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Burton: The Foolish Fisherman

[Go back to King Jali'ad of Hind and His Wazir Shimas: Followed by the History of King Wird Khan, son of King Jali'ad with His Women and Wazirs (cont.)]

A fisherman went forth to a river for fishing therein as was his wont, and when he came thither and walked upon the bridge, he saw a great fish and said in himself, "'Twill not serve me to abide here, but I will follow yonder fish whitherso it goeth, till I catch it for it will relieve me from fishing for days and days." So he did off his clothes and plunged into the river after the fish. The current bore him along till he overtook it and laid hold of it, when he turned and found himself far from the bank. But albeit he saw what the stream had done with him, he would not loose the fish and return, but ventured life and gripping it fast with both hands, let his body float with the flow, which carried him on till it cast him into a whirlpool none might enter and come out therefrom. With this he fell to crying out and saying, "Save a drowning man!" And there came to him folk of the keepers of the river and said to him, "What ailed thee to cast thyself into this great peril?" Quoth he, "It was I myself who forsook the plain way wherein was salvation and gave myself over to concupiscence and perdition." Quoth they, "O fellow, why didst thou leave the way of safety and cast thyself into this destruction, knowing from of old that none may enter herein and be saved? What hindered thee from throwing away what was in thy hand and saving thyself? So hadst thou escaped with thy life and not fallen into this perdition, whence there is no deliverance; and now not one of us can rescue thee from this thy ruin." Accordingly the man cut off all his hopes of life and lost that which was in his hand and for which his flesh had prompted him to venture himself, and died a miserable death. "And I tell thee not this parable, O King," added Shimas, "but that thou mayest leave this contemptible conduct that diverteth thee from thy duties and look to that which is committed to thee of the rule of thy folk and the maintenance of the order of thy realm, so that none may see fault in thee." The King asked "What wouldst thou have me do?" And Shimas answered, "Tomorrow, an thou be well and in good case, give the folk leave to come in to thee and look into their affairs and excuse thyself to them and promise them of thine own accord good governance and prosperity." Quoth the King, "O Shimas, thou hast spoken sensibly and rightly; and to-morrowf, Inshallah, I will do that which thou counsellest me." So the Wazir went out from him and told the lieges all he had said to him; and, when morning morrowed, the King came forth of his privacy and bade admit the people, to whom he excused himself, promising them that thence forward he would deal with them as they wished, wherewith they were content and departed each to his own dwelling. Then one of the King's wives, who was his best-beloved of them and most in honour with him, visited him and seeing him changed of colour and thoughtful over his affairs, by reason of that which he had heard from his Chief Wazir, said to him, "O King, how is it that I see thee troubled in mind? Hast thou aught to complain of?" Answered he, "No, but my pleasures have distracted me from my duties. What right have I to be thus negligent of my affairs and those of my subjects? If I continue on this wise, soon, very soon, the kingdom will pass out of my hand." She rejoined, "I see, O King, that thou hast been duped by the Wazirs and Ministers, who wish but to torment and entrap thee, so thou mayst have no joyance of this thy kingship neither feel ease nor taste delight; nay, they would have thee consume thy life in warding off trouble from them, till thy days be wasted in travail and weariness and thou be as one who slayeth himself for the benefit of another or like the Boy and the Thieves." Asked the King, "How was that?" and she answered, "They tell the following tale anent...

[Go to The Boy and the Thieves]

Burton, Richard (1821-1890). The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. London. 1885-1888. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Gutenberg Vol. V. Gutenberg Vol. V. Gutenberg Vol. VII. Gutenberg Vol. VIII. Gutenberg Vol. IX. Gutenberg Vol. X. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version.

1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM

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