A king had reached the end of his days and had no heir to succeed him. He made his will, stating, “You will place the crown of sovereignty upon the head of whatever person first enters the city gate in the morning, and commit the kingdom to his charge.” It happened that the first man that presented himself at the city gate was a beggar, who had passed his whole life in scraping broken meat and in patching rags. The ministers of state and nobles of the court fulfilled the conditions of the king’s will, and laid the keys of the treasury and citadel at his feet.
For a time the dervish governed the kingdom, till some of the chiefs of the empire swerved from their allegiance, and the princes of the territories on every side rose in opposition to him, and levied armies for the contest. In short, his troops and subjects were routed and subdued, and several of his provinces taken from him.
The dervish was hurt to the soul at these events, when one of his old friends, who had been the companion of his state of poverty, returned from a journey and found him in such dignity. He exclaimed: “Thanksgiving be to a Deity of majesty and glory that lofty fortune succored you and prosperity was your guide, till roses issued from your thorns and the thorns were extracted from your feet, and till you arrived at this elevated rank!—Along with hardship there is ease; or, to sorrow succeeds joy.—The plant is at one season in flower and at another withered; the tree is at one time naked and at another clothed with leaves.” He said: “O, my dear friend, offer me condolence, for here is no place for congratulation. When you last saw me I had to think of getting a crumb of bread; now I have the cares of a whole kingdom on my head. If the world be adverse, we are the victims of pain; if prosperous, the fettered slaves of affection for it. Amidst this life no calamity is more afflicting than that, whether fortunate or not, the mind is equally disquieted. If thou covetest riches, ask not but for contentment, which is an immense treasure. Should a rich man throw money into thy lap, take heed, and do not look upon it as a benefit; for I have often heard from the great and good that the patience of the poor is more meritorious than the gift of the rich. Were King Bahram Ghor to distribute a whole roasted elk, it would not be equal to the gift of a locust’s leg from an ant.”
A person had a friend who was holding the office of king’s divan, or prime minister, and it happened that he had not seen him for some time. Somebody remarked, saying, “It is some time since you saw such a gentleman.” He answered, “I am no ways anxious about seeing him.” One of the divan’s people chanced to be present. He asked, “What has happened amiss that you should dislike to visit him?” He replied, “There is no dislike; but my friend, the divan, can be seen at a time when he is out of office, and my idle intrusion might not come amiss.” Amidst the state patronage and authority of office they might take umbrage at their acquaintance; but on the day of vexation and loss of place they would impart their mental disquietudes to their friends.