History of Literature







"Shahnameh"
 

The Epic of Kings

 

by

Ferdowsi



 

Ferdowsī

 

also spelled Firdawsī, Firdusi, or Firdousi, pseudonym of Abū Ol-qasem Manṣūr

born c. 935, near Ṭūs, Iran
died c. 1020, –26, Ṭūs

Persian poet, author of the Shāh-nāmeh (“Book of Kings”), the Persian national epic, to which he gave its final and enduring form, although he based his poem mainly on an earlier prose version.

Ferdowsī was born in a village on the outskirts of the ancient city of Ṭūs. In the course of the centuries many legends have been woven around the poet’s name but very little is known about the real facts of his life. The only reliable source is given by Neẓāmī-ye ʿArūẓī, a 12th-century poet who visited Ferdowsī’s tomb in 1116 or 1117 and collected the traditions that were current in his birthplace less than a century after his death.

According to Neẓāmī, Ferdowsī was a dehqān (“landowner”), deriving a comfortable income from his estates. He had only one child, a daughter, and it was to provide her with a dowry that he set his hand to the task that was to occupy him for 35 years. The Shāh-nāmeh of Ferdowsī, a poem of nearly 60,000 couplets, is based mainly on a prose work of the same name compiled in the poet’s early manhood in his native Ṭūs. This prose Shāh-nāmeh was in turn and for the most part the translation of a Pahlavi (Middle Persian) work, the Khvatāy-nāmak, a history of the kings of Persia from mythical times down to the reign of Khosrow II (590–628), but it also contained additional material continuing the story to the overthrow of the Sāsānians by the Arabs in the middle of the 7th century. The first to undertake the versification of this chronicle of pre-Islāmic and legendary Persia was Daqīqī, a poet at the court of the Sāmānids, who came to a violent end after completing only 1,000 verses. These verses, which deal with the rise of the prophet Zoroaster, were afterward incorporated by Ferdowsī, with due acknowledgements, in his own poem.

The Shāh-nāmeh, finally completed in 1010, was presented to the celebrated sultan Maḥmūd of Ghazna, who by that time had made himself master of Ferdowsī’s homeland, Khūrāsān. Information on the relations between poet and patron is largely legendary. According to Neẓāmī-ye ʿArūẓī, Ferdowsī came to Ghazna in person and through the good offices of the minister Aḥmad ebn Ḥasan Meymandī was able to secure the Sultan’s acceptance of the poem. Unfortunately, Maḥmūd then consulted certain enemies of the minister as to the poet’s reward. They suggested that Ferdowsī should be given 50,000 dirhams, and even this, they said, was too much, in view of his heretical Shīʿīte tenets. Maḥmūd, a bigoted Sunnite, was influenced by their words, and in the end Ferdowsī received only 20,000 dirhams. Bitterly disappointed, he went to the bath and, on coming out, bought a draft of foqāʿ (a kind of beer) and divided the whole of the money between the bath attendant and the seller of foqāʿ.

Fearing the Sultan’s wrath, he fled first to Herāt, where he was in hiding for six months, and then, by way of his native Ṭūs, to Mazanderan, where he found refuge at the court of the Sepahbād Shahreyār, whose family claimed descent from the last of the Sāsānians. There Ferdowsī composed a satire of 100 verses on Sultan Maḥmūd that he inserted in the preface of the Shāh-nāmeh and read it to Shahreyār, at the same time offering to dedicate the poem to him, as a descendant of the ancient kings of Persia, instead of to Maḥmūd. Shahreyār, however, persuaded him to leave the dedication to Maḥmūd, bought the satire from him for 1,000 dirhams a verse, and had it expunged from the poem. The whole text of this satire, bearing every mark of authenticity, has survived to the present.

It was long supposed that in his old age the poet had spent some time in western Persia or even in Baghdad under the protection of the Būyids, but this assumption was based upon his presumed authorship of Yūsof o-Zalīkhā, an epic poem on the subject of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, which, it later became known, was composed more than 100 years after Ferdowsī’s death. According to the narrative of Neẓāmī-ye ʿArūẓī, Ferdowsī died inopportunely just as Sultan Maḥmūd had determined to make amends for his shabby treatment of the poet by sending him 60,000 dinars’ worth of indigo. Neẓāmī does not mention the date of Ferdowsī’s death. The earliest date given by later authorities is 1020 and the latest 1026; it is certain that he lived to be more than 80.

The Persians regard Ferdowsī as the greatest of their poets. For nearly a thousand years they have continued to read and to listen to recitations from his masterwork, the Shāh-nāmeh, in which the Persian national epic found its final and enduring form. Though written about 1,000 years ago, this work is as intelligible to the average, modern Iranian as the King James version of the Bible is to a modern English-speaker. The language, based as the poem is on a Pahlavi original, is pure Persian with only the slightest admixture of Arabic. European scholars have criticized this enormous poem for what they have regarded as its monotonous metre, its constant repetitions, and its stereotyped similes; but to the Iranian it is the history of his country’s glorious past, preserved for all time in sonorous and majestic verse.

John Andrew Boyle

 


 



Shahnameh
 

Shāhnāmé (Persian: شاهنامه "The Book of Kings") is an enormous poetic opus written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi around 1000 AD and is the national epic of the Persian-speaking world. Consisting of some 60,000 verses, the Shāhnāmeh tells the mythical and historical past of (Greater) Iran from the creation of the world up until the Islamic conquest of Persia in the 7th century.

Aside from its literary importance, the Shāhnāmeh, written in pure Persian unmixed with any foreign loan words, has been pivotal for reviving the Persian language after the Islamic conquest of Persia, and subsequent influence of Arabic language. This voluminous work, regarded by Persian speakers as a literary masterpiece, also reflects Persia's history, cultural values, ancient religion (Zoroastrianism), and profound sense of ethno-national history of Iran. Ferdowsi completed the Shâhnameh when Persia's political independence had been compromised.

This book is also important to the remaining 200,000 Zoroastrians, because the Shâhnameh traces the history of Zoroastrian religion from its beginnings up to the defeat of the last Zoroastrian king by Arab conquerors.

Illustrated copies of the work are among the most sumptuous examples of Persian miniature painting. Several copies remain intact, although two of the most famous, the Houghton Shahnameh and the Great Mongol Shahnameh, were broken up for sheets to be sold separately in the 20th century. A single sheet from the former (now Aga Khan Museum) was sold for £904,000 in 2006. The Bayasanghori Shâhnâmeh, an illuminated manuscript copy of the work (Golestan Palace, Iran), is included in UNESCO's Memory of the World Register of cultural heritage items.

There is an ongoing controversy among scholars about the sources of the Shâhnameh. Ferdowsi's epic is probably based mainly on an earlier prose version which itself was a compilation of old Persian stories and historical facts and fables. However, there is without any doubt also a strong influence of oral literature, since the style of the Shahnameh shows characteristics of both written and oral literature. Some claim that Ferdowsi also used Zoroastrian nasks, such as the now-lost Chihrdad as sources as well.

Some of the characters of the Epic are of Indo-Iranian heritage, and are mentioned in sources as old as the ancient Avesta and even the Rig Veda. The Shâhnameh itself was written in New Persian, which at the time was increasingly moribund.

The Shâhnameh, an epic poem of over 50,000 couplets, is based mainly on a prose work of the same name compiled in the Ferdowsi's earlier life in his native Tus. This prose Shâhnameh was in turn and for the most part the translation of a Pahlavi work, a compilation of the history of the kings and heroes of Persia from mythical times down to the reign of Khosrau II (590-628), but it also contains additional material continuing the story to the overthrow of the Sassanids by the Arabs in the middle of the 7th century. The first to undertake the versification of this chronicle of pre-Islamic and legendary Persia was Daqīqī-e Balkhī, a poet at the court of the Samanids, who came to a violent end after completing only 1000 verses. These verses, which deal with the rise of the prophet Zoroaster, were afterward incorporated by Ferdowsi, with due acknowledgments, in his own poem.

Ferdowsi started his composition of the Shahnameh in the Samanid era in 977 A.D and completed it around 1010 A.D. during the Ghaznavid era. The Shâhnameh recounts the history of Persia, beginning with the creation of the world and the introduction of the arts of civilization (fire, cooking, metallurgy, law) to the Aryans and ends with the Arab conquest of Persia. The work is not precisely chronological, but there is a general movement through time. Some of the characters live for hundreds of years but most have normal life spans. There are many shāhs who come and go, as well as heroes and villains, who also come and go. The only lasting images are that of Greater Persia itself, and a succession of sunrises and sunsets, no two ever exactly alike, yet illustrative of the passage of time.

Father Time, a Saturn-like image, is a reminder of the tragedy of death and loss, yet the next sunrise comes, bringing with it hope of a new day. In the first cycle of creation, evil is external (the devil). In the second cycle, we see the beginnings of family hatred, bad behavior, and evil permeating human nature. Shāh Fereydūn's two eldest sons feel greed and envy toward their innocent younger brother and, thinking their father favors him, they murder him. The murdered prince's son avenges the murder, and all are immersed in the cycle of murder and revenge, blood and more blood.

In the third cycle, we encounter a series of flawed shahs. There is a Phaedra-like story of Shāh Kay Kāūs, his wife Sūdābeh, and her passion and rejection by her stepson, Sīyāvash.

In the next cycle, all the players are unsympathetic and selfish and evil. This epic on the whole is darker over all than most other epics, most of which have some sort of resolution and catharsis. This tone seems reflective of two things, perhaps: the conquest of the Persians by the Arabs, and a reflection of the last days of Persian Zoroastrianism. The old religion had been fraught with heresies, and somehow Zoroaster's optimistic view of man's ability to choose had become life denying and negative of this world. There is an enormous amount of bad luck and bad fate in the stories.

It is only in the characterizations of the work's many figures, both male and female, that Zoroaster's original view of the human condition comes through. Zoroaster emphasized human free will. All of Ferdowsi's characters are complex. No of them is an archetype or a puppet. The best characters have bad flaws, and the worst have moments of humanity.

Ferdowsi was grieved by the fall of the Persian empire and its subsequent rule by Arabs and Turks. The Shahnameh is largely his effort to preserve the memory of Persia's golden days and transmit it to a new generation so that they could learn and try to build a better world. Though formally Muslim, the Shahnameh nevertheless has a certain anti-Arab and anti-Turk bias.

After Ferdowsi's Shâhnameh, a number of other works similar in nature surfaced over the centuries within the cultural sphere of the Persian language. Without exception, all such works were based in style and method on Ferdowsi's Shâhnameh, but none of them could quite achieve the same degree of fame and popularity.

Some experts believe the main reason the Modern Persian language today is more or less the same language as that of Ferdowsi's time over 1000 years ago is due to the very existence of works like Ferdowsi's Shâhnameh which have had lasting and profound cultural and linguistic influence. In other words, the Shâhnameh itself has become one of the main pillars of the modern Persian language. Studying Ferdowsi's masterpiece also became a requirement for achieving mastery of the Persian language by subsequent Persian poets, as evidenced by numerous references to the Shâhnameh in their works.

The Shâhnameh has 62 stories, 990 chapters, and some 60,000 rhyming couplets, making it more than three times the length of Homer's Iliad, and more than twelve times the length of the German Nibelungenlied. According to Ferdowsi, the final edition of the Shâhnameh contained some sixty thousand distichs. But this is a round figure; most of the relatively reliable manuscripts have preserved a little over fifty thousand distiches. Nezami-e Aruzi reports that the final edition of the Shâhnameh sent to the court of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni was prepared in seven volumes.

There have been a number of English translations, almost all abridged. James Atkinson of the Honourable East India Company's medical service was the first to undertake a translation in to English in his 1832 publication for the Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland, now part of the Royal Asiatic Society. Matthew Arnold produced another early English translation of the story of Rostam and Sohrab.

In 1925, the brothers Arthur & Edmond Warner published the complete work in nine volumes, now out of print. A recent translation by Dick Davis  has made this epic poem accessible for English speakers. The translation is a combination of poetry and prose, although it is not a complete translation of the Shahnameh.

 

 





The Epic of Kings

 

by Ferdowsi
 

1010 A.C.E.
 

Translated by Helen Zimmern


The Shahs of Old

Kaiumers first sat upon the throne of Persia, and was master of the world. He took up his abode in the mountains, and clad himself and his people in tiger-skins, and from him sprang all kindly nurture and the arts of clothing, till then unknown. Men and beasts from all parts of the earth came to do him homage and receive laws at his hands, and his glory was like to the sun. Then Ahriman the Evil, when he saw how the Shah's honour was increased, waxed envious, and sought to usurp the diadem of the world. So he bade his son, a mighty Deev, gather together an army to go out against Kaiumers and his beloved son Saiamuk and destroy them utterly.

Now the Serosch, the angel who defendeth men from the snares of the Deevs, and who each night flieth seven times around the earth that he may watch over the children of Ormuzd, when he learned this, appeared like unto a Peri and warned Kaiumers. So when Saiamuk set forth at the head of his warriors to meet the army of Ahriman, he knew that he was contending against a Deev, and he put forth all his strength. But the Deev was mightier than he, and overcame him, and crushed him under his hands.

When Kaiumers heard the news of mourning, he was bowed to the ground. For a year did he weep without ceasing, and his army wept with him; yea, even the savage beasts and the birds of the air joined in the wailing. And sorrow reigned in the land, and all the world was darkened until the Serosch bade the Shah lift his head and think on vengeance. And Kaiumers obeyed, and commanded Husheng, the son of Saiamuk, "Take the lead of the army, and march against the Deevs." And the King, by reason of his great age, went in the rear. Now there were in the host Peris; also tigers, lions, wolves, and other fierce creatures, and when the black Deev heard their roaring he trembled for very fear. Neither could he hold himself against them, and Husheng routed him utterly. Then when Kaiumers saw that his well-beloved son was revenged he laid him down to die, and the world was void of him, and Husheng reigned in his stead.

Now Husheng was a wise man and just, and the heavens revolved over his throne forty years. justice did he spread over the land, and the world was better for his reign. For he first gave to men fire, and showed them how to draw it from out the stone; and he taught them how they might lead the rivers, that they should water the land and make it fertile; and he bade them till and reap. And he divided the beasts and paired them and gave them names. And when he passed to a brighter life he left the world empty of a throne of power. But Tahumers, his son, was not unworthy of his sire. He too opened the eyes of men, and they learned to spin and to weave; and he reigned over the land long and mightily. But of him also were the Deevs right envious, and sought to destroy him. Yet Tahumers overcame them and cast them to earth. Then some craved mercy at his hands, and sware how they would show him an art if he would spare them, and Tahumers listened to their voice. And they taught him the art of writing, and thus from the evil Deevs came a boon upon mankind.

Howbeit when Tahumers had sat upon the golden throne for the space of thirty years he passed away, but his works endured; and Jemshid, his glorious son, whose heart was filled with the counsels of his father, came after him. Now Jemshid reigned over the land seven hundred years girt with might, and Deevs, birds, and Peris obeyed him. And the world was happier for his sake, and he too was glad, and death was unknown among men, neither did they wot of pain or sorrow. And he first parcelled out men into classes; priests, warriors, artificers, and husbandmen did he name them. And the year also he divided into periods. And by aid of the Deevs he raised mighty works, and Persepolis was builded by him, that to this day is called Tukht-e-Jemsheed, which being interpreted meaneth the throne of Jemshid. Then, when these things were accomplished, men flocked from all corners of the earth around his throne to do him homage and pour gifts before his face. And Jemshid prepared a feast, and bade them keep it, and called it Neurouz, which is the New Day, and the people of Persia keep it to this hour. And Jemshid's power increased, and the world was at peace, and men beheld in him nought but what was good.

Then it came about that the heart of Jemshid was uplifted in pride, and he forgot whence came his weal and the source of his blessings. He beheld only himself upon the earth, and he named himself God, and sent forth his image to be worshipped. But when he had spoken thus, the Mubids, which are astrologers and wise men, hung their heads in sorrow, and no man knew how he should answer the Shah. And God withdrew his hand from Jemshid, and the kings and the nobles rose up against him, and removed their warriors from his court, and Ahriman had power over the land.

Now there dwelt in the deserts of Arabia a king named Mirtas, generous and just, and he had a son, Zohak, whom he loved. And it came about that Ahriman visited the palace disguised as a noble, and tempted Zohak that he should depart from the paths of virtue. And he spake unto him and said-

"If thou wilt listen to me, and enter into a covenant, I will raise thy head above the sun."

Now the young man was guileless and simple of heart, and he sware unto the Deev that he would obey him in all things. Then Ahriman bade him slay his father, "for this old man," he said, "cumbereth the ground, and while he liveth thou wilt remain unknown." When Zohak heard this he was filled with grief, and would have broken his oath, but Ahriman suffered him not, but made him set a trap for Mirtas. And Zohak and the evil Ahriman held their peace and Mirtas fell into the snare and was killed. Then Zohak placed the crown of Thasis upon his head, and Ahriman taught him the arts of magic, and he ruled over his people in good and evil, for he was not yet wholly given up to guile.

Then Ahriman imagined a device in his black heart. He took upon himself the form of a youth, and craved that he might serve the King as cook. And Zohak, who knew him not, received him well and granted his request, and the keys of the kitchen were given unto him. Now hitherto men had been nourished with herbs, but Ahriman prepared flesh for Zohak. New dishes did he put before him, and the royal favour was accorded to his savory meats. And the flesh gave the King courage and strength like to that of a lion, and he commanded that his cook should be brought before him and ask a boon at his hands. And the cook said-

"If the King take pleasure in his servant, grant that he may kiss his shoulders."

Now Zohak, who feared no evil, granted the request, and Ahriman kissed him on his shoulders. And when he had done so, the ground opened beneath his feet and covered the cook, so that all men present were amazed thereat. But from his kiss sprang hissing serpents, venomous and black; and the King was afraid, and desired that they should be cut off from the root. But as often as the snakes were cut down did they grow again, and in vain the wise men and physicians cast about for a remedy. Then Ahriman came once again disguised as a learned man, and was led before Zohak, and he spake, saying-

"This ill cannot be healed, neither can the serpents be uprooted. Prepare food for them, therefore, that they may be fed, and give unto them for nourishment the brains of men, for perchance this may destroy them."

But in his secret heart Ahriman desired that the world might thus be made desolate; and daily were the serpents fed, and the fear of the King was great in the land. The world withered in his thrall, the customs of good men were forgotten, and the desires of the wicked were accomplished.

Now it was spread abroad in Iran that in the land of Thasis there reigned a man who was mighty and terrible to his foes. Then the kings and nobles who had withdrawn from Jemshid because he had rebelled against God, turned to Zohak and besought him that he would be their ruler, and they proclaimed him Shah. And the armies of Arabia and Persia marched against Jemshid, and he fled before their face. For the space of twice fifty years no man knew whither he was gone, for he hid from the wrath of the Serpent-King. But in the fulness of time he could no longer escape the fury of Zohak, whose servants found him as he wandered on the sea-shore of Cathay, and they sawed him in twain, and sent tidings thereof to their lord. And thus perished the throne and power of Jemshid like unto the grass that withereth, because that he was grown proud, and would have lifted himself above his Maker.

