History of Literature






 

"Shahnameh"
 

The Epic of Kings

 

by

Ferdowsi



 
 


The Epic of Kings

 

By Ferdowsi
 

1010 A.C.E.
 

Translated by Helen Zimmern

 


 

 

Rustem and Sohrab

Give ear unto the combat of Sohrab against Rustem, though it be a tale replete with tears.

It came about that on a certain day Rustem arose from his couch, and his mind was filled with forebodings. He bethought him therefore to go out to the chase. So he saddled Rakush and made ready his quiver with arrows. Then he turned him unto the wilds that lie near Turan, even in the direction of the city of Samengan. And when he was come nigh unto it, he started a herd of asses and made sport among them till that he was weary of the hunt. Then he caught one and slew it and roasted it for his meal, and when he had eaten it and broken the bones for the marrow, he laid himself down to slumber, and Rakush cropped the pasture beside him.

Now while the hero was sleeping there passed by seven knights of Turan, and they beheld Rakush and coveted him. So they threw their cords at him to ensnare him. But Rakush, when he beheld their design, pawed the ground in anger, and fell upon them as he had fallen upon the lion. And of one man he bit off the head, and another he struck down under his hoofs, and he would have overcome them all, but they were too many. So they ensnared him and led him into the city, thinking in their hearts, "Verily a goodly capture have we made." But Rustem when he awoke from his slumbers was downcast and sore grieved when he saw not his steed, and he said unto himself-

"How can I stand against the Turks, and how can I traverse the desert alone?"

And his heart was full of trouble. Then he sought for the traces of the horse's hoofs, and he followed them, and they led him even unto the gates of the city. Now when those within beheld Rustem, and that he came before them on foot, the King and the nobles came forth to greet him, and inquired of him how this was come about. Then Rustem told them how Rakush was vanished while he slumbered, and how he had followed his track even unto these gates. And he sware a great oath, and vowed that if his courser were not restored unto him many heads should quit their trunks. Then the King of Samengan, when he saw that Rustem was beside himself with anger, spoke words of soothing, and said that none of his people should do wrong unto the hero; and he begged him that he would enter into his house and abide with him until that search had been made, saying-

"Surely Rakush cannot be hid."
And Rustem was satisfied at these words, and cast suspicion from his spirit, and entered the house of the King, and feasted with him, and beguiled the hours with wine. And the King rejoiced in his guest, and encompassed him with sweet singers and all honour. And when the night was fallen the King himself led Rustem unto a couch perfumed with musk and roses, and he bade him slumber sweetly until the morning. And he declared to him yet again that all was well for him and for his steed.

Now when a portion of the night was spent, and the star of morning stood high in the arch of heaven, the door of Rustem's chamber was opened, and a murmur of soft voices came in from the threshold. And there stepped within a slave bearing a lamp perfumed with amber, and a woman whose beauty was veiled came after her. And as she moved musk was scattered from her robes. And the women came nigh unto the bed of the hero heavy with wine and slumber. And he was amazed when he saw them. And when he had roused him somewhat he spake and said-

"Who art thou, and what is thy name and thy desire, and what seekest thou from me in the dark night?"

Then the Peri-faced answered him, saying, "I am Tahmineh, the daughter of the King of Samengan, of the race of the leopard and the lion, and none of the princes of this earth are worthy of my hand, neither hath any man seen me unveiled. But my heart is torn with anguish, and my spirit is tossed with desire, for I have heard of thy deeds of prowess, and how thou fearest neither Deev nor lion, neither leopard nor crocodile, and how thy hand is swift to strike, and how thou didst venture alone into Mazinderan, and how wild asses are devoured of thee, and how the earth groaneth under the tread of thy feet, and how men perish at thy blows, and how even the eagle dareth not swoop down upon her prey when she beholdeth thy sword. These things and more have they told unto me, and mine eyes have yearned to look upon thy face. And now hath God brought thee within the gates of my father, and I am come to say unto thee that I am thine if thou wilt hear me, and if thou wilt not, none other will I espouse. And consider, O Pehliva, how that love hath obscured mine understanding and withdrawn me from the bosom of discretion, yet peradventure God will grant unto me a son like to thee for strength and valour, to whom shall be given the empire of the world. And if thou wilt listen unto me, I will lead forth before thee Rakush thy steed, and I will place under thy feet the land of Samengan."

Now while this moon of beauty was yet speaking, Rustem regarded her. And he saw that she was fair, and that wisdom abode in her mind; and when he heard of Rakush, his spirit was decided within him, and he held that this adventure could not end save gloriously. So he sent a Mubid unto the King and demanded the hand of Tahmineh from her father. And the King, when he heard the news, was rejoiced, and gave his daughter unto the Pehliva, and they concluded an alliance according to custom and the rites. And all men, young and old, within the house and city of the King were glad at this alliance, and called down blessings upon Rustem.

Now Rustem, when he was alone with the Peri-faced, took from his arm an onyx that was known unto all the world. And he gave it to her, and said-

"Cherish this jewel, and if Heaven cause thee to give birth unto a daughter, fasten it within her locks, and it will shield her from evil; but if it be granted unto thee to bring forth a son, fasten it upon his arm, that he may wear it like his father. And he shall be strong as Keriman, of stature like unto Saum the son of Neriman, and of grace of speech like unto Zal, my father."

The Peri-faced, when she had heard these words, was glad in his presence. But when the day was passed there came in unto them the King her father, and he told Rustem how that tidings of Rakush were come unto his ears, and how that the courser would shortly be within the gates. And Rustem, when he heard it, was filled with longing after his steed, and when he knew that he was come he hastened forth to caress him. And with his own hands he fastened the saddle, and gave thanks unto Ormuzd, who had restored his joy between his hands. Then he knew that the time to depart was come. And he opened his arms and took unto his heart Tahmineh the fair of face, and he bathed her cheek with his tears and covered her hair with kisses. Then he flung him upon Rakush, and the swift-footed bare him quickly from out of her sight. And Tahmineh was sorrowful exceedingly, and Rustem too was filled with thoughts as he turned him back into Zaboulistan. And he pondered this adventure in his heart, but to no man did he speak of what he had seen or done.

Now when nine moons had run their course there was born unto Tahmineh a son in the likeness of his father, a babe whose mouth was filled with smiles, wherefore men called him Sohrab. And when he numbered but one month he was like unto a child of twelve, and when he numbered five years he was skilled in arms and all the arts of war, and when ten years were rolled above his head there was none in the land that could resist him in the games of strength. Then he came before his mother and spake words of daring. And he said-

"Since I am taller and stouter than my peers, teach unto me my race and lineage, and what I shall say when men ask me the name of my sire. But if thou refuse an answer unto my demands, I will strike thee out from the rolls of the living."

When Tahmineh beheld the ardour of her son, she smiled in her spirit because that his fire was like to that of his father. And she opened her mouth and said-

"Hear my words, O my son, and be glad in thine heart, neither give way in thy spirit to anger. For thou art the offspring of Rustem, thou art descended from the seed of Saum and Zal, and Neriman was thy forefather. And since God made the world it hath held none like unto Rustem, thy sire."

Then she showed to him a letter written by the Pehliva, and gave to him the gold and jewels Rustem had sent at his birth. And she spake and said-

"Cherish these gifts with gratitude, for it is thy father who hath sent them. Yet remember, O my son, that thou close thy lips concerning these things; for Turan groaneth under the hand of Afrasiyab, and he is foe unto Rustem the glorious. If, therefore, he should learn of thee, he would seek to destroy the son for hatred of the sire. Moreover, O my boy, if Rustem learned that thou wert become a mountain of valour, perchance he would demand thee at my hands, and the sorrow of thy loss would crush the heart of thy mother."

But Sohrab replied, "Nought can be hidden upon earth for aye. To all men are known the deeds of Rustem, and since my birth be thus noble, wherefore hast thou kept it dark from me so long? I will go forth with an army of brave Turks and lead them unto Iran, I will cast Kai Kaous from off his throne, I will give to Rustem the crown of the Kaianides, and together we will subdue the land of Turan, and Afrasiyab shall be slain by my hands. Then will I mount the throne in his stead. But thou shalt be called Queen of Iran. for since Rustem is my father and I am his son no other kings shall rule in this world, for to us alone behoveth it to wear the crowns of might. And I pant in longing after the battlefield, and I desire that the world should behold my prowess. But a horse is needful unto me, a steed tall and strong of power to bear me, for it beseemeth me not to go on foot before mine enemies."

Now Tahmineh, when she had heard the words of this boy, rejoiced in her soul at his courage. So she bade the guardians of the flocks lead out the horses before Sohrab her son. And they did as she had bidden, and Sohrab surveyed the steeds, and tested their strength like as his father had done before him of old, and he bowed them under his hand, and he could not be satisfied. And thus for many days did he seek a worthy steed. Then one came before him and told of a foal sprung from Rakush, the swift of foot. When Sohrab heard the tidings he smiled, and bade that the foal be led before him. And he tested it and found it to be strong. So he saddled it and sprang upon its back and cried, saying-

"Now that I own a horse like thee, the world shall be made dark to many."

Then he made ready for war against Iran, and the nobles and warriors flocked around him. And when all was in order Sohrab came before his grandsire and craved his counsel and his aid to go forth into the land of Iran and seek out his father. And the King of Samengan, when he heard these wishes, deemed them to be just, and he opened the doors of his treasures without stint and gave unto Sohrab of his wealth, for he was filled with pleasure at this boy. And he invested Sohrab with all the honours of a King, and he bestowed on him all the marks of his good pleasure.

Meantime a certain man brought news unto Afrasiyab that Sohrab was making ready an army to fall upon Iran, and to cast Kai Kaous from off his throne. And he told Afrasiyab how the courage and valour of Sohrab exceeded words. And Afrasiyab, when he heard this, hid not his contentment, and he called before him Human and Barman, the doughty. Then he bade them gather together an army and join the ranks of Sohrab, and he confided to them his secret purpose, but he enjoined them to tell no man thereof. For he said-

"Into our hands hath it been given to settle the course of the world. For it is known unto me that Sohrab is sprung from Rustem the Pehliva, but from Rustem must it be hidden who it is that goeth out against him, then peradventure he will perish by the hands of this young lion, and Iran, devoid of Rustem, will fall a prey into my hands. Then will we subdue Sohrab also, and all the world will be ours. But if it be written that Sohrab fall under the hand of Tehemten, then the grief he shall endure when he shall learn that he hath slain his son will bring him to the grave for sorrow."

So spake Afrasiyab in his guile, and when he had done unveiling his black heart he bade the warriors depart unto Samengan. And they bare with them gifts of great price to pour before the face of Sohrab. And they bare also a letter filled with soft words. And in the letter Afrasiyab lauded Sohrab for his resolve, and told him how that if Iran be subdued the world would henceforth know peace, for upon his own head would he place the crown of the Kaianides; and Turan, Iran, and Samengan should be as one land.

When Sohrab had read this letter, and saw the gifts and the aid sent out to him, he rejoiced aloud, for he deemed that now none could withstand his might. So he caused the cymbals of departure to be clashed, and the army made them ready to go forth. Then Sohrab led them into the land of Iran. And their track was marked by desolation and destruction, for they spared nothing that they passed. And they spread fire and dismay abroad, and they marched on unstayed until they came unto the White Castle, the fortress wherein Iran put its trust.

Now the guardian of the castle was named Hujir, and there lived with him Gustahem the brave, but he was grown old, and could aid no longer save with his counsels. And there abode also his daughter Gurdafrid, a warlike maid, firm in the saddle, and practised in the fight. Now when Hujir beheld from afar a dusky cloud of armed men he came forth to meet them. And Sohrab, when he saw him, drew his sword, and demanded his name, and bade him prepare to meet his end. And he taunted him with rashness that he was come forth thus unaided to stand against a lion. But Hujir answered Sohrab with taunts again, and vowed that he would sever his head from his trunk and send it for a trophy unto the Shah. Yet Sohrab only smiled when he heard these words, and he challenged Hujir to come near. And they met in combat, and wrestled sore one with another, and stalwart were their strokes and strong; but Sohrab overcame Hujir as though he were an infant, and he bound him and sent him captive unto Human.

But when those within the castle learned that their chief was bound they raised great lamentation, and their fears were sore. And Gurdafrid too, when she learned it, was grieved, but she was ashamed also for the fate of Hujir. So she took forth burnished mail and clad herself therein, and she hid her tresses under a helmet of Roum, and she mounted a steed of battle and came forth before the walls like to a warrior. And she uttered a cry of thunder, and flung it amid the ranks of Turan, and she defied the champions to come forth to single combat. And none came, for they beheld her how she was strong, and they knew not that it was a woman, and they were afraid. But Sohrab, when he saw it, stepped forth and said-

"I will accept thy challenge, and a second prize will fall into my hands."

Then he girded himself and made ready for the fight. And the maid, when she saw he was ready, rained arrows upon him with art, and they fell quick like hail, and whizzed about his head; and Sohrab, when he saw it, could not defend himself, and was angry and ashamed. Then he covered his head with a shield and ran at the maid. But she, when she saw him approach, dropped her bow and couched a lance, and thrust at Sohrab with vigour, and shook him mightily, and it wanted little and she would have thrown him from his seat. And Sohrab was amazed, and his wrath knew no bounds. Then he ran at Gurdafrid with fury, and seized the reins of her steed, and caught her by the waist, and tore her armour, and threw her upon the ground. Yet ere he could raise his hand to strike her, she drew her sword and shivered his lance in twain, and leaped again upon her steed. And when she saw that the day was hers, she was weary of further combat, and she sped back unto the fortress. But Sohrab gave rein unto his horse, and followed after her in his great anger. And he caught her, and seized her, and tore the helmet from off her head, for he desired to look upon the face of the man who could withstand the son of Rustem. And lo! when he had done so, there rolled forth from the helmet coils of dusky hue, and Sohrab beheld it was a woman that had overcome him in the fight. And he was confounded. But when he had found speech he said-

"If the daughters of Iran are like to thee, and go forth unto battle, none can stand against this land."

Then he took his cord and threw it about her, and bound her in its snare, saying-

"Seek not to escape me, O moon of beauty, for never hath prey like unto thee fallen between my hands."

Then Gurdafrid, full of wile, turned unto him her face that was unveiled, for she beheld no other means of safety, and she said unto him-

"O hero without flaw, is it well that thou shouldest seek to make me captive, and show me unto the army? For they have beheld our combat, and that I overcame thee, and surely now they will gibe when they learn that thy strength was withstood by a woman. Better would it beseem thee to hide this adventure, lest thy cheeks have cause to blush because of me. Therefore let us conclude a peace together. The castle shall be thine, and all it holds; follow after me then, and take possession of thine own."

Now Sohrab, when he had listened, was beguiled by her words and her beauty, and he said-

"Thou dost wisely to make peace with me, for verily these walls could not resist my might."

And he followed after her unto the heights of the castle, and he stood with her before its gates. And Gustahem, when he saw them, opened the portal, and Gurdafrid stepped within the threshold, but when Sohrab would have followed after her she shut the door upon him. Then Sohrab saw that she had befooled him, and his fury knew no bounds. But ere he was recovered from his surprise she came out upon the battlements and scoffed at him, and counselled him to go back whence he was come; for surely, since he could not stand against a woman, he would fall an easy prey before Rustem, when the Pehliva should have learned that robbers from Turan were broken into the land. And Sohrab was made yet madder for her words, and he departed from the walls in his wrath, and rode far in his anger, and spread terror in his path. And he vowed that he would yet bring the maid into subjection.

In the meantime Gustahem the aged called before him a scribe, and bade him write unto Kai Kaous all that was come about, and how an army was come forth from Turan, at whose head rode a chief that was a child in years, a lion in strength and stature. And he told how Hujir had been bound, and how the fortress was like to fall into the hands of the enemy; for there were none to defend it save only his daughter and himself and he craved the Shah to come to their aid.

Albeit when the day had followed yet again upon the night, Sohrab made ready his host to fall upon the castle. But when he came near thereto he found it was empty, and the doors thereof stood open, and no warriors appeared upon its walls. And he was surprised, for he knew not that in the darkness the inmates were fled by a passage that was hidden under the earth. And he searched the building for Gurdafrid, for his heart yearned after her in love, and he cried aloud-

"Woe, woe is me that this moon is vanished behind the clouds!"
Now when Kai Kaous had gotten the writing of Gustahem, he was sore afflicted and much afraid, and he called about him his nobles and asked their counsels. And he said-

"Who shall stand against this Turk? For Gustahem doth liken him in power unto Rustem, and saith he resembleth the seed of Neriman."

Then the warriors cried with one accord, "Unto Rustem alone can we look in this danger!"


 

And Kai Kaous hearkened to their voice, and he called for a scribe and dictated unto him a letter. And he wrote unto his Pehliva, and invoked the blessings of Heaven upon his head, and he told him all that was come to pass, and how new dangers threatened Iran, and how to Rustem alone could he look for help in his trouble. And he recalled unto Tehemten all that he had done for him in the days that were gone by, and he entreated him once again to be his refuge. And he said-

"When thou shalt receive this letter, stay not to speak the word that hangeth upon thy lips; and if thou bearest roses in thy hands, stop not to smell them, but haste thee to help us in our need."

Then Kai Kaous sent forth Gew with this writing unto Zaboulistan, and bade him neither rest nor tarry until he should stand before the face of Rustem. And he said-

"When thou hast done my behest, turn thee again unto me; neither abide within the courts of the Pehliva, nor linger by the roadside."

