Folklore and Legends: Oriental, by Charles John Tibbitts, , at sacred-texts.com
A fox and a wolf inhabited the same den, resorting thither together, and thus they remained a long time. But the wolf oppressed the fox; and it so happened that the fox counselled the wolf to assume benignity, and to abandon wickedness, saying to him, "If thou persevere in thine arrogance, probably God will give power over thee to a son of Adam; for he is possessed of stratagems, and artifice, and guile; he captureth the birds from the sky, and the fish from the sea, and cutteth the mountains and transporteth them; and all this he accomplisheth through his stratagems. Betake thyself, therefore, to the practice of equity, and relinquish evil and oppression; for it will be more pleasant to thy taste." The wolf, however, received not his advice; on the contrary, he returned him a rough reply, saying to him, "Thou hast no right to speak on matters of magnitude and importance." He then gave the fox such a blow that he fell down senseless; and when he recovered, he smiled in the wolf's face,
apologising for his shameful words, and recited these two verses:
So the wolf accepted his apology, and ceased from ill-treating him, but said to him, "Speak not of that which concerneth thee not, lest thou hear that which will not please thee." The fox replied, "I hear and obey. I will abstain from that which pleaseth thee not; for the sage hath said, 'Offer not information on a subject respecting which thou art not questioned; and reply not to words when thou art not invited; leave what concerneth thee not, to attend to that which doth concern thee; and lavish not advice upon the evil, for they will recompense thee for it with evil.'"
When the wolf heard these words of the fox, he smiled in his face; but he meditated upon employing some artifice against him, and said, "I must strive to effect the destruction of this fox." As to the fox, however, he bore patiently the injurious conduct of the wolf, saying within himself, "Verily, insolence and calumny occasion destruction, and betray one into perplexity; for it hath been said, 'He who is insolent suffereth injury, and he who is ignorant repenteth, and he who feareth is safe: moderation is one of the qualities of the noble, and good manners are the noblest gain.' It is advisable to
behave with dissimulation towards this tyrant, and he will inevitably be overthrown." He then said to the wolf, "Verily the Lord pardoneth and becometh propitious unto His servant when he hath sinned; and I am a weak slave, and have committed a transgression in offering thee advice. Had I foreknown the pain that I have suffered from thy blow, I had known that the elephant could not withstand nor endure it; but I will not complain of the pain of that blow, on account of the happiness that hath resulted unto me from it; for, if it had a severe effect upon me, its result was happiness; and the sage hath said, 'The beating inflicted by the preceptor is at first extremely grievous; but in the end it is sweeter than clarified honey!'" So the wolf said, "I forgive thine offence, and cancel thy fault; but beware of my power, and confess thyself my slave; for thou hast experienced my severity unto him who showeth me hostility." The fox, therefore, prostrated himself before him, saying to him, "May God prolong thy life, and mayest thou not cease to subdue him who opposeth thee!" And he continued to fear the wolf, and to dissemble towards him.
After this the fox went one day to a vineyard, and saw in its wall a breach; but he suspected it, saying unto himself, "There must be some cause for this breach, and it hath been said, 'Whoso seeth a hole in the ground, and doth not shun it, and be
cautious of advancing to it boldly, exposeth himself to danger and destruction.' It is well known that some men make a figure of the fox in the vineyard, and even put before it grapes in plates, in order that a fox may see it, and advance to it, and fall into destruction. Verily I regard this breach as a snare; and it hath been said, 'Caution is the half of cleverness.' Caution requireth me to examine this breach, and to see if I can find there anything that may lead to perdition. Covetousness doth not induce me to throw myself into destruction." He then approached it, and, going round about examining it warily, beheld it; and lo! there was a deep pit, which the owner of the vineyard had dug to catch in it the wild beasts that despoiled the vines; and he observed over it a slight covering. So he drew back from it, and said, "Praise be to God that I regarded it with caution! I hope that my enemy, the wolf, who hath made my life miserable, may fall into it, so that I alone may enjoy absolute power over the vineyard, and live in it securely." Then, shaking his head, and uttering a loud laugh, he merrily sang these verses
Having finished his song, he hurried away until he came to the wolf, when he said to him, "Verily God hath smoothed for thee the way to the vineyard without fatigue. This hath happened through thy good fortune. Mayest thou enjoy, therefore, that to which God hath granted thee access, in smoothing thy way to that plunder and that abundant sustenance without any difficulty!" So the wolf said to the fox, "What is the proof of that which thou hast declared?" The fox answered, "I went to the vineyard, and found that its owner had died; and I entered the garden, and beheld the fruits shining upon the trees."
