Avt'handils Tale as Told to Asmath in the Cave
- HE came down and loosed his horse, which he
- to the tree, he mounted and rode up; the
door of the cave
- was open, the heart-shaken, tear-flooded
maiden ran out
- thence; she thought the rose-faced,
crystal-haloed one was
- come back.
- SHE knew not the face, it was not like the
face of that
- knight; swiftly she turned, with a cry she
made for rock and
- tree; the knight leaped from his horse,
seized her like a
- partridge in a net; the rocks resounded
with the maid's
- monotonous cry.
- SHE yielded not to that knight; even the
sight of him
- was hateful. Like a partridge under an
eagle she fluttered
- hither and thither; she called on a certain
Tariel for help,
- but he succoured her not. Avt'handil threw
himself on his
- knees; he entreated her with his fingers.
- HE said: "Hush! what ill can I do thee? I
am a man of
- Adam's race. I have seen those roses and
violets grown pale.
- Tell me something of him. Who is the
- halo-faced ? I shall do nought else to
thee, be comforted,
- cry not thus loudly."
- THE weeping girl said—and her speech was
- discussion than complaint.—"If thou be not
mad, let me go;
- if thou art mad, return to reason. Now thou
- me to tell thee a very hard matter; try not
in vain, look
- not to me to tell his story."
- AGAIN she said: "0 knight, what wilt thou,
- dost thou request of me ? This thing cannot
be even written
- with the pen. Once thou shalt say 'Tell
me!' a hundred
- times I shall tell thee 'No!' As smiling is
- weeping, so I prefer mourning to song."
- "MAIDEN, thou knowest not whence I come,
what woes I
- have endured! For as long as I have sought
- none have I heard them. I have found thee;
- my words may annoy thee, I cannot let thee
go till thou tell
- me. Be not bashful with me."
- THE maiden said: "Why have I fallen in with
- am I ? Or who art thou ? The sun is not
near me, this thou
- knewest, 0 hoarfrost, therefore thou thus
- long discourse is tedious, so I shall speak
shortly to thee;
- on no account shall I tell thee aught, do
- YET again he adjured her, he threw himself
on his knees
- before her, but nought could he win from
her; he wearied of
- entreaty, his indignation mounted to his
face, blood flowed
- to his eyes, he arose, he drew her by the
hair, he put a
- knife to her throat.
- THUS he spoke: "How can I forgive thee so
much ill-will ?
- If I weep, shall the tear be in vain. It is
better for thee
- to tell me, I shall trouble thee no more;
if not, may God
- slay mine enemy as I slay thee!"
- THE maid replied: "Thou hast done exceeding
- think of using force. If thou kill me not I
shall not die;
- I am hale and alive. Why shall I tell thee
- the time when I shall no longer see woes,
and if thou kill
- me I shall have no head to converse with
- AGAIN she said: "Oh, why didst thou find
me! Who art
- thou that speakest with me ? Who ? I cannot
be made to tell
- this story with living tongue. I will make
thee kill me at
- mine own wish; like a despised letter,
easily shalt thou
- tear me.
- "THINK not that death would be suffering to
me, for it
- would free me from weeping; it is the
drier-up of the ford of
- tears; the whole world seems to me as
straw, even so do I
- weigh it; I know not who thou art, that I
should tell thee
- trusty words."
- THE knight said to himself: "Thus shall I
not make her
- speak, I must think of some other way; it
is better to ponder
- the matter." He let her go, and sat down
apart; he wept, he
- began to shed tears. He said to the maiden:
"I have angered
- thee; now I know not, alas! how I shall
- THE maiden sat morose, she is sulky, she is
- sweetened. Avt'handil sits below weeping;
no longer does he
- speak. In the rose-garden the pool of tears
is dammed up.
- The maiden, too, weeps over yonder, her
- towards him.
