THE KING OF THE ISLAND.

There was once a rich and notable man of the children of Israel, who had a pious and blessed son. When the former's last hour drew nigh, his son sat down at his head and said to him, 'O my lord, give me an injunction.' 'Dear my son,' replied his father, 'I charge thee, swear not by God, whether truly or falsely.' Then he died and certain lewd fellows of the children of Israel heard of the injunction he had laid on his son and fell to coming to the latter and saying, 'Thy father had such and such monies of mine, and thou knowest it; so give me what is due to me or else make oath [to the contrary].' The man would not disobey his father's injunction, so gave them all they claimed; and they ceased not to deal thus with him, till his wealth was exhausted and he fell into sore distress.

Now he had a pious and blessed wife, who had borne him two little sons; so he said to her, 'The folk have multiplied claims on me and what while I had wherewithal to quit myself of them, I stinted not to give it up; but now there is nothing left us, and if others make claim upon me, we shall be distressed and tormented, I and thou; so it were better for us to flee to some place, where none knows us, and earn our bread among the uttermost of the folk.' Accordingly, he took ship with her and his two children, knowing not whither he should go; but God decreeth; there is no reverser of His decrees; (23) and quoth the tongue of the case:

      O thou, that thy dwelling departest for fear of the foe And ease in thy flight overtakes thee and freedom from woe,
      Grudge not at estrangement, for often the exile, by length Of distance from homestead and country, right puissant doth grow.
      If the pearls in the prison abided for aye of their shells, Kings' crowns to them never were given for dwelling, I trow.

The ship was wrecked, but the man and his wife and children saved themselves, each on a plank. The waves separated them and the wife was cast up in one country and the elder son in another. The second son was picked up by a ship, and the waves threw the father on a desert island, where he landed and made the ablution. Then he pronounced the call to prayer and fell to his devotions, when, behold, there came up out of the sea creatures of various colours and prayed with him. When he had finished, he went up to a tree and stayed his hunger with its fruits; after which he found a spring of water and drank thereof and praised God, to whom belong might and majesty. He abode thus three days and whenever he stood up to pray, the sea-creatures came out and prayed like as he prayed.

On the fourth day, he heard one crying aloud and saying, 'O just man, that didst so piously honour thy father and so reverest the decrees of thy Lord, grieve not, for God requiteth thee that which thou hast lost. In this island are treasures and things of price, which God willeth thou shalt inherit, and they are in such a place; so bring thou them to light. Moreover, we will send ships unto thee; and do thou bestow largesse on the folk and bid them to thee, and we will incline their hearts unto thee.' So he sought out the appointed place, and God (to whom belong might and majesty) discovered to him the treasures in question. Then ships resorted to him, and he gave abundant largesse to the crews, saying to them, 'Direct the folk unto me and I will give them such and such things and appoint to them this and that.' Accordingly, there came folk from all parts and countries, nor had ten years passed over him, before the island was peopled and he became its king. None repaired to him, but he entreated him with munificence, and his report was noised abroad throughout the length and breadth of the earth.

Now his elder son had fallen into the hands of a man, who reared him and instructed him in all manner of polite accomplishments; and in like manner, the younger was adopted by one who gave him a good education and brought him up for a merchant. As for their mother, she happened upon a merchant, who gave her charge over his property and made a covenant with her that he would not deal traitorously by her, but would aid her to obey God (to whom belong might and majesty); and he used to carry her with him in his travels by sea and land. Now the elder son heard the report of the King, without knowing who he was; so he made for the island and was well received by the King, who made him his private secretary. After awhile, the other son also sought out the King, attracted by the fame of his piety and justice, and was made by him his steward.

