He said, ‘They have related that a troop of monkeys had their abode in an island where were fruits fresh and dry in abundance, and the climate agreed with them perfectly. One day a party of the elders of the tribe were sitting under the shade of a tree, and were talking on all sorts of subjects. At one time, with laughing lip like a pistachio, they discoursed of the impervious nut, and at another they would not open their eyes, which resembled fresh almonds, save to gaze on the beauty of the dry fig. On a sudden, a bear passed by them, and was excessively chagrined at their composure. He said to himself, ‘Is it to be borne that I should pass my time in the midst of stony mountains, with saddened heart; and with a hundred thousand efforts get possession of a thorn-top or a root of grass, while these monkeys in this pleasant spot and agreeable station, feast on fresh and juicy fruits and make their repasts on herbage softer than green silk.

My rivals, rose-like, flourishing in the fair spring of converse, see!
Why should, in autumnal absence, I, all leafless, withered be?’

He then resolved to enter among that crowd and overthrow with the axe of cruelty, the pedestal of their tranquillity. The monkeys, accepting battle, assembled to the number of nearly a thousand, and making a rush, overthrew* and wounded the bear with their blows. The unhappy bear of vain schemes, had not as yet tasted the fruit of his wishes from the plant of desire, when he found the tree of his enjoyment withered, and the cell of his nature not being illuminated by the radiance of the taper of repose, the lamp of his strength went out.

Before I from the bowl of gladness one short draught of joy could sip,
Cruel fate dashed down the goblet ere it yet had reached my lip.

In short, the bear escaped with the greatest trouble from among the monkeys, and having conveyed himself to the mountains, raised loud cries and a vast uproar. A great number of his species came round him, and seeing him in that state, asked him as to the circumstances of the battle and the manner of the contumely and blows inflicted on him. The bear recounted the affair as it had happened, and said, ‘Bravo, dishonor! that a powerful-framed bear should endure this disgrace from feeble monkeys! never in by-gone days did such a thing befall our ancestors and progenitors, and until the day of resurrection, this infamy will adhere to our race. Our advisable course is that we should join together, and by one united night-attack, change the day of existence for them into the night of extinction, and blind the eye of their hopes with the dust of battle.

Let us but be by fate unharassed,
We’ll wreak our* vengeance on the hated foe;
And in the battle we’ll so crush his head,
To the last day our glory down shall go.’

The bears’ feeling of pride was roused, and kindling the flame of implaca­bility, and loosing the tongue of boasting and vain-glory, they raised to heaven their fierce and martial shouts.

‘Ants are our foes,—a giant serpent we,
How can they scape the clutches of the strife?
Tis ours to shake the flag of battle free,
Theirs to relinquish sovereignty and life.’

They then agreed that that night they would engage in kindling the flames of slaughter, and in the heat of battle and the fire of war, would cast an igneous shower into the harvest of the life of the monkeys; and at the time when the golden-clawed lion of the sun turned from the waste of heaven to that place of fountains [as it is written] ‘in a spring of black mud,* and the Greater and Lesser Bear began to stalk towards the confines of the Northern Pole,

When the bright sun had turned his back,
Earth darkened,* and the air grew black,

at once, the bears of that mountainous region set out for the island of the monkeys. It happened that the monkey-king with a number of his nobles and grandees, had made a party to hunt, and that night they remained in the waste, and the other monkeys, unprepared for the attack of their foes, were reposing each in his own place, when all at once,

Like ants and locusts, countless warriors swarm,
And spread through earth war’s world-convulsing storm.

Before the monkeys were aware, many of them were slain, and a few, crushed and wounded, escaped with life from that sanguinary struggle. When the bears saw that flourishing plain and populous island cleared of the enemy, they drew the foot of continuance under the skirt of residence in that very place, and made the bear that had been maltreated and injured, their commander; and stretching forth the hand of tyranny, they brought within the range of their own possession, every good thing which the monkeys in the lapse of time had stored up for themselves.

