An Arab, suffering under all the extremity of thirst in the desert, was saying:—“Would to God that yet, before I perish, I could but for one day gratify my wish: that a stream of water might dash against my knees, and I could fill my leathern flask or stomach with it.”
In like manner a traveller had got bewildered in the great desert, and had neither provisions nor strength left, yet a few dirams remained with him in his scrip. He kept wandering about, but could not find the path, and sunk under his fatigue. A party of travellers arrived where his body lay; they saw the dirams spread before him, and these verses written in the sand:—“Were he possessed of all the gold of Jafier (a famous gold refiner), a man without food could not satisfy his appetite. To a wretched mendicant, parched in the desert, a boiled turnip would relish better than an ingot of virgin silver.”
I had never complained of the vicissitudes of fortune, nor murmured at the ordinances of heaven, excepting on one occasion, that my feet were bare, and I had not wherewithal to shoe them. In this desponding state I entered the metropolitan mosque at Cufah, and there I beheld a man that had no feet. I offered up praise and thanksgiving for God’s goodness to myself, and submitted with patience to my want of shoes.—In the eye of one satiated with meat a roast fowl is less esteemed at his table than a salad; but to him who is stinted of food a boiled turnip will relish like a roast fowl.
A king, attended by a select retinue, had, on a sporting excursion during the winter, got at a distance from any of his hunting seats, and the evening was closing fast, when they espied from afar a peasant’s cottage. The king said: “Let us repair thither for the night, that we may shelter ourselves from the inclemency of the weather.” One of the courtiers replied: “It would not become the dignity of the sovereign to take refuge in the cottage of a low peasant; we can pitch a tent here and kindle a fire.” The peasant saw what was passing; he came forward with what refreshments he had at hand, and, laying them before the king, kissed the earth of subserviency, and said: “The lofty dignity of the king would not be lowered by this condescension; but these gentlemen did not choose that the condition of a peasant should be exalted.” The king was pleased with this speech; and they passed the night at his cottage. In the morning he bestowed an honorary dress and handsome largess upon him. I have heard that the peasant was resting his hand for some paces upon the king’s stirrup, and saying: “The state and pomp of the sovereign suffered no degradation by his condescension in becoming a guest at the cottage of a peasant; but the corner of the peasant’s cap rose to a level with the sun when the shadow of such a monarch as thou art fell upon his head.”