The Bráhman said, ‘They have related that there was a king, whose name was Ibn-i Madín, possessed of a lofty spirit, and clear intellect. He had raised the lofty edifice of his kingdom by the exertions of power to the dome of Arcturus; and, with the aid of the geometrician, grandeur, had carried the extensive pedestal of his glory beyond the pinnacle of the heaven of heavens.

A king with angel-retinue; as Jamshíd fortunate;
Throned on the moon and sun; and like the sky in lofty state.

And he had an attachment of the strongest kind for a Lark. Now this Lark was a bird of perfect beauty, and enchanting voice, and pleasing form, and graceful shape. The king was always talking to it, and was delighted with its sweet answers and pleasant tales.

Sweet are winning words and fair,
And honeyed tales the heart rejoice.
And he, who does these rich gifts share,
Will be the nobles’, princes’ choice.

It happened that the Lark laid an egg, and brought forth a young one in the palace of the king. The latter, from excess of fondness [for the bird] ordered it to be brought into the seraglio and the attendants of that part of the palace were commanded to take the greatest care in cherishing it and its young. Now that very day a son was born to the king, on whose forehead shone the rays of nobleness, and on the pages of whose condition gleamed the lustre of happy fortune.

He was a moon, that in perfection’s sky
Arose; and ne’er through countless years was such
Beheld;—clear-hearted, of bright destiny,
And radiant footsteps, gilding all they touch;
Of form angelical, well-starred, august;
That noble seedling did fresh life impart
To the rose-garden of the empire: just
As the fresh north wind stirs the foliage of the heart.

As the young one of the Lark grew up, the prince too advanced, and a vast attachment arose between them; and the royal child was ever playing with that young bird, and every day the Lark used to fly to the mountains and plains, and to bring two fruits of a kind unknown to men; or, if known, unprocurable by them. One fruit it gave to the prince, and with the other it fed its own young one, and both relishing what was thus given them, ate it with enjoyment and eagerness, and the beneficial effects thereof were most rapidly visible in invigorating their bodies and strength­ening their frames. Accordingly, in a short time they grew much.

They sprang up tall in stature; flourishing
Like the fresh grass in time of early spring.

And through those services the Lark was daily more honored and esteemed; and its place in the king’s favor and regard advanced every hour. Some time passed in this way, and time wrote many leaves—white and black—the leaves of day and night. One day the Lark had gone away and its young one leapt on the young prince’s bosom, and, with the claw of violence, inflicted a wound in his hand. The fire of wrath blazed up in the prince, and plunged him into the whirlpool of inconsiderate action and violence, so that he cast dirt into the eyes of honorable feeling, and magnanimity, and, giving to the winds the ties of friendship and long acquaintance, seized the bird by the leg and, whirling it round his head, dashed it with such force against the ground, that it was instantly crushed* and perished on the rack of destruction.

Alas! the rose’s tender branch, which did but now its blossoms spread,
Too soon, before the chilly breath of autumn, has those blossoms shed.

When the Lark returned, it beheld its young one killed. There was cause to fear that the bird of its life would take wing from the cage of its body. From horror at that circumstance, a mourning arose in its heart—the type of the lamentation at the last judgment. And from the occurrence of that catastrophe, grief took up its place within the Lark’s bosom as ineffaceable as characters on stone. It raised its lamentations and outcries to the height of the moon and the planet Mercury.

‘Ah me! the light that did anoint my eyes’ far seeing gaze is lost,
The leaf of joy in my sad heart, is gone, and all my hopes are crossed.’

After much lamentation and infinite regrets, the Lark thought to itself, ‘Thou hast kindled this flame of calamity, and it is thou that hast sold the goods of tranquillity for the uproar of distress. Humble* as thy state is, thou shouldest have made thy nest on the top of a wall. What hadst thou to do with the seraglio of the sulṭán? and when thou oughtest to have been engaged in rearing thy young, why didst thou employ thyself in the tutelage of the king’s son? Hadst thou been satisfied with thy corner and thy morsel, thou wouldest not this day have been involved in this calamity, and wouldest not have suffered grief from these circumstances. And sages have said, ‘Hapless is any one who is thrown upon the society of the tyrannical, for the rein of their good faith is very relaxed, and the basis of their fidelity is very weak. They have always the cheek of honor lacerated by the injuries of oppression, and they fill up the fountain of generosity with the dirt of insincerity and injustice. Neither has former companionship any weight with them, nor do they regard previous services and the ties of attendance.

