The Lion said, ‘They have related that three persons were fellow travelers, and having become companions, entered on their journey together. The oldest of them said to the other two, ‘Why have you left your city, and how? and what is the cause of your expatriating yourselves, so that ye have chosen the toil of travel in preference to the ease of residing with your neigh­bours?’ One of them said, ‘Because that in the town in which I dwelt, things occurred that I could not endure the sight of, and envy overpowered me, and I was continually consumed by the flame of jealousy. I, therefore, thought to myself that I would leave my home for a day or two, and thus, perchance, avoid the sight of what I did not wish to see.’ The other com­panion said, ‘I, too, was embarrassed with the same painful feeling, and have, therefore, chosen to leave my country.’ The oldest said, ‘Both of you are partners in suffering with me, and I too have set out for the desert, owing to the same indignant feeling.

To tell the truth, that sight I cannot see,
That others eat, and I spectator be.

On finding that all three were envious, with a feeling of pleasure at their homogeneousness, they set out. One day there lay a purse of gold in their road, and the three ran simultaneously to the spot and exclaimed, ‘Come! let us divide this gold, and returning hence to our own homes, pass some time pleasantly.’ Each, however, felt his envious passions excited, so that, being unwilling that the others should get a share, they remained mute. They neither had the courage to leave the gold lying in the road, nor could they endure to divide it with one another. They passed a whole day and night hungry and thirsty in the desert, and denying themselves food and sleep, quarreled together, without finding any solution of their strife.

The world’s affairs in which no order lies,
Are like to an unfathomable sea.
Hence men of abject mind and mean emprise
Succumb to pains which have no remedy.

The next morning, the king of that territory, who had come forth to hunt, passed, with a number of his retinue, by that spot, and beheld those three persons seated in the desert. On his inquiring into their circumstances, they stated the facts as they really were, and said, ‘We all three are endued with the quality of envy, and for this reason we have left our country and our homes, and wander in an unsettled state. Here, too, the same feeling has evinced itself, and has ended in our trouble and distress. We want a judge to issue his command for the division of this gold among us.

Thank God! that which we sought is now obtained.’

The king said, ‘Do you each set forth the nature of his own envious feeling, that I may perceive the extent of the deserts of each, and may in accordance therewith divide the gold among you!’ One said, ‘My envy is so great that I never wish to benefit any one, nor choose to be kind to any, lest that person should become happy or prosperous.’ The next said, ‘Thou wert born a good man and hast no spice of envy. The degree of my envy is such that I cannot bear to see any one do a benefit to another or bestow his property on him.’ The third said, ‘Both of you have no part in this matter, and your pretensions are vain. I, in fine, am such that I never wish any one to bestow a favour on me, or show kindness even to myself, judge then what my feelings are towards another!’* The king bit the finger of astonishment with the tooth of reflection, and marveled at the words of these wretches, on the tablet of whose qualities was displayed the writing indicative of malignity, ‘Do they envy other men?* He said, ‘By your own words this gold is a forbidden thing for you, and each deserves a punishment suited to his crime. He who is unwilling that he himself should do good to others, his recompense is none other than that he should fail to participate in the happiness of a reward, and in both worlds be bankrupt and destitute. And as for him who cannot endure that any man should benefit another, the best course is to release him with all speed from the prison of existence, and to remove the weight of this suffering from the surface of his soul. And as for the third, who envies even himself, and who does not wish to have himself even benefited, he deserves to be punished by a variety of tortures and ignominious sufferings, and, suspended for a long period in the grasp of chastisement and reprobation, to taste the flavor of torment, till the time when the bird of his spirit is caught in the snare, ‘Say, the angel of death who is set over you [shall cause you to die].’* He then commanded that they should let the first person go into the desert, naked from head to foot, and without food or provisions, and all that he had they took from him, the king saying,

‘Who wishes good to no man, why,
We must not wish aught good for him.
And trees that do no fruit supply;
We with the axe must sharply trim.’

And with respect to the second envious person, he gave orders for his decapitation with the pitiless scymitar, which having been done, they released him from the pangs of envy: while on the third they rubbed pitch, and left him in the sun, so that he perished after cruel and protracted sufferings. Thus the king conveyed the disgraceful envy of those three persons to its just recompense: and the perfectly wise have said,

Where envy’s cruel tortures are, no remedy is there;
It is a hateful feeling which wild beasts and devils share.
They say the envious person is the enemy of man,
For he is his own enemy if well his thoughts you scan.

