The Tortoise said, ’They have related that a person had a Cat, and assigned to it as its daily portion just so much flesh as might quench the flame of hunger; but from the animal propensities which prevailed over the temper of that inconsiderate creature, it failed to be content with its lot.

Friend! let thy life in cheerful want be spent.
From greed spring troubles—honors from content.

One day the Cat passed near a dove-cot, and its appetite being excited by the fascinating voices of the pigeons and their harmonious treble and bass notes, it sprang into that citadel. The keeper of that castle, however, and the warder of the place immediately seized it, and conveyed it from the rose-garden of existence to the furnace of annihilation. Before it could perfume the head of appetite with the brains of the pigeons, he stripped off its skin, and having filled it with straw, hung it up over the door of the dove-cot. It happened that the owner of the Cat passed that way, and on seeing the plight of his Cat, said, ‘O greedy wanton! hadst thou been contented with the portion of flesh which fell to thy lot, they would not have stripped off thy skin.’

O soul! be with a little satisfied,
For sure destruction will from greed betide.
Ḳárún, voluptuons Ḳárún, pondered not,
That safety bideth with the lowly lot.
The lusts unchecked bring evil destinies,
Then do not foster them, if thou be wise.
Wild beast and deer, and bird that wings the air,
Caught in the net, by greed are prisoned there.
Tigers, that all the savage tribe oppress,
Like the poor mouse, are caged through greediness.

And the moral of this story is that thou shouldest hereafter be contented with as much food as will suffice to keep in the breath of life, and with a hole just enough to afford protection from the heat and cold, and not affiict thyself for wealth that is lost.

My life! though riches pass away, let not thy heart be sad;
This carrion is not worth our tears: then for its loss be glad.

And know that every man’s nobility is from his virtue, not from his wealth; and every one whose mind is adorned with accomplishments, though his stock of wealth be small, is always beloved and honored. So the lion, though he may be bound with chains, yet his awfulness is not diminished. But a wealthy ignorant man is always despised and destitute of weight, like a dog, which, though adorned with a collar and rings, still remains vile and contemptible as before.

He that in folly’s prison fettered is,
E’en though a hundred jars of gold be his,
Is but a beggar; while the skill-rich man
Will gold or jewels never deign to scan.

Dismiss, moreover, from thy heart, grief for thy exile, and attach no importance to separation from thy native land and home; for let the wise man go where he will he will be befriended by his own good sense, while the fool will be friendless and a stranger in his own country and the place that gives him birth.

The man of sense nowhere a stranger is.

And be not sad as to what thou sayest, that, ‘I possessed a treasure and it has been dissipated,’ for worldly wealth and possessions are liable to decay, and their increase or decline are beyond the circle of reliance; and the wise have said, ‘Permanence and continuance cannot be expected from six things. The first is the shadow of a cloud, which, even as thou lookest on, passes away. The second is interested friendship, which is extinct in a short time, like the lightning’s flash. The third is the love of women, which is quenched by a slight matter. The fourth is the comeliness of the beautiful, which changes in the end. The fifth is the praise of the false, which is devoid of continuous lustre. The sixth is worldly wealth, which in the end arrives at the place of exposure to annihilation, and does not carry out to the end the line of fidelity to its owner.

By this vile world’s adornments, its wealth or triumphs won,
Be not elate, for these will shew fidelity to none.

And it beseems not a man of sense to rejoice at the greatness of his wealth, nor to grieve for his want of riches, since, in the opinion of the magnanimous, the whole world, with its goods and gear, is not worth a straw.* Wherefore it is not right to waste the harvest of dear life in acquiring this; nor ought one to suffer a grain of disquietude at its loss or non-attendance, and those who, having become acquainted with that wise saying, ‘Lest ye immoderately grieve for the good which escapeth you, or rejoice for that which happeneth unto you,’* give reins to the steed of high-mindedness in the plain of content, and who, staking the coin of life in order to acquire the things of solitary devotion and abandonment of earthly connections; are neither led by worldly riches to open to their heart’s countenance the portals of rejoicing, nor evince regret and despondency at the loss of them.

