Kárdán said, ‘I have heard that in the country of Kashmír there was a great king, who possessed such a treasure that it was too heavy even for mighty mountains to support, and such an army that the thought of reckoning its numbers never entered the idea of the intellect which observes the slightest minutiæ. He had set up the banners of empire and success on the dome of the azure sky, and had inscribed the verses of his justice and benevolence to his subjects on the page of the revolutions of night and day.

The world obeyed his all-pervading law,
And kings his threshold, stooping, kissed with awe.
To justice he, and faith, their basis gave,
And teeming realms through him new nations have.

And this king had a Monkey upon whom he used to place reliance in perilous circumstances, and there was no point of royal bounty which he failed to observe in rearing him. From the excessive attachment with which the Monkey was indued, he was distinguished by the king’s special favor. Every night he held in his hand a dagger, brilliant as a drop of water, and kept guard at the pillow of the king, nor did he let slip from his hand the clew of that service, until the tumult of the rise of the true morn roused from the bed of sloth the careless slumberers on the couch of pride.* It so happened that a clever thief from a distant city came into that country, and one night determined that he would shew his skill and get some booty. Putting on the dress that sharpers wear, he traversed the streets accordingly. With the same intentions, another thief, who knew but little and was inexperienced, had come forth. Owing to their homogeneousness they joined each other, and he that was the foreigner asked, by way of taking advice, ‘To which quarter should I go? and whose house should I undermine?’* The unwise thief replied, ‘In the stable of the Ra’is* of the city there is a fat and fleet ass, and he values him exceedingly, so that to keep him safe he has put a strong chain on his fore and hind legs, and has set two slaves over him. Our advisable course is to go first and steal that ass, and at the corner of the market-place of the city there is the shop of a glass-blower, into which we will break, and bringing out new and valuable glasses will lade them on that ass, and come back with our wishes accomplished.’ The clever thief stood amazed at his words, and was about to cross question him well about the matter, when all of a sudden, the night-patrol made his appearance. The clever thief dexterously concealed himself behind a wall, and the fool was taken. The watch asked him. ‘Where wast thou going?’ He replied, I am a thief, and my intention was to steal the ass of the Ra’is, and break into the shop of a glass-blower, take his glasses, and carry them off home.’ The patrol laughed and said, ‘Bravo! this is the sort of thief we want, who for an ass that is so watched puts his life in the balista of calamity, and who thrusts himself into danger for glasses, ten of which they sell for a dáng.*

Thou didst not buy thy life for money, hence thou dost not know its worth.

If thou wert to undertake such perils for the treasures of the king, then indeed reason would hold thee excused.

Let him, who bears the burden, carry off the guerdon* too.’

With these words he tied his hands and dragged him away to prison. The clever thief thus received a warning frem the intellect of the foolish one, and deriving some experience too from what the patrol said, soliloquized as follows, ‘This thief was an ignorant friend to me, and the patrol was a wise enemy, and that friend by his folly was plunging me into the vortex of destruction, and but for this wise enemy, the affair would have passed beyond my control, and ended in my being put to death. Now, just as the patrol said, it behoves me to make for the treasury of the king. Perhaps my main object and my fullest wishes may then be gained’ He then went very softly under the palace of the king, and began to make a mine, and the livelong night, in his covetous desire for gold went on cutting through the stone with his steel instrument.

So on the stones his massive crowbar rang,
That fire and water* both at once outsprang.

As yet the sharper that travels by night, the sun, had not completed boring a passage beneath the wall of the horizon, when the thief’s mine was finished and he emerged at the spot where was the bedchamber of the king. There he beheld the monarch sleeping on a golden throne, and a variety of costly furniture around the royal pillow, and divers sorts of gems scattered over the borders of the imperial carpets. Wax candles, white as camphor* were lighted up like the countenances of wealthy men of rank, and were consuming the poor moth, as the hearts of fasting darveshes is consumed by the flame of despair.

Betwixt me and the moth this difference see, the flame burns both, ’tis true;
But, while its wings alone are scorched, I lose my heart and spirit too.

