He said, ‘They have related that one year, in the country of elephants, in one of the islands of Zírbád,* it happened that no rain fell, and the mother-clouds, from the teat of maternal affection, did not distil a drop into the mouth of the thirsty-lipped ones of the cradle of the earth. The fire of drought made the fountains* moistureless as the eye of the hard-hearted; and the springs of water became dry, like the mouth of the longing of the poor. The elephants, impatient of their sufferings from thirst, complained to their king, who commanded that they should hasten in all directions to procure water, and should carry on the search with a diligence that could not be exceeded. The elephants, having traversed all the coasts and borders of that country with the step of investigation, arrived at a fountain, which they called the fountain of the moon,* and which by the Persians was named the ‘Chashmah-i-máh.’ It was a deep pool, and contained an inexhaustible supply of water. The elephant-king, with all his retinue and warriors, proceeded towards the fountain to drink water, and around it certain hares had located themselves, and of course some of them were injured by the elephants. Each one on whom an elephant set his foot, received such punishment* that he was obliged to retire from the stage of life; and met with such chastisement as it is impossible to expound the result, except by referring to the area of non-existence.

Not to the plain in such wild fury rush,
Lest heads beneath thy courser’s hoof thou crush.

By one visit of the elephants many of the hares were squeezed and trampled to death.

Who’ll live, if thou thus comest twice or thrice?

The next day they went together to their king and said, ‘A just king is the protection of the oppressed, and the aid of the destitute. Every one who occupies a throne sits there for the administration of justice, not to lead a life of pleasure.

Therefore thou didst this throne ascend,
That thou the helpless mightst befriend.

Give us justice and exact satisfaction for us from the elephants, and graciously remedy the sufferings we experience from them; for every moment they may return and, this time, trample under their feet some poor wretches who escaped half dead from their tread.

When first thou didst thy face display; my heart, my reason, senses, fled,
Now take my life, with life alone this tenement is plenishèd.’

The King said, ‘This is no trifling matter, that we should enter carelessly upon it. Let every one of you who is possessed of ability, attend, that we may hold a consultation; for the execution of a resolve before counsel has been taken, is not among the happy qualities of the wise.

The mind with wisdom richly fraught
Will, unadvised, resolve on nought.’

Now among the hares there was one of sharp intellect, whom they called Bihrúz,* and men relied on him for the abundance of his good sense, and his perfect understanding and clearness of mind and excellent judgment. When he perceived that the king was distressed by this matter, he advanced saying,

‘Thy helpless subjects, aye regard, O king! with pitying love,
For this the rule and custom is of those who justly reign.
Nor ever from the destitute thy favoring glance remove,
That thus thou mayest from crown, throne, wealth, and rank, enjoyment gain.

If the King think it advisable, let him send me on an embassy to the elephants, and having appointed a commissioner, despatch him with me, that he may see and hear what I do and say.’ The King said, ‘I have no doubt of thy rectitude and good-faith, and truth and honesty, nor shall I ever doubt of it; and I have oft witnessed and heard of thy speech and actions.

For thy deeds’ coin it is enough that them I oft have tried,
And on the stone of trial found that they no alloy hidc.

Go with good-fortune, and that which thou deemest to be advisable for the present crisis and adapted to the circumstances, do! And thou knowest that the messenger of a king is his tongue; and whoever wishes to know the title-page of the writing of any one’s mind and the interpretation* of the secret of his heart, may learn it from the words and actions of his envoy. For if virtue and excellence be visible in the latter, and laudable impressions and praiseworthy conduct discernible in him; they may regard this as a proof of the worthy selection and perfect appreciation of character in the king: while as regards the messenger who is guilty of errors and remissness, the tongue of cavilers will be put in motion, and find occasion for reproach and disparagement. Moreover, the wise have given strict injunctions, and insisted beyond measure, that whoever sends an envoy to a place, must take care that he is the wisest of his tribe, the most eloquent of them in speech, and the most perfect in action. And former kings used for the most part, to send sages on embassies; and Iskandar Ẕú’l-ḳarnain* went even beyond them in this, for he disguised himself, and used to go in his own person as ambassador, and say,

‘Great heroes, like the lion-king,
With their own feet their message bring.’

