Kalílah said, ‘I have heard that a hungry wolf was running along a plain on the scent of a meal, when he beheld a Hare asleep under the shade of a bush, and whose limbs the slumber of negligence had occupied. The wolf, accounting it a rare prize, began to steal gently towards it. The Hare being put on the alert by the terror of his breath, at the alarm of his step, started up, and was about to fly. The wolf, obstructing the road, exclaimed,

‘Approach! approach! for I from thee this distance cannot bear;
Depart not, ah! depart not! for thy parting brings despair!’

The Hare, from fear of him, was fixed motionless to the spot, and beginning to supplicate, rubbed the face of humble entreaty on the ground, and said, ‘I know that the fire of the hunger of the prince of beasts is burning fiercely, and that his appetite is raging in quest of food, and I with this weak body and slender form, am no more than a mouthful to the king. What is the good of me, and what will be effected* by eating me? In this neighbourhood there is a fox, who is unable to move from excessive fatness, and from his quantity of flesh finds it impossible to stir. I imagine that his flesh by its succulence, resembles the water of life, and his blood from its sweetness and freshness is comparable to sharbat made with the finest sugar. If my lord will deign to take the trouble of stepping with me, I, by any stratagem that I find practicable, will make him a prisoner, and my lord may break his fast upon him. If this gratification is obtained, why so much the better; if otherwise I myself am still your prisoner and captive.

Go! lasso others, we are already thine.

The wolf, deceived by his plausible speeches, took the way to the abode of the fox. Now in that vicinity there was a fox who in cunning might have lectured Satan, and in wily devices and trickery, have given lessons to fancy and imagination.

A sharp young fox he! who by craft made gain;
No! rather tax-collector of that plain.
He played his tricks through field and hamlet still,
And from all beasts bore off the prize of skill.
Outcries he raised amid the beasts that prowl
Along the waste; caused village dogs to howl.
And with a bound deceived the watchful eye;
Sweeping with bushy tail the courtyard of the sky.

The Hare had an old quarrel with him, and on the present occasion, having obtained an opportunity, he determined on revenge, and having left the wolf at the entrance of the hole, he went into the abode of the fox and performed the customary salutations and benedictions. The fox, too, with the utmost deference, returned his salutations, and said,

‘Welcome art thou! whence hast thou come? enter, and seated be!
Come in! and sit, on my two eyes a seat I’ll give to thee.’

The Hare replied, ‘It is a long time that I have continued still in the desire of being exalted by a meeting, and by reason of the obstacles of deceitful fortune, and the accidents of faithless and inconstant time, I remain excluded from that happiness. At this time a holy man* who has been exalted to kingly dignity in the Egypt of divine favor, and in the region of saintship is a sage indulgent to his disciples, has honored us by coming from the sacred shrine to this country, and having heard the fame of the monastic seclusion and retirement of your highness, has made this humble slave the medium of introduction, in order that he may irradiate the eye of his heart with your world-adorning beauties, and perfume the nostrils of his soul with the sweet scents of your musk-resembling thoughts. If there be permission for a visit, it is well and good, but if the occasion does not admit of it, another time may serve.

Or let him from this door go back, like an unexpected woe,
Or stop like answered prayer to which the heavens acceptance shew.’

The fox read from the page of this discourse the writing of fraud, and beheld in the mirror of these words, the delineation of the form of deceit. He said to himself, ‘My advisable course is this, that I should act to them in accordance with their own conduct, and pour too part of their own mixture into their own throat.

Those who cast clods are answered with a stone.’

The fox then made use of sundry complimentary expressions, and said, ‘We have on this account girded our loins in the service of travelers, and have for this reason opened the door of our cell in the face of holy men, that we may benefit by the beauty of their enraptured state and the perfection of their sentiments. And especially to such a saint as thou representest, and to a perfectly holy man of the kind thou describest, how can I fail in hospitality, or what particle of service could I omit? for ‘the guest when he alights, alights to his own appointed food,’ and the ancients have said,

Each one on earth thou seest, doth his own
Allotted food consume, whether his bread
Upon thy table or on his be spread.
Wherefore thou shouldst the favor not disown
Which guests on thee confer, in that they eat
As bounty, at thy table, their own meat.

Nevertheless I entertain the hope that thou wilt delay thus long, until I sweep out the corner of my cell and spread for my guest of fortunate footstep, a carpet which may befit the occasion.’ The Hare imagined that he had succeeded in cajoling the fox,* and that the latter would soon do himself the honor of waiting on the wolf. He [therefore] replied, ‘The guest is a man without ceremony, and of the simplicity of character suited to a darvesh; and is indifferent to decoration in place or dress; but since your noble mind desires to observe some ceremony, there is no harm, too, in that.’ With these words the Hare went out and detailed all that had occurred to the wolf, and imparted to him the pleasing tidings of the fox having been deceived, and began again to renew—for, ‘in everything new there is pleasure’—his encomium of the flesh and fat, and juiciness and freshness of the fox; and the wolf, having whetted the teeth of appetite, was licking his lips* at the anticipated relish of the fox’s flesh, and the Hare flattered himself,* on account of the service, with the idea of release. The fox, however, through prudence and foresight, had, a very long time previously, dug a deep pit in his abode and had gradually carried out the earth from it and covered the top of it with a little rubbish and straw, and he had also a secret passage by which, on emergency, he could make his way out. When he had sent the Hare away,* he came to the mouth of the pit and disposed the rubbish in such a manner that it would give way on the slightest movement. He then came to the mouth of the secret way and called out, saying, ‘Respected guests, be pleased to take the trouble of stepping forward!’ and simulta­neously with their ingress he went forth from that hole. The Hare with prodigious alacrity, and the wolf with the utmost greediness, entered that dark cell, and their stepping on the rubbish was simultaneous with their falling to the bottom of the pit. The wolf imagined that that stratagem, also, was of the Hare’s doing and he tore him to pieces in an instant, and delivered the world from the reproach of his existence. And I have adduced this story in order that thou mayest know that artifices do not succeed against the wise, and one who possesses a share of caution and foresight, does not suffer himself to be infatuated by the deceitful arts of any one.’ Damnah said, ‘It is as thou sayest, but the Ox is conceited of himself, and is not on his guard against my hostility; and through this supineness I may overthrow him; for the arrow of perfidy which they discharge from the ambush of friendship, penetrates the more deeply; and perhaps thou hast not heard in what way the treachery of that Hare became effectual against the young Lion, and as he was not on the alert against his treachery, he fell, in spite of his good sense and sagacity, into the whirlpool of destruction.’ Kalílah inquired ‘How was that?’