TAJ UL-MULUK immediately formed the resolution to make an effort to save his brothers. Full of this idea, he presented himself at the door of an Amír and said to the porter: “I am a traveller without means, and wish to enter the employment of your master, whose noble qualities I have heard much praised.” The Amír admitted Táj ul-Mulúk into his presence, and, charmed with the beauty and dignity of his features, willingly accepted his offer, and from that day treated him with increasing kindness. When Táj ul-Mulúk had passed several months in the service of the Amír, and had saved a considerable sum of money, he said to his master one day that a friend of his had just arrived in the town, and he was desirous that he should be permitted to go and see him every day and pass a few hours in his company. This was most cordially granted, and the prince went daily to the house of the backgammon players, from whom he learned all the rules of the game. When he thought he was able to play with Dilbar he proceeded to her palace. An old woman, the confidante of Dilbar, who did nothing without her advice, opened the door, and the prince threw himself at her feet and burst into tears. She asked him who he was and what he wanted. “Alas!” he cried, “I am an unhappy traveller, without friends or acquaintances. I have no help but God in this town. My country is far east of here. I had a grandmother, but God admitted her into Paradise,* and I am left alone in this world of sorrow! I trace in you a strong resemblance to her, hence have I fallen at your feet. If you are pleased to look on me with an eye of kindness and have compassion on my wretched condition, I offer to remain near you and to regard you as my grandmother.” The tone of sin­cerity with which the prince uttered these words made the heart of the old woman soft as wax. “My dear young man,” said she to him, “I am also alone in the world. From this day, therefore, I adopt you as my grandson.” Then he told her that he was engaged as a servant and would not be able to see her every day, but he would come as often as he possibly could. After this, Táj ul-Mulúk often visited that old woman, and so flattered and wheedled her that he soon be­came the confidant of her secrets. One day, after talking on indifferent subjects, he asked her how it happened that all who played at backgammon with Dilbar always lost. “My dear son,” replied she, “it is a very great secret. Take good care never to re­peat to anyone what I am going to tell you. Dilbar has trained a cat and a mouse; she has accustomed the cat to bear a lamp on her head and the mouse to lie concealed in the shade of the lamp. When the dice do not turn up to suit Dilbar, the cat moves the lamp and causes the shadow to go to and fro, while the mouse turns the dice again, and in this way Dilbar wins without anyone of those who have played with her being able to understand the reason.” Táj ul-Mulúk went to the bazár and bought a weasel, which he trained to lie in his sleeve, and, when he snapped his fingers, to come out suddenly, like a little panther. Then he visited the old woman and said to her: “I am weary of service, and if you lend me a thousand rupís I will try to start some business.” The old woman led him into a room, and, showing him all her money, bade him take what he required. The prince was satisfied with a thousand rupís. Re­turning to his master, he told him that a friend was to be married that day, and he wished to attend the nuptials if the Amír would give him suitable clothes. The Amír at once consented, and even allowed the prince to take one of his best horses.

Táj ul-Mulúk, richly dressed and mounted upon a superb steed, proceeded to the house of the artful courtesan. He was no sooner introduced to her than the gambler of the sky closed the chessboard of the sun, in the house of the west, and threw upon the table of the east the golden dice of the stars.* “I am told,” said he, “that you are fond of playing back­gammon, and if you please, we can have a few games.” Dilbar at first begged to be excused, but in the end consented to play, and, as usual, placed the lamp upon the head of the cat, staked a thousand rupís, and threw the dice. The sháh-záda* allowed her to win the first game with the aid of the cat and the mouse. At the second, as fortune did not turn in her favour, the cat and the mouse were about to begin their old tricks, when Táj ul-Mulúk snapped his fingers, and the weasel ran furiously out of its master's sleeve, whereupon the mouse disappeared like lightning, and the cat astonished, fled like the wind, overturning the lamp. The sháh-záda pretended to be in a great rage, and exclaimed: “Artful woman! What tricks are you playing? How is it that you have not a proper lamp in a house so elegantly furnished?” At these words Dilbar was confused, and beads of perspiration ap­peared on her brow. She caused a candlestick to be brought and then the game was resumed. In his turn the prince had the advantage, and gained that night seven crores of rupís. In the morning he told Dilbar that he was obliged to return and breakfast with the king, and went away, leaving with her the money he had won, and promising to come again at night.

