ON the following day, the fourth Vizier presented himself before the King, and, having paid his respects, advised him not to defer any longer the execution of Bakhtyār. The King immediately gave orders that the young man should be brought from the prison; the executioner with a drawn sword stood ready to perform his part, when Bakhtyār ex­claimed: “Long be the King's life! Let him not be precipitate in putting me to death; but as I have, in the story of Bihzād, described the fatal consequences of rashness, let me be permitted to celebrate the blessings attendant on forbearance, and recount the adventures of Abū Saber, the Patient Man.”

The King's curiosity being excited, he desired Bakht-yār to relate the story, which he accordingly began in the following words:


THERE lived in a certain village, a worthy man, whose principal riches consisted in a good understanding and an inexhaustible stock of patience. On account of those qualifications he was so much respected by all his neighbours, that his advice was followed on every occasion of importance.

It happened once that a tax-gatherer came to this village, and extorted from the poor peasants their miserable pittance, with such circumstances of cruelty and injustice that they could not any longer submit to the oppression: a number of the young men, having assembled in a body, slew the tax-gatherer and fled.

The other inhabitants, who had not been con­cerned in this transaction, came to Abū Saber, and begged that he would accompany them to the King, and relate to his Majesty the circumstances as they had happened; but Abū Saber told them, that he had drank of the sherbet of patience, and would not intermeddle in such affairs. When the King was informed of the tax-gatherer's death, he ordered his servants to punish the people of that village, and to strip them of all their property.

After two years it happened that a lion took up his abode in the neighbourhood, and destroyed so many children that no person would venture to cultivate the ground, or attend the harvest, from fear of being de­voured. In this distress the villagers went to Abū Saber, and entreated him to associate with them in some measure for their relief; but he replied, that patience was his only remedy.

It happened soon after, that the King, being on a hunting-party, arrived in the vicinity of this place; and the inhabitants, presenting themselves before him, related the story of the tax-gatherer, the consequences of the King's anger, and their dread of the lion. The King pitying them, asked why they had not sent some person to inform him of their distresses. They re­plied, that Abū Saber, the chief man of the village, whose assistance they solicited, had declined inter­fering in the matter. The King, hearing this, was enraged, and gave orders that Abū Saber should be driven forth from the village. These orders were instantly put in execution, and the King sent people to destroy the lion.

With a heavy heart, Abū Saber commenced his journey, accompanied by his wife and two sons. It happened that they were soon overtaken by some rob­bers, who, not perceiving any thing more valuable of which they might strip him, resolved to carry off the two boys and sell them; they accordingly seized the poor children and bore them away. The wife began to cry and weep most bitterly; but Abū Saber recom­mended patience. They then proceeded on their journey, and travelled all night and all day, till, faint from hunger and thirst, weary and fatigued, they at length approached a village, in the outlets of which Abū Saber left his wife, whilst he went to procure some food. He was employed on this business in the vil­lage, when a robber happened to discover the woman, and seeing that she was a stranger, handsome, and unprotected, he seized her with violence, and declared that he would take her as his wife. After many tears and supplications, finding the robber determined to carry her away, she contrived to write upon the ground with blood, which she had procured by biting her own finger. When Abū Saber returned from the village, and sought his wife in the spot where he had left her, the words which she had written sufficiently explained the occasion of her absence.

He wept at this new misfortune, and implored the Almighty to bestow patience on his wife, and enable her to bear whatever should befall her.

With a disconsolate heart, Abū Saber proceeded on his solitary journey, until he came to the gate of a certain city where a King resided, who was very tyran­nical and impious. And it happened at this time that he had ordered a summer-house to be erected, and every stranger who approached the city was by his command seized and compelled to work, guarded day and night, and fed with a scanty portion of coarse black bread.

Abū Saber was immediately seized and dragged to the building; when a heavy load was placed upon his shoulders, and he was obliged to ascend a ladder of seventy steps. In this distress he consoled himself by reflections on the advantages of patience, the only remedy within his power, for the evils which had oc­curred.