So the beloved of Ahriman, Zohak the Serpent, sat upon the throne of Iran, the kingdom of Light. And he continued to pile evil upon evil till the measure thereof was full to overflowing, and all the land cried out against him. But Zohak and his councillors, the Deevs, shut ear unto this cry, and the Shah reigned thus for the space of a thousand years, and vice stalked in daylight, but virtue was hidden. And despair filled all hearts, for it was as though mankind must perish to still the appetite of those snakes sprung from Evil, for daily were two men slaughtered to satisfy their desire. Neither had Zohak mercy upon any man. And darkness was spread over the land because of his wickedness.

But Ormuzd saw it and was moved with compassion for his people, and he declared they should no longer suffer for the sin of Jemshid. And he caused a grandson to be born to Jemshid, and his parents called him Feridoun.

Now it befell that when he was born, Zohak dreamed he beheld a youth slender like to a cypress, and he came towards him bearing a cow-headed mace, and with it he struck Zohak to the ground. Then the tyrant awoke and trembled, and called for his Mubids, that they should interpret to him this dream. And they were troubled, for they foresaw danger, and he menaced them if they foretold him evil. And they were silent for fear three days, but on the fourth one who had courage spake and said-

"There will arise one named Feridoun, who shall inherit thy throne and reverse thy fortunes, and strike thee down with a cow-headed mace."

When Zohak heard these words he swooned, and the Mubids fled before his wrath. But when he had recovered he bade the world be scoured for Feridoun. And henceforth Zohak was consumed for bitterness of spirit, and he knew neither rest nor joy.

Now it came about that the mother of Feridoun feared lest the Shah should destroy the child if he learned that he was sprung from Jemshid's race. So she hid him in the thick forest where dwelt the wondrous cow Purmaieh, whose hairs were like unto the plumes of a peacock for beauty. And she prayed the guardian of Purmaieh to have a care of her son, and for three years he was reared in the wood, and Purmaieh was his nurse. But when the time was accomplished the mother knew that news of Purmaieh had reached the ears of Zohak, and she feared he would find her son. Therefore she took him far into Ind, to a pious hermit who dwelt on the Mount Alberz. And she prayed the hermit to guard her boy, who was destined for mighty deeds. And the hermit granted her request. And it befell that while she sojourned with him Zohak had found the beauteous Purmaieh and learned of Feridoun, and when he heard that the boy was fled he was like unto a mad elephant in his fury. He slew the wondrous cow and all the living things round about, and made the forest a desert. Then he continued his search, but neither tidings nor sight could he get of Feridoun, and his heart was filled with anguish.

In this year Zohak caused his army to be strengthened, and he demanded of his people that they should certify that he had ever been to them a just and noble king. And they obeyed for very fear. But while they sware there arose without the doorway of the Shah the cry of one who demanded justice. And Zohak commanded that he should be brought in, and the man stood before the assembly of the nobles.

Then Zohak opened his mouth and said, "I charge thee give a name unto him who hath done thee wrong."

And the man, when he saw it was the Shah who questioned him, smote his head with his hands. But he answered and said-

"I am Kawah, a blacksmith and a blameless man, and I sue for justice, and it is against thee, O King, that I cry out. Seventeen fair sons have I called mine, yet only one remaineth to me, for that his brethren were slain to still the hunger of thy serpents, and now they have taken from me this last child also. I pray thee spare him unto me, nor heap thy cruelties upon the land past bearing."

And the Shah feared Kawah's wrath, beholding that it was great, and he granted him the life of his son and sought to win him with soft words. Then he prayed him that he would also sign the testimony that Zohak was a just and noble king.

But Kawah cried, "Not so, thou wicked and ignoble man, ally of Deevs, I will not lend my hand unto this lie," and he seized the declaration and tore it into fragments and scattered them into the air. And when he had done so he strode forth from the palace, and all the nobles and people were astonished, so that none dared uplift a finger to restrain him. Then Kawah went to the market-place and related to the people all that which he had seen, and recalled to them the evil deeds of Zohak and the wrongs they had suffered at his hands. And he provoked them to shake off the yoke of Ahriman. And taking off the leathern apron wherewith blacksmiths cover their knees when they strike with the hammer, he raised it aloft upon the point of a lance and cried-

"Be this our banner to march forth and seek out Feridoun and entreat him that he deliver us from out the hands of the Serpent-King."

Then the people set up a shout of joy and gathered themselves round Kawah, and he led them out of the city bearing aloft his standard. And they marched thus for many days unto the palace of Feridoun.

Now these things came about in the land of Iran after twice eight years were passed over the head of Feridoun. And when that time was accomplished, he descended from the Mount Alberz and sought out his mother, questioning her of his lineage. And she told him how that he was sprung from the race of Jemshid, and also of Zohak and of his evil deeds.

Then said Feridoun, "I will uproot this monster from the earth, and his palace will I raze to the dust."

But his mother spake, and said, "Not so, my son, let not thine youthful anger betray thee; for how canst thou stand against all the world?"

Yet not long did she suffer the hard task to hinder him, for soon a mighty crowd came towards the palace led by one who bare an apron uplifted upon a lance. Then Feridoun knew that succour was come unto him. And when he had listened to Kawah, he came into the presence of his mother with the helmet of kings upon his head, and he said unto her-

"Mother, I go to the wars, and it remaineth for thee to pray God for my safety."

Then he caused a mighty club to be made for him, and he traced the pattern thereof upon the ground, and the top thereof was the head of a cow, in memory of Purmaieh, his nurse. Then he cased the standard of Kawah in rich brocades of Roum, and hung jewels upon it. And when all was made ready, they set forth towards the West to seek out Zohak, for, they knew not that he was gone to Ind in search of Feridoun. Now when they were come to Bagdad, which is upon the banks of the Tigris, they halted, and Feridoun bade the guardians of the flood convey them across. But these refused, saying, the King bade that none should pass save only those who bore the royal seal. When Feridoun heard these words he was wroth, and he regarded not the rushing river nor the dangers hidden within its floods. He girded his loins and plunged with his steed into the waters, and all the army followed after him. Now they struggled sore with the rushing stream, and it seemed as though the waves would bear them down. But their brave horses overcame all dangers, and they stepped in safety upon the shore. Then they turned their faces towards the city which is now called Jerusalem, for here stood the glorious house that Zohak had builded. And when they had entered the city all the people rallied round Feridoun, for they hated Zohak and looked to Feridoun to deliver them. And he slew the Deevs that held the palace, and cast down the evil talisman that was graven upon the walls. Then he mounted the throne of the idolater and placed the crown of Iran upon his head, and all the people bowed down before him and called him Shah.

Now when Zohak returned from his search after Feridoun and learned that he was seated upon his throne, he encompassed the city with his host. But the army of Feridoun marched against him, and the desires of the people went with them. And all that day bricks fell from the walls and stones from the terraces, and it rained arrows and spears like to hail falling from a dark cloud, until Feridoun had overcome the might of Zohak. Then Feridoun raised his cow-headed mace to slay the Serpent-King. But the blessed Serosch swooped down, and cried-

"Not so, strike not, for Zohak's hour is not yet come."
Then the Serosch bade the Shah bind the usurper and carry him far from the haunts of men, and there fasten him to a rock. And Feridoun did as he was bidden, and led forth Zohak to the Mount Demawend. And he bound him to the rock with mighty chains and nails driven into his hands, and left him to perish in agony. And the hot sun shone down upon the barren cliffs, and there was neither tree nor shrub to shelter him, and the chains entered into his flesh, and his tongue was consumed with thirst. Thus after a while the earth was delivered of Zohak the evil one, and Feridoun reigned in his stead.

 

Feridoun

Five hundred years did Feridoun rule the world, and might and virtue increased in the land, and all his days he did that which was good. And he roamed throughout the kingdom to seek out that which was open and that which was hid, and wrong was righted at his hands. With kindness did he curb the sway of evil. He ordered the world like to a paradise, he planted the cypress and the rose where the wild herb had sprouted.

Now after many years were passed there were born to him three sons, whose mother was of the house of Jemshid. And the sons were fair of mien, tall and strong, yet their names were not known to men, for Feridoun had not tested their hearts. But when he beheld that they were come to years of strength he called them about his throne and bade them search out the King of Yemen, who had three daughters, fair as the moon, that they should woo them unto themselves. And the sons of Feridoun did according to the command of their father. They set forth unto Yemen, and there went with them a host countless as the stars. And when they were come to Yemen, the King came forth to greet them, and his train was like to the plumage of a pheasant. Then the sons of Feridoun gained the hands of the daughters of Serv, King of Yemen, and departed with them to their own land. And Serv gave to his new sons much treasure laid upon the backs of camels, and umbrellas too did he give unto them in sign of kingship.

Now it came about that when Feridoun learned that his sons were returning, he went forth to meet them and prove their hearts. So he took upon him the form of a dragon that foamed at the mouth with fury, and from whose jaws sprang mighty flames. And when his sons were come near unto the mountain pass, he came upon them suddenly, like to a whirlwind, and raised a cloud of dust about the place with his writhings, and his roaring filled the air with noise. Then he threw himself upon the eldest born, and the prince laid down his spear and said, "A wise and prudent man striveth not with dragons." And he turned his back and fled before the monster, and left him to fall upon his brothers. Then the dragon sprang upon the second, and he said, "An it be that I must fight, what matter if it be a furious lion or a knight full of valour?" So he took his bow and stretched it. But the youngest came towards him, and seeing the dragon, said, "Thou reptile, flee from our presence, and strut not in the path of lions. For if thou hast heard the name of Feridoun, beware how thou doest thus, for we are his sons, armed with spears and ready for the fight. Quit therefore, I counsel thee, thine evil path, lest I plant upon thy head the crown of enmity."

Then the glorious Feridoun, when he had thus made trial of their hearts, vanished from their sight. But presently he came again with the face of their father, and many warriors, elephants, and cymbals were in his train. And Feridoun bore in his hand the cow-headed mace, and the Kawanee, the apron of Kawah, the kingly standard, was waved above his head. Now when the sons saw their father, they alighted from their steeds and ran to greet him, and kissed the ground before his feet. And the cymbals were clashed, and the trumpets brayed, and sounds of rejoicing were heard around. Then Feridoun raised his sons and kissed their foreheads, and gave unto them honour according to their due. And when they were come to the royal house he prayed to God that He would bless his offspring, and calling them about him, he seated them upon thrones of splendour. Then he opened his mouth and said unto them-

"O my sons, listen unto the words that I shall speak. The raging dragon whose breath was danger was but your father, who sought to test your hearts, and having learned them gave way with joy. But now will I give to you names such as are fitting unto men. The first-born shall be called Silim (may thy desires be accomplished in the world!) for thou soughtest to save thyself from the clutches of the dragon, nor didst thou hesitate in the hour of flight. A man who fleeth neither before an elephant nor a lion, call him rather foolhardy than brave. And the second, who from the beginning showed his courage, which was ardent as a flame, I will call him Tur, the courageous, whom even a mad elephant cannot daunt. But the youngest is a man prudent and brave, who knoweth both how to haste and how to tarry; he chose the midway between the flame and the ground, as it beseemeth a man of counsel, and he hath proven himself brave, prudent, and bold. Irij shall he be called, that the gate of power may be his goal, for first did he show gentleness, but his bravery sprang forth at the hour of danger."

When Feridoun had thus opened his lips he called for the book wherein are written the stars, and he searched for the planets of his sons. And he found that Jupiter reigned in the sign of the Archer in the house of Silim, and the sun in the Lion in that of Tur, but in the house of Irij there reigned the moon in the Scorpion. And when he saw this he was sorrowful, for he knew that for Irij were grief and bale held in store. Then having read the secrets of Fate, Feridoun parted the world and gave the three parts unto his sons in suzerainty. Roum and Khaver, which are the lands of the setting sun, did he give unto Silim. Turan and Turkestan did he give unto Tur, and made him master of the Turks and of China, but unto Irij he gave Iran, with the throne of might and the crown of supremacy.

For many years had the sons of Feridoun sat upon their golden thrones in happiness and peace, but evil was hidden in the bosom of Fate. For Feridoun had grown old, and his strength inclined to the grave. And as his life waned, the evil passions of his sons waxed stronger. The heart of Silim was changed, and his desires turned towards evil; his soul also was steeped in greed. And he pondered in his spirit the parting of the lands, and he revolted thereat in his thoughts, because that the youngest bore the crown of supremacy. Then he bade a messenger mount him upon a dromedary swift of foot, and bear this saying unto Tur-

"O King of Turan, thy brother greeteth thee, and may thy days be long in the land. Tell unto me, I pray thee, for thou hast might and wisdom, should we remain thus ever satisfied, for surely unto us, not unto Irij, pertaineth the throne of Iran, but now is our brother set above our heads, and should we not strive against the injustice of our father? "

Now. when Tur had listened to these words, his head was filled with wind, and he spake unto the messenger and said-

"Say unto your master, O my brother, full of courage, since our father deceived us when we were young and void of guile, with his own hands hath he planted a tree whence must issue fruit of blood and leaves that are poison. Let us therefore meet and take counsel together how we may rid us of our evil fate."

When Silim heard this he set forth from Roum, and Tur also quitted China, and they met to counsel together how they should act. Then they sent a messenger unto Feridoun the glorious, and they said-

"O King, aged and great, fearest thou not to go home unto thy God? for evil hast thou done, and injustice dost thou leave behind thee. Thy realm hast thou allotted with iniquity, and thine eldest born hast thou treated with disfavour. But we thy sons entreat thee that ere it be too late thou listen to our voice. Command thou Irij to step down from the throne of Iran, and hide him in some corner of the earth, that he be weak and forgotten like ourselves. Yet if thou doest not our bidding, we will bring forth riders from Turkestan and Khaver filled with vengeance, and will utterly destroy Irij and the land of Iran."

When Feridoun had listened to these hard words he was angered, and straightway said-

"Speak unto these men, senseless and impure, these sons of Ahriman, perverse of heart, and say unto them, Feridoun rejoiceth that ye have laid bare before him your hearts, for now he knoweth what manner of men ye are. And he answereth unto you that he hath parted his realm with equity. Many counsellors did he seek, and night and day did they ponder it, and gave unto each that which seemed best in their sight. And he now speaketh unto you a word that he doth bid you treasure in your hearts, As ye sow, so also shall ye reap, for there is for us another, an eternal home. And this is the rede sent unto you by an aged man, that he who betrayeth his brother for greed is not worthy to be sprung from a noble race. So pray unto God that He turn your hearts from evil."

When the messenger had heard these words he departed. Then Feridoun called Irij before him and warned him against the craft of his brethren, and bade him prepare an army and go forth to meet them. But Irij, when he had heard of the evil thoughts of his brothers, was moved, and said-

"Not so, O my father, suffer that I go forth alone and speak unto my brethren, that I may still the anger that they feel against me. And I will entreat them that they put not their trust in the glory of this world, and will recall unto them the name of Jemshid, and how that his end was evil because that he was uplifted in his heart."

Then Feridoun answered and said, "Go forth, my son, if such be thy desire. The wish of thy brethren is even unto war, but thou seekest the paths of peace. Yet I pray thee take with thee worthy knights, and return unto me with speed, for my life is rooted in thy happiness."

And he gave him a letter signed with his royal seal that he should bear it unto the kings of Roum and China. And Feridoun wrote how that he was old, and desired neither gold nor treasures, save only that his sons should be united. And he commended unto them his youngest born, who was descended from his throne and come forth to meet them with peace in his heart.

Now when Irij was come to the spot where his brethren were encamped, the army saw him and was filled with wonder at his beauty and at his kingly form, and they murmured among themselves, saying, "Surely this one alone is worthy to bear the sceptre." But when Silim and Tur heard this murmur their anger was deepened, and they retreated into their tents, and all night long did they hold counsel how they might do hurt unto their brother.

Now when the curtain that hid the sun was lifted, the brethren went forth unto the tents of Irij. And Irij would have greeted them, but they suffered him not, but straightway began to question him, and heap reproaches upon his head. And Tur said-

"Why hast thou uplifted thyself above us, and is it meet that thy elders bow down before thee?"

When Irij heard their words, he answered, "O Kings greedy of power, I say unto you, if ye desire happiness, strive after peace. I covet neither the royal crown nor the hosts of Iran; power that endeth in discord is an honour that leadeth to tears. And I will step down from the throne of Iran if it shall foster peace between us, for I crave not the possession of the world if ye are afflicted by the sight. For I am humble of heart, and my faith bids me be kind."

Now Tur heard these words, but they softened not his spirit, for he knew only that which is evil, and wist not that Irij spoke truly. And he took up the chair whereon he sat and threw it at his brother in his anger. Then Irij called for mercy at his hands, saying-

"O King, hast thou no fear of God, no pity for thy father? I pray thee destroy me not, lest God ask vengeance for my blood. Let it not be spoken that thou who hast life takest that gift from others. Do not this evil. Crush not even the tiny ant that beareth a grain of corn, for she hath life, and sweet life is a boon. I will vanish from thy sight, I will live in solitude and secrecy, so thou grant that I may yet behold the sun."

But these words angered Tur only the more, and he drew from his boot a dagger that was poisoned and sharp, and he thrust it into the breast of Irij, the kingly cedar. And the young lord of the world paled and was dead. Then Tur cut the head from the trunk, and filled it with musk and ambergris, and sent it unto the old man his father, who had parted the world, saying-

"Behold the head of thy darling, give unto him now the crown and the throne."

And when they had done this evil deed the brethren furled their tents, and turned them back again unto the lands of Roum and Cathay.

Now Feridoun held his eyes fastened upon the road whither Irij was gone, and his heart yearned after him. And when he heard that the time of his return was come, he bade a host go forth to meet him, and he himself went in the wake. Now when they were gone but a little way they beheld a mighty cloud of dust upon the sky. And the cloud neared, and there came thence a dromedary whereon was seated a knight clad in the garb of woe. And he bare in his arms a casket of gold, and in the casket were rich stuffs of silk, and in the stuffs was wrapped the head of Irij. And when Feridoun beheld the face of the messenger his heart was smote with fear, but when he saw the head of his son he fell from his horse with sorrow. Then a cry of wailing rent the air, and the army shouted for grief, and the flags were torn, and the drums broken, and the elephants and cymbals hung with the colours of mourning, because that Irij was gone from the world. And Feridoun returned on foot unto the city, and all the nobles went with him, and they retraced their steps in the dust. Now when they were come to the garden of Irij, Feridoun faltered in his sorrow, and he pressed the head of the young King, his son, unto his breast. And he cast black earth upon his throne, and tore his hair, and shed tears, and his cries mounted even unto the seventh sphere. And he spake in his grief and said-

"O Master of the world, that metest out justice, look down, I pray thee, upon this innocent whom his brethren have foully murdered! Sear their hearts that joy cannot enter, and grant unto me my prayer. Suffer that I may live until a hero, a warrior mighty to avenge, be sprung from the seed of Irij. Then when I shall have beheld his face I will go hence as it beseemeth me and the earth shall cover my body."