And an eminent person has said, with reference to the despatch of envoys,

‘Wise must he be by monarchs sent,
And bold in speech and eloquent.
He must reply to all they ask,
So as to best fulfil his task.
In speaking it must be his aim
For those who hear, his speech to frame.
Oft has a word too roughly said,
The world embroiled and heaped with dead.
And oft another, soft and mild,
Two nations’ hate has reconciled.’

Bihrúz said, ‘O king! although I have such share of the knowledge of the rules of an ambassador’s duty as I have, yet if the king, the asylum of the world would condescend to arrange on the string of favor, some precious jewels from the casket of wisdom, I will make them the ornament of my career; and regarding them as the decoration of my character and the capital upon which I am to draw, will never seek to swerve in all I do or engage in from that canon; and will carry out to the end, my transactions in accordance with that rule of procedure.’ The King said, ‘O Bihrúz! the best direction to an envoy and the most useful rule for the discharge of his functions, is this, that his tongue should be employed like a keen scymitar—vigorously and sharply, but the jewel of courtesy and gentleness should be manifest and displayed on his pages; and the light of benignity and politeness evident and conspicuous on all sides of him. Every speech from the exordium of which roughness is apparent, must be terminated at its close* with softness and mildness, and if, at the commencement of his discourse, he enter upon his subject spiritedly, with words inspiring terror, he should finish his harangue kindly and soothingly, with amiable expressions and a bewitching suavity.

The seeds of hate are from the breast removed by words that soothe,
And gentle tongues can all the folds of frowning eyebrows smooth.

In short the words of an envoy should be based on the rule of courtesy and rigor, of anger and mildness, of love and violence, of equity and opposition; and he ought to observe the path of binding and loosing, of taking and giving, of rending and binding up, of making and burning,* so that he may have a due regard to the honor of his king and the glory of his prince, and at the same time may discover the intention of his foes and their hidden mind. And the essence of all directions on the subject of an ambassador-ship is contained in this,

Send one that’s wise, nor him with rules restrict.’

Then Bihrúz made his obeisance and came forth from the court of the king and tarried until Night, clothed in sable garb, drew down the curtain of darkness before the palace of the blue sky; and after a time the table-decker of omnipotence publicly displayed the silver salver of the moon on the table of heaven.

When Eve her musky ringlets did untie,
The moon moved proudly o’er the terraced sky.

At the time when the centre of the moon had nearly reached the circle of the mid-sky and the beams of the lesser luminary were spread over the dusty surface of the earth, whose surface was illuminated by the world-adorning beauty of that taper of the cell of the destitute; Bihrúz set off for the isle of elephants, and having reached their abode, reflected, ‘In the vicinity of these oppressors, there is risk of losing my life, and danger of destruction; and, even though they should not assail me, yet foresight demands that one should not encounter the terrible and the oppressive; since they, from their excessive haughtiness and pride, care not for the poor and broken, and if a thousand helpless ones perish beneath the tramp of their power, the dust of that trampling would not reach the countenance of their pride.

For our lorn state what cares the tranquil sky!*
What cares the morning, though the taper die!

The advisable course is for me to ascend an eminence, and deliver the message I have in charge, from a distance. If it be accepted, then my object is gained, and if my stratagem succeed not with them, at least I shall escape with life.’ He then ascended a height and called out to the king of the elephants, saying, ‘I am the envoy of the moon, and no fault attaches to a messenger whatever he may say or hear, ‘And the delivery of his message is all that is incumbent on one sent,’* and although a speech may appear disrespectful and rough, it should nevertheless receive a hearing; for whatever message the moon has given, I cannot use my own discretion either in enlarging or contracting it. And thou knowest that the world-traversing moon presides over the bázár of the night, and is the deputy of the lord of day, and if any one imagine ought against him, and listen not to his message with the ear of attention, he will have struck an axe against his own foot, and striven with his own hand for his own destruction.’ The king of the elephants was startled at this address, and asked, ‘What is the purport of thy embassy?’ Bihrúz replied, ‘The moon says, ‘Whoever sees himself superior to the weak in power and majesty, and becomes inflated by his own might, and spirit, and strength, and prowess, and desires cruelly and tyrannically to overthrow the feeble, this circumstance betokens his own fall, and these feelings plunge him into the whirlpool of destruction.

