The female said, ‘They have related that in a pool whose water from the pureness of its nature reflected every image like a clear mirror, and by its sweetness and excellence gave a foretaste of the spring of life and of the fountain of Salsabíl,* resided two geese and a Tortoise, and in consequence of their being neighbours, the thread of their circumstances had been drawn out into sincere friendship, and vicinity had ended in cohabitation, and, being pleased with the sight of each other, they passed their lives contentedly.

Sweet, life’s season gliding on in the presence of our friends,
Sweet, each moment to which friendship her enchanting radiance lends.

Suddenly the hand of perfidious fortune began to lacerate the cheek of their condition with the nails of vicissitude, and the glass-coloured sky began to display in the mirror of their life the form of separation.

What joy is there which fortune darkens not?
From the goblet of union with loved ones how sweet is the wine that is quaffed,
But the headache of parting soon follows, soon mars the delight of the draught.
At this table none can chew so much as a morsel in truth,
But a pebble will come intervening ’twixt the bread and the luckless one’s tooth.*

In that water which was the source of their life and the support of their existence, a complete failure manifested itself, and a glaring alteration was evident. When the geese perceived that state of things they withdrew their hearts from the home to which they were accustomed and determined on emigrating.

Travel is better for the man whose breast
By various cares and troubles is oppressed.
For though ’tis pain indeed abroad to roam,
’Tis better than adversity at home.

Therefore with hearts full of sorrow and eyes full of tears, they approached the Tortoise, and introducing the subject of parting, said,

Time’s evil eye disparts our destinies:
How can I say what ills from it arise!

The Tortoise wept at the pang of parting, and in the utmost sorrow piteously exclaimed, ‘What words are these? and how can I expect to live without you? or how can existence be supported without sympathising friends?’

Life without thee, we may unlawful call.
Or reft of thee is it then life at all?
All life without thee is alas! the same—
Death, living death—and life alone in name.

And since that I have not power even to take leave, how can I endure the load of separation?

From thee unparted I’m the cypress free,
I shake at parting like the aspen tree.’

The Geese replied, ‘Our hearts too are wounded by the sharp points of separation, and our breasts consumed overmuch by the fierceness of the flame of the fire of parting: but the distress of being without water is on the point of giving the mould of our existence to the wind of annihilation, and therefore of necessity we are about to forsake our friend and country, and to make choice of the anguish of exile.

Ne’er did sad lover willing quit his love,
And none from Paradise of choice remove*

The Tortoise rejoined, ‘O friends! ye know that the distress of the want of water affects me more, and that without water I cannot support myself. At this crisis the rights of ancient companionship demand that ye should take me with you, and not leave me alone in the sorrowful abode of separation.’

Thou art my life and wouldst depart, but when
Life goes, what can the lifeless trunk do then?

The Geese answered, ‘O friend unique, comrade esteemed! the pang of parting from thee is more poignant than that of exile, and the grief of leaving thee a greater cause of despondency and depression, and wherever we go, though we should be in the happiest circumstances, and should pass our time in the utmost comfort, yet, deprived of seeing thee, the eye of our rejoicing would be darkened, and the vision of our fortune obscured; and we too have but one wish, and that is thy society and companionship; but for us to proceed on the earth’s surface and so to traverse a great and long distance is impossible, and for thee too to fly through the expanse of air and accompany us is impracticable; and such being the case, how can we travel together? or in what manner can we keep company?’ The Tortoise answered, ‘Your sagacity will be able to devise a remedy for this matter too, and the con­trivance of this affair will be attained by your discernment, and what plan can I excogitate while my spirit is broken by the thought of separation, and my heart crushed with the load of parting?

A heart is needed first in everything:
From a torn heart no rightful counsels spring.

The Geese replied, ‘O friend! during this period [of our friendship] we have observed in thee somewhat of levity and precipitancy and rashness: perhaps thou wilt not act upon what we say, nor keep firm to thy promise after thou hast made it?’ The Tortoise rejoined, ‘How can it be, that ye should speak with a view to my advantage, and I act in opposition, or fail to perform a compact which is for my own good?