The thief looked about him and beheld the monkey with a poniard in his hand, standing at the king’s pillow and casting vigilant glances to the left and right. The thief was astounded at this sight and said, ‘How has a contemptible creature such as this, to whom it would be too much honor to climb up a lamp-post, set his foot on the carpet of the prince? and whence has a sharp sword, with which is bound up the stability of the realm and nation, fallen into the hands of one so unstable?’ The thief, immersed in the ocean of these meditations, and overwhelmed in the vortex of these cogitations, was looking on, when, on a sudden, some ants fell from the ceiling of the apartment upon the breast of the king, which was the mirror that adorned the world, and began to crawl about, and the irritation of this, affected the heart of the king. The monarch, his slumber unbroken, yet sensible of the tickling of the ants, smote his hand upon his bosom, and the Monkey ran to that side and perceived the ants that were crawling on the king’s chest. The fire of wrath was kindled in his breast, and he exclaimed, ‘Whence comes it that in spite of a guardian such as I am, the star of whose eye, like the rolling planets, has never, any night, beheld the face of sleep, these dusky ants have the audacity to set foot on the breast of my lord?’ Then stimulated by his ignorant zeal, and enraged at the ants,* he drew his dagger, that he might make a blow at the king’s breast and slay the insects. The thief gave a shout, calling out, ‘Rash churl! hold thy hand or thou wilt overturn a world from its foundation.’ With these words he leaped forward and tightly grasped the monkey’s hand which held the dagger. The king was roused from his slumbers by the shout of the thief, and beholding this posture of affairs, asked the thief who he was? The latter replied, ‘I am thy wise enemy, who had come hither in quest of thy wealth and the attainment of my own ends. And had I paused for a moment in defending thee, this kind ally and attached friend would have saturated thy chamber with gore.’ When the king had learnt the state of the case, he prostrated himself in gratitude for his escape, and said, ‘Aye, truly! when infinite grace befriends us, the thief becomes the guardian and the foe a friend!’ He then rewarded the thief and admitted him among his favorites, and having chained the monkey, sent him to the stable. Thus a thief, who in hope of a treasure, girt up his waist for a night enterprise, and made a breach in the wall of the treasury, inasmuch as he was robed in the vest of wisdom, had the crown of fortune placed upon his head; while a monkey who thought himself the friend and confidant of the secrets of the king, in that the thorn of ignorance adhered to his skirt, was stripped of the apparel of honor.

Wise foes though deadly evils they may be,
Excel friends who are ignorant.
What the fool does is all calamity,
And all his usefulness is scant.

And the moral of this story is, that it behoves a wise man to pave the way to friendship with the wise and to flee for leagues from the society of ignorant friends.

Flee not a prison with friends to thy mind,
But those unsuited e’en in gardens shun;
Thou wilt a prudent foeman better find,
Than with a fatuous comrade to be one.’

When the Tortoise had heard this story, which comprised much useful instruction, he said, ‘O ocean of wisdom! thou hast adorned with the princely gem of knowledge the ear of my heart. Now be pleased to recount how many kinds of friends there are.’ Kárdán said, ‘The wise have pronounced that of people who pretend to be friends, there are three sorts. The one kind are like food, since their presence is indispensable, and without the survey of the brilliance of their beauty the taper of social intercourse gives no light.

A friend’s face is the lamp that gilds the mansion of the heart,
’Tis this alone that does to it its usefulness impart.

And another class resemble medicine, being such as are occasionally required; while a third sort are like pain, as being of no use at any time. And these last are the hypocrites and impostors, who have a face and a tongue for thee, and who yet do not quit the path of agreement with thy enemies.

Before thee, they are kindlier than light,
And yet behind, than shadows falser far:
Warm—but in inward feeling frigid quite;
Quick—but at heart they dead and lifeless are.*

Wherefore it behoves a wise man to shun this kind of enemies with friendly faces, and to flee for refuge to sincere friends and cordial companions.

Break from thy foe and lay hands on a friend.’

The Tortoise said, ‘What procedure is one to adopt in order to fulfil all the requirements of friendship?’ The Monkey answered, ‘Those who are adorned with six qualities, there are no short-comings in their friendship. The first is he, who, when he discovers a fault, does not try to divulge it. The second is, he who, if he becomes acquainted with a virtue, magnifies it tenfold. The third is he who, if he does thee a favor, does not always bear it in mind. The fourth is he who, if he receives a benefit from thee, does not forget it. The fifth is he who, if he sees thee commit a fault, does not twit thee with it. The sixth is he who, if thou excusest thyself, accepts the excuse. And whosoever is not indued with these qualities, is totally unfit for friendship; and if thou choosest to become his friend, repentance will come at last. And most people are devoid of these qualities, and consequently a true friend is like the philosopher’s stone; and attachment without a flaw, resembles the ’Anḳa, whose flight is towards the nest of non-existence.

He that can not the lines of friendship trace,
With him in unison thou canst not tread:
The glass alone displays a friendly face,*
Of what avail, since with a breath ’tis fled?’

