P’hridon Tells Tariel Tidings of Nestan-Daredjan
"ONE day the king and I went forth to the chase; we
climbed upon a cape jutting out into the sea. P'hridon
said to me: 'I will tell thee how, when we were out riding
for sport, I once saw a wonderful thing from this cape.'
"I BADE him speak, and P'hridon told me even this tale:
'One day I wished to hunt, I mounted this steed of mine. In
the sea it seemed a duck and on the land a falcon; I stood
here and watched the flight of the hawk thitherward.
"'NOW and then as I climbed uphill I gazed out to sea.
I perceived a small thing far away on the sea, going so
swiftly that nothing of its kind could equal it; I could not
make it out; in my mind I marvelled at these two things.
'"I SAID to myself: "What is it ? To what can I liken it ?
Is it bird or beast ?" It was a boat tented over with many-
folded stuff; a steersman guided it. I fixed mine eyes upon
it, and there in an ark sat the moon; I would have given
her the seventh heaven as habitation.
"'TWO slaves as black as pitch crept out, they put ashore
a maiden, I saw her thick-tressed hair, the lightning that
flashed from her-to what colours can it be likened ?-would
illumine the earth and make the sunbeams of no account.
'"JOY made me hasten, quiver, stagger. I loved that
rose who is not frozen by the snow. I resolved to engage
them, I said: "Let me go towards them; what creatures
can fly away from my black steed ?"
'"I PRESSED my horse with my heel. There was a noise
and rustling among the rushes. I could not reach her,
however much I used the spur; they were gone. I came to
the seashore and looked round, she appeared only as a last
ray of the setting sun, she went farther away, she was gone
from me, therefore was I consumed by flame.'
"This I heard from P'hridon; heat was added to my fire.
I threw myself down from my horse, I wholly abased
myself; with mine own blood shed from my cheeks I
anointed myself. Kill me! That anyone but I should have
seen that tree!
"THIS behaviour of mine astonished P'hridon, it seemed
passing strange to him; but he was exceedingly pitiful to
me, by weeping he placated me, like a son he soothed me,
he pled with me, treated me with deference, and,
pearl-like, hot tears sprang from his eyes.
"'ALAS! What have I, misguided, madly told thee?' I
said: 'It matters not, grieve not for that! She was my moon;
for her the fire consumes me hotly. Now will I tell thee my
tale, since thou thyself wishest to have me as comrade.'
"I TOLD P'hridon all that had befallen me. He said to
me: 'What have I, mistaken, shamed, said to thee ? Thou
mighty king of the Indians, wherefore art thou come to me ?
A royal seat and throne become thee, a whole palace.'
"AGAIN he said to me: 'To whom God gives for form a
young cypress, from him He withdraws the spear, though
at first He lacerates his heart therewith. He will grant us
His mercy. He will thunder it from heaven. He will turn
our sorrow to joy. He will never grieve us.'
"WE went back tearful; we sat down alone together in
the palace. I said to P'hridon: 'Save thee, none is mine aid.
God has not sent thy like to earth, and since I know thee
what more do I want ?
"'THOU hadst no friend until the time when thou didst
meet me; use now thy tongue and mind to counsel me in
this: What can I do? What is the best thing to bring joy to
her and me ? If I can do nought I shall not survive a
"HE said to me: 'What better fate could I have from God
than this ? Thou art come to be gracious to me, king,
sovereign of India. Needs it that after this I should desire
any gratitude ? I stand before thee as a slave to obey thee
'"THIS city is the highway for ships coming from al
parts, an emporium of much foreign news of all kinds.
Here shall we hear of the balm to assuage the fire which
burns thee. God grant that these woes and pains pass
'"WE will send out sailors who have fared on the sea before;
let them find for us that moon for whose sake grief is not
lacking to us; until then be patient, so that thy mind
torture thee not; grief will not last for aye, shall not joy
overcome it!'
"THAT very instant we called men, we settled the business;
we commanded them: 'Go with ships, sail over the sea, seek
her out for us, fulfil the desire other lover; undergo a
thousand hardships for this, not merely seven or eight.'
"HE appointed men wherever there were havens for ships;
he gave orders: 'Seek out everywhere, wheresoever you hear
of her.' Waiting seemed to me a consolation, my pains
became-lightened; absent from her I felt joy, and for the
sake of that day I am ashamed.
"P'HRIDON set up a throne for me in the place for the
overlord. He said to me: 'Hitherto have I erred, I could not
comprehend what I should have understood; thou art the
great king of the Indians; who can please thee ?
Wherewithal ? How ? Who is the man who would not be thy
"WHY should I lengthen the story? From all sides came
the seekers of news, empty, and wearied of empty places;
they had learned nothing at all, they knew not any news.
As for me, afresh the undrying tear flowed still more from
mine eyes.
"I SAID to P'hridon: 'How this day seems horrible to me,
I have God for my witness thereto; to speak thereof is hard
for me; without thee night and day alike seem eventide to
me; I am loosed from all joy, my heart is bound with grief.
'"NOW since I may no longer expect any news of her,
I can no longer stay; give me leave, I seek thy permission.'
When P'hridon heard this he wept, he watered the field with
blood, and said: 'Brother, from this day vain is all my joy!'
"THOUGH they tried very hard, they could not hold me
back; his armies came before me on bended knees, they
embraced me, kissed me, wept and made me weep. 'Go not
away; let us be your slaves so long as life is ours.'
"1 SPOKE thus: 'Parting from you is very hard for me also.
but it is hardly possible for me to have joy without her.
