Sheikh Saadi

Story 22 – The Manners Of Kings – Gulistaan-e-Sa.Adii

A king was subject to a terrible disease, the mention of which is not sanctioned by custom. the tribe of Yunani physicians agreed that this pain cannot be allayed except by means of the bile of a person endued with certain qualities. Orders having been issued to search for an individual of this kind, the son of a landholder was discovered to possess the qualities mentioned by the doctors. the king summoned the father and mother of the boy whose consent he obtained by giving them immense wealth. the qazi issued a judicial decree that it is permissible to shed the blood of one subject for the safety of the king and the executioner was ready to slay the boy who then looked heavenwards and smiled. the king asked: ‘What occasion for laughter is there in such a position?’ the youth replied: ‘A son looks to the affection of his father and mother to bring his case before the qazi and to ask justice from the padshah. In the present instance, however, the father and mother have for the trash of this world surrendered my blood, the qazi has issued a decree to kill me, the sultan thinks he will recover his health only through my destruction and I see no other refuge besides God the most high.’

to whom shall I complain against thy hand

If I am to seek justice also from thy hand?

the sultan became troubled at these words, tears rushed to his eyes and he said: ‘It is better for me to perish than to shed innocent blood.’ He kissed the head and eyes of the youth, presented him with boundless wealth and it is said that the king also recovered his health during that week.

I also remember the distich recited

By the elephant-driver on the bank of the Nile:

‘If thou knewest the state of the ant under thy foot

It is like thy own condition under the foot of an elephant.’

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