Though from thy grasp all worldly things should flee,
Grieve not for them, since they are nothing worth:
And though a world in thy possession be,
Joy not, for worthless are the things of earth.
Since to that better world ’t is given to thee
To pass; speed on, for this is nothing worth.

And, in truth, men ought to consider their wealth to be that which they send on before, and to regard that as their property which they store up for themselves in the final state; and righteous acts and words of probity are a possession which cannot be snatched away from any one, nor dissipated by the accidents of fortune, nor the revolutions of night and day. And the advantage of worldly goods is to make ready a provision for the world to come, and to prepare the means of threading the path of that world to which all must return; since, in accordance with the saying, ‘We took vengeance on them suddenly,’* death comes unawares and there is no fixed time nor any appointed period [known to man] for restoring the deposit of life.

That fair narcissus* from its slumber wake, for life is gliding on;
Not e’en the roses fade so quick; ere thou canst close thine eyes, ’t is gone.

And although thou art not in need of my counsel, and canst well distinguish between what is for thy advantage and what is detrimental; nevertheless, I wished to discharge the duty of a friend, and to aid thee to praiseworthy feelings and laudable dispositions; and to-day thou art my friend and brother, and all the assistance that it is possible to render thee, and all courtesy that can be imagined, will in every respect be realised; and even under the impossible supposition that thou shouldst evince unkindness, on my part nothing but the blessed influence of true attachment and the usages of cordial friendship will be displayed.

I never will thy side abandon, though thou shouldst abandon me,
And though thou break my heart, I’ll never break my plighted troth to thee.’

When the Tortoise had finished these words and the Crow had heard his kindness with regard to the Mouse, his heart was refreshed, and his delight became unbounded, and he said, ‘O brother! thou hast made me glad, and doubled the amount of my joy and pleasure, and hast manifested somewhat of thy virtues. Now, the best of friends is he, in the shade of whose kindnesses and favor, and in the shelter of whose care and protection, a number of those attached to him at all times pass their life, while he keeps open for them the doors of his bounty, and considers it obligatory upon his soul to accept their requests and expedite their requirements; and whoever fails in any part of friendship to his ally, is not fit for a friend. Moreover, it has been related that an eminent personage had a friend. One night this friend came to the door of his house and knocked, and that personage discovered that it was his friend. Thereupon he fell into a lengthened meditation, saying, ‘Ah me! what can be the cause of his coming at this unseasonable time?’ After long reflection, he took up a purse full of dirams, belted on his scymitar, and bade a female slave light a lamp, and go before him. When he had opened the door and had greeted his friend by clasping his hand and embracing him, he said, ‘O brother! I have imagined three causes for thy coming at this unusual hour. First, that some accident has happened and that thou art in want of money. Secondly, that an enemy has risen up to assail thee, and that thou requirest an ally and helper to repel him. Thirdly, that thou art sad at being alone and requirest some one to minister to thee, and I have made ready for all three contingencies, and have come out to thee. If thou hast need of money, lo! here is a purse of dirams; and if thou seekest help, behold here am I with a trenchant scymitar; and if thou lookest for a servant, here is a suitable handmaid.

Whate’er thou willest, thy commands prevail.’

His friend excused himself [for coming so late], and by that fair procedure the bond of reliance on his attachment and love was strengthened.

Art thou sincere in friendship? then beware
That thy friend find a kind ally in thee!
And of his wishes have a watchful care,
And grant them ere he long expectant be.

And when a benevolent person falls into the whirlpool of disaster, none can befriend him but those of a like disposition; just as if an elephant should fall into a quagmire, other elephants alone can extricate him; and if in befriending the Mouse thou shouldest meet with hardships, thou must not grieve; and keeping thine eyes on thy reputation and the maintenance of thine honor, must disregard the inconvenience, for the wise man ever labors for distinction and to leave behind him a fair repute; and if, for example, he be compelled, in his pursuit of an honorable name, to risk his life, he will not shrink from it, because he will thus have purchased the imperishable with the perishable, and have sold a little for much.

Does the world smile on thee?—secure a name,
For all the world can offer is fair fame.

