IN ancient times there lived in Kashmír a jeweller called Khoja Marján, who was very lucky in all his dealings and amassed great wealth. He had three sons, the two elder of whom were of a foolish and lazy disposition, and one day the Khoja said to them: “According to the requirements of this world, everyone must do something for his living. You may have heard that at first I was only the servant of a jeweller, yet I have, by dint of industry, overcome all obstacles, so that in this city there is no person who is richer than myself. It would be a pity if you were, in your folly, to trust in my opulence and engage in no occupation, because in this way many who had the greatest expectations were dis­appointed and reduced to misery. If any man, though he be rich, knows only how to spend and never to gain, it is very probable that he will exhaust all his resources. Therefore as our business is commerce, which is promoted by trading in different places, I desire you to gain your livelihood in that manner as long as I am alive, and for this purpose I shall give to each of you some goods, and thus you may carry on business.”*

The name of the Khoja's third son was Farrukh-rúz; he was a great deal more intelligent than his brothers and therefore loved his father more; so, after the Khoja had delivered the promised goods to his two elder sons, he privately handed to Farrukhrúz a small casket, saying: “My dear son, the true touch­stone of young men is travel, by which their ability appears. Although none of you has yet made a journey, the results of which might show your skill and intelligence, yet my paternal love whispers to me that you are the worthiest of my sons. In this casket there is a cock which skillful artisans have carved from a single ruby and inserted inside of it various contrivances, so that it is such a great curiosity that its like has not been seen in the world. Keep it secret from your brothers, so that should you fall into trouble you may still help yourself by presenting it as a gift to some king.”

The three brothers, having received each his portion of goods from their father, began to journey to Irán, and arrived first at the city of Herát, which was at that time governed with justice and equity. In that delightful place the two elder sons of Khoja Marján spent all their time in pleasure, but Farrukhrúz engaged himself in business. One day he ventured to admonish his brothers, but they stretched forth the neck of impudence and refused to listen to his advice. At last, however, their dis­sipated ways reduced them to poverty, and such was their misery that they purposed committing suicide. Farrukhrúz took pity on them and gave them some of his own goods, saying: “Dear brothers, you have only yourselves to blame for what has happened.” They soon squandered their brother's bounty, and when he requested them to continue the journey, they replied that they had no resources at all and would not move from that place. So Farrukhrúz was obliged to leave them and proceeded to the city of Shíráz, where he traded for some time, gained much wealth, and became acquainted with a most excellent man named Zayn al-Mofáherin, who presented him with a ring when he was about to depart and said: “As men are everywhere beset by dangers, especially in travelling, I give you this ring, and in case you should fall into distress you must show it to a friend of mine in Mosúl, whose name is Habíb, and he will aid you.”

Farrukhrúz then departed for Tabríz, where he opened a shop, and having made very large profits he resolved to proceed to the country of the Franks, and purchased various kinds of merchandise required in that part of the world, which he placed on the backs of twenty strings of camels. On reaching Baghdád he stopped there for some time on account of his commercial transactions; and it happened one day, when he was walking about the bazár as usual, that he remarked among the porters two men exactly resembling his brothers, but they were so dirty and ragged, with their hair and beards unkempt, that he was at first unwilling to approach them, and they did not appear to recognise him. He ordered one of his servants to call them aside, and when they came he burst into tears, and they also wept and were ashamed to look in his face. He gave to each of them a quantity of goods, saying: “My dear brothers, those that walk in the streets of safety will never be assailed by the dust of trouble. You may return home with the goods I have given you.” But they replied: “Why should we separate from so kind and loving a brother? We wish to obey and follow you wherever you go.”

In short, the three brothers left Baghdád together and travelled towards the country of the Franks. But when the two ne'er-do-well brothers discovered the wealth of Farrukhrúz the flames of envy and cupidity were kindled in the oven of their hearts, and one said to the other: “What is the use of such a life, that we should be subject to our younger brother? We shall earn only shame in the sight of our father and everybody, and so long as we live the stain of despondency and poverty will never disappear from our characters, while he will always enjoy honour and respect. We must in some way cause his death, so as to obtain possession of his property, after which we may return home and say that a fatal mishap has befallen him.” Thus did those two ungrateful men wipe from the tablets of their minds, with the water of treachery and faith­lessness, the benefits they had received, and having agreed about the crime they watched for an oppor­tunity to perpetrate it.

On arriving in the vicinity of the Frank country they embarked in a vessel, which carried a skiff, and one day the brothers said to Farrukhrúz: “Come, let us all three get down into the boat, which is quite empty, and we may rest ourselves better in it than in this ship.” Farrukhrúz con­sented, and when they had all gone down into the skiff the two seniors said it would be more comfort­able to have some bedding, and went back into the ship to fetch it, leaving Farrukhrúz in the little boat, who presently perceived to his great consternation that it had been cast loose and was gradually drifting away from the vessel. The sailors noticed this occurrence when it was too late to recover their boat. Farrukhrúz at once concluded that this had been done by his brothers, but, con­sidering that lamentation is of no avail, he thanked God that he had nothing more to fear from his brothers, and trusting to the mercy of the Most High, who is able to deliver us from all dangers, he fell asleep. Nor did he indeed encounter the least peril, for on the third day his skiff arrived safely on the coast of Yaman.*

Farrukhrúz went on shore, hoping to discover some inhabited place, when the king of Yaman, who happened to be on a hunting excursion, came in sight with a splendid cavalcade, so he drew near the prince, made his obeisance, and spoke as follows: “Your majesty's humble servant has tasted of the bitterness of misfortune, and hope impels him to prostrate him­self at your feet.” The king stopped and looked at Farrukhrúz, who took out the cock given to him by his father and presented it to his majesty, who was greatly pleased with the gift. To all questions Farrukhrúz returned very intelligent answers, and in a few days he so won the affection of the king that he said to him: “I thank God for having become acquainted with such a prudent and honest man as you are. Speak your mind freely to me on all subjects.” Farrukhrúz replied: “May the light of your majesty's most happy government always remain shining in the assembly of prosperity, and may it always be protected in the lantern of divine favour from every wind of adversity! Your humble servant desires only to behold the glory of your majesty; and, as he has experienced reverses of fortune, he craves merely permission to sojourn for a time under the protection of this government.” The king readily agreed to his request, and assigned a lodging with the means of subsistence to Farrukhrúz, who was assiduous in attending court, and succeeded in in­gratiating himself so well that he became one of the favourites of the king, and was appointed to so high a station that the other counsellors, secretaries, and great officials became such in name only, because the authority of Farrukhrúz had in all matters be­come paramount.