Damnah said, ‘They have related that a Devotee had renounced the concerns of the world and had made choice of the corner of retirement; and satisfied the requirements of food and raiment with barley-bread and coarse woollen garments.*

The draggings of distress had made him sad,
On a hill’s skirt his lone abode he had.
Ease he forsook his frame to macerate,
And could with simple herbs his hunger sate.*

The rumour of the devotion and upright character of that saintly man spread in a short time through the districts and environs of that country, and people began to come from far and near for the purpose of securing good-fortune and a blessing: and when they beheld the effect of the luminousness of divine worship clear and evident upon his bright forehead, waxing warmer in the matters of faith, they displayed still greater zeal. Now in that country there was a king, just and liberal, and the friend of darveshes; who used to give to the pursuit of divine favor precedence over compliance with those desires that affect a king, and who imitated nothing but the character of prophets and the morals of holy men.

Pure morals, kindly manners, and to deal with all aright,
Are pleasing in the poor recluse, but in the prince more bright.

When the tidings of the devout hermit reached him, he put in practice the wise saying, ‘Happy is the prince and happy the faḳír,’ and waited on the saintly man, and having besought the aid of his blessed spirit, requested some piece of advice which might prove useful to kings. The pious recluse said, ‘O king! God has two pavilions, one transitory, which they call the world, and the other enduring, which they call the life to come. Magnanimity requires that thou shouldest not rest satisfied with this transitory abode, but transfer thy views to the empire of the enduring world.

Seek then the world to come, for joys are there!
Not with its smallest portion could compare
A hundred worlds; then strive, where now thou art,
To win of that more happy world a part.’

The king said, ‘By what plan can that kingdom be subjugated?’ The Devotee replied, ‘By aiding the oppressed and attending to the complaints of the destitute; and every king who desires repose hereafter must labour for the ease of his subjects.

He peaceful slumbers underneath the clay,
Whose people sleep in peace beneath his sway.
And they will fruit from youth and fortune find,
Who show themselves to those below them kind.
Kings who religion cherish, will succeed
In winning at faith’s game the ball, their meed.’*

When the recluse had finished his advice, and had filled the treasury of the king’s heart with the jewels of admonition, the counsels and exhortation of the pure-minded and saintly man made an impression on the king, and he laid the hand of discipleship on the skirt of his spirit, and was continuously in the habit of presenting himself in his company, and by the blessing of obedience to his persuasive words, turned away his head from following lust and vanity. One day the king was waiting on the darvesh, and they were discoursing on every subject, when suddenly a party of petitioners for justice raised their clamours and outcries* to the etherial ball. The Devotee called them to him and inquired into the case of each, separately, and instructed his highness the king, in the orders fit and proper for each of their suits. The king was excessively grateful for this, and besought that he might occasionally hold a court of requests under his fortunate superior tendence. The holy man, in order that the suits of the distressed might be speedily and satisfactory settled, and that he himself, by directing these matters, might obtain the advantage of an eternal recompense, consented; and in any affair, as the occasion required, the recluse delivered his decree, and the king, with willingness and eagerness, gave heed to him, until things eame to that pass that most of the affairs of that realm were united to the skirt of the management of that lofty and saintly man, and he was daily more and more employed in the affairs of the state and of the revenue. The bewitching love of place deposited its furniture in the environs* of the saint’s heart, and made a breach in his religious duties and seasons of prayer, and the desire of pomp and state having raised the head of the darvesh from the pillow of repose, made him aim at the diadem of pride.

Whom does not this witching sorceress from the one true path beguile?
Who drinks not the draught of error from the goblet of her wile?

The world is a deceitful woman, which has brought many a lion-like man under the noose of her love, and a perfidious dame* that has thrown many famous warriors like the hero Rustam, into the pit of calamity.

Its Rustam a false treacherous dame* enslaves;
Its hero buried in the pit of woe;
Its Egypt swept by Wrong’s Nilotic waves;
Its Joseph in torn clothes with blood which flow.
Its meetings hard by separation are;
Its promise on the hill-top of deceit;
Its sea of blood from each Asfandiyár,*
And of each monarch’s crown its royal seat.

And when the recluse had tasted, in place of the brackish water of abstinence, the pleasant flavour of sensual desire and the delicious sharbat of worldly lust, the delight of worshipping God was effaced from his mind, and he inserted in his ear the ring of ‘Love of the world is the head of all sin.’

When the recluse gave ear to fortune’s bell,
He lost all pleasure in his lonely cell.

The king too, when he saw that the abilities of the Devotee, and that his counsels were beneficial to the state, at once placed the reins of full power in the hand of his able management. Before, the darvesh had to take thought for bread; now he had the cares of the world upon him, and he exchanged his former anxiety how to procure a blanket, for the scheme of subjugating an empire.

No longer in the bed thou sawest are the flowers gay;
Autumn came; and spring’s verdure all, alas! has passed away.

One day a darvesh, who, from time to time, used to come into the presence of the recluse, and used to pass whole nights with him in prayer and supplica­tion, paid a visit of devotion to him, and beheld his state and circumstances. The flame of regret was kindled in the area of his heart.

Dark have grown life’s [fairy] waters, where is holy Khiẓr? say!
From the rose-bough blood is dropping: where do spring’s soft breezes stray?

When the night had come, and the hum of men was for the most part ushed, he said to the recluse, ‘O Shekh! what is this state of things that I behold, and the change of condition that I observe?

Thy course did one bright day of hope appear;
Where is that hope? and where that bright career?

However much the holy man endeavoured to excuse himself, he was unable to utter a word which could completely stand the test of the touchstone of wisdom.* ‘These speeches,’ said his guest, ‘are mere sensual pretexts. The purport of these prolix orations, and the pith of the whole discourse is that the mind of your Holiness is bent upon worldly things, and that your exalted spirit is in bondage to ambition and avarice.

Can a phœnix* such as thou art condescend to carrion?
Fie! that such a glorious shadow o’er a carcase should be thrown.

Come and shake the skirt of thy solitary devotions free from the dust of rival pursuits, and draw the head of retirement under the collar of reliance on God, and bring not to the palate of desire the envenomed dainties of the world.

O’er the table of the world’s feast do not thou hope’s hand extend;
For they with this dainty morsel venom too and poison blend.’

The recluse answered, ‘O kind friend! from discourse with my fellow-creatures and intercourse with mankind, so great an alteration has not found its way into my condition; and, in my heart, I am mindful of that very thing thou talkest of.’ The guest rejoined, ‘Thou hast now lost the sense of per­ception, because sensual inclinations have veiled thy sight, and when thou comest to thy senses, repentance will be unavailing.

Thus hast thou done, and, when thy time is spent,
It will be fruitless though thou shouldst repent.

And thy case is like that of the blind man, who mistook a snake for the thong of a whip, and hence fell into the whirlpool of destruction.’ The recluse inquired, ‘How was that?’