Thus wept Feridoun in the bitterness of his soul, neither would he take comfort day and night, nor quit the garden of his son. And the earth was his couch and the dust his bed, and he watered the ground with his tears. And he rested in this spot till that the grass was grown above his bosom, and his eyes were blinded with weeping. Yet his tongue did not cease from plaining and his heart from sorrow. And he cried continually-

"O Irij, O my son, my son, never prince died a death like thine! Thy head was severed by Ahriman, thy body torn by lions."

Thus mourned Feridoun, and the voice of lamentation was abroad.
Then it came about that after many years had passed Feridoun bethought him of the daughter of Irij, and how that men said she was fair. And he sought for her in the house of the women; and when he learned that she was fair indeed, he desired that a husband be found for her, and he wedded her unto Pescheng, who was a hero of the race of Jemshid. And there was born unto them a son fair and strong, worthy the throne. And when he was yet but a tender babe they brought him to Feridoun and cried-

"O Lord of earth, let thy soul rejoice, behold this Irij!"
Then the lips of Feridoun were wreathed with smiles, and he took up the infant in his arms and cried unto God, saying-

"O God, grant that my sight be restored unto me, that I may behold the face of this babe."

And as he prayed his eyes were opened, and his sight rested upon his son. Then Feridoun gave thanks unto God. And he called down blessings upon the child, and prayed that the day might be blessed also, and the heart of his enemies be torn with anguish. And he named him Minuchihr, saying, "A branch worthy of a noble stock hath borne fruit." And the child was reared in the house of Feridoun, and he suffered not that ill came near unto him, and though the years passed above his head the stars brought him no evil. And when he was of a ripe age Feridoun gave to Minuchihr a throne of gold, and a mace, and a crown of jewels, and the key to all his treasures. Then he commanded his nobles that they should do him reverence and salute him king. And there were gathered about the throne Karun, the son of Kawah, and Serv, King of Yemen, and Guerschasp the victorious, and many other mighty princes more than tongue can name. But the young Shah outshone them in strength and beauty, and joy was once more in the land.

But tidings of the splendour that surrounded Feridoun pierced even unto the lands of Roum and China, and the kings thereof were troubled and downcast in their hearts. Then they conferred how they should regain the favour of the Shah, for they feared Minuchihr when he should be come unto years of might. So they sent a messenger unto Feridoun bearing rich gifts, and bade him speak unto their father and say-

"O Shah, live for ever I bear a message from the humblest of thy slaves, who are bowed unto the earth with contrition, wherefore they have not ventured into thy presence. And they pray that thou pardon their evil deed, for their hearts are good, and they did it not of themselves, but because it was written that they should do this wrong, and that which is written in the stars surely it is accomplished. And therefore, O King, their eyes are filled with tears, and they pray thee incline unto them thine ear. And as a sign of thy grace send unto them Minuchihr thy son, for their hearts yearn to look upon his face and do him homage."

Now when Feridoun had listened to the words of his sons, he knitted his brows in anger, for he knew that they sought only to beguile him. And he said unto the messenger-

"Go, say unto your masters that their false-hearted words shall avail them nothing. And ask them if they be not shamed to utter white words with tongues of blackness. I have heard their message, hear now the answer that I send. Ye say unto me that ye desire the love of Minuchihr, and I ask of you, What did ye for Irij? And now that ye are delivered of him ye seek the blood of his son. Verily I say unto you, never shall ye look upon his face save when he leadeth a mighty army. Then shall be watered with blood the leaves and fruits of the tree sprung from the vengeance that is due. For unto this day hath vengeance slumbered, since it became me not to stretch forth mine hand in battle upon my sons; but now is there sprung a branch from the tree which the enemy uprooted, and he shall come as a raging lion, girt with the vengeance of his sire. And I say unto you, take back the treasures ye have sent me, for think ye that for coloured toys I will abandon my vengeance, and efface for baubles the blood that ye have spilled, or sell for gold the head of mine offspring? And say yet again that while the father of Irij lives he will not abandon his intent. And now that thou hast listened unto my message, lay it up in thy heart and make haste from hence."

When the messenger had heard these words he departed with speed. And when he was come unto Silim and Tur he told them thereof, and how he had seen Minuchihr sitting upon a throne of gold, and how for strength he was like unto Tahumers, who had bound the Deevs. And he told how heroes bearing names that filled the world with wonder stood round about him, Kawah the smith, and Karun his son, and Serv, the King of Yemen, and next in might unto the Shah was Saum, the son of Neriman, the unvanquished in fight, and Guerschasp the victorious, his treasurer. Then he spake of the treasures that filled the house of Feridoun, and of the army great in number, so that the men of Roum and China could not stand against them. And he told how their hearts were filled with hatred of the Kings because of Irij.


 

The Kings, when they heard this and the message of their father, trembled for fear. And Tur said unto Silim-

"Henceforth we must forego pleasure, for it behoveth us to hasten, and not tarry till the teeth of this young lion be sharpened, and he be waxed tall and strong."

Then they made ready their armies, and the number of their men was past the counting. Helmet was joined to helmet, and spear to spear, and jewels, baggage, and elephants without number went with them, and you would have said it was a host that none could understand. And they marched from Turan into Iran, and the two Kings rode before them, their hearts filled with hate. But the star of these evil ones was sinking. For Feridoun, when he learned that an army had crossed the Jihun, called unto him Minuchihr his son, and bade him place himself at the head of the warriors. And the host of the Shah was mighty to behold, great and strong, and it covered the land like unto a cloud of locusts. And they marched from Temmische unto the desert, and Minuchihr commanded them with might. And on his right rode Karun the Avenger, and on his left Saum, the son of Neriman, and above their heads waved the flag of Kawah, and their armour glistened in the sun. Like as a lion breaketh forth from the jungle to seize upon his prey, so did this army rush forth to avenge the death of Irij. And the head of Minuchihr rose above the rest like to the moon or the sun when it shineth above the mountains. And he exhorted them in words of fire that they rest not, neither weary, until they should have broken the power of these sons of Ahriman.

Now Tur and Silim, when they saw that the Iranians were come out against them, set in order their army. And when the day had torn asunder the folds of night, the two armies met in battle, and the fight waged strong until the setting of the sun. And the earth was a sea of blood, and the feet of the elephants were like to pillars of coral. And when the sun was sunk to his rest, Tur and Silim consulted how they might seize upon Minuchihr by fraud, for they saw that his arm was strong and his courage undaunted. So Tur set forth at the head of a small band to surprise him in his tents. But Minuchihr was aware of his evil plans, and sprang upon him. And when Tur would have fled Minuchihr followed after him and struck a lance into his back. And when he had killed him he cut his head from his trunk, and the body did he give unto the wild beasts, but the head he sent to Feridoun. And he wrote to him and sent him greeting, and told him all that was come about, and how he should neither rest nor tarry until the death of Irij be avenged.

Now Silim, when he learned the fate of his brother, was sore afraid, and cast about him for an ally. And there came unto him Kakoui, of the seed of Zohak. But Minuchihr wrestled with him for a morning's space and overcame him also, though the Deev was strong and powerful in fight. Then Silim was cast down yet more, and he sought to hide him by the sea-shore. But Minuchihr cut off his path and overtook him, and with his own hand he slew him, and cut his head from his trunk. And he raised the head upon his lance. And when the army of Silim saw this they fled into the hills, and vanished like cattle whom the snow hath driven from their pasture. Then they took counsel and chose out a man from among their midst, one that was prudent and gentle of speech. And they bade him go before the Shah and say-

"Have mercy upon us, O Shah, for neither hate nor vengeance drove us forth against thee, but only this, that we obeyed the wills of our lords. But we ourselves are peaceful men, tillers of the earth and keepers of cattle, and we pray thee that thou let us return in safety whence we are come. And we acknowledge thee our Shah, and we pray thee make thy servants acquainted with thy desires."

When Minuchihr had heard these words he spake and said-
"My desire is not after these men, neither is my longing after blood but mercy. Let every man lay down his arms and go his ways, and let peace be in the land, and joy wait upon your feet."

When the men heard this they praised the Shah, and called down blessings upon his head. And they came before him, every man bearing his armour and the weapons of battle. And they laid them at his feet, and of weapons there was reared a mighty mountain, and the blue steel glistened in the sun. Then Minuchihr dismissed them graciously. And when the army was dispersed he sent a messenger unto Feridoun bearing the head of Silim and a writing. And when he had ordered all things he set out at the head of his warriors unto the city of Feridoun. And his grandsire came forth to meet him, and there came with him many elephants swathed in gold, and warriors arrayed in rich attire, and a large multitude clad in garments of bright hue. And flags waved above them, and trumpets brayed, and cymbals clashed, and sounds of rejoicing filled the air. But when Minuchihr saw that his grandsire came towards him, he got from his horse and ran to meet him, and fell at his feet and craved his blessing. And Feridoun blessed Minuchihr and raised him from the dust. And he bade him sit again upon his horse and took his hand, and they entered the city in triumph. And when they were come to the King's house, Feridoun seated Minuchihr upon a throne of gold. Then he called unto him Saum, the son of Neriman, and said-

"I pray thee bring up this youth and nourish him for the kingdom, and aid him with thy might and mind."

And he took the hand of Minuchihr and put it into that of Saum, and said-

"Thanks be unto God the merciful, who hath listened unto my voice, and granted the desires of His servant. For now shall I go hence, and the world will I cumber no more."

Then when he had given gifts unto his servants he withdrew into solitude, and gazed without cease upon the heads of his sons, neither refrained he from bewailing their evil fate, and the sorrow they had brought upon him. And daily he grew fainter, and at last the light of his life expired, and Feridoun vanished from the earth, but his name remained behind him. And Minuchihr mourned for his grandsire with weeping and lamentation, and raised above him a stately tomb. But when the seven days of mourning were ended, he put upon his head the crown of the Kaianides, and girt his loins with a red sash of might. And the nation called him Shah, and he was beloved in the land.

 

Zal

Seistan, which is to the south of Iran, was ruled by Saum, the Pehliva, girt with might and glory, and, but for the grief that he was childless, his days were happy. Then it came to pass that a son was born unto him, beautiful of face and limb, who had neither fault nor blemish save that his hair was like unto that of an aged man. Now the women were afraid to tell Saum, lest he be wroth when he should learn that his child was thus set apart from his fellow-men. So the infant had gazed upon the light eight days ere he knew thereof. Then a woman, brave above the rest, ventured into his presence. She bowed herself unto the dust and craved of Saum the boon of speech. And he suffered her, and she spake, saying-

"May the Lord keep and guard thee. May thine enemies be utterly destroyed. May the days of Saum the hero be happy. For the Almighty hath accomplished his desire. He hath given to him an heir, a son is born unto the mighty warrior behind the curtains of his house, a moon-faced boy, beautiful of face and limb, in whom there is neither fault nor blemish, save that his hair is like unto that of an aged man. I beseech thee, O my master, bethink thee that this gift is from God, nor give place in thine heart to ingratitude."

When Saum had listened to her words he arose and went unto the house of the women. And he beheld the babe that was beautiful of face and limb, but whose head was like unto that of an aged man. Then Saum, fearing the jeers of his enemies, quitted the paths of wisdom. He lifted his head unto heaven and murmured against the Lord of Destiny, and cried, saying-

"O thou eternally just and good, O source of happiness, incline thine ear unto me and listen to my voice. If I have sinned, if I have strayed in the paths of Ahriman, behold my repentance and pardon me. My soul is ashamed, my heart is angered for reason of this child, for will not the nobles say this boy presageth evil? They will hold me up to shame, and what can I reply to their questions? It behoveth me to remove this stain, that the land of Iran be not accursed."

Thus spake Saum in his anger, railing against fate, and he commanded his servants to take the child and cast it forth out of the land.

Now there standeth far from the haunts of men the Mount Alberz, whose head toucheth the stars, and never had mortal foot been planted upon its crest. And upon it had the Simurgh, the bird of marvel, builded her nest. Of ebony and of sandal-wood did she build it, and twined it with aloes, so that it was like unto a king's house, and the evil sway of Saturn could not reach thereto. And at the foot of this mount was laid the child of Saum. Then the Simurgh, when she spied the infant lying upon the ground, bereft of clothes and wherewithal to nourish it, sucking its fingers for very hunger, darted to earth and raised him in her talons. And she bare him unto her nest, that her young might devour him. But when she had brought him her heart was stirred within her for compassion. Therefore she bade her young ones spare the babe and treat him like to a brother. Then she chose out tender flesh to feed her guest, and tended the infant forsaken of his sire. And thus did the Simurgh, nor ever wearied till that moons and years had rolled above their heads, and the babe was grown to be a youth full of strength and beauty. And his renown filled the land, for neither good nor evil can be hidden for ever. And his fame spread even unto the ears of Saum, the son of Neriman.

Then it came to pass that Saum dreamed a dream, wherein he beheld a man riding towards him mounted upon an Arab steed. And the man gave him tidings of his son, and taunted him, saying-

"O thou who hast offended against every duty, who disownest thy son because that his hair is white, though thine own resembleth the silver poplar, and to whom a bird seemeth fit nurse for thine offspring, wilt thou abjure all kinship with him for ever?"

Now when Saum awoke he remembered his dream, and fear came upon him for his sin. And he called unto him his Mubids, and questioned them concerning the stripling of the Mount Alberz, and whether this could be indeed his son, for surely frosts and heat must long since have destroyed him. Then the Mubids answered and said-

"Not so, thou most ungrateful unto God, thou more cruel than the lion, the tiger, and the crocodile, for even savage beasts tend their young, whilst thou didst reject thine own, because thou heldest the white hair given unto him by his Creator for a reproach in the sight of men. O faint of heart, arise and seek thy child, for surely one whom God hath blessed can never perish. And turn thou unto him and pray that he forgive thee."

When Saum had heard these words he was contrite, and called about him his army and set forth unto the mountains. And when they were come unto the mount that is raised up to the Pleiades, Saum beheld the Simurgh and the nest, and a stripling that was like unto himself walking around it. And his desire to get unto him was great, but he strove in vain to scale the crest. Then Saum called upon God in his humility. And God heard him, and put it into the heart of the Simurgh to look down and behold the warrior and the army that was with him. And when she had seen Saum she knew wherefore the chief was come, and she spake and said-

"O thou who hast shared this nest, I have reared thee and been to thee a mother, for thy father cast thee out; the hour is come to part us, and I must give thee again unto thy people. For thy father is Saum the hero, the Pehliva of the world, greatest among the great, and he is come hither to seek his son, and splendour awaiteth thee beside him."

When the youth had heard her words his eyes were filled with tears and his heart with sorrow, for he had never gazed upon men, though he had learned their speech. And he said-

"Art thou then weary of me, or am I no longer fit to be thy house-fellow? See, thy nest is unto me a throne, thy sheltering wings a parent. To thee I owe all that I am, for thou wast my friend in need."

And the Simurgh answered him saying, "I do not send thee away for enmity, O my son; nay, I would keep thee beside me for ever, but another destiny is better for thee. When thou shalt have seen the throne and its pomp my nest will sink in thine esteem. Go forth, therefore, my son, and try thy fortune in the world. But that thou mayst remember thy nurse who shielded thee, and reared thee amid her little ones, that thou mayst remain under the shadow of her wings, bear with thee this feather from her breast. And in the day of thy need cast it into the fire, and I will come like unto a cloud and deliver thee from danger."

Thus she spake, and raised him in her talons and bore him to the spot where Saum was bowed to the dust in penitence. Now when Saum beheld his son, whose body was like unto an elephant's for strength and beauty, he bent low before the Simurgh and covered her with benison. And he cried out and said-

"O Shah of birds, O bird of God, who confoundest the wicked, mayst thou be great for ever."

But while he yet spake the Simurgh flew upwards, and the gaze of Saum was fixed upon his son. And as he looked he saw that he was worthy of the throne, and that there was neither fault nor blemish in him, save only his silvery locks. Then his heart rejoiced within him, and he blessed him, and entreated his forgiveness. And he said-

"O my son, open thine heart unto the meanest of God's servants, and I swear unto thee, in the presence of Him that made us, that never again will I harden my heart towards thee, and that I will grant unto thee all thy desires."

Then he clothed him in rich robes and named him Zal, which being interpreted meaneth the aged. And he showed him unto the army. And when they had looked on the youth they saw that he was goodly of visage and of limb, and they shouted for very joy. Then the host made them ready to return unto Seistan. And the kettle-drummers rode at their head, mounted upon mighty elephants whose feet raised a cloud of dust that rose unto the sky. And the tabors were beat, and the trumpets brayed, and the cymbals clashed, and sounds of rejoicing filled the land because that Saum had found his son, and that Zal was a hero among men.

Now the news spread even unto Minuchihr that Saum was returning from the mountains with great pomp and joy. And when he had heard it he bade Nuder go forth to meet the Pehliva and bid him bring Zal unto the court. And when Saum heard the desires of his master he obeyed and came within his gates. Then he beheld the Shah seated upon the throne of the Kaianides, bearing his crown upon his head, and on his right hand sat Karun the Pehliva, and he bade Saum be seated on his left. And the Shah commanded Saum that he should speak. Then Saum unbosomed himself before the Shah and spake concerning his son, neither did he hide his evil deed. And Minuchihr commanded that Zal be brought before him. So the chamberlains brought him into the presence of the King, and he was clad in robes of splendour, and the King was amazed at his aspect. And he turned and said unto Saum-

"O Pehliva of the world, the Shah enjoineth you have a care of this noble youth, and guard him for the land of Iran. And teach him forthwith the arts of war, and the pleasures and customs of the banquet, for how should one that hath been reared in a nest be familiar with our ways?

Then the Shah bade the Mubids cast Zal's horoscope, and they read that he would be a brave and prudent knight. Now when he had heard this the Pehliva was relieved of all his fears, and the Shah rejoiced and covered Saum with gifts. Arab horses did he give unto him with golden saddles, Indian swords in scabbards of gold, brocades of Roum, skins of beasts, and carpets of Ind, and the rubies and pearls were past the numbering. And slaves poured musk and amber before him. And Minuchihr also granted to Saum a throne, and a crown and a girdle of gold, and he named him ruler of all the lands that stretch from the Sea of China to that of Sind, from Zaboulistan to the Caspian. Then he bade that the Pehliva's horse be led forth, and sent him away from his presence. And Saum called down blessings upon the Shah, and turned his face towards home. And his train followed after him, and the sound of music went before them.

Then when the tidings came to Seistan that the great hero was drawing nigh, the city decked itself in festive garbs, and every man called down the blessings of Heaven upon Zal, the son of Saum, and poured gifts at his feet. And there was joy in all the land for that Saum had taken back his son.

Now Saum forthwith called about him his Mubids, and bade them instruct the youth in all the virtues of a king.

And daily Zal increased in wisdom and strength, and his fame filled the land. And when Saum went forth to fight the battles of the Shah, he left the kingdom under his hands, and Zal administered it with judgment and virtue.