And whoever excludes the necessitous from his good things is not to be reckoned among the really rich; and he whose life is passed in dishonor and disaster such as his foes would wish, his name is not inserted in the roll of the living.

Sâdí! he whose fame lives can ne’er be dead,
He dies whose good name is dishonorèd.’

The Crow was discoursing thus, when a Deer appeared in the distance running fast. They suspected that somebody was pursuing him, whereupon the Tortoise leapt into the water, the Crow took his seat in a tree, and the Mouse ran down a hole. When the Deer reached the edge of the water, it stood like one stupified, and the Crow cast its eyes around to see if any one was on its traces. Though it looked to the left and right it saw no one. It called therefore to the Tortoise, who emerged from the water; and the Mouse joined them. The Tortoise, observing that the Deer was scared and kept looking in the water without drinking, said, ‘If thou art thirsty, drink! and be not alarmed, for there is no cause for fear.’ The Deer came forward, and the Tortoise uttered an exclamation of joyful welcome, saying,

‘Beloved comrade! from whence art thou come?
Feel not strange here, for here thou art at home.’

The Deer said, ‘I have been used to dwell in this plain alone, and mingle not with those of my race; and the archers, ever stringing the bow of murderous intention, have driven me from this corner to that. To-day I observed an old man lying in wait for me, who watched me wherever I went. I conceived the idea that it was a hunter and that the snare of his craftiness would presently catch my feet; and, running away, I reached this spot.’ The Tortoise said, ‘Fear not! for hunters never come to the environs of this place, and if thou wishest to associate with us, we will introduce thee into the circle of our friendship; and the pedestal of the association of us three will be supported with a fourth pillar, viz., thyself: for the wise have said, ‘The more numerous friends are, the less will they be exposed to the assaults of calamity.’

Where’er I come, love and good faith increase,
Joy spreads with calm serenity and peace.

And it is certain that if there be a thousand friends, they must be regarded as one; and if there be but one enemy he must be looked upon as many.

In friendship well a thousand may agree,
But all too many is one enemy.’

The Mouse also took up the discourse, and the Crow uttered some benevolent words. The Deer perceived that they were amiable friends and pure-minded companions. He mingled with them and sought their society with his heart and soul.

With a fit friend how sweet is intercourse.

The Deer took up his abode in that meadow; and his friends admonished him not to set his foot beyond the grazing-ground in their vicinity, nor to elongate himself from the neighborhood of the fountain which was their castle of security and peace. The Deer agreed to act in conformity with their advice. They were passing their time together, and there was a bambú thicket* where they used always to assemble, and sporting, recount their adventures. One day the Crow, the Mouse, and the Tortoise, assembled at the trysting-place, and waited some time for the Deer. It did not come, and this circumstance making them sad, as is the wont of attached friends, a depression of spirits overcame them. They requested the Crow that he would take the trouble to fly up into the air and inform them of their lost friend’s condition.

Pass, Zephyr! o’er my love’s abode, this boon refuse me not;
And O! refuse not wretched me news of my loved one’s lot.

The Crow in a short time brought them intelligence that he had seen the Deer prisoned in the net of calamity. The Tortoise then said to the Mouse, ‘In this unhappy conjuncture our only hope is in thee, and by thy help alone can the banner of the Deer’s safety be set up.

Haste! for the time of action fleets away.’

The Crow then showed the way, and the Mouse, running off,* came to the Deer and said, ‘O kind brother! how hast thou fallen into this difficulty? and with all thy good sense and sagacity how hast thou yielded thy neck to the fetters of deceit?’ The Deer replied, ‘Opposed to the divine decree, of what avail is shrewdness? and of what use is acuteness and sagacity, if it controvert the mandate of the Supreme Ruler? From the desert of deliberation to the resting-place of destiny, the way is endless; and from the plain of stratagem to the confines of fate, the distance is infinite.

Proud of a hundred wiles I stood without,
But knew not what, within, they were about.’

The Mouse replied, ‘Thou speakest truly,

Where fate sets up the tent of destiny,
None can the assault by wise-laid plans defy.’

