King Rostevan Hears of Avt'handil's Secret Flight
WHEN he saw the vizier arrived with reverence in the hall
of audience, Rostevan said: "I recall not what thou saidst
yesterday; thou didst annoy and enrage me, for a long time
I could not compose my soul, therefore did I scold thee,
vizier, heart of hearts.
"I REMEMBER not what Avt'handil wanted, nor why
I treated thee so ill! Truly say the sages: 'Spite is net of
woes!' Never act in such a way! Consider the matter
carefully. Now, tell me what thou saidst! Speak and repeat
thy discourse!"
AGAIN the vizier submitted his speech of yesterday. When
Rostevan heard it, he made no lengthy answer: "If I think
thee not mad may I be the Jew Levi! Let me hear no more
of this, else I wholly give thee up!"
WHEN the vizier went forth to seek, he could not find the
enamel one, Avt'handil; only the slaves with flowing tears
told of his flight. The vizier said : "I cannot go to court;
I should remember former days. Whoever is daring let him
dare; I repent what I have already said."
WHEN the vizier came not, the king again sent a man; the
man learned the news and stood outside, none dared report
the departure. Rostevan began to suspect, therefore grief
increased tenfold. He said: "Doubtless he who alone
overpowers hundreds has stolen away!"
. WITH bent head he meditated; in his heart was great
gloom. He sighed and looked up; he commanded a slave:
"Go, let that villain come hither and tell me now; let
him enter." When the vizier came back his colour paled and he
was careful.
AGAIN the vizier entered the audience chamber, gloomily,
not gaily. The king inquired: "Is the sun gone away,
become inconstant like the moon?" The vizier told him all,
how Avt'handil had gone away secretly: "The sun no
longer shines on us; the weather is not bright!"
WHEN the king heard this, he cried out with an exceeding
great cry, he lamented, he said: "Alas, my foster-son, my
dazed eyes shall see thee no more!" He made the onlookers
to marvel by scratching his face and tearing his beard.
"Whither art thou gone, and where hast thou lost those
pillars of light ?
"IF thou hast thyself, none will think thee a wanderer;
but as for me, what can I do, 0 foster-son ? Now cells befit
me as an abode; thou hast left me orphaned, me whose
wretched heart longs for thee. Till I am reunited to thee,
tongues cannot tell my sufferings!
"WHEN shall I see thee joyous returning from the chase?
I shall no longer see thee after the game of ball, graceful in
form, a faultless gem! No more shall I hear thine alluring
voice. Now without thee, alas! what shall I do with the
throne and the whole palace ?
"I KNOW that hunger will not kill thee, however far thou
roamest thy bow will provide thee, and thine arrowheads.
Perchance God in His mercy will again lighten our woes;
but if I die, 0 foster-son, by whom shall I be mourned!"
A NOISE was heard, a great host of men had assembled;
there is a crowd of courtiers at the palace, seizing their
beards with their hands; all rend and strike themselves, the
sound of their slapping is heard. They said: "Darkness is
upon us, accursed, since our sun is gone from the sky!"
WHEN the king saw his lords, he complained to them with
tears and groaning. He said: "'You see our sun has made his
rays quite rare to us! In what have we annoyed him,
wherein have we sinned, why has he parted from us, why
forsaken us! How can any take for us the leadership of the
hosts he maintained!"
ALL wept, lamented; then at length they grew calm. The
king commanded: "Ask! is he alone, or with a squire ?"
The vassal Shermadin came fearfully, shamefacedly; he
gave the testament, he wept, life seemed to him but loss.
. HE said: "I found this written by him in his chamber;
weeping slaves stood there, they tore hair and beard; he is?
stolen away alone, neither youth nor greybeard is near him;
if you slay me it will be just, an unseemly life irks me.
WHEN they read the testament, again they wept a long
time. Then the king commanded: "Let not my troops don
gay colours. Let us make the downtrodden, the orphan? and
widows, to pray; let us help them that God may give him
paths of peace!"