 

Zal and Rudabeh

Anon it came about that Zal desired to see the kingdom. And he set forth, and there followed after him a goodly train, and when they had journeyed a while they marched with pomp into Cabul. Now Mihrab, who was descended from Zohak the Serpent, reigned in Cabul, yet he was worthy, prudent, and wise. When he heard that the son of Saum, to whom he paid tribute, drew nigh unto the city, he went out to meet him, and his nobles went with him, and slaves bearing costly gifts. And Zal, hearing that Mihrab was at hand, prepared a feast in his tents, and Mihrab and his train feasted with him until the night was far spent. Now, after the King was gone, Zal praised his beauty. Then a noble rose up and said unto him-

"O Zal, thou knowest not beauty since thou hast not beheld the daughter of this man. For she is like unto the slender cypress, her face is brighter than the sun, her mouth is a pomegranate flower."

When Zal heard these words he was filled with longing, and sleep would not visit his eyelids for thinking of her beauty.

Now, when the day dawned, he opened the doors of his court, and the nobles stood about him, each man according to his rank. And presently there came from Cabul Mihrab the King to tender morning greeting to the stranger without his gates. And Zal desired that Mihrab should crave a boon at his hands. Then spake Mihrab unto him saying-

"O ruler mighty and great, I have but one desire, and to bring it to pass is easy. For I crave thee that thou dwell as guest beneath my roof, and let my heart rejoice in thy presence."

Then Zal said unto him, "O King, ask not this boon at my hands, I pray thee, for it can in nowise be accomplished. The Shah and Saum would be angered should they learn that I had eaten under the roof of Zohak. I beg of thee ask aught but this."

When Mihrab heard these words he was sorrowful, and bent low before Zal, and departed from out the tents. And the eye of Zal looked after him, and yet again he spake his praises. Then he bethought him of the King's daughter, and how that she was fair, and he was sunk in brooding and desire, and the days passed unheeded over his head.

Now it came to pass that on a certain morning Mihrab stepped forth from his palace to the house of the women to visit Sindokht his wife, and her daughter Rudabeh. Truly the house was like to a garden for colour and perfume, and over all shone those moons of beauty. Now when Mihrab had greeted Rudabeh he marvelled at her loveliness, and called down the blessings of Heaven upon her head. Then Sindokht opened her lips and questioned Mihrab concerning the stranger whose tents were without their gates. And she said-

"I pray thee tell unto me what manner of man is this white-haired son of Saum, and is he worthy the nest or the throne? "

Then Mihrab said unto her, "O my fair cypress, the son of Saum is a hero among men. His heart is like unto a lion's, his strength is as an elephant's, to his friends he is a gracious Nile, unto his enemies a wasting crocodile. And in him are even blemishes turned to beauties, his white locks but enhance his glory."

When Rudabeh had listened to these words her heart burned with love for Zal, so that she could neither eat nor rest, and was like unto one that hath changed her shape. And after a while, because that she could bear the burden thereof no longer, she told her secret to the slaves that loved and served her. And she charged them tell no man, and entreated of them that they would aid her to allay the troubles of her heart. And when the slaves had listened to her story, they were filled with fear, and with one accord entreated her that she would dismiss from her heart one branded among men, and whom his own father had cast out. But Rudabeh would not listen to their voice. And when they beheld that she was firm in her spirit, and that their words were vain, they cast about how they might serve her. And one among them who was wise above the rest opened her lips and spake-

"O moon-faced beauty, slender cypress, it shall be done at thy desire. Thy slaves will neither rest nor slumber until the royal youth shall have become the footstool to thy feet."

Then Rudabeh was glad and said-
"An the issue be happy, there shall be planted for thee a noble tree, and it shall bear riches and jewels, and wisdom shall cull its fruits."

Then the slaves pondered in their hearts how they should compass their end, for they knew that only by craft could it be brought about. Straightway they clothed themselves in costly raiment, and went forth blithely into the garden of flowers that was spread beside the river's bank without the city. And they gathered roses, and decked their hair with blossoms, and threw them into the stream for sooth-telling; and as they gathered they came unto the spot over against which were pitched the tents of Zal. Now Zal beheld them from his tent, and he questioned them concerning these rose-gatherers. And one uprose and said unto him-

"They are slaves sent forth by the moon of Cabul into the garden of flowers."

Now when Zal heard this his heart leaped for joy, and he set forth unto the river's bank with only one page to bear him company. And seeing a water-bird fly upwards, he took his bow and shot it through the heart, and it fell among the rose-gatherers. Then Zal bade the boy cross the water and bring him the bird. And when he had landed, the moon-faced women pressed about him and questioned him, saying-

"O youth, tell us the name of him who aimeth thus surely, for verily he is a king among men."

Then the boy answering said, "What! know ye not the son of Saum the hero? The world hath not his equal for strength and beauty."

But the girls reproved him, and said, "Not so, boast not thus vainly, for the house of Mihrab holdeth a sun that o'ershines all besides."

And the page smiled, and the smile yet lingered on his lips when he came back to Zal. And Zal said-

"Why smilest thou, boy? What have they spoken unto thee that thou openest thy lips and showest thy ivory teeth? "

Then the boy told unto him the speech of the women. And Zal said-
"Go over yet again and bid them tarry, that they may bear back jewels with their roses."

And he chose forth from among his treasures trinkets of pearl and gold, and sent them to the slaves. Then the one who had sworn to serve Rudabeh above the rest craved that she might look upon the face of the hero, for she said-

"A secret that is known to three is one no longer."
And Zal granted her desire, and she told him of Rudabeh and of her beauty, and his passion burned the more. And he spake-

"Show unto me, I pray thee, the path by which I may behold this fair one, for my heart is filled with longing."

Then the slave said, "Suffer that we go back to the house of the women, and we will fill the ears of Rudabeh with praises of the son of Saum, and will entangle her in the meshes of our net, and the lion shall rejoice in his chase of the lamb."

Then Zal bade her go forth, and the women returned to the house rejoicing and saying-

"The lion entereth the snare spread forth to entrap him, and the wishes of Rudabeh and Zal will be accomplished."

But when they were come to the gates the porter chid them that they were gone without while the stranger sojourned in Cabul, and they were troubled and sore afraid for their secret. But they stilled his wrath and came unto where Rudabeh awaited them. And they told her of Zal, the son of Saum, and of his beauty and his prowess. And Rudabeh smiled and said-

"Wherefore have ye thus changed your note? For a while back ye spake with scorn of this bird-reared youth, on whose head hang the locks of a sage, but now are ye loud in his praises."

Then Rudabeh began privily to deck her house that it might be worthy a guest. With brocades of Roum and carpets of Ind did she hang it, and she perfumed it with musk and ambergris, and flowers did she cause to bloom about the rooms. And when the sun was sunk, and the doors of the house were locked and the keys withdrawn, a slave went forth unto Zal, the son of Saum. And she spake unto him in a low voice-

"Come now, for all is ready."
And Zal followed after her. And when they were come to the house of the women Zal beheld the daughter of the King standing upon the roof, and her beauty was like unto a cypress on which the full moon shineth. And when she beheld him, she spake and said-

"I bid thee welcome, O young man, son of a hero, and may the blessing of Heaven rest upon thee."

And Zal answered her benison, and prayed that he might enter into nearer converse, for he was on the ground and she was on the roof. Then the Peri-faced loosened her tresses, and they were long, so that they fell from the battlements unto the ground. And she said unto Zal-

"Here hast thou a cord without flaw. Mount, O Pehliva, and seize my black locks, for it is fitting that I should be a snare unto thee."

But Zal cried, "Not so, O fair one, it would beseem me ill to do thee hurt."

And he covered her hair with kisses. Then he called for a cord and made a running knot, and threw it upwards and fastened it to the battlements. And with a bound he swung himself upon the roof. Then Rudabeh took his hand and they stepped down together into the golden chambers, and the slaves stood round about them. And they gazed upon each other and knew that they excelled in beauty, and the hours slipped by in sweet talk, while love was fanned in their hearts. Then Zal cried-

"O fair cypress, musk-perfumed, when Minuchihr shall learn of this he will be angered and Saum also will chide. And they will say I have forgotten my God, and will lift their hands against me. But I swear unto thee that this life is to me vile if it be not spent in thy presence. And I call upon Heaven to hear me that none other but thee will I call my bride."

And Rudabeh said, "I too will swear unto thee this oath."
So the hours sped, and there arose from out the tents of the King the sound of drums that announce the coming of the day. Then cried Zal and Rudabeh of one accord-

"O glory of the world, tarry yet a while, neither arrive so quickly."

But the sun gave no ear to their reproaches, and the hour to part was come. Then Zal swung himself from the battlements unto the ground, and quitted the house of his beloved.

Now when the earth was flooded with light, and the nobles and chiefs had tendered unto Zal their morning greetings as was their wont, he called about him his Mubids, and laid before them how that he was filled with love for a daughter of the Serpent. And the Mubids when they heard it were troubled, and their lips were closed, and the words were chained upon their tongues. For there was none of them that listed to mingle poison in the honey of this love. Whereupon Zal reproved them, and said that he would bestow on them rich gifts if they would open their mouths. Then they spake and said unto him that the honour of a king could not suffer by a woman, and though Mihrab be indeed of Zohak's race, he was noble and valiant. And they urged him to write unto his father and crave Saum to wait upon the Shah.

Then Zal called unto him a scribe and bade him write down the words that he spake. And he told unto Saum his love and his fears. And he recalled unto him how that he had cast him out, and how that he had lived in a nest, and a bird had reared him, and the sun had poured down upon his head, and raw flesh had been his nourishment the while his father had sat within a goodly house clothed in silk. And he recalled the promise given to him by Saum. Neither did he seek to justify that which was come about. Then he gave the letter to a messenger, and bade him ride until he should be come into the presence of Saum.

When Saum had heard the words of his son his spirit was troubled, and he cried-

"Woe unto me, for now is clear what hath so long been hidden. One whom a wild bird hath reared looketh for the fulfilment of wild desires, and seeks union with an accursed race."

And he pondered long what he should answer. For he said, "If I say, Abandon this desire, sow no discord, return to reason, I break my oath and God will punish me. Yet if I say, Thy desire is just, satisfy the passions of thy heart, what offspring can come to pass from the union of a Deev and the nursling of a bird?"

And the heart of Saum was heavy with care. So he called unto him his Mubids that they should search the stars, for he said-

"If I mingle fire and water I do ill, and ill will come of it."
Then all that day the Wise Men searched the secrets of Fate, and they cast the horoscope of Zal and Rudabeh, and at even they returned to the King rejoicing. And they found him torn with anguish. Then they said-

"Hail unto thee, O Saum, for we have followed the movement of the stars and counted their course, and we have read the message of the skies. And it is written, 'A clear spring shall issue into the day, a son shall be born to Zal, a hero full of power and glory, and there shall not be his like in Iran.' "

Now when Saum had drunk in these words, his soul was uplifted, and he poured gifts upon the Mubids. Then he called to him the messenger of Zal, and he gave him pieces of silver, and bade him return unto his master and say-

"I hold thy passion folly, O my son, but because of the oath that I have sworn to thee it shall be done at thy desire. I will hie me unto Iran and lay thy suit before the Shah."

Then Saum called together his army and set forth for Iran, and the sound of trumpets and cymbals went before him.

Now when the messenger was come back to Zal, he rejoiced and praised God, and gave gold and silver to the poor, and gifts unto his servants. But when night was come he could not close his eyes in slumber, nor could he rest during the day. Neither did he drink wine nor demand the singers, for his soul was filled with longing after his love. And presently there came out to him a slave, and he gave unto her Saum's letter that she might bear it to Rudabeh. And Rudabeh rejoiced also, and chose from among her treasures a costly crown and a ring of worth, and bade the woman bear them unto Zal. Now as she quitted the chamber she met Sindokht. And the Queen questioned her and said-

"Whence comest thou? Reply to all my questions, neither seek thou to deceive me, for already a long time do I suspect thy passing to and fro."

And the woman trembled as she heard these words, and fell down and kissed the feet of the Queen, and said-

"Have pity on thine handmaiden, who is poor and gaineth her bread as she can. I go into the houses of the rich and sell to them robes and jewels. And Rudabeh hath this day bought of me a tiara and a bracelet of gold."

Then said Sindokht, "Show unto me the money thou hast received for the same, that my anger be appeased."

And the woman answered and said, "Demand not that I show unto thee that which I have not, for Rudabeh will pay me to-morrow."

Now Sindokht knew that these words were feigned, and she searched the sleeve of the woman, and lo! she found therein the tiara that Rudabeh had broidered with her hands. Then she was angered, and commanded that the slave should be bound in chains. And she desired that her daughter be brought into her presence. And when she was come, Sindokht opened her mouth and spake, saying-

"O moon of noble race, to whom hath been taught naught but that which is good, how hast thou gone astray upon the paths of evil? O my daughter, confide unto thy mother thy secrets. From whom cometh this woman? For what man are destined thy gifts?"

When she had heard, Rudabeh was abashed, but after a while she told all unto Sindokht. Now when the Queen had heard she was confounded, for she feared the wrath of the Shah, and that he would raze Cabul to the dust for this mischance. And she went into her rooms and wept in her sorrow. Then presently Mihrab the King came in to Sindokht, and he was of joyful mind, for Zal had received him graciously. But when he beheld her tears he questioned of her grief. Then she told him how that his daughter was filled with love for Zal, the son of Saum. And when Mihrab had heard her to an end, his heart also was troubled, for he knew that Cabul could not stand before the Shah.

Minuchihr, too, when he had heard these things, was troubled, for he beheld in them the device of Ahriman, and feared lest this union should bring evil upon Iran. And he bade Nauder call Saum before him. Now when Saum heard the desire of the Shah, he spake and said-

"I obey, and the sight of the King will be a banquet. unto my soul."

Then Saum went into the presence of Minuchihr, and he kissed the ground, and called down blessings upon the head of the Shah. But Minuchihr raised him and seated him beside him on the throne, and straightway began to question him concerning the war, and the Deevs of Mazinderan. Then Saum told him all the story of his battles. And Minuchihr listened with joy though the tale was long, and when Saum had ended he praised his prowess. And he lifted his crown unto heaven and rejoiced that his enemies were thus confounded. Then be bade a banquet be spread, and all night long the heroes feasted and shortened the hours with wine. But when the first rays of morn had shed their light, the curtains of the Shah's house were opened, that he might hold audience and grant the petitions of his people. And Saum the Pehliva came the first to stand before the King, for he desired to speak to him of Zal. But the Shah of the world would not suffer him to open his lips, but said unto him-

"Go hence, O Saum, and take with thee thine army, for I command thee to go yet again to battle. Set forth unto Cabul and burn the house of Mihrab the King, and utterly destroy his race and all who serve him, nor suffer that any of the seed of Zohak escape destruction, for I will that the earth be delivered of this serpent brood."

When Saum heard these words he knew that the Shah was angered, and that speech would avail him naught. So he kissed the throne and touched the earth with his forehead, and said, "Lord, I am thy servant, and I obey thy desires." And he departed, and the earth trembled under the stamping of footmen and of hoofs, and the air of the city was darkened with his spears.

Now the news of Saum's intent reached even unto Cabul, and the land was sunk in woe, and weeping filled the house of the King. But Zal was wroth, and he went forth to meet his father. And when he was come to the spot where he had encamped his army, he craved an audience. And Saum granted it, and Zal reminded him yet again of his oath, and desired that he would spare the land of Cabul, nor visit his judgments upon the innocent. When Saum had listened, his heart was moved, and he said-

"O my son, thou speakest that which is right. To thee have I been unjust from the day of thy birth. But stay thy wrath, for surely I will find a remedy, and thy wishes shall yet be accomplished. For thou shalt bear a letter unto the Shah, and when he shall have looked on thy face, he will be moved with compassion and cease to trouble thee."

Then Zal kissed the ground before his father and craved the blessings of God upon his head. And Saum dictated a letter to the Shah, and he spoke therein of all he had done for Minuchihr, and how he had killed the dragon that had laid waste the land, how he had ever subdued the foes of Iran, and how the frontiers were enlarged by his hands. Yet now was he waxing old, and could no longer do doughty deeds. But a brave son was his, worthy and true, who would follow in his footsteps. Only his heart was devoured of love, and perchance he would die if his longing were unsatisfied. And therewith he commended to the wisdom of the Shah the affairs of Zal.

When the letter was ended Zal set forth with it unto the court, and the flower of his army went with him.

But the fear of Minuchihr was great in Cabul, and Mihrab pondered how he should quench the wrath of the King of kings. And he spake to Sindokht and said-

"For that the King is angered against me because of thee and thy daughter, and because I cannot stand before him, I will lead Rudabeh unto his court and kill her before his eyes. Perchance his anger may be thus allayed."

Sindokht listened to his words in silence, and when he had ended she cast about her for a plan, for she was quick of wit. And when she had found one she came again into the presence of Mihrab, and she craved of him that he should give her the key of his treasury. For she said-

"This is not the hour to be strait-handed; suffer that I take what seemeth good unto me and go before Saum, it may be that I move him to spare the land."

And Mihrab agreed to her demand because of the fear that devoured him. Then Sindokht went out to the house of Saum, and she took with her three hundred thousand pieces of gold, and sixty horses caparisoned in silver, bearing sixty slaves that held cups filled to the brim with musk and camphor, and rubies, and turquoise, and precious stones of every kind. And there followed two hundred dromedaries and four tall Indian elephants laden with carpets and brocades of Roum, and the train reached for two miles beyond the King's gates. Now when Sindokht was come to Seistan she bade the guardians of the door say unto Saum that an envoy was come from Cabul bearing a message. And Saum granted an audience, and Sindokht was brought into his presence. Then she kissed the ground at his feet and called upon Heaven to shower down blessings on his head. And when she had done so, she caused her gifts to be laid before Saum, and when Saum beheld these treasures, he marvelled and thought within himself, "How cometh it that a woman is sent as envoy from a land that boasteth such riches? If I accept them the Shah will be angered, and if I refuse perchance Zal will reproach me that I rob him of his heritage." So he lifted his head and said-

"Let these treasures be given unto the treasurer of my son."
When Sindokht beheld that her gifts were accepted, she rejoiced and raised her voice in speech. And she questioned Saum, saying-

"Tell me, I pray thee, what wrong have the people of Cabul done unto thee that thou wouldst destroy them?"

Then answered Saum the hero, "Reply unto my questions and lie not. Art thou the slave or the wife of Mihrab, and is it thy daughter whom Zal hath seen? If indeed it be so, tell me, I pray, of her beauty, that I may know if she be worthy of my son."



 

Then Sindokht said, "O Pehliva, swear to me first a great oath that thou wilt spare my life and the lives of those dear unto me. And when I am assured of thy protection I will recount all that thou desirest."

Then Saum took the hand of Sindokht, and he sware unto her a great oath, and gave her his word and his promise. And when she had heard it she was no longer afraid, and she told him all her secrets. And she said-

"I am of the race of Zohak, and wife unto the valiant Mihrab, and mother of Rudabeh, who hath found favour in the eyes of thy son. And I am come to learn of thy desire, and who are thine enemies in Cabul. Destroy the wicked, and those who merit chastisement, but spare, I pray thee, the innocent, or thy deeds will change day into night."

Then spake Saum, "My oath is sacred, and if it cost my life, thou and thine and Cabul may rest assured that I will not harm them. And I desire that Zal should find a wife in Rudabeh, though she be of an alien race."