When the conversation had proceeded thus far, the Tortoise said, ‘I opine that I shall plant my foot firmly in friendship, and not omit a single particle of the rites of companionship. If, then, thou wilt honor me with the exaltation of thy friendship, and place on the neck of my heart the chain of obligation, which will abide till the resurrection, it will not be alien to thy beneficent character.’ The Monkey, with courteous demeanour, descended from the tree, and the Tortoise likewise stepped out of the water under the tree, and they embraced one another, and pledged themselves to brotherhood. Thus both the horror of his solitary life was removed from the heart of the Monkey, and the Tortoise, too, was succored by his amity. Every day the plant of unity sprouted more abundantly between them, and the garden of companionship and attachment gained an increase of adornment and freshness. So that the Monkey forgot his kingdom and sovereignty, and the Tortoise, too, failed to remember his family and home.

Our friend is with us, wherefore, then, should we yet seek more joy than this?
The treasure of his converse is to our fond hearts sufficient bliss.

A long time passed thus, and the period of the absence of the Tortoise was protracted. His partner became anxious, and intense anxiety and boundless solicitude found way to her, and life-consuming separation burnt up her heart with the fire of regret.

Absence is such a wound, that with it were a mountain’s bosom scarred,
It would smite stones upon its breast, and raise an outcry heavenward.

At length she introduced the subject of her regret for the absence of her spouse, and the tale of her love, to one of her own race.

‘My friend is gone, but yet my heart the longing for his face retains:
Like the sad cypress hence my foot down-sunken in the clay is left.
I with his beauty wished to soothe the growing torture of my pains,
He hid his face, and as before the story of my grief is left.

I know not in what quarter my poor spouse has been stayed in the mire, or in what slough the foot of his heart has sunk down. Would that by the rising of the moon of his return the gloom of the evening of separation were dispersed! and that by the manifestation of the display of his beauty, the love-thoughts, which tend to madness, were banished!

How blest were I, did that fair rose return once more to the parterre!
This soul, which has the body left, if it again were harbored there!’

When her companion beheld all this distress of mind, she said, ‘O sister! if thou wilt not take it ill, or suspect me of evil motives, I will acquaint thee with his condition.’ The wife of the Tortoise replied, ‘Kind friend, and confidante of my hidden secrets! how can I possibly suspect thy words, or think they proceed ftom interested motives? and how could I meet thy advice with evil surmisings and opposition? and it is long since I have tested the coin of thy friendship on the touchstone of trial, and found it unalloyed.

I know thy words are true, without a doubt.’

The friend rejoined, ‘I have heard that thy husband has happened to form a friendship and good understanding with a monkey, and dedicating his heart and soul to his amity, regards his society as surpassing all other blessings, and intercourse with him as superior to all other delights; and allays with the water of his proximity the fire of regret for separation from thee, and solaces his time with the beauty of this friend in exchange for thy image.’ When the female tortoise heard these words, the fire of jealousy spread through her brain, and she exclaimed,

‘Blood is the ocean of my heart, for he by others is caressed;
And while my lap is filled with tears, he in another’s lap is blessed.

O cruel fortune! thou hast given to the wind of dispersion the harvest of my peace of mind, and hast destroyed, with the scorching blast of sorrow, the field of my hopes. Thou hast made the friend, who was the companion of my sad heart, the associate of others, and hast thrown into their embrace the beloved one, with joy at whose sight I used to depict on the carpet of pleasure the painting of my wish. And thou wouldest imagine that the faithless one had never read from the page of association the writing of love, and wouldest say that that apparent stranger had never in his whole life inhaled from the garden of friendship the scent of attachment.

That froward one, who nothing prized the value of a wretch like me,
Is now estranged, nor sees in what his better, happier course would be.’

Her friend rejoined, ‘Now what was to be, has been; it is useless to indulge in vain regrets. A plan must be devised which shall comprise the restoration of thy tranquillity.’ They then busied themselves with perusing the book of artifices, an account of the measures of which is rendered by the verse ‘surely your cunning is great,’* and find no plan better than the destruction of the Monkey. They therefore schemed how to contrive this; and the spouse of the tortoise, at the suggestion of her intimate friend, feigned herself sick, and sent one to the Tortoise with this message,

‘For me, sick, yet to ask has he the will?
Bid him come quickly, for I’m breathing still.’

