The Jackal said,

‘An ass existed once, who tail* had not,
His grief grew daily for his tail-less lot:
Then off he started of a tail in quest,
A tail he sought for and he took no rest.
But suddenly—without design—his way
He took, where a ripe corn-field lay;
There from a corner him the peasant spied,—
Jumped up, and, cruel, docked his ears beside.
Thus the poor donkey a new tail would find,
And failing, left his ears, too, both behind!
They who, by like transgressions, may offend,
Will find a like requital in the end.’

The Fox, from excessive greediness and avidity, frowned and said,

‘My thoughts are on my friend, and do any dream that I
Could cease of him to think, their thought were phantasy.

Do thou survey the spectacle how I, by adroit stratagems, will get posses­sion of a fat fowl, and behold with what artifice I will draw a comely prey into the net of possession.’ He said this, and turning towards the fowls, he left the skin in that same spot. The Jackal, when he saw that his advice made no impression on the obstinate mind of the Fox, turned his face away from him, and made off to his own abode. Meanwhile, a kite that was hovering there, chanced to observe that piece of skin, and imagining it to be a dead animal, brought it, with the utmost speed, into the area of its own possession, and soared up into the sky. In the other direction, the Fox had not as yet got near the fowls, when Zírak jumped out from his hiding-place and threw a walking-stick at him. As soon as the stroke of it came upon the fore-foot of the Fox, the poor animal, in fear of his life, tore away his thoughts from the fowl, and in the utmost hurry, stumbling along,* made for that piece of skin. When he reached the destined spot, not a trace of the skin did he see. He then turned his face towards the point of prayer, and was about to make a piteous detail of his misfortunes, when just as he was weeping over his hard case, he beheld the kite carrying the piece of skin in its claws, as it exclaimed,

‘Thine was the luck and thine the stroke to try,
Who can do aught if thou hast played awry?’

The Fox, from grief at missing the fowl and regret at losing the skin, beat his head against the ground till his brains were dashed out. And the reason of inventing this story is, that the king has destroyed with his own hand one of the Pillars of the state, and gives no heed to the edification of the remaining nobles, and neglects to encourage the hearts of his courtiers and to show favor to his chiefs and the leaders of his army. Shanzabah has been slain and nothing will bring him back, but the other ancient ministers remain aloof from the service.

The Lion, after much reflection, said, ‘This speech is the essence of good counsel and loyalty, but with regard to Shanzabah I have committed a great fault, and the chief part of my distress is to compensate for it.’

The leopard said, ‘The remedy and compensation for it is not obtainable by grieving but will be procured by right counsel and just judgment.

Has an ant fallen in a shining* cup,—
It needs no force, but one to take it up.

The advisable course is that the king of beasts should cease from lamenting and mental discomposure, and base his actions on deliberation, and proceed in the affair of Shanzabah and in the investigation of what befell him in such a manner that the right and wrong of it may be clearly manifested to his sagacious mind; and if that which they brought to the ears of the king respecting Shanzabah be really true, he, by his own act, arrived at the punish­ment of his own perfidy and the retribution of his treason. But if they have uttered calumnies regarding him and have made false statements, then must the slanderers and sycophants be made a target for the arrow of vengeance.

’Tis good the evil-doer to remove.’

The Lion said, ‘Thou art the vazir of the kingdom, and I have long been proud of thy judicious procedure, and have made thy foresight my guide and example in securing advantages and repelling misfortunes. Take up this matter in whatever way clear reason and lucid intelligence may require and extricate me from the whirlpool of distress.’ The leopard engaged that he would, in a short time, present to the bright notice of the king the real state of this affair, and not leave under the veil of concealment or the curtain of delay one particle of the minutest points of its full ascertainment.

With judgment clear I will it state,
As hair from leaven extricate.

The Lion was comforted by this promise, and, as it was late, the leopard demanded his congé, and betook himself to the fulfilment of his promise. It chanced that he passed by the abode of Kalílah and Damnah, and he observed that a dispute was going on between them, and that loud words were spoken by both parties. Now the leopard had from the first been suspicious of Damnah. At this time, when the sound of talking and expostulation reached his ears from their dwelling, his doubts were augmented. He advanced and and standing behind the wall, opened the ear of attention to their words. Kalílah said, ‘O Damnah! thou hast done a great deed and embarked in a mighty affair, and having led the king to a breach of faith, thou hast caused him to be associated with utter perfidy, and thou hast kindled the flame of mischief and disorder among the beasts and wild animals, and I do not feel secure that the punishment thereof may not each moment come upon thee, and that thou mayest not be overtaken by the trouble and exposure consequent thereupon.

