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A weak fisherman got a strong fish into his net, but not having the power of mastering it, the fish got the better of him, and, dragging the net from his hand, escaped:—A bondsman went that he might take water from the brook; the brook came to rise and carried off the bondsman. On most occasions the net would bring out the fish; on this occasion the fish escaped, and took away the net. The other fishermen expressed their vexation, and reproached him, saying, “Such a fish came into your net, and you were not able to master it.” He replied: “Alas! my brethren, what could be done? It was not my day of fortune, and the fish had in this way another day left it. And they have said: ’Unless it be his lot, the fisherman cannot catch a fish in the Tigris; and, except it be its fate, the fish will not die on the dry shore.’”
A person without hands or feet killed a milleped. A good and holy man passed by him at the time, and said: “Glory be to God! notwithstanding the thousand feet he had when his destiny overtook him, he was unable to escape from one destitute of hand or foot.”—When the life-plundering foe comes up behind, fate arrests the speed of the swift-going warrior. At the moment when the enemy might approach step by step it were useless to bend the kayani, or Parthian bow.
I met a fat blockhead decked in rich apparel, and mounted on an Arab horse, with a turban of fine Egyptian linen on his head. A person said: “O Sa’di, how comes it that you see these garments of the learned on this ignorant beast?” I replied: “It is a vile epistle which has been written in golden letters:—’Verily this ass, with the resemblance of a man, has the carcase of a calf, and the voice or bleating of a calf.’—Thou canst not say that this brute appears like a man, unless in his garments, turban, and outward form. Examine into all the ways and means of his existence, and thou shalt find nothing lawful but the shedding of his blood:—though a man of noble birth be reduced to poverty, imagine not that his lofty dignity can be lowered; and though he may secure his silver threshold with a hasp of gold, conclude not that a Jew can be thereby ennobled.”
A thief said to a mendicant: “Are you not ashamed when you hold forth your hand to every mean fellow for a barleycorn of silver?” He replied: “It is better to hold forth the hand for one grain of silver than to have it cut off for one and a half dang.”
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I saw a dervish who had withdrawn into a cave, shut the door of communication between the world and himself, and with his lofty and independent eye viewed emperors and kings without awe or reverence:—Whoever opens to himself the door of mendicity, must continue a beggar till the day of his death. Put covetousness aside, and be independent as a prince; the neck of contentment can raise its head erect.