In the service of a person quite devoid of grateful sense,
Must thou not thy time let perish, without thanks or recompense.

In the school of the revengeful they regard the forgiveness of offences, which is the attribute of liberal men, as inadmissible and prohibited. And ingratitude, which brands the impious, they think allowable and admissible in the law of pride. Pray, then, what advantage can one derive from associat­ing with parties who forget the previous services of their sincere friends? or what benefits can result from attendance on a class who allow the friendly connection of interested associates to pass from their memory?

One who is blind to friendship’s rights, ’twere shame
To mention, in the rank of men, his name.

And I have associated myself with a tribe who make no account of the perpetration of things of great magnitude, where themselves are the offenders, while they regard a trifling fault on the part of others as excessive.

Have they a failing of their own? they call’t
Virtue; and name thy virtue a huge fault.

And I, in fine, will not let slip the opportunity of revenge and the hour of requital, and I will not rest nor allow myself to repose until I have exacted vengeance for my young one from this merciless tyrant and cruel oppressor, who, without just grounds, has slain one born at the same time, his play­mate, and companion and friend, and without a cause has destroyed the sharer of his house and bed.

I’ll set all love, all pity, too, aside,
And fuel for my burning hate provide.

He then sprang remorselessly in the face of the prince, and tore out the world-surveying eyes of that refresher of the visual organs of the empire, and, flying away, settled on a pinnacle of the castle. Intelligence of this was conveyed to the king. He wept for the eyesight of his son, and wished to entice the bird into the net of deceit, and having imprisoned it in the cage of calamity, to command that the punishment due to its offence should be carried into execution. He then came under the castle-wall, and standing opposite the Lark, said, ‘Friend of my existence! come down from this height for thy life is safe.

What though thy musky tresses erred? ’Tis past.

Now destroy not our intercourse, nor cause the plant of my enjoyment to wither.’ The Lark replied, ’O king! it is the bounden duty of all to obey thy command. After wandering for a long time in the desert of reflection I had arrived at the confines of this thought, that for the remainder of my life I should regard the royal palace as the sanctuary of my wishes, and the shrine of my prosperity, and not gallop the steed of my energies, save in the court of this lord. My idea was that I might be happy and tranquil under the shade of thy favor, like the doves in the temple of Makkah; and, exerting myself in the path* of honourable and kindly feeling, I might arrive at the elevation of a pure unruffled content. Now, however, that they have thought fit to slay my young one in the seraglio like a sacrifice offered by pilgrims, how can I have any desire left to circumambulate* this house. And yet, notwithstanding all this, if I were aware of anything equivalent to sweet life, I would acquiesce and take service with the ladies of the sacred precincts of the seraglio, but,

The bird once scared that has escaped the net,
Will for no grain its terror then forget.

And moreover the traditionary saying, ‘The believer will not be stung from one hole twice,’ is proved correct: and it behoves an acute person not to try the same thing twice, nor to suffer a second time from the wound of the same animal.

Hast thou e’er heard the saying of the wise?
He will repent who the once tested tries.’

And, again, it is clear to the luminous mind of the king that an offender cannot live secure. For if his punishment in this temporary state be delayed, yet that of the eternal world is still to be expected by him. And if, by the aid of lofty good-fortune he escape the former, he must taste the bitterness of chastisement through the sufferings of his children and grandchildren; and he must in this way experience the abasement of the tortures and disastrous results which his crime entails. For the temper of the world is a security for the quality of requital, and the disposition of fortune guarantees the character of proportionate rewards. Accordingly the king’s son devised treachery against my young one; and from me, without my option, but in the way of requital, affliction fell upon him. And it is impossible that any one should drink a draught from the cup of oppression, and not suffer from the intoxication of calamity; or plant the seedling of injustice in the garden of action, and not reap the fruit of torture and anguish.

Fools that sow seeds of colocynth, must not
Expect to reap sweet cane will be their lot.

But, perhaps, the king has not heard the story of Dánádil* and the thieves, and the retribution which befell the latter has not reached the royal ear?’ The king asked, ‘How was that?’