Sow not the seeds of pride within thy breast,
Nor suffer malice in thy heart to rest.
How long wilt saddle fury’s steed? for know
If thou spurr’st on, he’ll not continue so.
Soon o’er thy head these troublous waves will rise,
And heaven’s shaft pierce thy buckler from the skies.
In other scenes must end this course of pride,
And thy powers fail thy onward steps to guide.

And from this haughtiness, through which thou regardest thyself as excelling other animals, and valuest thyself on thy strength and terribleness, both of which are on the point of waning, things have come to this pass, and affairs have reached this climax, that thou hast invaded my fountain and marched thy army to that spot, and, from excess of blind hostility, hast troubled that water! What! dost thou not know that if the swift-winged eagle fly over my fountain, the lightning of my wrath consumes her offending pinions; and if the eye of Taurus,* from the meadow of the sky, look thereon with the glance of appropriation, Arcturus, with his terrible javelin, will transfix that eye.*

A demon coming there must bow his head,
A bird that flies there too must droop his wing.
Nor e’en the sky, save by some guidance led,
Could from that air, those confines, itself bring.

And I, from excess of compassion, have thought fit to warn thee by this embassy. If thou followest up thine own interests and repentest of this temerity, it is well! Else I will come in my own person and will slay thee terribly, and if thou doubtest of this message, come this moment and I will present myself in the fountain that thou mayest see me with thine own eyes, and henceforward forbear to dwell near this spring.’ The king of the elephants was astonished at this address, and having gone to the fountain, beheld the appearance of the moon in the water. Bihrúz said to him, ‘O king! take up a little water, and having washed thy face, prostrate thyself. Perchance the moon, feeling commiseration, will incline favourably to thee.’ The elephant stretched out its trunk, and when it struck the water and agitated it, it seemed to the elephant that the moon made a movement. Hereupon the elephant called out, ‘O envoy of the Moon! it was, perhaps, because of my putting my trunk in the water that the moon moved.’ Bihrúz exclaimed, ‘Heavens! on thy knees with speed! that he may be tran­quilized.’ The elephant bent down and did homage, and promised that henceforward he would not come there, nor bring the elephants to the neigh­borhood of that fountain. Bihrúz conveyed this news to his king, and the hares reposed in peace; and by that stratagem he averted from them so terrible a calamity.

And I have used this story to show that a clever person is required among you to be your leader, in meeting emergencies and in exerting himself for the repulse of foes. And if at this time a clever and intelligent person had been consulted by you, he would never have suffered the title of king to be inscribed on the name of the owl, and would have put you on your guard against bringing on yourselves the disastrous disgrace of his leadership, for together with the numerous bad qualities that he has, fraud and artifice and deceit and craft are also bound up with his disposition. And there is no fault in kings so great as perfidy and bad faith and trickery and insincerity.

He who to love and faith a stranger is,
Not e’en a trace of friendship can be his.
The breast which traitorous falsehood steeps in night,
There, dwells not e’en the feeblest ray of light.
Be not unfaithful, for amid mankind,
No fault like want of faith deforms the mind.

And kings are the shadow of the Creator—may His glory be magnified!—and without the sun of their justice, the world’s surface is not illuminated; and save under the shadows of their beneficence and equity, mankind cannot repose in the cradle of security and peace. Nay, the pavilion of heaven is supported only by the pillar of justice; as it is said, ‘By justice stand the heavens.’

If justice measurement did not supply,
Ne’er could, uprearèd, stand the azure sky.

Since the cord of the security of mankind is bound up with the existence of a just king, and the tent-cords of heaven, without the aid of justice and beneficence, the manifestors of which are the sovereigns of the age, would be rent asunder, and since the command of kings has free course with respect to the life and property of men; and their mandate, like descending fate, pervades and penetrates in the currents of the loosing and binding of affairs; it therefore behoves a king to be faithful and not tyrannical, and to make choice of tenderness towards his subjects and not violence; and to keep the mirror of his breast untarnished by malice; and not to admit on the tablet of his heart the writing of perfidy and deceit: for those unfortunates, who are afflicted by the tyranny of a perfidious king and the cruelty of a false ruler, meet with what befell that Partridge and Quail, from the cat that fasted.’ The birds asked, ‘How was that?’