How the King of the Arabians Saw 
the Knight Clad in the Tiger's Skin
THEY saw a certain stranger knight; he sat weeping on
the bank of the stream, he held his black horse by the rein,
he looked like a lion and a hero; his bridle, armour and
saddle were thickly bedight with pearls; the rose of his
cheek was frozen in tears that welled up from his
woe-stricken heart.
HIS form was clad in a coat of tiger's skin with the
fur outside; his head, too, was covered with a cap of
tiger's skin; in his hand he held a whip thicker than a man's
arm. They looked and liked to look at that wondrous sight.
A SLAVE went forth to speak to the knight of the
woe-stricken heart, who, weeping with downcast head,
seems not a spectacle for jesting; from the jet channel of
his eyelashes rains a crystal shower. When the slave
approached, he could by no means bring himself to speak
a word;
THE slave was much perturbed; he dared not address him.
A long time he gazed in wonder till his heart was
strengthened; then he said: "The king commands thee to
attend him." The slave came near, and greeted him gently;
the knight wept on and heard not, he knew not that the
slave was there.
HE heard not a word of the slave, nor what he said; he
was wholly unconscious of the shouting of the soldiers, he
was sobbing strangely, his heart burnt up with fires; tears
were mingled with blood, and flowed forth as from
BY his head! His mind was wafted elsewhither. Once
again the slave uttered the king's message, but the knight
ceased not from weeping and heard him not, nor was the
rose-bouquet of speech plucked from his lips.
SINCE he answered not, the slave went back and said to
Rostevan: "I have told him what you said, but he will not
listen. Mine eyes were dazzled as by the sun; my heart was
sorely troubled. I could not make him hear a word though
I have tarried there so long."
THE king wondered, he was wroth, he was vexed in heart
against him. He sent the twelve slaves standing before him;
he commanded: "Take weapons of war in your hands; go
and bring hither him who sits yonder."
THE slaves went forth, they drew nigh to him, their
armour clanked. Then indeed the knight started up, he wept
still more woefully; he raised his eyes and looked round,
he saw the band of warriors. But once he said, "Woe is me!"
and spoke no word more.
HE passed his hands over his eyes, he wiped away the
hot tears, he made fast his sabre and quiver, and braced his
strong arms. He mounted his horse—why should he heed the
words of slaves ? He wended his way elsewhither, and healed
not their troubles.
THE slaves stretched forth their hands to seize that
knight; he fell upon them—alas! even their enemies would
have pitied them; he beat one against another, he slew
them without raising his hand, some with his whip he
smote, cleaving them down to the breast.
WRATHFUL was the king, and annoyed; he shouted to the
slaves. The youth looked not back nor heeded his pursuers
till they were upon him; as many as overtook him he made
to look like dead men, he threw down man on man;
Rostevan lamented thereat.
THE king and Avt'handil mounted to follow the youth.
Proud and haughty, his form swayed to and fro, his steed
was like Merani,1 the sun shone brightly on the field; he
perceived that the king pursued him.
WHEN he saw that the king was come, he struck his horse
with his whip; in that very moment he was lost, our eyes
see him not; he seemed to have sunk into an abyss or flown
to heaven; they sought, but could find no trace of his
HIS footprints they sought, and marvelled to find no
trace. Thus, leaving no vestige, the man passed away like
a Devi.2 The soldiers mourned for their dead; they hastened
to bind up the wounded. The king said: "I have seen cause
for loss of joy."
HE said: "God is weary of the happiness I have had
hitherto, therefore He turns my pleasure into the gall of
bitterness; He has wounded me unto death, none can cure
me. I am grateful, such are His will and desire."
THUS he spoke, and returned; he went frowning away.
They summoned not to the lists; groan was mingled with
groan. Each ceased from the chase wherever he was following
it. Some said: "He is right!" Others said: "0 God!"
THE king went into his bedchamber sad and frowning.
He considered Avt'handil like his son and none else followed
him; all went away, the household dispersed; merriment
ceased, the castanet and the sweet harp.
