks, have done so to test your nature, endowed with amiable qualities; and thanks be to God Most High! that if any one seeks for the king’s like, and would trace out one resembling him,

Save in the glass and stream’s reflection, one can nowhere find his peer.

What a noble nature is this, adorned with the beauty of mildness and virtue! and how precious is this character which is beautified with the ornament of patience, and composure, and amiability! And assuredly greatness is restricted to such a person, and the name of nobility belongs solely to the like of one so glorious.

Greatness is not in fame and rumor solely,
Nor magnanimity in vain conceit.
The name of ‘noble’ is to none more wholly
Due than to him whose praise mankind repeat
As virtue-gifted, and in temper sweet.’

The king said, ‘O Balár! thou knowest well that I have based the affairs of my empire on clemency and compassion, and laid the substructure of my rule on tenderness and forbearance. And if sometimes directions have been isued for the correction of a party who, from arrogance, evinces a refractory spirit, and of those who enter avowedly and openly into a position of contest and strife, this is done to preserve the respect due to the government, and to keep in order the regulations of the empire. Otherwise the expanse of the ocean of my lofty spirit is not so limited as that it should roll the waves of anger on the excitation of such words as these.

No willow I whose leaves each breath makes tremble,
Nor straw that shrivels as fire onward climbs.
The shout-returning hill I nought resemble,
Nor cloud which winds make weep a hundred times.’

The vazír said, ‘A commandment of that nature is rare, and [it is said], ‘The rare is like the non-existent,’ and [the king’s] mildness has remedied it this day, for in no history have they recorded that a fortunate monarch and a powerful ruler with a sharp sword and potent will, has been seated on the throne of his greatness; while an offending servant, standing in his lowly position, has uttered disrespectful words; and, stepping beyond his place, has given his tongue free license. What, in such a case, could prevent the due chastisement being enforced, save vast clemency and perfect pity?

The more I err, the more thy grace abounds.’

The king responded, ‘When a slave acknowledges his crime and sees with his own eyes the trace of guilt on the pages of his own conduct, of course he will be in a position to be excused; and the beneficent man has no alternative but to accept an apology.

The generous will excuses aye admit.’

The vazír answered, ‘O king! I confess my guilt, and my offence is that I have thought it permissible to postpone the execution of the king’s mandate, and have delayed to put Irán-dukht to death, and pausing through fear of this terror-exciting word, and through dread of this rebukeful address, have avoided precipitation in slaying her. Now it is for the king to order and command.

Whether thou art gracious, or thou wavest the unpitying sword,
I have bowed my neck before thee, as a captive to his lord.’

As soon as the king heard these words, the signs of delight and exultation, and the evidence of joy and gladness were evident on his august countenance. He erected to the summit of the highest heavens the banner of the performance of the praises of God; and, having performed the prostrations of infinite thanksgivings, he raised his joyful shouts beyond the top of the ethereal sky and said,

Glad tidings these, O Fortune! that my wish the door has entered in;
The hapless lover finds once more his soul the body centred in.
She, like the rose, at whose perfume, smiles did the spirit’s lip illume,*
With radiant cheek, more bright than flowers once more my door has entered in.’

He then continued, ‘I was left in amazement in that thou continuedst to speak in such wise as to lead me to the belief that Irán-dukht was slain; yet I well knew thy sincere attachment and judiciousness, and could not but think that thou wouldest delay the execution of that order.’ The vazír replied, ‘My rejoinders were made in order that I might thoroughly under­stand the king’s purpose, and see whether he repented of that order or not. If I had found your majesty still bent on her death, I should have secretly hastened the despatch of that affair. Since, however, the king’s mind is more inclined to suffer her to live, I have made known my fault and offered my excuses for the delay.’ The king responded, ‘Thy caution and prudence are the more conspicious to me in this affair, and my confidence in thy sagacity and discernment has been augmented; and I have accepted the service which thou hast done, and the fruits thereof will reach thee with the utmost speed. Thou must now, this instant, proceed to Irán-dukht, make known all the circumstances and convey to her many excuses, and respectfully request, in the best way possible, that she will come hither, which alone will be a key to the gates of the acquisition of our desires and the capital of joyful union and delight.

Come! for to meet thee is my prayer, the prayer I’m still repeating!
My ear is straining for thy voice—my eyes to give thee greeting.’*

Balár came out from the king’s presence and conveyed to Irán-dukht the good news of her safety and the happy tidings of her being about to meet her royal lover.

O heart! complain not, like the bud, thy bloom thou canst not hasten,
The morning gale a breeze shall bring and thy closed state unfasten.