- She pitied the weeping knight, therefore
her hot tears
- flowed, but she sat, strange to the
stranger, she spake
- not. The knight perceived that her hasty
- him were calmed; with flowing tears he
- he arose and bent his knee before her.
- HE said: "I know that now I am by no means
- from thee; I have angered thee; I remain a
stranger to thee
- and thus lonely; yet even now I have hope
for myself from
- thee, for it is said that sin shall be
forgiven unto seven
- "THOUGH my beginning in service has pleased
- it is fitting to pity the lover; understand
thou this: from
- any other, whomsoever, I can have no aid,
none is my
- strength. I yield thee my life for my
heart's sake. What
- more can I do?"
- WHEN the maid heard from the knight of his
- heart sobs she began to shed tears a
- again she raised her voice in wailing, she
smiled not. God
- gave Avt'handil his wish, his heart's
- HE said to himself: "These words have
- colour; doubtless her tears flow faster for
that she is mad
- for someone." He spoke once more: "0
sister, a lover is
- pitied even by his foes; thou, too, knowest
that he himself
- seeks death, he shuns it not.
- "I AM a lover, a madman to whom life is
- My sun sent me to seek that knight. Even a
- reach me where I have been on that quest. I
have found thy
- heart; his to thee, thine to him.
- "HIS face I have imprinted on my heart like
- picture. For him mad, cut off, have I given
up all my joy.
- One of two things do thou to me: make me a
prisoner or set
- me free, give me life or slay me, adding
grief to grief."
- THE maiden spoke to the knight a word more
pleasant than her first: "What thou hast now thought of is much
better; just now thou didst sow enmity in my heart, now thou hast
found in me a friend more sisterly than a sister.
- "THEN, since thou hast thought of love as
- henceforth it will not be that I shall not
be thy servant;
- if I devote not myself to thee, I shall
make thee mad, I
- shall make thee sad; I shall die for thy
sake if I find not
- some means to help thee.
- "NOW, whatever I tell thee, if thou wilt be
- me therein thou shalt meet whatever thou
- shalt certainly not fail; if thou
hearkenest not to me thou
- shalt not find, let thy tears flow as will;
- with the world shall come upon thee, thou
shalt die, thou
- shalt be put to shame."
- THE knight replied: "This only resembles
one thing: Two
- men were journeying somewhere along some
road; the one
- who was behind saw the one in front fall
into a well. He
- came up, called down, weeps and cries
- "THUS he spoke: 'Comrade, stay there, wait
for me, I
- go to bring ropes, I want to pull thee
out.' The man who
- was beneath laughed, he marvelled greatly,
he shouted up:
- 'Unless I wait, whither can I flee from
thee, whither can
- I go?'
- "NOW, sister, thou boldest the rope about
- without thee I can undertake nothing;
whatever thou doest
- to me rests with thee, thou art balm to the
- who would bind his sound head with
- THE maid replied: "Thy discourse, 0 knight,
- Doubtless thou art some good knight, worthy
of the praise
- of the wise. Since thou hast heretofore
suffered such griefs,
- hearken to what I tell thee, and thou hast
found what thou
- "NOWHERE can news of that knight be found.
- himself tell thee not it will not be told;
none other shouldst
- thou believe. If thou canst wait so long,
wait until he come.
- Be calm; freeze not the rose, let not be
snowed up in
- "I WILL tell thee our names if thou wishest
- them: Tariel is the name of that distracted
knight; I am
- called Asmat'h, whom the hot fire burns,
sigh upon sigh,
- not once alone, but many times.
- "MORE words about him than these I cannot
tell thee. The
- elegant, slender-formed roams the plain. I
eat, alas! alone
- of the meat brought by him from the chase.
He may come
- anon, I know not, or he may tarry a long
- "I ENTREAT thee to wait; go not elsewhere.
- comes I shall plead with him; it may be I
shall be able to
- do something. I shall make you known to
each other; I shall
- make him love thee. He himself will tell
thee his story; thou
- shalt make thy beloved to rejoice."