The Tortoise, having received the intelligence of the indisposition and sickness of his spouse, asked permission of the Monkey to go home, and renew the duty of visiting his wife and children. The Monkey said, ‘O friend, partner of my cares! thou must with all possible speed favor me again with thy society, and not leave poor me in this retired solitude alone and friendless; and, indeed, the grief of being parted from thee will not leave me alone, nor will the pain of separation suffer me to be without a companion.

No friend for many a lonely night have I, but only grief for thee:
Alas! for him to whom no friend but sorrow yields kind sympathy.’

The Tortoise replied, ‘Kind friend and solace of my soul! a necessary journey has befallen me, and an event has occurred which leaves me without option; otherwise, I should never of my free and willing choice remove myself from thy society, nor would I be absent for a single moment from attending on thee by my own desire.

Yes! were it not that I from thee must go, I’d leave thee never,
No thing that lives could wish its frame should from its spirit sever.’

Then, willing or not, he bade farewell to the Monkey, and turned his face homeward; and, when the familiar fatherland was honored and adorned with the step of the Tortoise, friends and kinsfolk came round and raised their shouts of welcome to the star ’Ayyúḳ*; and the Tortoise, with a party of his intimate friends, entered his abode. He beheld his wife stretched on the bed of death; and on the garden of her cheek, instead of a nosegay of the red Arghawán-flowers, the yellow rose expanding.

From grief, a reed; from weeping, like a hair.*

Although he laid before her the offering of salutation, he was not honored with the boon of reciprocation; and however much he paved the way with courtesy and tenderness, he discovered no sign of his being heeded; nor did his blandishment and soft address reach the place of acceptance; nor his kindness and caresses yield any result.

Take from her street thy stock of grief, thy wailings, O my heart!
These unsought goods will ne’er find there a sale-time or a mart.

He then inquired of her adopted sister who had appointed herself to the attendance on her sick bed, ‘Why does the sufferer not open her lips to speak, nor disclose to me, distracted as I am, what she has on her mind?’ The bosom-friend heaved a cold sigh and said,

‘Doctor! pain thyself no longer, for thy time is vainly spent,
Love is not like other ailings, nor admits medicament.

How can an illness which is irremediable, and sufferings for which a cure is hopeless, obtain leave from the heart to breathe a word? And by what energies could it be furnished with the means of conversation?’ The Tortoise began to weep, and was excessively distressed, saying, ‘What medicine is this which cannot be found in this country, and which we cannot succeed in obtaining by contrivance and artifice? Speak with all despatch! that I may traverse sea and land in search of it, and seek for it from far and near, and from friend and stranger. If, like a fish, I must descend to the bottom of the deep, I will proceed taking steps with my head; and if, like the moon, I must hasten to the summit of the sky, I will mount by the noose of contrivance to the battlements of heaven. I will freely give my life and heart in quest of this remedy, and devote this essence of water and clay, (which is a metaphor for the continuance of existence), in order to gain this cure.

What thing is life, that it should not be offered for thy sake?
My heart for thee I could devote—a free-will offering make.’

The waitress at the sick bed replied, ‘This is a kind of pain which is peculiar to women, and which takes place in the womb, and admits of no cure save the heart of a monkey.’ The Tortoise answered, ‘Whence can this be pro­cured, and how can it be obtained?’ The bosom-friend who originated this guileful device, and was the real agent in proposing the remedy for the disease, replied, ‘We, too, knew that the procuring of this sanative would be difficult, and the toil of securing this remedy which resembles the elixir-vitæ, would be great, nay, immense. We therefore sent for thee, in order, in fact, that thou mightest take the last sight of thy faithful friend and say thy last farewell, since to this unfortunate there is no other hope of her pain being alleviated, nor is the blessing of health in any other manner recoverable.

Save blood I see no sharbat that befits my fell disease,
Through life’s vista only sorrow seems assigned to give me ease.’

The Tortoise was grieved and agonised beyond measure; and however much he revolved the means of securing a remedy, he saw no escape save in killing the monkey, and felt himself compelled to regard his friend with greed. Clear-counselling reason loosed the tongue of admonition, and said, ‘O ungenerous one! with perfidious hand to destroy the former basis of friendship and unanimity which had been firmly laid down between thee and the Monkey, is far removed from generosity and honor.

Shame, if by woman’s blandishment
Thy vest should be with falsehood rent.’*

And dark passions began to reproach and tempt him, saying, ‘To abandon the cause of a wife, on whom is dependent the prosperity of the house and the prop of maintenance, and the means of living and the safeguard of treasure and property; and thereby to observe the regard due to a friend who has no homogeneousness with thee, nor affinity to thee, appears to be removed from a due regard to the transactions of life.