Irán-dukht, obeying the royal mandate, hastened to wait on the king; and having performed the requisite obeisance, loosed the tongue of gratitude and thankfulness. The king said, ‘Thou must ascribe this obligation to Balár, seeing that he fulfilled all that prudence could require, and paused in executing this purpose.’ Balár said, ‘I had the most complete confidence in the perfect clemency and compassion of your imperial majesty, and the excess of your benevolence and infinite mercy; and my consideration sprang thence into existence; otherwise, how could a slave venture to delay in executing the command of the sulṭán?’ The king replied, ‘O Balár! be of stout heart, for thy hand has free scope in my dominions, and thy command has obtained equal weight with my own, and there shall be no oppo­sition to whatever thou mayest say or do in loosing and binding, and commanding and prohibiting.’ Balár answered, ‘Your majesty’s former favors and bounteous acts outstrip all our services, and could I obtain a life of a thousand years’ duration, I could not return thanks for one in a thousand of those bounties.

The lily may its hundred tongues all use,
’T will fail to render to the spring its dues.

But the prayer of your slaves is this, that hereafter your majesty will not evince precipitation in your acts, that the purity of the conclusion may be free from the obscuration of repentance.’ The king responded, ‘We have deigned to listen to this counsel with the ear of acceptance; and for the future we will not issue a mandate without consultation and asking approval.’* He then bestowed on the vazír and Irán-dukht, robes of honor of great value, and having moved joyfully forth from the dark cell of separation into the bride-chamber of union, he set in bright array the assembly of mirth.

A noble banquet they in order set,
And in joy’s flower-garden, smiling, met.

A beautiful cupbearer poured from a silver goblet pure wine to be quaffed* by the gay companions, and the delicious liquid irrigated the plant of enjoyment on the rivulet of their bosoms.

Bravo! the wine, to pleasure giving birth,
Made brisk the mart of jollity and mirth.

Sweet-voiced minstrels with harmonious concert of every kind of stringed instrument were bringing the bird of the heart into a state of fluttering excitement, and the melodies of song were inviting to the banquet of mirth and joy. The delicate trills of the harp imitated the warblings of the bird of a thousand songs, and the ravishing and tender tones of the lute effaced the rust from the mirror of the breasts of the intoxicated.

Singers like Venus with their sweet-toned voices,
And goblets flashing bright like Mercury:
The sound of mirth each swelling breast rejoices,
Just as each fickle mind would wish the tone to be.

The remainder of the day and all the night they spent in festivity.

Next day, when morn with world-illuming ray,
Conducted night auspiciously to day,

the king gave a public levée and sate on the throne of justice, and the vazír Balár, having performed the required obeisance, demanded on his own behalf and as representative of the wife and children of the king, justice on the Bráhmans, and recounted the interpretation of the dreams as they had delivered* it in the manner aforesaid. Wherefore the king’s command was condescendingly uttered, that they should summon the sage Kárídún into the presence, and the king committed to his decision the punishment of the Bráhmans. At the suggestion of Kárídún, they impaled some of them, and casting the majority under the feet of elephants, crushed them to an equality with the dust of the road; and the sage said, ‘This is the punishment of traitors and the chastisement of the perfidious.

Who from its sheath the cruel dagger take,
Heaven with the same will them decapitate.
And none their face like anvil rigid make,
But must the avenging hammer’s blows await.’

After getting rid of his enemies, the king committed to his vazír the government of his kingdom, and yielding himself up to the delights of love with Irán-dukht, he fully satisfied the requirements of pleasure.

Hold dear the night of love and mirth, and take thy fill of pleasure;
The fortunes of the coming day no foresight e’er can measure.

This is the story of the excellence of mildness and composure, and their superiority to the other qualities and habits of kings and princes; and let it not remain hid from the intelligent, that the advantage to be derived from the recital of this narrative, is the admonition of the readers and warning to the hearers, to make the experience of those who have preceded them, and the directions of the wise, a pattern for their own proceedings; and to base their religious and worldly affairs, and the substructures of their transactions of to-day and to-morrow on the rules of wisdom, and the pedestal of prudence; and to turn from impetuosity and rashness towards gravity and calmness. And whoever is distinguished by the eternal favor, assuredly the head of his spirit will be adorned with the diadem of courtesy, and the shoulder of his pre-eminence will be decked with the scarf of clemency; for courtesy and clemency make an enemy a friend, and exalt a friend to the position of a kinsman.

Dost thou consort with Meekness—Courtesy?
Thy rival will prove faithful as ‘a comrade of the cave.’*
Thou among men make none thy enemy,
That with thee time may circle on as thy true friends would have.