The father said, ‘They have related that a farmer had placed in a barn a quantity of corn for a store, and had closed up the doors of expenditure there, in order that in the day when excessive want and extreme necessity should arrive,* he might be able to derive advantage from it. By chance, a Rat—who from exceeding greediness, desired to steal grain from the granary of the moon,* and to snatch, with the claw of rapacity, the cluster of the Pleiades from the corn-field of the sky—had its abode in the vicinity of that spot, and its nest in the neighbourhood of that barn. He was continually burrowing under-ground in every direction, and with his stone-rending teeth he every­where made excavations. All at once, his mining operations terminated in the midst of the grain, and from the roof of his house, grains of wheat, like bright-falling stars from the sky, came pouring down. The rat saw that the promise, ’Your sustenance is in the heaven,* was fulfilled; and that the dark saying, ‘Seek ye your food in the recesses of the earth,’ was cleared up. He then performed the duties of thanksgiving for the display of those blessings, and, by the acquisition of those precious jewels, having obtained great opulence, he began to assume the proud demeanour of Ḳárún* and the arrogant pretensions of Pharaoh; and in a short space of time the rats in that quarter became acquainted with the circumstances, and girt the waist of service in attendance upon him.

The treacherous friends thou seeest here
Are flies that round the sweets appear.

Friends of the trencher and companions of the cup assembled near him, and—as their custom is—adopting a course of flattery, uttered not a word, save such as would suit his inclination and gratify his humor; nor loosed their tongue except in his eulogy and praise, and in thanking and blessing him. He too, like one demented, opened his mouth in boasting and vain-glorious talk, and his hand in ruinous expenditure; in the idea that the grain of that building would not come to an end, and that wheat would continuously be showered down and descend from that orifice. Every day he expended a large portion of it on his companions, and having no regard to the final issue, turned not from the thought of to-day, to the anxious care for the morrow.

To day, cup-bearer! wine we’ll drink; ‘to-morrow,’ who has seen?

And at the season that the rats were engrossed with pleasure in that retired corner, the cold hand of famine and dearth had cast down the people, and the fire of hunger was kindled in the breast of the afflicted poor. On every side they offered a loved object for bread, and no one listened to them, and in all directions they desired to sell their household goods for a dish of meat, and no one would buy.

All longed a round of bread to see, but they
Nought could behold but the round orb of day.*
The world was straitened in that stern distress,
The hungry wailed—the full were pitiless.

The arrogant Rat having spread out the carpet of luxurious delight, had no intelligence of the famine, nor was acquainted with the scarcity of the season, When some days had passed, the occasion became one of life and death to the farmer, and the knife reached the bone. He opened the door of the building and saw that extensive damage had accrued to the grain. Then heaving a cold sigh from his heart inflamed [with grief], and, suffering much sorrow for that loss, he said to himself, ‘It is not the proceeding of a wise man to lament in a matter the remedy of which is beyond the limits of possibility. Now it appears best to collect the remaining grain that is left in this building, and to convey it to another place. Then the farmer busied himself with carrying out the small portion that remained; and in that place the Rat, who imagined himself the owner of the house and lord of the edifice, was asleep; and the other rats, from their excessive greediness and cupidity, did not hear the sound of the farmer’s feet, and the noise of the coming and going, above their heads. But one among them, an acute rat, having guessed how matters stood, ascended the roof to ascertain [what was going on] and, from a crevice, observed the real state of the case. He came down forthwith, and having told his friends the substance of the story, flung out of the hole, and they too went out, each to a corner, and left their patron alone.

Thy friends are all on parings set,
Each loves thee for what he can get:
As thy wealth fails thee, love grows less,
For their own ends, thy fall they’d bless.
From such a band of false allies,
To part, nor call them friends, were wise.

The next day when the Rat lifted his head from the pillow of repose, however much he looked to the left and right, he saw none of his friends, and the more he scrutinised, both before and behind, the less he discovered any traces of his companions. He began to bewail himself, and said,

What has become of those, my friends that were, I do not know.
Alas! what can the matter be, that they have left me so?’

When, in order to ascertain what they were about, he—after a long interval, during which he had chosen to live retired—issued from the corner of his dwelling, and got intelligence of the calamitous dearth and the miserable distress and scarcity—in the utmost perturbation, he hastened home that he might exert himself to the utmost in taking care of the store he possessed. When he reached his house, he saw not a trace of the grain, and he then mounted through that hole into the granary, and there was not as much there for him to eat, as would suffice for one night’s food. Thereupon his endu-rance being folded up,* he began to rend the collar of his life with the hand of affliction, and struck the head of insanity so often on the ground, that his brains were scattered, and by the ill-fortune of his wasteful living, he fell into the vortex of destruction and ruin. And the moral of this story is, that a man’s expenses ought to be in proportion to his income, and he should enjoy himself with the interest of the principal he possesses, and should be careful of it in such a manner that no detriment may accrue to his capital stock.

Every thy income and expense survey,
Contract expenses as thy means decay.’