I pledged my faith that from my faith I ne’er would deviate;
I gave my troth that that my troth should rest inviolate.’

Said the Geese, ‘The condition is that when we take thee up and fly through the air thou wilt not utter a single syllable, for any one who may happen to see us will be sure to throw in a word, and say something in reference to us directly or indirectly.* Now how many soever addresses or allusions thou mayest hear, or whatever manœuvres thou mayest observe, thou must close the path of reply, and, good or bad [whate’er betide] not loose thy tongue.’ The Tortoise answered, ‘I am obedient to your commands, and I will posi­tively place the seal of silence on my lips, so that I shall not be even disposed to answer any creature.’

In far-off Greece I met an ancient sage,
And said, ‘O thou! ripe with the love of age!
What suits man best in every state?’ Said he,
‘Wouldst hear the truth, ’tis taciturnity!’

The Geese then brought a stick, and the Tortoise laid hold of the middle of it firmly with his teeth, and they lifting the two ends of the stick, bore him up. When they got to a height in the air, they happened to pass over a village, and the people of the village having discovered them, were astonished at their proceedings, and came out to look at the sight, and raised a shout from left and right, ‘Look! how [two] geese are carrying a tortoise.’ And as in those days the like of it had never been witnessed by that people, their cries and exclamations increased every moment. The Tortoise held his peace for a time, but at length the cauldron of his self-esteem began to boil, and his patience being exhausted, he exclaimed,

‘May blindness seize on those that cannot see!’*

No sooner had he opened his lips but he fell from on high. The Geese exclaimed, ‘The duty of a messenger is but to convey his message.* It is the part of friends to give advice and of the fortunate and well-disposed* to listen to it.’

Well-wishers give advice—but only they
Who are well-tempered list to what they say.
I wish thee well, but if thou cross-grained be,
When will my counsel take effect on thee?

And the moral of this story is, that whoever listens not to the admonition of friends with the hearing of acceptance, will have hastened his own destruction and torn away the veil* of disgrace from the face of his own ignominy.

Who lists not to the counsel of his friends,
Shall gnaw remorsefully his fingers’ ends.’

The male Sand-piper said, ‘I have heard this apologue that thou hast recited, and have become acquainted with its import; nevertheless, fear thou not and keep where thou art, for the faint-hearted and fearful never attain their wish; and I keep to what I have said, that the Genius of the Sea will see fit to be tender of us.’ The female laid her eggs, and when the young—rending the white vest of the shell—raised their heads from the collar of life, the sea, rolling onwards in waves, snatched them under the skirt of destruc­tion. The female on witnessing the catastrophe, became agitated, and exclaimed, ‘O wretch! I well knew that there was no striving* with the waters. Now that thou hast destroyed our young and set my spirit on fire, at least devise some plan by which my lacerated feeling may be salved.’ The male replied, ‘Speak respectfully, for I keep to the promise thou dost wot of, and I will acquit myself of the vow I have made and wrest justice from the Genius of the Sea.’ He immediately went to the other birds, and having convened in one place all the leaders and chiefs of each class, he explained his case to them, and having requested their assistance and aid, began, in a voice of supplication, this song.

‘Endless were the sad recital of my heart’s distress and woe,
It is now the time to aid me and your sympathy to shew.

Unless all my friends act in concert and unison in this matter, and by a combined effort extort justice for me from the Genius of the Sea, his boldness will increase and he will afterwards attack the young of other birds: and when this custom has become established, and this habit been confirmed, we must tear away our hearts from our children and bid adieu to our country and our homes.

Or with a hundred woes bear with the thorns of this distress,*
Or step into the drear abode of utter nothingness.’