I swear it by the rights of friendship!—dust e’en of an ancient friend
All the blood of new companions does a thousand times transcend.’

At last, his affection for his wife prevailing, he resolved to shatter with the stone of treachery the candle of good faith, and to make the scale of loyal attachment kick the balance through fraud and deceit. He, unhappy being that he was, knew not that the mark of insincerity is the brand of misery, the impression of which is not found save on the face of the condition of the ill-starred, and the quality of promise-breaking is a character of infamy which is not inscribed except on the tablet of the forehead of the vile. And who­ever has, by perfidy and hypocrisy, reached the degree of notoriety, no man of piety desires his converse; and he that is noted for faithlessness and inconstancy is admitted by no one to the rank of acceptance; nay, people consider it necessary to shun meeting him, or holding conversation with him, and regard it as expedient to disown his actions and all knowledge of his affairs.*

The old man, rest his soul! who drained with me the wine-cup bright,
Oft bade me shun their converse, who of promises make light.

After the Tortoise had formed this design against the Monkey, he saw that until he could get him to his own house, it would be impossible to secure his object. For this purpose he returned to the Monkey, whose longing to see him was quite overpowering, and whose desire to behold him exceeded the bounds of restraint. As soon as his eyes fell on the beauty of his friend, from the excess of his delight, he commenced, in joy-exciting strains, this song,

‘A thousand thanks be paid to God, that one so loved as thou,
At length, and after dark suspense, to me hast showed thy brow.’

Then after warm inquiries concerning the welfare of the Tortoise, he requested that the condition of his children and relations might be made known to him. The Tortoise replied, ‘Pain at separation from thee had entirely overpowered my heart, so that I could not derive pleasure from the warmth* of my meeting with them, and gladness and mirth displayed not themselves at the companionship of my wife and family. Every moment that I bethought myself of thy solitude, and the separation which has befallen thee from thy followers and retainers, and that I reflected on thy friendlessness, and the isolation from thy kingdom and prosperous fortune, in which thou hast been involved; my pleasure became embittered, and the clearness of the draught of happiness was discolored, and I said to myself, ‘O ungenerous one! is it allowable for thee to sit here in the expanse of the garden of ease on the cushion of enjoyment, while thy faithful friend, in the thorny brake of exile, makes his dark couch upon the earth?

Befits it that thyself shouldst here, rose-like, be gaily blooming?
While fortune thy thorn-wounded friend to lameness there is dooming.

Therefore I have come with the strong hope that thou wilt think it right to honor me, and that thou wilt adorn and gratify my house and children with the sight of thee, in order that my kinsfolk may recognize the rank I hold in thy friendship, and that my friends and connections may be proud and elated thereby. Thus both my heart may be soothed by union with thee, and, at the same time, my position may derive lustre from thy beauty, so that, by the good fortune of thy footsteps, my dignity may be elevated, while thou wilt experience no abatement of estimation in accepting my invitation.

What lustre wilt thou lose, O moon! if thou shouldst pass before me,
Or through my lattice thou shouldst cast a beam of radiance o’er me?

Moreover I desire to seat in thy presence a party at the banqueting-table, and thus, perhaps, I may in some degree discharge what is due to thy virtues.’ The Monkey said, ‘Forbear these ceremonies, for when the chain of friend­ship is firmly riveted, and the knot of affection and companionship is rightly adjusted, there is no necessity for undergoing the trouble of entertainment and the ceremonial usages of general hospitality, as persons of formality and etiquette observe them. For they have said, ‘He is the worst of brothers for whom ceremony is required.’ Yes! truly he is the worst of friends and of brethren for whom ceremony is necessary, and for whom the load of troublous etiquette must be endured.

One might live happy did forms not exist.

And with regard to the reciprocal friendship and amity which exist on my part towards thee, if thou observest an excess with reference to thee, for that too, be not sorrowful, since the pride I feel in thy virtues is greater, and my need of thy support and sympathy more urgent, inasmuch as I am cast far from my country and home, and kindred and dominions, and servants and retinue; and am calamitously involved in the disgrace of exile and the abasement of a solitary life and loneliness. Had not God Most High, by the blessing of thy society, conferred a fresh favor on me and bestowed on me the boon of thy friendship in a distressful and forlorn state such as mine then was, who would have extricated me from the injurious claws of fortune? or who would have plucked me from the hand of the affliction of separation from my friends?

In this solitary mansion, in this trouble-peopled state,
’Tis thy sight that makes us glad, and our spirit thus elate.