And he told her how that he had written to the Shah a letter of supplication such as only one in grief could pen, and how Zal was absent with the message, and he craved her to tell him of Rudabeh.

But Sindokht replied, "If the Pehliva of the world will make the hearts of his slaves rejoice, he will visit us and look with his own eyes upon our moon."

And Saum smiled and said, "Rest content and deliver thine heart of cares, for all shall end according unto thy desires."

When Sindokht heard this she bade him farewell and made all haste to return. And Saum loaded her with gifts and bade her depart in peace. And Sindokht's face shone brightly, like unto the moon when she hath been eclipsed, and hope once more reigned in her breast.

Now listen to what happened to Zal while these things were passing in Seistan. When he was come to the court of Minuchihr he hastened into his presence, and kissed the ground at his feet, and lay prostrate before him in the dust. And when the Shah saw this he was moved, and bade his servants raise Zal, and pour musk before him. Then Zal drew nigh unto the throne and gave to the King the letter written by Saum the son of Neriman. And when Minuchihr had read it he was grieved, and said-

"This letter, written by Saum thy father in his sorrow, hath awakened an old pain within me. But for the sake of my faithful servant I will do unto thee that which is thy desire. Yet I ask that thou abide with me a little while that I may seek counsel about thee."

Then the cooks brought forth a table of gold, and Zal was seated beside the Shah and all the nobles according to their rank, and they ate flesh and drank wine together. Then when the mantle of night was fallen over the earth Zal sprang upon his steed and scoured the land in the unrest of his spirit, for his heart was full of thoughts and his mouth of words. But when morning was come he presented himself before the Shah in audience. And his speech and mien found favour in the eyes of the Shah, and he called unto him his Wise Men and bade them question the stars of this matter. Three days and three nights did the Mubids search the heavens without ceasing, and on the fourth they came before the Shah and spake. And they said unto him-

"Hail to thee, hero of the golden girdle, for we bring unto thee glad tidings. The son of Saum and the daughter of Mihrab shall be a glorious pair, and from their union shall spring a son like to a war-elephant, and he shall subdue all men by his sword and raise the glory of Iran even unto the skies. And he shall uproot the wicked from the earth so that there shall be no room for them. Segsars and Mazinderan shall feel the weight of his mace, and he shall bring much woe upon Turan, but Iran shall be loaded with prosperity at his hands. And he will give back sleep to the unhappy, and close the doors of discord, and bar the paths of wrong-doing. The kingdom will rejoice while he lives; Roum, Ind, and Iran will grave his name upon their seals."

When the Shah had heard this he charged the Mubids that they keep secret that which they had revealed unto him. And he called for Zal that he might question him and test his wisdom. And the Wise Men and the Mubids were seated in a circle, and they put these questions to the son of Saum.

And the first opened his mouth and said-

"Twelve trees, well grown and green, Fair and lofty, have I seen; Each has sprung with vigorous sprout, Sending thirty branches out; Wax no more, nor wane, they can In the kingdom of Iran."

And Zal pondered a while and then answered and said-

'Twelve moons in the year, and each I praise As a new-made king on a new throne's blaze: Each comes to an end in thirty days."

Then the second Mubid questioned him and said-

"Thou whose head is high in air, Rede me now of coursers twain; Both are noble, swift to speed; Black as storms in the night one steed, The other crystal, white and fair, They race for ever and haste in vain, Towards a goal they never gain."

And Zal thought again yet a while and answered-

"Two shining horses, one black, one white. That run for ever in rapid flight; The one is the day, the other the night, That count the throbs of the heavens height, Like the hunted prey from the following chase They flee, yet neither wins the race."

Then the third Mubid questioned him and said-

"Thirty knights before the king Pass along. Regard the thing Closely; one is gone. Again Look- the thirty are in train."

And Zal answered and spake-

"Thirty knights of whom the train Is full, then fails, then fills again, Know, each moon is reckoned thus, So willed by God who governs us, And thy word is true of the faint moon's wane, Now failing in darkness, now shining plain."

Then the fourth Mubid questioned him and said-

"See a green garden full of springs; A strong man with a sickle keen Enters, and reaps both dry and green; No word thine utmost anguish wrings."

And Zal bethought him and replied-

"Thy word was of a garden green, A reaper with a sickle keen, Who cuts alike the fresh and the dry Nor heedeth prayer nor any cry: Time is the reaper, we the grass; Pity nor fear his spirit has, But old and young he reaps alike. No rank can stay his sickle's strike, No love, but he will leave it lorn, For to this end all men are born. Birth opes to all the gate of Life, Death shuts it down on love and strife, And Fate, that counts the breath of man, Measures to each a reckoned span."

Then the fifth Mubid questioned him and said-

"Look how two lofty cypresses Spring up, like reeds, from stormy seas, There builds a bird his dwelling-place; Upon the one all night he stays, But swift, with the dawn, across he flies; The abandoned tree dries up and dies, While that whereon he sets his feet Breathes odours out, surpassing sweet. The one is dead for ever and aye, The other lives and blooms alway."

Then Zal yet again bethought him before he said-

"Hear of the sea-born cypresses, Where builds a bird, and rests, and flees. From the Ram to the Scales the earth o'erpowers, Shadows obscure of the night that lowers, But when the Scales' sign it must quit, Darkness and gloom o'ermaster it; The sides of heaven thy fable shows Whence grief to man or blessing flows, The sun like a bird flies to and fro, Weal with him bringing, but leaving woe."

Then the sixth Mubid questioned him, and it was the last question that he asked, and he deemed it the hardest of all to answer. And all men hung upon his words and listened to the answer of Zal. And the Mubid said-

"Builded on a rock I found A town. Men left the gate and chose A thicket on the level ground. Soon their soaring mansions rose Lifting roofs that reach the moon, Some men slaves, some kings, became, Of their earlier city soon The memory died in all. Its name None breathed. But hark! an earthquake; down, Lost in the chasm lies the land- Now long they for their rock-built town, Enduring things they understand. Seek in thy soul the truth of this; This before kings proclaim, I was, If rightly thou the riddle rede, Black earth to musk thou hast changed indeed."

And Zal pondered this riddle but a little while, and then opened his mouth and said-

"The eternal, final world is shown By image of a rock-built town; The thicket is our passing life, A place of pleasure and of pain, A world of dreams and eager strife, A time for labour, and loss, and gain; This counts thy heart-beats, at its will Prolongs their pulse or makes it still. But winds and earthquake rouse: a cry Goes up of bitterness and woe, Now we must leave our homes below And climb the rocky fastness high. Another reaps our fruit of pain, That yet to another leaves his gain; So was it aye, must so remain. Well for us if our name endure, Though we shall pass, beloved and pure, For all the evil man hath done, Stalks, when he dies, in the sight of the sun; When dust is strown on breast and head, Then desolation reigns with dread."

When Zal had spoken thus the Shah was glad, and an the assembly were amazed, and lauded the son of Saum. And the King bade a great banquet be prepared, and they drank wine until the world was darkened, and the heads of the drinkers were troubled. Then when morn was come Zal prayed that the Shah would dismiss him. But Minuchihr said-

"Not so, abide with me yet another day," and he bade the drums be beaten to call together his heroes, for he desired to test Zal also in feats of strength. And the Shah sat upon the roof of his house and looked down upon the games, and he beheld Zal, the son of Saum, do mighty deeds of prowess. With his arrow did he shoot farther and straighter than the rest, and with his spear he pierced all shields, and in wrestling he overcame the strongest who had never known defeat. When the nobles beheld these doughty deeds they shouted and clapped their hands, and Minuchihr loaded Zal with gifts. Then he prepared a reply unto the letter of Saum. And he wrote-

"O my Pehliva, hero of great renown, I have listened to thy desires, and I have beheld the youth who is worthy to be thy son. And he hath found favour in my sight, and I send him back to thee satisfied. May his enemies be impotent to harm him."

Then when the Shah had given him leave to go, Zal set forth, and he bare his head high in the joy of his heart. And when he came before his father and gave to him the letter of the Shah, Saum was young again for happiness. Then the drums sounded the signal to depart, and the tents were prepared, and a messenger, mounted on a fleet dromedary, was sent unto Mihrab to tell him that Saum and Zal were setting forth for Cabul. And when Mihrab heard the tidings his fears were stilled, and he commanded that his army be clad in festal array. And silken standards of bright colour decked the city, and the sounds of trumpets, harps, and cymbals filled the air. And Sindokht told the glad tidings to Rudabeh, and they made ready the house like unto a paradise. Carpets broidered with gold and precious stones did they lay down upon its floors, and set forth thrones of ivory and rich carving. And the ground they watered with rose-water and wine.

Then when the guests were come near unto Cabul, Mihrab went forth to meet them, and he placed upon the head of Zal a crown of diamonds, and they came into the city in triumph. And all the people did homage before them, and Sindokht met them at the doors of the King's house, and poured out musk and precious stones before them. Then Saum, when he had replied to their homage, smiled, and turned to Sindokht and said-

"How much longer dost thou think to hide Rudabeh from our eyes?"
And Sindokht said, "What wilt thou give me to see the sun?"
Then Saum replied, "All that thou wilt, even unto my slaves and my throne, will I give to thee."

Then Sindokht led him within the curtains, and when Saum beheld Rudabeh he was struck dumb with wonder, for her beauty exceeded dreams, and he knew not how he could find words to praise her. Then he asked of Mihrab that he would give unto him her hand, and they concluded an alliance according to custom and the law. And the lovers were seated upon a throne, and Mihrab read out the list of the gifts, and it was so long the ear did not suffice to hear them. Then they repaired unto the banquet, and they feasted seven days without ceasing. And when a month had passed Saum went back to Seistan, and Zal and Rudabeh followed after him. And speedily did he set forth again to battle, and left the kingdom in the hands of his son, and Zal administered it with wisdom and judgment. And Rudabeh sat beside him on the throne, and he placed a crown of gold upon her head.

 

Rustem

Now ere the son of Zal was born, Rudabeh was sore afflicted, and neither by day nor night could she find rest. Then Zal in his trouble bethought him of the Simurgh, his nurse, and how she had given unto him a feather that he might use it in the hour of his need. And he cast the feather into the fire as she had commanded, and straightway a sound of rushing wings filled the air, and the sky was darkened and the bird of God stood before Zal. And she said unto him-

"O my son, wherefore art thou troubled, and why are the eyes of this lion wet with tears?"

Then he told her of his sorrow, and she bade him be of good cheer, "For verily thy nurse who shielded thee, and reared thee when thy father cast thee out, is come yet again to succour thee."

And she told him how he should act, and when she had done speaking she turned her once more towards her nest. But Zal did as she had commanded, and there was born to him a son comely of limb. And when Rudabeh beheld the babe, she smiled and said-

"Verily he shall be called Rustem (which, being interpreted, meaneth delivered), for I am delivered of my pains."

And all the land was glad that a son was come unto Zal the hero, and the sounds of feasting and joy were heard throughout its breadth.

Then fleet messengers brought the sweet tidings unto Saum. And they bare with them an image of Rustem sewn of silk, whereon were traced the features of this lion's whelp, and a club was put into its hands, and it was mounted upon a dromedary. Now when Saum beheld the image his heart leaped up within him. He poured mountains of gold before the messengers, and gave thanks unto Ormuzd that he had suffered his eyes to look upon this child.

And when eight summers had rolled above their heads, Saum learned that Rustem was mighty of stature and fair of mien, and his heart yearned towards him. He therefore made ready a mighty host and passed unto Zaboulistan, that he might look upon his son. And Rustem rode forth to meet his sire, mounted upon an elephant of war, and when he beheld Saum he fell upon his face and craved his blessing. And Saum blessed Rustem, the son of Zal.

Then Rustem spake unto Saum and said, "O Pehliva, I rejoice in that I am sprung from thee, for my desires are not after the feast, neither do I covet sleep or rest. My heart is fixed upon valour, a horse do I crave and a saddle, a coat of mail and a helmet, and my delight is in the arrow. Thine enemies will I vanquish, and may my courage be like unto thine."

And Saum, when he had heard these words, was astonished, and blessed Rustem yet again. And his eyes could not cease from gazing upon the face of the boy, and he lingered in the land until a moon had run her course.

Now it befell that when yet two springs had passed, Rustem was awakened from his slumber by a mighty roaring that shook the walls of the house, even unto the foundation, and a cry went forth that the white elephant of the King had broken its chain in fury, and that the housemates were in danger. And Rustem, when he learned it, sprang from his bed, and desired of the guards that they should suffer him to pass into the court that he might conquer the beast. But the guards barred the way from him, saying-

"How can we answer for it before the King if thou run into danger?"

But Rustem would not listen to their voice. He forced a passage for himself with his mighty arms, with his strong fists he broke down the barriers of the door. And when he was without he beheld how that all the warriors were sore afraid of the elephant, because that he was mad with rage. And Rustem was ashamed for them in his soul, and he ran towards the beast with a loud cry. Then the elephant, when he saw him, raised his trunk to strike him, but Rustem beat him upon the head with his club, and smote him that he died. And when he had done this deed, he returned unto his bed and slept until the morning. But the news of his prowess spread throughout the house of the King and far into the land, even unto the realms of Saum. And Zal, and all men with him, rejoiced because a hero was arisen in Iran.

Now, while these things were passing in the house of Zal, in the land of Zaboulistan, Minuchihr made him ready to pass from the world, for he had reached twice sixty years. He called before him Nauder his son, and gave him wise counsels, and exhorted him that he should ever walk in the paths of wisdom. And he bade him rest his throne upon the strength of Saum and Zal, and the child that was sprung from their loins. Then when he had spoken, Minuchihr closed his eyes and sighed, and there remained of him only a memory in the world.

But Nauder forgot the counsels of his father. He vexed the land and reigned in anger, and cruel deeds were committed in his name, so that the people rose up and cried against the King. And men of might came unto Saum and laid before him their plaints, and the petitions of the people, and they prayed that he would wrest the crown from the head of Nauder, and place it upon his own. But Saum was sore grieved when he had heard these words, and he spake, saying-

"Not so, for it beseemeth me not to put out my hand after the crown, for Nauder is of the race of the Kaianides, and unto them is given majesty and might."

Then he girt his sword about his loins, and took with him a host, and rode before the face of the Shah. And when he was come unto him, Saum exhorted him with prayers and tears that he would turn him from the paths of evil. And Nauder listened unto the voice of Saum the Pehliva, and joy was abroad once more.

But the tidings spread, even into Turan, that Minuchihr the just was departed, and that the hand of Nauder was heavy upon the land. And Poshang, who was of the race of Tur, heard the news thereof with gladness, for he deemed that the time was ripe to remember the vengeance that was due unto the blood of his sire. Therefore he called about him his warriors, and bade them go forth to war against Iran, saying the time was come to avenge his father and draw unto himself the heritage. And while his son Afrasiyab made ready the host to fulfil the desire of his father, there spread the news that Saum the Pehliva had been gathered unto the dust, and that Zal tarried in his house to build him a tomb. And the news gave courage unto Afrasiyab and his men, and they made haste to gain the frontier.

But the grandson of Feridoun had learned of their coming, and he prepared him to meet the foes of his land. Then he sent forth an army that overshadowed the earth in its progress. But the army of Afrasiyab was great also, and it covered the ground like unto ants and locusts. And both hosts pitched their tents in the plains of Dehstan, and made them ready for the fight. And the horses neighed loud, and the pawing of their hoofs shook the deep places of the earth, and the dust of their trampling uprose even unto heaven. Then when they had put their men into array, they fell upon each other, and for two days did they rage in fierce combat, neither did the victory lean to either side. And the clamour and confusion were mighty, and earth and sky seemed blended into one. And the carnage was great, and blood flowed like water, and heads fell from their trunks like unto autumn leaves that are withered. But on the third day it came about that the upper hand was given unto the men of Turan, and Nauder the King, and the flower of his army with him, fell into the hands of the foe.

Then Afrasiyab cut off the head of Nauder the Shah, and sat himself down upon the throne of light. And he proclaimed himself lord of Iran, and required of all men that they should do him homage, and pour gifts before his face. But the people would not listen unto his voice, and they sent messengers into Seistan, and craved counsel of the Pehliva in their distress. And Zal, when he heard their tidings, cast aside the sorrow for Saum his father, and girded his loins in enmity against the son of Tur. And he bade the Iranians choose out Zew, the son of Thamasp, of the blood of Feridoun, of wisdom in speech, that he should rule over them on the throne of the Kaianides. And the people did as Zal commanded.

Now the throne of Feridoun grew young again under the sway of Zew. With power did he beat back the host of Turan, a covenant of peace did he wring from their hands. And it was written that the Jihun should divide the lands, and that the power of Zal the Pehliva should end where men take up their abode in tents. And Zew ruled rightly in the sight of Ormuzd, and God gave unto the land the key of abundance. Yet few were the years that he commanded with equity, and Garshasp his son reigned in his stead. But neither to him was it given to reign long with glory, and bitter fruit sprouted yet again from the tree of misfortune. For the throne of the Kaianides was empty, and Afrasiyab, when he learned thereof, followed the counsels of Poshang his father, and hurried him unto the land of Iran, that he might place himself upon the seat of power. And all the men of Iran, when they learned thereof, were sore afraid, and they turned them once again unto the son of Saum. And they spake unto him hard words, and heaped reproaches upon him that he had not averted these dangers from their heads. And Zal in his heart smiled at their ingratitude and lipwisdom, but he also sorrowed with them and with his land. And he spake, saying-

"I have ever done for you what was fitting and right, and all my life have I feared no enemy save only old age. But that enemy is now upon me, therefore I charge you that ye look unto Rustem to deliver you. Howbeit he shall be backed by the counsels of his father."

Then he called before him his son, who was yet of tender age, and he said unto him-

"O my son, thy lips still smell of milk, and thy heart should go out to pleasure. But the days are grave, and Iran looketh unto thee in its danger. I must send thee forth to cope with heroes."

And Rustem answered and said, "Thou knowest, O my father, that my desires are rather after war than pleasures. Give unto me, therefore, a steed of strength and the mace of Saum thy father, and suffer that I go out to meet the hosts of Ahriman."

Then Zal's heart laughed within him when he heard these words of manhood. And he commanded that all the flocks of horses, both from Zaboulistan and Cabul, be brought before his son, that he might choose from their midst his steed of battle. And they were passed in order before Rustem, and he laid upon the backs of each his hand of might to test them if they could bear his weight of valour. And the horses shuddered as they bent beneath his grasp, and sank upon their haunches in weakness. And thus did he do with them all in turn, until he came unto the flocks of Cabul. Then he perceived in their midst a mare mighty and strong, and there followed after her a colt like to its mother, with the chest and shoulders of a lion. And in strength it seemed like an elephant, and in colour it was as rose leaves that have been scattered upon a saffron ground. Now Rustem, when he had tested the colt with his eyes, made a running knot in his cord and threw it about the beast. And he caught the colt in the snare, though the mare defended it mightily. Then the keeper of the flock came before Rustem and said-

"O youth puissant and tall, take not, I counsel thee, the horse of another."

