Gulistan of Saadi
The Manners of Kings
A Chinese slave-girl having been brought to a king, he desired to have a connection with her whilst in a
state of intoxication but, as she repelled him, he became angry and presented her to one of his negro slaves whose upper lip was higher than his nostrils whilst the lower one hung down to his neck. His
stature was such that the demon Sakhrah would have been put to flight and a fountain of pitch emitted
stench from his armpits.
Thou wouldst say that, till the resurrection, ugliness
Is his stamp as that of Joseph was beauty.
His person was of so wretched an aspect
That his ugliness surpassed all description
And from his armpits, we take refuge with Allah,
They were like a corpse in the month of Merdad.
At that time the desire of the negro was libidinous, his lust overcame him, his love leaped up and he
took off the seal of her virginity. In the morning the king sought the girl but could not find her and,
having obtained information of what had taken place, he became angry, ordered the negro and the girl
to be firmly tied together by their hands and feet and to be thrown from the lofty building into a ditch.
One of the veziers, placing the face of intercession upon the ground, pleaded that there was no guilt in
the negro since all the servants of his majesty usually receive presents and benefits as he had received
the girl. The king rejoined: ‘What would it have mattered if he had for one night delayed his
enjoyment?’ He said: ‘My lord, hast thou not heard that it was said:
When a man with a burning thirst reaches a limpid spring,
Think not that he will care for a mad elephant.
When a hungry infidel is in an empty house at the table
The reason will not believe that he cares for the Ramazan.’
The king, being pleased with this sally, exclaimed: ‘I make thee a present of the negro. What am I to
do with the girl?’ He replied: ‘Give the girl to the negro because that half is also due to a dog of which
he has consumed the other half.’
The thirsty heart does not wish for limpid water
Half of which was consumed by a fetid mouth.
How can the king’s hand again touch
An orange after it has fallen into dung?