Kalílah said, ‘They have related that a troop of monkeys had their abode in a mountain, and lived upon the fruits and herbage there. It befell that on a night more dark than the hearts of the guilty, and gloomier than the souls of men of ruined fortunes, the frost of winter began to assail them, and from the gust of a boisterous wind of icy chillness the blood in their bodies began to congeal.

Such was the cold, the lion of the sky,
Wished he his [shaggy] skin inverted had.*
The garden birds for heat so restlessly
Longed, that to have been spitted they ’d been glad.*

The poor creatures, distressed by the cold, were seeking shelter, and having briskly girded themselves in search of it, were running about in every direction. On a sudden, beside the road, they beheld a piece of sugar-cane lying shining,* and, under the idea that it was fire, collected sticks and laid them about it, and commenced blowing, and a bird on a tree over against them called out ‘That is not fire,’ but they paid no attention, nor desisted from their unprofitable task. Meanwhile it happened that a man* came there and said to the bird, ‘Trouble not thyself, for by thy speaking they will not be deterred, and thou wilt meet with vexation.

He that is joined to evil fortune, leave him to his fate;*
For he will not, by all thy efforts, prove more fortunate.

And to exert oneself in correcting and amending such persons is like trying a sword upon a stone, or to seek from deadly poison the properties of a sovereign antidote.

Expect no trace of goodness in the man,
Who, from the outset, is by nature bad.
For by no efforts of thy making can
A white hawk from a dingy crow be had.’

When the bird saw that they did not attend to his words, from excess of kindness he came down from the tree in order that he might make them hear distinctly his advice, and admonish them against the futile toil they were undergoing. The monkeys collected round the bird, and separated his head from his body, and my dealings with thee have just the same character, and I do but waste my time and speak vain words, and besides that no advantage will accrue to thee, I am in danger too of being damaged.’

Thy hearer to thy counsel gives no heed;
Then why vain burthens on thy soft heart lay?
Thou saidst, ‘Mount as on Buráḳ,* on the steed
Of Happiness, and thus thyself convey
To the wished halting-place, from trouble freed.
He hears not, but his path will aye proceed,
Then leave him fatuous lagging on his way.

Damnah said, ‘O brother! the great have always fulfilled their duty faithfully towards their inferiors as regards advice and admonition, and have shunned partiality and dissimulation; and it is incumbent on men of real eminence to persevere in the due practice of counsel and exhortation, whether any one attends to them or not.’

Withhold from none thy warnings, but say on,
Although the hearer may thy words neglect.
The clouds shower down their rain the hills upon,
Though in their stony breasts they nought effect.

Kalílah said, ‘I do not close the gate of advice against thee, but I am afraid that thou hast based thy affairs on perfidy and deceit, and hast adopted as thy practice, conceit and egotism: ‘The worst of qualifications is obstinacy.’ And when thy repentance comes, it will be unavailing, and however much thou mayest gnaw the back of thy hand and lacerate the surface of thy breast, it will be to no purpose, and a proceeding which is based on deceit and treachery will terminate in disgrace and conclude in dishonor. So it happened to the cunning partner; and the perniciousness of his stratagem turned out the noose of the snare of calamity, and closed on his own neck; while his careless associate, by the blessing of his uprightness and honest simplicity, attained his wish.’ Damnah said, ‘How was that?’