And Rustem answered him and asked, "To whom then pertaineth this steed? I see no mark upon its flanks."

And the keeper said, "We know not its master, but rumours are rife anent it throughout the land, and men name it the Rakush of Rustem. And I warn thee, the mother will never permit thee to ride on it. Three years has it been ready for the saddle, but none would she suffer to mount thereon."

Then Rustem, when he heard these words, swung himself upon the colt with a great bound. And the mare, when she saw it, ran at him and would have pulled him down, but when she had heard his voice she suffered it. And the rose-coloured steed bore Rustem along the plains like unto the wind. Then when he was returned, the son of Zal spake and said to the keeper-

"I pray thee, tell unto me what is the price of this dragon?"
But the keeper replied, "If thou be Rustem, mount him, and retrieve the sorrows of Iran. For his price is the land of Iran, and seated upon him thou wilt save the world."

And Rustem rejoiced in Rakush (whose name, being interpreted, meaneth the lightning), and Zal rejoiced with him, and they made them ready to stand against Afrasiyab.

Now it was in the time of roses, and the meadows smiled with verdure, when Zal led forth his hosts against the offspring of Tur. And the standard of Kawah streamed upon the breeze, and Mihrab marched on the left, and Gustahem marched on the right, and Zal went in the midst of the men, but Rustem went at the head of all. And there followed after him a number like to the sands of the sea, and the sounds of cymbals and bells made a noise throughout the land like unto the day of judgment, when the earth shall cry unto the dead, "Arise." And they marched in order even unto the shores of the river Rai, and the two armies were but some farsangs apart.

Albeit, when Afrasiyab heard that Rustem and Zal were come out against him, he was in nowise dismayed, for he said, "The son is but a boy, and the father is old; it will not, therefore, be hard for me to keep my power in Iran." And he made ready his warriors with gladness of heart.

But Zal, when he had drawn up his army in battle array, spake unto them, saying-

"O men valiant in fight, we are great in number, but there is wanting to us a chief, for we are without the counsels of a Shah, and verily no labour succeedeth when the head is lacking. But rejoice, and be not downcast in your hearts, for a Mubid hath revealed unto me that there yet liveth one of the race of Feridoun to whom pertaineth the throne, and that he is a youth wise and brave."

And when he had thus spoken, he turned him to Rustem and said-
"I charge thee, O my son, depart in haste for the Mount Alberz, neither tarry by the way. And wend thee unto Kai Kobad, and say unto him that his army awaiteth him, and that the throne of the Kaianides is empty."



 

And Rustem, when he had heard his father's command, touched with his eyelashes the ground before his feet, and straightway departed. In his hand he bare a mace of might, and under him was Rakush the swift of foot. And he rode till he came within sight of the Mount Alberz, whereon had stood the cradle of his father. Then he beheld at its foot a house beauteous like unto that of a king. And around it was spread a garden whence came the sounds of running waters, and trees of tall stature uprose therein, and under their shade, by a gurgling rill, there stood a throne, and a youth, fair like to the moon, was seated thereon. And round about him leaned knights girt with red sashes of power, and you would have said it was a paradise for perfume and beauty.

Now when those within the garden beheld the son of Zal ride by, they came out unto him and said-

"O Pehliva, it behoveth us not to let thee go farther before thou hast permitted us to greet thee as our guest. We pray thee, therefore, descend from off thy horse and drink the cup of friendship in our house."

But Rustem said, "Not so, I thank you, but suffer that I may pass unto the mountain with an errand that brooketh no delay. For the borders of Iran are encircled by the enemy, and the throne is empty of a king. Wherefore I may not stay to taste of wine."

Then they answered him, "If thou goest unto the mount, tell us, we pray thee, thy mission, for unto us is it given to guard its sides."

And Rustem replied, "I seek there a king of the seed of Feridoun, who cleansed the world of the abominations of Zohak, a youth who reareth high his head. I pray ye, therefore, if ye know aught of Kai Kobad, that ye give me tidings where I may find him."

Then the youth that sat upon the throne opened his mouth and said, "Kai Kobad is known unto me, and if thou wilt enter this garden and rejoice my soul with thy presence I will give thee tidings concerning him."

When Rustem heard these words he sprang from off his horse and came within the gates. And the youth took his hand and led him unto the steps of the throne. Then he mounted it yet again, and when he had filled a cup with wine, he pledged the guest within his gates. Then he gave a cup unto Rustem, and questioned him wherefore he sought for Kai Kobad, and at whose desire he was come forth to find him. And Rustem told him of the Mubids, and how that his father had sent him with all speed to pray the young King that he would be their Shah, and lead the host against the enemies of Iran. Then the youth, when he had listened to an end, smiled and said-

"O Pehliva, behold me, for verily I am Kai Kobad of the race of Feridoun!"

And Rustem, when he had heard these words, fell on the ground before his feet, and saluted him Shah. Then the King raised him, and commanded that the slaves should give him yet another cup of wine, and he bore it to his lips in honour of Rustem, the son of Zal, the son of Saum, the son of Neriman. And they gave a cup also unto Rustem, and he cried-

"May the Shah live for ever!"
Then instruments of music rent the air, and joy spread over all the assembly. But when silence was fallen yet again, Kai Kobad opened his mouth and said-

"Hearken, O my knights, unto the dream that I had dreamed, and ye will know wherefore I called upon you this day to stand in majesty about my throne. For in my sleep I beheld two falcons white of wing, and they came out unto me from Iran, and in their beaks they bare a sunny crown. And the crown they placed upon my head. And behold now is Rustem come out unto me like to a white bird, and his father, the nursling of a bird, hath sent him, and they have given unto me the crown of Iran."

And Rustem, when he had heard this dream, said, "Surely thy vision was given unto thee of God! But now, I pray thee, up and tarry no longer, for the land of Iran groaneth sore and awaiteth thee with much travail."

So Kai Kobad listened to the desires of Rustem, and swung him upon his steed of war; and they rode day and night, until they came down from the hills unto the green plains that are watered by murmuring streams. And Rustem brought the King safely through the outposts of the enemy; and when the night was fallen, he led him within the tents of Zal, and none knew that he was come save only the Mubids. For seven days did they hold counsel together, and on the eighth the message of the stars was received with joy. And Zal made ready a throne of ivory and a banquet, and the crown of Iran was placed upon the head of the young Shah. Then the nobles came and did homage before him, and they revelled in wine till the night was far spent. And they prayed him that he would make him ready to lead them against the Turks. And Kai Kobad mustered the army and did as they desired.

And soon the battle raged hot and strong many days, and deeds of valour were done on either side; but the men of Turan could not stand against the men of Iran, neither could the strength of Rustem be broken. For he put forth the power of a lion, and his shadow extended for miles. And from that day men named him Tehemten (which being interpreted, meaneth the strong-limbed), for he did deeds of prowess in the sight of men. And Afrasiyab was discomfited, and fled before him, and his army followed after, and their hearts were bruised and full of care.

But the Iranians, when they beheld that their foes had vanished before them, turned them unto Kai Kobad and did homage before his throne. And Kai Kobad celebrated the victory with much pomp, as is the manner of kings; and he placed Rustem upon his right hand and Zal upon his left, and they feasted and made them merry with wine.

In the meantime Afrasiyab returned him unto Poshang his father, who was of the race of Tur. And he came before him right sorrowful and spake, saying-

"O King, whose name is glorious, thou didst evil to provoke this war. The land which Feridoun the great did give in ancient time unto Tur the valiant, it hath been delivered unto thee, and the partition was just. Why, therefore, seekest thou to enlarge thy border? Verily I say, if thou haste not to make peace with Iran, Kai Kobad will send out against us an army from the four quarters of the earth, and they will subdue us, and by our own act we shall make the land too narrow for us. For the world is not delivered of the race of Irij, and the noxious poison hath not been converted into honey. For when one dieth another taketh his place, and never do they leave the world without a master. And there is arisen of the race of Saum a warrior called Rustem, and none can withstand him. He hath broken the power of thine host, and the world hath not seen his like for stoutness; and withal he is but little more than a weanling. Ponder therefore, O King, how shall it be when he may be come to years of vigour. Surely I am a man who desireth to possess the world, the stay of thine army, and thy refuge in danger, but before this boy my power fadeth like unto the mists that rise above the hills."

When the King of Turan had listened to these words, the tears of bitterness fell from his eyes. Then he called before him a scribe and he bade him write a letter unto Kai Kobad, the Shah. And the scribe adorned it with many colours and fair designs. And the scribe wrote-

"In the name of Ormuzd, the ruler of the sun and moon, greeting and salutation unto Kai Kobad the gracious from the meanest of his servants. Listen unto me, O valiant Shah, and ponder the words that I shall write. May grace fall upon the soul of Feridoun, who wove the woof of our race! Why should we any longer hold the world in confusion? That which he fixed, surely it was right, for he parted the world with equity, and we do wrong before him when we depart from the grooves that he hath shaped. I pray thee, therefore, let us no longer speak of Tur and his evil acts unto Irij, for if Irij was the cause of our hates, surely by Minuchihr hath he been avenged. Let us return, then, within the bounds that Feridoun hath blest, and let us part the world anew, as it was parted for Tur, and Selim, and Irij. For wherefore should we seek the land of another, since in the end each will receive in heritage a spot no larger than his body? If then Kai Kobad will listen unto my prayer, let the Jihun be the boundary between us, and none of my people shall behold its waters, nay, not even in a dream, neither shall any Iranian cross its floods, save only in amity."

And the King put his seal upon the letter and sent it unto Kai Kobad, and the messenger bare with him rich gifts of jewels and steeds of Araby. And when Kai Kobad had read the letter he smiled in his spirit and said-

"Verily not my people sought out this war but Afrasiyab, who deemed that he could wrest unto himself the crown of Iran, and could subdue the masterless land unto his will. And he hath but followed in the footsteps of Tur his father, for even as he robbed the throne of Irij, so did Afrasiyab take from it Nauder the Shah. And I say to you that I need not make peace with you because of any fear, but I will do it because war is not pleasing unto me. I will give unto you, therefore, the farther side of the river, and it shall be a boundary between us, and I pray that Afrasiyab may find rest within his borders."

And Kai Kobad did according to his word. He drew up a fresh covenant between them, and planted a new tree in the garden of power. And the messenger took the writing unto Poshang, King of Turan, and Kai Kobad proclaimed that there was peace throughout the land.

Now for the space of an hundred years did Kai Kobad rule over Iran, and he administered his realm with clemency, and the earth was quiet before him, and he gat his people great honour, and I ask of you what king can be likened unto him? But when this time had passed, his strength waned, and he knew that a green leaf was about to fade. So he called before him Kai Kaous his son, and gave unto him counsels many and wise. And when he had done speaking he bade them make ready his grave, and he exchanged the palace for the tomb. And thus endeth the history of Kai Kobad the glorious. It behoveth us now to speak of his son.

 

The March into Mazinderan

Kai aous seated him on the crystal throne, and the world was obedient to his will. But Ahriman was angry that his power was so long broken in Iran, and he sware unto himself that happiness should no longer smile upon the land. And he imagined guile in his black heart.

Now it came about one day that the Shah sat in his trellised bower in the garden of roses, drinking wine and making merry with his court. Then Ahriman, when he beheld that they were thus forgetful of care, saw that the time served him. So he sent forth a Deev clad as a singer, and bade him ask for audience before the Shah. And the Deev did as he was bidden. And he came before the servants of the King, and begged for entrance into the arbour of flowers.

"For verily," he said, "I am a singer of sweet songs, and I come from Mazinderan, and desire to pour my homage at the throne of my lord."

Now when Kai Kaous learned that a singer waited without, he commanded that he should be brought in. Then he gave him wine and permitted him to open his mouth before him. Now the Deev, when he had done homage before the Shah, warbled unto his lyre words of deep cunning. And he sang how that no land was like unto his own for beauty and riches, and he inflamed the desires of the Shah after Mazinderan. And Ahriman fanned the flame within the mind of the King, and when the Deev had ended, Kai Kaous was become uplifted in his heart, like unto Jemshid. So he turned him unto his warriors and said-

"O my friends, mighty and brave, we have abandoned ourselves unto feasting, we have revelled in the arms of peace. But it behoveth not men to live long in this wise, lest they grow idle and weak. And above all it behoveth not me that am a Shah, for the Shah is called to be a hero among men, and the world should be his footstool. Now verily the power and splendour of Jemshid was lower than mine, and my wealth surpasseth that of Zohak and Kai Kobad. It beseemeth me therefore to be greater also than they in prowess, and to be master of Mazinderan, which ever resisted their might. I bid you therefore make ready for combat, and I will lead you into the land whereof this singer hath sung so sweetly."

Now the nobles, when they had heard these words, grew pale with fear, for there was not one among them who listed to combat with Deevs. But none durst open their lips in answer, yet their hearts were full of fear and their mouths of sighs. But at last, when they could keep silence no longer, some spake and said-

"Lord, we are thy servants, and that which thou biddest surely we must do."

But among themselves they took counsel how they should act if the Shah held firm by his desire. And they recalled how not even Jemshid in his pride had thought to conquer the Deevs of Mazinderan, before whom the sword hath no power and wisdom no avail, neither had Feridoun, learned in magic, or Minuchihr the mighty, ventured on this emprise. Then they bethought them of Zal the son of Saum, and they sent forth a wind-footed dromedary and a messenger. And they said unto Zal-

"Haste, we pray thee, neither tarry to cleanse thine head though it be covered with dust; for Ahriman hath strown evil seed in the heart of Kai Kaous, and it ripeneth to fruit already, and already it hath borne fruit, and Iran is threatened with danger. But we look to thee that thou speak words of good counsel unto the Shah, and avert these sorrows from our heads."

Now Zal was sore distressed when he learned that a leaf on the tree of the Kaianides was thus faded. And he said-

"Kai Kaous is void of knowledge, and the sun must revolve yet oft above his head before he learneth the wisdom of the great. For unto true wisdom alone is it given to know when to strike and when to tarry. But he is like unto a child who deemeth the world will tremble if it but upraiseth its sword. And but for my duty unto God and unto Iran, I would abandon him to his folly."

Then Zal revolved in his mind this trouble even until the sun was set. But when the glory of the world was arisen yet again, he girt his sash about his loins, and took in his hand the mace of might and set forth unto the throne of the Shah. And he craved for audience, and prostrated himself before the King. And when Kai Kaous permitted it, Zal opened his mouth and spake words of wisdom. And he said-

"O King powerful and great, word is come unto me, even unto Seistan, of thy device. But it seemeth unto me that mine ears have not heard aright. For Mazinderan is the abode of Deevs, and no man can overcome their skill. Give not, therefore, unto the wind thy men and thy treasures. Turn, I pray thee, from this scheme, neither plant in the garden of Iran the tree of folly, whose leaves are curses and whose fruits are evil, for thus did not the kings before thee."

Then Kai Kaous, when he had listened, said, "I despise not thy counsel, nor do I bid thee hold thy peace, for thou art a pillar unto Iran. But neither shall thy words divert me from my desire, and Mazinderan shall pay tribute to my hands. For thou considerest not how that my heart is bolder and my might more great than that of my fathers before me. I go, therefore, and the kingdom will I leave between thy hands and those of Rustem thy son."

When Zal heard these words, and beheld that Kai Kaous was firm in his purpose, he ceased from opposing. Then he bowed him unto the dust, and spake, saying-

"O Shah, it is thine to command, and whether it be just or unjust, thy servants serve thee even unto death. I have spoken the words that weighed upon my heart. Three things it is not given to do, even unto a king: to elude death, to bind up the eye of destiny, to live without nurture. Mayst thou never repent thee of thy resolve, mayst thou never regret my counsels in the hour of danger, may the might of the Shah shine for ever!"

And when he had ended, Zal went out of the presence of the King, and he was right sorrowful, and the nobles mourned with him when they learned how nought had been accomplished.

Then, ere the day succeeded unto the night, Kai Kaous set forth with his horsemen unto Mazinderan.

Now when they were come within its borders, Kai Kaous commanded Gew that he should choose forth a strong band from out their midst, and go before the city with mighty clubs. And he bade him destroy the dwellers of the town, neither should they spare the women nor the young, because that they too were the children of Deevs. And Gew did as the Shah commanded. Then clubs rained down upon the people like to hail, and the city that resembled a garden was changed into a desert, and all the inmates thereof perished at the hands of the enemy, neither did they find any mercy in their eyes. But when the men of Iran had ceased from killing, they sent news thereof unto the Shah, and told him of the riches that were hidden within the palaces.

And Kai Kaous said, "Blessed be he who sang to me of the glories of this realm."

And he marched after Gew with the rest of his host, and seven days did they never cease from plundering, neither could they be sated with the gold and jewels that they found. But on the eighth the tidings of their deeds pierced unto the King of Mazinderan, and his heart was heavy with care. He therefore sent a messenger unto the mountains where dwelt the White Deev, who was powerful and strong, and he entreated him that he would come unto his succour, or verily the land would perish under the feet of Iran.

The White Deev, when he heard the message, uprose like to a mountain in his strength, and he said-

"Let not the King of Mazinderan be troubled, for surely the hosts of Iran shall vanish at my approach."

Then, when the night was fallen, he spread a dark cloud, heavy and thick, over the land, and no light could pierce it, neither could fires be seen across its midst, and you would have said the world was steeped in pitch. And the army of Iran was wrapt in a tent of blackness. Then the Deev caused it to rain stones and javelins, and the Iranians could not behold their source, neither could they defend themselves or stand against the arts of magic. And they wandered astray in their distress, and no man could find his fellow, and their hearts were angered against the Shah for this emprise. But when the morning was come, and glory was arisen upon the world, they could not see it, for the light of their eyes was gone out. And Kai Kaous too was blinded, and he wept sore, and the whole army wept with him in their anguish. And the Shah cried in his distress-

"O Zal, O my Pehliva wise and great, wherefore did I shut mine ear unto thy voice!"

And the army echoed his words in their hearts, but their lips were silent for boundless sorrow.

Then the White Deev spake unto Kai Kaous with a voice of thunder, and he said-

"O King, thou hast been struck like to a rotten trunk, on thine own head alone resteth this destruction, for thou hast attained unto Mazinderan, and entered the land after which thy heart desired."

And he bade his legion guard the Shah and all his army, and he withheld from them wine and good cheer, and gave unto them but enough for sustenance, for he desired not that they should die, but gloried in their wretchedness. Then when he had so done he sent tidings thereof unto the King of Mazinderan. And he bade the King take back the booty and rejoice in the defeat of Iran. And he counselled him that he suffer not Kai Kaous to perish, that he might learn to know good fortune from ill. And the White Deev bade the King sing praises unto Ahriman the mighty, who had sent him unto his aid. And having spoken thus he returned him unto his home in the mountains, but the King of Mazinderan rejoiced in his spoils.

