He said: 'King Mas'oud, riding out one day,
Was parted from his army on the way.
Swift as the wind he galloped till he saw
A little boy sat by the ocean's shore.
The child was fishing - as he cast his hook,
The king dismounted with a friendly look
And sat by him; but the unhappy child
Was troubled in his heart and hardly smiled.
"You seem the saddest boy I've ever seen,"
The monarch said. "What can such sorrow mean ?"
"Our father's gone; for seven children I
Must cast my line" was his subdued reply.
"Our mother's paralysed and we are poor;
It is for food that I must haunt this shore -
I come to fish here in the dawn's first light
And cannot leave until the fall of night.
The meagre harvest of my toil and pain
Must last us all till I return again."
The king said : "Let's be friends, do you agree ?"
The poor child nodded and, immediately, I
His new friend cast their line into the sea.
That day the boy drew up a hundred fish.
"This wealth is far beyond my wildest wish,"
He said. "A splendid haul," the king replied.
"Good Fortune has been busy at your side -
Accept your luck, don't try to comprehend
How this has happened; you'd be lost, my friend.
Your wealth is greater than my own; today
A king has fished for you - I cannot stay."
He leapt onto his horse. "But take your share,"
The boy said earnestly. "That's only fair."
"Tomorrow's catch is mine. We won't divide
Today's you have it all," the king replied.
"Tomorrow when I fish you are the prey,
A trophy I refuse to give away."
The next day, walking in his garden's shade,
The king recalled the friend that he had made.
A captain fetched the boy, and this unknown
Was at the king's command set on his throne.
The courtiers murmured at his poverty -
"He is my friend, this fact suffices me;
He is my equal here in everything,
The partner of my throne," declared the king;
To every taunt the boy had one reply:
"My sadness vanished when the king passed by."
... The Conference of the Birds, Farid ud-Din Attar