Story of Rostevan, King of the Arabians
- THERE was in
Arabia Rostevan, a king by the grace of
- God, happy,
exalted, generous, modest, lord of many hosts
- and knights,
just and gracious, powerful, far-seeing, himself
- a peerless
warrior, moreover, fluent in speech.
- NO other child
had the king save one only daughter, the
- shining light
of the world, to be ranked with nought but the
- sunny group;
whoever looked on her, she bereft him of
- heart, mind
and soul. It needs a wise man to praise her, and
- ten thousand
times a thousand tongues.
- HER name is
T'hinat'hin; let it be famous! When she had
- grown up to
full womanhood, she contemned even the sun.
- The king
called his viziers, seated himself, proud yet gentle,
- and, placing
them by his side, began to talk graciously
- to them.
- HE said: "I
will declare to you the matter on which we
- are to take
counsel together. When the flower of the rose is
- dried and
withered it falls, and another blooms in the lovely
- garden. The
sun is set for us; we are gazing on a dark, moonless night
day is done; old age, most grievous of all ills.
on me; if not
to-day, then to-morrow I die—this is the way
of the world.
What light is that on which darkness attends?
Let us instate
as sovereign my daughter, of whom the sun is
- THE viziers
said: "0 king, why do you speak of your age?
- Even when the
rose fades we must needs give it its due; it
- still excels
all in scent and fair colour. How can a star
- declare enmity
even to the waning moon!
- "SPEAK not
then thus, 0 king. Your rose is not yet
- faded. Even
bad counsel from you is better than good
- counsel from
another. It was certainly fitting to speak
- about what
your heart desires. It is better. Give the
- kingdom to her
who prevails against the sun.
- "THOUGH indeed
she be a woman, still as sovereign she
- is begotten of
God. She knows how to rule. We say not this
- to flatter
you; we ourselves, in your absence, often say so.
- Her deeds,
like her radiance, are revealed bright as
- sunshine. The
lion's whelps are equal, be they male or female."
- AVT'HANDIL was
son of the Amirspasalari.2
- He was more
graceful than the cypress; his presence was like sun and moon. Still
beardless, he was to be likened to
- famous crystal
and enamel. The beauty of the host of
eyelashes was slaying him.
- HE kept his
love hidden in his heart. When he was absent
- and saw her
not, his rose faded; when he saw her, the fires
- were renewed,
his wound smarted more. Love is pitiable; it
- makes man
- WHEN the king
commanded that his daughter should be
- enthroned as
king, gladness came upon Avt'handil; the
- fire that was
burning Avt'handil was extinguished. He said
- to himself:
"Often will it now fall to my lot to gaze upon
- her crystal
face; perchance I may thus find a cure for my
- THE great
sovereign of the Arabs published throughout
- Arabia an
edict: "I, her father, appoint my T'hinat'hin
- queen; she
shall illumine all, even as the shining sun.
- Come and see,
all ye who praise and extol!"
- ALL the
Arabians came; the crowd of courtiers increased.
- The sun-faced
Avt'handil, chief of ten thousand times a
soldiers, the vizier Sograt, the nearest to the
- king of all
his attendants. When they placed the throne the
- people said:
"Its worth is beyond words!"
radiant in countenance, was led in by her
- sire. He
seated her, and with his own hands set the crown on
- her head; he
gave her the sceptre, and clad her in the royal
- robes. The
maiden looks on with understanding, all-seeing,
- like the sun.
- THE king and
his armies retired and did homage. They
- blessed her
and established her as queen, many from many
- places told
forth her praises; the trumpets were blown and
- the cymbals
sounded sweetly. The maiden wept, she shed
- many tears;
she drooped her eyelashes, the tail feathers of
- the raven.
- SHE deemed
herself unworthy to sit on her father's
therefore she weeps, filling the rose-garden with
- tears. The
king admonishes her: "Every father hath a peer
- in his child,"
quoth he. "Until now the raging fire in my
- bosom has not
- HE said: "Weep
not, daughter, but hearken to my counsel :
- To-day thou
art queen of Arabia, appointed sovereign
- by me;
henceforth this kingdom is entrusted to thee; mayest
- thou be
discreet in thy doings, be modest and discerning.
- "SINCE the sun
shines alike on roses and middens, be not
- thou weary of
mercy to great and small. The generous binds
- the free, and
he who is already bound will willingly obey.
liberally, as the seas pour forth again the floods
- they have
in kings is like the aloe planted in Eden.
- All, even the
traitor, are obedient to the generous. It is
- very wholesome
to eat and drink, but what profits it to
- board ? What
thou givest away is thine; what thou keepest
- is lost."
- THE maiden
hearkened discreetly to this her father's
- advice, she
lent ear, she heard, she wearied not of
The king drank and sported; he was exceeding joyful. T'hinat'hin
contemned the sun, but the sun was like to T'hinat'hin.
