The Ungrateful Brothers—pp. 149-152.

The diabolical treatment of Farrukhrúz by his two brothers was probably adapted from the tale of “The Witch Shamsah and Táhir of Basra,” which occurs in the Turkish story-book, Al- Faraj ba'd al-Shiddah, and of which the following is the outline:

One day three jewels were brought to Harún er-Rashíd, who greatly admired them, but his vazír, Fazl bin Rabí', told him that a merchant of Basra, called Táhir the dog-worshipper, possessed much finer ones. Táhir is sent for, exhibits his thirty unequalled jewels, protests that he is a good Mussulman, but admits that he has two dogs well cared for, and then proceeds to relate his history: His father 'Asim had left a wealthy estate to him and his two brothers, who soon squander their shares and become destitute. He has pity for them and takes them with him on a trading voyage. While he slept on deck, they threw him overboard. He escapes on a plank and is cast ashore on the island of Gang, where he finds his two brothers. They trump up a charge against him before the king, to whom they had made a present of his favourite slave-girl, and he is thrown into a dark pit, where he meets with a youth who is also the victim of a treacherous brother, and whose sweetheart rescues them both. Wandering forth, they fall in with a caravan, and here again Táhir meets his brothers, who leave him wounded and almost dead on the road, where he is found by a princess, who has his wounds dressed, and takes him to her father's palace. She is Kamar al-Bahr, the daughter of the king of Gang, and falls in love with him. They are betrayed to the king, who is about to slay them, but makes them over to his vazír, who puts them in a boat. They fall in with pirates, who take the princess and leave Táhir in the boat, which they send adrift. The pirates fight over their prize and kill each other, all but one, whom the princess contrives to get rid of by poison. Táhir, drifting in his boat is picked up by a passing ship, where once more he finds his rascally brothers. They wish to put him to death, but are persuaded to hand him over to the king of Iram, an island on which they land.* There the two brothers find the princess of Gang and present her to the king, who immediately becomes madly enamoured of her, but she will not yield to his desires. Then he tries to terrify her into submission by slaying a prisoner before her eyes, who happens to be none other than Táhir. The king was raising his sword to cut off his head but gave way to her entreaties and released him. By the advice and with the help of a kind officer, Táhir crosses the sea to Jazíra-i Firdaus,* the realm of the mighty sorceress Shamsah, where he finds a paradise indeed, and enters a magnificent but untenanted palace. Suddenly he hears an awful sound, and a dragon appears and ascends the throne. It then changes into an old woman—Shamsah herself. She hears his story, takes pity on him, and sends with him an innumerable host of wild beasts to the conquest of Iram. He returns victorious to pay homage to Shamsah, who gives him his beloved princess in marriage and along with her a string of thirty jewels, and two magic vials of green and red oil, one having the virtue of changing men into beasts, the other that of restoring them to their natural shape. After a while Táhir returns with his wife to Basra, whither he is soon followed by his two brothers, whom he changes to dogs.— At the intercession of the Khalíf Harún er-Rashíd, Táhir con­sents to forgive his brothers and restores them to their human form.

If the idea of the ungrateful conduct of the two brothers towards Farrukhrúz was derived from the foregoing tale of Táhir, the latter in its turn, seems to have been adapted from the story of the dog-worshipping merchant of Nishapúr, in the Persian Kissa-i Chehár Darvesh, of which the Bagh o Bahár is a modern Urdú version, and in the latter we find the story told at very considerable length and with more details and incidents than in the Turkish version, while all that relates to the sorcerer Sham-sah is peculiar to the latter. It would occupy too much space, in view of what remains to be said regarding other tales in our collection, to give even the outline of the Persian original, but it may be mentioned that in place of the two wicked brothers being changed to dogs they are confined in cages; while the merchant's dog, who had often saved his life when attempted by his brothers, and continued faithful to him through all his vicissitudes, is adorned with a collar set with priceless rubies and attended by two slaves—the merchant thereby indicating, so to say, his approval of the aphorism of the ancient Hindú sage, that “a grateful dog is better than an ungrateful man.”—In our tale, it will be observed, the two wicked brothers do not re­appear after they cut Farrukhrúz adrift.