Wherefore by the force of these circumstances, thy claim upon me is greater and thy kindness towards me more abundant, and this being the case there is no occasion for this trouble and irksome ceremony; and in friendship the purity of faith is the thing to be relied on, not the preparation of the materials for entertainment; and the offering of mental gratification is what is looked for, not the arrangement of substantial fare.

A friend devoid of outward shew is wanted: have we such,
What if in forms he wanting be! that does not matter much.’

The Tortoise said, ‘O companion of real sympathy! and O friend and partaker of my secrets! my object in inviting thee is not that same regard for the requisites of entertainment and the preparation of eatables and drinkables, but rather that separation should decamp from between us, and that the ennobling privilege of unbroken intercourse should be secured.

Distance and nearness have no place in love.

Should the distance of east and west* intervene between two lovers, even then, inasmuch as their solace is in the remembrance of each other and the mutual happiness of their hearts in picturing each other’s beauty, their actual distance will not prove a veil in the road of their spiritual meeting, and they will incessantly gaze on the incomparable beauty of each other, with the vision of their mind and the mind of their vision.

Am I united with my friend in heart,
What matters if our place be wide apart!

And a grave authority has said with regard to this,

‘What though our hands hold not the coin of union!
Yet in our souls abides each other’s thought;
We may not taste in outward sense communion,
Our spirits, blending, set that care at nought.’

The Tortoise again applied the arrow of entreaty to the bow of supplication, and began to launch it at the target of his desire, and, at length, aided by the strength of his good fortune, reached the goal of his wishes. The Monkey [at last] said, ‘It is a canon in the code of honor to seek to gratify a friend, and I will not remain at this distance from mine, but regard as a blessing this pilgrimage to thy brethren and connections. However, it is a matter of difficulty for me to pass over water, and to cross this sea which intervenes between the wilderness, where I am, and thy island is for me an impossibility.’ The Tortoise replied, ‘Set thy mind at ease, for I will take thee on my back and convey thee to that island, in which are found both security and happiness, and plenty and peace.’ In short, inasmuch as the Tortoise employed these gentle words, the Monkey desisted from, his opposition, and, tamed by the lash of flattering and courteous expressions, surrendered to him the reins of control. So the Tortoise taking the Monkey on his back, set out homewards. When he arrived in the midst of the sea, the vessel of his mind sank down in the vortex of meditation, and he reflected, ‘What thing is this that I have taken in hand? and what result can it have but dishonor?

Who turns obliquely from the bowers of faith,
The thorn of anguish will his bosom scath.

For the sake of weak-minded women to adopt perfidious measures towards friends completely wise, is not the wont of those of a liberal spirit; and to let the clue of God’s favor slip from the hands to please the devil, is a source of damage and loss.

Forbear! forbear! for good men act not thus.’

In this manner he halted in the midst of the water, and disputed with himself, and the signs of irresolution were apparent in his movements. This gave rise to suspicion in the mind of the Monkey, and he asked, ‘What is the cause of thy pondering? Perchance thou beginnest to find the carrying of me difficult, and hence, being overloaded, thou proceedest so deliberately?’ The Tortoise answered, ‘Whence sayest thou this, and from what dost thou draw this inference?’ The Monkey replied, ‘The marks of thy contest with thyself, and thy embarrassed purpose are evident. Perhaps if thou wouldest acquaint me and bestow on me the honor of an explanation, thou mayest by the aid of my advice, which is worthy of confidence, emerge from the whirlpool of perplexity to the shore of safety.’ The Tortoise answered, ‘Thou sayest truly—I was plunged in meditation, and all my doubt is, that as this is the first time that thou bestowest on my abode the good fortune of thy visit, and my wife is sick, as a natural consequence our domestic arrangements will not be free from confusion, and the due rites of hospitality and obligations of civility, will not be discharged, and this will be a cause of shame and discredit.

And though my fault be pardoned, I should blush.’

The Monkey said, ‘Since the sincerity of thy purpose is certain, and thy eagerness in seeking to gratify me, well ascertained, if thou shouldest postpone this ceremony and omit the compliments and observances which among strangers it is the duty of hosts to pay, it would certainly seem more agreeable to the course of friendship and amity.

Through forms a stranger men to friendship lead;
Where amity exists, of forms what need?’

The Tortoise proceeded a little further, and stopped and began afresh to ponder the same thing, and said, ‘Women urge me to break my promise and my faith, and I know that sincerity is not to be found in them, and that to expect truth and humanity from them is far removed from the procedure of wise men.