And when the father had concluded this tale, the younger son arose and adorned the preamble of his discourse with benedictions and praise of his father, and said, ‘O father! after one has taken care of his property according to rule, and has obtained full interest from it, how should he expend that interest?’ The father said, ‘The mean in everything is to be commended, espccially as regards the mode of living. Wherefore it behoves the possessor of wealth, after obtaining his profit, to pay regard to two other rules. First, let him shun incongruous expenses and outlays, lest these bring forth repentance, and he loose the tongue of sarcasm against him; and, in point of fact, the squandering one’s resources, and profuse expenditure are a temptation of the devil [as it is said,] ‘For the profuse are brethren of the devils.’*

Men of a noble nature, less eschew
The parsimonious, than the profligate.
The liberal please all hearts in all they do;
But that most pleases which is moderate.

Secondly: It is necessary that he should avoid the disgrace of stinginess, and the stigma of miserly conduct, since the miser has an ill name, both in spiritual and worldly things, and a worldly avaricious man is at all times the object of reproach and as wretched as his foes could wish;* and the hoards of the miser become, in the end, the butt of the shaft of ruinous expenditure and waste. Thus, for example, when water is continually flowing into a large reservoir from sundry channels, and has not an outlet proportioned to the influx, it of necessity seeks a passage in every direction, and bursts out from every corner. So the walls of the reservoir are cracked, and in the end it is ruined and destroyed, and the waters are dispersed abroad on all sides and in all directions. ‘Warn the miser of a casualty or an heir,’*

The wealth the miser nought enjoyed is cast,
By the rude hand of spoilers, to the wind;
Or has to some ungrateful heir now passed,
Who but with loathing calls his name to mind.’

When the sons had heard the admonitions of their father, and had fully recognised the advantages of his words, each made choice of a profession, and engaged in business; and the oldest of them* betook himself to commerce, and embarked on a distant journey; and he had with him two baggage oxen, such that the bull of heaven did not possess the power of contending with them in strength; and the celestial lion from their fierceness and the awe they inspired, hid, like a cat keeping a fast, the claw of terror in the paw of helplessness.

Elephantine in body and lions in fight,
In their motion majestic, and matchless in might.

The name of one was Shanzabah,* and of the other, Mandabah; and the worthy merchant always managed them and attended to their condition himself. As, however, the time of the journey waxed long and they traversed great distances, debility made inroads into their condition, and the mark of weakness was displayed on the aspect of their state. By chance, in the midst of the way a vast slough intervened, and Shanzabah stuck therein. The merchant commanded, so that by every device they brought him out, and as he had not power to move, [his owner] hired a man and appointed him to the charge of the ox; and it was fixed that as soon as he gained strength he should bring him to the caravan. The hireling abode one or two days in the jungle, and became dispirited by being alone, and abandoning Shanzabah, carried the news of his death to the merchant; and in that stage, Mandabah, from excess of fatigue and through parting from Shanzabah, died. But Shanzabah, in a short space of time, having regained his strength, wandered in every direction in search of a meadow for grazing, until he reached a mead adorned with a variety of fragrant herbs, and clothed with plants of different kinds. Paradise, from envy of that garden, bit the finger of jealousy; and heaven opened the eye of admiration in surveying it.

In flowers and verdure fresh upsprung, and waters flowing there;—
(Avaunt, ill glances!*) you might it with Paradise compare.

Shanzabah was pleased with that spot, and deposited the furniture of residence in the expanse of that meadow; and when he had for a time grazed in that pasture, without any bond of constraint or troublesome fetter,* and had lived, according to the wish of his heart, in that exhilarating air and heart-expanding plain, he became excessively robust and stout. The delight of ease and enjoyment of repose, carried him so far, that from the abundance of his gaiety, he uttered loud bellowings. And in the neighbourhood of that meadow lived a Lion, who inspired great awe from his savage and ferocious nature. Many wild animals* had girded themselves in his service, and countless beasts of prey had placed the head of obedience on the line* of his commandment, and the Lion from the pride of youth and the arrogance of dominion and success and the multitude of his servants and the number of his retinue, fancied no one superior to himself; and despised the swift-charging tiger and the huge-bodied elephant; but he had never seen an ox nor heard the voice of one. When the bellowing of Shanzabah reached him, he was much dismayed, and from fear that the beasts should discover that alarm had found the way to him, he moved nowhere, and remained quiet in one spot. And in his train were two subtle jackals, one named Kalílah, and the other Damnah, and both of them were famed for sagacity and acuteness. Damnah, however, was the cleverer, and more eager in pursuit of rank and fame. He, by his quickness of perception, discovered that fear had over­come the lion, and that he was intent on something which was passing through his mind. He said to Kalílah, ‘What sayest thou as to the state of the king, in that he has abandoned the pleasureableness of exercise, and has fixed himself in one place?

The signs of sorrow on his brow
Tell that his heart is pensive now.’

Kalílah replied, ‘What business hast thou with this question? and what is thy concern with the uttering of this speech?

Where thou! and where discourse of state affairs!*

And we in the court of this King obtain our food and pass our time tranquilly under the shade of his fortunes. Be satisfied with this and refrain from inquisitiveness into the secrets of kings, and scanning too narrowly their affairs, for we are not of the degree to be honored with the confidence of monarchs, or that with princes there should be room for attention to our words; wherefore it is idle and superfluous to talk of them, and whoever superfluously meddles with what does not befit him, meets with what the Ape met with.’ Damnah inquired, ‘How was that?’