Avt’handil’s Request to King Rostevan, and the Vizier
- WHEN day dawned the knight arrayed himself
- forth early. He says: "I would that my love
be not revealed.
- that I may conceal it!" For patience he
- something for my heart!" The moon-like one
- horse; he went to the house of the vizier.
- THE vizier heard of it, went to meet him:
"The sun is
- risen upon my house; this day, meseems, a
- joy announced to me this good news." He met
- saluted him, respectfully addressed to the
- perfect praise. A welcome guest should have a
- THIS host, not listless, ill-disposed or
idle, helped the
- knight to dismount; they stretched on the
floor under his
- feet a Cathayan rug. The knight illumined the
house as the
- sun's beam the universe. They said: "To-day
- gale has wafted us the fragrant odour of
- HE sat; they that looked on him truly
- hearts. They who gazed on him accounted it an
- swoon for his sake; many sighs were uttered,
not once but
- a thousand times; they were ordered to
depart, they went
- away, the household was thinned out.
- WHEN the household was gone, the knight
- vizier; quoth he: "In the council chamber
nought will ever
- be hidden from thee; in every matter of state
the king does
- what thou desirest, and agrees with thee. Now
- my woes; cure me with what will heal me.
- "THE fire of yon knight burns me, the flame
- him afflicts me; I am slain by longing and by
- the object of my desire; he would not grudge
his life for me;
- what is due must be paid; one must love a
- ungrudging friend.
- "THE sight of him caught my heart as in a
- it stays; my patience, too, remains with him;
in that he
- burns those near him. God created him indeed
- Moreover, Asmat'h is become a sister to me,
- a born sister.
- "WHEN I departed 1 swore with a fearful oath:
'I shall come
- again, I shall see thee not with a face
despised of foes;
- thou art of darkened heart, I shall seek
light for thee.'
- It is time for me to go, therefore am I
burned with hot fire.
- "ALL this I tell thee truly, not with
braggart speech; he
- awaits me, and I cannot set forth. This it is
that adds to the
- hot fires; I cannot break my vow, I mad
- him mad. When and where did ever a breaker of
- prevail ?
- "GO to the palace, report on my behalf to
- what I have told thee. By his head I swear to
- Ustasra, if he keep me not captive I shall
not stay; if he
- keep me captive what can he make of me ? Help
- not the fire hurt and destroy my heart!
- "SAY from me: 'Let every mouth which is not
- praise thee! Let God, the means of light,
make known to
- thee how I fear thee. But that knight, an
aloe-tree in form,
- burned me with fire; forthwith he took away
my heart, in
- no wise could I keep it.
- "'NOW, 0 king, for me existence lacking him
- impossible; he, the dauntless, has my heart.
Of what avail
- am I here ? If I can be of any service to
him, to you first
- will the glory belong; if I fail to
accomplish aught for him
- I shall set my heart at rest, mine oath will
not have been
- "'LET not my going anger or grieve your
heart. Let that
- befall my head whate'er God wills. May He
grant you the
- victory, and send me your servant back to
you; but if
- I return not may you still reign, may your
- YET again the sun-faced one says to the
vizier: "I have
- shortened my speech. Now speak thus to the
king till others
- come in to inform him, pleasantly entreat for
me my congee,
- summon up thy courage, and a hundred thousand
- shall be bestowed on thee as a bribe."
- THE vizier said with a smile: "Keep thy bribe
- for me it is sufficient favour from thee that
thou hast found
- the road hither. How can I dare tell the king
what I have
- now heard from you! I know of a truth he will
fill me with
- favours, and gain is not disagreeable!
- "BY his head! he will slay me straightway: I
- whether he will delay even a moment. Thy gold
- with thee, but for me, luckless, there will
be earth for a
- grave. Slay me! What is of equal value with
life to a man!
- The thing cannot be said and I cannot say it,
- anyone should reproach me.
- "THIS road leads to no aim. How can I,
luckless, lay down
- my life for thee? He will despoil me or kill
me. He will say:
- 'How dost thou speak these words ? Why didst
- guess all there is to be done ? Why art thou
- madman ?' Life is better than loot ; this I
even now learn.
- "EVEN if the king permit thee to depart, why
- hosts also be deceived ? Why should they let
thee go, why
- should they be hoodwinked, or why should they
- far from their sun ? If thou depart, our foes
- bold, will even themselves with us; but this
must not be, as
- sparrows cannot change to hawks."
- THE knight wept; with tears he spoke: "Must I
- a knife into my heart! O vizier, it is
apparent in thee thou
- knowest not what love is, nor hast thou in
- friendship or oath. Or if thou hast seen
surch, how canst thou
- prove that without him my joy is possible?
- "THE sun has turned. I knew not what would
make the sun
- turn. Now let us help him; it is better for
us, in return he
- will warm our day. No one knows mine affairs
- what embitters me, what sweetens me. The
- idle men greatly grieves a man.
- "OF what profit can I be to the king or his
hosts since I am
- mad now, and my tears flow unceasingly! It is
- I go away; I will not break my word; oaths
prove a man.
- What man has borne grief that Tariel has not?
- "Now, o vizier, how can thy cursed heart be
calm in this
- juncture! Iron in my place would become wax
and vot hard
- rock; I cannot repay his tears, even if Gihon1
- mine eyes. Help me if thou wouldst desire
help from me.
- 1 River in Messopotamia
- "IF he give me not leave I shall steal away,
- I depart from him; as it intreats me so shall
I deliver my
- Heart to be consumed by fire. I know he will
do nothing to
- Thee because of me, if he be not disposed to
- Promise me-whatever may happen to thee- ‘I
- Sacrifice myself to be tortured!’"
