The king marvelled at this and at his dealing and contrivance and invested him with [the control of] all his affairs and of his kingdom and the land abode [under his governance] and he said to him, ’Take and people.’[FN#244] One day, the tither went out and saw an old man, a woodcutter, and with him wood; so he said to him, ‘Pay a dirhem tithe for thy load.’ Quoth the old man, ‘Behold, thou killest me and killest my family.’ ’What [meanest thou]?’ said the tither. ‘Who killeth the folk?’ And the other answered, ’If thou suffer me enter the city, I shall sell the wood there for three dirhems, whereof I will give thee one and buy with the other two what will support my family; but, if thou press me for the tithe without the city, the load will sell but for one dirhem and thou wilt take it and I shall abide without food, I and my family. Indeed, thou and I in this circumstance are like unto David and Solomon, on whom be peace!’ [’How so?’ asked the tither, and the woodcutter said], ’Know that
STORY OF DAVID AND SOLOMON.
Certain husbandmen once made complaint to David (on whom be peace!) against certain owners of sheep, whose flocks had fallen upon their crops by night and devoured them, and he bade value the crops [and that the shepherds should make good the amount]. But Solomon (on whom be peace!) rose and said, “Nay, but let the sheep be delivered to the husbandmen, so they may take their milk and wool, till they have repaid themselves the value of their crops; then let the sheep return to their owners.” So David withdrew his own ordinance and caused execute that of Solomon; yet was David no oppressor; but Solomon’s judgment was more pertinent and he showed himself therein better versed in jurisprudence.’[FN#245]
When the tither heard the old man’s speech, he relented towards him and said to him, ’O old man, I make thee a present of that which is due from thee, and do thou cleave to me and leave me not, so haply I may get of thee profit that shall do away from me my errors and guide me into the way of righteousness.’ So the old man followed him, and there met him another with a load of wood. Quoth the tither to him, ‘Pay what is due from thee.’ And he answered, ’Have patience with me till to-morrow, for I owe the hire of a house, and I will sell another load of wood and pay thee two days’ tithe.’ But he refused him this and the old man said to him, ’If thou constrain him unto this, thou wilt enforce him quit thy country, for that he is a stranger here and hath no domicile; and if he remove on account of one dirhem, thou wilt lose [of him] three hundred and threescore dirhems a year. Thus wilt thou lose the much in keeping the little.’ Quoth the tither, ‘I give him a dirhem every month to the hire of his lodging.’