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Payne: The Foolish Fisherman

[Go back to King Jelyaad of Hind and His Vizier Shimas: Whereafter Ensueth the History of King Wird Khan, Son of King Jelyaad, With His Women and Viziers (cont.)]

A fisherman went forth one day to a certain river, to fish there, as of his wont; and when he came thither and walked upon the bridge, he saw a great fish in the water and said to himself, "It will not serve me to abide here, but I will follow yonder fish whithersoever it doeth, till I take it. for it will dispense me from fishing days and days." So he put 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 land. However, he would not loose the fish and return, but ventured himself and gripping it fast with both hands, let his body float with the current, which carried him on till it cast him into a whirlpool which none might enter and be saved 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 grievous peril?' Quoth he, "It was I myself who forsook the plain way wherein was salvation and gave myself over to coveting and perdition." "O fellow," said they, "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, from which there is no deliverance; and now not one of us can rescue thee from this strait." So the man gave up hope of life and lost that which was in his hand and for which his soul had prompted him to venture himself and perish miserably. And I tell thee not this parable, O king,' added Shimas, 'but that thou mayst leave this contemptible thing that diverteth thee from thy duties and look to that which is committed to thee of the governance of thy people and the maintenance of the order of thy kingdom, so that none may see fault in thee.'

'What wouldst thou have me do?' asked the king, and Shimas said, 'To-morrow, if thou be in good health and case, give the folk leave to come in to thee and look into their affairs and excuse thyself to them and promise them good governance and prosperity.' 'O Shimas,' answered the king, 'thou hast spoken advisedly; and to-morrow, if it be the will of God the Most High, I will do that which thou counsellest me.' So the vizier went out from him and told the folk what he had said to him; and on the morrow the king came forth of his seclusion and bade admit the people, to whom he excused himself, promising them that thenceforward he would deal with them as they wished, wherewith they were content and departed each to his dwelling.

Then one of the king's women, who was his best- beloved of them and most in honour with him, went in to him and seeing him pale and thoughtful over his affairs, by reason of that which he had heard from his chief vizier, said to him, 'O king, how comes it that I see thee troubled in mind? Doth aught ail thee?' 'No,' answered he; 'but my pleasures have distracted me from my duties and I know not what hath possessed me to be thus negligent of my affairs and those of my subjects. If I continue on this wise, ere long the kingdom will pass out of my hand.' 'O king,' rejoined she, 'I see that thou hast been duped by thy viziers and ministers, who wish but to torment and spite thee, so thou mayst have no pleasure of this thy kingship neither enjoy ease nor delight, and would have thee consume thy life in warding off trouble from them, till thy days be wasted in toll and weariness and thou be as one who slayeth himself for another's benefit or like the boy and the thieves.' 'How was that?' asked the king, and she answered, 'It is said that...

[Go to The Boy and the Thieves]


Payne, John (1842-1916). The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night. London. 1901. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version. Wollamshram Vol. V. Wollamshram Vol. VI. Wollamshram Vol. VII. Wollamshram Vol. VIII. Wollamshram Vol. IX. Please consult the Wollamshram 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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