There is no pain greater than that of envy, because the envious man is always in grief at the joy of others, and in travail at their delight.

In this distress the wretched sufferer dies;
Do what he will, there, too this torment lies.*

And this story is for this purpose—that it may be shown that envy may be carried to such a length, that a man may not wish well even to himself, and hence we may infer how he will stand with reference to another; and I suspect that the tale about Damnah may have been set afloat by envious persons.’ The lioness said, ‘I have not observed in the ministers of this court the habit of envying, nor have I the slightest suspicion that any one of them is tainted with this blameable quality; and the probability is that the unanimous vote of all for his execution is with a view to the king’s advantage, and if not, these circumstances are not required to get rid of him.’ The Lion replied, ‘I entertain doubts in this matter, and in order that they may be removed I will not act, as regards Damnah, precipitately, lest it should turn out that I bring loss on myself in seeking the advantage of others, and, in pleasing the creature, anger the Creator. Until I have most narrowly scrutinised the affair, I shall not think it allowable for me to put him to death, since I have been compelled to endure all these regrets from acting with too great haste in the matter of Shanzabah. The right plan is not to sacrifice the meritorious and able on a mere suspicion, and not to carry out any mandate till the beauty of certainty shews its countenance from behind the curtain of doubt; nor transgress the purport of this saying, which has issued from the exalted mind, and sprung from the pure intellect of one of the greatest sages:

When a transgression may have met thine eye,
Pause long ere thou the punishment apply.
With ease thou may’st Badakhshán’s ruby break,
Once crushed, again a gem thou canst not make.
They who in headlong fury draw the steel,
Shall sharp regrets and vain contrition feel.*

Here the dialogue between the Lion and his mother ended, and they departed to their respective couches. When, however, they had conveyed Damnah to prison, and had placed heavy fetters on his feet and neck, fraternal tenderness and friendly sympathy led Kalílah to go and see him. As soon as he entered the dungeon and his eyes fell on Damnah, he began to shower down the rain of his tears from the clouds of his eye, and said, ‘O brother! how can I behold thee in this calamity and trouble, and what pleasure can I henceforth feel in life?

Reft of thee, my spirit’s solace! can thy lover longer live?
Art thou from my bosom banished, what can joy or comfort give?
‘Live without me!’ couldst thou say it? ‘nor let parting cloud thy brow!’
I have swayed a kingly sceptre, can I play the herdsman now?’

Damnah, too, began to weep, and exclaimed,

From my much-loved friends to part,
Pangs my breast and breaks my heart.

And all this travail and affliction, and the grief of my prison and my heavy fetters is not so distressful to me as to be compelled to submit to part from thee and to be consumed in the fire of separation.

There’s not a night, but parted from the taper of thy cheek,
My heart, consuming o’er the flame of grief, is wasted not:
Nor moment, but ensanguined tears my pallid visage streak,
While, torn from thee, I melt away, and weep my hapless lot.’

Kalílah replied, ‘O Damnah! since affairs have reached this point and matters have culminated in this, I might well address thee in severe language, for from the beginning of this adventure I foresaw it all, and used the most strenuous admonitions, but thou didst not give heed to them, but leant upon thy own weak judgment and erring counsel, and at the last the very thing has happened which I foretold:

I bade thee, heart! not thither go, lest thou shouldst be made captive there,
Thou went’st at length and there befell thee that of which I made thee ’ware.

And had I failed to advise thee at the commencement of this business and had chosen to be supine in dissuading thee, I should this day have been the partner of thy perfidy, and I could not have addressed to thee such language as I do. O careless one! did I not tell thee what the wise implied when they said, that ‘The slanderer dies before his predestined time?’ The meaning of this is, not the being cut off from life or the annihilation of the delights of existence, but that a grief arises which makes life hateful and makes death every moment wished for, as has happened to thee. Assuredly death is pleasanter than this life.

A thousand times ’twere better not to be,
Than bear the rankling* cares which harass thee.’

