THE SPARROW AND THE PEACOCK.
There was once a sparrow, that used every day to visit a certain king of the birds and was the first to go in to him and the last to leave him. One day, a company of birds assembled on a high mountain, and one of them said to another, 'Verily, we are waxed many and many are the differences between us, and needs must we have a king to order our affairs, so shall we be at one and our differences will cease.' Thereupon up came the sparrow and counselled them to make the peacock,--that is, the prince he used to visit,--king over them. So they chose the peacock to their king and he bestowed largesse on them and made the sparrow his secretary and vizier. Now the sparrow was wont bytimes to leave his assiduity [in the personal service of the king] and look into affairs [in general]. One day, he came not at the usual time, whereat the peacock was sore troubled; but presently, he returned and the peacock said to him, 'What hath delayed thee, that art the nearest to me of all my servants and the dearest?' Quoth the sparrow, 'I have seen a thing that is doubtful to me and at which I am affrighted.' 'What was it thou sawest?' asked the king; and the sparrow answered, 'I saw a man set up a net, hard by my nest, and drive its pegs fast into the ground. Then he strewed grain in its midst and withdrew afar off. As I sat watching what he would do, behold, fate and destiny drove thither a crane and his wife, which fell into the midst of the net and began to cry out; whereupon the fowler came up and took them. This troubled me, and this is the reason of my absence from thee, O king of the age; but never again will I abide in that nest, for fear of the net.' 'Depart not thy dwelling,' rejoined the peacock; 'for precaution will avail thee nothing against destiny.' And the sparrow obeyed his commandment, saying, 'I will take patience and not depart, in obedience to the king.' So he continued to visit the king and carry him food and water, taking care for himself, till one day he saw two sparrows fighting on the ground and said in himself, 'How can I, who am the king's vizier, look on and see sparrows fighting in my neighbourhood? By Allah, I must make peace between them!' So he flew down to them, to reconcile them; but the fowler cast the net over them and taking the sparrow in question, gave him to his fellow, saying, 'Take care of him, for he is the fattest and finest I ever saw.' But the sparrow said in himself, 'I have fallen into that which I feared and it was none but the peacock that inspired me with a false security. It availed me nothing to beware of the stroke of fate, since for him who taketh precaution there is no fleeing from destiny; and how well says the poet:That which is not to be shall by no means be brought To pass, and that which is to be shall come, unsought,