The King said to the Bráhman, ‘I have heard the story of friends whose relations, owing to the endeavors of mischievous calumniators, terminated in enmity, and thus the innocent party was put to death, and how God Most High brought on that perfidious disturber the retribution due. Now, if the time calls for it, be pleased to explain the state of friends, one in heart and of one accord, and the way in which they enjoy fruit from the plant of friendship and amity, and their placing back to back and standing face to face in repulsing their foes, and their giving each other’s inclination precedence over their own.’ The Bráhman replied,

O Khusrau of the age! whose throne is set
By justice on the azure arched sky,
Heaven’s piebald courser* does, for thee, forget
His rage: since, tokens of thy victory,
Scars on the sun and moon inflicted lie.

Know that in the opinion of the perfectly wise and of people of merit and approved qualities, there is no coin more valuable than the existence of sincere friends, and no rank more lofty than the attainment of attached companions.

For young and old, far as earth’s climes extend,
Must in some exigence require a friend.

And assuredly those persons, the coin of whose friendship has been adorned with the stamp of sincerity in the mint of attachment; and the shrub of whose amity has been watered in the garden of speciality by the drops of unanimity and obligingness, are a delight to the soul and the means of abundance and success; and the advantage of friends is great, and their benefits incalculable. And in the number of them is to be included, that in prosperous times they increase the amount of pleasure and happy converse, and in disasters they tread the path of assistance and are accompanied by companionship and support.

Get thee a friend—he truly stands alone,
Who in this worldly pageant friend has none:
Of goods that on man in this life attend,
Not one can equal an enduring friend.

And among the number of the stories which they have written on the pages of narration concerning attached companions and united friends, the story of the Crow and the Mouse, and the Pigeon, and the Tortoise, and the Stag, is a lucid narrative and sweet tale.’ The King inquired, ‘How was that?’