Now Kai Kaous remained in the land after which he had yearned, and his heart was heavy with bitterness. And the eyes of his soul were opened, and he cried continually, "This fault is mine;" and he cast about in his spirit how he might release his host from the hands of the Deevs. But the Deevs guarded him straitly, and he could send no messenger into Iran. Howbeit it came about that a messenger escaped their borders, and bore unto Zal the writing of Kai Kaous the afflicted. And Kai Kaous bowed himself in his spirit unto the dust before Zal, and he wrote to him all that was come about, and how that he and his host were blind and captive, and he poured forth his repentance, and he said-

"I have sought what the foolish seek, and found what they find. And if thou wilt not gird thy loins to succour me, I perish indeed."

When Zal heard this message he gnawed his hands in vexation. Then he called before him Rustem, and said-

"The hour is come to saddle Rakush and to avenge the world with thy sword. As for me, I number two hundred years, and have no longer the strength to fight with Deevs. But thou art young and mighty. Cast about thee, therefore, thy leopard-skin and deliver Iran from bondage."

And Rustem said, "My sword is ready, and I will go hence as thou dost bid. Yet of old, O my father, the mighty did not go forth of their own will to fight the powers of hell, neither doth one who is not weary of this world go into the mouth of a hungry lion. But if God be with me I shall overcome the Deevs and gird our army anew with the sashes of might. And I pray that His blessing rest upon me."

Then Zal, when he heard these noble words, blessed his son, and prayed that Ormuzd too would give him his blessing. And he bestowed on him wise counsel, and told him how he could come unto the land of Mazinderan. And he said-

"Two roads lead unto this kingdom, and both are hard and fraught with danger. The one taken of Kai Kaous is the safest, but it is long, and it behoveth vengeance to be fleet. Choose therefore, I charge thee, the shorter road, though it be beset with baleful things, and may Ormuzd return thee safe unto mine arms."

When Rustem had drunk in the counsels of his father he seated him on Rakush the fleet of foot. But when he would have departed, his mother came out before him, and she made great wailing that Rustem should go before the evil Deevs. And she would have hindered him, but Rustem suffered her not. He comforted her with his voice, and bade her be of good cheer. He showed unto her how that he had not of his own choice chosen this adventure. And he bade her rest her hopes in God. And when he had done speaking she let him depart, but the heart of Rudabeh yearned after her son, and her eyes were red with weeping many days.

In the meanwhile the young hero of the world sped forth to do his duty unto the Shah. And Rakush caused the ground to vanish under his feet, and in twelve hours was a two days' journey accomplished. Then when eve was fallen, Rustem ensnared a wild ass, and made a fire and roasted it for his meal. And when he had done he released Rakush from the bonds of his saddle and prepared for himself a couch among the reeds, neither was he afraid of wild beasts or of Deevs.

But in the reeds was hidden the lair of a fierce lion, and the lion when he returned unto his haunt beheld the tall man and the horse that watched beside him. And he rejoiced at the fat meal that he held was in store. And he thought within his mind, "I will first subdue the steed, then the rider will be an easy prey." And he fell upon Rakush. But Rakush defended himself mightily. With his hoofs did he trample upon the forehead of the lion, with his sharp teeth did he tear his skin, and he trampled upon him till he died. But the noise of the struggle had wakened Rustem, and when he beheld the body of the lion, and Rakush standing beside it, he knew what had been done. Then he opened his mouth in reproof, and said-

"O thoughtless steed, who bade thee combat lions? Wherefore didst thou not wake me? for if thou hadst been overcome, who, I pray thee, could have borne my weight into Mazinderan, whither I must hie me to deliver the Shah?

When he had thus spoken he turned again to sleep, but Rakush was sorrowful and downcast in his spirit.

Now when morn was come they set forth once again upon their travels. And all day long they passed through a desert, and the pitiless sun burned down upon their heads, and the sand was living fire, and the steed and rider were like to perish of thirst, and nowhere could Rustem find the traces of water. So he made him ready to die, and commended his soul unto God, and prayed Him to remember Kai Kaous, His servant, nor abandon him in his distress. Then he laid him down to await the end. But lo! when he thought it was come, there passed before him a ram, well nourished and fat. And Rustem said unto himself-

"Surely the watering-place of this beast cannot be distant."
Then he roused him and led Rakush and followed in the footsteps of the ram, and behold, it led him unto a spring of water, cool and clear. And Rustem drank thereof with greed, and he gave unto Rakush, and bathed him in the waters, and when they were both refreshed he sought for the traces of the ram. And they were nowhere to be found. Then Rustem knew that Ormuzd had wrought a wonder for his sake, and he fell upon the ground and lifted up his soul in thankfulness. Then when he had caught and eaten a wild ass, he laid him down to slumber. And he spake and said unto Rakush-

"I charge thee, O my steed, that thou seek no strife during my slumbers. If an enemy cometh before thee, come unto me and neigh beside mine ear, and verily I will waken and come to thine aid."

And Rakush listened, and when he saw that Rustem slumbered, he gambolled and grazed beside him. But when some watches of the night were spent, there came forth an angry dragon whose home was in this spot, a dragon fierce and fiery, whom even the Deevs dared not encounter. And when he beheld Rakush and Rustem he was astonished that a man should slumber softly beside his lair. And he came towards them with his breath of poison. Then Rakush, when he saw it, stamped his hoofs upon the ground and beat the air with his tail, so that the noise thereof resounded wide, and Rustem was awakened with the din. And he was angry with Rakush that he had wakened him, for the dragon had vanished, and he could see no cause for fear. And he said-

"It is thy fault, O unkind steed, that slumber is fled from me."




Then he turned him to sleep once again. But when the dragon saw it he came forth once more, and once more did Rakush wake Rustem, and once more did the dragon vanish ere the eyes of Rustem were opened. And when Rakush had thus awakened the hero yet three times, Rustem was beside him with anger, and wisdom departed from its dwelling. He piled reproaches upon the horse, and hurled bitter words upon his head, and he sware that if he acted thus again he would slay him with his arm of power, and would wander on foot unto Mazinderan. And he said-

"I bade thee call upon me if dangers menaced, but thou sufferest me not to slumber when all is well."

Then Rustem drew his leopard-skin about him and laid him down again to sleep. But Rakush was pained in his spirit, and pawed the ground in his vexation. Then the dragon came forth yet again, and was about to fall upon Rakush, and the steed was sore distressed how he should act. But he took courage and came beside Rustem once more, and stamped upon the ground and neighed and woke him. And Rustem sprang up in fury, but this time it was given unto him to behold the dragon, and he knew that Rakush had done that which was right. And he drew his armour about him and unsheathed his sword, and came forth to meet the fiery beast. Then the dragon said-

"What is thy name, and who art thou that dost venture against me? for verily the woman that bore thee shall weep."

And the Pehliva answered, "I am Rustem, of the seed of Zal, and in myself I am an host, and none can withstand my might."

But the dragon laughed at his words, and held them to be vain boasting. Then he fell upon Rustem, the son of Zal, and he wound himself about his body, and would have crushed him with his writhings, and you would have said that the end of this hero was come. But Rakush, when he beheld the straits of his master, sprang upon the dragon from the rear, and he tore him as he had torn the lion, and Rustem pierced the beast with his sword, and between them the world was delivered of this scourge. Then Rustem was glad, and he praised Rakush, and washed him at the fountain, and gave thanks to God who had given unto him the victory. And when he had so done he sprang into his saddle, and rode until they were come unto the land of the magicians.

Now when evening was fallen over the land they came unto a green and shady vale, and a brook ran through it, and cool woods clothed its sides. And beside a spring there was spread a table, and wine and all manner of good cheer stood thereon. And Rustem, when he saw it, loosened his saddle and bade Rakush graze and drink, and he seated him beside the table and enjoyed its fare. And his spirit laughed with pleasure that he had found a table ready dressed within the desert, for he knew not that it was the table of the magicians, who were fled on his approach. And he ate and drank, and when he had stilled his hunger he took up a lyre that lay beside him, and he lilted to it in his ease of heart. And he sang-

"Rustem is the scourge of the base, Not for him were pleasures meant; Rare are his feasts and holidays, His garden is the desert place, The battlefield his tournament.

"There the sword of Rustem cleaves Not the armour of jousting knights, But the skulls of dragons and Deevs; Nor shall Rustem, as he believes, Ever be quit of the foes he fights.

"Cups of wine and wreaths of rose, Gardens where cool arbours stand, Fortune gave such gifts as those Not to Rustem, but hurtling foes, Strife, and a warrior's heart and hand."

Now the song of Rustem was come to the ears of one of the witches, and she changed herself into a damsel with a face of spring. And she came before Rustem and asked him his name, and toyed with him, and he was pleased with her company. And he poured out wine and handed it unto her, and bade her drink unto Ormuzd. But the magician, when she heard the name of God, fell into a tremble and her visage changed, and Rustem beheld her in all her vileness. Then his quick spirit knew her for what she was, and he made a noose and caught her in his snare, and severed her in twain. And all the magicians, when they saw it, were afraid, and none durst come forth to meet the hero. But Rustem straightway departed from this spot.

And Rustem rode till that he was come unto a land where the sun never shineth, neither stars lighten the blackness, and he could not see his path. So he suffered Rakush to lead him at his will. And they stumbled along amid the blackness, but at the end they came out again into the light. And Rustem beheld a land that was swathed in verdure, and fields wherein the crops were sprouting. Then he loosened Rakush and bade him graze, and laid himself down to slumber awhile.

Now Rakush went forth to graze in a field that had been sown, and the guardian thereof, when he saw it, was angry, and ran unto the spot where Rustem was couched, and beat the soles of his feet with a stick and woke him. And he flung reproaches and evil words upon him for that his horse was broken into the pastures. Then Rustem was angry, and fell upon the man, and took him by the ears and tore them from his body. And the man fled, howling in his agony, and came before Aulad, the ruler of the land, and laid his plaints before him. And Aulad also was angry, and went forth to seek Rustem, and demand his name and mission, and wherefore he had thus disturbed their peace. And Aulad sware that he would destroy him for this deed.

Then Rustem answered, "I am the thunder-cloud that sendeth forth lightnings, and none can stand before my strength. But if thou shouldest hear my name, the blood would stand still within thy veins. Thou art come against me with an host, see therefore how I shall scatter them like the wind."

And when he had thus spoken, Rustem fell upon the warriors of Aulad, and he beat them down before him, and their heads fell under the blows of his sword of death. And the army was routed at the hands of one man. Now Aulad, when he saw it, wept and fled; but Rustem pursued him, and threw his noose about him, and caught him in the snare. And the world became dark unto Aulad. Then Rustem bound him, and threw him on the ground, and said-

"If thou speak unto me that which is true, verily I will release thee; and when I shall have overcome the Deevs, I will give the land of Mazinderan into thy hands. Tell me, therefore, where dwelleth the White Deev, and where may I find the Shah and his men, and how can I deliver them from bondage?"

Then Aulad answered and told Rustem how it was an hundred farsangs unto the spot where Kai Kaous groaned in his bondage, and how it was yet another hundred unto the mountain pass where dwelt the Deev. And he told him how the passes were guarded by lions and magicians and mighty men, and how none had ever pierced thereunto. And he counselled him to desist from this quest.

But Rustem smiled, and said, "Be thou my guide, and thou wilt behold an elephant overcome the might of evil."

And when he had thus spoken he sprang upon Rakush, and Aulad in his bonds ran after him, and they sped like the wind, neither did they halt by night or day till they were come unto the spot where Kai Kaous had been smitten by the Deevs. And when they were come there they could behold the watch-fires of Mazinderan. Then Rustem laid him down to sleep, and he tied Aulad unto a tree that he should not escape him. But when the sun was risen he laid the mace of Saum before his saddle, and rode with gladness towards the city of the Deevs.

Now when Rustem was come nigh unto the tents of Arzang, that led the army of Mazinderan, he uttered a cry that rent the mountains. And the cry brought forth Arzang from out his tent, and when he perceived Rustem he ran at him, and would have thrown him down. But Rustem sprang upon Arzang, and he seemed an insect in his grasp. And he overcame him, and parted his head from his body, and hung it upon his saddlebow in triumph. And fear came upon the army of Mazinderan when they saw it, and they fled in faintness of spirit, and so great was the confusion that none beheld whither he bent his steps. And fathers fell upon sons, and brothers upon brothers, and dismay was spread throughout the land.

Then Rustem loosened the bonds of Aulad, and bade him lead him into the city where Kai Kaous pined in his bondage. And Aulad led him. Now when they neared the city, Rakush neighed so loud that the sound pierced even unto the spot where Kai Kaous was hidden. And the Shah, when he heard it, rejoiced, for he knew that succour was come. And he told it unto his comrades. But they refused to listen unto these words, and deemed that grief had distraught his wits. In vain therefore did Kai Kaous insist unto them that his ears had heard the voice of Rakush. But not long did he combat their unbelief, for presently there came before him Tehemten, the stout of limb, and when the nobles heard his voice and his step they repented them of their doubts. And Kai Kaous embraced Rustem and blessed him, and questioned him of his journey and of Zal. Then he said-

"O my Pehliva, we may no longer waste the moments with sweet words. I must send thee forth yet again to battle. For when the White Deev shall learn that Arzang is defeated, he will come forth from out his mountain fastness, and bring with him the whole multitude of evil ones, and even thy might will not stand before them. Go therefore unto the Seven Mountains, and conquer the White Deev ere the tidings reach him of thy coming. Unto thee alone can Iran look for her succour, for I cannot aid thee, neither can my warriors assist thee with their arms, for our eyes are filled with darkness, and their light is gone out. Yet I grieve to send thee into this emprise alone, for I have heard it spoken that the dwelling of the Deevs is a spot of fear and terror, but alas! my grief is of no avail. And I conjure thee, slay the Deev, and bring unto me the blood of his heart, for a Mubid hath revealed unto me that only by this blood can our sight be restored. And go forth now, my son, and may Ormuzd be gracious unto thee, and may the tree of gladness sprout again for Iran!

Then Rustem did as Kai Kaous commanded, and he rode forth, and Aulad went beside him to lead him in the way. And when they had passed the Seven Mountains and were come unto the gates of hell, Rustem spake unto Aulad, and said-

"Thou hast ever led me aright, and all that thou hast spoken I have surely found it true. Tell me, therefore, now how I shall vanquish the Deevs."

And Aulad said, "Tarry, I counsel thee, till that the sun be high in the heavens. For when it beateth fierce upon the earth the Deevs are wont to lay them down to slumber, and when they are drunk with sleep they shall fall an easy prey into thine hands."

Then Rustem did as Aulad bade him, and he halted by the roadside, and he bound Aulad from head to foot in his snare, and he seated himself upon the ends. But when the sun was high he drew forth his sword from out its sheath, and shouted loud his name, and flung it among the Deevs like to a thunderbolt. Then before they were well awakened from their sleep, he threw himself upon them, and none could resist him, and he scattered their heads with his sword. And when he had dispersed the guards he came unto the lair of the White Deev.

Then Rustem stepped within the rocky tomb wherein the Deev was hidden, and the air was murky and heavy with evil odours, and the Pehliva could not see his path. But he went on void of fear, though the spot was fearful and dangers lurked in its sides. And when he was come unto the end of the cave he found a great mass like to a mountain, and it was the Deev in his midday slumber. Then Rustem woke him, and the Deev was astonished at his daring, and sprang at the hero, and threw a great stone like a small mountain upon him. And Rustem's heart trembled, and he said unto himself, "If I escape to-day, I shall live for ever." And he fell on the Deev, and they struggled hot and sore, and the Deev tore Rustem, but Rustem defended himself, and they wrestled with force till that the blood and sweat ran down in rivers from their bodies. Then Rustem prayed to God, and God heard him and gave him strength, and in the end Rustem overcame the White Deev and slew him. And he severed his head from his trunk, and cut his heart from out his midst.

Then Rustem returned him unto Aulad and told him what he had done. And Aulad said-

"O brave lion, who hast vanquished the world with thy sword, release now, I pray thee, this thy servant, for thy snare is entered into my flesh. And suffer that I recall to thee how that thou hast promised to me a recompense, and surely thou wilt fulfil thy word."

And Rustem answered and said, "Ay, verily; but I have yet much to do ere that my mission be ended. For I have still to conquer the King of Mazinderan; but when these things shall be accomplished, in truth I will fulfil my words unto thee."

Then he bade Aulad follow him, and they retraced their steps until they were come unto the spot where Kai Kaous was held in bondage. And when Kai Kaous learned that Rustem was returned with victory upon his brow he shouted for joy, and all the host shouted with him, and they could not contain themselves for happiness. And they called down the blessings of Heaven upon the head of Rustem. But when the hero came before them, he took of the blood of the White Deev and poured it into their eyes, and the eyes of Kai Kaous and his men were opened, and they once again beheld the glory of the day. Then they swept the ground around them with fire, with swords they overcame their gaolers. But when they had finished, Kai Kaous bade them desist from further bloodshed.

Then Kai Kaous wrote a letter unto the King of Mazinderan, and he counselled him that he should conclude a peace. And he related to him how that his mainstay was broken, for Rustem had overcome Arzang and slain the White Deev. And he said that Rustem would slay him also if he should not submit unto Iran and pay tribute to its Shah. Then Kai Kaous sent a messenger with this writing unto the King of Mazinderan.

Now the King, when he had read the letter, and learned how that Arzang and the White Deev and all his train were slain, was sore troubled, and he paled in his spirit, and it seemed to him that the sun of his glory was about to set. Howbeit he suffered not the messenger to behold his distress, but wrote haughty words unto Kai Kaous, and dared him to come forth to meet him. And he boasted of his might and reproached Kai Kaous with his folly. And he threatened that he would raze Iran unto the dust.

When Kai Kaous had read this answer he was wroth, and his nobles with him. And Rustem spake and said-

"Permit me, O my Shah, that I go forth before the King of Mazinderan, and intrust unto me yet another writing."

Then Kai Kaous sent for a scribe, and the scribe cut a reed like to the point of an arrow, and he wrote with it the words that Kai Kaous dictated. And Kai Kaous made not many words. He bade the King lay aside his arrogance, and he warned him of the fate that would await his disobedience, and he said unto him that if he listened not he might hang his severed head on the walls of his own city. Then he signed the letter with his royal seal, and Rustem bore it forth from the camp.

Now when the King of Mazinderan learned that Kai Kaous sent him yet another messenger, he bade the flower of his army go forth to meet him. And Rustem, when he saw them come near, laid hold upon a tree of great stature and spreading branches that grew by the wayside. And he uprooted the tree from the earth, and brandished it in his hands like to a javelin. And those that saw it were amazed at his strength. Then Rustem, when he beheld their awe, flung the tree among them, and many a brave man was dismounted by this mace. Then there stepped forth from the midst of the host one of the giants of Mazinderan, and he begged that he might grasp Rustem by the hand. And when he had hold of the hand of the Pehliva he pressed it with all his might, for he thought that he could wring off this hand of valour. But Rustem smiled at the feebleness of his grasp, and he grasped him in return, and the giant grew pale, and the veins started forth upon his hands.

Then one set off to tell the King what he had seen. And the King sent forth his doughtiest knight, and bade him retrieve the honour of their strength. And Kalahour the knight said-

"Verily so will I do, and I will force the tears of pain from the eyes of this messenger."

