Thinat'hin Sends Avt'handil to Find the Knight
121
AVTHANDIL sat alone in his chamber, clad only in
an undergarment; he was singing and making merry,
before him stood a harp. To him came T’hinat'hin's black
slave, and said: "She of the aloe form, the moon-faced one,
sends for thee."
122
AVT'HANDIL was glad to hear this joyful news. He rose
and donned his best and brightest coat. He rejoiced to meet
the rose; they had never yet met alone. Pleasant is it to gaze
on beauty, and be near one beloved.
123
PROUDLY and boldly Avt'handil came to her, he was
ashamed of none. He will see her for whom the tear of woe
full oft had flowed. The peerless one sat mournful, she shone
like lightning, her rays eclipsed the moon.
124
HER fair form was clad in unlined ermine, she wore
negligently veils whose price it were hard to tell; but her
black, heart-piercing eyelashes and the thick, long tresses
which embraced her white throat were her real adornments
125
PENSIVE she sat in her red veil; she quietly greeted
Avt'handil, and gently bade him be seated. The slave placed
a seat; he sat down modestly and respectfully. Face to face
he gazed on her, full of great joy.
126
AND the maiden answered: "I am frightened, I fear this
misery, I should like to be silent, but have no strength and
no patience, yet I know the cause that makes thee call me
here, my face remains sad and my reason seems lost."
127
THE knight said: "How indeed can I speak to one so
dread! If the moon meet the sun it is consumed, it fades
away. I am no longer at leisure to think; I fear for myself.
Tell me, then, why you are sad and what will relieve you."
128
THE maiden replied with elegant words, not ill-chosen,
saying: "Since thou hast hitherto remained far from me,
amazed at what has seemed impossible to thee, I must first
tell thee of the malady which afflicts me, as a plague.
129
"DOST thou remember, when thou and Rostevan killed
game in the plain, how ye saw a certain stranger youth who
wiped his tears away ? Since then I have been a prey to
thoughts of him. I beg thee to search for him, to seek him
within the bounds of the sky.
130
"ALTHOUGH I have been unable to hold converse with
thee hitherto, yet from afar have I perceived thy love for
me; I know that without pause the hail has fallen from
thine eyes upon thy cheek. Thou art made prisoner by love;
thy heart is taken captive.
131
"THIS service of mine which I bid thee do befits thee for
these two reasons: First, thou art a knight, among all
flesh there is none like unto thee; secondly, thou art in love
with me, this is true and no slander. Go, seek that
brother-in-arms, be he near or far.
132
"THEREBY shalt thou strengthen my love for thee; by
delivering me from my sadness, thou shalt cripple the
foul demon; plant the violet of hope in my heart, strew
roses; then come, 0 lion, I shall meet thee like a sun; meet
thou me.
133
"SEEK three years him whom thou hast to seek; if thou
find him, come gaily telling thy victory. If thou find
him not, I shall believe he was a vision. Thou shalt meet
the rosebud unwithered, unfaded.
134
"I SWEAR if I wed any husband but thee, even should
the sun become man, incarnate for my sake, may I be cut
off for ever from Paradise, may I be swallowed up in Hell,
love for thee would slay me, piercing my heart with a
knife!"
135
THE knight replied: "0 sun, who causest the jet to
blink, what else can I answer, or what can I come to know ?
I awaited death; thou hast renewed my will to live. I shall
certainly obey thee like a slave in service."
136
AGAIN he spoke: "0 sun, since God has created thee a
sun, so that the heavenly planets obey thee wherever they
may be, I have heard from you that which has overwhelmed
me with grace; my rose shall not wither, thy ray shines
generously upon it."
137
ONCE more they made an oath together, they promised
each other, they confirmed it and discoursed much, with
many a word; what grief they had borne until now became
easy. Their white teeth flashed white lightning as if
transparent.
138 1
THEY sat together, they made merry, they talked simply
of a hundred things, they spoke with their crystal and ruby
faces and jet eyes. The knight said: "Those who gaze upon
thee become mad; my heart is burned to ashes by the fire
that conies from thee."
139
THE youth went away, but he could not bear parting
from her, he looked back, his eyes were dazed, crystal hails
down and freezes the rose, his graceful form was trembling;
he had heart for heart, he had lent his to love.
140
HE said to himself: "0 sun, separation from thee is
thus early manifested on the rose: my crystal and ruby have
faded, I am become yellower than amber. What shall I do,
then, when I cannot see thee for a long time ? This shall be
my law: death for the beloved is fitting."
141
HE lay down on his bed, he weeps, it is difficult for
him to wipe away the tears, he shivered and swayed, like
an aspen in the wind; when he fell into a slumber he
dreamed his beloved was near; he starts, he cries out loud,
his suffering increases twentyfold.
142
SEPARATION from his beloved made him jealous. Tears
like pearls were shed upon the rose, making it tender. When
day dawned he apparelled himself, fair to look upon; he
mounted his horse, set out and came to court for an
audience.
143
HE sent a chamberlain into the hall of audience with
a message from him to the king, saying: "0 king, I venture
to tell you what I have thought: all the face of the earth
is subjected to you by your sword; now, if it be better,
I shall make known these tidings to all the vicinage.