And Gew did as the Shah commanded, and took neither food nor rest till he set foot within the gates of Rustem. And Rustem greeted him kindly, and asked him of his mission; and when he had read the writing of the Shah, he questioned Gew concerning Sohrab. For he said-

"I should not marvel if such an hero arose in Iran, but that a warrior of renown should come forth from amid the Turks, I cannot believe it. But thou sayest none knoweth whence cometh this knight. I have myself a son in Samengan, but he is yet an infant, and his mother writeth to me that he rejoiceth in the sports of his age, and though he be like to become a hero among men, his time is not yet come to lead forth an army. And that which thou sayest hath been done, surely it is not the work of a babe. But enter, I pray thee, into my house, and we will confer together concerning this adventure."

Then Rustem bade his cooks make ready a banquet, and he feasted Gew, and troubled his head with wine, and caused him to forget cares and time. But when morn was come Gew remembered the commands of the Shah that he tarry not, but return with all speed, and he spake thereof to Rustem, and prayed him to make known his resolve. But Rustem spake, saying-

"Disquiet not thyself, for death will surely fall upon these men of Turan. Stay with me yet another day and rest, and water thy lips that are parched. For though this Sohrab be a hero like to Saum and Zal and Neriman, verily he shall fall by my hands."

And he made ready yet another banquet, and three days they caroused without ceasing. But on the fourth Gew uprose with resolve, and came before Rustem girt for departure. And he said-

"It behoveth me to return, O Pehliva, for I bethink me how Kai Kaous is a man hard and choleric, and the fear of Sohrab weigheth upon his heart, and his soul burneth with impatience, and he hath lost sleep, and hath hunger and thirst on this account. And he will be wroth against us if we delay yet longer to do his behest."

Then Rustem said, "Fear not, for none on earth dare be angered with me."

But he did as Gew desired, and made ready his army, and saddled Rakush, and set forth from Zaboulistan, and a great train followed after him.

Now when they came nigh unto the courts of the Shah, the nobles came forth to meet them, and do homage before Rustem. And when they were come in Rustem gat him from Rakush and hastened into the presence of his lord. But Kai Kaous, when he beheld him, was angry, and spake not, and his brows were knit with fury; and when Rustem had done obeisance before him, he unlocked the doors of his mouth, and words of folly escaped his lips. And he said-

"Who is Rustem, that he defieth my power and disregardeth my commands? If I had a sword within my grasp I would split his head like to an orange. Seize him, I command, and hang him upon the nearest gallows, and let his name be never spoken in my presence."

When he heard these words Gew trembled in his heart, but he said, "Dost thou put forth thy hand against Rustem?"

And the Shah when he heard it was beside himself, and he cried with a loud voice that Gew be hanged together with the other; and he bade Tus lead them forth. And Tus would have led them out, for he hoped the anger of the Shah would be appeased; but Rustem broke from his grasp and stood before Kai Kaous, and all the nobles were filled with fear when they saw his anger. And he flung reproaches at Kai Kaous, and he recalled to him his follies, and the march into Mazinderan and Hamaveran, and his flight into Heaven; and he reminded him how that but for Rustem he would not now be seated upon the throne of light. And he bade him threaten Sohrab the Turk with his gallows, and he said-

"I am a free man and no slave, and am servant alone unto God; and without Rustem Kai Kaous is as nothing. And the world is subject unto me, and Rakush is my throne, and my sword is my seal, and my helmet my crown. And but for me, who called forth Kai Kobad, thine eyes had never looked upon this throne. And had I desired it I could have sat upon its seat. But now am I weary of thy follies, and I will turn me away from Iran, and when this Turk shall have put you under his yoke I shall not learn thereof."

Then he turned him and strode from out the presence-chamber. And he sprang upon Rakush, who waited without, and he was vanished from before their eyes ere yet the nobles had rallied from their astonishment. And they were downcast and oppressed with boding cares, and they held counsel among themselves what to do; for Rustem was their mainstay, and they knew that, bereft of his arm and counsel, they could not stand against this Turk. And they blamed Kai Kaous, and counted over the good deeds that Rustem had done for him, and they pondered and spake long. And in the end they resolved to send a messenger unto Kai Kaous, and they chose from their midst Gudarz the aged, and bade him stand before the Shah. And Gudarz did as they desired, and he spake long and without fear, and he counted over each deed that had been done by Rustem; and he reproached the Shah with his ingratitude, and he said how Rustem was the shepherd, and how the flock could not be led without its leader. And Kai Kaous heard him unto the end, and he knew that his words were the words of reason and truth, and he was ashamed of that which he had done, and confounded when he beheld his acts thus naked before him. And he humbled himself before Gudarz, and said-

"That which thou sayest, surely it is right."
And he entreated Gudarz to go forth and seek Rustem, and bid him forget the evil words of his Shah, and bring him back to the succour of Iran. And Gudarz hastened forth to do as Kai Kaous desired, and he told the nobles of his mission and they joined themselves unto him, and all the chiefs of Iran went forth in quest of Rustem. And when they had found him, they prostrated themselves into the dust before him, and Gudarz told him of his mission, and he prayed him to remember that Kai Kaous was a man devoid of understanding, whose thoughts flowed over like to new wine that fermenteth. And he said-

"Though Rustem be angered against the King, yet hath the land of Iran done no wrong that it should perish at his hands. Yet, if Rustem save it not, surely it will fall under this Turk."

But Rustem said, "My patience hath an end, and I fear none but God. What is this Kai Kaous that he should anger me? and what am I that I have need of him? I have not deserved the evil words that he spake unto me, but now will I think of them no longer, but cast aside all thoughts of Iran."

When the nobles heard these words they grew pale, and fear took hold on their hearts. But Gudarz, full of wisdom, opened his mouth and said-

"O Pehliva! the land, when it shall learn of this, will deem that Rustem is fled before the face of this Turk; and when men shall believe that Tehemten is afraid, they will cease to combat, and Iran will be downtrodden at his hands. Turn thee not, therefore, at this hour from thy allegiance to the Shah, and tarnish not thy glory by this retreat, neither suffer that the downfall of Iran rest upon thy head. Put from thee, therefore, the words that Kai Kaous spake in his empty anger, and lead us forth to battle against this Turk. For it must not be spoken that Rustem feared to fight a beardless boy."

And Rustem listened and pondered these words in his heart, and knew that they were good. But he said-

"Fear hath never been known of me, neither hath Rustem shunned the din of arms, and I depart not because of Sohrab, but because that scorn and insult have been my recompense."

Yet when he had pondered a while longer, he saw that he must return unto the Shah. So he did that which he knew to be right, and he rode till he came unto the gates of Kai Kaous, and he strode with a proud step into his presence.

Now when the Shah beheld Rustem from afar, he stepped down from off his throne and came before his Pehliva, and craved his pardon for that which was come about. And he said how he had been angered because Rustem had tarried in his coming, and how haste was his birthright, and how he had forgotten himself in his vexation. But now was his mouth filled with the dust of repentance. And Rustem said-

"The world is the Shah's, and it behoveth thee to do as beseemeth thee best with thy servants. And until old age shall my loins be girt in fealty unto thee. And may power and majesty be thine for ever!"

And Kai Kaous answered and said, "O my Pehliva, may thy days be blessed unto the end!"

Then he invited him to feast with him, and they drank wine till far into the night, and held counsel together how they should act; and slaves poured rich gifts before Rustem, and the nobles rejoiced, and all was well again within the gates of the King.

Then when the sun had risen and clothed the world with love, the clarions of war were sounded throughout the city, and men made them ready to go forth in enmity before the Turks. And the legions of Persia came forth at the behest of their Shah, and their countless thousands hid the earth under their feet, and the air was darkened by their spears. And when they were come unto the plains where stood the fortress of Hujir, they set up their tents as was their manner. So the watchmen saw them from the battlements, and he set up a great cry. And Sohrab heard the cry, and questioned the man wherefore he shouted; and when he learned that the enemy were come, he rejoiced, and demanded a cup of wine, and drank to their destruction. Then he called forth Human and showed him the army, and bade him be of good cheer, for he said that he saw within its ranks no hero of mighty mace who could stand against himself. So he bade his warriors to a banquet of wine, and he said that they would feast until the time was come to meet their foes in battle. And they did as Sohrab said.

Now when night had thrown her mantle over the earth, Rustem came before the Shah and craved that he would suffer him to go forth beyond the camp that he might see what manner of man was this stripling. And Kai Kaous granted his request, and said that it was worthy a Pehliva of renown. Then Rustem went forth disguised in the garb of a Turk, and he entered the castle in secret, and he came within the chamber where Sohrab held his feast. Now when he had looked upon the boy he saw that he was like to a tall cypress of good sap, and that his arms were sinewy and strong like to the flanks of a camel, and that his stature was that of a hero. And he saw that round about him stood brave warriors. And slaves with golden bugles poured wine before them, and they were all glad, neither did they dream of sorrow. Then it came about that while Rustem regarded them, Zindeh changed his seat and came nigh unto the spot where Rustem was watching. Now Zindeh was brother unto Tahmineh, and she had sent him forth with her son that he might point out to him his father, whom he alone knew of all the army, and she did it that harm might not befall if the heroes should meet in battle. Now Zindeh, when he had changed his seat, thought that he espied a watcher, and he strode towards the place where Rustem was hid, and he came before him and said-

"Who art thou? Come forth into the light that I may behold thy face."

But ere he could speak further, Rustem had lifted up his hand and struck him, and laid him dead upon the ground.

Now Sohrab, when he saw that Zindeh was gone out, was disquieted, and he asked of his slaves wherefore the hero returned not unto the banquet. So they went forth to seek him, and when they had found him in his blood, they came and told Sohrab what they had seen. But Sohrab would not believe it; so he ran to the spot and bade them bring torches, and all the warriors and singing girls followed after him. Then when Sohrab saw that it was true he was sore grieved; but he suffered not that the banquet be ended, for he would not that the spirits of his men be damped with pity. So they went back yet again to the feast.

Meanwhile Rustem returned him to the camp, and as he would have entered the lines he encountered Gew, who went around to see that all was safe. And Gew, when he saw a tall man clad in the garb of a Turk, drew his sword and held himself ready for combat. But Rustem smiled and opened his mouth, and Gew knew his voice, and came to him and questioned him what he did without in the darkness. And Rustem told him. Then he went before Kai Kaous also and related what he had seen, and how no man like unto Sohrab was yet come forth from amid the Turks. And he likened him unto Saum, the son of Neriman.

Now when the morning was come, Sohrab put on his armour. Then he went unto a height whence he could look down over the camp of the Iranians. And he took with him Hujir, and spake to him, saying-

"Seek not to deceive me, nor swerve from the paths of truth. For if thou reply unto my questions with sincerity, I will loosen thy bonds and give thee treasures; but if thou deceive me, thou shalt languish till death in thy chains."

And Hujir said, "I will give answer unto thee according to my knowledge."

Then Sohrab said, "I am about to question thee concerning the nobles whose camps are spread beneath our feet, and thou shalt name unto me those whom I point out. Behold yon tent of gold brocade, adorned with skins of leopard, before whose doors stand an hundred elephants of war. Within its gates is a throne of turquoise, and over it floateth a standard of violet with a moon and sun worked in its centre. Tell unto me now whose is this pavilion that standeth thus in the midst of the whole camp?"

And Hujir replied, "It pertaineth unto the Shah of Iran."
Then Sohrab said, "I behold on its right hand yet another tent draped in the colours of mourning, and above it floateth a standard whereon is worked an elephant."

And Hujir said, "It is the tent of Tus, the son of Nuder, for he beareth an elephant as his ensign."

Then Sohrab said, "Whose is the camp in which stand many warriors clad in rich armour? A flag of gold with a lion worked upon it waveth along its field."

And Hujir said, "It belongeth unto Gudarz the brave. And those who stand about it are his sons, for eighty men of might are sprung from his loins."

Then Sohrab said, "To whom belongeth the tent draped with green tissues? Before its doors is planted the flag of Kawah. I see upon its throne a Pehliva, nobler of mien than all his fellows, whose head striketh the stars. And beside him standeth a steed tall as he, and his standard showeth a lion and a writhing dragon."

When Hujir heard this question he thought within himself, "If I tell unto this lion the signs whereby he may know Rustem the Pehliva, surely he will fall upon him and seek to destroy him. It will beseem me better, therefore, to keep silent, and to omit his name from the list of the heroes." So he said unto Sohrab-

"This is some ally who is come unto Kai Kaous from far Cathay, and his name is not known unto me."

And Sohrab when he heard it was downcast, and his heart was sad that he could nowhere discover Rustem; and though it seemed unto him that he beheld the marks whereby his mother said that he would know him, he could not credit the words of his eyes against the words of Hujir. Still he asked yet again the name of the warrior, and yet again Hujir denied it unto him, for it was written that that should come to pass which had been decreed. But Sohrab ceased not from his questionings. And he asked-

"Who dwelleth beneath the standard with the head of a wolf?"
And Hujir said, "It is Gew, the son of Gudarz, who dwelleth within that tent, and men call him Gew the valiant."

Then Sohrab said, "Whose is the seat over which are raised awnings and brocades of Roum, that glisten with gold in the sunlight?

And Hujir said, "It is the throne of Fraburz, the son of the Shah."

Then Sohrab said, "It beseemeth the son of a Shah to surround himself with such splendour."

And he pointed unto a tent with trappings of yellow that was encircled by flags of many colours. And he questioned of its owner.

And Hujir said, "Guraz the lion-hearted is master therein."
Then Sohrab, when he could not learn the tent of his father, questioned Hujir concerning Rustem, and he asked yet a third time of the green tent. Yet Hujir ever replied that he knew not the name of its master. And when Sohrab pressed him concerning Rustem, he said that Rustem lingered in Zaboulistan, for it was the feast of roses. But Sohrab refused to give ear unto the thought that Kai Kaous should go forth to battle without the aid of Rustem, whose might none could match. So he said unto Hujir-

"An thou show not unto me the tents of Rustem, I will strike thy head from off thy shoulders, and the world shall fade before thine eyes. Choose, therefore, the truth or thy life."

And Hujir thought within himself, "Though five score men cannot withstand Rustem when he be roused to battle-fury, my mind misgiveth me that he may have found his equal in this boy. And, for that the stripling is younger, it might come about that he subdue the Pehliva. What recketh my life against the weal of Iran? I will therefore abandon me into his hands rather than show unto him the marks of Rustem the Pehliva." So he said-

"Why seekest thou to know Rustem the Pehliva? Surely thou wilt know him in battle, and he shall strike thee dumb, and quell thy pride of youth. Yet I will not show him unto thee."

When Sohrab heard these words he raised his sword and smote Hujir, and made an end of him with a great blow. Then he made himself ready for fight, and leaped upon his steed of battle, and he rode till he came unto the camp of the Iranians, and he broke down the barriers with his spear, and fear seized upon all men when they beheld his stalwart form and majesty of mien and action. Then Sohrab opened his mouth, and his voice of thunder was heard even unto the far ends of the camp. And he spake words of pride, and called forth the Shah to do battle with him, and he sware with a loud voice that the blood of Zindeh should be avenged. Now when Sohrab's voice had rung throughout the camp, confusion spread within its borders, and none of those who stood about the throne would accept his challenge for the Shah. And with one accord they said that Rustem was their sole support, and that his sword alone could cause the sun to weep. And Tus sped him within the courts of Rustem. And Rustem said-

"The hardest tasks doth Kai Kaous ever lay upon me."
But the nobles would not suffer him to linger, neither to waste time in words, and they buckled upon him his armour, and they threw his leopard-skin about him, and they saddled Rakush, and made ready the hero for the strife. And they pushed him forth, and called after him-

"Haste, haste, for no common combat awaiteth thee, for verily Ahriman standeth before us."

Now when Rustem was come before Sohrab, and beheld the youth, brave and strong, with a breast like unto Saum, he said to him-

"Let us go apart from hence, and step forth from out the lines of the armies."

For there was a zone between the two camps that none might pass. And Sohrab assented to the demand of Rustem, and they stepped out into it, and made them ready for single combat. But when Sohrab would have fallen upon him, the soul of Rustem melted with compassion, and he desired to save a boy thus fair and valiant. So he said unto him-

"O young man, the air is warm and soft, but the earth is cold. I have pity upon thee, and would not take from thee the boon of life. Yet if we combat together, surely thou wilt fall by my hands, for none have withstood my power, neither men nor Deevs nor dragons. Desist, therefore, from this enterprise, and quit the ranks of Turan, for Iran hath need of heroes like unto thee."

Now while Rustem spake thus, the heart of Sohrab went out to him. And he looked at him wistfully, and said-

"O hero, I am about to put unto thee a question, and I entreat of thee that thou reply to me according to the truth. Tell unto me thy name, that my heart may rejoice in thy words, for it seemeth unto me that thou art none other than Rustem, the son of Zal, the son of Saum, the son of Neriman."

But Rustem replied, "Thou errest, I am not Rustem, neither am I sprung from the race of Neriman. Rustem is a Pehliva, but I, I am a slave, and own neither a crown nor a throne."

These words spake Rustem that Sohrab might be afraid when he beheld his prowess, and deem that yet greater might was hidden in the camp of his enemy. But Sohrab when he heard these words was sad, and his hopes that were risen so high were shattered, and the day that had looked so bright was made dark unto his eyes. Then he made him ready for the combat, and they fought until their spears were shivered and their swords hacked like unto saws. And when all their weapons were bent, they betook them unto clubs, and they waged war with these until they were broken. Then they strove until their mail was torn and their horses spent with exhaustion, and even then they could not desist, but wrestled with one another with their hands till that the sweat and blood ran down from their bodies. And they contended until their throats were parched and their bodies weary, and to neither was given the victory. Then they stayed them a while to rest, and Rustem thought within his mind how all his days he had not coped with such a hero. And it seemed to him that his contest with the White Deev had been as nought to this.

