The man said, ‘They have related that a skilful hunter (such that through fear of his net the deer was not stepping forth into the plain, and the mountain-goat, through dread of his artifices and stratagems, would not leave its lair,

Sharp-sighted, full of quickness and address,
Acute, not mild of heart, but merciless),

had set a snare, and a deer had been caught in the net. On his issuing from his place of concealment and coming towards the net, the stag, in fear for its life, made an effort, tore up the net, and started off in the plain. The hunter was ashamed, and fixing an arrow to his bow, shot at the deer, which fell, and the hunter, coming up, took it on its back and set off home. On the way a wild boar met and charged the hunter, who discharged an arrow at him. It so happened that the deadly arrow transfixed the hog as he came on, and, infuriated by the pain of the wound, he ripped up the breast of the hunter with his lacerating tusk, and both fell down dead on the spot. In the midst of this a hungry wolf came there, and saw the man and the hog and the deer slain. Pleased at the sight, he felt himself supplied with an abundance of delicacies and ample means of support, and said to himself,

‘Time enow must pass ere we,
Such good cheer again can see.

This is the time for reflection and consideration, and the season for amassing and laying up a store, for to be remiss here would be opposed to all prudence and forethought, while if I am profuse, I should be censurable for folly and carelessness. I consider my advisable course and that most beneficial to be this, that I should consume for to-day’s meal, the bow-string, and not string the bow of wasteful expenditure and impropriety, and placing this fresh meat in a retired spot, each day impel the arrow of desire to the target of my wish, and conveying these treasures to a corner, make a magazine for hardness of times and times of hardship. For the wise have said,

Consume not all, or thou mayest, long, for more
Stand waiting; want ill suits the hoary head.
Part use, and, of thy goods, part place in store,
Nor at one swoop let all be lavished.’

The Wolf from excessive greediness turned towards the bow-string and began to gnaw it, and at a single motion of his teeth it broke asunder. The moment the string snapped, the horns of the bow struck him on the heart, and he instantaneously gave up the ghost.

Untasted, all were left, and he, too, died.

And the moral of this story is, that greediness in amassing wealth and the being swayed by distant hopes to lay up stores, has disastrous results and fatal consequences.

Eat what thou hast to day, nor for the coming future vainly care,
For when the morrow comes, be sure the morrow’s bread will, too, be there.

Ah! what a hapless band are they who, from their earliest years painfully accumulate worldly gear and resign it at the close of life with infinite anguish.

How long wilt thou amass? good sir, reflect!
Thou wilt be soon of all by death bereft.
Though Ḳárún’s riches e’en thou couldst collect,
Thy greedy pangs would still the same be left:
Light not then flames from which none can themselves protect.’

When the wife of the host heard these words, which bore the stamp of wisdom, and a happy inspiration had whispered in her listening ear the glad tidings that, ‘Sustenance is with God,’ she adopted a gentle tone, and said, ‘O dear one! I have stored up in the house a little rice sesamum for the children; and now that it has been disclosed to me that storing up is unlucky, I will, to-morrow morning, prepare a meal sufficient for ten persons. Do thou invite whom thou wilt, and make whomsoever thou desirest, thy guests.’

Next morning, when the glittering orb of day
Washed from its eyes the dust of sleep away.

The wife husked the sesamum and placed it in the sun, and enjoined her husband to keep a good watch till the grain was dry, lest the birds should carry away some of it; and she herself turned to some other business. Sleep overcame the husband; and a dog came up and touched the grain with his mouth. The wife observing this, was too disgusted to think of preparing a dish from it, and therefore taking it up, set off for the bázár. I, too, having some necessary business in the bázár, was going along behind her. I saw her go to the shop of one that sold grain, and she wanted to barter her sesamum for unhusked grain of the same description, measure for measure.* The man made a great outcry, saying, ‘O woman! surely there is some trick here, that thou shouldest wish to barter on equal terms sesamum which has been cleaned from the husk for that which is still in the husk.’

And I have told this story because that I, too, am of opinion that the said bold mouse has so much strength and hardihood, and courage, from the place of its abode; and the probability is that it has a treasure of coin in its house, sustained by which it exhibits all this prowess; and if the plant of its condition should meet with the autumn of poverty, this freshness and vigor would not be evinced in the coppice of its actions. For they have said, ‘He who is moneyless is like a bird that is wingless and featherless.’

