The Story of the Capture of Nestan-Daredjan
by the Kadjis, Told by P'hatman to Avt'handil
WOE, O passing world, in falsehood thou art like Satan,
none can know aught of thine, where thy treachery is. That
face apparent as a sun-where hast thou it hidden ? Whither
hast thou taken it? Therefore I see that in the end all seems
vain, wherever anything may be.
P'HATMAN said: "The sun was departed from me, the
light of all the world, life and existence, the gain of my
hands; from that time unceasingly the burning of hot fires
afflicted me, I could not dry the spring of tears flowing forth
from mine eyes.
"HOUSE and child became hateful to me, I sat with
cheerless heart; waking I thought of her, when I fell asleep
I thought other in my drowsiness. The oath-breaker Usen
seems to me of the infidels in faith; the accursed one cannot
approach me, to be near me with his cursed face.
"ONE day at eventide, just at sunset, I passed the guards,
the door of the asylum caught mine eye; I was in a reverie,
sadness at the thought of her was slaying me; I said:
'Cursed is the vow of every man!'
"FROM somewhere there came a wandering slave with
three companions, the slave clad as a slave, the others in
coarse travelling garb; they brought food and drink which
they had bought in the city for a drachma. They drank,
they ate, they chattered, thus they sat merry.
"I HEARKENED to them, I watched them. They said:
'Pleasantly we rejoiced, but though here we arc joined as
comrades, yet are we strangers, none of us knows who
another is or whence we arc come; we must at least tell one
another our stories with our tongues.'
"THOSE others told their tales as is the wont of wayfarers.
The slave said: '0 brothers, providence is a celestial thing;
I harvest for you pearls, you sowed but millet; my story
is better than your stories:
"I AM the slave of the exalted king, the ruler of the
Kadjis. It chanced that he was struck by a sickness which
prevailed over him; the helper of the widow, the comforter
of the orphan, was dead to us; now his sister, better than
a parent, rears his children.
"'DULARDUKHT is a woman, but a rock, like a cliff, her
slave is wounded by none, but he wounds others. She had
little nephews: Rosan and Rodia; now she is seated as
sovereign of Kadjet'hi, "the Mighty" is she called.
"WE heard news of the death overseas of her sister. The
viziers were distressed, they refrained from assembling
a privy council: "How can we venture to report the
extinction of a face which was the light of the lands? " –
Roshak is a slave, the chief of many thousand slaves.
"ROSHAK said: "Even if I be killed for mine absence,
I shall not be at the mourning! I go into the plain, I will
reave, I will fill myself with booty; I shall come home
enriched, I shall be back in good time. When the sovereign
goes forth to bewail her sister, I too will accompany her."
"HE said to us, his underlings: "I will go, come with me!"
He took of us a hundred slaves, all chosen by him. By day
in the sunlight we reaved, by night also we watched; many
a caravan we broke up, we unloaded the treasure for
"ONE very dark night we were wandering over the plains;
there appeared to us certain great lights in the midst of the
field; we said: "Is it the sun strayed down from heaven to
earth!" Perplexed, we gave our minds to torturing thought
"SOME said: "It is the dawn!" Others said: "It is the
moon!" We, drawn up in fighting array, moved towards
it-I saw it from very near-we made a wide circuit round it,
we came and surrounded it. From that light came a voice
speaking to us.
'"IT said to us: "Who are you, O cavaliers? Tell me your
names! From Gulansharo I go, a messenger to Kadjet'hi
have a care of me." When we heard this we approached,
we formed a circle round about. A certain sun-faced rider
appeared before our eyes.
"'WE gazed at the brilliant face flashing out lightning, its
glittering spread itself over the surroundings like the sun;
rarely she spoke to us with some gentle discourse, then from
her teeth the ray lighted up her jetty lashes.
"'AGAIN we addressed that sun with sweet-discoursing
tongue; she was not a slave, she spoke falsely, this we
perceived. Roshak discovered that it was a damsel; he rode
by her side; we did not let her go, we made bold to keep her
in our hands.
"AGAIN we asked: "Tell us the true story of that sun-like
light of thine. Whose art thou, who art thou, whence
comest thou, enlightener of darkness ?"" She told us nought;
she shed a stream of hot tears. How pitiable is the full moon
swallowed by the serpent!
