Damnah said, ‘They have related that there was a pool of water at a distance from the highway, and hidden from the notice of travelers, and its retired waters were pure like the faith of the spiritual, and its appearance such as to suffice those who were in search of the water of life, and this lake communicated with a running stream. In it abode three large fishes, such that the celestial fish,* through envy of them, was broiled on the frying-pan of jealousy, like Aries by the heat of the sun. And one of those three fishes was Very Cautious, and the second Cautious, and the other Helpless. Suddenly, in the season of spring, when the world, from the adornment of its flower-gardens, was like the garden of paradise, and all parts of earth’s surface, from its bright and sweet-scented plants, resembled the azure valut full of stars; when the chamberlain, the morning breeze, had adorned earth’s floor with many-hued carpets, and the peerless gardener of creation had ornamented the world with flowers of divers colors,

Morn’s* musk-diffusing breeze the garden fanned:
White as the loved one’s cheek, the jasmine pale
Hung graceful—and like mistress, smiling bland,
Bending propitious to the lover’s tale—
To the young breeze roses their hues unveil.

All at once, two or three fishermen happened to pass by that water, and by the will of God they discovered the circumstances of the abode of those three fishes in that lake, exactly as things really were. Having agreed therefore on a rendezvous with one another, they hastened to bring their nets, and the fishes, having gained intelligence of that circumstance, immersed as they were in water were, nevertheless, made to consort with the fire of anguish. When night drew on, the fish that was perfectly wise and possessed extreme caution, inasmuch as he had often witnessed the violence of oppressive fortune, and the petulance of the faithless heavens, and as his foot was planted firmly on the carpet of experience, began to reflect on the means of escape from the net of the fishermen, and to ponder on deliveranoe from their bonds.

Own him as prudent and as throughly wise,
Who founds his actions on a base secure.
But in whose caution aught defective lies,
His ground of action is most weak, be sure.

He therefore adopted expeditious measures, and before even consulting with his friends, made his exit on the side adjacent to the flowing stream. In the morning the fishermen came and firmly secured both sides of the lake. Then the half-wise fish, who was adorned with the ornament of good sense, but who possessed no share of the stores of experience, when he beheld this state of things, felt much contrition, and said, ‘I have chosen to be negligent, and the termination of the affairs of the supine is like the present. It behoved me, like that other fish, before the descent of calamity, to have taken thought for myself, and previous to the assault of misfortune to have pondered the way to escape.

Think of the cure before the thing occurs,
He grieves in vain who till ’tis past defers.

Now since the opportunity of flight is gone, it is the time for stratagem and artifice, and although they have said that deliberation during the time of disaster yields but little advantage, and but small fruition is derivable from the produce of good sense in the period of calamity; still, notwith­standing all this, it behoves a wise man in no way to despair of the benefits of wisdom, nor to allow of delay or tardiness in repelling the devices of an enemy. He then made himself appear dead, and went floating on the surface of the water. One of the fishermen picked him up, and fancying him to be dead, threw him on the ground; and he, craftily flinging himself into a rivulet, preserved his life.

Die, friend! if thou enfranchisement wouldst gain,
Undying, thou canst not thy friend obtain.

And the other fish in whose proceedings supineness prevailed, and in whose actions imbecility was apparent, darted about right and left, astounded and bewildered and fatuous, and, trying to escape, rushed to the surface and to the bottom,* until at last he was captured. And by considering this story, the prince may be convinced that measures should be speedily taken with reference to Shanzabah; and before opportunity and power expire, he should strike the fire of regret into the soul of that miscreant, with a high-tempered sword; and having given the harvest of his life to the winds of destruction, raise up the smoke of affliction* from his family to the sky.

Hast thou the mastery o’er thy treacherous foe,
His brains then shatter with the stone of woe.’

The Lion said, ‘I understand what thou hast spoken, but I have no suspicion that Shanzabah meditates any treason, and will allow himself to requite past favors by subsequent ingratitude, for up to this period I have indulged in nothing but goodness and kindness towards him.’ Damnah responded, ‘Exactly so, but by these bounties of the King he has reached his present elevation.

At thy free will to smite, select the spot,
Since thou wilt salve the wound—it matters not.

A worthless fellow naturally bad, will be a sincere and loyal adviser so long as he has not reached the station which he hopes to gain, but when his wish is accomplished, ambition to obtain further advancement—which befits him not—will shew itself from the store-house of his thoughts: and the wise have said* that the service of the mean and ignoble is based on the canon of fear and hope. When once he is secure from the intrusions of fear, he darkens the fountain of his loyalty, and when he has been rendered independent by the attainment of his object, he kindles the fire of ingratitude and mischief.’ The Lion said, ‘How then ought we to treat servants of a base disposition and sordid mind, in order that the traces of their ingratitude may not be evinced?’ Damnah replied, ‘You ought not to exclude them from your favors to such a degree that they should suddenly despond, and, abandoning your service, affect the side of your enemies; nor ought you so to bestow on them favors and wealth, that, having reached the zenith of success, extrava­gant fancies may develop themselves in them. But rather they ought to pass their life always between hope and fear, and their course of action should be perpetually governed by promises and threats, and dread and expectation; since opulence and immunity make them self-sufficient, and that becomes a cause of rebellion and guilt; and [on the other hand] despair and destitution render menials bold, and hence arises injury to the royal power.

Despair makes man audacious—insolent:
O friend! my desperation then prevent.’

The Lion said, ‘To my mind it seems that the mirror of Shanzabah’s condition, is pure from the stain of this deceit, and the page of his heart clear and unsullied by the character of these thoughts; and I have always been in the position of benefactor towards him, and have continuously associated his career with indulgence, and after an undeviating course of kindness and favor to him from me, how could he devise evil and mischief in return?

My heart affection’s flag for him displays,
Why should he then a hostile banner raise?’

Damnah said, ‘The king must understand that straightforward conduct never proceeds from a crooked nature, and that one of an evil disposition and a bad stock, neither by the efforts of others nor self-exertion, will become of a praiseworthy character or pure, for ‘Every vessel allows that to percolate which is in it.’

That from the jar exudes which is within.

But perhaps the story of the Scorpion and the Tortoise may not have reached the august hearing of your majesty?’ The Lion asked, ‘How was that?’