Who wasted, O my God! and who amassed?*

The next day, when the dark-hearted world became brilliant as the cheek of the beautiful, and the Jamshíd of the sun came forth upon the throne of the sky,

When morning’s host upraised its banner, then
The world drew through the word of night its pen,*

the king of the monkeys, unaware of what had happened, was returning to the island, and in the middle of his journey a number of fugitives who had brought themselves semi-animate from the whirlpool of calamity to the shore, came up, and began to call for redress. The king, when he had been informed of the nature of those events, began to bite the finger of amazement with the tooth of regret, and said, ‘Alas! for my hereditary kingdom, which has been torn from the grasp of my possession, and alack! for those rich treasures which have fallen into the hands of the enemy. At last, fortune has changed, and has rained down the dirt of adversity on my head, and, at length, she, fickle that she is, has averted her countenance.

Ne’er in this world’s flower-garden did one verdure constant see,
Nor upon the cheek of fortune can we trace a changeless hue.
Earth is but a house of cheating, credit there can never be,
Because than it a place of mischief more disastrous none e’er knew.

The others, too, who attended in the cavalcade of the king, beginning to be disquieted, raised lamentations each for his own property and possessions, and wife, and family, and among them was one named Maimún,* adorned with an excellent understanding, and distinguished from the rest by the abundance of his sagacity; and on this account they used to hold him in supreme honor, and king and people were in the habit of availing themselves of the benefits of his advice.

So bright of heart, so clear in wisdom he,
That by one counsel he could climes enslave;
Zuḥal* his pupil was in subtlety,
And to ’Aṭárid* he pen-lessons gave.

When Maimún beheld the king amazed and his subjects distressed, he loosed the tongue of advice and said,

‘Be not contentious in disaster, thou!
’Tis doubly faulty; for, to me attend,
First, it will gild with joy thy foeman’s brow;
And next cast down and stupify thy friend.

To be stiff-necked in misfortunes excludes a creature from the rewards of eternity, and makes him notorious for impatience and levity, and in occurrences of this nature, there are but two things of any avail. The first is, to endure and to increase in patience and fortitude; for the tree of patience produces the fruit of desire, and in accordance with the saying, ‘Patience is the key of joy,’ to make choice of patience is the key of the portals of salvation.

Patience, the key that opes the treasury
Of wished-for things, unlocks each closed-up way;
And clears the breast from pangs of tyranny,
As from a glass the dust that thereon lay.

The second is to make use of just judgment and right counsel; for when the lightning of the bright mind of the possessor of sagacity flashes in the night of incident, it can completely efface the darkness of cruelty from the page of the condition of the tyrannously oppressed; and in one night of thought accomplish things which have occupied a thousand years.

With the salve of happy counsel, and of schemes that aim aright,
Be the heart in fragments shivered, there is healing for its plight.’

The king of the monkeys was comforted by the words of Maimún, and asked ‘How can this be remedied?’ Maimún requested a private audience and said, ‘O renowned king! my children and kinsmen have perished by the hands of this remorseless band; and, deprived of the sight of these dear ones life will afford me no delight, and existence no happiness.

Without thy face I might survive,—yes, I might linger so;
But yet a thousand deaths, methinks, were lighter than that woe.

And since in the end the goods of life must fall into the whirlpool of annihilation, I desire with all possible speed to transport myself from the narrow strait of worldly things to the expanse of the blissful regions of eternity; and, sacrificing my life, to avenge my friends and beloved ones on those blind and savage monsters.’ The King said, ‘O Maimún! the flavor of revenge appears sweet to the palate of existence, and the relish of triumphing over one’s enemy is necessary for the repose of life, but if thou art no more, [I care not] whether the world be populated or desolate. And wherever the heart is set, it matters not whether the place be tranquil or disturbed.

Once from this garden be thy transit made,
I care not if the roses bloom or fade.’

Maimún replied, ‘O king! in my present circumstances the preference may be given to death over life, and one might choose to perish rather than exist. For the light of the eyes is in gazing on the beauty of one’s children, and they have drawn over their countenances the veil of the earth; and the joy of the bosom is bound up in beholding one’s domestics and kinsfolk, and the harvest of their peace has been dispersed by the tempest of fate; and the chief pillar of one’s maintenance is wealth and property, and the hoardings of one’s whole life have been dissipated by the plundering of the enemy. I now wish to show my gratitude for the favors of the king, and to aid, with the ointment of cheerfulness, my brethren, whose hearts are sorrowful and whose minds are wounded; and having offered up the coin of life, to leave my name on the page of Time.