"NEITHER plain tale nor secret, she told us nought,
neither who she was, nor by whom she had been
treacherously treated; angrily she spoke with us, sullen,
on the defensive, like an asp attacking onlookers with her
"ROSHAK ordered us: "Ask not, it seems nought is to be
said now; her business is a strange one and difficult to be toid.
The good fortune of our sovereign is to be desired by
creatures, for God giveth her whatever is mosi marvellous.
"THIS damsel has been destined to us by God that we
might bring her; we will take her as a gift, Dulardukht will
render us very great thanks; if we conceal it, we shall be
found out, and our sovereign is proud: first, it is an offence
to her, then it is a great disgrace."
"WE agreed, we prolonged not the discussion. We
returned, we made for Kadjet'hi, leading her with us; we
ventured not to speak directly to her, nor did we annoy her.
She weeps; with embittered heart she laves her cheeks in
flowing tears.
"'I SAID to Roshak: "Give me leave; soon again shall I
attend you. At present I have some business in the city of
Gulansharo." He granted me leave. Hereabout I have some
stuff to be carried oil, I will take it with me, I will go and
overtake them.'
"THIS story of the slave greatly pleased those men.
I heard it; the stream from the pool of tears dried up in me.
I guessed, I recognized every sign of her who is my life;
this gave me a little comfort, like a drachma's weight.
"I LAID hold of that slave and set him close before me.
I asked him: 'Tell me what thou wert saying; I, too, wish
to hear.' He told me again the same as I had heard thence.
This story enlivened me; me, struggling in soul, it preserved
"I HAD two black slaves full of sorcery, by their art they
go and come invisible; I brought them out, I despatched
them to Kadjet'hi. I said; 'Tarry not; give me tidings of her
by your deeds.'
"IN three days they came and told me, swiftly had they
trod the road: 'The queen, who was ready to go over the
sea, has taken her. None can fix his eyes to gaze upon her,
as upon the sun. The queen has betrothed her as wife to the
little boy Rosan.
"WE shall wed her to Rosan," this is the decree of Queen
Dulardukht, "at present I have not leisure for the wedding,
now is my heart consumed with fire; when I return home
I will make a daughter-in-law of her who is praised as
heaven's sun." She has set her in the castle; one eunuch
attends her.
'"DULARDUKHT took with her all those skilled in
sorcery, for perilous is the road, her foes are ready for the
fray; she has left at home all her bravest knights. She will
tarry; but little time has already passed.
"THE city of the Kadjis has hitherto been unassailable by
foes; within the city is a strong rock, high and long; inside
that rock is hollowed out a passage for climbing up. Alone
there is that star, the consumer of those who come in touch
with her.
"AT the gate of the passage are continually on guard
knights not ill-favoured, there stand ten thousand heroes
all of ihe chosen knights, at each of the three city gates
three thousand.' O heart, the world hath condemned thee;
I know not, alas! whal binds thee."
WHEN Avt'handil, the sun-faced but woeful, heard theģe tidings he was pleased, he showed nothing else. The lovely creature rendered thanks to God: "Somebody's sister has told me joyful news!"
HE said to P'hatman: "Beloved, thou art worthy to be
loved by me, thou hast let me hear a welcome story, not
with louring looks; but let me hear more fully about
Kadjet'hi; every Kadj is fleshless, how can it become
human ?
"PITY for that maiden kindles me and burns me with
flame; but I marvel what the fleshless Kadjis can do with
a woman!" P'hatman said: "Hearken to me! Truly I see
thee here perplexed. They are not Kadjis, but men who put
their trust in steep rocks," quoth she.
"THEIR name is called Kadji because they are banded
together, men skilled in sorcery, exceeding cunning in the
art, harmers of all men, themselves unable to be harmed by
any; they that go out to join battle with them come back
blinded and shamed.
"THEY do something wondrous, they blind the eyes of
their foes, they raise fearful winds, they make the ship to
founder midst the seas, they run as on dry land, for they
clean dry up the water; if they wish they make the day
dark, if they wish they enlighten the darkness.
"FOR this reason all those that dwell round about call
them Kadjis, though they, too, are men fleshly like us.'
Avt'handil thanked her: "Thou hast extinguished my hot
flames; the tidings just told me have pleased me greatly."
AVTHANDIL, shedding tears, magnifies God with his
heart; he said: "0 God, I thank Thee, for Thou art the
Comforter of my woes, who wast and art, Unspeakable,
Unheard by ears: Your mercy is suddenly spread forth
over us!"
