Story of the Camel, the Wolf, the Fox, and
the Pumpkin

AN old wolf and a fox, intimate friends, were once travelling together. A short way before them they saw a camel, who joined them, and the three together took the road to the village of the camels. Their only provision for the journey consisted of a pumpkin. They travelled on for a long time, up hill and down dale, till, exhausted by the heat of the road, their eyes became black with thirst. At length they reached a pond full of water, and sat down on its brink. The pumpkin was produced, and after some discussion, it was agreed that this prize should belong to him who was the eldest among them.

First the wolf began: “Indian, Tajik, and Turk, know, that my mother bore me one week before God had created heaven and earth, time and space; con­sequently, I have the best right to this pumpkin.”

“Yes,” said the old and crafty fox, “I have nothing to object to this account; for on the night your mother bore you, I was standing by in attendance. That morning it was I that lit the taper, and I burned beside your pillow like a morning taper.”

When the camel had heard their speeches to an end, he stalked forward, and, bending down his neck, snapped up the pumpkin, observing: “It is impossible to conceal a thing so manifest as this—that with such a neck, and haunches, and back as mine, it was neither yesterday nor last night that my mother bore me.” [1]*

The sages again expressed their admiration of the wisdom of Sindibād, and all agreed that he alone was competent to undertake the difficult task. Repairing into the presence of the king, they acknowledged that they were but babes in wisdom compared with Sindibād; upon which his Majesty, addressing the philosopher, begged him to undertake the manage­ment and education of the prince. Sindibād con­sented, expressing his hope and confidence that his efforts would be successful. He accordingly applied himself with zeal to the education of the prince, but all his efforts were fruitless; all his instructions were like writing upon water. The king, hearing of this, was much concerned. Never does a parent wish ill to his child, but, on the contrary, desires that he may be better than himself. In anger he said to Sindibād: “All your boasted care and exertion have proved but wind; your promises were but the sound of the bell and the drum. Does not even the wild beast, which cannot be taken in the net, become tame at last by persevering efforts? Had due diligence been bestowed upon my son, the rust would have been effaced from the mirror of his mind.”* “Sire,” replied Sindibād, “I have made every exertion, and tried every art; but when fate seconds not our efforts, we are not to blame.” Then, kissing the foot of the throne, he observed: “The situation of myself and the young prince resembles that of the King of Kashmīr with the elephant and the elephant-keeper.” The king desiring to hear the story, Sindibād related it as follows: