Story of the King of Kashmir and the

IN the time of the Masters of the Elephant,* there reigned over Kashmīr a wise and prudent king, who had conquered the whole kingdom of Hindūstān, from Serendil (Ceylon)* to Rūm and Syria, and to whom were subject all the princes of the world. This sove­reign had collected elephants instead of steeds, and in greater numbers than fleas or ants. A certain prince once sent to his court a wild elephant of prodigious size and impetuosity. The king desired the elephant-keeper to tame him, promising him ample rewards when he had succeeded. After the labour and con­stant care of three years, the skilful man had not only subdued his ferocity, but made him pliable as wax. He, therefore, brought him to the appointed place, and exhibited him to the king, who was satisfied with his success; and the royal litter being adjusted, his Majesty seated himself in it, by way of trial. No sooner had he mounted, than, like a demon that leaps from a bottle* —like a lion rushing from a thicket— the elephant darted off with the monarch, and flew with the speed of lightning over hill and dale. The prince, with no guide to control or govern the animal, abandoned all hope of life, and all expectation that “the elephant would think again of Hindustan.”* Raising his hands to heaven, he prayed for deliverance. When the divine mandate issues forth, elephant and ant are alike impotent to resist it. Tired with the long journey (for it was now evening), and having eaten nothing, the elephant turned and took his way homeward. When he reached his stable, he stooped down, and the prince dismounted unhurt. Enraged with the keeper, he ordered him to be trodden like the ant under the feet of the elephant. Fettered and manacled, he was thrown under the furious animal. Finding himself in this situation, he thus reflected: “The prey that is entangled in the net struggles whether it will or not; and it is never too late to hope for deliver­ance.” He implored the king to forgive one whose hair had grown gray in the service; but he refused. Long he continued to entreat forgiveness, but the king was still inexorable. At length, again repairing into the presence of his Majesty, he renewed his entreaties. “I taught the elephant,” said he, “whatever was proper; but, as fortune favoured me not, it was of no avail. If the king will spare my life, I will give proof of my assertion.” When his Majesty heard this, and beheld the poor man's orphan children at his feet, he ordered him to be unfettered. The keeper then proved the perfect tameness of the animal by giving it orders to perform a variety of feats, all which it executed. Then addressing the king, he said: “I have taught this animal to perform with its various members the whole of the feats which are practised; but what avails it when his heart, which is the sultan of the body,* listens not to my orders?”

“In short,” observed Sindibād, “what occurred to the elephant-keeper arose from certain evil aspects in his horoscope, and from no fault of his. Thus, O king,” continued the sage, “I have examined the horoscope of the prince, and find that all that was evil in it is past; he will henceforward be prosperous. I will now proceed to teach him all I know, to shower upon him all the learning that I have amassed. When six months shall have elapsed from this date, I will have imparted to him the fruit of thirty years' study.”*

The ministers and courtiers of the king were amazed at such language, and considered his words as an empty boast. “Attempt it not,” said one of them: “seeing that your six years' labour has been fruitless, how can this be accomplished in six months?” Another courtier said: “Seeing he learned nothing in his childhood, how can he become a master when he is grown up?”

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There is here a deficiency in the manuscript, viz., after fol. 25, probably of one leaf; and two leaves that ought to follow are misplaced and incorrectly num­bered—fols. 14 and 15.

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The king, now satisfied that Sindibād had not been wanting in his exertions, continues him in his office of preceptor to the prince. Sindibād accordingly resumes his instructions. At fol. 14 the author is describing the philosopher's preparations for his lectures; the beginning of the chapter is wanting. Sindibād caused the walls of a lofty palace to be covered over with plaster, so smooth as to have the appearance of a mirror. On one compartment were delineated the signs of the zodiac, with the divisions into degrees and minutes; the fixed stars; the planets, with their courses. On another compartment he drew a map of the world, and represented the noxious and salutary qualities of things, of which some are the cause of disease and others the cure. On a third compartment were inscribed the principles of commerce, religion, and morality; and one's duties towards his superiors and equals. On a fourth were exhibited the principles of music and melody, and the distinctions of the musical modes. On a fifth, the rules of justice, the ceremonial of princely dignity, and the forms of equity.* When the whole was completed, Sindibād thus addressed his pupil: “Prince, the time for appli­cation has now arrived; be diligent; it is no time for slumber. The virtues that adorn kings come not by inheritance; they must be acquired.” The prince listened with attention to the instructions of his master. Much did he study; many a bitter cup of poison did he drink. His mind, clear as a mirror, reflected the knowledge depicted on the walls. His progress was rapid, and in a short time he became deeply learned.