Sit not supine, devoid of gold—the quest of gold is glorious pleasure:
Gold has a worth, which high and low and all admit, but none can measure.
‘Better,’ they say, ‘to have free choice than to possess a golden treasure;
But hearken not, for gold bestows an unconstraint, which none can measure.*

And I feel convinced that the strength of this mouse springs from gold. Bring a mattock that I may demolish his hole, and see how the matter ends.’ The recluse immediately brought a mattock, and I at that moment was in another hole and heard what they were doing. Now in my abode there were a thousand gold dínárs, on which I used to roll, and my mind rose from one ecstacy to another at the sight of them. In short, the cheerfulness of my heart and my peace of mind were dependant on that gold. Whenever I called it to remembrance, I experienced a gush of pleasure in my bosom, and exultation and delight made themselves felt in my heart. The stranger dug up the ground until he reached the gold, and what saw he then?

Coins gaily smiling with their sunny faces fair,
Than Jamshíd’s lustrous cup they seemed more bright:
So handsome they, and florid, with an impress rare;
Dear—not to be rejected, nor too light.
He breathed on them and bound his breath of silver there,
Anon his fingers poised their loveliness:
They the true key to ope time’s difficulties were,
And cheer at once the bosom of distress.

‘This,’ said he to the recluse, ‘is the source of the courage of that Mouse and that which adorns his vigor; for wealth polishes the intellect and supports the strength, and hereafter he will not venture on thy table nor attack thy loaf and viands.’ I overheard these words and perceived the tokens of debility and feebleness, and the marks of amazement and pusilla­nimity in myself, and felt compelled to desert that hole. The instant, too, that this unforeseen calamity overtook me, and this frightful accident descended on my dwelling, I beheld that my dignity waned in the minds of the mice, and that a prodigious change took place in their wonted respect and reverence. The flame of my friends’ sympathies was quenched, and the pure fountain of their allegiance and submission was discolored with the dust of denial and disobedience.

Fidelity and love desert each heart,
The heliotrope is from my garden reft.
Gold did a hundred means of life impart,
The gold is gone, nor means, nor life, is left.

The mice who subsisted on my leavings, and devoured the scraps from the table of my bounty, and gleaned the harvest of my gifts, still expected my favors, and longed for my entertainments as before. When they failed to realize from me their wishes, they desisted from obeying and following me, and disavowing all feelings of loyalty and submission, loosed their tongues to censure and upbraid me; and deserting my society went over to my enemies and those who rebelled against my authority.

From heaven when blindness darkly on me fell,
I found full many a knave then meet my sight.
’Twas they who used my retinue to swell,
To dog my steps and play the parasite.

And it is a well-known proverb, ‘When the finances decrease, dignity is lowered,’—when our wealth ends, we lose our friends. And the man who is empty-handed and poor will be sure to fail, seek what he will, and the wish which springs up from his heart’s core will not be attained; like rain-water which collects in summer and cannot reach the sea nor unite with the streams, but, destitute of support, is frittered away in the valleys, and arrives nowhere. And the wise have said, ‘He who has no brother is poor wherever he happen to be; and he who has no child, his memory is obliterated from the page of time: and whoever is indolent and without supplies will receive no sympathies from his friends—or rather the empty-handed have no friends at all: for whenever a man has himself come to want, the parties who, like the Pleiades, formed the group of his society, will, like the daughters of the Bier* become scattered, inasmuch as the friendship of the base and sordid is controlled by sensual motives and worldly advantages.

Long as the cheer which they consume, will last,
Like wasps they hover round with busy hum.
But once thy mansion has to ruin past,
Empty as rebec-case thy purse become,
Aside thy friendship and thy love they cast.
In truth that friendship was an idle dream.
Not friends in them but market curs thou hast,
Who than their friend a bone more precious deem.

It is related that they asked a great personage, how many friends he had? He replied, ‘I know not, for I have a fortunate destiny, and an abundance of wealth and property, and every one professes to be my friend, and makes a boast of his regard and attachment. If, which God forbid! the dust of adversity should blind the eye of fortune, I should presently know who is my friend, and who my enemy.’ An ally may be known in the time of disaster, and a friend may be distinguished from a foe in a period of trouble.

When fickle fortune does a man forsake,
Wife, friends, and children too, their leave will take.’

And it is also recorded in the elegant pages of the wise, that they asked an eminent personage, what was the meaning of the avidity which people showed for the friendship of one possessed of wealth. He replied, ‘Riches are men’s idol; whoever has them, men respect him, and as soon as he loses them, they cease to congregate about him.’

When the rose her skirt of gold showed in the parterre,
With a thousand songs the nightingale her praises did proclaim.
But, alas! her leaves were soon scattered to the air,
And then no more did any hear from the nightingale her name.

At this crisis one of the mice who used to glory in my service, and to esteem one moment of my company as a fund of eternal happiness, and who was perpetually setting forth his fidelity and sincerity in the path of friendship, in the following strain,

So constant is my love, that if a sword my head should smite,
Unmoved, I’d like a taper stand, which burns* with steady light,

passed me by as if I were a stranger, and took not the slightest notice of me. I called him to me and said,

‘Passing, thou payest no regard to me,
Ne’er was the unpropped cypress half so free.*

What, I pray, has come to thee, and whither is all that affection and tender feeling, of which thou didst make such a display, gone?’ The mouse frowned, and said with the utmost possible rudeness, ‘What a simpleton thou art! men don’t serve one for nothing, nor do they wait on any one without a motive. At the time when thou hadst money and wast generous, we were all thy servants. Now thou hast become indigent, and the wise say that just as an indigent man has no share in the pleasures of this world, so it is not improbable that he may be excluded from the rewards of the next [according as it is said], ‘Poverty falls very little short of becoming* infidelity.’ The reason is, that a man rendered desperate on account of food for himself and the maintenance of his family, may seek to support himself by unlawful means, and the consequence may be his disgrace and punish­ment in the next world; and as in this life he succumbs to the distress of penury, so hereafter he may be shut up and incarcerated in the prison of eternal woe.

Like a false darvesh, worldless, faithless he!

The loss of this world and of the next, that is a loss indeed.’* Wherefore if we forbear to associate with, and shun the converse of, one who has lost his worldly wealth, and whose reward in the next world is doubtful, we may be held excusable.’ I said, ‘Cease talking thus, for the faḳír is a king, since they have placed on the head of his excellence, the crown, ‘Poverty is my glory,’* and have spread over the shoulders of his nobility, the scarf, ‘The faḳír has no wants.’

Above thy ken the darvesh-calling lies,
Look not on darveshes with careless eyes.
Their calling is life’s loftiest story; they
From all mankind have borne the palm away.
All else is accident. Poverty is
Essence. Disease all else: health nought save this.*

Wherefore, why dost thou decry poverty? and with what reason dost thou shew aversion to the darvesh?’ The mouse replied, ‘Alack! what relation has this penury and distress of thine with the poverty extolled by the prophets and lauded by the saints. That poverty implies that the traveler on the road of truth refuses to accept any particle of the wealth of this world or of a future state.* He abnegates all to secure all, ‘None arrives at the total save he who has severed himself from the total.’ That poverty is displayed in the darvesh; this of thine in the beggar. A beggar is one thing and a darvesh another. The darvesh is he who voluntarily forsakes the world, and the beggar he whom the world forsakes.

A land-fish is the begging darvesh. He,
In shape of fish, yet shudders at the sea.
The true faḳír is not on morsels fed,
Give not thy incense-offering to the dead.*

The saying, ‘Poverty is a treasure of the treasures of God,’ is one of the mysteries of the true Unitarian faith, and the very essence of spirituality and of the glorification of God, and the water of the fountain of the abnegation of self, which washes off the dust of worldly entanglements from the face of the pure soul; and it is a robe of honor from the treasury of solitary devotion with which the hand of omnipotence arrays the purified spirit. The true poverty is the divine alchymy,* and its mystery is not to be comprehended in the circle of description either by the lips or the pen.

Forsake his life, this must the darvesh do
As his first step, and then surrender all.
With life forsaken, all things yieided too;
Thus freed, he must again himself enthral.

But darveshes, who are so in mere outward appearance and want, are the roots of all evil, and the means of incurring the enmity of mankind, and of removing all modesty and shame. They subvert the foundation of courtesy and are the sum of evil and calamity, and cut off all strength and honor, and originate meanness and disgrace. And whoever is a prisoner in the circle of want must necessarily tear off the veil of modesty; and when the inscription, ‘Modesty is a part of faith,’ is erased from the page of his condition, life becomes disgusting to him, and he is overtaken by trouble and distress, and the guest of comfort removes his effects from the area of his breast, and the army of grief overruns the territory of his nature. The taper of his intellect continues without light, and his understanding and ingenuity and memory and sagacity begin to decline. The advantages of right counsel yield in his case injurious results. In spite of his uprightness he becomes exposed to the calumnious imputation of treason. The good opinion which his friends have of him is reversed, and if another commits a crime the guilt is transferred to him. Whatever he does or says is harmful to him, and every quality for which they laud and panegyrize a rich man is a cause of reproach and rebuke to a poor man. Thus, for example, if a poor man shew boldness, they ascribe it to rashness; and if he choose to be liberal, they call it extravagance; and if he try to be mild, they account it weakness and want of spirit; and if he adopt a grave demeanour, they call him sluggish and torpid; while, if he display eloquence and oratorical powers, they designate him as loquacious; or if he betake himself to the security of silence, they speak of him as a painting in a bagnio; and if he make choice of the corner of retirement, they find that it is owing to madness; but should he meet them with hilarity and sociability, they think it akin to low humor and buffoonery. If he be careful in his food and dress, they call him self-indulgent; and if he content himself with a rag and a scrap, they regard him as a miserable, poverty-stricken wretch. If he reside in one place, he is raw and ignorant of the world; and if he desire to travel, he is then a vagabond and ill-starred. If he pass his life in celibacy, he is one who neglects the injunctions of the law; and if he marry, they term him sensual and a slave to his appetites. In short, an indigent man is repudiated and utterly vile in the opinion of people of the world; and if, together with this condition of penury, they observe him trying for anything, then, merciful Heaven! hatred of him takes fast hold of their minds, and without aiding any of his necessities, they are all annoyed with him. And every distress which befalls men has its origin in desire [according to the saying], ‘Whoever desires becomes vile.’

From want springs baseness, honor from content.’

When my friend had recited this discourse, I said, ‘Thou speakest the truth, and I had heard that if any one be overtaken by sickness to such a degree that all hope of convalescence is cut off; or be involved in calamitous separation of such a nature that it is a vain idea to anticipate re-union, or fall into exile which admits not of return nor affords the means of residence, even these are more easy to bear than penury and indigence; and I now see with my own eyes that this saying proceeded from the fountain of wisdom, and that the speaker of it delivered his sentiments from experience.

The world no greater ill than want can show;
The needy wins no solace for his grief:
The victim of distressful want and woe
Must die; for poverty finds no relief.

And of the evils of want, this is sufficient,—the being compelled to ask men for anything, and to beg for subsistence from such a one as oneself; and death is in every way preferable to poverty and mendicity, since to put one’s hand into the mouth of a venomous serpent, and to take deadly poison for one’s food, and to snatch away his mouthful from a hungry lion, and to lodge with a furious tiger, is less grievous than to carry one’s distresses to the stingy, and to endure the disgrace of begging; for they have said, ‘The pleasure of a gift does not compensate for the pain of asking, and the sweets of office do not pay for the distress of removal;’ and an eminent personage has said,

Four things at first to great advantage tend,
Yet are not worth four others in the end.
Life is not worth the woe of dying; nor
Will office make thee compensation for
The shame of thy displacement; sin weighs not
Remorse; nor can alms gild the beggar’s lot.’

I then turned away from that mouse and hastened again to the mouth of my hole. There I beheld the recluse and his guest dividing the gold, and the former having put his share into a purse, placed it under his pillow. An unlucky covetousness began to tempt me, while I reflected that, ‘Could I regain a portion of that gold, my stout-heartedness and cheerfulness would return a second time, and my friends and brethren would seek my service with eagerness, and my court would be restored and my assembly adorned.’ Busied with these thoughts I waited only till they lay down for the night. I then stealthily approached the pillow of the recluse. Now his guest was a man of experience, and keeping awake employed his eyes in watching at that crisis, and was in expectation of what I was going to do. He gave me such a blow on my foot with his stick, that I turned back stricken down with the pain of it, and, trailing my leg, crept into my hole. I waited just long enough to let the pain subside a little and I came out a second time with the same covetous intent. This time the guest smote me such a blow on the crown of my head that I was stupified and was compelled to employ all my invention to throw myself into my hole, where I lay senseless, and the pain of that wound gave me a disgust to worldly wealth, and I forgot my poverty and hunger.

Why should one wail the want of wealth?
Since there is treasure infinite in health.