My heart’s wish is to perish gloriously:
Earth yields one object,—’t is with fame to die.

And the king must not mourn for my death, and when he sits with his friends at the mirthful banquet let him call to mind my faithful service.

With the hand of hope, when gathering the enjoyment of thy bliss,
Call to mind our social converse, and bethink thee still of this.’

The king said, ‘How wilt thou prosecute this undertaking, and by which of the doors of stratagem will thou enter upon it?’ Maimún answered, ‘I have thought of a plan by which I may consume them with the flame of the Samúm* in the deserts of Mard-ázmáí;* and it is most probably to be expected that my prognostications will not deviate from the line of truth. The advisable course is, that thou command them to tear out my ears with their teeth, and fracture my hands and feet, and cast me at night in a corner of that waste which was our former abode. And let the king, with his attendants and the party of fugitives, wander at will through all parts and directions of this desert until two days have passed, and on the morning of the third day let them come and settle, free from care, in their own home. For there will be no trace of their enemies, nor afterwards will any injury accrue from that race.’ The king, in accordance with the wishes of Maimún, commanded them to tear out his ears, and, after breaking his limbs, to cast him in a corner of that region. He then dispersed his forces, and sate awaiting the appointed time. Maimún, through the whole night, uttered plaintive wailings after a fashion that would have dissolved, in sympathy, a heart of stone. The mountains re-echoed the piteous sound of his cries; and the king of the bears going out for a circuit early in the morning, heard those lamentations; and following the sound, beheld Maimún in that plight. Although he was hard-hearted, he had compassion upon him, and in spite of his ferocity, pity arose in his heart. Busying himself with inquiry into his circumstances, and examining into his condition, he demanded of him a detailed explanation of what had happened. Maimún sagaciously discerned that he was the king of that race, and entered upon eulogiums of him; and after acquitting himself of the usual duties of panegyric, which is due to the position of kings, he said,

‘This earthly frame, soul and shape the same, in flaming fire and water* lies;
Look with thine eyes and sympathize, for cruel are these agonies.

O king! I am the vazír of the monkey-king, and went out with him to hunt. On the night of the attack I was not present in the field of battle. The next day the fugitives reached us, and I received intelligence of the descent of your majesty in this place. The king of the monkeys, from the confidence which he had in my judgment, required of me an expedient to remedy this. I, from sincere regard to him, pointed out the service of your majesty, and said, ‘The recommendable course is, that we gird up the waist of attendance, and pass the rest of our lives in waiting on the king; and, under the shade of his good-fortune, in security from the reverses of fate, content ourselves with a corner and a crust.

He that is wise, will ever guide his way
To pious shelter, such as thou art, who,
Oft as thy feet amid the garden stray,
Bear’st off the roses and the spikenard too.’

The king was displeased at my words, and vented many unseemly reproaches on the parties who had become occupants of this region; and when a second time I rebuked him, he commanded that they should inflict all this contumely upon me; and he gave orders, saying, ‘Since he is one of the fautors of that monarch, and belongs to his army, the best thing is to cast him down near the island, so that I may see how they will protect him.’ Thus they brought me hither, and requited my former loyal services with these subsequent distresses.’ He said this, and wept so piteously that the tear-drops began to fall from the pitiless eyes of the king of the bears.

My groans would make a stone dissolve in blood;
And from my weeping eyes pours Jaihún’s* flood.’