When the appointed period was completed, Sindibād said to his pupil: “Praise be to the Lord and Creator of the world, that, through his grace, I shall not be put to shame before men! When, to-morrow, I take you before the sultan, you will see how they will bite their nails.* Rest assured of this, that of all your equals in age not one will be a match for you.” Sindibād then during the night took an observation to ascertain the destiny of the prince, and found that an intricate snare threatened his pupil. He was con­founded and perplexed by this new difficulty.* But it is vain to contend against destiny: when it descends, the eye becomes blind. “Be not cast down,” said he to the prince, “at the caprice of fortune, but to-morrow, when you appear before the king, whatever questions you may be asked, answer nothing. Bear up for this week; the next, your affairs will become prosperous. If but a word escape your lips, your life and head will be endangered. Lo! I hasten to conceal myself, and no one shall see me for one week, for my life is in peril.* I will wait to see whether the two dice of heaven will turn up three sixes or three aces.”

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The whole of the next chapter is wanting in the manuscript, but the title of it is given at the end of fol. 15, as follows: “The king sits in state, and sends for the prince and Sindibād, but the latter is nowhere to be found. His Majesty questions the prince, who makes no reply.” The title and commencement of the next chapter are also wanting. At fol. 26 the poem proceeds:

A peri-faced moon* (one of the wives of his Majesty), fair as a hūrī* of Paradise, was secretly enamoured of the prince, but had hitherto found no opportunity of meeting him alone, or of telling him her love. Upon hearing the account of his resolute silence when questioned, she said to herself: “Every occasion has its fitting language;” and repairing to the king, she asked his permission to take the prince to the harem, under pretence of endeavouring to extort from him the secret of his silence. This was granted. But with her also the prince was dumb. At length she declares her passion for him, and offers to put him in possession of the kingdom in return for his confidence. Upon this the prince, forgetting in his surprise his promise to Sindibād, breaks silence by asking her how this was to be done. “Easily,” replied she; “by one drop of poison which I will administer to the king.” Horror-struck at the idea of such a crime, the prince, after earnestly reprobating it, quits the apartment.

The damsel is alarmed when she reflects on the danger of her situation should the prince reveal the treachery which she had proposed, when the seven days shall have passed, and he shall break silence.* Full of these apprehensions, she rushed from her apartment into the presence of the king, and, in affected agitation, called loudly for his protection. In answer to his inquiries as to the cause of her alarm, she replied: “My reputation is scattered to the winds! No sooner had I conducted the prince into the harem than he began to say: ‘The reason of my silence is, that my heart is ensnared in your tresses, and my soul slain by the curve of your eyebrows. Now that fortune has put it in my power, I entreat you to lend me your assistance. I have a secret to impart to you. I mean to seize upon the kingdom. The leaders of the troops are already secured in my favour. You can effectually aid me in my purpose by administering poison to my father.’”

To this false accusation the king gives credit; and, believing that the prince thirsted for his blood, com­mands that he should be ignominiously put to death. The executioner is ordered to behead him. Mean­while, the vazīrs,* who were met together in council, on hearing this inconsiderate sentence, were greatly concerned. The eldest addresses them on the necessity of warning his Majesty of the danger of precipitation, and of the folly of trusting to the testimony of women; giving it as his conviction that the charge, if inquired into, would be found to be false, and that the innocence of the prince would be ultimately established. Another of the vazīrs was of opinion that, as they had not been consulted on the subject, it was unnecessary for them to interfere, and that silence was their safest course. To this argument the eldest vazīr replied, that if they neglected to listen to his advice, the same thing might happen to them at last as befell the monkeys. The vazīrs requesting to hear what that was, he thus related: