He that had come from the journey said, ‘Once on a time a blind man, and one that saw, halted at a place in some wild tract of country. When the time of their starting in the grey of the morning* arrived, they were about to set out. The blind man was searching for his whip, and as it chanced that a snake lay there frozen by the cold, he imagined that it was his whip and took it up. When he touched it with his hand he found it softer and nicer than his whip, at which he was pleased, and mounted his horse, and forgot the whip he had lost. However, when the day had dawned, his companion, who could see, looked and saw a snake in the hand of the blind man. Hereupon he shouted out, ‘Comrade! what thou tookest for a whip is a poisonous snake. Fling it away before it makes a wound on thy hand.’ The blind man fancied that his companion coveted the whip, and replied, ‘O friend!

What can I do? ’Tis owing to my luck.

I lost my whip and God has given me a better one. Thou too, if fortune befriend thee, will find a nice whip. But I am not one of those who would allow my whip to be wheedled out of my hand by imaginary tales.’ He that could see laughed and said, ‘O brother! my duty as thy companion demands that I should acquaint thee with this danger. Listen to what I say, and throw down that snake.’ The blind man frowned and said,

‘Why, O suitor! thus excessive and beyond all limits plead?
Hear this saying:—Each day’s fortunes are by destiny decreed.

Thou hast taken a longing for my whip and thou pressest me beyond all bounds to throw it away, in the greedy hope that when I throw it down, thou mayest pick it up. Do not indulge a vain idea, and give up a desire which is nought, for this is a whip which has come into my hands from the unseen world.

One must not by a foe’s deceit be led.’

However much the man that could see urged his point, and confirmed what he said by oaths loud and strong, it was of no use whatever, and the blind man gave no heed to him. So when the air became warm and the snake’s body got rid of its chill, it wound itself back, and in its progress* wounded the blind man in the hand and killed him.

And I have adduced this story that thou too may not trust in the world, nor be fascinated by its appearance, which is painted like the body of a snake; nor be fond of its softness and delicacy, for its wound is deadly and its poison fatal.

Think not sweet sharbat from the world to drink;
Honey with poison is commingled there.
That which thou fondly dost sweet honey think,
Is but the deadly potion of despair.’

The recluse having listened to this discourse, called to mind the times of his solitude and abstraction from the world, and beheld the stain of worldly interests, which had not suffered the skirt of his heart to remain in its original purity. He felt that what his friend had said was out of pure kind­ness and friendship. Thus he began to let fall the tears of repentance from his eyes, and to heave burning sighs from his breast, which was consumed by the fire of regret.

I have a heart worn down with grief, then why not weep and sigh?*
I have a weary* fortune too, then why not wail and cry?

All night long, like a lighted taper, he wept, while his heart was consuming; and, like a moth longing for the flame, he fluttered in eager desire after the divine excellence;* until the time when the white-robed votary of the true morn* spread the prayer-carpet of the sun before the shrine, ‘And when the morn breathed forth,’ and the black-appareled ascetic of the night lodged itself in the private closet of ‘When the night draws in.’

While o’er heaven’s breast morn drew her robe of light,
Earth did her face unveil from gloomy night.

Again men pressed in crowds to the cell of the recluse, and the gales of pride beginning to blow, gave the corn of his nightly repentance to the wind of indifference.

Each night I say, ‘To-morrow I these wishes will forego;’
But every morn again I feel fresh longings for them grow.

In short, the recluse, having taken up the affairs of the state, deposed the nobles and ministers from their offices, and began, too, to indulge in a devia­tion from the path of equity in the adjudication of matters. One day he gave orders to put to death one of the people, whose death was not permitted by the law, and after the punishment was over, he turned in quest of a remedy and amends. The heirs of the man that had been executed demanded justice of the king against the recluse. The nature of the complaint was made known, and their case was referred to the tribunal of the law. The decree of the judge was forthwith issued to the effect that, by way of retaliation, they should put the recluse to death, and although he got persons to intercede for him, and promised money and valuables, he failed of his object, and, as a disastrous consequence of sacrificing the worship of the Creator for the service of the creature, he was overtaken in the whirlpool of destruction. Thus he lost* the pleasures of the world and failed to gain the happiness of the world to come.

And I have framed this story to show that as I, too, turned away my face from the shrine of God’s worship, and hurried to the imperial court, and withdrew my head from the line of obedience to the All-Provider, and placed it on the threshold of the prince’s service,

I merit all imaginable woe.’

When Damnah had finished this discourse, the attendants of the royal throne were astonished at his eloquence, and the Lion, with his head bent, as before, in meditation, could not think how to enter upon the affair or how to reply to Damnah. A lynx who, of all the courtiers, was honored with the nearest access to the king, when he observed the amazement of those who were present in the assembly, turned his face to Damnah and said, ‘All these reproaches that thou hast heaped on the service of kings, whose head, reaching to the polar star, is crowned with the diadem, ‘A just king is God’s shadow upon earth,’ befit thee not.* But hast thou not heard that a single hour of a king’s life which is passed in the dispensation of justice and in taking care of his people, is taken to be an equivalent for sixty years of piety and devotion; and many of the worshipers* at the shrine of devotion and the priestly office, and of the crowned heads of the kingdom of spiritual enlightenment and miraculous gifts, have voluntarily chosen the service of kings, according to the saying, ‘The service of kings is half the road [to heaven]’ with a view to assisting the oppressed and lightening the burthens of the distressed: and among the number of such cases, the story of the Saint of radiant mind, testifies to the justice of this matter.’ Damnah asked, ‘How was that?’