One year I was on a journey with some Syrians from Balkh, and the road was infested with robbers. One of our escort was a youth expert at wielding his shield and brandishing his spear, mighty as an elephant, and cased in armor, so strong that ten of the most powerful of us could not string his bow, or the ablest wrestler on the face of the earth throw him on his back. Yet, as you must know, he had been brought up in luxury and reared in a shade, was inexperienced of the world, and had never travelled. The thunder of the great war-drum had never rattled in his ears, nor had the lightning of the trooper’s scimitar ever flashed across his eyes:—He had never fallen a captive into the hands of an enemy, nor been overwhelmed amidst a shower of their arrows.
It happened that this young man and I kept running on together; and any venerable ruin that might come in our way he would overthrow with the strength of his shoulder; and any huge tree that we might see he would wrench from its root with his lion-seizing wrist, and boastfully cry:—“Where is the elephant, that he may behold the shoulder and arm of warriors? Where the lion, that he may feel the wrist and grip of heroes?”
Such was our situation when two Hindus darted from behind a rock and prepared to cut us off, one of them holding a bludgeon in his hand, and the other having a mallet under his arm. I called to the young man, “Why do you stop?—Display whatever strength and courage thou hast, for the foe came on his own feet up to his grave":—I perceived that the youth’s bow and arrows had dropped from his hands, and that a tremor had fallen upon his limbs:—It is not he that can split a hair with a coat-of-mail cleaving arrow that is able to withstand an assault from the formidable:—No alternative was left us but that of surrendering our arms, accoutrements, and clothes, and escaping with our lives. On an affair of importance employ a man experienced in business who can bring the fierce lion within the noose of his halter; though the youth be strong of arm and has the body of an elephant, in his encounter with a foe every limb will quake with fear. A man of experience is best qualified to explore a field of battle, as one of the learned is to expound a point of law.
I saw a rich man’s son seated by his father’s tomb, and in a disputation with that of a dervish holding forth and saying: “My father’s mausoleum is built of granite, the epitaph inscribed with letters of gold, the pavement and lining marble, and tessellated with slabs of turquoise; and what is there left of your father’s tomb but two or three bricks cemented together with a few handfuls of mortar?” The poor man’s son heard this, and answered: “I pray you peace! for before your father can stir himself under this heavy load of stone mine shall have risen up to heaven!”