- SHE sent for
her faithful, trusty tutor, and said: "Bring
- hither all my
treasure sealed by thee, all the wealth
- belonging to
me as king's daughter. " He brought it; she
- gave without
measure, without count, inexhaustibly.
- THAT day she
gave away all she had gathered since her
- childhood; she
enriched both small folk and great. Then
- she said: "I
do the deed my father taught me; let none keep
- back any of my
- SHE said:
"Go, open whatever treasure there is! Master
- of the Horse,
lead in the droves of asses, mules, and horses.
- He brought
them. She gave them away without measure;
- she wearied
not of generosity. The soldiers gathered together
- stuff like
- THEY pillaged
her treasury as 'twere booty from Turks;
- they carried
off her fine, sleek Arab steeds. Her munificence
- was like a
snowstorm whirling down from the sky; none
empty, neither youth nor maiden.
- ONE day
passed; there was a banquet, food and drink—a
- feast of
fruit. A great gathering of warriors sat there to
- make merry.
The king hung his head, and his brow was
- furrowed with
sadness. They began to discuss this one with
- another: "What
weighs upon him, and why grieves he ?"
- AT the head
sat the sun-faced Avt'handil, desirable to
- them that look
upon him, the agile leader of the hosts;
- like a tiger
and a lion is he. The old vizier Sograt sat by his
- side. They
said one to the other: "What ails the king, and
- why has he
grown pale ?"
- THEY said:
"Some unpleasant thought has come into the
- king's mind,
for nothing has happened here to make him
- sad." Quoth
Avt'handil: "Let us inquire, 0 Sograt, let
- him tell us
why he is displeased with us; let us venture on
pleasantry; why hath he shamed us?"
- SOGRAT and the
graceful Avt'handil arose; each filled his
- winecup, and
with meek mien drew nigh. Then with
- smiling faces
they cast themselves on their knees before the
- king. The
vizier sportively spoke thus, with eloquent
- words :
- "YOU look sad,
0 king; there is no longer a smile on your
- face. Thou art
right, for, lo! your daughter with lavish hand
- has given away
all your rich and costly treasure. Make her
- not queen at
all; why bring grief on thyself?"
- WHEN the king
heard him he looked up with a smile. He
- marvelled how
he had ventured thus, how he dared to speak
- such words!
"Well hast thou done!" He thanked his vizier.
- He confirmed
this what he said: "He who lays avarice to
- my charge is a
- "THAT afflicts
me not, 0 vizier. This it is that troubles
- me: Old age
draws nigh; I have spent the days of youth,
- and nowhere in
our dominions is there a man who hath
- learned from
me the knightly arts.
- "IT is true I
have a daughter tenderly nurtured, but God
- has given me
no son; I suffer in this fleeting life. There
- is none to be
compared with me in archery or at the game
- of ball. It is
true that Avt'handil resembles me somewhat,
- thanks to my
- THE proud
youth hearkened modestly to these words of
- the king; with
bent head he smiled. Well did a smile befit
- him; his
shining white teeth gleamed like sunshine on a
- mead. The king
asked: "Why smilest thou? Or why wert
- thou shy of me
- YET again he
said: "Why dost thou laugh at me? What is
- laughable in
me ?" The youth replied: "I shall tell you if
- you grant me
leave to speak. With what I say be not
- offended, be
not wroth, blame me not, call me not bold,
- ruin me not
- HE anwered:
"How can I take aught thou sayst as
- displeasing ?"
He took an oath by the sun of T'hinat'hin,
- that contemner
of the sun. Avt'handil said: "Then will
- I speak
boldly; vaunt not yourself of your archery, it is
- better to
AVT'HANDIL, earth under feet, am an archer before
- you; let us
lay a wager; let your armies attend as
'Who is like me in the lists ?' said you—vain
- indeed is
denial !-that is decided by the ball and the field."
- "I WILL not
let thee thus dispute with me! Say the word,
- let us draw
the bow; do not shirk. Let us make good men
- witnesses of
our rivalry; then in the field it will be manifest
- whose praises
should be sung."
obeyed; they ceased their discourse. They
- laughed, they
sported like children, lovingly and becomingly
- they behaved.
They fixed the wager, and laid down this
Whoever shall be beaten, let him go bareheaded
- for three
- THE king
commanded, moreover: "Let twelve slaves be
- chosen to
attend us, twelve to give me arrows and wait
- upon me;
Shermadin alone is for thee; he is equal to
- them. Let them
count the shots and the hits, and give
- a faithful,
- TO the
huntsmen he said: "Travel over the plain, beat in
- many droves,
go yourselves to do this, invite the soldiers
- to look on,
assemble and close round!" The festivity and
- banquet broke
up; there were we pleasantly merry.