He said, ‘They have related that a devotee, whose prayers were accepted, had located himself on the bank of a stream, and had washed his hands with the water of contentment from the contamination of worldly affairs. A kite on the wing arrived there, and a young Mouse dropped from its beak on the ground before the holy man; who had compassion on it, and taking it up, and rolling it in his patched gabardine, was about to carry it home. He then reflected that he had better not, lest it should annoy his domestics and do mischief. He prayed, therefore, that God Most High would be pleased to [turn the mouse into a damsel, and thus] bestow on him a daughter. The arrow of the recluse’s prayer struck the target of acceptance, and the tire-woman of Omnipotence adorned for him a daughter of graceful form and straight stature, of bright countenance and curling hair, such that the sun of her cheek cast the fire of jealousy into the harvest of the moon, and her musky ringlets wrung sighs from the heart of black night.

Her graceful form derides the cypress: she
Writes ’gainst the moon the mark of contumely.

The recluse looked and beheld a figure composed of pure grace, and found a maiden reared in perfect elegance. He delivered her to one of his disciples to treat with the same affection as his children. The disciple, receiving with respect the charge of his spiritual instructor, used the greatest endeavors in tending the girl. In a short time she reached the period of puberty, and the holy man addressing her said, ‘Dear life! thou hast grown up, and there is no alternative but to unite thy pure gem with another jewel on the string of marriage. I leave this to thy own choice, and whomsoever among men or fairies, yea, even of beings from the highest to the lowest rank thou mayest select, to him I will give thee.’ The maid replied, ‘I wish for a husband strong and powerful, who may possess multiform might and majesty, and, in rank, may be distinguished by his exalted dignity and high position.’ The recluse answered, ‘The sun will be the possessor of these qualities which thou mentionest.’ The girl replied, ‘Aye! I am of opinion that he succumbs to none, but has the mastery over all that exist beneath the sky. Marry me to him.’

The next day, when the East’s Khusrau arose,
And stepped forth on the archèd purple sky,
Time did the gates of light again unclose,
And earth began anew its revelry.

In the morning, when, by the command of Him who makes the morn break forth, the sun ascended from the eastern horizon, the recluse communicated to him the circumstances, and said, ‘This maiden is exceeding beautiful and amiable; I would have her be thy handmaid, for she has asked of me a husband, strong and mighty.’ The sun blushed* at hearing this tale, and replied, ‘I will point out to thee one stronger than myself, which is a cloud. For this conceals my light and excludes all living creatures from the rays of my beauty.

High though the glorious sun does ride,
A cloud-speck can his radiance hide.’

The recluse came to the cloud, and repeated his former speech. The cloud, perspiring at this address, said, ‘If thou choosest me for strength and superiority, the wind is my superior, since it carries me whithersoever it will, and takes me along with it in whatever direction it wishes.’ The recluse, acquiescing in this remark, went to the wind, and recited the story of what had passed. The wind writhed from shame, and said, ‘What strength and might do I possess? absolute power belongs to the mountain, since it has drawn the foot of endurance under the skirt of majesty, and like the pole reposes in its own centre; and my influence upon it is no more than that of a low sound in the ear of one born deaf, or of the footfall of a little ant on the surface of the solid rock.*

The cloud may scatter at the tempest’s shock,
Whose rage is vain against the mountain-rock.’

The holy man then proceeded to the mountain, and recited the scroll of the affair. The mountain uttered a deep sound, saying, ‘O recluse! the force and strength of the mouse exceed mine, for it pierces my side, and makes its nest in my heart. My breast is rent in a thousand places by its life-exhausting goad, and I know of no expedient to get rid of it.’ The maiden exclaimed, ‘He speaks the truth. The mouse is his conqueror, and deserves to be my husband.’ The recluse then offered her to a mouse, and he, owing to his homogeneousness (for in him the cord of affinity of the girl found its limit), felt an inclination for her in his heart, and replied, ‘I too for a long time have been wishing for a charmer, who should be my mate for life. It is necessary, however, that my spouse should be of the same race with myself.’ The girl said, ‘This is an easy matter. Let the holy man pray that I may become a mouse, and embrace thee with the arms of love.’ The recluse saw that there was an evident longing on both sides: he held up his hands in prayer, and prayed to the Lord Most High to make her a mouse. The petition of the saint was immediately honored with acceptance, and the remarkable truth, ‘Everything reverts to its primitive nature,’ was here manifested, for the girl became a mouse, and the recluse bestowed her on that other mouse, and went his way.

