The Lark said, ‘They have related that in the city of Raḳḳah there was a darvesh, adorned with estimable qualities and commendable manners, and the plant of his actions was beautified with the flowers of virtuous feelings and excellent habits. Inasmuch as he possessed a heart rendered wise by a knowledge of spiritual truth, they used to call him Dánádil and the people of that city entertained a strong regard for him.

He to whom wisdom does all truths impart,
Is the soul’s friend, the ointment of the heart.

At one time in his life he set out on a pilgrimage to the Sacred House,* and entered on his journey without a friend or companion. A party of thieves came up with him; and, suspecting that he had considerable wealth, formed the desire of slaying him. Dánádil said, ‘The worldly wealth that I have with me is no great matter, beyond what will suffice as provision for the way on my pilgrimage. If your wishes are satisfied by that amount, it is of no consequence, take the things and leave me alone to bring this journey to an end in reliance on God and destitute of other support; and to make of the dust of the temple’s threshold a collyrium for the eye of my expectation.

I’ll to his dwelling go, my head upon his threshold lay,
And make collyrium for my eyes of dust from his doorway.’

The merciless robbers, giving no heed to these words, drew their swords to put him to death. The hapless darvesh looked in every direction like one aghast; and, as is the wont of those in distress, sought for aid and deliverance. In that terrible desert and fearful and alarming wilderness, not a living creature met his sight; save that at that time a flock of cranes was flying above their heads. Dánádil called out, ‘O cranes! I have fallen captive in this desert into the hands of cruel men, and, save the Lord of the unseen world, no one is acquainted with my condition. Do ye exact vengeance for me from this gang, and require my blood at their hands?’ The robbers laughed and said, ‘What is thy name?’ He replied, ‘Dánádil.’ ‘Marry,’ quoth they, ‘thy heart has not a particle of wisdom. We are sure that thou art a fool. And whoever is devoid of reason there will ensue nothing very bad from killing him.’ Dánádil replied, ‘Surely thou wilt see when the dust is cleared away,’ I will here recite in your ear somewhat as to retribution, and I will bring under your observation a trifle with respect to the requital of actions; but yet a class of whose nature the characteristic is, ‘They are deaf, dumb, and blind, therefore will they not repent,’* what knowledge have they of this matter?

If one with prudence, too, possessed an ear,
He would these sayings with deep pleasure hear.’

However much Dánádil addressed them, the ear of their understanding was insensible to his truthful discourse, and the visual faculty of their sight did not behold the manifestation of the beauty of reality. They killed him and took his effects. When the news of his murder reached the people of the city, they were sad and felt much regret for his loss, and were ever on the look-out to catch his murderers. At last, after a considerable interval most of the inhabitants of that city had assembled on the day of ’Íd in worship, and the murderers of Dánádil also had taken their places in one corner in that meeting. In the midst of the prayers, a number of cranes passing through the air flew over the heads of the robbers, and uttered such plaintive cries, that from their wailing the people stopped reading the daily lessons, and the repetition of the names of God. One of the robbers laughed, and said sneeringly to a comrade, ‘They are certainly requiring the blood of Dánádil.’ It happened that one of the inhabitants of the city overheard this speech, and told it to another. In a short time they informed the governor of it. They were then seized, and after a short inquiry they con­fessed, and the retribution for the innocent blood [they had shed] having reached them, they met with the suitable retaliation.

Throughout this world, who did e’er string the bow
Of wrong, that on him was not swiftly hurled
Eternal curses, shaft-like, and he so
Became a butt for vengeance? In this world
Who thinks to play the tyrant, will ere long
A warning prove to those he fain would wrong.

And I have adduced this story in order that the king may know that my boldness in wounding the prince was inspired by retributive justice and the requirements of retaliation. Else whence could a feeble bird have strength for such a deed? And since this action has been perpetrated by me, the command of reason, the controller, is, that I should not obey thy mandate; nor, relying upon thee, be led by the cord of treachery and deceit into a pit.

’Tis best I shun the service of the king.’

The king replied, ‘What thou hast said is allied to truthfulness and prudence, and fraught with the advantages of wisdom and the beneficial results of good sense, and I know that, in accordance with the saying, ‘The beginner is the most in the wrong,’ the fault was my son’s, since without any previous offence on its part he killed thy young one. Thus, then, by way of retribution, as it is said, ‘The retaliation of evil ought to be an evil propor­tionate thereto,’* thou hast exacted a rightful quittance. Nay more, I am thankful that thou didst not proceed to slay him, and wast satisfied with destroying his sight. Now, neither hast thou any rancor left, nor have I any wish to injure thee. Believe my word, and do not foolishly persevere in withdrawing and separating thyself, and know that I regard revenge as a failing in man, and look upon forgiveness as one of the virtues of noble minds. I will never smite the hand of rejection upon the forehead of virtue, nor turn the face of acceptance towards vice. Nay, my desire is to do good in return for evil, and if an injury befall me from any one, to recompence him with a benefit.

’Tis not our practice to be pretexts seeking,
Good-will and truthful speaking are our mood.
And those who wrath upon us have been wreaking,
Have we the power, to them we aye do good.’

The Lark replied, ‘My return is altogether impossible; for the wise renounce the companionship of a friend who has been alienated; and it is recorded among the maxims of sages, that although men may shew an increase of courtesy and conciliation to persons whose feelings have been wounded, and regard it as incumbent on them to treat such persons with respect and kindliness, still their suspicions and aversion will augment, and this being the case, it becomes necessary to avoid them.

My friend! when thou hast any one offended,
Be not on soothing him intent:
The more he sees thy services extended,
The more his doubts of thee augment.’

The king rejoined, ‘O Lark! cease these words, for thou art as a son to me, nay, even dearer still, and I have not the same affection for any of my kinsmen or connections, that I have for thee. No one ever plans mischief against his own kin, or entertains vengeful or hostile feelings towards his intimates.’ The Lark answered, ‘The wise have delivered their sentence as to relations, and have spoken in detail as to the circumstances of each; and have thus pronounced, ‘Mother and father are real friends;* and brothers are as comrades and attached companions; and a wife is in the position of one who shares in social intercourse; and daughters are equivalent to antagonists, and all other kinsfolk are no better than strangers. But men wish for a son to perpetuate their name, and regard him as the same as soul and body, nor do they allot to any one a share in the value and regard they set upon him. Thus I can never be to thee in the place of a son; and even supposing that thou shouldest hold me as a son, yet when calamity comes upon thee, and misfortune and disaster assail thee, thou wilt cease to regard me, for however dear one may hold another, and however much he may say, ‘I prefer thee to myself and would not withhold my life for thee;

What then is life, that it for thee I should forbear to sacrifice?’

when trouble arises and things come to such a point that life must be renounced, a person will undoubtedly convey himself from the strait of that peril to the open expanse of safety, and will in no wise sacrifice the ready coin of existence for another.

A man should from no risk or peril fly,
Nor for the sake of others fear to die.

But perhaps the king has not heard the story of the Old Woman and Muhastí, and has not been informed of what happened to them?’ The king said, ‘Explain to me how that was.’