Kalílah said, ‘They have related there was a Gardener who for a long time had been occupied with various kind of tillage, and had spent his fair life in the culture of gardens and pleasure-grounds. He possessed a garden whose Eden-typifying parterres, by the delightfulness of their shrubs, threw the dust of envy into the eyes of the gardener of Iram; and, by the freshness of their flowers and streamlets, infixed a scar on the breast of the flower-garden of Khawarnaḳ.* A peacock-like splendour shone on its many-coloured trees, and the radiance of the diadem of Káús* gleamed on its gold-bespangled flowers. The surface of its ground was bright like the cheek of a gem-covered beauty, and the breath of its zephyr was fragrant as the dwelling of an ambergris-selling artist. Its trees, youthful in promise, were, by the abundance of their fruits, back-bent like men of age; and its luscious* fruits, like the sweetmeats of Paradise, were fully ripened without the heat of fire. The hues of its vernal and autumnal fruitage reached the utmost verge of freshness and delicacy; and its apples, unfraught with evil,* like the chins of heart-ravishing silver-bodied beauties, made prey of hearts; and, by their lovely colour and exhilarating odour, brought a whole world into their fetters.

To a friend’s chin the apple they compare,
Pink-hued, and mid the garden shewing fair.*
’T is like a lamp that glitters from a tree,
Who, in bright day, a lamp there e’er would see?

The pear suspended from each bough flagons of the water of life, with cups full of the sharbat of the sugar-cane, and, by the public proffer of an unar­tificial comfit,* stimulated the inclinations of the indolent devoid of capital and interest.

How shall I sing its praises? for, sweet in taste, the pear
Is a flask of many sugar-canes suspended in the air.

And the quince, clothed in wool, like vigil-keeping Ṣúfís,* thrust forth its head with its yellow cheeks from the bars of the monastery of creation, while its dust-discoloured countenance acquainted the grief-soiled hearts of lovers with the affection* of their moon-resembling mistresses.

I—from my love—am yellow, and the quince—from moon and sun,
It from sun and moon—and I, from doting on my moon-faced one.

The golden ball of the orange, amid the verdant foliage, was like the globe of the most bright sun shining in the azure* sky, and the gilded censer of the citron, with its heart-delighting odour and exhilarating perfume, was flashing in the court of the garden.

Like the lips of smiling beauty, the pomegranate’s [cool] hue
Made the mouths of lovers water,* delightful to the view.
There, heaven, like a goldsmith, who might their worth appraise,
Had cast rich ruby jewels in the assay-fire’s blaze.*
When my voice would sing the praises of the peach, ’t is surely fit,
That my words should borrow freshness, and gain lusciousness, from it.
Ere our lip, like lip of lover, on its tender lip is glued,
The juices of its beauty and deliciousness exude.

On one side was the incomparable fig, the description of whose excellence has been placed by the hand of Omnipotence on the leaf of [the verse] ‘By the fig,’* and in which the same hand has mingled a sweet confection from the poppy and sugar-candy,* and on the other side grew the pellucid grape, the recital of whose perfections has been described by the pen of infinite wisdom on the illustrious page, ‘And we cause corn to spring forth therein, and grapes,’*like a moist blister that has started up on the palm of the green leaf; and, on the edges of the parterres, the gold-striped circular melons, with tender down and fair* cheeks, showed themselves, like the full moon, which appears on the horizon of the cerulean sky.

The melon balls* that grew in that green field
From Eden’s fruitage bore the ball away.
Musk they and wine—no musk such scent can yield—
Soft-downed—in their soft down no hair have they.

And the old peasant was so much attached to each tree, that he felt neither paternal* cares nor solicitude for offspring; and passed his time in that garden in solitude. But, to be brief, he at last became oppressed by the horror of loneliness, and much dejected by the dread his solitary and separate life inspired.

The rose, the violet is here—in vain, without a friend.

In short, heart-sore from the grief of being alone, he came forth to wander in the plain, and, at the skirt of the mountain, which stretched out limitless as the area of the expanse of hope, he was walking onward, when, by chance, a Bear, too, of uncouth manners and ungainly form, of unpleasant aspect and foul nature, had, by reason of feeling lonely, turned its face from the top of the mountain downward. The moment they met, on both sides, through the similarity of their nature,* the chain of kindly feeling was put in motion, and the heart of the peasant became inclined to the society and companionship of the Bear.

Each atom in this earth and heaven, we find,
Resembles straw and amber* to its kind.
Things igneous with fiery essences unite,
And bodies luminous seek things of light.
Pure natures wishfully pursue things pure,
And gloom attracts the sorrowful and dure.
How are the vain seized on by vanities,*
And to wise men how pleasing are the wise!
The foolish fools to follow them compel,
And others, others like them please as well.

The inexperienced Bear, observing the civility of the peasant, became com­pletely attached to his society, and at a slight signal, placed his head at his feet and entered that Paradise-resembling garden, and by the peasant’s presenting and honoring him with those delicious fruits, the friendship between them was cemented and the root of the plant of amity became firmly implanted in the ground of each of their hearts.

And some time in that garden’s corner, yet
They linger—well contented to have met.

And whenever the Gardener, from excessive fatigue, placed the head of tranquillity in the shade of repose on the pillar of rest; the Bear, from motives of love and affection, sate beside his pillow and drove away the flies from his face.

I would not e’en a fly should darken that dear lip.

One day the Gardener had reclined and gone to sleep in his accustomed manner, and a number of flies collected on his face. The Bear was occupied in driving them off, but, however often he dislodged them, they presently returned, and when he repelled them on this side they made an onslaught on the other. The Bear waxed wroth, and lifting up a stone of twenty mans’ weight*inwardly resolving to kill the flies—dashed it down on the face of the hapless peasant. The flies suffered no harm from the terrible blow of that stone, but the old Gardener was reduced to dust: and hence the sages have said that a wise enemy is every way better than an ignorant friend.

Foes that embitter life are better far,
Than they who ignorant but friendly are.

And I have related this story with this object, to show that friendship with thee presents the same result as if one’s head should be exposed to destruction and one’s breast be the target for the shafts of calamity.

Fools’ company like to an empty pot,
Is black without, and aught within is not.’

Damnah said, ‘I am not so imbecile as not to distinguish that which is for my friend’s advantage from what is injurious to him, or not to discriminate between what is good and evil with respect to him.’ Kalílah replied, ‘I acknowledge that thou hast not reached this degree of folly, but the dust of selfishness makes the eyes of the heart dark and blinded. It is to be expected that from some interested motive, thou wilt neglect thy friend and get ready a thousand incongruous evasions to excuse thyself, just as in the matter of the Lion and Shanzabah, thou hast stirred up all this treason and still layest claim to innocence and goodness, and the case of thee with thy friends is like the case of that Merchant, who said, ‘In a city where a mouse devours a hundred mans of iron, what wonder if a sparrow-hawk should carry off a lad?’ ‘Damnah inquired, ‘How was that?’