Damnah said, ‘O brother! thou didst ever speak the truth and fulfil all the duties of a monitor, but sensual desire and covetousness and ambition impaired my judgment, and deprived thy admonitions of their due weight in my mind; and although I knew that the mischief of this proceeding was infinite, and the danger of it unbounded, I nevertheless entered upon it with the utmost energy—like a sick man who is overpowered by the desire of eating—though he knows the injurious consequences, he heeds them not—and a person of this character, who cannot refrain from obeying his appetite, must submit to all the calamity and suffering which is sure to occur to him, and if he reproaches any one, it must be himself.

I must not ’gainst others murmur for the grief that rends my heart,
I have caused my own affliction, ’tis a self-inflicted smart.’

Kalílah replied, ‘He is a prudent man, who in the beginning of every affair casts his eyes to the conclusion, and before he plants the shrub considers its fruit, that he may not repent of the deed when it is done, nor regret the speech when it is spoken, since such repentance and such regrets yield nothing but exultation to one’s enemies and despondency to one’s friends.

Of what avail thy final sorrow when thou didst go wrong at first?

Damnah responded, ‘O brother! to have no enemies is the characteristic of a mean spirit, and to live safe and secure is the condition of every mean wretch and simpleton. Wherever there is a man of high spirit, he cannot be quit of sharp troubles and vast dangers.

When wilt thou win the ball of hope with bat of fierce desire?
First stake thy head, and then to this high contest-ground aspire.’

Kalílah answered, ‘Fleeting riches and uncertain office are not worth all this care and trouble.

Look thou not in riches’ orchard for the fruit of happiness,
Change is all the fruit it beareth, therefore thy fond hopes repress.

Thou oughtest not to have cast the ray of thy regard on worldly wealth and station, and thou wouldest not have fallen into the pit of trouble and difficulty; nor shouldest thou have sown the plant of rancor and envy, and to-day thou wouldest not have gathered the fruit of calamity and disgrace.’

Damnah said, ‘I know that I have scattered the seeds of this woe, and whoever sows anything will assuredly reap the same.

Good genders good, from evils, evils grow:
As wheat-seeds, wheat; and barley, barley show.

And I have sown poisonous herbs and cannot therefore look for rose-comfits, and now the affair is beyond my control and my hand is unable to grasp it. The finger-tips of counsel cannot loose the knot of destiny, nor does the countenance of successful deliberation shew itself in the mirror of thought. I have erred wittingly, and sinned with my eyes open, and in spite of knowing that the royal gem was not worth the peril of the whirlpool of trouble.

Light at first the toil of ocean seemed in hope of future gain;
I did mistake, a hundred jewels are not worth one hurricane.’

Kalílah said, ‘Now in what manner hast thou devised thy release, and by what passage hast thou conceived a way to escape?’ Damnah replied,

‘A way to flee thy love were hard to find,
No loop-hole for debate is left behind.

It appears that the vessel of life will be submerged in this whirlpool of destruction, and that the sun of existence will set in the western region of annihilation and extinction. Yet will I in no wise give way to weakness, nor will I spare any devices or stratagems that can be made available for my release. But my grief is increased by the apprehension that thou mayest be suspected with me; and, owing to the companionship between us, which had reached the bounds of complete accord, thou too mayest fall into the whirl­pool of destruction, and if—which God forbid!—they should inflict pain upon thee to make thee utter what thou knowest of my secrets, my distress will then be doubled. In one aspect there will be thy personal sufferings, and the shame that thou shouldest have fallen into trouble on my account: in another, no hope of escape will be left to me, inasmuch as the truth of thy word is known to all, and there can be no opposing truthful evidence from one like thee, who hast based thy conduct on sincerity and uprightness; and supposing this to be the case, we shall see one another again only at the day of resurrection, and we cannot hope to meet save at the time of the last judgment.’ Kalílah replied, ‘I have heard what thou hast said, and thou knowest that I cannot endure the torture, nor sustain the pangs of the rack and the agony of punishment; nor conceal what I know; nor, to flatter any one, can I speak that which is false and contrary to fact; and even before they put the question I shall state what has occurred. Thy advisable course is to confess thy crime and to avow what thou hast done, and thus, by penitence and contrition, save thyself from suffering in the final state. Since thou knowest of a certainty that thy end in the present case will be destruction; at least, let not the punishment of this world be combined with the disgrace and chastisement of the next; and if thou must endure the pangs of punishment in this transitory state, at least thou mayest avoid tasting the bitter waters of torment in the city of eternal existence.’ Damnah said, ‘I will consider of these matters,, and advise with thee on the course I may decide upon.’ Kalílah, pained and full of grief, retired, and indulging his heart in a variety of distresses and anguish, laid himself down on the bed of despondency and writhed through the night, and as morning rose, his spirit sank.