Forbid it, one in woman’s nature should for gentle feelings look!
Ne’er amid the brackish desert, roses home ungenial took.

Wherefore, to be deceived by their guile, and to hurry towards unfaith­fulness and ungenerous conduct, how can this be done by the followers of rectitude and uprightness? or how can this be practised by men of piety and honesty?’ The Tortoise, busied with these reflections, stopped where he was. This increased the suspicions of the Monkey, and becoming uneasy, he said to himself, ‘When doubt of his friend arises in the heart of any one, he must have recourse to the asylum of counsel; and, gathering up his skirt, must secure himself by courtesy and gentle demeanour. And should that suspicion turn out to be true, he will have preserved himself from the other’s malice and perfidy; while, should it prove false, he will not expose himself to censure, inasmuch as he will have been strict in observing caution and forbearance.

Is he thy friend? thou restest then in peace;
If he plays false—thou wilt thyself release.’

He then called out to the Tortoise, and said, ‘What is the reason that every moment thou givest reins to the courser of thy imagination in the plain of reflection, and makest the diver of thy thought plunge into the ocean of bewilderment?’ The Tortoise replied, ‘O brother! pardon me that the indisposition and illness of my wife, and the distressful condition of my children, owing to their mother’s sickness, keep me absorbed in thought.’ The Monkey rejoined, ‘I knew that thy affliction was on account of the illness of thy wife. In truth, they have said that, ‘To be ill is less grievous than to see illness.’

Count not him well who suffers for his friend.

Now tell me what her disease is, and what is the method of cure? For every ailment there is an appointed remedy, and for every kind of suffering there is a means of cure manifest and distinct. It is necessary that reference be made to physicians of auspicious minds, of fortunate breath and happy footstep, and in whatever way they may direct, exertion must be made for the prescribed remedy.’ The Tortoise replied, ‘For the cure the physicians have pointed out a medicine which is not to be obtained.’ The Monkey inquired, ‘What medicine is that which is not to be found in the shops of druggists, or in the repertories of medicine-vendors? If thou wilt tell me, perhaps I may have knowledge of it, and may furnish a clue to it.’ The Tortoise candidly answered, ‘That rare medicine which has plunged me in the vortex of bewilderment is the heart of a monkey.’ The instant that this word reached the ears of the Monkey, his breast, though in the midst of water, was on flames; and the smoke of despondency ascending to his head, his eyes began to grow dark. By a strong effort of his mind, however, he supported himself, and said, ‘O soul! seest thou not that through a shameful greediness and avidity, thou hast fallen into this dread vortex? and, owing to carelessness and incaution, thou art overtaken in this mighty danger? And I am not the first that has been deceived by the hypocrisy of foes, and has given heed to the speeches of the perfidious, and has been pierced to the heart by an arrow aimed deceitfully by those who pursue their own selfish ends.*

This furious flame full many a one has burnt.

Now I know of no help save stratagem and artifice, nor can I find any aid except in prudence and wise counsel. If, which may God avert! I am cast on the island of the tortoises, there will be a knot in the concatenation of my affairs, which the hand of thought will be weak too to undo. For if I do not resign to them my heart, I shall remain a prisoner, and perish of hunger; and if I wish to fly, I must throw myself into the water; and that plan, too, is rife with destruction. But I deserve a thousand-fold this punishment and requital, in that I left my own happy and secure wilderness without thought of the consequences, and yielding the reins of control to the hands of the tortoise, set my heart on seeing his island.

Mad that I was thy ringlets to resign!
What guilt deserves so stern a chain as mine!’

He then said to the Tortoise, ‘I comprehend the means of curing that virtuous matron, and the remedy for her is in my hands an easy one. Give thyself no anxiety, for our women suffer much from these disorders; and we give them our hearts and suffer nothing from it, but find it quite easy to extract our hearts from within our breasts, and to replace them again. Moreover, we are able to live without them; and I am not in a position to grudge this trifle to thee; for the wise have said, ‘It is not good to be niggardly of four things to four persons. First, one ought not to withhold from kings that which they require for the public weal. Secondly, one ought not to deprive meritorious darveshes of that which they ask in God’s name, for the performance of alms and the providing good deeds. Thirdly, needy scholars, who would desire to obtain the wherewithal for acquiring science, and who advance with the step of sincerity in pursuit thereof, them we ought to assist on their way. Fourthly, we ought not to grudge, or require to be importuned for, that which may be the means of tranquillizing the minds of cordial friends, provided it lies within our reach.’

