It happened that something in his behavior having displeased me, I withdrew the skirt of communication, and removed the seal of my affection from him, and said: “Go, and take what course best suits thee; thou regardest not my counsel, follow thine own.” I overheard him as he was going, and saying:—“If the bat does not relish the company of the sun, the all-current brilliancy of that luminary can suffer no diminution.” He so expressed himself and departed, and his vagabond condition much distressed me:—the opportunity of enjoyment was lost, and a man is insensible to the relish of prosperity till he has tasted adversity:—return and slay me, for to die before thy face were far more pleasant than to survive in thy absence.
But, thanksgiving and praise to the Almighty, he did not return till after some interval, when that melodious pipe of David was cracked, and that handsome form of Joseph in its wane; when that apple his chin was overgrown with hair, like a quince, and the all-current lustre of his charms tarnished. He expected me to fold him in my arms; but I took myself aside and said: “When the down of loveliness flourished on thy cheek, thou drovest the lord of thy attractions from thy sight; now thou hast come to court his peace when thy face is thick set with fathahs and zammahs, or the bristles of a beard:—The verdant foliage of thy spring is turned yellow; place not thy kettle on my grate, for its fire is cooled. How long wilt thou display this pomp and vanity; hopest thou to regain thy former dominion? Make thy court to such as desire thee, sport thy airs on such as will hire thee:—The verdure of the garden, they have told us, is charming; that person (Sa’di) knows it who is relating that story; or, in other words, that the fresh-shooting down on their charmers’ cheeks is what the hearts of their admirers chiefly covet:—Thy garden is like a bed of chives: the more thou croppest it, the more it will shoot:—Last year thou didst depart smooth as an antelope, to-day thou art returned bearded like a pard. Sa’di admires the fresh-shooting down, not when each hair is stiff as a packing-needle:—Whether thou hast patience with thy beard, or weed it from thy face, this happy season of youth must come to a conclusion. Had I the same command of life as thou hast of beard, it should not escape me till doomsday.” I asked him and said: “What has become of the beauty of thy countenance, that a beard has sprung up round the orb of the moon?” He answered: “I know not what has befallen my face, unless it has put on black to mourn its departed charms.”
* * * * *
They shut up a parrot in the same cage with a crow. The parrot was affronted at his ugly look, and said: “What an odious visage is this, a hideous figure; what an accursed appearance, and ungracious demeanor!—Would to God, O raven of the desert! we were wide apart as the east is from the west:—The serenity of his peaceful day would change into the gloom of night, who on issuing forth in the morning might cross thy aspect. An ill-conditioned wretch like thyself should be thy companion; but where could we find such another in the world?”