And I now learned of a certainty that covetousness is the vanguard of all calamities and the vidette of all distresses. Until the bird of greediness carries off the grain, its neck is not encompassed by the collar of the net, and until man binds up the waist of covetousness, the robe of his honor is not exchanged for the sack-cloth of disgrace. Whoever undertakes a journey by sea or submits to any unnecessary risk, is guided by covetousness, and from the darkness of greed, the dust of abasement settles on the page of the countenance of the pious, and the levity of covetous desires reduces the weight of the eminent in the scale of respect.

O brother! be not covetous, for this
The cause of man’s disgrace and ruin is.
List to this short advice, if thou would’st fain
From life its vintage of delights obtain.
‘O’er thine own feet contentment’s border fold,
And thy desire from others’ wealth withhold.’

Strangely do they act who seek for happiness in abundance of wealth and know not that a little of it affords comfort; and who look for enjoyment in amassing riches, and do not perceive that by giving it all up they might arrive at a higher pre-eminence.

Who tear their hearts from worldly things the sole true honor find,
And they have peace who from its gauds and show withdraw their mind.

Wherefore, from this event, my state came to this, that I tore up by the roots the plant of desire from the soil of my heart, and culled the fruits of contentment from the orchard of acquiescence, and cheerfully submitted to the Divine Will, and bowed down my head to the writing of destiny, and said to myself, ‘The world, by the contents of these calamities and dis­tresses, supplies a sample of its qualities and defects. There is no mansion in which the mark of its deceit and perfidy is not found, nor is there a palace on the inscription of which the sign of its assault is not impressed. Whom did it ever elevate that it did not afterwards cast down? and where did it plant a sapling which it did not afterwards tear up? to whom did it shew favor and not in the end drink his blood? or to whom did it open the door of fortune and not subsequently bring up a thousand troubles?

This world, like to a spouse unchaste and base,
Did ne’er yield joy to those who with her wed;
None on her throne’s ascent their footsteps place,
But feel her trenchant sabre on their head.

Such faithlessness deserves not that we toil for it, or grieve for its presence or absence, or for its loss or gain.

Upon this world the value of our tears we should not set,
Nor for its losses or its gains should suffer vain regret.’

After these reflections I migrated from the house of the recluse to the waste, and there was a pigeon which had a friendship for me, and through its love and attachment arose my companionship with the Crow, and the latter related to me the account of thy courtesy and kindness, and so the zephyr of thy good qualities reached me from the flower-garden of his conversation; and the mention of thy virtues and high endowments led me to seek thee with earnestness and sincerity; and I formed the wish of obtaining, by the happiness of a meeting, the advantage of thy friendship. And I shrink from the horror of loneliness, for solitude is a hard thing, and the terror of friendlessness a difficult matter, and there is no pleasure in the world like the companionship of friends, nor can any grief compare with separation from one’s allies and removal from those who sympathise with us. And, thanks be to God Most High! the rose of happiness has begun to bloom from the heart-rending thorn of adversity, and the dark-visaged night of distress has been exchanged for the serene world-adorning morning of repose.

The day of parting and the night of absence now is past;
’T is o’er, my evil star has set, for well the lot I cast;
The morn of hope which did behind the future’s curtain sit;
Bid it come forth, for gloomy night at length its place must quit.

This is my history which I have fully recounted, and now I have come to be thy neighbour, and hope for thy friendship and alliance.

It would befit thee with the file of thy kind gentleness,
To free the mirror of my mind from the rust-stains of distress.’

When the Tortoise had heard this narrative, he spread the carpet of courtesy, and laying the foundation-stone of affability, said,

‘The house that opes its gate to guests like thee,
The nest of Heaven’s phœnix there will be.

What happiness can be weighed against the honor of having thee for a neighbor? and what gladness can compare with the joy of thy* society? and even as thou art hoping for my aid and amity, so I too look to and plume myself upon thy love and companionship; and as long as the lamp of life burns on I will, moth-like, sport round the taper of thy beauty.

Mote-like, I sun myself in thy love’s ray,
No sword from thee could smite my arms away.

And in this true history which thou hast recounted, a variety of experiences and abundant lessons are contained, and by means of those experiments it is made clear that the man of sense should be satisfied with a very little of the rubbish of this world, and ought to be content with just enough to obviate the necessity of begging; for whoever longs for aught beyond requisite lodging and food, steps beyond the limits of justice, and this injustice plunges him bewildered into the labyrinth of calamity and the wilderness of peril; and he meets with what befell that greedy Cat.’ The Mouse inquired, ‘How was that?’