144
"I WILL go, I shall travel, I shall wage war, I shall go
to the rounds of the marches, I shall, by piercing the
heart of your enemies, announce T'hinat'bin's accession;
I shall cause the obedient to rejoice, the disobedient will
I make to weep, I shall send you gifts incessantly, I shall
not be sparing of greeting."
145
THE king expressed his great gratitude; he said: "0 lion,
stretching thine arm in battle irks thee not. Behold, this
thy counsel is matched by thy valour. Thou mayst go,
but what shall I do if it happen that thou tarry long ?"
146
THE knight came in; he did homage, and spoke some
words of thanks: "0 monarch, I wonder that you should
deign to praise me. Now God will perchance lighten for
me the darkness of separation, and let me see again in joy
your joyful face."
147
THE king hung upon his neck and kissed him like a son;
like unto them have none been, neither upbringer nor
upbrought. The knight rose and went away, to him their
day seemed separated; Rostevan, wise and soft-hearted,
wept for him.
148
AVT'HANDIL set out, a brave knight marching boldly;
twenty days he journeyed, many a day he made one with
the night. She is the joy of the world, she is treasure and
due; he puts not away the thought of T'hinat'hin, of her for
whom the flame burns.
149
WHENEVER he came there was rejoicing in the kingdom,
nobles met him, they gave generous gifts; the sun-faced had
not wasted time in his rapid journey. The drums of joy met
them that came into his presence.
150
HE had a strong city to strike terror in the marches;
outside was a rock, I tell thee, with an unmortared wall.
The knight spent there three days in the pleasant chase; he
invited his pupil, Shermadin, to sit in council with him.
151
THIS is the slave Shermadin, mentioned above, brought
up with Avt'handil, faithful and self-sacrificing to him.
He knew not hitherto of the fire which burned the knight;
now Avt'handil revealed the hopeful words of the sun.
152
HE said: "Lo, Shermadin, for this I am ashamed before
thee; thou knowest all my affairs and hast given heed to
them; but hitherto thou hast not known what tears I have
shed; in her from whom I had suffering I now find joy.
153
"I AM slain by love and longing for T'hinat'hin; from
the narcissi hot tears moistened the frosted rose; I could
not till now show my hidden woe, now has she bidden me
hope, therefore thou seest me joyful.
154
"SHE said to me: 'Learn news of that lost knight, then
come, I shall fulfil thy heart's desire; I want no husband
save thee, even if a planted tree falls to my lot.' She gave
me the balm of my heart until that moment burned.
155
"FIRST, I am a knight; I wish to go forth to serve my
lady. Faithfulness to kings is fitting, vassal must act as
vassal; then, she has extinguished the fire, my heart is
no longer consumed to soot; a man must not bend before
misfortune, but meet it like a man.
156
"OF all lords and vassals thou and I are most friendly;
therefore I entreat thee to hear this from mine own mouth;
in my stead I appoint thee lord and chief over mine armies,
I could not entrust this matter to others.
157
"LEAD forth the soldiers to battle, rule the nobles,
send messengers to court telling the state of affairs, write
letters in my stead, present priceless gifts; why should it
be known that I am not here ?
158
"REPRESENT me in military duties and in the
hunting-field, wait here for me three years, keep my secret;
perchance indeed I shall return, my aloe-tree shall not
fade; but if I come not back, mourn me, weep for me, utter
sighs.
159
"TELL the king forthwith-it is not a desirable
deed-announce my death to him, be as if thou art drunk;
say to him: 'For him is come to pass the thing which
none escape.' Give to the poor my treasure—gold, silver
and copper.
160
"THUS shalt thou help me after the best fashion, by this
thou shalt aid me most; do not forget me soon, think
me often, take good thought of provision for me, pray for
my soul. Remember my childhood; let thy heart be
motherly towards me."
161
WHEN the slave heard this he wondered, he was alarmed,
from his eyes the hot tears poured like pearls. He said:
"How can the heart deprived of thee rejoice? I know thou
wilt not stay; so I cannot hinder thee in this matter.
162
"WHY didst thou say thou wouldst appoint me in thy
stead ? How can I undertake the lordship, how can I imitate
thee or resemble thee ? It were better that the earth cradled
me too than that I should have to think that thou art
alone; rather let us both steal forth, I will accompany thee,
take me with thee."
163
THE knight replied: "Hearken unto me, I tell thee truth
without any falsehood; when a lover would roam the fields
alone he must wander; a pearl falls to the lot of none
without buying and bargaining. An evil and treacherous
man should be pierced with a lance.
164
"TO whom could I tell my secret? Save thee, none is
worthy. To whom can I entrust the lordship save thee,
who else can do it well ? Fortify the marches that the enemy
may not encamp near. Perchance I shall return, if God
make me not to be wholly lost.
165
"HAZARD kills equally be it one or a hundred. Loneliness
can matter nought if the group of the heavenly powers
protect me. If I come not hither in three years, then will
it beseem thee to mourn and wear funeral garb. I will give
thee a letter, whoever is my courtier must obey thee."