Each thing must to its pristine essence back revert at last, my friend!
Earthy are we, and we must mingle with the earth, too, in the end.

And the moral of this story is that, whatever may be the requirement of the original nature, although other accidental circumstances may divert it, will, in the end, relapse to that same character of its origin. And an eloquent sage has arranged in poetical order this same sentiment, and expresses it in this beautiful language, and with this graceful turn:

The tree that is by nature sour,
Though thou shouldst it to Eden’s garden bring,
And moisten, at the watering hour,
Its root from the eternal, heavenly spring,
With purest honey, or some sweeter thing,—
Would still not lose the memory of the past,
But aye put forth its acrid fruit at last.’

The king of the owls, as is the wont of the unlucky, listened not to these admonitions, and imputing the words of his vazír to envy, paid no regard to consequences. The crow, on the other hand, each day adduced some charming tale, and every night some incomparably pleasing narrative, and recited marvelous stories and wonderful anecdotes; until he became the chief confidant; and obtained perfect information of their most recondite secrets and hidden affairs. He then watched his opportunity and suddenly set off to join the crows. The king of the crows seeing him approach, began to address him joyfully, as follows,

‘Friends! we may now our wish, the object of our heart, enfold;
For here, the solace of our life, our soul, our spirits’ joy behold!’

Then king Pírúz asked him, saying, O Kárshinás! what hast thou effected?’ He replied, ‘By the king’s good fortune, I have effected all that was required, and have accomplished the object I had in view. Be ready to act! for it is the time for exacting vengeance and for seeing our enemies as our friends would have them.’ The king said, ‘Tell me, concisely, the nature of what thou wouldest advise, in order that we may follow up the measures of importance with a right understanding, and that the things that are required may be made ready.’ Kárshinás said, ‘In a certain mountain there is a cave, and during the day-time the owls go and collect in that cave; and in the vicinity, much dry wood is found. Let the king command the crows to transport a small quantity there and heap it at the door of the cave, and I will bring a little fire from the station of the shepherds, who have their houses in the neighborhood, and cast it upon the wood. Then let the king command the crows to fan it with their wings so that the fire may be kindled. Every owl that attempts to come forth from the cave, will be burnt, and every one that does not come out will be killed by the smoke.’ The king was pleased with this counsel, and he undertook the enterprise in the way the vazír had seen good. Thus they burned all the owls: and the crows having won a great victory, were all glad and triumphant, and loosing the tongue of congratulation, they raised to the star ’Ayyúḳ* their joyous shouts at this splendid triumph.

‘Fortune, at last, the monarch’s wish allows;
At last fulfils the promise of success.
The joys sedition held back from our vows,
Now, by one happy stroke, our nation bless.’

The king and the army, deeply obliged by the laudable efforts and acceptable and illustrious acts of Kárshinás, were lavish in the honors they awarded him, and they viewed it as requisite and incumbent on them to go to excess and profuseness in praising him. He, in his turn, invoked benedictions on the king and lauded the others suitably to their respective conditions. In the midst of this, the king gave utterance to these words, ‘The auspicious­ness of thy counsel and thy fine judgment in overturning our foes and smiting them on the head, and in gladdening and cheering our friends, have been evinced in a peculiar manner.’ ‘Kárshinás said, ‘All that has succeeded in this respect, has been from the greatness of the good-fortune of the king and his auspicious destiny. I beheld, too, the token of this victory on that very day when those ill-fated ones displayed such designs and permitted themselves to practice such cruelty upon the weak and helpless, and formed the desire of appropriating our fatherland and ancient country.

In lusting for thy country then, red grew that black-souled traitor’s eyes;
But yellow soon his face became, and earth grew dark; in death he lies.’

Again the king asked, ‘How couldst thou for so long a time endure the society of the owls? and how put up with them who in disposition are so opposite to thee? For I know that the good cannot endure the society of the wicked, and that it is the nature of the generous to flee the very sight of the sordid. And they have said that it is better to live with an evil serpent than against one’s will to gaze upon a bad companion.

Though of grief’s poison thou shouldst die, when parted from a comrade sweet;
’Twere better far than with a stranger purest honey e’en to eat.’

Kárshinás said, ‘The case is as the king has pronounced; and there is nought more galling to the spirit than so unsuitable a companion.

