Kárshinás said, ‘They have related that two sparrows had made their nest in the roof of a house; and, contenting themselves with a single grain, so lived. Once on a time they had young ones, and both the mother and father used to go out in search of food for their support; and what they procured, they made up into grains and dropped into their crops. One day, the male Sparrow had gone out somewhere. When he came back, he beheld the female sparrow fluttering in the greatest distress around the nest, while she uttered piteous cries. He exclaimed, ‘Sweet friend! what movements are these, which I behold in thee?’ She replied,

‘A thorn, my bosom piercing, makes me rain tears from my eyes;
There’s a grief, my heart consuming, that forces from it sighs.

How shall I not lament, since, when I returned after a moment’s absence, I saw a huge snake come and prepare to devour my offspring, though I poured forth piteous cries and said,

Thou mayest have overwhelming might, yet dread thy feeble enemy;
For ever on the target lights the arrow of the morning-sigh.

It was all in vain, for the snake said, ‘Thy sigh will have no effect upon my dark-mirrored scales.’ I replied, ‘Dread this, that I and the father of these children will gird up the waist of vengeance, and will exert ourselves to the utmost for thy destruction.’ The snake laughed and said,

‘He that does o’er the lions’s self prevail,
When will such foe to such as thou art quail?’

And I, since I have been in nowise able to oppose him, raise these cries, and no one heeds them.

I raise much clamor, but redress there’s none.

And that cruel oppressor has devoured my young, and has also taken his rest in the nest.’ When the male Sparrrow heard this story, his frame was wrung with anguish; and the fire of regret for the loss of his offspring fell on his soul. At this moment, the master of the house was engaged in lighting his lamp; and, holding in his hand a match, dipped in grease and lighted, was about to put it into the lamp-holder. The Sparrow flew and snatched the match from his hand and threw it into the nest. The master of the house, through fear that the fire would catch to the roof, and that the consequences would be most pernicious, immediately ran up on the terrace, and began clearing away the nest from beneath, in order to put out the fire. The snake beheld in front the danger of the fire, and heard above the sound of the pickaxe. It put out its head from a hole which it had near the roof, and no sooner did it do so, than it received a blow on its head from the pickaxe.

And the moral of this fable is, that the snake despised its enemy, and made no account of him, until in the end that enemy pounded his head with the stone of vengeance,

Weak though thy foe may be, for prudence sake,
Esteem him strong, and due provision make.’

The king said, ‘The successful management of this affair, and the downfall of our foes, was through the blessing of thy counsel, and the happy influence of thy loyalty. And in every affair in which I have relied on thy word the result has developed itself well and favorably. Whoever commits the reins of the management of important affairs to a wise vazír, the hand of reverse never reaches the skirt of his good-fortune and the foot of calamity never circles round the region of his happiness; and thus it has happened to me from the excellence of thy judgment and wisdom.

Where’er I turn, where’er direct my will,
I have strong help, for thou art with me still.

And of all thy good qualities this is the most perfect, that though thou hast remained for a long time in the enemy’s dwelling; neither did thy tongue utter anything at which they could take offence, nor did any action spring from thee which could occasion aversion in them, or distrust.’ He replied, ‘O King!

That too from thy good auspices arose.

For I had no pattern in all that I did, save the king’s good qualities and virtuous habits, and what I borrowed, to the extent of my abilities, from the imperial virtues, that I made the exemplar of my own actions, and, Praise be to God! in the king are combined excellence of judgment and correct­ness of deliberation, with dignity, and majesty, and valor. Nor do the minutest parts of an affair remain hid from him, nor is the place for haste and delay, nor the suitable time for mildness and wrath, concealed from him. In the commencement of every undertaking, the measures that are expedient for to-day and to-morrow, and the steps requisite for the present and future conjunctures, are perceived by him; and he is cognizant of the modes of remedying the consequences thereof; and at no time, neglecting to be cautious, does he let slip the dignity of the state and the reputation of the Government. And whoever of his own choice enters upon hostility with such a king draws with a thousand cords death upon himself, and repels life from himself by a thousand removes.

Fate drags the foe with hurrying steps along,
From life’s fair threshold to the realms of death.
Each one who thee with hostile thoughts would wrong,
’Twere strange if fate should spare him half a breath.’

The king said, ‘During this long interval of thy absence, I have neither tasted sweetness in my food and drink, nor have I enjoyed my sleep or repose; and now, praise be to God!

To the zenith of perfection has arisen fortune’s sun,
And the downfall of our foeman’s baffled fortunes has begun.’

Kárshinás said, ‘Of a truth whoever suffers from the calamity of a powerful enemy and a victorious foe, distinguishes not between night and day, and light and darkness; nor discerns his foot from his head, nor his slipper from his turban, until he is liberated from him. And the wise have said, ‘Until the sick man is completely cured, he derives no pleasure from his food, nor does the porter rest until he has set down the heavy burthen from his back, nor does the lover find ease till he attains to the happiness of union with his mistress, nor is the fatigue of the traveler abated till he alights at the station, nor does the frightened man breathe in comfort until he is freed from his powerful enemy.