The king said, ‘Where are the monkeys now?’ He replied, ‘There is a forest, which they call Mard-ázmáí, where they have taken refuge, and are collecting forces from all sides, and every hour they may be expected to come with a fierce and numerous army to make a night-attack.’ The king of the bears started and said, ‘O Maimún! what is thy advice? and Heaven forfend! that a calamity fall upon us from them.’ Maimún replied, ‘Let the king be tranquil as to this, and had I but feet, I would conduct a force unexpectedly against them, and bring destruction on those perfidious ingrates.’ The king replied, ‘I know that thou hast complete acquaintance with their position, and if thou canst conduct us to them, thou wilt cast a chain of obligation on the neck of the condition of this people; and inasmuch, too, as they have wronged thee, thou wilt obtain thy own wish of revenge.’ Maimún said, ‘How can I do it? for it is impossible for me to go, and for me to move with such hands and feet presents insuperable difficulties.’ The king replied, ‘I know an expedient for this, and can convey thee by a contrivance.’ He then called aloud, so that the leaders of his army and the courtiers presented themselves; and having stated to them how matters stood, he said, ‘Be ready, for to-night we will march against the enemy.’ All agreed in this plan, and made ready the weapons of war, and, having tied Maimún on the back of a bear, they set off. Maimún guided them by signs, until they arrived at the waste Mard-ázmáí, which was a desert full of fierce heat and devoid of water, such that the spring-cloud was burnt up, in its expanse, from excess of heat; and the swift messenger of the moon, from the dread nature of that waste, lost its way in the heaven; and the world-measuring intellect was unable to emerge from its difficulties, and the creation-circling imagination knew not the way forth from its stages. A Samúm used to blow in that waste, such that every one who was reached by its effects, melted away; and it made the sand and soil burn like the furnace of iron-smiths; and on account of this fiery wind, no living thing abode in that desert, and no herbage sprang up in that salt and man-devouring wilderness.

A desert vast and full of horror, where,
At every step, a hundred risks arose;
Its air was flame, its fire igneous air,
Magnets its stones, and stones its earth compose.

Maimún said, ‘Make haste; and, before the white dawn lifts away the veil from the face of the transactions of the world, let us tear away the curtain of their tranquillity from the area of enjoyment; and, ere the king of the Turkish vestment* can lift up his gold-embroidered flag, let us subvert the banner of the puissance of those wretches forsaken by fortune.’ The bears, with the utmost alacrity, pressed on into that waste, and with their own feet entered into the plain of death and space of destruction. The sun rose, and no trace of the monkeys was to be found; and Maimún still urged them on with speed, and with plausible inventions beguiled them, until the time when the sun rose high, and, with the warmth of his rays, lit up the quarters and districts of that region. The flame of his taper was then kindled to that degree, that whoever looked into the air was consumed like a moth, and whoever set foot on earth was melted like wax.

The frame was heated by the warmth intense,
Till, taper-like, the lip did radiate;
And such the fiery blast, that Providence,
Thou wouldst suppose, had thought good to create
A fiercer hell in this, man’s earthly state.

The rays of the sun, exerting their influence, smote the bears with destruction, and the fiery Samúm, beginning to blow, appeared like a smokeless flame. Then the king of the bears turned to Maimún [and said], ‘Here is a desert such that our hearts are consumed with the dread of it, and our livers are dried up; and what is this which, like a flame of fire, comes, fierce and hot, towards us?’ Maimún replied, ‘O cruel tyrant! this is the wilderness of death, and that which comes towards thee is the messenger of fate. Be at ease, for didst thou possess a hundred thousand lives, thou wouldst not save one. And now, soon as the Samúm reaches you, it will consume all to ashes, and thou wilt be burned in the fire of that injustice which thou didst inflict on the persons of the monkeys.’ They were talking thus, when the flame of the Samúm reached them, and consumed on the spot Maimún, together with all the retinue and soldiers of the bear-king, and not one of them emerged from that wilderness. On the third day, as had been agreed upon, the king of the monkeys, together with his army, came to the island, and found the region unoccupied, and beheld his dominions cleared of the gloomy presence of his foes.

Disaster’s night has rolled away, the morn of triumph comes at last;
The spring—the joyful spring—is here, the autumn of our grief is past.

And I have adduced this story in order that the king may understand that resentful persons, for the sake of vengeance, will relinquish their own lives, and, to gratify their friends, attach no weight to the sacrifice. And I under­stand the baseness of Kárshinás from his deceitful speeches, and I know the whole train of the story which has been related.* And I have had experience of the crows before, and know the extent of their foresight and sagacity, and the greatness of their deceit and artfulness; and as soon as I beheld Kárshinás in this state, I felt convinced that their cleverness and prudence were allied to some useful end, and that their wisdom and penetration is beyond what were supposed.

