The son said, ‘In the country of Ḥalab,* there was a king of prosperous fortune, and a sovereign of extensive sway, who had experienced many vicissitudes, and seen many revolutions of night and day: and he had two sons who were immersed in the whirlpool of the vanity of youth, and intoxicated with the inebriation of the wine of prosperity, inclined to gaiety and mirth, and employed in pleasure and amusement, while they listened to the melody of this song from the voice of harp and bell.*

Be gay, for in the twinkling of an eye
Autumn will come, and life’s young spring pass by.

The king was a wise and experienced man; and he possessed an abundant supply of jewels, and immense treasures in money. After considering the habits of his sons, he feared, lest, after he was gone, they should cast those hoards that he had acquired into the place of dissipation, and give them, on the occasion of their requirement, to the wind of destruction. And in the neighbourhood of that city, there was a holy man, who had turned his back on worldly things, and was looking to prepare a store for the final state.

Inflamed with those all-glorious rays that spring
From Godhead; and enamoured of heaven’s king.

The monarch had a strong attachment to him, and reposed exceeding confidence in him. He commanded all his treasures to be collected, (and in such a way that no one heard of it), buried them in the abode of the holy man, and left this parting injunction to the saint, that, when fickle fortune and unstable rank, should avert their faces from his sons, and the fount of prosperity, which, like the mirage, possesses nought but a semblance of reality, should be filled up with the mire of adversity, and his sons should become poor and necessitous, he should inform them of that treasure; since, perchance, after seeing ill-fortune and experiencing trouble, they might be schooled, and expend it in a right way; and having turned from profusion and dissipation, might observe the path of moderation. The holy man accepted the king’s bequest; and the latter with a view to his present object, prepared a deep pit in one of his palaces, and made it appear as though he was burying his treasures there, and caused his sons to be informed, that when necessity shewed itself, a sufficient store, which would amply supply their wants, was there treasured, and after these circumstances, in a short time, both the king and the holy man accepted the divine invitation, and became insensible from the cup of ‘Every soul shall taste of death.’*

From fate’s cup needs must every child of clay
Drink of the wine ‘All earthly things dccay.’*

And that hoard which was buried in the cell of the devotee, remained hidden and concealed; nor did any one obtain information of it. The brothers, after the death of their father, fell to strife and contention, with regard to the division of his dominions and treasure, and the elder brother, by strength and valour, having got the mastery, took possession of all the effects, and left his younger brother afflicted and destitute. The hapless [prince] deprived of all share in the office of government, and of all part of his patrimony, thought to himself that as the sun of good fortune and power had set its face towards the western region of decline, and Heaven, exercising cruelty, had displayed the quality of insincerity and alienation; to turn the face a second time in search of worldly things, and to attempt again the once-attempted could effect no useful result.

Or old, or new, so transient is this earth
‘Tis not in all one grain of barley worth.
Prepare a better kingdom then than this,
Forsake this cell and ope the door to bliss.

‘There is nothing better,’ thought he, ‘than that, as the collar of fortune has escaped from the grasp of choice, I should take hold of the skirt of reliance on God and contentment, and not let go the dignity of the Darvesh, which is a sovereignty without decay.

The Darvesh in whose peaceful cell, thy rays, Contentment! beam,*
Is poor in mind, but reigns in truth, a sovereign lord supreme.’

With this resolution he issued from the city, and said to himself, ‘Such a one, the devotee, was the friend of my father; my advisable course is to turn my face towards his cell, and at his feet commit the conduct of my devotions to the direction of abstinence.’ When he reached the abode of the holy man, he found that the parrot of his soul had taken flight from the cage of the body, towards the Paradise of ‘In a lofty garden,’* and that the cell of that luminous mind remained empty. For a time grief and dejection at the cir­cumstance overcame him. At length he chose that very spot for his abode, and by way of discipleship he became the occupant and attendant* of that cell, and near the hermitage was a water-course, and they had dug a well outside the edifice, and made a way from it to the water-course, whence water flowed continually into the well, and the people of the hermitage* made use of it, and bathed and performed their ablutions with it. One day the prince let down a bucket into the well. There was no sound of water, and on his examining it carefully, there was no water at the bottom of the well. He reflected, saying, ‘Alas! what accident has happened that no water comes into this well, and if a complete stoppage has found its way to the well, and the water-course, and it is altogether worn out, it will be impossible to con­tinue longer in this abode.’ Then in order to learn the certainty of the matter, he descended into the well, and minutely inspected the sides and all parts of it, and the channel by which the water came.* All of a sudden an excavation met his view, from which a portion [of masonry] had fallen into the channel of the water and prevented it from flowing into the well. He reflected, ‘Ah! whither does this excavation go? And where does this cavity issue?’ He then made the cavity larger, and he no sooner stepped into it than he came upon the treasure of his father. When the Prince beheld that wealth and immense sum of money, he prostrated himself in thanks to God, and said, ‘Although this wealth is vast, and these gems beyond calculation, still I must not swerve from the path of reliance on God, and the highway of contentment, and I must limit my expenses to my wants.