The prince came at the time appointed, and after they had partaken of some food, they began to play for a crore of rupís, and by midnight he had won all Dilbar's hoarded money, which amounted to one hundred crores of rupís.* Dilbar, in despair, wished to play next for her furniture, in the hope of winning, and afterwards recovering what she had lost. But she was not any more fortunate than before, and the prince said: “Well, what shall we do now? Do you wish to play once more with me? If I lose, I will give you a thousand rupís; if I win, you will give up all the princes you have kept prisoners by deceit and cheating.” Dilbar agreed to the proposal, and in a twinkling the sháh-záda had again won the game. Then she said: “If I win, I will keep all that I have lost; if I lose, not only will everything belong to you, but I shall be your slave.” In this last throw fortune was once more propitious to Táj ul-Mulúk. “Happy young man!” she cried, “with the help of God and your horoscope you have made me your slave. That game which all the kings of the world had played in vain throughout their lives is at last in thy hand. Now consider this as thy house. Bind me to thee by the ties of wedlock, and pass here the rest of thy days in affluence and grandeur.” “No, no,” said the prince; “I cannot consent to it. An important affair occupies my mind. If God grant me success in it, you also shall be happy. I exact from you that you abandon the life you have been leading, and wait for me twelve years, employing yourself in the service of the Most High.” Dilbar earnestly implored him to confide his secret to her. “Listen, then,” said he. “My name is Táj ul-Mulúk. I am the son of Zayn ul-Mulúk, the king of an eastern country, who lost his sight by an accident, and learned physicians have unanimously declared that his blindness can only be cured by the Rose of Bakáwalí. My brothers set out in quest of this marvellous flower. I was secretly with them, and when I learned that they had been ensnared by thy wiles, I employed artifice against thee in my turn, and thus have I overreached thee. I am determined to search for the Rose of Bakáwalí, and if I succeed, all will be well, if not, I shall give up life.” Hearing this Dilbar said: “Alas, what fanciful idea has taken possession of thy reason? Know that the Rose of which you speak is in the region of the sun, and not even a bird could succeed in reaching it. Bakáwalí is the daughter of the king of the Jinn, and in her garden is that flower. But it is guarded by thousands of dívs.* No mortal can approach without their permission. O prince, do not expose yourself to such dangers, for, as Sa'dí says:

Although 'tis written, when 'tis doomed, we die,
Yet in the dragon's mouth, O wherefore fly?”*

Táj ul-Mulúk replied: “The God who changed into a garden of roses the fire into which Nimrod caused Abraham to be cast* will crown my zeal with success. The sons of men are inferior to dívs in strength, but they are superior in wisdom; for God himself has said: ‘I have given glory to the children.’

Story of the Bráhman and the Lion.

