Danish Fairy and Folk Tales/A Rose-leaf

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


HAD the fountain of speech dried up, or why did silence prevail in the High Council of Babylon?

There they were, seated in a circle, all the wise fathers of the great city; all were absorbed in deep meditation, fixing their glances upon the ground as if expecting that help and advice would grow up, like herbs and flowers.

What had brought the High Council of Babylon into such a state of helplessness and confusion? It was a small slip of parchment upon which were written these words: "Abdul Kader asks Babylon to show him hospitality."

Abdul Kader—the light of the Orient, the wisest among wise men—whose speech was vivifying as balsam, refreshing as rain. He asked Babylon to open its gates for him—Babylon, the city of thousands, numbering already hundreds of thousands. Were he admitted, ten would follow, and hundreds would follow the ten, and thousands would follow the hundreds.

But the worthy man must not be treated like an unwelcome beggar. He could not be refused admittance! And yet—

Suddenly the doors were opened, and Soleiman, the Elder, entered the hall. The marks of wisdom were written by age upon his forehead.

When he saw the lines written upon the slip of parchment he remained standing in the middle of the hall. Every one gazed at him, but a long time elapsed; then a ray of light gleamed from his eyes, and seizing a costly cup, he said to the Council, "Arise, and follow me."

They all followed him to the fountain near the gate of the city. Here Soleiman filled the cup with water, and when it was unable to hold another drop, he lifted it, and with a kind smile, but without speaking, held the golden chalice towards Abdul Kader, as if wishing to say: Behold! Babylon is like this cup which cannot hold another drop of water; Babylon has not room for another man.

But Abdul Kader smilingly reached down, picked a rose-leaf from the ground, and cautiously placed it on the surface of the water in the cup. He spoke not, but Soleiman extended his hands towards him, and the Council forming a procession, conducted him to the hall. Abdul Kader had solved the problem.

A wise man is like the rose-leaf on the water. The leaf floats on the surface without exerting any pressure; the wise man is no source of trouble to a community. He beautifies it.