They tell a story of an importunate mendicant who had amassed much riches. A certain king said: “It seems that you possess immense wealth, and I have a business of some consequence in hand. If you will assist me with a little of it, by way of a loan, when the public revenue is realized I will repay it and thank you to the bargain.” He replied: “O sire, it would ill become the sublime majesty of the sovereign of the universe to soil the hand of lofty enterprise with the property of such a mendicant as I am, which I have scraped together grain by grain.” He said: “There is no occasion to vex yourself, for I mean it for the Tartars, as impurities are suiting for the impure:—They said, ’The compost of a dunghill is unclean.’ We replied, ’That with it we will fill up the chinks of a necessary.’—If the water of a Christian’s well is defiled, and we wash a Jew’s corpse in it, there is no sin.” I have heard that he disobeyed the royal command, questioned its justice, and resisted it with insolence. The king ordered that the exchequer stipulations should be put in force with rigidness and violence. When a business cannot be settled with fair words, we must of necessity make use of foul. When a man will not contribute of his own free will, if another enforces him he meets his desert.
I knew a merchant who had a hundred and fifty camels of burden and forty bondsmen and servants in his train. One night he entertained me at his lodgings in the island of Keish, in the Persian Gulf, and continued for the whole night talking idly, and saying: “Such a store of goods I have in Turkestan, and such an assortment of merchandise in Hindustan; this is the mortgage-deed of a certain estate, and this the security-bond of a certain individual’s concern.” Then he would say: “I have a mind to visit Alexandria, the air of which is salubrious; but that cannot be, for the Mediterranean Sea is boisterous. O Sa’di! I have one more journey in view, and, that once accomplished, I will pass my remaining life in retirement and leave off trade.” I asked: “What journey is that?” He replied: “I will carry the sulphur of Persia to Chin, where, I have heard, it will fetch a high price; thence I will take China porcelain to Greece; the brocade of Greece or Venice I will carry to India; and Indian steel I will bring to Aleppo; the glassware of Aleppo I will take to Yamin; and with the bardimani, or striped stuffs, of Yamin I will return to Persia. After that I will give up foreign commerce and settle myself in a warehouse.” He went on in this melancholy strain till he was quite exhausted with speaking. He said: “O Sa’di! do you too relate what you have seen and heard.” I replied:—“Hast thou not heard that in the desert of Ghor as the body of a chief merchant fell exhausted from his camel, he said, ’Either contentment or the dust of the grave will fill the stingy eye of the worldly-minded.’”