The birds, sad and dejected at what had happened, serried their pinions and hastened to present themselves at the court of the Símurgh, and caused the statement of what had occurred, to arrive at the place of representation, and said, ‘If thou feelest commiseration for thy subjects, thou mayest fitly be their king; but if thou hast no care for the distresses of the oppressed, and dost not sympathize with the injured, efface the writing of the sovereignty of the birds from the page of thy fortunes, and the title to be their guardian shall be made over to another.’

The sufferings of the weak commiserate:
Take heed—or dread the tyranny of fate.*

The Símurgh consoled them and set off from his metropolis with his ser­vants and retinue, to repel that unfair attack, and the birds, encou raged by his aid and protection, turned their faces towards the shore of the Indian Ocean; and when the Símurgh with an army—the limits of whose ranks* could not be contained in the capacity of the computation of any accountant, and the number of whose lines and classes could not be weighed in the scales of surmise and possibility—

All warlike, fierce and brave, blood-drinkers they;
All gallant veterans eager for the fray.
With feathery hauberks they their breasts defend;
And beak and claw like lance and knife protend.

arrived near the sea, the morning breeze, which agitates the line of billows, conveyed that news to the Genius of the Sea, who not finding in his resources ability to contend with the Símurgh and the army of the birds, was compelled to put himself in the posture of supplication and restore the young of the Sand-piper.

Now my object in addressing this tale, is to shew that one ought not to despise any enemy though he may be very contemptible, for a diminutive needle may effect that to which the lofty spear is incompetent, and a burning stick from the fire, though it seem small to view, will consume whatever comes in contact with it; and the sages have said, ‘the friendship of a thousand persons will not countervail the hostility of one.’

A thousand e’en too few for friendship are;
But one for enmity too much by far.

Shanzabah said, ‘I will not commence the battle, that I may not be stigmatized with the infamy of ingratitude, but when the Lion attacks me I shall consider self-preservation and defence of my own person a duty. Damnah said, ‘When thou approachest the Lion, and seest that, having raised himself up, he is lashing the ground with his tail, and the flame of his wrath appears kindled like the fire of his eyes, know that he is about to attack thee.’ Shanzabah said, ‘Should anything of this sort be observable, undoubtedly the veil of suspicion will be removed from the cheek of certainty, and information will be afforded on the point of the perfidious intentions of the Lion.’ Damnah then, mirthful and inspirited, betook himself to Kalílah.

From the blind fool who can behold with joy another’s smart,
Expect not faith nor truth from him—he stands from all apart.

Kalílah inquired, ‘How have affairs progressed? and what is the upshot of the matter?’ Damnah made answer,

‘I thank my fortune and the times as well.

Praise be to God! the most complete solution of the matter has been effected, and this so difficult affair has been well and easily accomplished.’ Thus spake Damnah, while fate, with the tongue of retribution, was whispering the import of this couplet in the ear of the wise men of the assembly of discernment.

Glad seized the guests the ringlets of the boy,*
Would heaven but grant them tenure of their joy.

Then both set off to the Lion, and by chance the Ox arrived immediately on their traces. The Lion caught sight of the Ox, and the insinuations of Damnah produced the desired effect, and the Lion, beginning to roar, lashed the ground with the tail of fury, and ground his teeth together through excess of wrath. Shanzabah felt certain that the Lion meant to attack him, and said to himself, ‘The service of kings in terror and dread, and attendance on princes in fear and alarm, resemble being in the same house with a serpent, and lying under the same shelter with a lion. Although the snake may be asleep and the lion slumbering, in the end one will raise his head and the other open his jaws.’

Do not at royal courts on kings attend;
I fear ’t will like the stone and pitcher end.

He thus reflected and then prepared for battle. Each side beheld the signs that the shameless Damnah had pointed out to them, and commencing the conflict, spread their shoutings and cries through the extent of earth and the expanse of heaven.

Their tumult made the deer and beasts of prey,*
Through that wild waste and desert shrink away.
These in the cavern of the mountain-side,
Those in thick bushy coverts cower and hide.