Now when they had rested a while they fell to again, and they fought with arrows, but still none could surpass the other. Then Rustem strove to hurl Sohrab from his steed, but it availed him nought, and he could shake him no more than the mountain can be moved from its seat. So they betook themselves again unto clubs, and Sohrab aimed at Rustem with might and smote him, and Rustem reeled beneath the stroke, and bit his lips in agony. Then Sohrab vaunted his advantage, and-bade Rustem go and measure him with his equals; for though his strength be great, he could not stand against a youth. So they went their ways, and Rustem fell upon the men of Turan, and spread confusion far and wide among their ranks; and Sohrab raged along the lines of Iran, and men and horses fell under his hands. And Rustem was sad in his soul, and he turned with sorrow into his camp. But when he saw the destruction Sohrab had wrought his anger was kindled, and he reproached the youth, and challenged him to come forth yet again to single combat. But because that the day was far spent they resolved to rest until the morrow.

Then Rustem went before Kai Kaous and told him of this boy of valour, and he prayed unto Ormuzd that He would give him strength to vanquish his foe. Yet he made ready also his house lest he should fall in the fight, and he commanded that a tender message be borne unto Rudabeh, and he sent words of comfort unto Zal, his father. And Sohrab, too, in his camp lauded the might of Rustem, and he said how the battle had been sore, and how his mind had misgiven him of the issue. And he spake unto Human, saying-

"My mind is filled with thoughts of this aged man, mine adversary, for it would seem unto me that his stature is like unto mine, and that I behold about him the tokens that my mother recounted unto me. And my heart goeth out towards him, and I muse if it be Rustem, my father. For it behoveth me not to combat him. Wherefore, I beseech thee, tell unto me how this may be."

But Human answered and said, "Oft have I looked upon the face of Rustem in battle, and mine eyes have beheld his deeds of valour; but this man in no wise resembleth him, nor is his manner of wielding his club the same."

These things spake Human in his vileness, because that Afrasiyab had enjoined him to lead Sohrab into destruction. And Sohrab held his peace, but he was not wholly satisfied.

Now when the day had begun to lighten the sky and clear away the shadows, Rustem and Sohrab strode forth unto the midway spot that stretched between the armies. And Sohrab bare in his hands a mighty club, and the garb of battle was upon him; but his mouth was full of smiles, and he asked of Rustem how he had rested, and he said-

"Wherefore hast thou prepared thy heart for battle? Cast from thee, I beg, this mace and sword of vengeance, and let us doff our armour, and seat ourselves together in amity, and let wine soften our angry deeds. For it seemeth unto me that this conflict is impure. And if thou wilt listen to my desires, my heart shall speak to thee of love, and I will make the tears of shame spring up into thine eyes. And for this cause I ask thee yet again, tell me thy name, neither hide it any longer, for I behold that thou art of noble race. And it would seem unto me that thou art Rustem, the chosen one, the Lord of Zaboulistan, the son of Zal, the son of Saum the hero."

But Rustem answered, "O hero of tender age, we are not come forth to parley but to combat, and mine ears are sealed against thy words of lure. I am an old man, and thou art young, but we are girded for battle, and the Master of the world shall decide between us."

Then Sohrab said, "O man of many years, wherefore wilt thou not listen to the counsel of a stripling? I desired that thy soul should leave thee upon thy bed, but thou hast elected to perish in the combat. That which is ordained it must be done, therefore let us make ready for the conflict."

So they made them ready, and when they had bound their steeds they fell upon each other, and the crash of their encounter was heard like thunder throughout the camps. And they measured their strength from the morning until the setting of the sun. And when the day was about to vanish, Sohrab seized upon Rustem by the girdle and threw him upon the ground, and kneeled upon him, and drew forth his sword from his scabbard, and would have severed his head from his trunk. Then Rustem knew that only wile could save him. So he opened his mouth and said-

"O young man, thou knowest not the customs of the combat. It is written in the laws of honour that he who overthroweth a brave man for the first time should not destroy him, but preserve him for fight a second time, then only is it given unto him to kill his adversary."

And Sohrab listened to Rustem's words of craft and stayed his hand, and he let the warrior go, and because that the day was ended he sought to fight no more, but turned him aside and chased the deer until the night was spent. Then came to him Human, and asked of the adventures of the day. And Sohrab told him how he had vanquished the tall man, and how he had granted him freedom. And Human reproached him with his folly, and said-

"Alas, young man, thou didst fall into a snare, for this is not the custom among the brave. And now perchance thou wilt yet fall under the hands of this warrior."

Sohrab was abashed when he heard the words of Human, but he said-
"Be not grieved, for in an hour we meet again in battle, and verily he will not stand a third time against my youthful strength."

Now while Sohrab was thus doing, Rustem was gone beside a running brook, and laved his limbs, and prayed to God in his distress. And he entreated of Ormuzd that He would grant him such strength that the victory must be his. And Ormuzd heard him, and gave to him such strength that the rock whereon Rustem stood gave way under his feet, because it had not the power to bear him. Then Rustem saw it was too much, and he prayed yet again that part thereof be taken from him. And once more Ormuzd listened to his voice. Then when the time for combat was come, Rustem turned him to the meeting-place, and his heart was full of cares and his face of fears. But Sohrab came forth like a giant refreshed, and he ran at Rustem like to a mad elephant, and he cried with a voice of thunder-

"O thou who didst flee from battle, wherefore art thou come out once more against me? But I say unto thee, this time shall thy words of guile avail thee nought."

And Rustem, when he heard him, and looked upon him, was seized with misgiving, and he learned to know fear. So he prayed to Ormuzd that He would restore to him the power He had taken back. But he suffered not Sohrab to behold his fears, and they made them ready for the fight. And he closed upon Sohrab with all his new-found might, and shook him terribly, and though Sohrab returned his attacks with vigour, the hour of his overthrow was come. For Rustem took him by the girdle and hurled him unto the earth, and he broke his back like to a reed, and he drew forth his sword to sever his body. Then Sohrab knew it was the end, and he gave a great sigh, and writhed in his agony, and he said-

"That which is come about, it is my fault, and henceforward will my youth be a theme of derision among the people. But I sped not forth for empty glory, but I went out to seek my father; for my mother had told me by what tokens I should know him, and I perish for longing after him. And now have my pains been fruitless, for it hath not been given unto me to look upon his face. Yet I say unto thee, if thou shouldest become a fish that swimmeth in the depths of the ocean, if thou shouldest change into a star that is concealed in the farthest heaven, my father would draw thee forth from thy hiding-place, and avenge my death upon thee when he shall learn that the earth is become my bed. For my father is Rustem the Pehliva, and it shall be told unto him how that Sohrab his son perished in the quest after his face."

When Rustem heard these words his sword fell from out of his grasp, and he was shaken with dismay. And there broke from his heart a groan as of one whose heart was racked with anguish. And the earth became dark before his eyes, and he sank down lifeless beside his son. But when he had opened his eyes once more, he cried unto Sohrab in the agony of his spirit. And he said-

"Bearest thou about thee a token of Rustem, that I may know that the words which thou speakest are true? For I am Rustem the unhappy, and may my name be struck from the lists of men!"

When Sohrab heard these words his misery was boundless, and he cried-

"If thou art indeed my father, then hast thou stained thy sword in the life-blood of thy son. And thou didst it of thine obstinacy. For I sought to turn thee unto love, and I implored of thee thy name, for I thought to behold in thee the tokens recounted of my mother. But I appealed unto thy heart in vain, and now is the time gone by for meeting. Yet open, I beseech thee, mine armour, and regard the jewel upon mine arm. For it is an onyx given unto me by my father, as a token whereby he should know me."

Then Rustem did as Sohrab bade him, and he opened his mail and saw the onyx; and when he had seen it he tore his clothes in his distress, and he covered his head with ashes. And the tears of penitence ran from his eyes, and he roared aloud in his sorrow. But Sohrab said-

"It is in vain, there is no remedy. Weep not, therefore, for doubtless it was written that this should be."

Now when the sun was set, and Rustem returned not to the camp, the nobles of Iran were afraid, and they went forth to seek him. And when they were gone but a little way they came upon Rakush, and when they saw that he was alone they raised a wailing, for they deemed that of a surety Rustem was perished. And they went and told Kai Kaous thereof, and he said-

"Let Tus go forth and see if this indeed be so, and if Rustem be truly fallen, let the drums call men unto battle that we may avenge him upon this Turk."

Now Sohrab, when he beheld afar off the men that were come out to seek Rustem, turned to his father and said-

"I entreat of thee that thou do unto me an act of love. Let not the Shah fall upon the men of Turan, for they came not forth in enmity to him but to do my desire, and on my head alone resteth this expedition. Wherefore I desire not that they should perish when I can defend them no longer. As for me, I came like the thunder and I vanish like the wind, but perchance it is given unto us to meet again above."

Then Rustem promised to do the desires of Sohrab. And he went before the men of Iran, and when they beheld him yet alive they set up a great shout, but when they saw that his clothes were torn, and that he bare about him the marks of sorrow, they asked of him what was come to pass. Then he told them how he had caused a noble son to perish. And they were grieved for him, and joined in his wailing. Then he bade one among them go forth into the camp of Turan, and deliver this message unto Human. And he sent word unto him, saying-

"The sword of vengeance must slumber in the scabbard. Thou art now leader of the host, return, therefore, whence thou camest, and depart across the river ere many days be fallen. As for me, I will fight no more, yet neither will I speak unto thee again, for thou didst hide from my son the tokens of his father, of thine iniquity thou didst lead him into this pit."

Then when he had thus spoken, Rustem turned him yet again unto his son. And the nobles went with him, and they beheld Sohrab, and heard his groans of pain. And Rustem, when he saw the agony of the boy, was beside himself, and would have made an end of his own life, but the nobles suffered it not, and stayed his hand. Then Rustem remembered him that Kai Kaous had a balm mighty to heal. And he prayed Gudarz go before the Shah, and bear unto him a message of entreaty from Rustem his servant. And he said-

"O Shah, if ever I have done that which was good in thy sight, if ever my hand have been of avail unto thee, recall now my benefits in the hour of my need, and have pity upon my dire distress. Send unto me, I pray thee, of the balm that is among thy treasures, that my son may be healed by thy grace."

And Gudarz outstripped the whirlwind in his speed to bear unto the Shah this message. But the heart of Kai Kaous was hardened, and he remembered not the benefits he had received from Rustem, and he recalled only the proud words that he had spoken before him. And he was afraid lest the might of Sohrab be joined to that of his father, and that together they prove mightier than he, and turn upon him. So he shut his ear unto the cry of his Pehliva. And Gudarz bore back the answer of the Shah, and he said-

"The heart of Kai Kaous is flinty, and his evil nature is like to a bitter gourd that ceaseth never to bear fruit. Yet I counsel thee, go before him thyself, and see if peradventure thou soften this rock."

And Rustem in his grief did as Gudarz counselled, and turned to go before the Shah, but he was not come before him ere a messenger overtook him, and told unto him that Sohrab was departed from the world. Then Rustem set up a wailing such as the earth hath not heard the like of, and he heaped reproaches upon himself, and he could not cease from plaining the son that was fallen by his hands. And he cried continually-

"I that am old have killed my son. I that am strong have uprooted this mighty boy. I have torn the heart of my child, I have laid low the head of a Pehliva."

Then he made a great fire, and flung into it his tent of many colours, and his trappings of Roum, his saddle, and his leopard-skin, his armour well tried in battle, and all the appurtenances of his throne. And he stood by and looked on to see his pride laid in the dust. And he tore his flesh, and cried aloud-

"My heart is sick unto death."
Then he commanded that Sohrab be swathed in rich brocades of gold worthy of his body. And when they had enfolded him, and Rustem learned that the Turanians had quitted the borders, he made ready his army to return unto Zaboulistan. And the nobles marched before the bier, and their heads were covered with ashes, and their garments were torn. And the drums of the war-elephants were shattered, and the cymbals broken, and the tails of the horses were shorn to the root, and all the signs of mourning were abroad.

Now Zal, when he saw the host returning thus in sorrow, marvelled what was come about; for he beheld Rustem at their head, wherefore he knew that the wailing was not for his son. And he came before Rustem and questioned him. And Rustem led him unto the bier and showed unto him the youth that was like in feature and in might unto Saum the son of Neriman, and he told him all that was come to pass, and how this was his son, who in years was but an infant, but a hero in battle. And Rudabeh too came out to behold the child, and she joined her lamentations unto theirs. Then they built for Sohrab a tomb like to a horse's hoof, and Rustem laid him therein in a chamber of gold perfumed with ambergris. And he covered him with brocades of gold. And when it was done, the house of Rustem grew like to a grave, and its courts were filled with the voice of sorrow. And no joy would enter into the heart of Rustem, and it was long before he held high his head.

Meantime the news spread even unto Turan, and there too did all men grieve and weep for the child of prowess that was fallen in his bloom. And the King of Samengan tore his vestments, but when his daughter learned it she was beside herself with affliction. And Tahmineh cried after her son, and bewailed the evil fate that had befallen him, and she heaped black earth upon her head, and tore her hair, and wrung her hands, and rolled on the ground in her agony. And her mouth was never weary of plaining. Then she caused the garments of Sohrab to be brought unto her, and his throne and his steed. And she regarded them, and stroked the courser and poured tears upon his hoofs, and she cherished the robes as though they yet contained her boy, and she pressed the head of the palfrey unto her breast, and she kissed the helmet that Sohrab had worn. Then with his sword she cut off the tail of his steed and set fire unto the house of Sohrab, and she gave his gold and jewels unto the poor. And when a year had thus rolled over her bitterness, the breath departed from out her body, and her spirit went forth after Sohrab her son.

 

Saiawush

On a certain day it came about that Tus, Gew, Gudarz, and other brave knights of Iran went forth to chase wild asses in the forests of Daghoui. Now when they were come into the wood, they found therein a woman of surpassing beauty, and the hearts of Tus and Gew burned towards her in love. And when they had questioned her of her lineage, and learned that she was of the race of Feridoun, each desired to take her to wife. But none would give way unto the other, and hot words were bandied, and they were like to come unto blows. Then one spake, and said-

"I counsel you, let Kai Kaous decide between you." And they listened to the voice of the counsellor, and they took with them the Peri-faced, and led her before Kai Kaous, and recounted to him all that was come about. But Kai Kaous, when he beheld the beauty of the maid, longed after her for himself, and he said that she was worthy of the throne; and he took her and led her into the house of his women.

Now after many days there was born to her a son, and he was of goodly mien, tall and strong, and the name that was given to him was Saiawush. And Kai Kaous rejoiced in this son of his race, but he was grieved also because of the message of the stars concerning him. For it was written that the heavens were hostile unto this infant; neither would his virtues avail him aught, for these above all would lead him into destruction.

In the meantime the news that a son had been born unto the Shah spread even unto the land of Rustem. And the Pehliva, when he learned thereof, aroused him from his sorrow for Sohrab, and he came forth out of Zaboulistan, and asked for the babe at the hands of its father, that he might rear it unto Iran. And Kai Kaous suffered it, and Rustem bare the child unto his kingdom, and trained him in the arts of war and of the banquet. And Saiawush increased in might and beauty, and you would have said that the world held not his like.

Now when Saiawush was become strong (so that he could ensnare a lion), he came before Rustem, bearing high his head. And he spake, saying-

"I desire to go before the Shah, that my father may behold me, and see what manner of man thou hast made of me."

And Rustem deemed that he spake well. So he made great preparations, and marched unto Iran with a mighty host, and Saiawush rode with him at their head. And the land rejoiced when it looked on the face of Saiawush, and there was great joy in the courts of the King, and jewels and gold and precious things past the telling rained upon Rustem and Saiawush his charge. And Kai Kaous was glad when he beheld the boy, and gave rich rewards unto Rustem; but Saiawush did he place beside him on the throne. And all men spake his praises, and there was a feast given, such as the world hath not seen the like.

Then Saiawush stayed in the courts of his father, and seven years did he prove his spirit; but in the eighth, when he had found him worthy, he gave unto him a throne and a crown. And all was well, and men had forgotten the evil message of the stars. But that which is written in the heavens, it is surely accomplished, and the day of ill fortune drew nigh. For it came about that Sudaveh beheld the youth of Saiawush, and her eyes were filled with his beauty, and her soul burned after him. So she sent unto him a messenger, and invited him to enter the house of the women. But he sent in answer words of excuse, for he trusted her not. Then Sudaveh made complaint before Kai Kaous that Saiawush had deafened his ear unto her request, and she bade the Shah send him behind the curtains of the women's house, that his son might become acquainted with his sisters. And Kai Kaous did that which Sudaveh asked of him, and Saiawush obeyed his commands.

But Sudaveh, when she had so far accomplished her longing that she had gotten him within the house, desired that he should speak with her alone. But Saiawush resisted her wish. And three times did Sudaveh entice him behind the curtains of the house, and three times was Saiawush cold unto her yearning. Then Sudaveh was wroth, and she made complaint unto the Shah, and she slandered the fair fame of Saiawush, and she spread evil reports of him throughout the land, and she inflamed the heart of Kai Kaous against his son. Now the Shah was angered beyond measure, and it availed nought unto Saiawush to defend himself, for Kai Kaous was filled with the love of Sudaveh, and he listened only unto her voice. And he remembered how she had borne his captivity in Hamaveran, and he knew not of her evil deceits. And when she said that Saiawush had done her great wrong, Kai Kaous was troubled in his spirit, and he resolved how he should act, for his heart went out also unto his son, and he feared that guile lurked in these things. And he could not decide between them. So he caused dromedaries to be sent forth, even unto the borders of the land, and bring forth wood from the forests. And they did so, and there was reared a mighty heap of logs, so that the eye could behold it at a distance of two farsangs. And it was piled so that a path ran through its midst such as a mounted knight could traverse. And the Shah commanded that naphtha be poured upon the wood; and when it was done he bade that it be lighted, and there were needed two hundred men to light the pyre, so great was its width and height. And the flames and smoke overspread the heavens, and men shouted for fear when they beheld the tongues of fire, and the heat thereof was felt in the far corners of the land.

Now when all was ready, Kai Kaous bade Saiawush his son ride into the midst of the burning mount, that he might prove his innocence. And Saiawush did as the King commanded, and he came before Kai Kaous, and saluted him, and made him ready for the ordeal. And when he came nigh unto the burning wood, he commended his soul unto God, and prayed that He would make him pure before his father. And when he had done so, he gave rein unto his horse, and entered into the flame. And a great cry of sorrow arose from all men in the plains and in the city, for they held that no man could come forth alive from this furnace. And Sudaveh heard the cry, and came forth upon the roof of her house that she might behold the sight, and she prayed that ill might befall unto Saiawush, and she held her eyes fastened upon the pyre. But the nobles gazed on the face of Kai Kaous, and their mouths were filled with execrations, and their lips trembled with wrath at this deed.

And Saiawush rode on undaunted, and his white robes and ebon steed shone forth between the flames, and their anger was reflected upon his helmet of gold. And he rode until he was come unto the end of the pathway, and when he came forth there was not singed a hair of his head, neither had the smoke blackened his garments.

Now when the people beheld that he was come forth alive, they rent the welkin with their shouting. And the nobles came forth to greet him, and, save only Sudaveh, there was joy in all hearts. Now Saiawush rode till he came before the Shah, and then he got him off his horse, and did homage before his father. And when Kai Kaous beheld him, and saw that there were no signs of fire about him, he knew that he was innocent. So he raised his son from off the ground, and placed Saiawush beside him on the throne, and asked his forgiveness for that which was come to pass. And Saiawush granted it. Then Kai Kaous feasted his son with wine and song, and three days did they spend in revels, and the door of the King's treasury was opened.

But on the fourth day Kai Kaous mounted the throne of the Kaianides. He took in his hand the ox-headed mace, and he commanded that Sudaveh be led before him. Then he reproached her with her evil deeds, and he bade her make ready to depart the world, for verily death was decreed unto her. And in vain did Sudaveh ask for pardon at the hands of the King, for she continued to speak ill of Saiawush, and she said that by the arts of magic alone had he escaped the fire, and she ceased not to cry against him. So the King gave orders that she be led forth unto death, and the nobles approved his resolve, and invoked the blessings of Heaven upon the head of the Shah. But Saiawush, when he learned it, was grieved, for he knew that the woman was beloved of his father. And he went before Kai Kaous, and craved her pardon. And Kai Kaous granted it with gladness, for his heart yearned after Sudaveh. So Saiawush led her back, and the curtains of the house of the women hid her once more behind them, and the Shah was glad again in her sight.

Then it came about that the love of Kai Kaous for Sudaveh grew yet mightier, and he was as wax under her hands. And when she saw that her empire over him was strengthened, she filled his ear with plaints of Saiawush, and she darkened the mind of the Shah till that his spirit was troubled, and he knew not where he should turn for truth.

Now while Kai Kaous thus dallied behind the curtains of his house, Afrasiyab made him ready with three thousand chosen men to fall upon the land of Iran. And Kai Kaous, when he learned it, was sad, for he knew that he must exchange the banquet for the battle; and he was angered also with Afrasiyab, and he poured out words of reproof against him because he had broken his covenant and had once more attacked his land. Yet he made him ready to lead forth his army. Then a Mubid prayed him that he would not go forth himself, and he recalled unto Kai Kaous how twice already he had endangered his kingdom. But Kai Kaous was wroth when he heard these words, and he bade the Mubid depart from his presence, and he sware that he alone could turn the army unto good issue.

But Saiawush, when he heard it, took heart of grace, for he thought within his spirit, "If the King grant unto me to lead forth his army, perchance I may win unto myself a name of valour, and be delivered from the wiles of Sudaveh." So he girded himself with the armour of battle and came before the King his father, and made known to him his request. And he recalled unto Kai Kaous how that he was his son, and how he was sprung from a worthy race, and how his rank permitted him to lead forth a host; and Kai Kaous listened to his words with gladness, and assented to his desires. Then messengers were sent unto Rustem to bid him go forth to battle with his charge and guard him. And Kai Kaous said unto his Pehliva-

"If thou watchest over him, I can slumber; but if thou reposest, then doth it beseem me to act."

And Rustem answered and said, "O King, I am thy servant, and it behoveth me to do thy will. As for Saiawush, he is the light of my heart and the joy of my soul; I rejoice to lead him forth before his enemies."

So the trumpets of war were sounded, and the clang of armour and the tramp of horsemen and of foot filled the air. And five Mubids bare aloft the standard of Kawah, and the army followed after them. And they passed in order before Kai Kaous, and he blessed the troops and his son, who rode at their head. And he spake, saying-

"May thy good star shine down upon thee, and mayst thou come back to me victorious and glad."

Then Kai Kaous returned him unto his house, and Saiawush gave the signal to depart. And they marched until they came unto the land of Zaboulistan.

Now when they were come there they rested them a while, and feasted in the house of Zal. And while they revelled there came out to join them riders from Cabul and from Ind, and wherever there was a king of might he sent over his army to aid them. Then when a month had rolled above their heads they took their leave of Zal and of Zaboulistan, and went forward till they came unto Balkh. And at Balkh the men of Turan met them, and Gersiwaz, the brother of Afrasiyab, was at their head. Now when he saw the hosts of Iran, he knew that the hour to fight was come. So the two armies made them in order, and they waged battle hot and sore, and for three days the fighting raged without ceasing, but on the fourth victory passed over to Iran. Then Saiawush called before him a scribe, and wrote a letter, perfumed with musk, unto Kai Kaous his father. And when he had invoked the blessings of Heaven upon his head, he told him all that was come to pass, and how he had conquered the foes of Iran. And Kai Kaous, when he had read the letter, rejoiced, and wrote an answer unto his son, and his gladness shone in his words, and you would have said it was a letter like to the tender green of spring.

But Afrasiyab, when he learned the news, was discomfited, and that which Gersiwaz told unto him was bitter to his taste, and he was beside himself for anger. Now when he had heard his brother to an end, Afrasiyab laid him down to slumber. Yet ere the night was spent there came out one to the house of Gersiwaz and told unto him that Afrasiyab was shouting like to a man bereft of reason. Then Gersiwaz went in unto the King, and he beheld him lying upon the floor of his chamber roaring in agony of spirit. Then he raised him, and questioned him wherefore he cried out thus. But Afrasiyab said-

"Question me not until I have recovered my wits, for I am like to one possessed."

Then he desired that torches be brought within to light up the darkness, and he gathered his robes about him and mounted upon his throne. And when he had done so he called for the Mubids, and he recounted to them the dream that had visited his slumber. And he told how that he had seen the earth filled with serpents, and the Iranians were fallen upon him, and evil was come to him from Kai Kaous and a boy that stood beside him on the throne. And he trembled as he related his dream, and he would take no comfort from the words of Gersiwaz.

Now the Mubids as they listened were afraid, and when Afrasiyab bade them open their lips, they dared not for fear. Then the King said that he would cleave open their heads if they spake not, and he sware unto them a great oath that he would spare them, even though the words they should utter be evil. Then they revealed to him how it was written that Saiawush would bring destruction upon Turan, and how he would be victorious over the Turks, and how, even though he should fall by the hands of Afrasiyab, this evil could not be stayed. And they counselled Afrasiyab to contend no longer against the son of Kai Kaous, for surely if he stayed not his hand this evil could not be turned aside.

When Afrasiyab heard this message, he took counsel with Gersiwaz, and he said-

"If I cease from warring against Saiawush surely none of these things can come about. It beseemeth me to seek after peace. I will send therefore silver and jewels and rich gifts unto Saiawush, and will bind up with gold the eye of war."

So he bade Gersiwaz take from his treasures rich brocades of Roum, and jewels of price, and bear them across the Jihun to the camp of Saiawush. And he sent a message unto him, saying-

"The world is disturbed since the days of Silim and Tur, the valiant, since the times of Irij, who was killed unjustly. But now, let us forget these things, let us conclude an alliance together, and let peace reign in our borders."

And Gersiwaz did as Afrasiyab bade, and he went forth, and a train of camels bearing rich presents followed after him. And he marched till he came within the tents of Saiawush.

Now when he had delivered his message unto Saiawush, the young King marvelled thereat; and he took counsel with Rustem how they should act, for he trusted not in the words of Afrasiyab, and he deemed that poison was hidden under these flowers. And Rustem counselled him that they should entertain Gersiwaz the space of seven days, and that joy and feasting should resound throughout the camp, and in the mean season they would ponder their deeds. And it was done as Rustem said, and the sounds of revelry were abroad, and Gersiwaz rejoiced in the presence of Saiawush. But on the eighth day Gersiwaz presented himself before Saiawush in audience, and demanded a reply. And Saiawush said-

"We have pondered thy message, and we yield to thy request, for we desire not bloodshed but peace. Yet since it behoveth us to know that poison be not hidden under thy words, we desire of thee that thou send over to us as hostages an hundred chosen men of Turan, allied unto Afrasiyab by blood, that we may guard them as a pledge of thy words."

When Gersiwaz heard this answer, he sent it unto Afrasiyab by a messenger quick as the wind. And Afrasiyab, when he heard it, was troubled, for he said-

"If I give way to this demand I bereave the land of its choicest warriors; yet if I refuse, Saiawush will deny belief unto my words, and the evils foretold will fall upon me."

So he chose out from among his army men allied to him by blood, and he sent them forth unto Saiawush. Then he caused the trumpets to sound, and retreated with his army unto Turan, and restored unto Iran the lands he had seized.

Now when Rustem beheld the warriors, and that Afrasiyab had spoken that which was true, he suffered Gersiwaz to depart; and he held counsel with Saiawush how they should acquaint Kai Kaous with that which was come to pass, for Saiawush said-

"If Kai Kaous desire vengeance rather than peace, he will be angered and commit a deed of folly. Who shall bear unto him these tidings?"

And Rustem said, "Suffer that I go forth to tell them unto Kai Kaous, for verily he will listen unto that which I shall speak, and honour will fall upon Saiawush for this adventure."

Wherefore Rustem went before the King, and told him they had conquered Afrasiyab, and how he was become afraid, and how there was concluded a peace between them. And he vaunted the wisdom of Saiawush that was quick to act and quick to refrain, and he craved the Shah to confirm what they had done. But Kai Kaous was angered when he heard it, and he said that Saiawush had done like to an infant. And he loaded reproaches upon Rustem, and said that his counsels were vile, and he sware that he would be avenged upon Turan. Then he recalled all they had suffered in the days that were past at the hands of Afrasiyab, and he said the tree of vengeance could not be uprooted. And he desired Rustem that he turn him back unto Balkh, and say unto Saiawush that he should destroy these hostages of Turan, and that he should fall again upon Afrasiyab, nor cease from fighting. But Rustem, when he had heard him to an end, opened his mouth and said unto the Shah-

"O King, listen to my voice, and do not that which is evil! Verily I say unto thee that Saiawush will not break his oath unto Afrasiyab, neither will he destroy these men of Turan that were delivered into his hands."

When Kai Kaous heard his speech his anger was kindled, and he upbraided Rustem, and said that his evil counsels had caused Saiawush to swerve from the straight path; and he taunted him and bade him go back unto Seistan, and he said that Tus should go forth as Pehliva unto his son. Then Rustem too was angered, and he gave back the reproaches of the Shah, and he turned him and quitted the courts and sped him back unto his kingdom. But Kai Kaous sent Tus unto the army at his borders, and he bade him speak his desires unto Saiawush his son.

Now Saiawush, when he learned what was come about, was sore discomfited, and he pondered how he should act. For he said, "How can I come before Ormuzd if I depart from mine oath? Yet, however I shall act, I see around me but perdition."

Then he called for Bahram and Zengueh, and confided to them his troubles. And he said how that Kai Kaous was a king who knew not good from evil, and how he had accomplished that wherefore the army went forth, yet how the Shah desired that vengeance should not cease. And he said-

"If I listen to the commands of the King, I do that which is evil; yet if I listen not, surely he will destroy me. Wherefore I will send back unto Afrasiyab the men he hath placed within my hands, and then hide me from sight."

Then he sent Zengueh before Afrasiyab with a writing. And he told therein all that was come about, and how that discord was sprouted out of their peace. And he recalled unto Afrasiyab how he had not broken their treaty though Kai Kaous had bidden him do it, and he said how he could not return unto the King his father. Then he prayed Afrasiyab that he would make a passage for him through his dominions, that he might hide him wheresoever God desired. For he said-

"I seek a spot where my name shall be lost unto Kai Kaous, and where I may not know of his woeful deeds."

And Zengueh set forth and did as Saiawush desired, and he took with him the hundred men of Turan, and all the gold and jewels that Afrasiyab had sent. And when he was come within the gates Afrasiyab received him right kindly, but when he had heard his message he was downcast in his spirit. Then he called for Piran, the leader of his hosts, and he took counsel with him how he should act. And Piran said-

"O King, live for ever! There is but one road open unto thee. For this Prince is noble, and he hath done that which is right, for he would not give ear unto the evil designs of Kai Kaous, his father. Wherefore I counsel thee, receive him within thy courts, and give unto him a daughter in marriage, and let him be to thee a son; for verily, when Kai Kaous shall die, he will mount upon the throne of Iran, and thus may the hate of old be quenched in love."

Now Afrasiyab, when he had listened to the words of Piran, knew that they were good. So he sent for a scribe, and dictated a writing unto Saiawush. And he said unto him how the land was open to receive him, and how he would be to him a father, and how he should find in Turan the love that was denied of Kai Kaous. And he said-

"I will demand of thee nought but what is good, neither will I suffer suspicion against thee to enter my soul."

Then he sealed the letter with his royal seal, and gave it unto Zengueh the messenger, and bade him depart there with speed. And Saiawush, when he had read it, was glad, and yet he was also troubled in his spirit, for his heart was sore because he was forced to make a friend of the foe of his land. Yet he saw that it could in nowise be altered. So he wrote a letter to Kai Kaous, and he told him therein how it seemed that he could not do that which was right in his eyes, and he recalled unto him the troubles that were come upon him from Sudaveh, and he said how he could not break an oath he had made. Then he confided this writing unto Bahram, and he bade him take the lead of the army till that Tus should be come forth from Iran. And when he had chosen out an hundred warriors of renown from out the host, he departed with them across the border.

Now when Tus arrived and learned what was come to pass, he was confounded; and when tidings thereof reached Kai Kaous, he was struck down with dismay. He cried out against Afrasiyab, and against Saiawush his son, and his anger was kindled. Yet he refrained from combat, and his mouth was silent of war.

In the meantime Saiawush was come into Turan, and all the land had decked itself to do him honour. And Piran came forth to greet him, and there followed after him elephants, white of hue, richly caparisoned, laden with gifts. And these he poured before Saiawush, and gave him welcome. And he told him how Afrasiyab yearned to look upon his face, and he said-

"Turn thee in amity unto the King, and let not thy mind be troubled concerning that which thou hast heard about him. For Afrasiyab hath an ill fame, but he deserveth it not, for he is good."

Then Piran led Saiawush before Afrasiyab. And when Afrasiyab saw him, he rejoiced at his strength and his beauty, and his heart went out towards him, and he embraced him, and spake, saying-

"The evil that hath disturbed the world is quieted, and the lamb and the leopard can feed together, for now is there friendship between our lands."

Then he called down blessings upon the head of Saiawush, and he took him by the hand and seated him beside him on the throne. And he turned to Piran, and said-

"Kai Kaous is a man void of sense, or surely he would not suffer a son like unto this to depart from out his sight."

And Afrasiyab could not cease from gazing upon Saiawush, and all that he had he placed it at his command. He gave to him a palace, and rich brocades, and jewels and gold past the counting; and he prepared for him a feast, and there were played the games of skill, and Saiawush showed his prowess before Afrasiyab. And the sight of Saiawush became a light to the eyes of the King of Turan and a joy unto his heart, and he loved him like to a father. And Saiawush abode within his courts many days, and in gladness and in sorrow, in gaiety or in sadness, Afrasiyab would have none other about him. And the name of Saiawush abode ever upon his lips. And in this wise there rolled twelve moons over their heads, and in the end Saiawush took unto himself to wife the daughter of Piran the Pehliva. And yet again the heavens revolved above his head, and he continued to abide within the house of Afrasiyab. Then Piran gave counsel unto Saiawush that he should ask of Afrasiyab the hand of his daughter to wife. For he said-

"Thy home is now in Turan, wherefore it behoveth thee to establish thy might; and if Afrasiyab be thy father indeed, there can no hurt come near to thee. And peradventure, if a son be born unto thee of the daughter of Afrasiyab, he will bind up for ever the enmity of the lands."

And Saiawush listened to the counsel of Piran, for he knew that it was good, and he asked the hand of Ferangis of her father, and Afrasiyab gave it to him with great joy. Then a mighty feast was made for the bridal, and Afrasiyab poured gifts upon Saiawush past the telling, and he bestowed on him a kingdom and a throne, and he blessed him as his son; and when at length he suffered him to go forth unto his realm, he sorrowed sore at his loss.

Now the space of one year did Saiawush abide in his province, and at the end thereof, when he had visited its breadth, he builded for himself a city in the midst. And he named it Gangdis, and it was a place of beauty, such as the world hath not seen the like. And Saiawush built houses and planted trees without number, and he also caused an open space to be made wherein men could rejoice in the game of ball. And he was glad in the possession of this city, and all men around him rejoiced, and the earth was the happier for his presence, and there was no cloud upon the heaven of his life. Yet the Mubids told unto him that Gangdis would lead to his ill-fortune, and Saiawush was afflicted thereat. But when a little time was sped and he beheld no evil, he put from him their words, and he rejoiced in the time that was; and he was glad in the house of his women, and he put his trust in Afrasiyab.

But that which is written in the stars, surely it must be accomplished! So it came about after many years that Gersiwaz was jealous of the love which Afrasiyab his brother bare unto Saiawush, and of the power that was his; and he pondered in his heart how he might destroy him. Then he came before Afrasiyab, and prayed the King that he would suffer him to go forth and visit the city that Saiawush had builded, whereof the mouths of men ran over in praises. And Afrasiyab granted his request, and bade him bear words of love unto Saiawush his son. So Gersiwaz sped forth unto the city of Gangdis, and the master thereof received him kindly, and asked him tidings of the King. And he feasted him many days within his house, and he showed freely unto him all that was his; and when he departed he heaped gifts upon his head, for he knew not that Gersiwaz came in enmity unto him, and that these things but fanned his envy.

Now when Gersiwaz returned unto Afrasiyab, the King questioned him concerning his darling. Then Gersiwaz answered and said-

"O King, he is no longer the man whom thou knewest. His spirit is uplifted in pride of might, and his heart goeth out towards Iran. And but that I should make my name to be infamous unto the nations, I would have hidden from thee this grief. But it behoveth me to tell unto thee that which I have seen and which mine ears have heard. For it hath been made known unto me that Saiawush is in treaty with his father, and that they seek to destroy thee utterly."

When Afrasiyab heard these words he would not let them take root in his spirit, yet he could not refuse countenance to the testimony of his brother. And he was sad, and spake not, and Gersiwaz knew not whether the seeds he had strewn had taken root. So when a few days were gone by he came again before the King and repeated unto him the charges that he had made, and he urged him to act, and suffer not Turan to be disgraced. Then Afrasiyab was caught in the meshes of the net that Gersiwaz had spread. And he bade Gersiwaz go forth and summon Saiawush unto his courts, and invite him to bring the daughter of Afrasiyab to feast with her father. And Gersiwaz sped forth with gladness, and delivered the message of Afrasiyab unto the young King. Then Saiawush said-

"I am ready to do the will of Afrasiyab, and the bridle of my horse is tied unto thy charger."

Then Gersiwaz thought within him, "If Saiawush come into the presence of Afrasiyab, his courage and open spirit will give the lie unto my words."

So he feigned before Saiawush a great sorrow, and when the King questioned him thereof he consented to pour out before him the griefs of his spirit. And he said to him how that he loved him tenderly, and how he was in sorrow for his sake, because that the ear of Afrasiyab had been poisoned against him, and he counselled him that he should not seek the courts of the King. And he said-

"Suffer me to return alone, and I will soften the heart of Afrasiyab towards thee; and when he shall be returned unto a right spirit, I will summon thee forth unto his house."

Now Saiawush, who was true and void of guile, listened unto these words, for he knew not that they were false. So he sent words of greeting and of excuse unto Afrasiyab, and he said that he could not quit the chamber of Ferangis, for she was sick and chained unto her couch. And Gersiwaz rode forth bearing the letter, and he sware unto Saiawush that he would cement the peace that was broken. But when he came unto Afrasiyab he delivered not the writing, but spake evil things of Saiawush, and maligned him. And he fed the anger of Afrasiyab, until the King commanded that the army be led forth to go against Saiawush his friend, and he took the lead thereof himself.

Now when the men of Turan came nigh unto the city that Saiawush had builded, Gersiwaz sent an envoy unto Saiawush, saying-

"Flee, I counsel thee, for my words have availed nought, and Afrasiyab cometh forth in enmity against thee."

When Saiawush learned this he was sore downcast in his spirit, and he went unto Ferangis and charged her how she should act when he should be fallen by the hands of Afrasiyab, for he held it vile to go forth in combat with one who had been to him a father. So he made ready his house for death. Now when he came to his steed of battle he pressed its head unto his breast, and he wept over it and spake into its ear. And he said-

"Listen, O my horse, and be brave and prudent; neither attach thyself unto any man until the day that Kai Khosrau, my son, shall arise to avenge me. From him alone receive the saddle and the rein."

Then he bade the men of Iran that were about him go back unto their land, and when all was ready he went forth beyond the gates. But even yet he hoped to turn from him the suspicions of Afrasiyab, and he would not suffer his men to offer combat unto the men of Turan. So he went before Afrasiyab, and questioned him wherefore he was come out in anger against him. Now Gersiwaz suffered not Afrasiyab to reply, but heaped reproaches upon Saiawush, and said that he had received him vilely, and that he had slandered his benefactor. And Saiawush, when he had listened, was confounded, and in vain did he strive to bear down the upbraiding of his foe. For the heart of Afrasiyab was angered yet the more, now that his eyes rested yet again upon the face of Saiawush, whom he loved, because he deemed that he must give credit unto the words of his brother, and because distrust of Iran was graven in his soul. So he hardened himself against the speech of Saiawush, and he bade the army fall upon his beloved. But Saiawush remembered his oath, and he stretched not forth his hand against Afrasiyab, neither did he defend himself from the assaults of his men, and he bade the warriors that were with him that they unsheathe not the sword. So speedily were they mown down, and their bodies lay round about Saiawush their King. And when all were slain a knight stretched out his hand against Saiawush, yet he slew him not, but bound him with cords, and led him before Afrasiyab the King. And Afrasiyab commanded that Saiawush be led forth into a desert place, and that his head be severed from off his trunk. Now the army murmured when they heard this command, and beheld the beauty of Saiawush and his face of truth, and there stepped forth one from among the nobles to plead for him. But Gersiwaz would not suffer the heart of Afrasiyab to be softened.

Now while Gersiwaz yet spake evil of the young King, there came forth from the house of the women Ferangis, the daughter of Afrasiyab, and she demanded audience of her father. And when he would have denied it, she forced herself into his presence, and she pleaded for her lord, and she sware that evil tongues had maligned him, and she entreated of her father that he would not destroy the joy he had given to her. And she said-

"Listen, O King! if thou destroyest Saiawush, thou becomest a foe unto thyself. Deliver not by thy folly the land of Turan unto the winds, and remember the deeds that have been done of Iran in the days that are gone by. An avenger will arise from out the midst of the Kaianides. Mayest thou never recall my counsel too late."

But the world grew dark before the eyes of Afrasiyab with anger. And he spake, and said-

"Go hence, and trouble not again my face; for how canst thou judge of that which is right?"

Then he commanded that she should be bound, and cast into a dungeon.

Now Gersiwaz, when he beheld the anger of the King, deemed that the time was ripe. He therefore gave a sign unto the men that held Saiawush in bondage, and desired that they should slay him. And by the hairs of his head they dragged him unto a desert place, and the sword of Gersiwaz was planted in the breast of the royal cedar. But when it was done, and they had severed the head from the trunk, a mighty storm arose over the earth, and the heavens were darkened. Then they trembled and were sore afraid, and repented them of their deed. And clamour arose in the house of Saiawush, and the cries of Ferangis reached even unto Afrasiyab her father. Then the King commanded that she should be killed also. But Piran spake, and said-

"Not so, wicked and foolish man. Wouldst thou lift thine hand against thine offspring, and hast thou not done enough that is evil? Shed not, I counsel thee, the blood of yet another innocent. But if thou desire to look no more upon Ferangis, I pray thee confide her unto me, that she may be to me a daughter in my house, and I will guard her from sorrow."

Then Afrasiyab said, "Do that which seemeth best in thy sight."
And he was glad in his heart, for he desired not to look upon the face that should recall to him the friend that he had loved. So Piran took Ferangis unto his house beyond the mountains, and Afrasiyab returned unto his courts. But the King was sorrowful in his spirit and unquiet in his heart, and he could not cease from thinking of Saiawush, and he repented of that which he had done.

 

The Return of Kai Khosrau

In a little time it came about that there was born unto Ferangis, in the house of Piran, a son of the race of Saiawush. And Piran, when he had seen the babe, goodly of mien, who already in his cradle was like unto a king, sware a great oath that Afrasiyab should not destroy it. And when he went before the King to tell unto him the tidings, he pleaded for him with his lips. Now the heart of Afrasiyab had been softened in his sorrow for Saiawush, wherefore he shut his ear unto the evil counsellors that bade him destroy the babe which should bring vengeance upon Turan. And he said-

" I repent me of mine evil deed unto Saiawush, and though it be written that much evil shall come upon me from this child sprung from the loins of Tur and Kai Kobad, I will strive no more to hinder the decree of the stars; let him, therefore, be reared unto manhood. Yet I pray that he be brought up among shepherds in the mountains far from the haunts of men, and that his birth be hidden from him, that he may not learn of his father or of the cruel things I did unto Saiawush."

And Piran consented unto the desires of Afrasiyab, and he rejoiced because he had spared the babe. Then he took the infant from its mother and bare it unto the mountains of Kalun, and confided the boy unto the shepherds of the flocks. And he said-

"Guard this child even as your souls, so that neither rain nor dust come near him."

Thus it came about that no man knew of the babe, neither did Ferangis know whither it was vanished. But oftentimes was Piran sore disturbed in his spirit, for he knew that the beginning of strife was yet to come, and that much evil must befall Turan from this infant. Yet he forgot not his promise of protection given unto Saiawush his friend, whom he had led to put his trust in Afrasiyab. So he quieted his spirit from thinking, for he knew that no man can change the course of the stars.

Now when some time was passed the shepherds came out to Piran and told him how they could not restrain this boy, whose valour was like to that of a king. Then Piran went forth to visit Kai Khosrau, and he was amazed when he looked upon him and beheld his beauty and his strength, and he pressed him unto his heart with tenderness. Then Kai Khosrau said-

"O thou that bearest high thy head, art thou not ashamed to press unto thee the son of a shepherd? "

But Piran was inflamed with love for the boy, so he pondered not his words, but said-

"O heir of kings, thou art not the son of a shepherd." Then he told him of his birth, and clad him in robes befitting his station, and took him back with him unto his house. And henceforward was Kai Khosrau reared in the bosom of Piran and of Ferangis his mother. And the days rolled above their heads in happiness.

Then it came about one night that Piran was awakened by a messenger from Afrasiyab the King. And the King bade Piran come before him. And when he was come unto him, he said-

"My heart is disquieted because of the child of Saiawush, and I repent me of my weakness which kept him alive; for in my dreams I have beheld that he will do much evil unto Turan. Wherefore I would now slay him to avert calamity."

Then Piran, wise in counsel, opened his mouth before Afrasiyab and spake, saying-

"O King, disquiet not thyself because of this boy, for he is devoid of wit; and though his face be like unto that of a Peri, his head, which should bear a crown, is empty of reason. Commit, therefore, no violence, but suffer that this innocent continue to dwell among the flocks."

Afrasiyab, when he had listened to these words of wile, was comforted; yet he said-

"Send Kai Khosrau before me, that I may behold with mine eyes his simplicity."

And Piran assented to his request, because he ventured not to gainsay it. So he returned him unto his house and sought out the boy, and told him how he should disguise his wit before the King. Then he led him unto the court mounted upon a goodly charger, and all the people shouted when they beheld his beauty and his kingly mien. And Afrasiyab too was confounded at his aspect, and he gazed with wonder at his limbs of power, and he strove to remember the promise that he had given unto Piran that he would not hurt a hair of the head of this boy. Then he began to question him that he might search his spirit. And he said-

"Young shepherd, how knowest thou the day from the night? What doest thou with thy flocks? How countest thou thy sheep and thy goats?"

And Kai Khosrau replied-
"There is no game, and I have neither cords nor bow and arrows."
Then the King questioned him concerning the milk that was given of the herds. And Kai Khosrau said-

"The tiger-cats are dangerous and have mighty claws."
Then Afrasiyab put to him yet a third question, and he asked of him-

"What is the name of thy mother?"
And Kai Khosrau answered and said-"
"The dog ventureth not to bark when a lion threateneth him."
Then Afrasiyab asked him yet again whether he desired to go forth into the land of Iran and be avenged upon his enemies. And Kai Khosrau answered and said-

"When a leopard appeareth, the heart of a brave man is torn with fear."

And Afrasiyab smiled at these answers and questioned him no further. And he said unto Piran-

"Restore the boy unto his mother, and let him be reared with kindness in the city that Saiawush hath builded, for I behold that from him can no harm alight upon Turan."

When Piran heard these words he hastened to remove Kai Khosrau from the court, and his heart was glad because of the danger that had passed by. So Kai Khosrau was reared in the house of his father, and Ferangis spake unto him of Saiawush and of the vengeance that was due. And she instructed him concerning the heroes of Iran and their deeds of prowess, as she had learned them from Saiawush her lord.

In the mean season Kai Kaous had learned of the death of Saiawush his son, and a mighty wailing went forth throughout the land of Iran, so that even the nightingale in the cypress was silent of her song, and the leaves of the pomegranate tree in the forest were withered for sorrow. And the heroes that stood about the throne of Kai Kaous clad themselves in the garb of woe, and bare dust upon their heads in place of helmets. And Rustem, when he learned of it, was bowed to the earth with agony, and for seven days he stirred not from the ground, neither would he let food or comfort come near him. But on the eighth he roused him from the earth, and caused the trumpets of brass to be sounded into the air. And he assembled his warriors, and marched with them into Iran, and he came before Kai Kaous and demanded audience.

Now when he was come into the presence-chamber he found the Shah seated upon his throne. He was clothed in dust from his head unto his feet, because of his grief. But Rustem regarded it not, and straightway reproached him, and said-

"O King of evil nature, behold the harvest that is sprung from the seed that thou didst sow! The love of Sudaveh and her vile intents have torn from off thy head the diadem of kings, and Iran hath suffered cruel loss because of thy folly and thy suspicions. It is better for a king that he be laid within his shroud than that he be given over to the dominion of a woman. Alas for Saiawush! Was ever hero like unto him? And henceforward I will know neither rest nor joy until his cruel death be avenged."

When Kai Kaous had listened to the words of his Pehliva, the colour of shame mounted into his cheek, but he held his peace, for he knew that the words spoken of Rustem were deserved. Then Rustem, when he saw that the King answered him not, strode out from his presence. And he went into the house of the women, and sought for Sudaveh, who had given over Saiawush unto death. And when he had found her, he tore her from off her throne, and he plunged his dagger into her heart, and he quitted her not until the life was gone from her. And Kai Kaous, when he learned it, trembled and was afraid, for he dared not oppose himself unto Rustem. Then Rustem commanded that the army of vengeance be made ready. And he said-

"I will make the earth to tremble before my mace, as it shall tremble on the day of judgment."

And when all was prepared they made them haste to be gone, and the air was full of the gleaming of armour, and the rattling of drums was heard on all sides.

Now when Afrasiyab learned that a great army was come forth from Iran to avenge the death of Saiawush, he bade Sarkha, the best beloved of his sons, lead forth the hosts of Turan against them. But he craved Sarkha have a care that Rustem, the son of Zal, put not his life in danger. And Sarkha set forth, bearing aloft the black banner of Turan, and he went towards the plains where Rustem was encamped. Now when the armies beheld one another, their hearts were inflamed, and the battle raged sore, and many were the brave heads laid low on that day. And Sarkha fell into the hands of Rustem, and he spared him not, because he was the best beloved son of Afrasiyab. So he gave orders that Sarkha be slain, even as Saiawush was slain, that the heart of his enemy might be rent with anguish.

And when Afrasiyab learned it he was beside himself with grief. And when he had torn his hair and wailed in the dust for his son, he arose to go forth unto the army, that he might avenge his death. And he said unto his knights-

"Henceforth ye must not think of sleep or hunger, neither must ye breathe aught but vengeance, for I will never stay my hand until this murder be avenged."

Now when the army that was with Afrasiyab came nigh unto Rustem, Pilsam, that was brother to Piran, a warrior valiant and true, challenged Rustem unto single combat. Then Piran sought to stay him because of his youth, but Pilsam listened not unto his counsel. So Rustem came forth against him, and he was armed with a stout lance, and he was wrapped about with his anger. And he fell upon Pilsam with fury, and he lifted him from his saddle, and he took him by the girdle and flung him, as a thing that is vile, into the midst of the camp of the Turanians. Then he shouted with a voice of thunder-

"I counsel you, wrap ye this man in robes of gold, for my mace hath made him blue."

Now when the Turanians beheld that Pilsam was dead, they wept sore, and their courage departed from out of them. And in vain did Afrasiyab pray them to keep their hearts. Yet he said within himself-

"The good fortune that watched over me is asleep."
And when they were met in battle yet again, and the army of Rustem had beaten down once more that of Afrasiyab, the King bethought him of flight. And the hosts of Turan vanished like to the wind, but they left behind them much riches and goodly treasure.

Now while they were flying from the face of Rustem, Afrasiyab said unto Piran-

"Counsel me how I shall act concerning this child of Saiawush."
And Piran said, "Haste not to put him to death, for he shall in nowise do thee hurt. But if thou wilt listen unto my voice, send him far into Khoten, that he be hidden from sight, and that the men of Iran learn not of his being."

And Afrasiyab did as Piran counselled, and a messenger was sent forth to lead out the young King and his mother unto the land of Cathay. And Afrasiyab himself fled until that he came within the borders of China, and no man knew where he was hidden. And the land of Turan was given over to plunder, and the Iranians scathed it with fire and sword because of Saiawush, whom Afrasiyab had foully slain. And Rustem seated himself in the seat of Afrasiyab, and for the space of seven years did he rule over the land. But in the eighth messengers came out to him, and said how that Kai Kaous was without a guide in Iran, and how they feared lest folly might result from his deeds. So Rustem went forth to stand beside his Shah.

Now when Afrasiyab learned that Rustem was departed out of the land of Turan, his fears forsook him, and he gathered together a mighty army, and he fell upon his borders, and he regained them unto himself. And he wept when he beheld the havoc that was come upon Turan, and he incited his army to be avenged. So they fell into Iran, and shattered its host, and they suffered not that repose come near unto their foes. And they pursued them with fire and sword, and laid waste their fields. And during seven years the heavens withheld their rains, and good fortune was turned away from Iran, and the prosperity of the land was quenched. And men groaned sore under these misfortunes, neither did Rustem come forth from Zaboulistan unto their aid.

Then it came about one night that Gudarz, who was descended from Kawah the smith, dreamed a dream. He beheld a cloud heavy with rain, and on the cloud was seated the Serosch the blessed. And the angel of God said unto Gudarz-

"Open thine ears, if thou wilt deliver thy land from anguish, and from Afrasiyab the Turk. There abideth in Turan the son of a noble race, an issue sprung from the loins of Saiawush, who is brave, and beareth high his head. And he is sprung from Kai Kobad and from Tur, and from him alone can deliverance come to Iran. Suffer, therefore, that Gew, thy son, go forth in search of Kai Khosrau, and bid him remain in his saddle until he shall have found this boy. For such is the will of Ormuzd."

When Gudarz awoke, he thanked God for his dream, and touched the ground with his white beard. And when the sun was risen and had chased away the ravens of night, he called before him his son, and he spake to him of his dream. And he commanded him that he go forth to do the behests of God.

And Gew said, "I will obey thine orders while I live."
Then Gudarz said, "What companions wilt thou take with thee?
And Gew said, "My cord and my horse will suffice unto me for company, for it is best to take none with me into Turan. For behold, if I lead out an host, men will ask what I am, and wherefore I come forth; but if I go alone, their doubts will slumber."

Then Gudarz said, "Go, and peace be upon thee."
So Gew made ready his steed, and when he had bidden farewell unto the old man his father, he set out upon his travels. And wherever he met a man walking alone, he questioned him concerning Kai Khosrau; and if the man knew not the name, he struck off his head, that none might learn his secret or wherefore he was come forth.

Now Gew wandered thus many days throughout the length of Turan, like to a man distraught, and he could learn nought concerning Kai Khosrau, the young king. And seven years rolled thus above his head, and he grew lean and sorrowful. And for house he had nought save only his saddle, and for nourishment and clothing the flesh and skin of the wild ass, and in place of wine he had only bad water. And he began to be downcast in his spirit, and afraid lest the dream dreamed of his father had been sent unto him by a Deev. Now it came about one day that while he pondered thus he entered a forest, and when he was come into its midst, he beheld therein a fountain, and a young man, slim as a cypress, seated beside it. And the youth held in his hand a wine-cup, and on his head was a crown of flowers, and his mien was such that the soul of Gew rejoiced thereat, and the door of his cares was loosened. And he said within himself-

"If this be not the King, then must I abandon my search, for I think to behold in him the face of Saiawush."

Then he went nigh unto him.
Now when Kai Khosrau beheld the warrior, he smiled and said-
"O Gew, thou art welcome unto my sight, since thou art come hither at the behest of God. Tell unto me now, I pray thee, tidings of Tus and Gudarz, of Rustem, and of Kai Kaous the King. Are they happy? Do they know of Kai Khosrau?"

When Gew heard this speech, he was confounded; and when he had returned thanks unto God, he opened his mouth and spake, saying-

"O young King, who bearest high thy head, reveal unto me who hath told thee of Gudarz and of Tus, of Rustem and of Kai Kaous, and how knowest thou my name and aspect."

Then Kai Khosrau said, "My mother hath told me of the things which she learned of my father. For I am son unto Saiawush, and before he entered upon death he foretold unto Ferangis how Gew would come forth from Iran to lead me unto the throne."

Then Gew said, "Prove unto me thy words. Suffer that mine eyes behold the mark of the Kaianides which thou bearest about thy body."

Then Kai Khosrau uncovered his arm, and when Gew looked upon the mark that was borne of all the royal house since the time of Kai Kobad, he fell down upon the ground and did homage before this youth. But Kai Khosrau raised him from the dust and embraced him, and questioned him concerning his journey and the hardships he had passed through. Then Gew mounted the young King upon his charger, and he walked before him bearing an Indian sword unsheathed in his hand. And they journeyed until they came to the city that Saiawush had builded.

Now when Ferangis saw them she received them joyfully, for her quick spirit divined what was come to pass. But she counselled them to tarry not in whatsoever they would do. For she said-

"When Afrasiyab shall learn of this he will neither eat nor sleep, he will send out an army against us. Let us flee, therefore, before he cometh. And listen now unto the words that I shall speak. Go forth unto the mountain that is raised unto the clouds, and take with thee a saddle and a bridle. And when thou shalt have scaled its crest thou wilt behold a meadow green as a paradise, and browsing upon it the flocks of Saiawush. And in their midst will be Behzah the steed of battle. Go nigh unto him, my son, and embrace him, and whisper thy name into his ear; and when he shall have heard it he will suffer thee to mount him, and seated upon him thou shalt escape from the slayer of thy father."

Then Gew and Kai Khosrau went out and did as Ferangis told unto them; and they found the steed, and when Behzah beheld the saddle of Saiawush and the leopard-skin he had worn, he sighed, and his eyes were filled with tears. Then he suffered Kai Khosrau to mount him, and they turned back unto Ferangis. And she chose forth the armour of Saiawush from among her treasures and gave it to her son, and she clad herself in mail of Roum like unto a warrior, and she sprang upon a horse of battle, and when all was done they set forth to fly from the land of Afrasiyab.

Now one brought tidings unto Piran of these things, and he was dismayed thereat, for he said-

"Now will be accomplished the fears of Afrasiyab, and mine honour will be tarnished in his eyes."

So he bade Kelbad and three hundred valiant knights pursue Kai Khosrau and bind him and bring him back in chains.

Now Ferangis and her son slept for weariness by the roadside, but Gew held guard over them. And when he beheld Kelbad and the men that were with him, he knew that they were come in pursuit; yet he awakened not Kai Khosrau, but of his strength alone put them to flight. But when they were gone he roused the sleepers, and he urged haste upon them.

But Piran, when he beheld that Kelbad returned unto him defeated at the hand of one man, was loath to credit it, and he was angered against him, and said that he would go forth himself. So Piran made him ready, and a thousand brave warriors went with him. For Piran was afraid of the anger of Afrasiyab, and that he would put this flight unto his account, and not unto that of the rotation of the stars. Now when he was come unto the fugitives Gew and the young King slumbered, but Ferangis was keeping watch. And when she beheld the army she woke them and bade them prepare for combat; but Gew suffered not that Kai Khosrau should go forth, for he said-

"If I fall, what mattereth that? my father hath seventy and eight sons like unto me; but thou art alone, and if thy head shall fall, what other is worthy of the crown?"

And Kai Khosrau did as Gew desired. Then Gew gave combat unto Piran, and by his courage he overcame the army; and he caught the old man Piran in the meshes of his cord. Then he brought him bound before Ferangis and Kai Khosrau her son.

Now Piran, when he beheld Kai Khosrau, demanded not mercy at his hands, but invoked the blessings of Heaven upon his head, and he mourned the fate of Saiawush. And he said-

"O King, had thy slave been nigh unto Afrasiyab, surely the head of thy father would not have fallen at his hands. And it was I who preserved thee and Ferangis thy mother, yet now is it given unto me to fall under thy hands."

When Kai Khosrau heard these words his heart went out unto Piran, and when he looked towards his mother he saw that her eyes were filled with tears. Then she opened her mouth and poured forth curses upon Afrasiyab her father, and she wailed the fate of Saiawush, and she pleaded for the life of this good old man. For she said-

"His tenderness hath been an asylum unto our sorrow, and now is it given unto us to remember the benefits we have received at his hands."

But Gew, when he heard it, said-
"O Queen, I pray thee speak not thus, for I have sworn a great oath that I would stain the earth with the blood of Piran, and how can I depart from my vow?"

Then Kai Khosrau said, "O hero like unto a lion, thou shalt not break the oath that thou hast made before God. Satisfy thy heart and accomplish thy vow. Pierce with thy dagger the ear of Piran, and let his blood fall on the earth, that thy vengeance and my clemency may both be satisfied."

Then Gew did as Kai Khosrau bade, and when he had crimsoned the earth with the blood of Piran, they mounted him upon a charger fleet of foot and bound him thereon, and caused him to swear unto them that none other but Gulshehr his wife should release him from these bonds. And Piran sware it and went forth, and his mouth poured blessings upon Kai Khosrau.

Now while these things were passing Afrasiyab grew impatient, and set forth himself at the head of a great army that he might learn tidings of Kai Khosrau. And when he heard that the armies had been beaten at the hand of one man, his cheeks grew pale with fear; but when he met Piran his Pehliva tied upon his charger, his anger knew no bounds, so that he cried aloud, and commanded Piran that he depart from out his presence. Then he sware that he would himself destroy this Gew, and lay low the head of Kai Khosrau and of his mother. And he made great haste after them, and he urged upon his men that they must find Kai Khosrau before he should have crossed the Jihun and have entered upon the land of Iran; yet before ever he was come nigh to them, the three were come unto its banks.

Now, a boat was lying ready, and a boatman slumbered beside it; and Gew roused him, and said that he should bear them across the river. But the man was greedy of gain, and beheld that Gew was in haste. So he said-

"Why should I carry thee across? Yet, if thou desire it, I demand that thou give unto me one of four things: thy coat of mail, or thy black horse, yon woman, or the crown of gold worn by this young man."

Then Gew was angry, and said-
"Thou speakest like a fool; thou knowest not what thou dost ask."
Then he turned unto Kai Khosrau, and said-
"If thou be Kai Khosrau indeed, thou wilt not fear to enter this river and cross it, even as it was crossed by Feridoun thy sire."

Now the river was swollen with the rains, but the young King regarded it not. He entered upon its surge with Behzah his steed, and the horse of his father bare him across the boiling waters. And Ferangis followed after him and Gew the bold. And when Kai Khosrau was come unto the other side, he dismounted and knelt and kissed the ground of Iran, and gave thanks unto God the mighty.

Yet scarce were they come to the other side than Afrasiyab came up with his army. And Afrasiyab demanded of the boatman wherefore he had borne them across, and when the man told him how it was come to pass, the King was bowed down with anguish, for he knew now that that which was written would be accomplished. So he returned him right sorrowful unto his house.

Now when Kai Khosrau came nigh unto the courts of the Shah, Gew sent a writing unto Kai Kaous and told him all that was come to pass. And Kai Kaous sent forth riders to lead before him his son; and the city was decked to give him welcome, and all the nobles received him joyfully, and Kai Kaous was glad at the sight of him, and all men regarded Kai Khosrau as the heir, and only Tus was sorrowful at that which was come to pass. But Tus was angered, and said that he would pay homage only unto Friburz, and to none other. And he came before Kai Kaous and said-

"Friburz is thy son also, why therefore wilt thou give the crown unto one who is sprung from the race of Afrasiyab?

Then Gew said, "It is fitting that the son of Saiawush should succeed unto the throne."

But Tus listened not, and refused allegiance unto Kai Khosrau, and there was strife among the nobles of Iran.

Then one came before Kai Kaous and begged of him that he would declare himself, for he said-

"If we are divided among ourselves we shall fall a prey into the hands of Afrasiyab. Let the Shah, therefore, bind up this quarrel."

Then Kai Kaous said, "Ye ask of me that which is hard, for both my sons are dear unto me, and how should I choose between them? Yet I will bethink me of a means to quiet this dissension. Let Kai Khosrau and Friburz go forth unto Bahman, the fortress that is upon my borders which no man hath conquered, for it is an abode of Deevs, and fire issueth thence continually. And let them take with them an army, and I will bestow my crown and my treasures upon him at whose hands the castle shall be subdued."

So Friburz and Kai Khosrau set forth, and Kai Khosrau suffered that his elder take the lead. But in vain did Friburz strive against the Deevs that were hidden behind the walls, and when seven days had passed he returned discomfited from his emprise. Then Kai Khosrau set forth, and he wrote a letter, amber-perfumed, and in it he desired the evil Deevs that they give place unto him in the name of Ormuzd. And he affixed the letter unto the point of his lance, and when he was come nigh unto the burning fort he flung it beyond the walls. Then a great noise rent the air like thunder, and the world became darkened, and when the light returned unto the sky the castle was vanished from off the face of the earth.

Now when Kai Kaous heard it, he knew that the son of Saiawush was learned in the arts of magic, as was fitting unto a king; and he beheld also that he was wise and brave. And because that he was weary he surrendered the throne unto him, and Kai Khosrau wore the crown of the Kaianides in his stead.

 

Firoud

But a little while had Kai Khosrau sat upon the throne of Iran, yet the world resounded with his fame, and all men bare upon their lips the praises of his wisdom. He cleansed the earth of the rust of care, and the power of Afrasiyab was chained up. And men from all parts of the earth came forth to do homage before him; and Rustem also, and Zal the aged, did obeisance at his footstool. And there came with them an army that made the plains black like to ebony, and the sounds of their war trumpets made the heart to tremble. Then Kai Kaous made ready a great feast to do honour to his Pehliva. And when they were seated thereat his mouth ran over with praises of Saiawush, and he lamented the evil that he had done, and he poured maledictions upon the head of Afrasiyab. And he spake unto Kai Khosrau his son, and said-

"I demand of thee that thou swear before me a great oath, and that thou keep it carefully. Swear unto me that thy heart shall be ever filled with hatred of Afrasiyab, and that thou wilt not let this flame be quenched by the waters of forgetfulness, and that thou regard him not as the father of thy mother, and that thou think only of Saiawush thy sire, whom he hath slain. And swear unto me further that there shall be no other mediator between you save only the sword and the mace."

Then Kai Khosrau turned him towards the fire and sware the oath demanded of his sire, and he vowed to keep it in the name of God the Most High. And Kai Kaous caused the oath to be written on a royal scroll, and he confided it to the care of Rustem his Pehliva. And when it was done they feasted seven days without ceasing, but on the eighth Kai Khosrau mounted his throne. Then he called about him his nobles, and he said unto them that the time was ripe to avenge the death of his father, and he bade them make ready their armies, and he told them how on a certain day they should lead them out before him.

Now when the day was come Kai Khosrau descended into the plains to receive them. And he was seated upon an elephant of war, and on his head he wore the crown of might, and about his neck the chain of supremacy; and in his hand he bare a mace of might, and on his arms were bracelets of great worth, and precious stones were strewn about his garments. Now when he was come into the midst of the camp he threw a ball of silver into a cup of gold. And when the army heard the sound thereof they knew it to be the signal, and they arose and passed before the Shah. And the first to come forth was the army of Friburz. And Friburz was seated upon a horse of saffron hue, and he wore shoes of gold upon his feet, and in his hands were a sword and a mace; and around his saddle was rolled a cord of might, and over his head floated a banner the colour of the sun. And Kai Khosrau, when he saw him, invoked blessings upon his head. And there came after Friburz Gudarz the wise in counsel, and behind him was borne a standard whereon was broidered a lion. And at his right hand and his left marched his mighty sons, and a brave army followed after them. And they did homage before the Shah, and Kai Khosrau regarded them kindly. Then there came after them yet many other noble knights, eager for battle as a bull whom no man hath put to flight, and the sounds of cymbals and the bells of war-elephants filled the air, and lances and targets gleamed in the sun, and banners of many hues streamed upon the breeze. And Kai Khosrau blessed his heroes every one. Then he caused his treasurer to bring forth rich gifts of gold and jewels and slaves, and brocades of Roum, and cloth of gold, and skins of beaver. And they placed them before him, and he divided them into portions, and he said they should be owned of those who should do feats of valour in the war against Afrasiyab. Then he bade them to a great feast, and they made merry in the house of the Shah.

But when the sun had unsheathed its sword of light and the sombre night was fled in fear, Kai Khosrau commanded that the trumpets of departure sound. Then the army came before the Shah, and he gave into the keeping of Tus the standard of Kawah, and he bade him lead forth the hosts. And he said unto Tus-

"Be obedient unto my will and lead mine army aright. I desire of thee that thou avenge the death of my father, but I desire also that thou molest none but those that fight. Have mercy upon the labourer and spare the helpless. And furthermore, I charge thee that thou pass not through the land of Kelat, but that thou leave it on one side and take thy course through the desert. For in Kelat abideth Firoud my brother, who was born of the daughter of Piran, and he dwelleth in happiness, and I would not that sorrow come nigh unto him. And he knoweth no man in Iran, not even by name, and unto no man hath he done hurt, and I desire that no harm come to him."

And Tus said, "I will remember thy will and take the road that thou commandest."

Then the army set forth towards Turan, and they marched many days until they came to a spot where the roads parted. And the one led unto the desert, arid and devoid of water, and the other led unto Kelat. Now when they were come to the parting of the roads the army halted until Tus should have told unto them which road they should follow. And when Tus came up he said unto Gudarz-

"The desert is void of water, and what shall we do deprived thereof, for the army sore needeth refreshment after its march of weariness? It is better, therefore, that we should take the road that leadeth to Kelat, and abide there a while that our men may be rested."

And Gudarz said, "The King hath set thee at the head of his army, but I counsel thee choose the path that he hath named, lest sorrow come upon thee."

But Tus laughed, and said, "O noble hero, disquiet not thyself, for what I do is pleasing in. the sight of the King."

Then he commanded the army that they march into Kelat, and he remembered not the desires of Kai Khosrau.

Now when Firoud saw that the sky was darkened with dust from the feet of dromedaries and elephants of battle, he called before him Tokhareh his counsellor, and questioned him concerning these things. And Tokhareh said-

"O young man, thou knowest not what is come to pass. This army pertaineth unto thy brother, and he hath sent it forth into Turan that the death of thy father be avenged; and it marcheth right upon Kelat, and I know not where the battle may take place."

Now Firoud, who was void of experience, was troubled when he learned this; and he made safe his castle that was upon a high hill, and he gathered in his flocks. Then he seated himself upon the ramparts and looked down over the sea of armour that approached him. And when he had done so he went in before his mother, who had never ceased from weeping for Saiawush her spouse. And he told her what was come about, and he asked of her how he should act. Then she said unto him-

"Listen, O my son I There is a new Shah in Iran, and he is brother unto thee, for ye are sprung from one father. Now, since thy brother sendeth forth an host to avenge his murder, it beseemeth thee not to remain aloof, but rather shouldst thou serve as vanguard unto the host. Wherefore call together thy knights, and then go forth and seek out the leader of this host, and make thyself known to him. For it behoveth not a stranger to reap this glory or usurp the place that is due unto thy rank."

Then Firoud said, "Who shall be my stay in battle among the heroes who carry high their heads?"

And his mother said, "Seek out Bahram, for he was a friend unto thy father. And listen also to the words of Tokhareh, and go not out at once with thine army until thou hast made thyself known unto the men of Iran."

Then Firoud said, "O my mother, I will faithfully observe thy counsel."

And he went forth unto a high place on the mountain, and he took with him Tokhareh, and they looked down upon the mighty army that was spread at their feet. Then Firoud questioned of the warriors, and Tokhareh answered him according to his knowledge. And he counted up the standards of the heroes, and he made Firoud acquainted with the names of might in Iran.

Now, while they were so doing, Tus beheld them upon the heights, and he was angered at the sight of them, and said-

"Let a wary knight go forth unto those two seated aloft, and search out what manner of men they be. And if they be of the army, let them be lashed two hundred times about the head; but if they be Turks and spies, bind them, and bring them before me that I may destroy them."

Then Bahram, the son of Gudarz, said, "I will search into this matter."

And he rode forth towards the mountain. Now Firoud, beholding him, said unto Tokhareh, "Who is he that cometh out with so haughty an air? By his bearing it would seem that he holdeth me of light esteem, and that he would mount hither by force."

Then Tokhareh said, "O Prince, be not angered thus easily. I know not his name, but I seem to behold the device of Gudarz, and perchance this is one of his sons."

Now Bahram, when he had neared the summit, lifted up his voice, that was like unto thunder, and cried, saying-

"Who art thou that seatest thyself upon the heights and lookest down upon the army? Fearest thou not Tus the Pehliva? "

Then Firoud answered and said-
"Speak not unto me thus haughtily, for I have given thee no cause. Thinkest thou, perchance, that I am but a wild ass of the desert, and that thou art a lion, great of might? It behoveth a man of sense to put a bridle on his tongue. For I say unto thee, that thou art in nowise my better, neither in courage nor in might. Look upon me, and judge whether I have not head and heart and brain, and when thou shalt have seen that I possess them, threaten me not with empty words. I counsel this unto thee in friendship. And if thou wilt listen to reason, I will put some questions unto thee."

Then Bahram replied, "Speak; thou art in the sky, and I am on the ground."

Then Firoud asked of him who were the chiefs of this army, and wherefore they were come forth. And Bahram named unto him the names of might. Then Firoud said unto him-

"Why hast thou not spoken the name of Bahram? There is none among all the host of Iran that mine eyes would rather look upon."

Then Bahram said, "O youth, say unto me who hath spoken unto thee thus of Bahram, and who hath made thee acquainted with Gudarz and Gew."

Then Firoud said, "My mother hath made them known unto me, and she bade me seek out Bahram from among this host, because that he was foster-brother unto my father."

Then Bahram spake, and said, "Verily thou are Firoud, of the seed of Saiawush."

And Firoud answered, "Thou hast said. I am a branch of the cypress that was struck down."

. Then Bahram said, "Uncover thine arm, that I may behold the mark of the Kaianides."

And Firoud did so, and Bahram beheld the mark. Then he knew that Firoud was of the race of Kai Kobad, and he did homage before him, and he drew nigh unto him on the mountain. Then Firoud laid bare before Bahram his desires, and he said how that he would make a great feast unto the army in his house, and how, when this was done, he desired to take the lead and march with it into Turan, and he craved Bahram to bear his words of greeting unto Tus. And Bahram said-

"O Prince, brave and young, I will bear thy message unto Tus, and I will implore of him that he listen to thy voice. Yet because he is a man easily angered, I fear the answer he may return. For though he be valiant, yet is he also vain, and he cannot forget that he is sprung from the race of the Kaianides, and he deemeth ever that the first place pertaineth unto him."

Then Bahram told Firoud wherefore he had been sent forth by Tus, and he departed from him, saying-

"If Tus hearken unto my voice, I will return unto thee; but if thou beholdest another, confide not thyself to him."


 

Then he departed, and came before Tus, and related to him all that he had heard. And Tus was beside himself with anger, and he cried out against this young man, and questioned wherefore he would usurp his place. And he upbraided Bahram for that which he had done, and he refused to give credit unto his words, and he sware that he would cause this youth to perish. And he called upon his warriors, and bade them go forth and sever the head of this Turk. But Bahram said unto them-

"Ye know not that he sendeth you forth against Firoud, who is brother unto Kai Khosrau, and sprung from the seed of Saiawush. I counsel you have the fear of the Shah before your eyes, and lift not your hands in injustice against his brother."

When the warriors heard these words, they retreated back into the tents. But Tus was angered exceedingly, and he commanded yet again that one should go forth to do his behests. Then Rivniz, who was husband unto the daughter of Tus, said that he would do his desires. So he rode forth unto the mountain.

Now when Firoud beheld a horseman, who brandished aloft his sword in enmity, he said unto Tokhareh-

"Tus despiseth my words, and since Bahram cometh not back, my heart is disquieted. Look, I pray thee, if thou canst tell unto me what noble this may be."

And Tokhareh said, "It is Rivniz, a knight of great cunning, son unto Tus, whose daughter he hath in marriage."

Then Firoud asked, saying, "Since he attacketh me, whom shall I slay-the steed or its rider?"

And Tokhareh said, "Direct thine arms against the man, then perchance, when Tus shall learn of his death, he will repent him that he listened not unto thy words of peace."

So Firoud bent his bow and shot Rivniz through the breast. And he fell dead from off his saddle, and his horse turned him back in terror unto the camp. Now when Tus beheld the horse that was come back without its rider, he knew what was come to pass, and his anger against Firoud burned yet the more. So he called unto him Zerasp his son, and bade him go forth and avenge the blood of Rivniz. And when Firoud saw him approach, he asked yet again the name of his foe, and he prepared his bow, that Tus might learn that he was a man that should not be treated with dishonour. And when Zerasp would have fought with him, he pinned him dead unto his saddle. And the horse sped back with him into the camp, so that Tus saw that which was come about. Then his fury knew no limit, and he sprang upon his charger, and he set forth himself against Firoud.

Now when Tokhareh beheld it, he said unto Firoud-
"Tus himself is come forth to combat thee, and thou canst not stand against this crocodile. Retreat, therefore, I counsel thee, into thy castle, and let us await the decrees of the stars."

But Firoud answered in anger, "Who is Tus, that I should fear him? I will not flee from his presence."

Then Tokhareh said, "If thou be resolved to do battle with this lion, I counsel thee that thou destroy him not, lest thy brother be angered if the leader of his host perish by thy hand. Moreover, the army will come forth to avenge him, and how canst thou stand against an host? Direct thine arrows, therefore, against his charger, for a prince fighteth not on foot. if, therefore, thou kill his horse from Under him, thou wilt have shown unto him thy skill."

Then Firoud did as Tokhareh counselled, and the arrow was faithful to its aim, and he shot the horse of Tus from under him, and laid the charger low upon the ground. And Tus had to turn him back on foot unto his camp, and rage against Firoud burned in his spirit. And the nobles, when they beheld their Pehliva treated thus with contempt,- were angry also, and Gew said-

"Who is this young man, that he despiseth an army, and how may he treat us with disdain? 'Though he be of the race of the Kaianides, and of the seed of Kai Kobad, he hath opened a door, and knoweth not whither it leadeth."

And as he spake he girded his armour about him, and made him ready to go out against Firoud.

Now when Firoud beheld him he sighed, and said, "This army is valiant, but it cannot distinguish good from evil. I fear me that by them will Saiawush not be avenged, for their leader is devoid of sense. Else could he not persist in enmity against me. Tell me now, I pray, who this new foe may be?"

Then Tokhareh said, "It is Gew, the son of Gudarz, a knight of great renown, before whom even the lion trembleth unto his marrow. And he led forth thy brother into Iran, and he is girt with the armour of Saiawush, that no man can pierce with in arrow. Direct thy bow, therefore, yet again unto the charger, or thy strife will be vain."

And Firoud the brave did as Tokhareh said, and he sent forth his arrow, and the horse of Gew sank unto the earth. Now all the nobles rejoiced when Gew returned unto them in safety; but Byzun, his son, was wroth, and he upbraided his father, and he said-

"O thou who fearest not an army, how canst thou turn thee back before a single knight?"

Then he sware a great oath that he would not quit the saddle until the blood of Rivniz and of Zerasp should be avenged.

Now Gew was afraid for his son, who was young, and would have restrained him. But Byzun suffered it not, and when his father saw that he was resolved, he gave unto him the armour of Saiawush, and sent him forth unto the mountain.

Now when Firoud saw that yet another was come out against him, he questioned Tokhareh again of his name. And Tokhareh said-

"It is a youth who hath not his like in Iran. Byzun is he called, and he is only son unto Gew the brave. And because that he is clad in the armour of Saiawush, thy father, strike at his horse, or thy bow will avail thee nought."

So Firoud shot his arrows at the horse, and he laid it low, as he had done the others. Then Byzun cried, saying-

"O young man, who aimest thus surely, thou shalt behold how warriors fight on foot."

And he ran up the side of the mountain, that he might come near unto Firoud. But Firoud turned and entered in upon his gates, and he rained down stones from his walls upon the head of his adversary. Then Byzun taunted him, and said-

"O hero of renown, thou fliest before a man on foot, thou who art brave! Alas! whither is vanished thy courage? "

Then he returned unto the camp, and told unto Tus how that this scion of the Kaianides was filled with valour, and how his bow was sure, and he said that he feared no man could stand against him. But Tus said, "I will raze unto the dust his castle, I will destroy this Turk, and avenge the blood that he hath spilled."

Now when the brilliant sun was vanished and the black night had invaded the earth with her army of stars, Firoud caused his castle to be strengthened. And while he did so, his mother dreamed a dream of evil portent, and she came forth weeping before her son. And she spake, saying-

"O my son, the stars are evil disposed towards us, and I am afraid for thee."

Then Firoud answered her, saying, "Woe unto thee, my mother, for I know it is not given unto thee to cease from shedding tears of sorrow. For verily I shall perish like unto my father, in the flower of my youth. Yet will I not crave mercy of these Iranians."

And he bade her go back unto the chamber of the women, and pray God for his soul.

Now when the sun returned and lifted his glorious face above the vault of heaven, there was heard the sound of armour on all sides, and Firoud beheld that the host of Iran was come forth against him. So he went out beyond the gates, leading his warriors. And since there was no plain whereon they could give battle, they fought upon the mountain-side, and many were the Turkish heads that were felled. But Firoud made great havoc among his enemies, and they beheld that he was a lion in the fight. But the stars of the young hero were waning, for even a brave man cannot contend alone against an host. For when he would have ridden back unto his castle, Rehham and Byzun lay in ambush against him, and they closed unto him the two ends of the path. But Firoud was not dismayed thereat. He fell upon the son of Gew, and would have slain him; but Rehham came upon him from behind, and struck him down with a mighty club. Then Firoud knew that his hour was come, and he returned unto his mother. Now when she saw him she raised a great cry, but he bade her keep silence, and he spake, saying-

"Weep not, for the time suffereth it not. For the Iranians follow fast upon me, and they will enter and take this house, and do violence unto thee and to thy women. Go out, therefore, and cast you from off the walls into the abyss, that death may come upon you, and that Byzun when he entereth find none alive. As for me, my moments are but few, for the heroes of Iran have murdered the days of my youth."

And the women did as he commanded, save only his mother, who abode beside him until the breath was gone out from his body. Then she made a great fire, and threw therein all his treasures, and she went out into the stables and laid low the horses that were therein. And when she had made the place a desert unto the Iranians, she returned unto the feet of her son, and pierced her body with a sword.

Now when the Iranians had broken down the bars of the gates and entered into the castle, they came unto the chamber and beheld the bodies of Firoud and of his mother. And when they saw them, they could not withhold their tears, and they sorrowed for the anger of Tus, and the fear of Kai Khosrau came upon them. And Gudarz said unto Tus-

"Thou hast sown hatred, and thou wilt reap war. It beseemeth not a leader to be quick to ire. Thy haste hath brought to death a youth of the race of the Kaianides, and hath caused the blood of thy sons to be spilled."

When Tus heard these words he wept in his sorrow, and said-
"Evil fortune is come upon me."
Then he caused a royal tomb to be made, and seated Firoud therein upon a throne of gold, and he decked him with all the signs of kingship. And when he had so done he returned with his army unto the plains, and three days they halted in their grief. But on the fourth the trumpets were sounded for departure, and Tus led forth the army towards Turan.

Now when Afrasiyab learned that a host was come forth against him from out of Iran, he bade Piran make ready his army. For he said-

"Kai Khosrau hath unveiled unto us the secrets of his heart, and we know now that forgiveness is not hidden in his soul."

Now while they made them in order, there came a great storm of snow that covered the earth like to a carpet, and the water became hard, and for many days no man beheld the earth or the sun. And food was lacking unto the Iranians, and they were fain to devour their steeds of battle. And when at last the sun came back, the earth was changed into a lake, and the Iranians suffered yet again. Then Tus said-

"Let us return whence we came forth."
But his army said, "Not so. Shall we flee before the face of Afrasiyab?"

So they made them ready to meet their foes. And they fought right valiantly, and many were the heads of Turan that were laid in the dust by their hands, and the victory inclined towards them. Then Tus was glad, and made a great feast and invited thereto his warriors. And he darkened their heads with wine, so that they laid aside their armour, neither did they set watches in the camp. Now Piran, when he learned of this, saw that the time served him, and when the night was fallen he went out against the camp of Iran. And all the nobles were drunk save only Gudarz the wise. Now when he heard that the Turanians were come into the camp, he ran to the tents of Tus and cried, saying-

"Is this the hour to hold the wine-cup?"
Then he called together his sons, and he set his army in order; but the Turanians routed them utterly, for the men of Iran were heavy with wine, and they knew not whither they sent their blows. And the carnage was great, and when the sun had brought back the day the ground was strewn thick with the bodies of the Iranians. And cries of agony were heard around, and there were none to heal the hurts, for those that were whole were captive. And Tus was beside himself for sorrow, and Gudarz alone was not defraught of reason. So the old man sent forth a messenger to bear the tidings of woe unto the Shah. Now he was a messenger that made the earth disappear beneath his feet, and speedily did he stand within the courts of the King. And Kai Khosrau, when he had listened to his words, was angered, and his tongue called down curses on the head of Tus. Then he pondered all night how he should act, but when the cock crew he wrote a letter unto Friburz the son of Kai Kaous. And he bade him take unto him the flag of Kawah and the golden boots, and lead the army in the place of Tus. And he bade him in all things be obedient to the counsels of Gudarz the wise, and he recalled how Tus had disobeyed his commandments, and he said-

"I know no longer who is my friend or my foe."
Then he put his seal to the letter and gave it unto the messenger. And the man sped forth and brought it into the camp. Then Friburz read it out before the army. And when he had heard it Tus did that which the Shah desired, and when he had given over unto Friburz the command he turned him to go back unto Iran.

Now when he was come before Kai Khosrau, he fell upon the earth before his throne, and the Shah raised him not, neither did he give him words of greeting. And when he parted his lips, it was to let forth words of anger. And he made known to him his sore displeasure, and he reproached him with the death of Firoud, and he said-

"But that thou art sprung from Minuchihr, and that thy beard is white, I would sever thy head from off thy body for this deed. Yet, as it is, a dungeon shall be thy dwelling, and thine evil nature thy gaoler."