It passed, and mingled all these hopes with dust.

However, at the time that these words were exchanged by Damnah and Kalílah, a thief, who was confined in the same prison, and who lay sleeping near them, was awakened by their conversation, and having heard all that they said, kept it in mind, and preserved the recollection of it that he might make use of it when occasion offered.

Each speech its time, each saying has its place.

The next day, when the golden-clawed lion of the sun put himself in motion in the azure-colored waste of the sky, and the dark-visaged black-scrolled jackal of the night was hidden in the corner of the prison of concealment;

Day’s justice o’er the universe outspread its golden hue,
And night, that gives injustice sway, her robes around her drew.

Again the court of grievances was formed and embodied. The lioness renewed the disquisition as to Damnah, and said, ‘To leave tyrants alive is the same as killing the just, and to treat evil-disposed persons well, is like acting ill to the good.

Who benefits on evil men confer,
Upon the good no less heap injuries.*

And he who, although he has full power over him, suffers the profligate to live, or assists the oppressor, is the accomplice of their debauchery and injustice; and the threat ‘Whoso aids the tyrant, God will give that tyrant absolute power over him,’ comes to pass in his case.

Sin not, nor take with evil-doers part.
Nor suffer evil men to please thy heart.’

The Lion enjoined the judges to use despatch in transacting the affair of Damnah, and to report daily what transpired as to his treason or the reverse. Wherefore the judges, and nobles, and notables, and ministers, and high and low, met in the court of the grandees and general assembly, and the representative of the ḳáẓí turned his face towards those present, and said, ‘The king displays the utmost urgency as to the inquiry into the affair of Damnah, and investigating that which is laid to his charge; and has given command that until the face of his affair is cleansed from the dust of doubt, the judges shall not occupy themselves with any other matter, and enjoins that the sentence which is passed with regard to him shall not be inconsistent with the requirements of justice, nor swerve from the path of right towards oppression or injustice. It behoves each of you to declare what he knows, for such declaration comprises three advantages of high importance. The first is that to aid the right, and to raise the banner of truth and justice is of great weight in the law of God, and of ineffable value in the code of courtesy and creed of magnanimity. The second is, that to destroy the foundation of injustice, and lay waste the basis of tyranny, and to rebuke the perfidious, is in accordance with the will of the Creator, and approved by mankind in general. The third is, that to escape from the deceitful and mischievous, and to obtain security from perfidious and wicked men, is absolute gain, and relief in which all partake.’ When the speech was ended, all those who were present kept silence, and from no quarter was any answer returned, for they had no certainty as to the affair of Damnah, and they did not wish to say anything on mere suspicion, lest a command should be issued upon what they affirmed, and blood should be spilled at their word, though they might deliver sentiments not in agreement with the facts. When Damnah observed this state of things, his heart was refreshed and rejoiced, like the garden of Iram by the breeze of spring. He contracted his features, however, like one in grief, and said, ‘O leaders of the faith and of the state! and O counsellors of the realm and nation! were I guilty, I should be glad to keep silence, but I am innocent, and no one can lay hands on him who is clear of guilt, and he is excusable if he exert himself in his own affair to the extent of his ability; and I desire that every one who is acquainted with aught that affects my case, will state it truthfully, and observe what is due to justice therein. For hereafter every speech will have its reward, and it behoves every one—whose word is equivalent to a command in setting forth the right, or in putting an individual to death—to deliver his testimony without admixture of suspicion or conjecture, and moreover with sincerity and firm conviction, and whoever on mere suspicion or doubt plunges me into destruction will meet with what befell that physician, who was destitute of science and experience.’ The judges inquired, ‘How was that?’