THINATHIN heard other father's great sadness. She
rose and came to the door; she with whom the sun strove
asked the chamberlain: "Sleeps he or wakes he?" He
answered: "He sits brooding; his colour has suffered a
"AVT'HANDIL alone is present; he sits in a chair before
him. They have seen a certain stranger knight; this is the
cause of his melancholy." T'hinat'hin said: "I will now
depart; it is not time for me to go in. When he asks for me,
say: 'She was here but now.'"
TIME passed; he inquired: "What doth the maiden, my
solace and jewel, my water of life?" The chamberlain
replied: "She came, pale-faced, but now; she learned of
your sadness and went away, but she is ready to come to
your presence."
HE said: "Go, call her; how can I bear absence from her!
Say unto her: 'Why didst thou turn back, 0 life of thy
father? Come, drive away my grief, heal my wounded heart.
I will tell thee wherefore my joy is fled.'"
T'HINAT'HIN rose and came; she did as her father wished.
The light of her face is like the splendour of the moon. Her
father set her by his side, and, kissing her tenderly, gently,
said: "Why earnest thou not to me ? Wert thou waiting till
I sent for thee ?"
THE maiden said: "0 king, who, however venturesome,
would dare to approach you aware that you were frowning ?
This sadness of yours upsets even the lights of heaven.
Let a man seek to solve the difficulty; this, I think, would
be better than grieving."
HE answered: "0 my child, however much this sad affair
grieves me, thy sight and nearness cause me joy. My grief
is dissipated as if I had taken an electuary. I believe that
when thou knowest thou too wilt justify my sighing and
"I MET a certain beautiful, wondrous youth, his ray
enlightened the firmament and the bounds of the earth.
I could not find out why he was afflicted, nor for whom he
wept. He came not to see me; I was irritated and quarrelled
with him.
"WHEN he saw me, he mounted his horse and wiped the
tears from his eyes. I cried out that he must be seized; he
utterly destroyed my men; like an evil spirit, he was lost
to me, he saluted me not like a man. Even now I know not
whether he was real or a vision.
"I WONDER, what has happened ? How was it and what
have I seen ? He has killed my warriors and shed torrents of
blood. Can one believe him a human being when he has so
completely disappeared! God was wont to protect me but
now he has forsaken me.
"HIS tender mercies at length have become thus bitter
to me; I have forgotten the past days of my joy. Every one
will make me sad and comfort me no more. However long
my days may be, I can no more rejoice."
THE maid replied: "Deign to hearken to my uttered
words. 0 king, why repine at God or Fate! Why accuse of
bitterness the All-seeing, who is tender to all! And why
should the Creator of good make evil!
"IF this knight was indeed a man of flesh wandering
over the earth, others must have seen him; they will appear
to instruct you. If not, it is a devil who has appeared to
you to disturb your joys. Refrain from sadness. Why art
thou become cheerless ?
"THIS is my advice: Thou art king, ruler over kings;
wide is your boundary, boundless is your power; send
everywhere men with news of this story; soon shall you
know whether this youth be a mortal or not."
HE commanded men and sent them forth even to the four
corners of the heavens, saying: "Go, spare yourselves no
pains; search, hunt for that youth, let nothing hinder you;
send a letter whither ye cannot go nor attain."
THE men went, they wandered about for a year; they
looked, they sought that youth, they inquired again
and again. They could find none of God's creatures who had
seen him. Wearied in vain, they returned.
THE slaves said: "0 king, we have wandered over the
lands, yet could we not find that youth, so we could not
rejoice; we could meet no living man who had seen him;
we have not been able to serve you, now devise some other
THE king replied: "My daughter, my child, spoke truth.
I have seen a hideous, unclean spirit; he has been sent as
my foe, flying down from heaven. Grief is fled from me;
I care nothing for all that."
THUS he spoke, and sporting was increased with rejoicing;
they called the minstrel and the acrobat wherever they
were found, many gifts were distributed, he summoned all
to the throne-room. What other did God create with
1 Merani—the Pegasus of Georgian legend.
2 Devi—a djinn.