And he came towards Rustem and wrung his hand, and his gripe was like to a vise, and Rustem felt the pang thereof, and he winced in his suffering. But he would not let the men of Mazinderan glory in his triumph. He took the hand of Kalahour in his own, and grasped it and crushed it till that the blood issued from its veins and the nails fell from off its fingers. Then Kalahour turned him and went before the Shah and showed unto him his hand. And he counselled him to make peace with the land that could send forth such messengers whose might none could withstand. But the King was loath to sue for peace, and he commanded that the messenger be brought before him.

Then the elephant-bodied stood before the King of Mazinderan. And the King questioned him of his journey, and of Kai Kaous, and of the road that he was come. And while he questioned he took muster of him with his eyes, and when he had done speaking he cried-

"Surely thou art Rustem, for thou hast the arms and breast of a Pehliva."

But Rustem replied, "Not so, I am but a slave who is not held worthy to serve even in his train; for he is a Pehliva great and strong, whose like the earth hath not seen." Then he handed unto the King the writing of his master. But when the King had read it he was wild with anger, and he said to Rustem-

"Surely he that hath sent thee is mad that he addresseth such words unto me. For if he be master in Iran, I am lord of Mazinderan, and never shall he call me his vassal. And verily it was his own overweening that let him fall between my hands, yet hath he learned no lesson from his disasters, but deemeth he can crush me with haughty words. Go, say unto him that the King of Mazinderan will meet him in battle, and verily his pride shall learn to know humility."

And when the King had thus spoken he dismissed Rustem from his presence, but he would have had him bear forth rich gifts. But Rustem would not take them, for he too was angered, and he spurred him unto Kai Kaous with a heart hungry for vengeance.

And Kai Kaous made ready his army, and the King of Mazinderan did likewise. And they marched forth unto the meeting-place, and the earth groaned under the feet of the war-elephants. And for seven days did the battle rage fast and furious, and all the earth was darkened with the black dust; and the fire of swords and maces flashed through the blackness like to lightning from a thundercloud. And the screams of the Deevs, and the shouts of the warriors, and the clanging of the trumpets, and the beating of drums, and the neighing of horses, and the groans of the dying made the earth hideous with noise. And the blood of the brave turned the plain into a lake, and it was a combat such as none hath seen the like. But victory leaned to neither side. Then on the eighth day Kai Kaous took from his head the crown of the Kaianides and bowed him in the dust before Ormuzd. And he prayed and said-

"O Lord of earth, incline thine ear unto my voice, and grant that I may overcome these Deevs who rest not their faith in Thee. And I pray Thee do this not for my sake, who am unworthy of Thy benefits, but for the sake of Iran, Thy kingdom."

Then he put the crown once more upon his head, and went out again before the army.

And all that day the hosts fought like lions, and pity and mercy were vanished from the world, and heaven itself seemed to rain maces. But Ormuzd had heard the prayer of His servant, and when evening was come the army of Mazinderan was faded like a flower. Then Rustem, perceiving the King of Mazinderan, challenged him to single combat. And the King consented, and Rustem overcame him, and raised his lance to strike him, saying-

"Perish, O evil Deev! for thy name is struck out of the lists of those who carry high their heads."

But when he was about to strike him, the King put forth his arts of magic, and he was changed into a rock within sight of all the army. And Rustem was confounded thereat, and he knew not what he should do. But Kai Kaous commanded that the rock should be brought before his throne. So those among the army who were strong of limb meshed it with cords and tried to raise it from the earth. But the rock resisted all their efforts and none could move it a jot. Then Rustem, the elephant-limbed, came forward to test his power, and he grasped the rock in his mighty fist, and he bore it in his hands across the hills, even unto the spot that Kai Kaous had named, and all the army shouted with amazement when they saw it.

Now when Rustem had laid down the stone at the feet of the Shah, he spake and said unto it-

"Issue forth, I command thee, O King of Mazinderan, or I will break thee into atoms with my mace."

When the King heard this threat he was afraid, and came out of the stone, and stood before Rustem in all his vileness. And Rustem took his hand and smiled and led him before Kai Kaous, and said-

"I bring thee this piece of rock, whom fear of my blows hath brought into subjection."

Then Kai Kaous reproached the King with all the evil he had done him, and when he had spoken he bade that the head of this wicked man should be severed from its trunk. And it was done as Kai Kaous commanded. Then Kai Kaous gave thanks unto God, and distributed rich gifts unto his army, to each man according to his deserts. And he prepared a feast, and bade them rejoice and make merry with wine. And at last he called before him Rustem, his Pehliva, and gave to him thanks, and said that but for his aid he would not have sat again upon his throne. But Rustem said-

"Not so, O King, thy thanks are due unto Aulad, for he it was who led me aright, and instructed me how I could vanquish the Deevs. Grant, therefore, now that I may fulfil my promise unto him, and bestow on him the crown of Mazinderan."

When Kai Kaous heard these words he did as Rustem desired, and Aulad received the crown and the land, and there was peace yet again in Iran. And the land rejoiced thereat, and Kai Kaous opened the doors of his treasures, and all was well within his borders. Then Rustem came before the Shah and prayed that he might be permitted to return unto his father. And Kai Kaous listened to the just desires of his Pehliva, and he sent him forth laden with rich gifts, and he could not cease from pouring treasure before him. And he blessed him, and said-

"Mayst thou live as long as the sun and moon, and may thy heart continue steadfast, mayst thou ever be the joy of Iran!"

Then when Rustem was departed, Kai Kaous gave himself up unto delights and to wine, but he governed his land right gloriously. He struck the neck of care with the sword of justice, he caused the earth to be clad with verdure, and God granted unto him His countenance, and the hand of Ahriman could do no hurt.

Thus endeth the history of the march into Mazinderan.

 

Kai Kaous Committeth More Follies

Whilom the fancy seized upon the Shah of Iran that he would visit his empire, and look face to face upon his vassals, and exact their tribute. So he passed from Turan into China, and from Mikran into Berberistan. And wheresoever he passed men did homage before him, for the bull cannot wage battle with the lion. But it could not remain thus for ever, and already there sprang forth thorns in the garden of roses. For while the fortunes of the world thus prospered, a chieftain raised the standard of revolt in Egypt, and the people of the land turned them from the gates of submission unto Iran. And there was joined unto them the King of Hamaveran, who desired to throw off the yoke of Persia. But Kai Kaous, when the tidings thereof came unto him, got ready his army and marched against the rebels. And when he came before them, their army, that had seemed invincible, was routed, and the King of Hamaveran was foremost to lay down his arms and ask pardon of his Shah. And Kai Kaous granted his petition, and the King departed joyously from out his presence. Then one of those who stood about the Shah said unto him-

"Is it known to thee, O Shah, that this King hideth behind his curtains a daughter of beauty? It would beseem my lord that he should take this moon unto himself for wife."

And Kai Kaous answered, "Thy counsel is good, and I will therefore send messengers unto her father, and demand of him that he give me his daughter as tribute, and to cement the peace that hath been made between us."

When the King of Hamaveran heard this message his heart was filled with gall, and his head was heavy with sorrow, and he murmured in his spirit that Kai Kaous, who owned the world, should desire to take from him his chiefest treasure. And he hid not his grief from the Shah in his answer, but he wrote also that he knew it behoved him to do the thing that Kai Kaous desired. Then in his distress he called before him Sudaveh his daughter, whom he loved, and he told her all his troubles, and bade her counsel him how he should act. For he said-

"If I lose thee, the light of my life is gone out. Yet how may I stand against the Shah?"

And Sudaveh replied, "If there be no remedy, I counsel thee to rejoice at that which cannot be changed."

Now when her father heard these words he knew that she was not afflicted concerning that which was come about. So he sent for the envoy of Kai Kaous and assented unto his demands, and they concluded an alliance according to the forms of the land. Then when the King had poured gifts before the messenger, and feasted him with wine, he sent forth an escort to bear his daughter unto the tents of the Shah. And the young moon went forth in a litter, and she was robed in garbs of splendour, and when Kai Kaous beheld her loveliness he was struck dumb for very joy. Then he raised Sudaveh unto the throne beside him, and named her worthy to be his spouse. And they were glad in each other, and rejoiced; but all was not to be well thus quickly.

For the King of Hamaveran was sore in his heart that the light of his life was gone from him, and he cast about in his spirit how he should regain her unto himself. And when she had been gone but seven days, he sent forth a messenger unto Kai Kaous and entreated him that he would come and feast within his gates, so that all the land might rejoice in their alliance.

When Sudaveh heard this message her mind misgave her, and she feared evil. Wherefore she counselled the Shah that he should abstain from this feast. But Kai Kaous would not listen unto the fears of Sudaveh, he would not give ear unto her warning. Wherefore he went forth unto the city of the King of Hamaveran, and made merry with him many days. And the King caused gifts to be rained down upon Kai Kaous, and he flattered him, and cozened his vanity, and he made much of his men, and he darkened their wits with fair words and sweet wine. Then when he had lulled their fears, and caused them to forget wherefore and why and all knowledge of misfortune, he fell upon them and bound them with strong chains, and overthrew their glories and their thrones. And Kai Kaous did he send unto a fortress whose head touched the sky and whose foot was planted in the ocean. Then he sent forth a strong band into the camp of Iran, and veiled women went with them, and he charged them that they bring back Sudaveh unto his arms.

Now when Sudaveh saw the men and the women that went with them she guessed what was come about, and she cried aloud and tore her robes in anguish. And when they had brought her before her father she reproved him for his treachery, and she sware that none should part her from Kai Kaous, even though he were hidden in a tomb. Then the King was angered when he saw that her heart was taken from him and given to the Shah, and he bade that she be flung into the same prison as her lord. And Sudaveh was glad at his resolve, and she went into the dungeon with a light heart, and she seated herself beside the Shah, and served him and comforted him, and they bore the weight of captivity together.

After these things were come about, the Iranians, because that their Shah was held captive, returned unto Iran much discomfited. And when the news spread that the throne was empty many would have seized thereon. And Afrasiyab, when he learned it, straightway forgot hunger and sleep, and marched a strong army across the border. And he laid waste the land of Iran, and men, women, and children fell into bondage at his hands, and the world was darkened unto the kingdom of light. Then some arose and went before the son of Zal to crave his help in this sore need, saying unto him-

"Be thou our shield against misfortune, and deliver us from affliction, for the glory of the Kaianides is vanished, and the land which was a paradise is one no more."

Now Rustem, when he heard the news, was grieved for the land, but he was angered also against the Shah that he had thus once again run into danger. Yet he told the messengers that he would seek to deliver Kai Kaous, and that when he had done so he would remember the land of Iran. And forthwith he sent a secret messenger unto Kai Kaous, a man subtle and wise, and caused him to say unto the Shah-

"An army cometh forth from Iran to redeem thee. Rejoice, therefore, and cast aside thy fears."

And he also sent a writing unto the King of Hamaveran, and the writing was filled with threats, and spake only of maces and swords and combat. And Rustem loaded the King with reproaches because of his treachery, and he bade him prepare to meet Rustem the mighty.

When the King of Hamaveran had read this letter his head was troubled, and he defied Rustem, and threatened him that if he came forth against him he should meet at his hands the fate of the Shah. But Rustem only smiled when he heard this answer, and he said-

"Surely this man is foolish, or Ahriman hath filled his mind with smoke."

Then he mounted Rakush, and made ready to go into Hamaveran, and a vast train of warriors went after him. And the King of Hamaveran, when he saw it sent forth his army against him. But the army were afraid when they beheld Rustem and his might of mien, his mace, and his strong arms and lion chest, and their hearts departed from out their bodies, and they fled from before his sight, and returned them unto the King of Hamaveran.

Now the King was seated in the midst of his counsellors, and when he saw the army thus scattered before they had struck a blow, his heart misgave him, and he craved counsel of his chiefs. Then they counselled him that he should cast about him for allies. So the King of Hamaveran sent messengers of entreaty unto the Kings of Egypt and Berberistan, and they listened to his prayers, and sent out a great army unto his aid. And they drew them up against Rustem, and the armies stretched for two leagues in length, and you would have said the handful of Rustem could not withstand their force. Yet Rustem bade his men be not discomfited, and rest their hopes on God. Then he fell upon the armies of the Kings like to a flame that darteth forth, and the ground was drenched with gore, and on all sides rolled heads that were severed from their bodies; and wheresoever Rakush and Rustem showed themselves, there was great havoc made in the ranks. And ere the evening was come, the Kings of Egypt and Berberistan were his captives; and when the sun was set, the King of Hamaveran knew that a day of ill fortune was ended. So he sent forth to crave mercy at the hands of the Pehliva. And Rustem listened to his voice, and said that he would stay his hand if the King would restore unto him Kai Kaous, and the men and treasures that were his. Then the King of Hamaveran granted the just requests of Rustem. So Kai Kaous was led forth from his prison, and Sudaveh came with him. And when they beheld him, the King of Hamaveran and his allies declared their allegiance unto him, and they marched with him into Iran to go out against Afrasiyab. And Sudaveh went with the army in a litter clothed with fair stuffs, and encrusted with wood of aloes. And she was veiled that none might behold her beauty, and she went with the men like to the sun when he marcheth behind a cloud.

Now when Kai Kaous was come home again unto his land, he sent a writing unto Afrasiyab. And he said-

"Quit, I command thee, the land of Iran, nor seek to enlarge thyself at my cost. For knowest thou not that Iran is mine, and that the world pertaineth unto me?"

But Afrasiyab answered, "The words which thou dost write are not becoming unto a man such as thou, who didst covet Mazinderan and the countries round about. If thou wert satisfied with Iran, wherefore didst thou venture afield? And I say unto thee, Iran is mine, because of Tur my forefather, and because I subdued it under my hand."

When Kai Kaous had heard these words he knew that Afrasiyab would not yield save unto force. So he drew up his army into array, and they marched out to meet the King of Turan. And Afrasiyab met them with a great host, and the sound of drums and cymbals filled the air. And great was the strife and bloody, but Rustem broke the force of Turan, and the fortunes of its army were laid to rest upon the field of battle. And Afrasiyab, when he beheld it, was discomfited, and his spirit boiled over like to new wine that fermenteth. And he mourned over his army and the warriors that he had trained, and he conjured those that remained to make yet another onslaught, and he spake fair promises unto them if they would deliver unto his hands Rustem, the Pehliva. And he said-

"Whoever shall bring him alive before me, I will give unto him a kingdom and an umbrella, and the hand of my daughter in marriage."

And the Turks, when they heard these words, girded them yet again for resistance. But it availed them nought, for the Iranians were mightier than they, and they watered the earth with their blood until the ground was like a rose. And the fortunes of the Turks were as a light put out, and Afrasiyab fled before the face of Rustem, and the remnant of his army went after him.

Then Kai Kaous seated himself once more upon his throne, and men were glad that there was peace. And the Shah opened the doors of justice and splendour, and all men did that which was right, and the wolf turned him away from the lamb, and there was gladness through all the length of Iran. And the Shah gave thanks unto Rustem that he had aided him yet again, and he named him Jahani Pehliva, which being interpreted meaneth the champion of the world, and he called him the source of his happiness. Then he busied himself with building mighty towers and palaces, and the land of Iran was made fair at his hands, and all was well once more within its midst.

But Ahriman the wakeful was not pleased thereat, and he pondered how he could once again arouse the ambition of the Shah. So he held counsel with his Deevs how they might turn the heart of Kai Kaous from the right path. And one among them said-

"Suffer that I go before the Shah, and I will do thy behest."
And Ahriman suffered it. Then the Deev took upon him the form of a youth, and in his hand he held a cluster of roses, and he presented them unto the Shah, and he kissed the ground before his feet. And when Kai Kaous had given him leave to speak he opened his mouth and said-

"O Shah, live for ever! though such is thy might and majesty that the vault of heaven alone should be thy throne. All the world is submissive before thee, and I can bethink me but of one thing that is lacking unto thy glory."

Then Kai Kaous questioned him of this one thing, and the Deev said-

"It is that thou knowest not the nature of the sun and moon, nor wherefore the planets roll, neither the secret causes that set them in motion. Thou art master of all the earth, therefore shouldst thou not make the heavens also obedient to thy will?"

When Kai Kaous heard these words of guile his mind was dimmed, and he forgot that man cannot mount unto the skies, and he pondered without ceasing how he could fly unto the stars and inquire into their secrets. And he consulted many wise men in his trouble, but none could aid him. But at last it came about that a certain man taught him how he could perchance accomplish his designs. And Kai Kaous did according to his instructions. He built him a framework of aloe-wood, and at the four corners thereof he placed javelins upright, and on their points he put the flesh of goats. Then he chose out four eagles strong of wing, and bound them unto the corners of this chariot. And when it was done, Kai Kaous seated himself in the midst thereof with much pomp. And the eagles, when they smelt the flesh, desired after it, and they flapped their wings and raised themselves, and raised the framework with them. And they struggled sore, but they could not attain unto the meat; but ever as they struggled they bore aloft with them Kai Kaous and the throne whereon he sat. And so long as their hunger lasted, they strove after the prey. But at length their strength would hold no longer, and they desisted from the attempt. And behold! as they desisted the fabric fell back to earth, and the shock thereof was great. And but for Ormuzd Kai Kaous would have perished in the presumption of his spirit.

Now the eagles had borne the Shah even unto the desert of Cathay, and there was no man to succour him, and he suffered from the pangs of hunger, and there was nothing to assuage his longing, neither could his thirst be stilled. And he was alone, and sorrowful and shamed in his soul that he had yet again brought derision upon Iran. And he prayed to God in his trouble, and entreated pardon for his sins.

While Kai Kaous thus strove with repentance, Rustem learned tidings of him, and he set out with an army to seek him. And when he had found him he gave rein unto his anger, and he rebuked him for his follies, and he said-

"Hath the world seen the like of this man? Hath a more foolish head sat upon the throne of Iran? Ye would say there were no brains within this skull, or that not one of its thoughts was good. Kai Kaous is like a thing that is possessed, and every wind beareth him away. Thrice hast thou now fallen into mishap, and who can tell whether thy spirit hath yet learned wisdom? And it will be a reproach unto Iran all her days that a king puffed up with idle pride was seated upon her throne, a man who deemed in his folly that he could mount unto the skies, and visit the sun and moon, and count the stars one by one. I entreat of thee to bethink thee of thy forefathers, and follow in their steps, and rule the land in equity, neither rush after these mad adventures."

When Kai Kaous had listened to the bitter words spoken by Rustem, he was bowed down in his spirit and ashamed before him in his soul. And when at last he opened his mouth it was to utter words of humility. And he said unto Rustem-

"Surely that which thou speakest, it is true."
Then he suffered himself to be led back unto his palace, and many days and nights did he lie in the dust before God, and it was long before he held him worthy to mount again upon his throne. But when he deemed that God had forgiven him, he seated him upon it once again. In humility did he mount it, and he filled it in wisdom. And henceforth he ruled the land with justice, and he did that which was right in the sight of God, and bathed his face with the waters of sincerity. And kings and rulers did homage before him, and forgot the follies that he had done, and Kai Kaous grew worthy of the throne of light. And Iran was exalted at his hands, and power and prosperity increased within its borders.

 

 
 
 
 
 

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