Therewithal, O my brother, the locust fell to going round about among the company of the birds, but saw nought resembling the hawk in bulk and body save the kite and deemed well of her. So she brought the hawk and the kite together and counselled the former to make friends with the latter. Now it chanced that the hawk fell sick and the kite abode with him a long while [and tended him] till he recovered and became whole and strong; wherefore he thanked her [and she departed from him]. But after awhile the hawk’s sickness returned to him and he needed the kite’s succour. So the locust went out from him and was absent from him a day, after which she returned to him with a[nother] locust, [FN#53] saying, “I have brought thee this one.” When the hawk saw her, he said, “God requite thee with good! Indeed, thou hast done well in the quest and hast been subtle in the choice.”
All this, O my brother,’ continued the merchant, ’befell because the locust had no knowledge of the secret essence that lieth hid in apparent bodies. As for thee, O my brother, (may God requite thee with good!) thou wast subtle in device and usedst precaution; but precaution sufficeth not against fate, and fortune fore-ordained baffleth contrivance. How excellent is the saying of the poet! And he recited the following verses:
It chances whiles that the blind man escapes a pit,
Whilst he who
is clear of sight falls into it.
The ignorant man may speak with impunity A word that is death to
the wise and the ripe of wit.
The true believer is pinched for his daily bread, Whilst infidel
rogues enjoy all benefit.
Where is a man’s resource and what can he do? It is the
Almighty’s will; we most submit.
Nor,” added the vizier, “is this, O king of the age, more extraordinary or stranger than the story of the king and his chamberlain’s wife; nay, the latter is rarer than this and more delightsome.”
When the king heard this story, he was fortified in his resolve to spare the vizier and to leave haste in an affair whereof he was not assured; so he comforted him and bade him withdraw to his lodging.
The Twenty-Fourth Night of the Month.
When it was night, the king summoned the vizier and sought of him the hearing of the [promised] story. “Hearkening and obedience,” replied Er Rehwan, “Know, O august king, that
There was once, of old days and in bygone ages and times, a king of the kings of the Persians, who was passionately addicted to the love of women. His courtiers bespoke him of the wife of a chamberlain of his chamberlains, for that she was endowed with beauty and loveliness and perfection, and this prompted him to go in to her. When she saw him, she knew him and said to him, ’What prompteth the king unto this that he doth?’ And he answered, saying,