FOR the knowledge of this story he magnified God with
tears. P'hatman thought of herself; therefore she was again
burned up. The knight kept his secret, he lent himself to
love; P'hatman embraced his neck, she kissed his sun-like
That night P'hatman enjoyed lying with Avt'handil; the
knight unwillingly embraces her neck with his crystal neck:
remembrance of T'hinat'hin slays him, he quakes with
secret fear, his maddened heart raced away to the wild
beasts and ran with them.
AVT'HANDIL secretly rains tears, they flow to mingle with
the sea; in an inky eddy floats a jetty ship. He says:
"Behold me, 0 lovers, me who have a rose for mine own!
Away from her, I, the nightingale, like a carrion-crow, sit on the
THE tears which flowed there from him would have melted
a stone, the thicket of jet dammed them up, there is a pool
on the rose-field. P'hatman rejoiced in him as if she were
a nightingale; if a crow find a rose it thinks itself a
DAY dawned; the sun whose rays were soiled by the world
went forth to bathe. The woman gave him many coats,
cloaks, turbans, many kinds of perfumes, fair clean shirts.
"Whatsoever thou desirest," said she, "put on: be not shy
of me!"
AVT’HANDIL said : "This day will I declare mine affair."
The wearing of merchant garb had hitherto been his resolve.
That day wholly in knightly raiment he apparelled his brave
form; he increased his beauty, the lion resembled the sun.
P'HATMAN prepared a meal, to which she invited
Avt'handil. The knight came in adorned, gaily, not with
louring looks. P'hatman looked, she was astonished that he
was not in merchant garb; she smiled at him: "Thus is it
better for the pleasure of them that are mad for thee."
P'HATMAN exceedingly admired his beauty. He made no
answer, he smiled to himself: "It seems she does not
recognize me!" How did he consider P'hatman foolish! He
looked on her as on an equal, for he had no choice.
WHEN they had eaten they separated, the knight went
home; having drunk wine, he lay down merry, pleasantly he
fell asleep. At eventide he awoke; he shed his rays across the
fields. He invited P'hatman: "Come, see me, I am alone,
quite alone!"
P'HATMAN went, Avt'handil heard her voice making
moan; she said: "Undoubtedly I am slain by him whose
form is like an aloe-tree." He set her at his side; he gave her
a pillow from his carpet. The shade from the caves of the
eyelashes overshadows the rose-garden.
AVT’HANDIL said: "0 Fhatman, I know thee; thou wilt
tremble at these tidings like one bitten by a serpent; but
hitherto thou hast not heard the truth concerning me; my
slayers are black lashes, trees of jet.
"THOU thinkest me some merchant, master of a caravan;
I am the Spaspeti of the exalted King Rostevan, chief of
the great host befitting him; I have the mastery over many
treasures and arsenals.
"I KNOW thee to be a good friend, faithful, trusty .-He has
one daughter, a sun the enlightener of lands; she it is who
consumes me and melts me; she sent me, I forsook my
master, her father.
"THAT damsel thou hadst—to seek that same damsel, that
substitute for the sun, I have gone over the whole world;
I have seen him who roves for her sake, where he, pale
lion, lies wasting himself, his heart and strength."
AVT’HANDIL told all his own tale to P'hatman, the story
of the donning of the tiger hide by Tariel. He said: "Thou
art the balm of him thou has not yet seen, the resource of
him of frequent eyelash, ruffled like a raven's wing.
"COME, P'hatman, and aid me, let us try to be of use to
him, let us help them, perchance those stars shall receive
joy. All men who shall know it, all will begin to praise us.
Surely again will it befall the lovers to meet.
"BRING me that same sorcerer slave, I will send him to
Kadjet'hi, we will make known to the maiden all the tidings
known to us, she also will inform us of the truth, we will do
what she chooses. God grant you may hear that the
kingdom of the Kadjis is vanquished by us."
P'TIATMAN said: "Glory to God, what things have
befallen me! This day I have heard tidings equal to
immortality!" She brought the sorcerer slave, black as a
raven, and said: "I send thee to Kadjet'hi; go, thou
hast a long journey.
"NOW will appear advantage for me from thy sorcery,
speedily quench the furnace of the burning of my fires, tell
that sun the means for her cure." He said: "To-morrow I
shall give you full news of what you wish."