- THE vizier said: "Thy fire consumes me also
- I can no longer look on thy tears, the world
- sometimes speech is better than silence,
- speaking we spoil things. T shall speak; if I
die it matters
- not, my life will be sacrificed for thee."
- WHEN the vizier had said this he arose and
went to the
- palace. He saw the king arrayed; the sun-like
- straight upon him. He was afraid, he
dared not tell him
- unpleasing news; perplexed he stood, he
thought not on
- war-like matters.
- THE king saw the vizier struck dumb by
sadness. He said:
- "What grieves thee ? What knowest thou ? Why
- come sad?" He answered: "I know nothing at
all, but I am
- indeed wretched. You will be justified in
slaying me when
- you hear the astounding news.
- "MY mourning neither adds to my grief nor
- I am afraid, though an envoy has no care for
- Avt'handil bids thee farewell, he entreats,
he wrangles not;
- he says that for him the world and life are
- yon knight."
- WITH timorous tongue he told him all he knew.
- thereafter: "How canst thou know by such
words in what
- a plight I saw him and how his tears flowed ?
- should let your wrath fall forthwith on me,
you are just."
- WHEN the king had heard this he was wroth, he
- senses, his colour waned and he became
terrible, he would
- have terrified onlookers. He cried: "What has
- madman of thee ? Who else would have related
this ? It is
- the plight of a bad man to learn early what
- "TRAITOR-LIKE, thou hast told me of this as
if it were
- a merry matter; what more could anyone do to
- slay me faithlessly, treacherously ? Madman,
- thou employ thy tongue to dare to speak thus
to me now!
- Such a madman as thou art is unworthy to be
- aught else.
- "SHOULD not a man spare his lord what is
- he stupidly chatters stupid speech ? Why were
mine ears not
- deafened before hearing such a thing! If I
kill thee, my neck
- must bear the responsibility for thy blood!"
- AGAIN he spake: "If thou hadst not now been
- by him, by my head! I had cut off thy head,
let there be no
- doubt of this! Go, withdraw! Look at the mad,
- desperate improper fellow! Brave word, brave
- the deed done by him!"
- HE bent down, he threw chairs, he hit the
- shattered them; he missed his aim, but for
the vizier's sake
- he made the chairs like diamond, not
- couldst thou tell me of the going of him who
- aloe-tree branches!" Hot tears hollowed out
channels in the
- vizier's white cheeks.
- THE wretched vizier hurried away; he dared
say no more.
- He crept off crestfallen like a fox; his
wounded heart pains
- him. He comes in a courtier, he goes out
gloomy, so much
- does the tongue dishonour him. A foe cannot
hurt a foe
- as a man harms himself.
- HE said: "What more will God show me like
- woes ? Why was I deceived ? Why was I
darkened ? Would
- that someone might enlighten me! Whoever
- anything so boldly to a sovereign, my evil
days stand upon
- him too; how can he ever enjoy peace!"
- THE disgraced vizier went away in black luck.
- sad-faced, he said to Avt'handil: "What
thanks can I give
- thee! Thanks to thee, what a courtier am I
- I have lost my peerless self by mine own
- HE begs the bribe and behaves sportively,
albeit his tears
- were not dry. I marvel why he spends his time
- jokes, why he is not grieved in heart! Quoth
he: "He who
- gives not what he promised quarrels with the
Mourav1. It is
- said: 'A bribe settles matters even in hell.'
- 1 Mourav—the headman of a town.
- "HOW he took the matter, what he said to me,
it is not to
- be told by me. What evil, what stupidity,
what idiocy, what
- madness he attributed to me! I myself am no
- of the name of man; no longer have I sense.
At this I
- marvel—why he slew me not; God must have
- "I KNEW too what I did; it happened not to me
- mistake. I had pondered, I knew he would be
- me, therefore is my grief increased. None can
- vengeance for a deed done by Providence.
Still, for thy sake
- death seems joy to me; my woes are not in
- THE knight replied: "It is wholly impossible
for me not to
- depart. When the rose withers the nightingale
- he must seek a dewdrop of water, for the sake
of this he
- must rove everywhere, and if he cannot find
it what will he
- do or wherewith shall he soothe his heart ?
- "WITHOUT him I cannot bear to sit or lie. I
- to roam like the beasts, with them to run.
- Rostevan desire me who am in such a state to
- adversaries! It is better to have no man at
all than to have
- a dissatisfied one.
- "I WILL tell him once again; now, however
angry the king
- may be, surely he can judge how my heart
- flames. If he grant me not leave, I shall
steal away when
- hope is gone. If I die, my portion and world
- WHEN they had conversed, the vizier made a
- befitting them; he played the host, gave fair
gifts to the
- fair guest, he enriched his attendants, both
- greybeards. They parted; the knight went home
as the sun
- was setting.
- THE form of the sun-faced Avt'handil was
like that of
- a cypress; he bound up a hundred thousand
pieces of gold,
- three hundred pieces of gold brocade—he was
- and open-handed—sixty precious rubies and
- colour of which could not displease. He sent
a man to carry
- these presents from him.
- AVT'HANDIL sent a message to the king saying:
- can I give or bestow on thee that which
befits thee ? What
- return can I think of for the debts I owe
thee ? Tf I survive
- I shall die for thee; I shall make myself thy
slave. I shall
- repay love with love, with a like weight."
- HOW can I tell his peerlessness, valour, and
- He was a man fitting and worthy even of such
a deed. Thus
- should service be, as much as lies in one's
- a man is in trouble then needs he brother and