He then occupied himself with severing the bonds of the Deer, and in the meantime the Tortoise having come up, made known his grief and dejection at the imprisonment of his friend. The Deer said, ‘O kind friend! thy coming to this spot is yet more perilous than what has befallen me; for if the hunter should come and the Mouse have severed my bonds, I with a single step can save my life, and the Crow will fly away, and the Mouse will conceal itself in the recess of a hole. But thou hast neither the hand to fight nor the means of opposition, nor the front to resist nor the foot to fly. Why hast thou ventured thus gratuitously? and wherefore hast thou been so rash?’ The Tortoise replied, ‘Dear comrade? how was it possible for me not to come? and with what color could I delay or allow of hesitation? what pleasure has life which is passed in absence from friends? and how can existence be valued which is spent in separation from those we love.

Lifeless I lived. Let this thee not surprise;
Bereft of friends our life, uncounted, lies.

And I am excusable for coming here, since the desire of beholding thy beauty drew me hither whether I would or not, and the wish of beholding thee deprived me of all patience; and with reference to this trifling distance and necessary journey which has presented itself, the companion of patience has set his foot in the road of annihilation.*

Too sad without thee, God knows! my distress;
The parting day and night of loneliness.

And be thou not pensive, for this instant thou wilt obtain thy release, and these knots being loosed, thou wilt with unconcern hasten home; and on all accounts it is requisite for thee to offer due thanksgiving, and incumbent on thee to render thy grateful acknowledgments that thy body is unwounded and thy life uninjured; else the remedy would have been beyond the reach of imagination, and the cure would have passed the bounds of possibility.’ They were engaged in this conversation when the hunter appeared at a distance, and the Mouse finished dividing the meshes. The Deer leapt forth, the Crow flew away, the Mouse went down into a hole, but the Tortoise remained where it was. When the hunter came up and found the net which held the deer severed, he bit the finger of amazement with the tooth of reflection, and began to look to the left and right, saying, ‘Ah! by whom has this deed been done and whose hand has effected this?’ His eyes lighted on the Tortoise, and he said to himself, ‘Although this con­temptible piece of goods cannot soothe my sorrow for the escape of the Deer, and the rupture of the net, yet to return empty-handed is discreditable to the character of a hunter.’ He then forthwith seized him and tossed him into his bag, and having tied him on his back, set off towards the city. As soon as the hunter had departed, the friends assembled, and discovered that the Tortoise had been taken by the hunter. Their hearts poured forth lamenta­tions, and they raised their cries and complaints to the summit of the blue sky, and said,

‘The day our eyes thy beauty cease to view,
Look where they will, tears will those eyes bedew.

What pain can equal separation from friends? and what calamity can parallel the absence of our comrades. Whoever is excluded from beholding his companion, and is parted from communion with his rosy-cheeked [favorite], knows that the wanderers in the plain of separation have the foot of bewilder­ment in the mire, and that the recluses of the cell of affection keep the hands of regret upon their heart.

How canst thou, painless, estimate the cruel pang of our regret?
How tell what those athirst must feel, while by thee flows the rivulet?’

Each of the brotherhood uttered a separate moan, and composed a clamorous and piteous lament suited to his condition, and the tenor of their words had reference to one and the same subject.

Without our loved one’s sugared lips our hearts exult no more,
Reft of our friends, the joy of life, and life itself is o’er.

At length the Deer said to the Crow, ‘O brother! although our words are extremely eloquent, and the effusions which we utter excessively sweet, yet they do not benefit the Tortoise in the least; and our lamentations and weepings, and bemoanings and disquietude, will not satisfy* him. It is more in accordance with good faith that we devise some stratagem, and employ some device which may embrace his release and ensure his escape; and the wise have said, ‘The test of four kinds of persons is at four seasons. The courage of the valiant may be known in the day of battle, and the honesty of the upright in the time of lending and borrowing, and the love and fidelity of wife and child may be discerned in the hour of famine, and the truth of friends may be learned in the season of adversity and distress.

Let me a comrade find in time of woe;
I lack not friends in happy times, I trow.’

