Tariel Hears Tidings of the Loss of Nestan-Daredjan
"I SENT those men. I was mad in mind; since I could
learn nought of her I grew more inflamed with grief. I went
to look from a wall I had built overlooking the plain. I
learned a dreadful thing, though I lost not my head.
"TWO pedestrians appeared, I went to meet them; it was
a woman with a slave; I recognized who was coming, it
was Asmat'h, with dishevelled head, blood flowing from her
face; no more did she call to me smiling, nor did she greet
me with a smile.
"WHEN I saw her I became perturbed; my mind was
maddened. I cried from afar: 'What has befallen us, why
does the fire consume us ?' She wept pitifully, she could
hardly utter words, she said to me: 'God had engirt the
sphere of the heavens in wrath for us!'
"I CAME near, I enquired again: 'What has happened to
us? Tell me the truth.' Again she wept aloud piteously,
again the flame burned her; for a long time she could
speak no word to me, not the tenth part of her griefs; her
breast was dyed crimson with the blood trickling from
her cheeks.
"THEN she said to me: 'I will tell thee, why should I
hide it from thee ? But inasmuch as I shall make thee to
rejoice, so have mercy upon me, suffer me not to live,
let me not survive, I entreat thee, have pity on me, save me
from the passing world, fulfil thy duty to thy God.'
"SHE said to me: 'When thou slowest the bridegroom and
the alarm was raised, the king heard it, he leaped up, he
was sore stricken thereat; he called for thee, he ordered thee
to be summoned, in a loud voice he cried; they sought
thee, they could not find thee at home, and thereat the
king complained.
"THEY told him: "He is not here; he has somewhere
passed the gates." The king said: "I know, I know, too well
I understand; he loved my daughter, he shed blood in the
fields, and when they saw each other they could not refrain
from gazing.
"NOW, by my head! I will slay her who is called my
sister; I told her God's will, she has caught her in the devil's
net; what have those wicked lovers given or promised her ?
If I allow her to remain alive I renounce God; this is ready
for her punishment."
"SELDOM was it the king's wont to swear by his head,
and when he thus swore he brake not his oath, forthwith he
fulfilled it. Someone—who knows who ?-who heard this
wrath of the king told it to Davar the Kadj, who knows
even heaven by her sorcery.
"SOME enemy of God told Davar, the king's sister:
"The brother hath sworn by his head, he will not leave thee
alive, the people know it." She spoke thus: "The good God
knows that I am innocent, and let that same people know
who it is that slays me and for whose sake I am slain."
"MY mistress was the same as when thou didst leave her,
head was still wrapped in thy veils, beautifully they became
her. Davar spoke words such as I had never heard: "Harlot,
thou harlot, why didst thou slay me ? I think thou too shalt
not rejoice.
"WANTON, harlot woman, why didst thou cause thy
bridegroom to be slain, or why dost thou make me pay for
his blood with mine ? My brother shall not slay me in
vain for what I have done, what I have made thee do!
Now God grant thou mayst never meet him whom thou
didst incite to hinder this!"
"SHE seized her, dragged her along, tore her long hair,
wounded her, bruised her, fiercely she frowned; Nestan
could make no answer, but only sighed and moaned, a
black woman was of no avail, she could not heal her
"WHEN Davar was sated with beating and bruising, two
slaves with Kadj-like faces came forth; they brought an ark,
they spoke rudely to her, they put that sun inside, thus
was she made prisoner.
"SHE said to them: "Go and lose her in the middle
of the great seas. Do not show her frozen water, let not
this water be slippery." Gleefully they began to laugh,
screaming with joy. All this I saw, nor did I die of it;
stronger than rock am I.
"THEY passed the windows towards the sea, immediately
she was out of sight. Davar said: "Who would not stone me
for doing this? Who? Before P'harsadan slay me, I shall die.
Life is wearisome to me!" She struck herself with a knife,
died, fell in a stream of blood.
"WHY marvel'st thou not to see me alive, unpierced by
a lance! Now do to me what befits a bringer of such
tidings; by the Most High, deliver from this unbearable
life me who have not yet ceased to breathe.' Her tears fell
piteously, undiminished, undrying.
"I SAID: 'Sister, why should I kill thee, or what is thy
fault ? What shall I do in return for the debt I owe her ?
Now I devote myself to seek her wherever rock and water
are found.' I became quite petrified; my heart grew like
hard rock.
"EXCESSIVE horror maddened me; fever and trembling
came upon me. I said to myself: 'Die not! To lie idle is of
no avail; better is it to roam forth to seek her, to run and
wander in the fields. Has come the time for thee, who wishest
to go with me!'
"I WENT in, I arrayed myself quickly, accoutred I
mounted my horse. A hundred and sixty good knights
serving me a long time joined me, we passed forth from the
gates in order of battle. I went to the seashore, I saw a ship,
the master of the ship saw me apparelled.
"I ENTERED the ship, I went out to sea, I cruised amidst
the sea. I let no ship from any quarter pass unseen. I
waited, but I heard nothing. Mad as I was I became still
more maddened; God hated me so that He forsook me
"THUS I spent a year-twelve months which were to me
like twenty—but I found no man, even in a dream, who
had seen her. All those who were attendant upon me were
dead and perished. I said: 'I cannot defy God; what He
wills even that will I do.'
"I WAS weary of tossing on the seas, so I came ashore.
My heart had become altogether like a beast's, I hearkened
to no counsel; all those who were left to me in my
misfortune have been scattered from me, but God abandons
not a man thus forsaken by Fortune.
"ONLY this Asmat'h and two slaves remained with me as
my comforters and counsellors. I could learn no news of
Nestan, not even the weight of a drachm. Weeping seemed
to me as joy, and streams of tears flowed down."