’Tis hell to view a mate that suits us not.

But a wise man, to please his master and relieve his care, turns not away from difficulties, and goes forth with joy to meet every labor that occurs to him, and willingly accepts it. And the man of high spirit does not at every disappointment and difficulty plunge himself into the place of grief and whirlpool of distress. For in every affair, the issues of which are combined with victory and triumph, though it may be necessary to undergo trouble in the commencement and endure degradation, the effects thereof will not be so great; since no treasure can be won without pain, and no rose gathered without the annoyance of a thorn.

Give not vent to angry wailings, for in seeking aught, be sure
They alone attain to gladness, who can sadness first endure.’

The king said, ‘Narrate somewhat of the sagacity and wisdom of the owls.’ He replied, ‘I did not see a single man of quick parts among them, save that one person who advised my execution. But they thought his judgment weak and did not give ear to his counsels with the hearing of acceptance; and did not reflect thus far, that I had fallen a perfect stranger among them, and that I had held a high station among my own tribe and was noted for my intelligence and prudence, and that I might be devising some stratagem, and might have an opportunity of playing the traitor. They neither from their own good sense understood thus much, nor did they make any account of the words of their counsellors, nor did they conceal their secrets from me; in consequence they suffered what they did suffer and arrived where they did arrive. And they have said, ‘Kings should use the utmost caution in preserving their secrets, specially from despairing friends and alarmed foes.

The friend, who has lost hope in thee,
Ne’er to thy confidence invite.
Nor to the fear-struck enemy,
Is it to tell thy secrets right.’

The king said, ‘It appears to me, that oppression was the cause of the destruction of the owls.’ Kárshinás replied, ‘Even so; every king who enters upon a course of tyrannical conduct, it quickly happens that the foundations of his fortunes are subverted. Moreover, kingly rule may continue to exist with infidelity, but not with tyranny and injustice, ‘Dominion endures notwithstanding infidelity, but it will not remain with tyranny.’

Give up thy course of tyranny and wrong
At once—for ne’er was life of tyrant long.
Know, when a king perverts his judgment, he
Does that which for himself, too, scath will be.

And they have said, that every one who does four things must expect four things. Whoever acts tyrannously must look with certainty for his own destruction; and whoever is greedy of the society of women, must be prepared for his own disgrace; and he that is gluttonous in eating must expect to be ill; and whoever relies on imbecile and unwise ministers, must bid adieu to his kingdom. Moreover it has been recorded amongst the sayings of the wise, that six persons must retrench their longings for six things, and cut off the hope of obtaining them. First, an oppressive and tyrannical king must cease to expect the permanence of empire, and continuance of good fortune. Secondly, a haughty and arrogant person must in like manner abandon the hope of men’s praise, and of being commemorated with honor. Thirdly, ill-humored persons must not hope for many friends. Fourthly, an impudent and disrespectful man is not to look for high rank. Fifthly, a niggard must not expect benefits. Sixthly, a covetous man must not hope for innocence, for covetousness plunges a man in crime; and wherever it and avarice set up the tent of permanence, honor and truthful dealing remove thence. And as the king of the owls was very covetous and greedy to slay the crows and devastate their country, he consequently chose to swerve from the path of justice and uprightness, and became lost in the waste of disappointment, and in the end fell himself into the abyss of contempt and the pit which he had dug for others.

Devise not evil against men,
Lest thou bring evil down on thine own head.
Dost thou not see what toil he then
Endures, who digs a pit that I may tread
Therein? But when ’tis ended—after all,
Not I—the digger down himself will fall.’

The king said, ‘How can any one fully acquit himself of the gratitude due for this obligation? For thou hast endured infinite labor, and waited graciously on thy enemies against thy will, and hast undertaken the service of one from whose society the heart shrank with abhorrence; and had thy foes listened to the words of their monitor, vast danger was to be anticipated to thy life.’ Kárshinás answered, ‘He may truly be called a brave man, who when his resolve is firmly taken to accomplish a thing, first washes his hands of life, and detaching his heart from the hope of surviving, sets foot in the arena of warriors.

Brave hearts, who erst won fortune’s ball and conquered in the strife,
Stepped boldly to the battle-field and washed their hands of life.

And if he sees it advisable at present to submit to wait on another inferior to himself, he adopts this course in order to attain his object. Thus the Snake seeing his own interest therein, was willing to serve the frog.’ The king inquired, ‘How was that?’