Whoever dares unsheath the tyrant’s sword,
Blood will for that from heaven on him be poured.

And I know that when the inhabitants of this wild become acquainted with thy act, no one will hold thee excused nor lend their aid to rescue thee; nay, all will be unanimous in voting for slaying thee and putting thee to the torture, and it is not advisable for me after this to dwell with thee; for they have said,

Sit not with bad men, for their company—
Though thou be pure— will cast a stain on thee.
The sun with all its gloriousness of light,
Is by a cloudy atom hid from sight.

Get up and unite thyself in friendship with some other comrade, and here­after refrain from converse or intercourse with me, for thou wilt get no more friendship or companionship from me.’ Damnah said, ‘Dear friend!

Should I tear my love from thee and remove my heart away,
Where should I my love bestow? whither then my heart convey?

Lay not the beginnings of separation and exclude me not from thy society, nor reproach me any more in the matter of Shanzabah, for to recall a thing which is past does but cause chagrin, and to deliberate on a matter which comes not into the area of remedy, belongs to the class of impossibilities. Put from thy thoughts this vain regret, and turn them towards mirth­fulness and freedom from care, since one foe has set out for the world of nonentity, and the atmosphere of desire has been cleared from the dust of doubt, and the cupbearer of the wish has poured the draught of tranquillity into the goblet of joy, and the portals of hope have been opened wide to the face of success, and the bud of expectation has bloomed in the bed of happy tidings.’

Cup-bearer! give the wine about, and as to friend or foe, be gay,
For our friend has come to glad our hearts and our foe has passed away.

Kalílah said, ‘Notwithstanding that thou hast deviated from the path of generous conduct, and hast overthrown the pedestal of magnanimity with the axe of perfidy, thou still expectest to be free from anxieties, and hopest that thy time will pass in safety and happiness.

Thou hast nurtured vain desire, framed a thought that cannot be.’

Damnah said, ‘It is not that I was unaware of the shame of perfidious conduct, or the retributive consequences of deceit and fraud, or that the villany of slander and the odiousness of selfish machinations was concealed from me. But the love of place and the greediness of wealth, and the irre­sistible influence of envy incited me to such conduct, and as things are now situated, I know no remedy for this business, nor am I able to devise any cure for it.

What can I? this to cure exceeds my power.’

The leopard, having heard this segment of their discourse, and having learned the true state of the case, went to the Lion’s mother and said, ‘I will communicate a secret on condition that the queen will be pleased to promise that without urgent cause she will not suffer it to be disclosed.’ Then after many oaths and promises and injunctions [to secresy,] he fully recounted all that had passed between Kalílah and Damnah, and minutely repeated the reproaches of Kalílah and Damnah’s confession. The Lion’s mother was astonished at the details of this adventure, and next day came, according to her usual custom, to see the Lion. She found him excessively sad and pensive, and inquired saying, ‘O son! what is the cause of thy trouble and perturbation?

Why wanes thy moon, of its full glories shorn?
Why has the cypress dwindled to a thorn?*
Wherefore this trouble that thy looks express?
And from whose wrath these outcries of distress?

The Lion said, ‘The slaughter of Shanzabah and the remembrance of his qualities and excellent gifts, is the sole cause of my grief, and however much I try, the recollection of him will not depart from my mind nor will my heart forget his memory.

By thy dear life! I cannot thee one moment e’en forget,
And could I once, what shall I do, for now it may not be!
Then not in jest thy Khusrau bid live, thee forgetting; yet,
Could I, I would—what shall I now? I still must think of thee.

As often as deliberation is held on affairs of state, and I feel the want of an attached well-wisher and kind counsellor, and a faithful friend, and a minister on whom I can rely, the phantom of Shanzabah comes before me and says,

In mode of service—in fidelity,
Thou mayst seek long, nor find one such as I.’

The mother of the Lion said, ‘In aiding the light of certainty to over­power the gloom of doubt and conjecture there is no evidence like the testimony of a pure heart, and the king’s language leads one to understand that his heart bears witness to the innocence of Shanzabah, and assuredly since he was not put to death on lucid evidence and convincing testimony, and since the interested informer, under the form of advice, set forth his condition in a way opposite to the truth; hence every moment fresh regret springs up and unbounded remorse is occasioned, and if what they conveyed to the king had been pondered over and the courser of ire had been curbed with the bridle of patience, and thou hadst removed the darkness of that doubt with the light of clear intellect, at this moment* thou wouldest not have fallen into the snare of repentance nor wouldest thou have placed the volume of gladness and cheerfulness upon the shelf of non-existence.