When from his foe one is at length set free,
He turns his rein towards tranquillity.’

The king said, ‘What view didst thou take of the qualities and character of their king in the battle and at the social board?’ Kárshinás replied, ‘His actions were based on presumption and self-conceit, and pride and indulgence. He neither possessed any share of right reflection nor did he distinguish right judgment from erroneous projects, and all his followers were like him, save one person who strongly urged my death.’ The king asked, ‘What was the proof of his understanding and wisdom?’ Kárshinás replied, ‘In that his settled opinion was that I should be slain; and in truth that opinion was combined with right reasoning. Secondly, that he withheld not his advice from his master, though he knew that he would not hear him, and in offering his advice, he preserved the bounds of respect.’ The king asked, ‘What is the etiquette to be observed in advising kings?’ Kárshinás answered, ‘Those who address monarchs should speak with courtesy and humility, and should incline from bluntness and roughness towards benignity and gentleness, and having shown the most perfect consideration for the honor of their lord, should not exhibit boldness and audacity; and if in his actions or words—any fault is observable—should employ words of true but kind admonition, and use sweet illustrations and fascinating stories, and recount in the midst of the tale the faults of others—and the vazír of the king of the owls possessed all these qualities, and omitted not one particle in this respect; and I heard with my own ears, that he said to the king, ‘Dominion is a lofty station and elevated rank. One cannot by one’s own endeavor set the foot of desire on that step, nor can one reach that degree save by the aid of fortune and the assistance of destiny; and since it is attainable only by these fortunate coincidences we ought to hold it dear, and show strenuous exertion for retaining its laws and preserving its customs by justice and equity.

O thou! to whom an empire’s sway is given,
Wouldst thou be blest, eschew then tyranny.
Not by a hundred swords are realms so riven,
As by, if just, one injured victim’s sigh.

And now it is more in accordance with a right course to avoid carelessness in action, and not to look superciliously on measures of importance, since the per­manence of a state and the continuance of good-fortune are attainable only by four things. By perfect caution, which beholds the face of to-morrow in the mirror of to-day; and by a universal fortitude, against whose resolve weakness and infirmity make no way; and a right-aiming judgment, which swerves not from the path of moderation towards error; and by a keen sword, which, like the world-consuming lightning, casts fire into the stacked corn of the life of its opponent.

Ne’er in the garden of the state will justice flourish green,
Save it be watered from the fount of the sabre flashing keen.’

He said all this and no one heeded his words, and his advice was not honored with acceptance.

Till things from right and left all topsy-turvy turned.

Neither did they derive any benefit from his wisdom and sagacity, nor did he himself escape from that calamity by his own intelligence and ability. And here the truth of the subtle saying, ‘There is no counsel to him who is not obeyed,’ was thoroughly demonstrated.

How can his counsel advantageous seem,
From whose persuasions all men turn away?
A sage has said, ‘The most judicious scheme
Is faulty, if its author none obey.’

This is the story of being cautious of the deceitful snares and treacherous frauds of an enemy. For although he may be extremely humble, and abase himself much; nevertheless, it is far removed from the path of wisdom to be deluded thereby. For a single lone crow, in spite of his weakness and feebleness, in that manner chastised powerful and numerous enemies; and this happened in consequence of their weakness of mind and poverty of understanding. Otherwise, had those owls possessed a particle of prudence, that crow would never have attained his object, nor have seen, even in sleep, the face of that triumph. And it behoves a wise man to survey this history with the eye of self-admonition; and to hear this ensample with the ear of understanding; and to know of a truth that it is not right to place confidence in an enemy, nor to despise a foe, however contemptible he may seem; and however much he may hear his enemy boast of attachment, or perceive him adduce causes for the confirmation of friendship, not to be elated thereby.

Whate’er his boasted friendship, still the foe
Will ne’er by wise men be believed a friend.
The venom of the snake is changeless, though
By casting off his skin he seem to mend.

And there is a second moral in this story which bids us to secure sincere friends and loyal and attached companions, since that may be regarded as the most profitable of treasures and the most advantageous of transactions. For the friendship of Kárshinás and his aid and assistance issued in such results to the crows, that they arrived from the dangerous place of terror and dismay at the station of security and peace. And if any one show himself to be equitable and amiable, know that he may at the same time have zealous friends, and may also pluck away the skirt of avoidance from perfidious foes. And thus he will arrive at all he could desire and at the summit of his wishes, ‘And God is the Lord of successful assistance.’

With cordial friends in glad delights repose;
And pluck the skirt of converse from thy foes.’