I cannot forsake my captive Nestan, whom you yourselves
pity greatly; let none of you hinder me, I will not stay nor
be held back by any.'
"THEN P'hridon brought and gave me this horse of mine;
he said: 'Behold! this steed is given to you, the sun-faced,
the cypress; more I know thou desirest not, who could
despise such a gift ? This will please thee by its breaking-in
and its swiftness.'
"P'HRIDON escorted me; as we went we both shed tears;
there we kissed each other, with cries we parted, all the host
lamented for me, truly, in their hearts, not with the tongue;
our severing was like that of foster-parent and child.
"DEPARTED from P'hridon, I went on the quest, again
I fared so that I missed nought on land or out at sea; but
I met no man who had seen her, and my heart became
wholly maddened, I was like a wild beast.
"I SAID to myself: 'No longer shall I rove and sail in vain;
perchance the company of beasts may make my heart forget
grief.' I said seven or eight words to my slaves and to this
Asmat'h: 'I know I have brought grief upon you; you have
good reason to murmur against me.
"NOW go and leave me, provide for yourselves, look no
longer on the hot tears flowing from mine eyes.' When they
heard such discourse they said to me: 'Alas! Alas! let not
our ears hear what thou sayest!
'"LET us not see any master or lord apart from thee, may
God not sunder us from your horse's footprints! We would
gaze upon you, a fair and adorable spectacle.' Fate,
forsooth, makes a man listless, however valiant he may be.
"I COULD not send them away; I hearkened to the words
of my slaves, but I forsook the haunts of human tribes, the
retreats of goats and stags seemed a fitting abode for me;
I roamed, I trod every plain below and hill above.
"I FOUND these manless caves, hollowed out by Devis
I combated them, I destroyed them, they could by no
means prevail against me; they killed my slaves, ill had they
buckled on their coats of mail. The passing world made me
gloomy; its showers again bespattered me.
"BEHOLD, brother! since that day am I here, and here I
die. Mad I roam the fields; sometimes I weep and
sometimes I faint. This maid will not abandon me; she too
is burned by fire for Nestan's sake. I have no other resource
to try but death.
"SINCE a beautiful tiger is portrayed to me as her image.
for this I love its skin, I keep it as a coat for myself; this
woman sews it, sometimes she sighs, sometimes she groans.
Since I cannot kill myself, in vain is my sword whetted.
"THE tongues of all the sages could not forth-tell her
praise. Enduring life, I think upon my lost one. Since then
I have consorted with the beasts, calling myself one of
them; I am suitor for death, nought else I entreat of God."
HE beat his face, he rent it, he tore his cheeks of rose; the
ruby turned to amber, the crystal was shattered.
Avt'handil's tears flowed too; one by one they dripped from
his lashes. Then the maid soothed Tariel; on bended knee
she besought him.
TARIEL, calmed by Asmat'h, said to Avt'handil: "I have
made everything pleasant for thee, I who never found
pleasure for myself. I have told thee the tale of mine
irksome life; now go and see thy sun, thou whose time for
meeting is nigh."
AVT'HANDIL said: "I cannot bear to part from thee: if
I separate from thee tears indeed will flow from mine eyes,
Verily I tell thee-be not wroth at this boldness-she for
whose sake thou diest will not be comforted thereby.
"WHEN a physician—however praiseworthy he be—falls
sick, he calls in another leech, another skilled in the pulse;
him he tells what illness inflaming him with fire afflicts him.
Another knows better what is useful advice for one.
"LISTEN to what I say to thee; I speak to thee as a sage
and not as a madman; a hundred times must thou give
heed, once sufficeth not. A man so furious of heart can do
nought well. Now I desire to see her for whose sake hot
fire consumes me.
"I SHALL see her, I shall confirm her love for me, I shall
tell her what I have learned; nought else have I to do.
I beseech thee to assure me, for God and heaven's sake, let
us not abandon one another, make me swear and make thou
an oath to me.
"IF thou promise me that thou wilt not go hence, I shall
assure thee by an oath that for nought shall I forsake thee;
I shall come again to see thee, I shall die for thee, for thee
shall I rove. If God will, I shall make thee cease to weep
thus for her for whom thou diest!"
HE answered: "How is it that thou, a stranger, so lovest
me, a stranger ? It is as hard for thee to part from me as for
the nightingale from the rose. How can I forget thee, how
can I cease to remember thee! God grant that I may again
see thee, full-grown young aloe-tree.
"IF thy form remain a tree, and thy face turn round to see
me, my heart will not flee into the fields, it will become
neither a deer's nor a goat's. If I lie to thee or cheat thee,
may God judge me in wrath! Thy presence will charm away
my sadness and dissolve it!"
HEREUPON they swore, the frank friends, those jacinths
of amber hue, wise-worded but mad-minded. They loved
each other; forever would affection's flame burn their hearts.
That night the fair comrades spent together.
AVT'HANDIL wept with him; fast fell the tears. When
day dawned he went forth, kissed him and parted from him.
Tariel was so grieved that he knew not what to do.
Avt'handil wept, too, as he rode through the rushes.
ASMAT'H went down with Avt'handil, she conjured him
with an oath, she kneeled, she wept, she bent her fingers in
entreaty, she besought him to come back soon; as a violet.
so she faded. He replied: "O sister, of what can I think save
"SOON shall I come; I shall not forsake thee nor waste time
at home. But let him not go elsewhere; let not that fair
form wander. If I come not hither in two months I shall be
doing a shameful thing; be assured that I am fallen into
unceasing grief."