[Go back to The Sparrow and the Eagle]
A hedgehog once took up his abode under a palm-tree, on which roosted a pair of wood-pigeons, that had made their nest there and lived an easy life, and he said to himself, 'These pigeons eat of the fruit of the palm-tree, and I have no means of getting at it; but needs must I go about with them.' So he dug a hole at the foot of the palm-tree and took up his lodging there, he and his wife. Moreover, he made a place of prayer beside the hole, in which he shut himself and made a show of piety and abstinence and renunciation of the world. The male pigeon saw him praying and worshipping and inclined to him for his much devoutness and said to him, 'How long hast thou been thus?' 'Thirty years,' replied the hedgehog. 'What is thy food?' asked the bird and the other answered, 'What falls from the palm-tree.' 'And what is thy clothing?' asked the pigeon. 'Prickles,' replied the hedgehog; 'I profit by their roughness.' 'And why,' continued the bird, 'hast thou chosen this place rather than another?' 'I chose it,' answered the hedgehog, 'that I might guide the erring into the right way and teach the ignorant.' 'I had thought thee other-guise than this,' rejoined the pigeon; but now I feel a yearning for that which is with thee.' Quoth the hedgehog, 'I fear lest thy deed belie thy speech and thou be even as the husbandman, who neglected to sow in season, saying, "I fear lest the days bring me not to my desire, and I shall only waste my substance by making haste to sow." When the time of harvest came and he saw the folk gathering in their crops, he repented him of what he had lost by his tardiness and died of chagrin and vexation.' 'What then shall I do,' asked the pigeon, 'that I may be freed from the bonds of the world and give myself up altogether to the service of my Lord?' 'Betake thee to preparing for the next world,' answered the hedgehog, 'and content thyself with a pittance of food.' 'How can I do this,' said the pigeon, 'I that am a bird and may not go beyond the palm-tree whereon is my food? Nor, could I do so, do I know another place, wherein I may abide.' Quoth the hedgehog, 'Thou canst shake down of the fruit of the palm what shall suffice thee and thy wife for a year's victual; then do ye take up your abode in a nest under the tree, that ye may seek to be guided in the right way, and do ye turn to what ye have shaken down and store it up against the time of need; and when the fruits are spent and the time is long upon you, address yourselves to abstinence from food.' 'May God requite thee with good,' exclaimed the pigeon, 'for the fair intent with which thou hast reminded me of the world to come and hast directed me into the right way!' Then he and his wife busied themselves in knocking down the dates, till nothing was left on the palm-tree, whilst the hedgehog, finding whereof to eat, rejoiced and filled his den with the dates, storing them up for his subsistence and saying in himself, 'When the pigeon and his wife have need of their provant, they will seek it of me, trusting in my devoutness and abstinence; and from what they have heard of my pious counsels and admonitions, they will draw near unto me. Then will I seize them and eat them, after which I shall have the place and all that drops from the palm-tree, to suffice me.' Presently the pigeon and his wife came down and finding that the hedgehog had carried off all the dates, said to him, 'O pious and devout-spoken hedgehog of good counsel, we can find no sign of the dates and know not on what else we shall feed.' 'Belike,' replied the hedgehog, 'the winds have carried them away; but the turning from the provision to the Provider is of the essence of prosperity, and He who cut the corners of the mouth will not leave it without victual.' And he gave not over preaching to them thus and making a show of piety and cozening them with fine words, till they put faith in him and entered his den, without suspicion, where-upon he sprang to the door and gnashed his tusks, and the pigeon, seeing his perfidy manifested, said to him, 'What has to-night to do with yester-night? Knowest thou not that there is a Helper for the oppressed? Beware of treachery and craft, lest there befall thee what befell the sharpers who plotted against the merchant.' 'What was that?' asked the hedgehog. 'I have heard tell,' answered the pigeon, 'that...
[Go to The Merchant and the Two Sharpers]
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