Is then the heart so dear a thing that we should pause to offer it,
Or shrink to ponr life’s golden shower where those we hold far dearer sit?

And hadst thou informed me in my own abode, I would have brought my heart with me, and it would have been a goodly thing indeed if, on my arrival, thy spouse had obtained complete restoration to health. And I have become so weary of my own heart, that it never recurs to my thoughts except with the wish to part from it; and, inasmuch as grief and melancholy have usurped every quarter and part of it, and a throng of troubles have over-run its limits, there is nothing more hard for me to bear than the society of my heart; and I long to sever the cord of connection with it, that I may escape from the thought of my separation from my wife and family, and the grief of the abandonment of my country and wealth; and that my soul may be set free from these excruciating afflictions and consuming horrors.

This drop of blood they call the heart [this region of regrets and care],
O God! how long shall moon-faced ones injurious play the tyrant there?’

The Tortoise said, ‘Where is thy heart that thou didst not bring it with thee?’ The Monkey responded, ‘I left it in my house, since it is the custom of my kind, that when they go to visit a friend, and wish the day to pass pleasantly, and the skirt of their enjoyment and mirth to be unreached by the hand of grief, not to take their hearts with them; for that is a gathering-place of pain and affliction, and a source of grief and annoyance. Every moment it stirs up thoughts which trouble the pure fount of enjoyment, and sour the season of mirth and happiness. Thus, too, from its vicissitudes, they have named the heart by a name which signifies change.* Every instant its inclinations are directed to somewhat new, either of good or ill, gainful or injurious.

Each moment, some new fancy it alluring,
It speeds away, in one place ne’er enduring.

And, inasmuch as I was coming to thy house, so much did I wish that I should be thoroughly and perfectly free from solicitude in seeing thee and beholding thy friends and connections that I therefore left my heart there. And very unlucky is it, that I should hear of this means of curing thy chaste spouse, and not have brought my heart with thee. And as thou knowest how I stand in respect of friendship to thee, it is possible that thou mightest excuse me, but the whole body of thy kinsmen and friends will suspect that notwithstanding such previous amicable ties and friendly antecedents which have existed between me and thee, I have grudgingly withheld this trifle, and slight thee in a manner in which no injury would recoil on myself, while benefit would accrue to those connected with me. If thou wouldest return, that we may come again ready and prepared, it would be better.’ The Tortoise forthwith turned back, and in the fullest confidence of obtaining his object, and succeeding swimmingly in his hopes, conveyed the Monkey to the shore. The latter at full speed ascended a tree, and having offered the thanks and acknowledgments [due for his escape], seated himself at the end of a bough. The Tortoise waited some time, and then called out, ‘O friend beloved! the opportunity for going is fleeting away,

Take pity! for our need has reached its bound;
Come forth! our patience has its limit found.’

The Monkey laughed, and said,

‘Bethink thee ever, all thou didst pretend
Of faithful love, proved falsehood in the end.

I have passed my life in kingly sway, and I have experienced many heats and chills of fortune. Fortune snatched back from me her own bestowings, and heaven required of me that which it had conferred; and I became numbered with the wretched, and fell into the circle of the ill-starred. Yet I am not of such a nature as to have remained altogether destitute of the fruits of experience; so as not to know what happens, and not to discern a quarter in which reliance can be placed, from one where only hypocrisy is to be found. Cease these words, and forbear henceforth to take thy seat among the generous. Leave off thy boastings of fidelity, nor speak of sincerity and honor.

O speak not thou of faithfulness where feast the frank and free;
For not an atom of good faith its fragrance sheds on thee.

And if any one makes an initiatory display of virtues, whatever they may be,* and talks of his manliness and honor, one may discover his real metal in the time of trial, and test his coin on the touchstone of experience.

How good, if trial such a touchstone were,
That liars would a blackened visage bear!’

The Tortoise exclaimed loudly in great grief and said, ‘What suspicion is this that thou entertainest of me? and what quality is this that thou imputest to me? Heaven forbid that anything contrary to thy good pleasure should ever have passed through my mind! or that any ill-design or perfidious scheme with reference to thee should have crossed my thoughts. And though thou shouldest cast a hundred thousand stones of despite in my face, I will not remove my face from the dirt of thy threshold; and though thou shouldest pierce my breast again and again with the sword of contumely, I will not remove my heart from thy society.’

The Monkey retorted, ‘Fool! think not I am like that Ass of which the fox said, that it had neither heart nor ears.’ The Tortoise said, ‘How was that?’