“YOU may have heard that a Bráhman passing through a forest saw a lion held fast by a rope and confined in a cage. On perceiving the Bráhman he begged hard, and humbly said: ‘O Bráhman, if you will kindly release me I will recompense you some day.’ The simple-minded Bráhman was affected by the words of the lion; but, blind as he was to reason, he did not consider that the lion was his enemy, and that no reliance could be placed on his promises. He opened the door of the cage, unloosed the feet of the lion, and set him at liberty. The bloodthirsty beast, as soon as he found himself free, knocked down the Bráhman, and seizing him by the throat carried him towards his den. The Bráhman cried: “O lion, I did a good service for you in hopes of getting a fair return, but I see thy intentions are evil.” The lion answered: ‘In my religion the return for good is evil. If you do not believe me let us refer the question to some one else, and whatever he says will decide the matter.’ That fool agreed. In the forest there grew a tall and umbrageous banyan tree. The lion and the Bráhman went under its branches and referred the matter to it. Said the banyan: ‘The lion is in the right. I have always seen that the return for good is evil. Hear, O Bráhman! I stand on one leg* and cast my shade on every traveller that passes this way. But whoever takes shelter in my shadow is sure, on departing, to pull off one of my branches, to make use of it as a walking-stick in his hand. Now say, is not evil the return of good?’ The lion asked: ‘Well, my friend, what sayest thou?’ The Bráhman answered: ‘Refer the matter to some one else.’ The lion proceeded a few steps farther and questioned the road on the subject. The road answered: ‘The lion is right. Listen, O Bráhman. The traveller deviating from his path searches for me with the greatest care, and when he finds me I lead him to his home. But in return he defiles me.’ The beast went on again and saw a jackal on a rising ground. He was about to run away, when the lion called out: ‘O jackal, do not be afraid. I have come to refer a question to you.’ Said the jackal: ‘You may say what you please, bnt keep your distance; for if you approach, I am afraid your presence will render me senseless.’ The lion said: ‘This Bráhman has done good to me, and I intend to return evil to him. What sayst thou in the matter?’ The jackal replied: ‘I cannot quite understand what you say. How can a man who is so insignificant do any service to a lion, who is styled the monarch of the forest? I can never believe such a thing until I have seen it with my own eyes.’ The lion said: ‘Come on, and I will show it to you.’ So the lion and the Bráhman proceeded and the jackal followed. When they came to the cage the Bráhman said: ‘O jackal, the lion was fast bound to this, and I freed him. What is your decision?’ Said the jackal: ‘How could such a small cage hold so great a lion? If he would re-enter it before me and lie down as before, and then if you should free him I shall believe what you say.’ The lion entered the cage and the Bráhman commenced tying him. The jackal then remarked: ‘If you make the slightest difference in adjusting the knots, I shall be unable to decide the case.’ The Bráhman bound the lion strongly, and, having fastened the door of the cage, said to the jackal: ‘In that state I found him.’ ‘Fool that you were,’ exclaimed the jackal, ‘to expect good from such a powerful beast. It is laying the axe to your own root to think so. What need have you to give freedom to such an enemy? Go your way now, for the foe is overcome.’*

“O beloved,” continued the prince, “whoever gives freedom to complaints and impatience, which are like the lion confined in the cage of the body, and who­ever, showing kindness to them, removes the string of resignation, always suffers from his own folly. O Dilbar, I have related this fable to show that the body cannot overcome the mind. It is proper for thee to release the princes of the East and the West, and God will release thee from the pains of hell. But until my return be very careful of my brothers. And now give me leave to depart.”

Dilbar Lakhí answered:

“Do not leave me sad and lonely;
Unattended, why depart?
Wherefore grieve a heart that loves thee?
Wherefore crush this widowed heart?
As the shell is thirsty for the
Drops, that make it teem with pearl,*
So my heart is longing for thee,
While thy sails thou dost unfurl.
Lo, the storm blows fierce and furious,
Leave not thou the joys of home:
Stranger to the world, O wherefore,
Joseph-wise, in exile roam?
Long and distant is the journey;
Hear my words, and stay—O stay!
Like the moth I'm fluttering round thee,
Whilst you wish to pass away.

Beloved, take warning from what you have seen. The princely mind was pure and clean; and when it fell in the world, the world was dazzled with thy brightness, and became blind. Arise now, and go after the attainment of thy desire; but never allow thyself to be prevailed on to play at hazard with the world, who always keeps her backgammon-board open for all. Beware, lest, through the assistance of the cat of deceit and the mouse of cunning, she turn the dice in her own favour. Then the treasures of thy faith will be exhausted, and she will keep thee in bonds for ever. If by the help of the weasel of patience you will expose and overcome her wiles, she will then try (she who has subdued kings and mighty sovereigns) to captivate thee by her charms, declaring at the same time that she will become thy slave. But should you turn away your gaze from her, you will certainly succeed in your undertaking.”*