In short, the next day, along with its neighbour, the old woman’s Cat, with tottering steps conveyed itself to court, but before it could arrive there ill-fortune had poured the water of disappointment on the fire of its wish, and the reason was as follows:
The day before, the cats had made a general onslaught on the table, and raised an uproar beyond bounds, and annoyed, to the last degree, the guests and their host. Wherefore, on this day, the Sultan had commanded that a band of archers, standing in ambush, should watch, so that for every cat who, holding before its face the buckler of impudence should enter the plain of audacity, the very first morsel that it ate should be a liver-piercing shaft.
The old woman’s Cat, ignorant of this circumstance, as soon as it smelt the odour of the viands, turned its face like a falcon to the hunting-ground of the table, and the scale of the balance of appetite had not yet been weighted by heavy mouthfuls, when the heart-piercing arrow quivered in its breast.
Dear friend! the honey pays not for the
Content with syrup is a better thing.
In the environs of Basrah there was an island of excessively pleasant climate, where limpid waters flowed on every side and life-bestowing zephyrs breathed around.
From its excessive exquisiteness they called it the “Joy-expanding Wilderness,” and a Tiger bore sway there, such that from dread of him fierce lions could not set foot in that retreat.
He had lived much time in that wild, according to his wish, and had never seen the form of disappointment in the mirror of existence. He had a young one whose countenance made the world seem bright to him, and his intention was that when that young one came to years he would commit that solitude to his charge, and pass the rest of his life at ease in the corner of retirement. The blossom of his wish had not yet expanded on the stem of desire when the autumn of death gave the fruit of the garden of his existence to the mind of destruction.
And when this Tiger was seized by the claw of the Lion, Death, several wild beasts who for a long time entertained a desire for that wilderness made a unanimous movement and set about appropriating it. The young Tiger saw that he possessed not the strength to resist. He went voluntarily into exile, and amongst the wild beasts a huge contest arose. A blood-spilling Lion overcame all the others and brought the island into his own possession, and the young Tiger, having for some time endured distress in the mountains and wastes, conveyed himself to another haunt, and disclosed his affliction to the wild beasts of that district, asking their aid to find a remedy.
They, having received intelligence of the victory of the Lion, and his overpowering might, said: “O unfortunate! thy place is now in the possession of a Lion such that from terror of him the wild birds will not fly over that wilderness, and from fear of him the elephant will not approach. We have not strength to fight with him and thou too art not able to enter with him the arena of strife. Our opinion demands that thou shouldst betake thyself to his court, and with perfect loyalty enter his service.”