Damnah said, ‘One day a Hunter, passing through a waste, saw a fox excessively brisk and active, who was roaming about in the expanse of that wilderness, and showed himself gamboling in every direction. The Hunter was pleased with his fur, and formed the idea of selling him at a great price; and the violence of his longing led him to pursue the fox until he found out his hole, and near it he dug a pit and covered it over with rubbish, and upon it he laid some carrion, and seating himself in ambush waited to catch the fox. Presently it happened that the fox came out of his hole, and the smell of that carcase drew him on gradually till it brought him to the brink of that pit. He here reflected, ‘Although the brain of longing is perfumed by the aroma of this dead animal, nevertheless the smell of danger too reaches the nostril of caution; and the wise never meddle with a business which is fraught with peril, nor do the prudent commence an affair in which the possibility of mischief is discernible.

Wherever they the perilous define,
Strive thou to keep thyself without the line.

And though it is possible that some dead animal may be here, it is also possible that they may have arranged beneath it a snare, and in every case caution is best.

When two affairs present themselves to thee,
And of the twain thou know’st not which to do;
That in which dread of danger there may be
Is what thou shouldst assuredly eschew.
But where no eye can lurking peril see,
In that step forward fearlessly and free.

Pondering thus, the fox relinquished the thought of that carcase, and took the path of safety. Meanwhile a hungry leopard came down from the top of a mountain, and, from the smell of the carcase, sprang into the pit. The Hunter, when he heard the noise of the snare, and the sound of the animal’s fall into the pit, thought it was the fox, and, through excessive greediness, cast himself unreflectingly upon it; and the leopard, imagining that he would prevent him from eating the dead animal, leapt up and tore open his belly. Thus the greedy huntsman, through the ill luck that attended his cupidity, was caught in the snare of destruction, and the contented fox, by retrenching his desires, escaped from the whirlpool of adversity; and the moral of this story is, that the calamitous results of greediness, and the evil of excessive concupiscence will make a slave of a free man and hurl a slave headlong [to destruction.]’

Couldst thou a crown too large for thee obtain,*
By earth where saints have trodden!—’twere but pain.

Shanzabah said, ‘I did wrong to choose the service of the Lion at the first, and I was ignorant of his want of appreciation of merit: and they have said, that to associate with one who does not understand the value of your society, and the waiting on one who does not recognize the worth of your attendance, is like a man’s scattering seed on salt ground in hopes of a crop, or whispering into the ear of one born deaf one’s griefs and joys, or writing fresh* verses on the face of a stream, or to sport with the ornamental figures in a bath in the hope of begetting offspring, or to expect drops of rain from a furious whirlwind.*

To hope that kings will true and grateful be
Is, from the cypress-branch, to look for fruit.
The cane-juice grows not on the willow-tree,
No—though a thousand times thou give to it
The [sparkling] waters of eternity.’

Damnah said, ‘Cease these sayings and take thought for thine own matters.’ Shanzabah replied, ‘What plan can I set up, and what stratagem can I adopt? And as for the qualities of the Lion, I know them well, and my sagacity admonishes me that the Lion has no wish with reference to me but what is good and kind, but those who are about him strive for my death, and exert themselves for my ruin; and if it be so, the inclination of the tongue of the balance of my life is rather toward the scale of destruction than that of continuance; for when crafty and cruel persons, and perfidious oppressors combine,* and join hand to hand, and set themselves unanimously against any one, they are sure to triumph over him, and overthrow him, as the Wolf, and the Crow, and the Jackal, made a set against the Camel, and by uniting, prevailed against him, and obtained their object and desire.’ Damnah asked, ‘How was that?’