The Mouse said, ‘O Deer! I have thought of a trick. The advisable course is that thou shouldest shew thyself to the hunter, and appear like one fatigued and wounded, and let the Crow alight on thy back and make it seem as if he were attacking thee, and assuredly, when the eyes of the hunter fall upon thee, he will plume himself with the idea of catching thee, and will put down the Tortoise with his gear on the ground and make towards thee. As soon as he comes near thee, run limping away from him, but not to such a distance as to cast off his hope of catching thee. Then keep him a good while employed in chasing thee, and do not fail to encourage him and to regulate thy movements. It may happen that I may release the Tortoise and let him run away.’ The friends expressed their admiration of his plan, and the Deer and the Crow shewed themselves to the hunter as had been agreed. When the too credulous hunter beheld the Deer limping along, and the Crow hovering round him and pecking at his eyes, he fancied he should be successful in capturing the deer, and putting down his bag from his back set to work to pursue him. The Mouse forthwith severed the ties of the bag and released the Tortoise, and after an interval, when the hunter was well wearied in pursuing the Deer, and, despairing of success, came back to the bag, he could not see the Tortoise, and found the ties of the bag severed. He was overcome with astonishment, and thought to himself, ‘No one would credit these extraordinary circumstances which I have witnessed. First, there was the severing of the Deer’s fastenings, and his pretending to be wounded, and the Crow’s sitting upon him, and the making a hole in the bag, and the escape of the Tortoise! How are we to explain these acts?’ In the midst of these reflections, being overcome with terror, he said, ‘Most likely this is the haunt of fairies and the abode of dívs; I must get back with speed, and break off all desire for the beasts of this plain. The hunter took up the fragments of his bag and his broken net, and taking to flight, vowed that if he could escape from those wilds, for the rest of his life he would not suffer himself to think of that plain; and he would, out of kindness, warn other hunters not to enter that wilderness.

‘For there the net secures nought but the wind.’

And when the hunter had gone away, the friends re-assembled and returned to their dwelling-place free from care and safe, and content and peaceful; and thenceforward neither did the hand of calamity reach the skirt of their affairs, nor the nail of trouble lacerate the cheek of their condition or pro­ceedings; and by the happy influence of their agreement and the beauty of their unanimity, the knot of their friendly intercourse was secured, and the bond of their society strengthened.

The single thread an old dame’s strength might break,
But Zál* were weak to rend its twisted ply.
Sugar, alone, the heart to burn will make,
The roses’ unmixed scent the brain will dry.
Rose-sugar, sugared-rose, is best to take
For vigor, useless if imbibed dividedly.

This is the story of the agreement of friends and the narrative of the reciprocal aid and support of companions, and of sincerity of attachment in prosperity and adversity, and of the maintenance of regard in the time of tranquillity and of trouble, and of the discharging social obligations in the season of enjoyment and of hardship, and how these friends displayed steadiness in perfect devotion during the mishaps of time and the vicissitudes of fortune; and, consequently, by the blessing of unanimity and mutual aid, they obtained release from such mortal perils; and, casting disasters and calamities behind them, were securely seated, happy and unruffled, on the throne of friendly converse and the cushion of mirth. Now, it behoves a man of sense to feel it incumbent on him to give proper consideration to these tales with the light of his reason and the clearness of his judgment; for since the friendship of feeble animals yields such admirable fruits and choice results, if a body of wise men, who are the cream of mankind and the élite of the human race, pursue a similar sincere unanimity, and lay the base of friendship on these rules, and conduct to the end this faithfulness of intention and inward purity; how will not the advantages thereof extend to high and low? and the beneficial effects being manifested on the pages of the circumstances of each individual, to what extent will not the blessing of such a proceeding accrue to the fortunes of great and small?

They who the laws of social converse know,
Guided by them alone their life will lead.
All that we do without a friend is woe,
’Tis rare if friendless we in aught succeed.
Whose converse is sincere, and free from wile,
Grasp thou his skirt, for he will faithful be,
And seek the man whose acts are void of guile,
Who against fortune’s arrow would shield thee
With life. Friends who at core devoted are,
Their love than life itself is dearer far.