So the wolf doubted not the words of the fox, and in his eagerness he arose and went to the breach. His cupidity had deceived him with vain hopes, and the fox stopped and fell down behind him as one dead, applying this verse as a proverb suited to the case
When the wolf carne to the breach, the fox said to him, "Enter the vineyard; for thou art spared the trouble of breaking down the wall of the garden, and it remaineth for God to complete the benefit." So the wolf walked forward, desiring to enter the vineyard, and when he came to the middle of the covering of the hole, he fell into it; whereupon the fox was violently excited by happiness and joy, his
anxiety and grief ceased, and in merry tones he sang these verses
He then looked into the pit, and beheld the wolf weeping in his repentance and sorrow for himself, and the fox wept with him. So the wolf raised his head towards him, and said, "Is it from thy compassion for me that thou hast wept, O Abu-l-Hoseyn?" "No," answered the fox, "by him who cast thee into this pit; but I weep for the length of thy past life, and in my regret at thy not having fallen into this pit before the present day. Hadst thou fallen into it before I met with thee, I had experienced refreshment and ease. But thou hast been spared to the expiration of thy decreed term and known period." The wolf, however, said to him, "Go, O evildoer, to my mother, and acquaint her with that which hath happened to me; perhaps she will contrive some means for my deliverance." But the fox replied, "The excess of thy covetousness and eager desire has entrapped thee into destruction,
since thou hast fallen into a pit from which thou wilt never be saved. Knowest thou not, O ignorant wolf, that the author of the proverb saith, 'He who thinks not of results will not be secure from perils?"' "O Abu-l-Hoseyn!" rejoined the wolf, "thou wast wont to manifest an affection for me, and to desire my friendship, and fear the greatness of my power. Be not, then, rancorous towards me for that which I have done unto thee; for he who hath one in his power, and yet forgiveth, will receive a recompense from God, and the poet hath said
"O most ignorant of the beasts of prey!" said the fox, "and most stupid of the wild beasts of the regions of the earth, hast thou forgotten thy haughtiness, and insolence, and pride, and thy disregarding the rights of companionship, and thy refusing to be advised by the saying of the poet?
"O Abu-l-Hoseyn!" exclaimed the wolf, "be not angry with me for my former offences, for forgiveness is required of the generous, and kind conduct
is among the best means of enriching one's-self. How excellent is the saying of the poet
He continued to abase himself to the fox, and said to him, "Perhaps thou canst find some means of delivering me from destruction." But the fox replied, "O artful, guileful, treacherous wolf! hope not for deliverance; for this is the recompense of thy base conduct, and a just retaliation." Then, shaking his jaws with laughing, he recited these two verses
"O gentle one among the beasts of prey!" resumed the wolf, "thou art in my estimation more faithful than to leave me in this pit." He then shed tears, and repeated this couplet
The fox replied, "O stupid enemy, how art thou reduced to humility, submissiveness, abjectness, and obsequiousness, after thy disdain, pride, tyranny, and haughtiness! I kept company with thee through fear of thine oppression, and flattered thee
without a hope of conciliating thy kindness; but now terror hath affected thee, and punishment hath overtaken thee." And he recited these two verses
The wolf still entreated him, saying, "O gentle one! speak not with the tongue of enmity, nor look with its eye; but fulfil the covenant of fellowship with me before the time for discovering a remedy shall have passed. Arise and procure for me a rope, and tie one end of it to a tree, and let down to me its other end, that I may lay hold of it. Perhaps I may so escape from my present predicament, and I will give thee all the treasures that I possess." The fox, however, replied, "Thou hast prolonged a conversation that will not procure thy liberation. Hope not, therefore, for thy escape through my means; but reflect upon thy former wicked conduct, and the perfidy and artifice which thou thoughtest to employ against me, and how near thou art to being stoned. Know that thy soul is about to quit the world, and to perish and depart from it: then wilt thou be reduced to destruction, and an evil abode is it to which thou goest!" "O Abu-l-Hoseyn!" rejoined the wolf, "be ready in returning to friendship, and be not so rancorous.
[paragraph continues] Know that he who delivereth a soul from destruction hath saved it alive, and he who saveth a soul alive is as if he had saved the lives of all mankind. Follow not a course of evil, for the wise abhor it; and there is no evil more manifest than my being in this pit, drinking the suffocating pains of death, and looking upon destruction, when thou art able to deliver me from the misery into which I have fallen." But the fox exclaimed, "O thou barbarous, hard-hearted wretch! I compare thee, with respect to the fairness of thy professions and the baseness of thine intention, to the falcon with the partridge." "And what," asked the wolf, "is the story of the falcon and the partridge?"