Be thou sedate in what thou hast to do,
For fiery haste will prove abortive, too.
Did not the lamp so hot itself illume,
’T would not its substance and the moth consume.
Patience supplies to every ward its key,
One ne’er did patient men regretful see.’

The Lion said, ‘O mother! as thou hast said, in this affair my passion got the better of my reason, and the fire of wrath burned up the foundation of mildness, and now there is no remedy for a matter which is included in the category of impossibilities, save to waive the thought of it. That, how­ever, may be regarded as the worst of states in which my subjects have made me the target of the arrow of reproach, and have cast upon my name the lot* of unfaithfulness and cruelty, and however diligently I strive to bring home to the Ox a plain case of treason, and to prove against him the commission of a crime, in order that I may be absolved by others for slaying him, and may remove myself from the opprobrious remarks of those who know me and the sarcasms of strangers, it is no wise attainable or assured to me. The unfortunate Shanzabah had both a clear mind and pleasing manners, and with all these qualities it is not possible to charge him with what envy slanderously imputes to him, and such a person cannot be of the class that foul desires or vain longings should find a lodgment in his brain, so that he could have revolved my death or thought of warring with me. And, moreover, with regard to him, there has been no neglect of various kind offices or forms of favor, which might have become a link to hostility and aversion and the means of enmity and contention; and my wish is to use extreme efforts in investigating this matter, and to conduct the inquiry into these reports to the very limits of excess, and though this regret is unavailing, and that mis­fortune will not find a cure by this suit, still it may be that my mind may be consoled by it and the mischievous slanderer may be chastised, and my excuse may be admitted by men.* And if thou hast known anything on this or heard any tidings, favor me with the information and advice.’ The Lion’s mother said,

‘My heart is full of gems of mystery,
But on my tongue bands too and fastenings lie.

I have heard a thing, but the disclosure of it is not admissible, and I have discovered a delicate matter, but to reveal it is not allowable. For certain of thy ministers have charged me to conceal it, and have been urgent with me beyond measure to hide it, ‘The hearts of the noble are the sepulchres of secrets.’

I asked of the old tavern-keeper, which is, then, salvation’s way?
He called straight for the wine-cup, and quoth he, ‘No secrets to betray.”

And the king knows that to publish a secret is utterly wrong, and to reveal what men would hide is inexpressibly mischievous; and were it not that the wise have enjoined us to avoid that quality, I would have detailed the whole, and would have swept away the dust of grief from the court of the heart of my beloved and fortunate son?’ The Lion said, ‘The glosses of the wise and the sayings of philosophers, are numerous. If one party of them have been commanded to abstain from disclosing secrets they had in view, the welfare and safety of the speaker and others, too, have enjoined the revelation of them for the public advantage, where the common weal may be conceived to be therein. And if any one has unjustly aimed at the life of one of the faithful, and confides this secret to another, and imparts it to him with great and strict oaths, and displays excessive earnestness in enjoining its conceal­ment, and that confidant—for the preservation of the life of that Muslim,—reveals the secret and acquaints the person [whose life is in danger] with that information, in order that he may look to his affairs; he will, undoubtedly, not be censurable by the law, nor will he be exposed to the rebuke of God; and to keep back a secret in circumstances like these, shews an agreement with the base, and it is possible that the conveyer of this intelligence, by disclosing this secret desired to clear himself* and make over the care of it to the surety of thy keeping, or he may have been afraid of me, and made use of thee as the medium of communication. I hope that thou wilt acquaint me with it and act as befits thy counsel and affection.

Impart to us the secret, for we may trusted be,
And cease these airs, this coyness, for true of heart are we.’

The mother of the lion said, ‘This intimation which thou hast given is worthy of the highest praise, and the purport of what thou hast set forth is worthy of much commendation; but the disclosure of secrets has two palpable and absolute faults. The first of these is, the enmity of that person who, in reliance on another, has made him the confidant of his secrets: the second is, the suspicion of others; for when a person has become notorious for rending veils and revealing the secrets of men, after that no one will impart anything to him, nor account him fit to be a confidant: he becomes both banished from the eyes of his friends, and overtaken, too, by the gibes of his enemies.

However much my heart burns sore, my secret to reveal,
The fear of those who hate me sets upon my lips a seal.

And I have seen in the sayings of the wise that, ‘He whose secret does not slumber, his mischief will not slumber,’—whoever does not conceal, in the casket of non-existence, the gem of his secret, that secret will assuredly set up a flag against his life. And it has become proverbial, that whoever lets his secret go out of his hands, gives his head in exchange for it.

Wouldst thou keep fast thy head—thy secret keep.

But perhaps thou hast not heard the story of that Equerry who ventured to tell the king’s secret, and in the end gave up his head for it,’ The Lion said, ‘How was that?’