Shanzabah said, ‘They have related that a black-eyed Crow, and a Wolf with sharp claws, and a crafty Jackal, were in the service of a lion, accustomed to hunt his prey, and their forest lay near the highway. A merchant’s camel was left behind in those parts, and recovering his strength, after a time, wandered about in every direction in quest of provender. He happened to pass through that wild spot, and when he approached the lion he saw no alternative but to do him service, and shew him respect. The lion, too, spoke him fair, and inquired into the state of his affairs, and after acquainting himself with them asked him as to his story and movements. The Camel replied,

Though before this I could myself in my own acts command,
When thee I saw the reins of choice departed from my hand.

Whatever the king commands will doubtless comprehend all that is salutary for his subjects.

Thou know’st our welfare better than ourselves.’

The lion replied, ‘If thou desirest it, remain in our company—tranquil and secure.’ The Camel was pleased, and remained in that forest until a long interval had elapsed and he had become extremely fat. One day the lion had gone in pursuit of a quarry, and a furious elephant had encountered him, and between them a mighty battle and a huge conflict had arisen, and the lion having received several wounds, came back to the forest and lay down in a corner groaning and wounded. The Wolf, the Crow, and the Jackal, who were the favorites that fed from the table of his liberality, were left without food, and from the lion’s innate generosity, and the pure beneficence which kings feel towards their servants and attendants—when he saw them in that state he was, affected, and said, ‘Your sufferings are more difficult for me [to bear] than my own. If hereabouts ye can find any game I will come out, and having done the business for you, will return.’ They, quitting their places, in attendance on the lion, came out and went into a corner, and beginning to consult with one another,* said, ‘What is the use to us of the Camel’s being in this forest? Neither does the king derive any advantage from him, nor have we any friendship with him; now we must induce the lion to tear him to pieces, and thus for two or three days the king will be put at his ease from the pursuit of food, and we, too, shall be proportionably benefited.’ The Jackal said, ‘Do not coquette with this fancy, for the lion has given him a safe-conduct and introduced him into his service; and whoever instigates the king to act perfidiously, and emboldens him to break his word, will commit treason; and the traitor is universally reprobated, and both God and man are displeased with him.

In whomsoever treachery finds place,
His faith to God is false and spiritless.
Truth on the human coin her stamp must trace,
For Nature’s alloy is perfidiousness.’

The Crow said, ‘We might devise some stratagem in this matter, and extricate the lion from the obligation of this promise, and do you mind and stay here and I will go and return.’ He then went to the lion and stood still. The lion inquired, ‘Have you marked down any quarry and brought intelligence of any game?’ The Crow said, ‘O king! the eyes of every one of us fail through hunger, and we are bereft, too, of the power of motion. A method, however, has come into our minds, by which, if the king assents, we shall gain perfect ease and abundant blessings.’ The lion said, ‘Inform me of thy meaning that I may distinctly apprehend it.’ The Crow answered, ‘This Camel is a stranger among us, and we cannot contemplate any advantage from associating with him. For a hurried makeshift, here is a quarry come to hand and game caught in the net.’ The lion was wroth, and exclaimed, ‘Dust on the head of the helpers of this age, who have no habit but that of hypocrisy nor any feeling but that of perfidy, and who altogether abandon the part of courtesy and liberality, and manly and generous sentiment.

Faith does not company with worldly men.
From those whose habit is injustice, then,
Expect not truth—a dog is better far
Than those dumb cats who full of cunning are;
And round the cloth a plundering warfare wage—
The only chase in which they dare engage.*

In what sect is it lawful to break faith? and by what creed is an attack sanctioned upon one to whom thou thyself hast given protection?

Break not the branch thyself didst elevate,
In breaking that thou injurest thine own state.’

The Crow said, ‘I know these principles; but the wise have said that an individual may be sacrificed for all the inmates of a house, and the people of a house for a tribe, and a tribe for a city, and the inhabitants of a city for the august person of a monarch who is in danger because his safety might benefit the people of a whole region. And, besides, an evasion may be found, so that he who made the promise of neglect may be clear, and his person secured from the pain of fasting* and the dread of starvation.’ The lion hung down his head, and the Crow returned and said to his friends, ‘I have laid the case before the lion. At first he was refractory, but at last he became tractable. Now our plan is to go all together to the Camel and recount the story of the lion’s hunger and of the distress that he is suffering, and say that we have passed our lives happily under the protection of the fortunes and beneath the shade of the majesty of this fortunate king. To-day, that this event has occurred, honor demands that we should lay down our lives and breath for him, otherwise we shall be stigmatized for ingratitude, and shall be deprived of the character of generosity and manliness. Our right course is to go, all of us, to the lion and reiterate to him thanks for his gifts and bounties, and acknowledge that we have no power to make any return save in offering up our lives and breath for him. Whereupon let each of us say, “To-day let the king break his fast upon me,” and let the others make some objection; and thus, probably, death will be the doom of the Camel.’ They then came together to the Camel and repeated all these particulars to him; and he, in consequence of the simplicity of his heart, was deluded by them; and so having settled matters as has been described, they went to the lion, and when they had acquitted themselves of the duty of setting forth their thankfulness and his praise, and offering eulogies and prayers for his welfare, the Crow loosed his tongue and said,

‘King! in this world success attend on thee!
And, at mirth’s banquet, joy thy portion be!

