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Burton: The Francolin and the Tortoises

[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.)]

It is said that sundry Tortoises dwelt once in a certain island abounding in trees and fruiterers and rills, and it fortuned, one day, that a Francolin, passing over the island, was overcome with the fiery heat and fatigue and being in grievous suffering stayed his flight therein. Presently, looking about for a cool place, he espied the resort of the Tortoises and alighted down near their home. Now they were then abroad foraging for food, and when they returned from their feeding places to their dwelling, they found the Francolin there. His beauty pleased them and Allah made him lovely in their eyes, so that they exclaimed "Subhana 'llah," extolling their Creator and loved the Francolin with exceeding love and rejoiced in him, saying one to other, "Forsure this is of the goodliest of the birds;" and all began to caress him and entreat him with kindness. When he saw that they looked on him with eyes of affection, he inclined to them and companioned with them and took up his abode with them, flying away in the morning whither he would and returning at eventide to pass the night by side of them. On this wise he continued a long while until the Tortoises, seeing that his daily absence from them desolated them and finding that they never saw him save by night (for at dawn he still took flight in haste and they knew not what came of him, for all that their love grew to him), said each to other, "Indeed, we love this Francolin and he is become our true friend and we cannot bear parting from him, so how shall we devise some device tending to make him abide with us always? For he flieth away at dawn and is absent from us all day and we see him not save by night." Quoth one of them, "Be easy, O my sisters; I will bring him not to leave us for the turn of an eye?" and quoth the rest, saying, "An thou do this, we will all be thy thralls." So, when the Francolin came back from his feeding place and sat down amongst them, that wily Tortoise drew near unto him and called down blessings on him, giving him joy of his safe return and saying, "O my lord, know that Allah hath vouch-safed thee our love and hath in like manner set in thy heart the love of us, whereby thou art become to us a familiar friend and a comrade in this desert. Now the goodliest of times for those who love one another is when they are united and the sorest of calamities for them are absence and severance. But thou departest from us at peep of day and returnest not to us till sundown, wherefore there betideth us extreme desolation. Indeed this is exceeding grievous to us and we abide in sore longing for such reason." The Francolin replied, "Indeed, I love you also and yearn for you yet more than you can yearn for me, nor is it easy for me to leave you; but my hand hath no help for this, seeing that I am a fowl with wings and may not wone with you always, because that is not of my nature. For a bird, being a winged creature, may not remain still, save it be for the sake of sleep o' nights; but, as soon as it is day, he flieth away and seeketh his morning-meal in what place soever pleaseth him." Answered the Tortoise, "Sooth thou speakest! Nevertheless he who hath wings hath no repose at most seasons, for that the good he getteth is not a fourth part of what ill betideth him, and the highmost aims of the creature are repose and ease of life. Now Allah hath bred between us and thee love and fellowship and we fear for thee, lest some of thine enemies catch thee and thou perish and we be denied the sight of thy countenance." Rejoined the Francolin, "True! But what rede hast thou or resource for my case?" Quoth the Tortoise, "My advice is that thou pluck out thy wing-feathers, wherewith thou speedest thy flight, and tarry with us in tranquillity, eating of our meat and drinking of our drink in this pasturage, that aboundeth in trees rife with fruits yellow-ripe and we will sojourn, we and thou, in this fruitful stead and enjoy the company of one another." The Francolin inclined to her speech, seeking ease for himself, and plucked out his wing-feathers, one by one, in accordance with the rede approved of by the Tortoise; then he took up his abode with them and contented himself with the little ease and transient pleasure he enjoyed. Presently up came a Weasel and glancing at the Francolin, saw that his wings were plucked, so that he could not fly, whereat he rejoiced with joy exceeding and said to himself, "Verily yonder Francolin is fat of flesh and scant of feather." So he went up to him and seized him, whereupon the Francolin called out to the Tortoises for help; but when they saw the Weasel rend him, they drew apart from him and huddled together, choked with weeping for him, for they witnessed how the beast tortured him. Quoth the Francolin, "Is there aught with you but weeping?"; and quoth they, "O our brother, we have neither force nor resource nor any course against a Weasel." At this the Francolin was grieved and cutting off all his hopes of life said to them, "The fault is not yours, but mine own fault, in that I hearkened to you and plucked out my wing-feathers wherewith I used to fly. Indeed I deserve destruction for having obeyed you, and I blame you not in aught." "On like wise," continued the King, "I do not blame you, O women; but I blame and reproach myself for that I remembered not that ye were the cause of the transgression of our father Adam, by reason whereof he was cast out from the Garden of Eden, and for that I forgot ye are the root of all evil and hearkened to you, in mine ignorance, lack of sense and weakness of judgment, and slew my Wazirs and the Governors of my State, who were my loyal advisers in all mine actions and my glory and my strength against whatsoever troubled me. But at this time find I not one to replace them nor see I any who shall stand me in their stead, and I fall into utter perdition."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

[Resume 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.)]

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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