The fox answered, "I entered a vineyard one day to eat of its grapes, and while I was there, I beheld a falcon pounce upon a partridge; but when he had captured him, the partridge escaped from him and entered his nest, and concealed himself in it; whereupon the falcon followed him, calling out to him, 'O idiot! I saw thee in the desert hungry, and, feeling compassion for thee, I gathered for thee some grain, and took hold of thee that thou mightest eat; but thou fleddest from me, and I see no reason for thy flight unless it be to mortify. Show thyself, then, and take the grain that I have brought thee and eat it, and may it be light and wholesome to thee.' So when the partridge heard these words of the falcon, he believed him and
came forth to him; and the falcon stuck his talons into him, and got possession of him. The partridge therefore said to him, 'Is this that of which thou saidst that thou hadst brought for me from the desert, and of which thou saidst to me, "Eat it, and may it be light and wholesome to thee?" Thou hast lied unto me; and may God make that which thou eatest of my flesh to be a mortal poison in thy stomach!' And when he had eaten it, his feathers fell off, and his strength failed, and he forthwith died."
The fox then continued, "Know, O wolf, that he who diggeth a pit for his brother soon falleth into it himself; and thou behavedst with perfidy to me first." "Cease," replied the wolf, "from addressing me with this discourse, and propounding fables, and mention not unto me my former base actions. It is enough for me to be in this miserable state, since I have fallen into a calamity for which the enemy would pity me, much more the true friend. Consider some stratagem by means of which I may save myself, and so assist me. If the doing this occasion thee trouble, thou knowest that the true friend endureth for his own true friend the severest labour, and will suffer destruction in obtaining his deliverance; and it hath been said, 'An affectionate friend is even better than a brother.' If thou procure means for my escape, I will collect for thee such things as shall be a store for thee against the time
of want, and then I will teach thee extraordinary stratagems by which thou shalt make the plenteous vineyards accessible, and shalt strip the fruitful trees: so be happy and cheerful." But the fox said, laughing as he spoke, "How excellent is that which the learned have said of him who is excessively ignorant like thee!" "And what have the learned said?" asked the wolf. The fox answered, "The learned have observed that the rude in body and in disposition is far from intelligence, and nigh unto ignorance; for thine assertion, O perfidious idiot! that the true friend undergoeth trouble for the deliverance of his own true friend is just as thou hast said; but acquaint me, with thine ignorance and thy paucity of sense, how I should bear sincere friendship towards thee with thy treachery. Hast thou considered me a true friend unto thee when I am an enemy who rejoiceth in thy misfortune? These words are more severe than the piercing of arrows, if thou understand. And as to thy saying that thou wilt give me such things as will be a store for me against the time of want, and will teach me stratagems by which I shall obtain access to the plenteous vineyards and strip the fruitful treeshow is it, O guileful traitor! that thou knowest not a stratagem by means of which to save thyself from destruction? How far, then, art thou from profiting thyself, and how far am I from receiving thine advice? If thou know of stratagems,
employ them to save thyself from this predicament from which I pray God to make thine escape far distant. See, then, O idiot! if thou know any stratagem, and save thyself by its means from slaughter, before thou lavish instruction upon another. But thou art like a man whom a disease attacked, and to whom there came a man suffering from the same disease to cure him, saying to him, 'Shall I cure thee of thy disease?' The first man, therefore, said to the other, 'Why hast thou not begun by curing thyself?' So he left him and went his way. And thou, O wolf, art in the same case. Remain, then, in thy place, and endure that which hath befallen thee."