They abode awhile in his service, neither knowing other, till it chanced that the merchant aforesaid, hearing of the King's beneficence and generous dealing with the folk, freighted a ship with rich stuffs and other of the best of the produce of the country, and taking the woman with him, set sail for the island. He arrived there in due course and landing, presented himself before the King with his gift. The latter rejoiced therein with an exceeding joy and ordered him a splendid recompense. Now there were, among the gifts, certain drugs, of which he would have the merchant acquaint him with the names and uses; so he said to him, 'Abide with us this night.' Quoth he, 'I have in the ship a pious woman whom God hath committed to my ward, and I have promised her to entrust the care of her to none but myself; for indeed I build upon her prayers and have felt the blessing of her counsels.' 'I will send her two trusty men,' rejoined the King, 'who shall pass the night in the ship and guard her and all that is with her.' The merchant agreed to this and abode with the King, who called his secretary and steward and said to them, 'Go and pass the night in this man's ship and keep it safe, if it please God the Most High.'

So they went up into the ship and seating themselves, one in the bows and the other on the poop, passed a part of the night in repeating the praises of God (to whom belong might and majesty). Then said one to the other, 'Harkye, such an one! The King bade us keep watch and I fear lest sleep overtake us; so, come, let us discourse of stories of fortune and of the good and evil chances we have seen.' 'O my brother,' replied the other, 'as for my tribulations, fate parted me from my mother and a brother of mine, whose name was even as thine; and it befell thus. My father took ship with us from such a place, and the winds and waves rose against us and were contrary, so that the ship was wrecked and God sundered our union.' 'What was the name of thy mother, O my brother?' asked the first. 'So and so,' answered the other. 'And of thy father?' 'So and so.' When the first one heard this, he threw himself upon the other's neck, saying, 'By Allah, thou art my very brother!' And each fell to telling the other what had befallen him in his youth, whilst their mother heard all they said, but held her peace and constrained her soul to patience.

When it was morning, one brother said to the other, 'Come, brother, let us go to my lodging and talk there.' 'It is well,' replied the other. So they went away and presently, the merchant came back and finding the woman in great concern, said to her, 'What hath befallen thee?' Quoth she, 'Thou sentest to me yesternight men who purposed ill to me, and I have been sore troubled with them.' At this, he was wroth and going in to the King, made his complaint to him. Now the King loved the two brothers, for that which he had noted in them of virtue and trustworthiness; so he summoned them forth- with and sending for the woman, that he might hear from her own lips what she had to say against them, said to her, 'O woman, what complaint hast thou against these two men?' 'O King,' replied she, 'I conjure thee, by the Great God, the Bountiful One, the Lord of the Ninth heaven, bid them repeat the words they spoke yesternight.' So he said to them, 'Repeat what ye said and conceal nought thereof.' Accordingly, they repeated their conversation, and behold, the King gave a great cry and rising from his throne, threw himself upon them, saying, 'By Allah, ye are my very sons!' Therewith the woman discovered her face and said, 'And I am their mother.' So they were all united and abode in all delight and solace of life, until death separated them. So glory be to Him who delivereth His servant, whenas he resorteth to Him, and disappointeth not his hope and his trust in Him! And how well saith the poet on the subject:

      Each thing hath its appointed time, to its predestinate: With God, my brother, to confirm it lies or abrogate.
      Repine thou not at any thing wherewith thou stricken art; For troubles oft in prosperous times do lie for us in wait.
      How many an one lies down to sleep, afflicted with what seems A strait, but is at heart a cause of joy and fortunate!
      How many a wretch, on whom men's eyes look hatred and contempt, Is by God's wonder-working grace redeemed from low estate!
      Lo, this is one who did endure affliction aforetime; Hurt and distress were sore on him and unrelenting fate.
      Time severed him from those he held most dear, and each from each, After long union of their loves, was forced to separate.
      But his Lord gave him fortune fair and brought him those he loved. In all God doth are monishments for men to meditate.
      Glory to Him whose providence embraces all that be, Whose presence ever near to us, clear proofs do intimate.
      He is the Near One, whom no wit conceiveth nor indeed Days' journeys nearer bring to us nor of His distance bate!



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