Kalílah, beholding this spectacle, turned to Damnah, and said,

With guileful art* a hundred wiles hast thou
Together blent—then from the issue fled.
Two hundred years may rain, nor settle now
This troublous dust thou hast occasioned.

O unwise! seest thou or not the evil results of what thou hast done? and perceivest thou or not the disgraceful issue of thy proceedings?’ Damnah said, ‘What is the evil result?’ Kalílah answered, ‘In this act which thou hast perpetrated seven hurtful consequences are apparent. One is, that thou hast unnecessarily plunged thy benefactor into difficulty, and hast brought mighty trouble on the person of the Lion. The second is, that thou hast stirred up thy master so to act as to incur the stigma of a breach of promise and faithlessness, and has consented to this his dishonor. The third is, that thou hast considerably exerted thyself for the slaughter of the Ox, and hast submerged him in the whirlpool of destruction. The fourth is, that thou hast taken upon thine own neck the murder of that innocent creature who will be slain through thy efforts. The fifth is, that thou hast made a large number suspicious of the king, and it is probable that through fear of him they will abandon their country and betake themselves to some other place, and, wandering from their families, will sink under the woes of expatriation and the calamities of exile. The sixth is, thou hast exposed the generalissimo of the armies of the wild beasts to the possibility of destruction, and con­sequently the knot of their union may hereafter be left disordered. The seventh is, thou hast made thy own weakness and imbecility palpable, and hast not fulfilled that boast of thine, that thou wouldest manage this business with courtesy and kindness; and he is the most doltish of mankind* who rouses slumbering mischief, and desires to carry on by conflict and ferocity, an affair which admits of being arranged peacefully and with gentleness.’ Damnah replied, ‘Perhaps thou hast not heard what they have said,

If wholesome reason fail in an affair,
We then must use insaner measures there.’

Kalílah said, ‘In this affair, what point hast thou settled by the canon of reason? or how hast thou disposed thy plans by the aid of the architect of counsel, which not succeeding there was occasion to resort to violence and roughness? After all, dost thou not know that sound judgement and correct thought take the lead of courage and valor?

Judgment excels the bravery of the bold.
The fully wise can in a word attain
Things that a hundred hosts* attempt in vain.

And thy infatuation and conceit of thine own opinion, and the manner in which thou art deluded by the pomp of this deceitful world—which, like the attractions of the mirage, possesses nought but mere semblance—were always known; but I hesitated to lay them open to thee, thinking that thou mightest take warning and awake and rouse thyself from the sleep of pride and negligence, and intoxication from the liquor of conceit and ignorance; but since thou hast passed all bounds, and every moment becomest more dizzy and distracted in the wilderness of error and the abyss of self-deception, it is time that I should recount some little of thy complete ignorance and darkness and excessive boldness and blind obstinacy, and reckon up—though it be but a drop from the ocean, and an atom from a mountain—a few of thy faulty speeches and foul acts.

That thou mayst know the things that thou hast done—
Thou hast been treacherous—failed, too, of success!
All have some value, thou art nought alone.
All have their being, thou but nothingness.’

Damnah said, ‘I believe, brother! that from the beginning of my life to this period, an unfitting word or improper action has never proceeded from me; yet if thou hast observed any fault in me, thou oughtest, assuredly, to represent it to me.’ Kalílah rejoined, ‘Thou hast numerous faults, and the first is, that thou imaginest thyself faultless; and next, that thy talk exceeds thy deeds: and they have said that there is no greater danger to a king than this, that the words of his minister should outstrip his actions. Now the people of this world are divisible into four classes as regards their words and actions. First, there is the man who says and does not, and this is the custom of hypocrites and misers. Secondly, there is he who does not speak but act, and this is the habit of gallant* men. The third is he who says and does, and this is the characteristic of men who know* how to pass through life. The fourth is he who neither says nor does, and this is the quality of the mean and sordid. And thou belongest to that class who say and do not invest their words with the ornament of action; and I have always found thy talk to outrun thy capacity; and the Lion, deluded by thy sayings, has been exposed to so perilous an affair as this, and if (which God prevent!) a calamity should befal him, anarchy and confusion would prevail in this region and the disorders and disquiet of the people would exceed all bounds, and the lives and property of all would incur the risk of plunder and spoilation, and the guilt of all this misery would be on thy neck.