Now when the wolf heard these words of the fox, he knew that he had no kindly feeling for him; so he wept for himself, and said, "I have been careless of myself; but if God deliver me from this affliction, I will assuredly repent of my overbearing conduct unto him that is weaker than I; and I will certainly wear wool, and ascend the mountains, commemorating the praises of God (whose name be exalted!) and fearing His punishment; and I will separate myself from all the other wild beasts, and verily I will feed the warriors in defence of the religion and the poor." Then he wept and lamented; and thereupon the heart of the fox was moved with tenderness for him. On hearing his humble expressions, and the words which indicated his repenting
of arrogance and pride, he was affected with compassion for him, and, leaping with joy, placed himself at the brink of the pit, and sat upon his hind-legs and hung down his tail into the cavity. Upon this the wolf arose, and stretched forth his paw towards the fox's tail, and pulled him down to him; so the fox was with him in the pit. The wolf then said to him, "O fox of little compassion! wherefore didst thou rejoice in my misfortune? Now thou hast become my companion, and in my power. Thou hast fallen into the pit with me, and punishment hath quickly overtaken thee. The sages have said, 'If any one of you reproach his brother for deriving his nourishment from miserable means, he shall experience the same necessity,' and how excellent is the saying of the poet
"I must now," he continued, "hasten thy slaughter, before thou beholdest mine." So the fox said within himself, "I have fallen into the snare with this tyrant, and my present case requireth the employment of artifice and frauds. It hath been said that the woman maketh her ornaments for the day of festivity; and, in a proverb, 'I have not reserved thee, O my tear, but for the time of my difficulty!' and if I employ not some stratagem in the affair of
this tyrannical wild beast, I perish inevitably. How good is the saying of the poet
He then said to the wolf, "Hasten not to kill me, lest thou repent, O courageous wild beast, endowed with might and excessive fortitude! If thou delay, and consider what I am about to tell thee, thou wilt know the desire that I formed; and if thou hasten to kill me, there will be no profit to thee in thy doing so, but we shall die here together." So the wolf said, "O thou wily deceiver! how is it that thou hopest to effect my safety and thine own, that thou askest me to give thee a delay I Acquaint me with the desire that thou formedst." The fox replied, "As to the desire that I formed, it was such as requireth thee to recompense me for it well, since, when I heard thy promises, and thy confession of thy past conduct, and thy regret at not having before repented and done good; and when I heard thy vows to abstain from injurious conduct to thy companions and others, and to relinquish the eating of the grapes and all other fruits, and to impose upon thyself the obligation of humility, and to clip thy claws and break thy dog-teeth, and to wear
wool and offer sacrifice to God (whose name be exalted!) if He delivered thee from thy present state, I was affected with compassion for thee, though I was before longing for thy destruction. So when I heard thy profession of repentance, and what thou vowedst to do if God delivered thee, I felt constrained to save thee from thy present predicament. I therefore hung down my tail that thou mightest catch hold of it and make thine escape. But thou wouldst not relinquish thy habit of severity and violence, nor desire escape and safety for thyself by gentleness. On the contrary, thou didst pull me in such a way that I thought my soul had departed, so I became a companion with thee of the abode of destruction and death; and nothing will effect the escape of myself and thee but one plan. If thou approve of this plan that I have to propose, we shall both save ourselves; and after that, it will be incumbent on thee to fulfil that which thou hast vowed to do, and I will be thy companion." So the wolf said, "And what is thy proposal that I am to accept?" The fox answered, "That thou raise thyself upright; then I will place myself upon thy head, that I may approach the surface of the earth, and when I am upon its surface I will go forth and bring thee something of which to take hold, and after that thou wilt deliver thyself." But the wolf replied, "I put no confidence in thy words; for the sages have said, 'He who confideth when he should
hate is in error'; and it hath been said, 'He who confideth in the faithless is deceived, and he who maketh trial of the trier will repent.' How excellent also is the saying of the poet
"And the saying of another
"And that of another
"Verily," rejoined the fox, "an evil opinion is not commendable in every case; but a fair opinion is among the characteristics of excellence, and its result is escape from terrors. It is befitting, O wolf, that thou employ some stratagem for thine escape from the present predicament; and it will be better for us both to escape than to die. Relinquish, therefore, thine evil opinion and thy malevolence; for if thou think favourably of me, I shall not fail to do one of two things; either I shall bring thee something of which to lay hold, and thou wilt escape from thy present situation, or I shall act perfidiously
towards thee, and save myself and leave thee; but this is a thing that cannot be, for I am not secured from meeting with some such affliction as that which thou hast met with, and that would be the punishment of perfidy. It hath been said in a proverb, 'Fidelity is good, and perfidy is base.' It is fit, then, that thou trust in me, for I have not been ignorant of misfortunes. Delay not, therefore, to contrive our escape, for the affair is too strait for thee to prolong thy discourse upon it."
The wolf then said, "Verily, notwithstanding my little confidence in thy fidelity, I knew what was in thy heart, that thou desiredst my deliverance when thou wast convinced of my repentance; and I said within myself, 'If he be veracious in that which he asserteth, he hath made amends for his wickedness; and if he be false, he will be recompensed by his Lord.' So now I accept thy proposal to me, and if thou act perfidiously towards me, thy perfidy will be the means of thy destruction." Then the wolf raised himself upright in the pit, and took the fox upon his shoulders, so that his head reached the surface of the ground. The fox thereupon sprang from the wolf's shoulders, and found himself upon the face of the earth, when he fell down senseless. The wolf now said to him, "O my friend! forget not my case, nor delay my deliverance."