Till, what the unknown future shows, we see.

On the other side, the elder brother being firmly established in his dominions took no thought for his subjects, and his army, and in hope of the imaginary treasure which he fancied to be in the palace of his father, expended all that he could lay his hands upon, and from excess of haughtiness and pride, made no enquiries after his brother, and was ashamed of showing attachment to him. Suddenly an enemy arose against him, and with a numerous and warlike army advanced into his country. The Prince found his treasury empty, and his army unprovided and distressed. He went to the place where his father had pointed out the treasury, in order that with that abundant wealth he might prepare a numerous host, [according to the saying,], ‘There is no king without men, and no men without money.’ The more he exerted himself the less could he find any trace of the treasure, and the more he toiled and laboured the farther was he excluded from obtaining his object.

Wouldst thou keep thyself from sorrow, then this counsel hear of me,
Seek’st thou that to thee unfated, all thy toil will fruitless be.

And when he had altogether lost all hope of finding the treasure by a variety of devices, after issuing bonds,* he contrived to get together a force, and directing his course to repel the enemy, issued from the city. After the lines of battle had been drawn up on both sides, and the fire of slaughter had been kindled, an arrow from the ranks of the enemy’s force struck the elder Prince in a mortal place, and he fell dead on the spot; and from this side also, they discharged a shaft, and the strange king too was slain, and both armies were left disordered and leaderless. It almost came to pass that the fire of revolt blazed up, and that the people of both kingdoms had been con­sumed by the flame of confusion. At last the chiefs of both armies assembled and made search, with mutual consent, from the royal families and the imperial stock, for a king of beneficent disposition and good qualities, in order that they might consign to him the duties of the empire and the conduct of state affairs. The general opinion agreed in this conclusion, that the fortu­nate chief the head of whose auspiciousness would be worthy of a diadem of exaltation, and the finger of whose happiness would befit the signet-ring of dominion, was that same devout Prince. The officers of state went to the door of his cell, and with all possible respect and reverence brought him from the corner of obscurity to the court of acceptance, and from the nook of retirement to the high-place of the throne of fortune; and by the blessings of reliance on the divine favour, he obtained the treasures of his father and was established in his kingdom. And I have introduced this example in order to prove that the attainment of fortune is not dependent on exertion and labour, and that it is better to place trust in reliance on God, than to pillow oneself on one’s own efforts.

The best of all professions is to lean
On Providence—Can aught be lovelier seen
Than faith? Trust then in God and struggle not:
Thou to thyself less true art than thy lot.
Wert thou but patient, what thy fate must be
Will come and cling all lover-like to thee.’

When the son had concluded this story, the father said, ‘What thou hast uttered is pure truth and justice, but this world is a world of means and causes, and the divine command has been issued accordingly, that, on causes, the happening of events in general in this world should depend; and the profit of working for a livelihood is greater than the reliance on Provi­dence, because the advantage of such reliance accrues to him that so relies, and no more; and the benefit of working circulates to others from the worker, and to convey benefit to others is a proof of goodness, for, ‘The best of men is he who benefits mankind,’ and when any one has the ability to benefit others, it is a shame if he chooses to be idle and receive benefits from them: but perhaps thou hast never heard the story of that man who after witnessing what befell the Hawk and the Raven, neglected causation, and hence the divine wrath fell upon him. The son asked ‘How was that?’