- THE knight listened to the maid, he was
- submitted. Thereupon they looked round,
they heard a
- splash from the glen, they saw the moon
come forth from
- the water, its rays beaming. They hastened
- made no long tarrying there.
- THE maid said: "0 knight. God give thee
soon what thou
- desirest; but make thyself unseen, hide
thyself inside. No
- human being is disobedient to that knight;
- may so contrive that the sight of thee
anger him not."
- THE maiden hastily hid Avt'handil secretly
in the cave.
- That knight alighted from his horse; his
quiver and sword
- adorn him. They wept aloud, their tears
flowing even to the
- sea. Avt'handil gazed forth, himself hidden
- THE bath of tears turned the crystal to the
- jasper. A long time the knight and that
- wept. She unbuckled his armour and took it
in; she also led
- in the horse. They were silent; the black
knife of jet cut
- off the tears.
- AVT'HANDIL watched, a prisoner but now
- his dungeon. The maid laid down the tiger's
- knight sat upon it, he sighs with added
grief; the jetty
- eyelashes are plaited by tears of blood.
- THAT maiden betook herself to the lighting
of a gentle
- fire with a steel; she thought he would eat
- whole; she gave it to him, he bit off a
piece, it was difficult
- for him to eat, he had not strength; he
began to spit it
- out unchewed.
- HE lay down a little, he fell asleep, but
only for a short
- time; he was afraid, he screamed aloud, he
leaped up as
- if dazed, he cried and incessantly beat his
breast with a
- stone and his head with a stick; the maiden
- looking at him, and scratches her face.
- "WHY hast thou returned?" she asked. "Tell
me what has
- happened to thee." He answered: "I came
upon a certain
- king hunting; he had countless soldiers,
heavy weighed their
- baggage, he hunted in that plain where
- "IT was melancholy for me to see men, the
- up still more; I came not near to meet him;
I pitied myself.
- I returned pale from them. I hid in the
wood. I thought:
- 'If he pursues me no more, I shall go away
- tears sprang forth a hundredfold, ten
- thousandfold more THE maiden's. She said:
"Thou roamest alone with
- wild beasts in the deep forest, thou
approachest no man for
- converse and entertainment; thou canst not
help her thus;
- why dost thou waste thy days in vain ?
- "THOU hast fared over the whole face of the
- couldst thou not find one man in whom to
- and who could be with thee without making
- though it would not lessen thy grief? If
thou diest and she
- perisheth, what doth this profit thee ?"
- HE said: "0 sister, this is like thy heart,
but for this
- wound there is no balm upon earth. Who can
- a man as hath not yet come into the world ?
My joy is
- death, the severance of flesh and soul.
- "WHERE, why should God cause a man to be
- the same planet as I, even if I desired his
- and converse ? Who could bear my woes, or
even attempt it ?
- Save thee, sister, I have no human being
- THE maid said: "Be not angry with me, I
fear and entreat
- thee; since God has appointed me thy
vizier, I cannot
- conceal the best that I know in the matter:
to go to
- extremes is of no use; thou hast
overstepped the bounds."
- THE knight replied: "I know not what thou
askest of me;
- tell me clearly. How can I create a man for
- without God? God needs me to be unhappy;
what can I do?
- Of a truth I am become as a wild beast, to
this pass have
- I brought myself."
- THE maid again spoke: "I have harassed thee
- overmuch advice, but if I could find a man
- come to thee of his own free will, who
would stay near
- thee, who would rejoice thee by his
- thou swear not to kill him nor do him any
- HE answered: "If thou wilt show him to me,
- shall I rejoice at sight of him. I swear by
the love of her
- for whose sake I wander mad in the fields,
I shall do nought
- unpleasing, I shall never cause any
bitterness to him; I
- shall be pleasant and love him, and do all
I can to be