He that seeketh shall find, and to him that knocketh shall be opened,” says an old Arab proverb. “I will try that,” said a youth one day. To carry out his intentions he journeyed to Bagdad, where he presented himself before the Vizier. “Lord!” said he, “for many years I have lived a quiet and solitary life, the monotony of which wearies me. I have never permitted myself earnestly to will anything. But as my teacher daily repeated to me, ‘He that seeketh shall find, and to him that knocketh shall be opened,’ so have I now come to the resolution with might and heart to will, and the resolution of my will is nothing less than to have the Caliph’s daughter for my wife.”
The Vizier thought the poor man was mad, and told him to call again some other time.
Perseveringly he daily returned, and never felt disconcerted at the same often-repeated answer. One day, the Caliph called on the Vizier, just as the youth was delivering his statement.
Full of astonishment the Caliph listened to the strange demand, and being in no peculiar humour for having the poor youth’s head taken off, but on the contrary, rather inclined for pleasantry, his Mightiness condescendingly said: “For the great, the wise, or the brave, to request a princess for wife, is a moderate demand; but what are your claims? To be the possessor of my daughter you must distinguish yourself by one of these attributes, or else by some great undertaking. Ages ago a carbuncle of inestimable value was lost in the Tigris; he who finds it shall have the hand of my daughter.”
The youth, satisfied with the promise of the Caliph, went to the shores of the Tigris. With a small vessel he every morning went to the river, scooping out the water and throwing it on the land; and after having for hours thus employed himself, he knelt down and prayed. The fishes became at last uneasy at his perseverance; and being fearful that, in course of time, he might exhaust the waters, they assembled in great council.
“What is the purpose of this man?” demanded the monarch of the fishes.
“The possession of the carbuncle that lies buried in the sluice of the Tigris,” was the reply.
“I advise you, then,” said the aged monarch, “to give it up to him; for if he has the steady will, and has positively resolved to find it, he will drain the last drop of water from the Tigris, rather than deviate a hair’s breadth from his purpose.”
The fishes, out of fear, threw the carbuncle into the vessel of the youth; and the latter, as a reward, received the daughter of the Caliph for his wife.
“He who earnestly wills, can do much!”