Our tranquillity depends on the king’s personal health; and now that an exigency has occurred, and my flesh may suffice to eke out the king’s existence, he must condescend to kill me and turn me to account.’ The others exclaimed, ‘What good will eating thee do? and what satisfaction would thy flesh give?’

Who then art thou, that one should reck of thee?

When the Crow heard these words he hung down his head, and the Jackal began to speak, and said,

‘King! from whose paw precursive destiny
Takes, in wrath’s day, the roll of those to die.

A long interval has elapsed during which we have lived safe from the fierceness of the sun of vicissitude under the shade of thy daily increasing fortunes. To-day, when the moon of the splendor of your majesty is involved in the eclipse of distress, I desire that the star of success may rise from the horizon of my condition; and that the king having made me his food, should be freed from the care of thinking about how to break his fast.’ The rest replied, ‘What thou hast said proceeds from an excess of affection and a proper sense of obligation, but thy flesh smells rank, and is coarse and unwholesome. Heaven forefend that by eating it the king’s indisposition should be increased!’ The Jackal was silent, and the Wolf came forward and loosed his tongue, saying,

‘King! may heaven’s monarch be thy friend and stay!
And, in the battle field, thy foes thy prey!

I, too, am desirous of sacrificing myself for the king, and hope that he will smilingly assign a place to my limbs in his gums.’ His comrades said, ‘Thou hast spoken these words from pure attachment and thorough faithful­ness, but then thy flesh would make one choke,* and, in ill effects, it is the next thing* to deadly poison.’ The Wolf stepped back again, and the Camel, extending its long neck on high,* broke the rein, ‘Every tall person is a fool,’* and began to speak, and, after the due recital of blessings, said,

‘King! at whose threshold the bright azure sky
Has opened doors of hope and victory.

I have been brought up in this presence, and have been educated at this court; if I am fit for the royal kitchen, or may serve for the supply of thy table, I grudge not my life.’

While breath remains I will not from thy dwelling-place* arise;
And, should it come to life itself, that e’en I’ll sacrifice.

On this, the others with one voice exclaimed, ‘This speech proceeds from excess of kind feeling and from true fidelity, and, in very truth, thy flesh is digestible, and suits the king’s constitution. Blessings on thy magnanimity, that thou hast not grudged thy life for thy benefactor; and by dealing thus thou hast left a good name for a remembrance.

The brave man’s worth uncounted* gold, for he
Will in the deadly crisis helpful be.’

Hereupon they all made a unanimous assault on the Camel, and before the poor creature could draw breath, they tore his limbs to pieces. And I have adduced this story that thou mayest know that the artifices of interested persons, especially when they combine with one another, will not fail of effect.’ Damnah said, ‘What defence dost thou think of?’ Shanzabah replied, ‘I can think of nothing now but what deviates from the path of wholesome procedure, nor do I know of any remedy save war and conflict, and strife and slaughter: for every one who is slain for the protection of his own life is admitted into the circle of martyrs, and participates in the benefit of the saying, ‘Whoever is slain in defence of his life is a martyr.’ Moreover, if my death is fixed by the hand of the Lion, and predestinated; at least, then, let me be slain honorably, and let me perish gallantly and with spirit.

’Tis well if I with glory yield my breath,
I want but fame—the body is for death.’

Damnah said, ‘A wise man is not precipitate in war, nor does he allow himself to anticipate matters at the time of battle, for ‘The aggressor is the most in the wrong.’ And by one’s own choice to engage in great dangers is no proof of cleverness; nay, men of understanding handle the affairs of an adversary with civility and courtesy, and consider it best to avert a quarrel by gentleness.

Sweet guile is better than unpleasant ire,
’Tis best to sprinkle water upon fire.
When thou by gentle means thy wish canst gain,
Why towards anger give, unchecked, the rein?

And, moreover, it is not right to hold even a weak enemy cheap, for even if he be wanting in strength, he will not be so helpless as regards artifice and stratagem, and he will by perfidious and false measures kindle the fire of mischief to the extent that its flame will not be quenched by the water of counsel; and thyself hast learnt to know the power of the Lion, and his might stands not in need of commentary or amplification; wherefore do not undervalue his hostility, but be on thy guard against the impetuosity of his attack, for every one that contemns his foe and disregards the issue of a conflict, will rue it as did the Genius* of the Sea owing to despising the Sand-piper.’* Shanzabah inquired ‘How was that?’