He said, ‘They have related that a devotee of pure disposition, abstemious and virtuous, had made his cell in one of the environs of Baghdád, and passed his morning and evening hours in the worship of the all-wise King (May His name be magnified), and by these means had shaken his skirt clear from the dust of worldly affairs; and had perused, from the page of life, the description of its treachery and faithlessness, and had learned that the sweet draught of joy is unattainable without the sting of injury, and that the coin of the treasure of wealth cannot be gained without the pain of the burthen of toil.

Ne’er in that garden blooms a thornless rose,
Nor spotless tulips there their charms unfold:
And yet thou seest sunbeams in its blows,
It gilds thy visage and thou callest it gold.*

He had bowed his head in the corner of contentment under the collar of freedom from care, and rested satisfied with the portion that was supplied to him from the invisible world.

’Tis ours to be content and acquiesce
With our Friend’s largess, be it more less.

In short, one of his sincere disciples got knowledge of the poverty and fastings of the holy man, and by way of offering, brought to the hermitage of the shekh, a she-buffalo, young and fat, with whose delicious milk the palate of desire was oiled and sweetened. A thief beheld the circumstance, and his hungry appetite was excited; and he set off for the cell of the recluse. A demon, too, joined him in the likeness of a man. The thief asked him, ‘Who art thou, and whither goest thou?’ He replied, ‘I am a demon, who have assumed this shape, and, putting on this guise, am going to the hermitage of the recluse; for many of the people of this country, through the blessing of his instruction, have began to repent and to be converted, and the market of our temptations has become flat. I wish to get an opportunity and kill him. This is my story which thou hast heard: now tell me, who art thou and what is thy story?’ The thief replied, ‘I am a man whose trade is roguery, and I am occupied night and day with thinking how to steal some one’s goods and impose the scar of affliction on his heart. I am now going, as the recluse has got a fat buffalo, to steal it and use it for my own wants.’ The demon said,

’Life of the world! my bosom friend art thou.

Praise be to God! that the bond of homogeneousness is strong between us; and this alone is sufficient to ally us, since the object of both is to assail him.’ They then proceeded on their way, and at night reached the cell of the recluse. The latter had finished the performance of his daily worship, and had gone to sleep, just as he was, on his prayer-carpet. The thief bethought himself, that if the demon attempted to kill him he would probably awake and make an outcry; and the other people who wcre his neighbors, would be alarmed, and in that case it would be impossible to steal the buffalo. The demon, too, reflected that if the thief carried off the buffalo* from the house, he must of course open the door. Then the noise of the door would very likely awaken the recluse, and he should have to postpone killing him. He then said to the thief, ‘Do thou wait and give me time to kill the hermit, and then do thou steal* the buffalo.’* The thief rejoined, ‘Stop thou till I steal the buffalo,* and then kill the hermit.’ This difference was prolonged between them, and at last the words of both came to wrangling. The thief was so annoyed that he called out to the recluse, ‘There is a demon here who wants to kill thee.’ The demon, too, shouted, ‘Here is a thief who wants to steal thy buffalo.’* The hermit was roused by the uproar, and raised a cry, whereupon, the neighbors came, and both the thief and the demon ran away; and the life and property of the holy man remained safe and secure through the quarrel of his enemies.

When the two hostile armies fall to strife,
Then from its sheath what need to draw the knife?’

When the third vazír had finished speaking, the first vazír was astonished, and said, ‘I see that this crow has bewitched you with his wiles and deceit. Beware that ye wake out of the sleep of supineness, and take the cotton of conceit out of the ear of vigilance, and see the necessity of pondering thoroughly on the consequences of this thing. For wise men base their actions especially in guarding against the stratagems of enemies on the rule of real advantage, and are not seduced by false speeches and inconclusive reasoning. While on the other hand the incautious, not heeding this truth, adopt a gentle behaviour on a trifling show of attachment; and, forgetting ancient grudges and hereditary feuds, are pleased to become reconciled, and are ignorant that though a foe shew himself in a thousand forms, the rust of hatred will still remain in the tablet of his heart.

I said unto thy Indian tresses, ‘These will plunder hearts no more,’
Years have flown, and still they practise the same arts they did before.

And still more strange is it that through ignorance a Baṣrah fringe* appears in your sight a precious work from Baghdád, and in your eyes a glass bead seems a royal gem. And your circumstances are like those of the Carpenter who was deceived by the words of his profligate wife.’ The king asked, ‘How was that?’