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Payne: The Fox and the Wild Ass

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A certain fox was wont every day to leave his earth and go forth in quest of prey. One day, as he was in a certain mountain, the night overtook him and he set out to return. On his way, be fell in with another fox, and each began to tell the other of the prey he had gotten. Quoth the newcomer, "The other day I chanced upon a wild ass and rejoiced in this and thanked God the Most High for bringing him into my power, for that I was anhungred and it was three days since I had eaten. So I tore out his heart and ate it and was full and returned to my earth. That was three days ago and since then I have found nothing to eat, yet am I still full of meat.' When the other fox heard his fellow's story, he envied him his fulness and said in himself, "Needs must I eat a wild ass's heart." So he left eating some days, till he became emaciated and nigh upon death and bestirred not himself neither did his endeavour [to get food], but lay coiled up in his earth.

One day there came out two hunters in quest of prey and started a wild ass. They followed in his track all day, till at last one of them shot at him a barbed arrow, which pierced his heart and killed him, and he fell down before the fox's hole. Then the hunters come up and finding him dead, pulled out the arrow from his heart but only the shaft came away and the barbed head abode in the wound. So they left him where he lay, expecting that others of the wild beasts would flock to him; but, when it was night and nothing fell to them, they returned to their abiding-places. The fox, hearing the commotion at the mouth of his hole, lay quiet till nightfall, when he came forth of his earth, groaning for weakness and hunger, and seeing the dead ass lying at his door, was like to fly for joy and said, "Praised be God who hath made my desire easy to me without toil! Verily, I had lost hope of coming at a wild ass or aught else; and assuredly God hath sent him to me and made him fall in my place."

Then he sprang on the dead ass and tearing open its belly, thrust in his head and routed about in its guts, till he found the heart and tearing it out, swallowed it: but the barbed head of the arrow stuck in his gullet and he could neither get it down into his belly nor bring it forth of his throat. So he made sure of destruction and said, "Of a truth it beseemeth not the creature to seek [aught] over and above that which God hath allotted to him. Had I been content with what He allotted me, I had not come to destruction." Wherefore, O king,' added the vizier, 'it behoveth man to be content with that which God hath allotted him and thank Him for His bounties to him and despair not of his Lord. And behold, O king, because of the purity of thine intent and the multitude of thy good works, God hath blessed thee with a son, after despair: wherefore we pray the Most High to vouchsafe him long life and abiding happiness and make him a blessed successor, faithful in the observance of thy covenant, after thy long life.'

Then arose the fourth vizier and said, 'Verily, if the king be a man of understanding, versed in the canons of science and government and policy, upright in purpose and just to his subjects, honouring and revering those to whom honour and veneration are due, using clemency, whenas it behoveth, in the exercise of his power and protecting both governors and governed, lightening their burdens and bestowing largesse on them, sparing their blood and covering their nakedness and fulfilling his covenant with them, he is worthy of felicity both in this world and the next: and this is of that which protecteth him from them and helpeth him to the stablishing of his kingdom and the victory over his enemies and the accomplishment of his desire, together with increase of God's bounty to him and His favouring him for his praise of Him and the attainment of His protection. But the king who is the contrary of this ceaseth never from misfortunes and calamities, he and the people of his realm; for that his oppression embraceth both stranger and kinsman, and there cometh to pass with him that which befell the unjust king with the pilgrim prince.' 'And how was that?' asked King Jelyaad. 'Know, O king,' answered the vizier, 'that...

[Go to The Unjust King and the Pilgrim Prince]


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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