The Lark said, ‘A man came to a physician, and being tortured with pain in his stomach, rolled about on the ground, and wept bitterly at the violence of the pain.

‘Doctor! I pray thee cure me, for ’tis past my power to bear.’

The physician, after the fashion in which men of skill give the precedence over all other things to the rules for ascertaining causes and symptoms, in order that after diagnosis of the disease they may proceed to the use of a remedy which would be the cause of a speedy recovery, inquired of him, ‘What hast thou eaten to-day?’ The simple fellow replied, ‘I have eaten a piece of burnt bread, and with that piece of food, which was only of the size of one’s finger, I have inflamed the oven of my stomach.’ The physician bade his servants bring medicine for clearing the eyesight and strengthening the vision, that he might apply it to the man’s eyes. Hereupon the patient screamed out,

‘Prithee what time for gibes and jokes is this?
This sudden death and mortal torture is.

O physician! have done with bantering and leave these jests. I am groaning with pain in my stomach, and thou art applying to my eyes collyrium made of precious stone! What has medicine for the eyes got to do with pain in the stomach?’ The physician replied, ‘I want to clear thy eyesight that thou mayest discern between black and white, and so not eat burnt bread again. Wherefore a cure for the eyes is more requisite for thee than physic for the stomach.’

And my aim in improvising this story is, that the king may not fancy that I am one of those who cannot distinguish between consumed and consum­mated,* or discriminate raw from ripe.

Praise be to God! my wisdom thus far reaches,
’Twixt good and ill the difference it teaches.’

The King said, ‘Between friends, many thing happen of the nature of that which has taken place betwixt thee and me, and it is not possible that the road of variance should altogether be lost between man, and the path of contention and altercation be closed up. But every one who is adorned with the light for reason, and decorated with the ornament of understanding, exerts himself to the utmost of his power to quench the flames of wrath; and to the extent of his ability pours the water of meekness on the fire of rage; and is aware that in drinking the beverage of forgiveness, though it may seem excessively bitter, the sweetness of pleasure is included; and that to endure the hard taste of long suffering, though it resembles poison, yet comprehends the antidote joy.

Be not thou wroth, for wrath doth grief contain:
Swallow thy rage, and ’twill be sweet to thee.
The lightning flashes but to give men pain;
But aye to swallow is thy wont, O sea!
And hence thy breast is ne’er with dust* o’erspread,
Though showers descend all stone-like on thy head.’

The Lark replied, ‘It is a well-known fact, that ‘Whoever treats sin as a trifle, falls into mischief,’ or he who takes a grave thing lightly will suffer for it. This grave matter, therefore, cannot be treated with levity, and in this serious affair one must not choose to be remiss. I have spent my life in viewing the trickery* of the juggling heaven, and played away my precious hours in surveying the marvels of deceitful fortune. Assuredly I have gained much assistance from the stores of experience, and derived the utmost profit from the earnings of prudence, and the principal of good sense and sagacity. I have discovered for a certainty, then, that the sparks of free option and the flame of uncontrolled power consume the substructure of promises; and the needle of the pride of prosperity sews up the eye of shame and good faith with the thread of despotism. And when the lion of kingly terror smites the ground with the tail of revenge, cringing and vulpine artifices are unavailing. It is best for me not to allow myself a hare’s sleep,* and, shuddering at the fury of the tiger, let me, like the deer, take the way to the woods, for it is in no way possible for a weak antagonist to contend with a powerful enemy. Just as that King improvised a story on this subject for his enemy.’ The King asked, ‘How was that?’