The man who acts or thinks unworthily,
Shall not the face of goodness ever see.
And he who makes the tree of wrong take root,
Whence should he gather beneficial fruit?

Damnah replied, ‘I have always been a faithful minister to the king, and have planted nought in the orchard of his affairs save the shrub of wholesome advice.’ Kalílah rejoined, ‘A plant whose fruit is this proceeding which we now witness, were better plucked up by the root; and advice which produces such a result as this we now behold, ought rather never to have been spoken nor heard; and how can any advantage be looked for in thy discourse, when, in point of fact, it is not adorned with the ornament of deeds? Learning, without practice—like wax without honey—is devoid of all flavour; and talking without doing—like a tree without leaves and fruit—is only fit to be burned.

Knowledge, that leaves no trace of acts behind,
Is like mere body, destitute of mind.
Knowledge the stem and acts the fruit will be,
’Tis simply for the fruitage grows the tree.
The barren branches do but shock the eye,
And can but fuel to the cook supply.

And men of eminence, have, with the pen of condescension, deigned to inscribe on the pages of their records, this writing, that there are six things from which it is impossible to derive advantage. The first is, talk without action: the second, wealth without prudence: the third, friendship without experience: the fourth, knowledge without virtue: the fifth, alms without pious intentions: the sixth, life without health.* And though a king be, in his own person, just and inoppressive, yet one ill-disposed and of foul character, will cut off from his subjects the benefits of their monarch’s justice and clemency, and from dread of his opposition the afflicting tale of the oppressed will never gain the honor of representation to the king, like water, sweet and limpid—in which the form of a crocodile is visible—wherein no swimmer, though athirst and even exceedingly parched, dare strike out with his arms or with his feet.’

Athirst I’ve reached the clear pure fountain’s brink;
Yet to what end? I’m powerless to drink!

Damnah replied, ‘My object in this transaction was simply to attain the honor of the king’s service.’ Kalílah answered, ‘Efficient servants and active attendants and experienced ministers, are the ornament and grace of the court of kings; but thou desirest that all others should be discharged from waiting on the Lion and that thou shouldst be the confidant and counsellor, and that intimate access to his majesty should be restricted to thyself alone; and this notion proceeds from complete ignorance and excessive want of understanding, for princes cannot be confined to any one thing or any single person, and kingly rank is like the possession of loveliness and beauty; for just as a charmer seeks the more to display her attractions, the more men are in love with her; so a king, too, the more numerous his attendants and the larger his retinue, is the more desirous of increasing his train and multiplying those about him. And this vain longing that thou entertainest, is a clear proof of excessive stupidity; as the sages have said, ‘Five things are marks of folly: first, to seek one’s own advantage by injuring others: secondly, to look for the rewards of the future life without mortifying the flesh,* and piety: thirdly, to make love to women with rough language and ill-temper: fourthly, to expect to learn the niceties of science in slothful indulgence and ease: fifthly, to expect friendship from men without being faithful, and observing the duties of a friend.’ And it is from excess of the kindly feeling that I entertain for thee, that I say these things; but it is as clear as the sun that the dark night of thy depravity will not be illuminated by the torch of my preaching. The gloom of ignorance and foulness of envy, which is interwoven in thy nature, will not be dispelled by the lustre of my counsels.

Not Zamzam’s* well could bleach, nor Kauar’s* tide
His fortune’s woof* that fate has darkly dyed.

And my case, in relation to thee, is like what the man* said to that bird, namely, ‘Take not useless trouble nor waste thy words upon a set who are not inclined to listen to thee.’ It would not however give heed and was punished in the end.’ Damnah inquired, ‘How was that?’