The fox, however, uttered a loud laugh, and replied, "O thou deceived! it was nothing but my
jesting with thee and deriding thee that entrapped me into thy power; for when I heard thy profession of repentance, joy excited me, and I was moved with delight, and danced, and my tail hung down into the pit; so thou didst pull me, and I fell by thee. Then God (whose name be exalted!) delivered me from thy hand. Wherefore, then, should I not aid in thy destruction when thou art of the associates of the devil? Know that I dreamt yesterday that I was dancing at thy wedding, and I related the dream to an interpreter, who said to me, 'Thou wilt fall into a frightful danger, and escape from it.' So I knew that my falling into thy power and my escape was the interpretation of my dream. Thou, too, knowest, O deceived idiot! that I am thine enemy. How, then, dost thou hope, with thy little sense and thine ignorance, that I will deliver thee, when thou hast heard what rude language I used? And how shall I endeavour to deliver thee, when the learned have said that by the death of the sinner are produced ease to mankind and purgation of the earth? Did I not fear that I should suffer, by fidelity to thee, such affliction as would be greater than that which may result from perfidy, I would consider upon means for thy deliverance." So when the wolf heard the words of the fox, he bit his paw in repentance. He then spoke softly to him, but obtained nothing thereby. With a low voice he said to him, "Verily,
you tribe of foxes are the sweetest of people in tongue, and the most pleasant in jesting, and this is jesting in thee; but every time is not convenient for sport and joking." "O idiot!" replied the fox, "jesting hath a limit which its employer transgresseth not. Think not that God will give thee possession of me after He hath delivered me from thy power." The wolf then said to him, "Thou art one in whom it is proper to desire my liberation, on account of the former brotherhood and friendship that subsisted between us; and if thou deliver me, I will certainly recompense thee well." But the fox replied, "The sages have said, 'Take not as thy brother the ignorant and wicked, for he will disgrace thee, and not honour thee; and take not as thy brother the liar, for if good proceed from thee he will hide it, and if evil proceed from thee he will publish it!' And the sages have said, 'For everything there is a stratagem, excepting death; and everything may be rectified excepting the corruption of the very essence; and everything may be repelled excepting destiny.' And as to the recompense which thou assertest that I deserve of thee, I compare thee, in thy recompensing, to the serpent fleeing from the Háwee, when a man saw her in a state of terror, and said to her, 'What is the matter with thee, O serpent?' She answered, 'I have fled from the Háwee, for he seeketh me; and if thou deliver me from him, and conceal me with
thee, I will recompense thee well, and do thee every kindness.' So the man took her, to obtain the reward, and eager for the recompense, and put her into his pocket; and when the Háwee had passed and gone his way, and what she feared had quitted her, the man said to her, 'Where is the recompense, for I have saved thee from that which thou fearedst and didst dread?' The serpent answered him, 'Tell me in what member I shall bite thee; for thou knowest that we exceed not this recompense.' She then inflicted upon him a bite, from which he died. And thee, O idiot!" continued the fox, "I compare to that serpent with that man. Hast thou not heard the saying of the poet?
"O eloquent and comely-faced animal!" rejoined the wolf, "be not ignorant of my condition, and of the fear with which mankind regard me. Thou knowest that I assault the strong places, and strip the vines. Do, therefore, what I have commanded thee, and attend to me as the slave attendeth to his master." "O ignorant idiot! who seekest what is vain," exclaimed the fox, "verily I wonder at thy stupidity, and at the roughness of thy manner, in thine ordering me to serve thee and to stand before thee as though I were a slave. But thou shalt soon
see what will befall thee, by the splitting of thy head with stones, and the breaking of thy treacherous dogteeth."
The fox then stationed himself upon a mound overlooking the vineyard, and cried out incessantly to the people of the vineyard until they perceived him and came quickly to him. He remained steady before them until they drew near unto him, and unto the pit in which was the wolf, and then he fled. So the owners of the vineyard looked into the pit, and when they beheld the wolf in it, they instantly pelted him with heavy stones, and continued throwing stones and pieces of wood upon him, and piercing him with the points of spears, until they killed him, when they departed. Then the fox returned to the pit, and standing over the place of the wolf's slaughter, saw him dead; whereupon he shook his head in the excess of his joy, and recited these verses
After this the fox remained in the vineyard alone, and in security, fearing no mischief.