It happened on this day, that the King was sitting in a corner of the building, superintending the work, when he overheard Abū Saber inquire of another man, what time they might expect to be relieved from this excessive fatigue. The man informed Abū Saber that it was three months since he had been thus labori­ously employed, and languishing for a sight of his beloved wife and children. “During this space of time,” added he, “I have not had any intelligence of them; and I long for permission to visit them, were it but for one night.” Abū Saber desired him to be patient; for Providence would relieve him at last from the oppression under which he suffered.

All this conversation the King overheard. After some time Abū Saber, being faint from excessive fatigue, fell senseless from the steps of the ladder, by which accident his legs and arms were dislocated. The King, however, provoked to anger by what he had heard, ordered that Abū Saber should be brought before him, and, having upbraided him with inconsist­ency in recommending patience to another person, when he himself could not practise it, he ordered him to be punished with fifty stripes and thrown into prison. This sentence was immediately put into exe­cution, and Abū Saber, supporting his head on the knees of patience, implored the protection of the Almighty, with perfect submission to His divine dis­pensations.

After some time had elapsed, it happened that the King was affected one night by a violent cholic, of which he died in excessive agony; and as he did not leave any heir to the crown, the people of the city assembled in order to elect a King.

It was resolved that they should go to the prison, and propose three questions to the criminals confined there; and that whoever gave the best answer should be chosen King. In consequence of this resolution, they proceeded to the prison, and asked the three questions, to which none of the prisoners replied, ex­cept Abū Saber, whose answers were so ingenious, that he was borne triumphantly away, washed in a warm bath, clothed in royal garments, and placed upon the throne; after which all the inhabitants came and paid him homage. And he governed with such mildness and wisdom, that the people night and day offered up their prayers for him; and the fame of his justice and liberality was spread all over the world.

One day it happened that two men attended at his tribunal and demanded an audience. Abū Saber caused them to be brought before him. One of those men was a merchant, and the other the robber who had carried off the sons of Abū Saber. The robber he immediately recognised, but was silent. The mer­chant then addressed him, and said: “Long be the King's life! This man sold to me two boys; and after some time these boys began to say, ‘We are freemen—we are the sons of a Mussulman; and that man carried us away by force, and sold us, at which time, from fear of him, we were afraid to say that we were freemen.’ Now,” added the merchant, “let the King order this man to return me the money, and take back the boys.”

Abū Saber then asked the robber what he had to say. The man answered, that it was the merchant's fault, who had not taken good care of the boys; but that for his own part he had always treated them well, which induced them to make this complaint, in order that he might take them back. Abū Saber then sent for the two boys, who proved to be his own sons. He knew them, but they had not any recollection of him. He desired them to explain this matter; and they declared that the robber had carried them away from their father and mother to his own dwelling, and had desired them not to say, on any account, that they were freemen; but that when sold as slaves they could not any longer suppress their complaints. Abū Saber, much affected by their story, ordered them to tell their names, and then sent them to his own apartments; after which he caused the robber to be imprisoned, and the merchant's money to be deposited in the public treasury.

On another day it happened that two persons in like manner solicited an audience of the King. When they were admitted, one proved to be the wife of Abū Saber, and the other the man who had taken her away by force. But Abū Saber did not know his wife, be­cause she wore her veil. The robber, having paid his respects, informed the King that this woman, who had lived with him for some time, would not consent to perform the duties of a wife. Abū Saber addressed the woman, and asked her why she refused to obey her husband. She immediately answered, that this man was not her husband; that she was the wife of a person named Abū Saber; and that this man had taken her to his house against her inclination.

Abū Saber ordered his servants to take the woman to his harem; and, having made a proclamation and assembled all the inhabitants of the city, caused the robber who had taken away his sons and the man who had carried off his wife to be brought before them; and, having explained the nature of their of­fences and related the circumstances of his own story, he gave orders for their execution.

After this he passed the remainder of his life in peaceful enjoyment of the supreme power, which at his death devolved upon his son, and continued for many generations in the family, as the reward of his patience.

Here Bakhtyār concluded his story, and by order of the King was sent back to prison.