Yes! I had heard thy charms, but see, indeed,
Fact does the tale a thousand times exceed.

The advisable course is, that before he can give us supper we should supply him with breakfast; and ere he can spill our blood, we should give the signal for his execution.’ When the king of the owls heard this speech he frowned and said, ‘What harshness and merciless procedure is this! that when a poor wretch has undergone a variety of sufferings and torments from his attachment to us, we should stand forth as his tormentors and destroyers, and melt again in the crucible of trial one who has already been wofully stricken. But, perhaps, thou hast not heard that they have said,

‘Make glad the mourner’s bosom, and recall
The night of mourning, which may thee befall.’

He then commanded, and they took Kárshinás with the utmost reverence respect, and bore him along with the owl-king. The vazír said, ‘O king! since thou hast not heeded my counsel, and hast averted the face of acceptance from my directions, which were essentially wise and purely beneficial; at least live with him as with thy foes, and be not off thy guard for the twinkling of an eye as to his artifices and treason. For his coming can have no other object save injury to the affairs of the owls and the pro­motion of the ends useful to the crows.’ The king refused to attend to this advice, and despised the words of that incomparable friend; and the Crow continued to live in his service with the utmost honor, and he omitted no particular of the homage due, nor of the respectful manners suited to the service of princes; and by conciliating each of the favorites and ministers of the king in some way or other, he attached them to himself. Hence his rank was each day advanced, and each day he made greater progress in the affections of the king and his subjects, until he became the depositary of the confidence, and the confidant of the secrets of the king. And when his thorough sincerity and complete probity had been noticed, he rose to be the State-referee and pivot of public affairs of that country. And in com­mencing affairs of importance, they used to consult with him, and they formed all sorts of schemes according to his opinion and counsel. One day, in the public assembly and general meeting, he said to high and low, ‘The king of the crows has causelessly injured me, and tortured me, though I am innocent. Until, then, I wreak my vengeance on him, and get the better of him like a man, how can I find rest or repose? and how relish sleep or food? And I have reflected long, and spent much time in meditating and considering how to obtain this object and compass this end. At last I have come to the firm conclusion that so long as I am in the guise of a crow, and retain their appearance, I cannot arrive at this my wish, nor attain my object. And I have heard from the wise, that when an oppressed and unfortunate person has suffered wrong from an unjust oppressor, and met with persecution from a haughty tyrant, and seeks death and consumes himself with fire, every prayer that he utters in that state meets with acceptance. If the king’s wisdom thinks it right, let him command them to burn me. Perhaps, at the moment when the heat reaches me, if I pray to God (may His name be magnified!) to make me an owl, I may, by that means get the advantage over the tyrant, and wreak my vengeance on him?’ Now, the owl that had been so urgent for the laceration of Kárshinás was present in that assembly, and said,

‘Art thou not bold as the narcissus? like the tulip, dark of heart?
Then ten-tongued and double-faced, too, cease to play the lily’s part.’

The king asked, ‘What sayest thou to this speech?’ The vazír replied, ‘This again is another artifice which is put forth, and a pretence colored with hypocrisy.

From hand to foot he’s nought but juggleries;
At his deceit astonished stand the wise.

And should they burn again and again his foul person and impure body, and moisten* the ashes with the water of the fountain of Salsabíl and the wine of purification, his unclean nature and base qualities would not be altered; and the malignity of his mind and obliquity of his moral principles cannot be cleansed by water or burnt out with fire.

Hope not that evil natures good will shew;
For rust, through washing, white will never grow.

And if (this impossible supposition being admitted), his impure person should put on the appearance of the peacock; or, for example, his unclean limbs should be arrayed in the garments of the Símurgh, he would remain just as before, attached to the society of the crows, and friendly with them. Like that Mouse, which, although it had obtained a human form, relapsed into the inclinations suited to its former state, and did not attach itself to the world-illuminating sun, and the bounteous cloud, and the exhilarating breeze, and the firm mountain.’ The king asked, ‘How was that?’