And when he had thus spoken he drove him from his presence, and gave orders that he should be put into chains.

Now while these things passed in Iran, Friburz craved of Piran that he would grant unto him a truce. And Piran said-

"It is ye who have broken into our land; yet I will listen unto your desires and grant unto you this truce, and it shall be of the length of one moon. But I counsel unto you that ye quit the land of Turan in its course."

But Friburz would not Lead back the army thus discomfited, and he spent the time accorded to him in preparation, and when it was at an end he offered battle again to the Turanians. And there was waged a combat s sun hath not looked upon its like, and the army of the Iranians was overthrown. And the slaughter was terrible, neither did the men of Turan escape, and many were the great ones of the land that perished. And the men of Iran fought till that their strength was departed. They had sought the conflict and found defeat. And they that were not slain fled from the battlefield, and it is they that saved their lives in this manner whom thou must bewail.

Now when another day was risen upon the world, Piran sent for his guards to bring him news of the Iranians. And when they told him that their tents were vanished from off the plains, he sent the news of victory to Afrasiyab. And the King rejoiced thereat, and all the land prepared a great feast unto the army. And when Piran entered into the city the terraces thereof were decked with carpets of gay hue, and the houses were clothed with arras of Roum, and pieces of silver rained down upon the warriors. And the King poured upon Piran gifts of such number that you would not have patience to hear me recount them. And he sent him back unto Khoten with much honour and many counsels. And he said-

"Let not thine army slumber, and trust not thy foe because he is drawn back. I charge thee keep thine eyes fixed upon the land of Rustem, for if thy vigilance slumber he will surely come forth and destroy thee, for he alone is to be feared of the men of Iran. Therefore be brave and watchful, and may Heaven preserve thee unto my throne."

And Piran listened unto the words spoken of Afrasiyab, as it beseemed him. And when he was returned unto his kingdom, he set watchers upon all sides, that they might acquaint him concerning Rustem the Pehliva.

 

The Vengeance of Kai Khosrau

Dire was the wailing among the army of Iran at their sore defeat, and they turned them back discomfited. And they came before the Shah, their hearts torn with anguish. And their hands were crossed upon their breasts, and they were humble as slaves. And Kai Khosrau was angry when he beheld them, and he remembered Firoud, and he railed against Tus, from whom was sprung this evil. And he said-

"Cursed be he and his elephants and his cymbals." And the Shah withdrew from his courts, and he withheld his countenance from the land. So the nobles went out unto Rustem, and entreated of him that he would intercede for them with the Shah. And Rustem did as they desired, and he pleaded for the army and its leaders, and he spake good even of Tus. And Kai Khosrau inclined his ear unto his Pehliva, and he let the light of his countenance shine again upon his army, and he confided unto Tus once more the standard of Kawah, but he made Gew march beside him and restrain his haste.

So they set forth again unto Turan, and Afrasiyab, when he learned of their approach, made ready his army also. And there were joined unto him the hosts of the Khakan of China, and of the Kamous of Kushan, men mighty in the battlefield. And from Ind and all the highlands of Asia there came forth troops unto the aid of Afrasiyab, King of Turan. And he rejoiced thereat, for he was assured that if Rustem came not forth to aid them, the men of Iran could not stand against his host.

Now when the two armies met, many and fierce were the combats waged between them, and blows were given and received, and swords flashed and showers of arrows descended on all sides. And the blood of brave men was shed like unto the shedding of rain from a black cloud. And day by day were the Iranians weakened, for they were smitten with great slaughter, and the number of their dead was past the counting. But Afrasiyab rejoiced in his victory, and his heart shouted within him when he learned after many days that the Iranians were drawn back into the mountains. But Kai Khosrau, when he learned it, was afflicted, and wept sore. Then he sent greeting unto Rustem, his Pehliva, and he craved of him that he would come forth to aid the army, for in him alone could he put his trust. And Rustem said-

"O Shah, since the day that mine arm could wield a mace, I have ever fought the battles of Iran, and it would seem that rest may never come nigh unto me. Yet since I am thy slave, it behoveth me to obey. I am ready to do thy desires."

So he made ready an host to go unto the succour of Iran. And while he did so the army was defeated yet again, and all heart went from the Iranians, and they would have given them over unto their foes. But while they pondered it, there came tidings unto Gudarz that Rustem was drawing nigh. Yet they feared to give way unto belief. But Piran when he heard it was sore discomfited, for he remembered of old the might of Rustem, and he knew that none could stand before it. But the Khakan and the Kamous scoffed at his fears, and they made loud boastings that Rustem should fall by their hands.

Now when some days had passed in this disquietude, it came about one night that, when the moon showed her face above the mountains, like unto a victorious king seated upon a throne of turquoise, a watchman of Iran set up a great cry. And he said-

"The plain is filled with dust, and the night resoundeth with noise. And I behold a mighty army drawing nigh, and they bear torches, and in their midst rideth Rustem the mighty."

When the men of Iran heard this, they set up a great shout, and their hearts seemed to come back into their bodies, and their courage, that had been as dead, returned. And glad was the greeting that they gave unto Rustem the Pehliva. And Rustem mustered them and put them into battle order, and when the sun had wearied of the black veil, and had torn the night asunder, and reappeared unto the world, the men of Iran called upon the host of Turan to come forth in combat. And they defied them unto battle, and they fought with new valour, and they made great havoc in their ranks. And when the evening was come, the day belonged unto Iran.

Then Piran called before him Human the brave, and said unto him-
"The nobles of Iran have found again their courage, since an army is come to their aid. Yet I would know if Rustem be their leader, for him alone do I fear."

And when he learned it his spirit was troubled. But the Kamous mocked him, and sware a great oath that, ere the sun should be set once more, he would have broken the might of Rustem. For he said-

"There is none, not even a mad elephant, that is mine equal in the fight."

So when the day was come, the Kamous challenged Rustem unto single combat. And Rustem strode forth from the camp, and the Kamous met him upon the plain. Then they struggled sore, and wrestled one with another, but in the end Rustem caught the Kamous in the meshes of his cord. And he showed him unto the army, and he asked of them, saying-

"What death desire ye that the Kamous should die, for his hour is come?"

Then he threw him among the nobles, and they made an end of him with their spears, and they flung his body to the vultures.

Now when the Khakan heard of the death of the Kamous, he sware that he would avenge him, and he sent forth a messenger to defy Rustem. But Rustem said unto the messenger-

"I seek no quarrel with the Khakan, and in all your army I desire only to look upon the face of Piran. And I beg of him that he will come forth to greet me, for my heart burneth towards him, because he was afflicted for the death of Saiawush, my foster-son, and because of the good he did unto Kai Khosrau and unto his mother."

So the messenger bare these words unto Piran. And Piran, when he had taken counsel, listened unto the desires of Rustem, and came into his tents. And he said-

"I am Piran, leader of the hosts of Turan. Speak unto me thy name."

And Rustem said, "I am Rustem of Zaboulistan, and I am armed with a mace and a sword of Cabul."

Then he gave him greeting from Kai Khosrau, and he lauded him for the good deeds that he had done unto Saiawush and to his son, and he entreated him that he would turn away from Afrasiyab, and go with him unto Kai Khosrau. And he said-

"Iran desireth not to destroy the innocent. Therefore deliver over unto me the men upon whose head resteth the blood of Saiawush, and we will withdraw our hosts, and there shall be peace in the land."

Then Piran said, "That which thou askest, verily it can never be, for the slayers of Saiawush are near kinsfolk unto Afrasiyab. And because he hath named me the leader of his hosts, it may not be that I abandon them. But I say unto thee, that it would be sweeter unto me to die than to conduct this warfare, and that my heart is torn because I must lift up the sword of enmity against Kai Khosrau, my son."

And Rustem saw that the words that Piran spake were true, and he sorrowed for him. And when they parted it was in friendship, although they knew that battle must rage between them. Then they drew up their armies, and for forty days there was waged a battle, mighty and terrible. And great ravages were committed, and Rustem did deeds of valour, and the strong and the weak were alike impotent before him. And the plains were strewn with the bodies of the slain, until that an ant could not have found a road to pass between them, and the blood of the wounded streamed on all sides, and heads without bodies and bodies without heads covered the ground. For neither the claw of the leopard nor the trunk of the elephant, neither the high mountains nor the waters of the earth, could prevail against Rustem when he fought at the head of his hosts. And he slew the mightiest among the Turanians, and only Piran was he mindful to spare. And the Khakan of China was enmeshed in his cord, and he sent him bound unto Kai Khosrau with news of the victory. And when the Turanians fled before his face, he followed after them and pursued them unto the mountains.

Then Piran made haste to come before Afrasiyab, and he spake to him and said-

"The land is changed into a sea of blood, for Rustem is come forth, and who can stand against him? And he followeth after me close. Wherefore I counsel thee, flee; for how canst thou stand alone against him? Alas for the woe that thou hast brought upon Turan! Thou hast wounded our hearts with the iron of the arrow wherewith thou didst slay Saiawush the noble."

Then he urged upon him that he tarry not. So Afrasiyab fled from before the face of Rustem and hid himself in the mountains. And when Rustem came into his courts and found that the King was fled, he seized upon much booty and divided it among his men, and he feasted them many days in the house of Afrasiyab, and he suffered them to enjoy repose. Then he destroyed with fire the palace, and when he had done so he turned him to go back unto Kai Khosrau.

Now when he was come within the city of the Shah, glad cries rang through all the air, and the sound of drums filled the land of Iran, and there was joy throughout its breadth because the destroyer of Turan was returned. And the heart of Kai Khosrau rejoiced like a paradise, and he came out to meet his Pehliva mounted upon an elephant gaily caparisoned, and music and singers went before him. And he invited him to a great feast, and he poured rich gifts upon him. And for a month Rustem abode in the presence of his Shah, making merry with wine. And the singers chanted of his great deeds, and the sounds of flutes and stringed instruments went with their words. But when that time was over Rustem asked of Kai Khosrau that he would suffer him to return unto Zal his father, for his heart yearned to look upon his face. And Kai Khosrau suffered it.

Now Rustem was not returned long unto Zaboulistan before there came into the courts of the Shah a shepherd who desired to speak with Kai Khosrau. And the Shah granted his request, and the man opened his mouth before him, and he said-

"A wild ass is broken in among my horses, and he doeth great mischief, for his breath is like unto a lion. Send forth, therefore, I entreat of thee, O King of Kings, a warrior of thine host that he may slay him."

Now Kai Khosrau, when he had listened, knew that this was not a wild ass but the Deev Akwan, who had taken this disguise upon him. So he cast about whom he should send forth to meet him, and he knew there was none other but Rustem, the son of Zal, to whom he could turn in this strait. So he sent a messenger swift as a cloud before a storm to summon him forth yet again. And Rustem obeyed the voice of his Shah, and he set forth in search of the Deev, and he was mounted upon Rakush his steed. And in his hand was a mighty mace, and round his wrist was rolled a cord of length. And he went in search of the wild ass, and when he had found him he threw his cord about him. But the ass vanished under his hands. Then Rustem knew that it was a Deev, and that he fought against the arts of magic. Yet was he not dismayed. And after a while the ass came forth again, and Rustem threw his cord once more about him. And yet again the Deev vanished under his hand. And thus did the Deev three days and three nights without ceasing, so that weariness came upon Rustem and he was heavy with slumber. So he sought out a spot of safety and he laid him down to rest, and he bade Rakush browse beside him.

Now when the Deev saw that Rustem was sleeping, he drew nigh and loosened the earth whereon he lay, and lifted it and placed it upon his head, that he might cast it away and destroy Rustem. But as he carried him Rustem awoke, and when he saw what was come to pass he feared that his hour was come. And the Deev, when he beheld that Rustem was awakened, spake, and said unto him-

"O hero, which death dost thou covet? Shall I fling thee down upon the mountain or cast thee into the sea?"

Now Rustem knew that the Deev questioned him in wile, and he bethought him that he would of a surety do that which Rustem desired not, so he said-

"I have heard it said that it is not given to those that perish in the waters to look upon the face of the Serosch or to find rest in the life that is beyond."

Then the Deev said, "I desire that thou know not repose."

And he flung him into the sea at a spot where hungry crocodiles would devour him.

Now Rustem, when he felt the water beneath him, forthwith drew out his sword and combated the crocodiles with his right hand, and with his left he swam towards the shore. And long did he struggle and sore, but when the night was fallen he put his foot upon the dry land. Then, when he had given thanks unto God and rested him, he returned unto the spot where he had found the Deev. And he sought after Rakush his steed, and his eye beheld him not. Then fear filled his spirit, and he roamed around to seek him. And he found him at last among the horses of Afrasiyab, that grazed in a spot hard by, for the keepers had ensnared him. But when Rakush heard the voice of Rustem he neighed aloud, and brake from the keepers and ran towards his master. And Rustem put the saddle upon him and mounted him. Then he slew the keepers and took their herds unto himself.

Now while he was so doing Afrasiyab came forth from his hiding-place, for his heart yearned to look upon his horses. And when he beheld Rustem in their midst he was dismayed, and knew not whither he should turn, for he deemed that the Pehliva had discovered his hiding-place and was come forth against him. So he offered battle unto him with the men that were with him. And Rustem accepted the challenge, although he was alone; and he fought with might and overcame the men, and slew sixty of them with his sword and forty with his mace. And Afrasiyab fled once more from before him.

Now when it was done the Deev came forth again, for he thought he could quell Rustem now that he was weary. But Rustem sprang on him and crushed him, and he was slain at his hands. Then the Pehliva returned unto Kai Khosrau. And when the Shah had learned of all his deeds, and beheld the booty that he had brought back, his mouth could not cease from praising the prowess of Rustem, and he would have kept his Pehliva beside him for ever. But Rustem said-

"Suffer thy servant to go forth. For I would make ready an host, since it behoveth us not to cease from the vengeance that is due unto Saiawush, for his murderers yet cumber the ground."

Wherefore Rustem departed yet again from out the courts of the Shah.

 

Byzun and Manijeh

Peace reigned again within the borders of Iran, and P the sword slept in its scabbard, and Kai Khosrau ordered the world with wisdom. And men rejoiced that the glory of Turan had been brought low, and the Shah feasted his nobles in lightness of heart.

Now it came about one day that while they were shortening the hours with wine there entered in unto them the keeper of the curtains of the door. And he said that men from Arman stood without and craved an audience. Then Kai Khosrau bade that they be let in. So the men came before him, and they uttered cries of lamentation, and they fell down at his feet and implored his aid. And Kai Khosrau said-

"Who hath done you wrong?"
Then the men answered, "Our wrong cometh unto us from the borders of Turan, for there issue forth thence wild boars that break into our fields and do destruction to our crops. And our fortunes are entwined with the ground, and no man can overcome these beasts. Wherefore, we pray thee, send forth a Pehliva that he may subdue them, for our land groaneth under this plague."

Then Kai Khosrau said, "It shall be done as you desire," and he dismissed them graciously. Then he called before him his treasurer, and bade him bring forth precious stones, and horses with girdles of gold, and rich brocades of Roum. And when they were placed before him he showed them to his nobles, and he said that whoever would go forth to combat the wild boars should not find him close-handed. But for a while none answered, for no man listed to go forth to battle with wild beasts. Then Byzun, the son of Gew, arose and spake, saying-

"If the Shah will grant leave unto me, I will go forth and slay these foes."

Now Gew was grieved thereat, because that Byzun was his only son, and he feared for his youth. Therefore he sought to restrain him. But Byzun suffered it not, and he said-

"O King, listen unto my desires; for though I be young in years, yet am I old in prudence, and I will do nought that is not fitting unto thy slave."

And Kai Khosrau granted his request, but he bade him take forth with him Girgin, the wise in counsel, that he should guide him aright. And Byzun did as the Shah desired, and they set forth unto the land of Arman.

Now when they were come unto the wood they rested them, and made a great fire, and drank wine until they were refreshed. Then Girgin would have laid him down to slumber. But Byzun said-

"Not so, let us go forth and seek the wild boars."
Then Girgin said, "Go thou alone, for it is thou who hast engaged in this combat, and who hast taken to thyself the gifts of the Shah. Therefore it behoveth me only to look on."

When Byzun heard these words he was amazed, but he regarded them not, and he entered in upon the forest. And after a while he came upon the wild boars, and they fell upon him. But he slew them with his mace, and he reddened the ground with their gore, and he went after them, even unto their lairs, and not one of them did he suffer to escape. Then when he had done thus, he parted their mighty teeth from off their heads and hung them about his saddle, that the men of Iran might behold them. And after this he turned him back unto Girgin.

Now Girgin, when he beheld him mounted upon his horse, and bearing round his saddle the tokens of his triumph, was envious thereat. And with his mouth he gave him joy, but Ahriman took hold of his spirit. So he pondered all night long how he could lay a snare for Byzun. And when the morning was come he praised his prowess, and they quaffed wine together, and fair words were exchanged between them. Then Girgin said-

"This land is known unto me, for I sojourned here with Rustem. And I know that at the distance of two farsangs lies the garden of Afrasiyab, where his women go forth to keep the feast of spring. And I bethink me that the time is at hand. Wherefore, I say unto thee, let us go hence, and behold with our eyes the fair ones whom the King of Turan hideth behind his curtains."

Now these words inflamed the blood of Byzun, and he gave ear unto Girgin, for he was young, and he acted like a young man. So they set forth upon the road, and Girgin filled the mind of Byzun with feasts and with sounds of music. And when they were come unto the spot, Byzun burned with impatience to look upon the women of Afrasiyab. And Girgin feigned as though he would restrain his foot within the skirt of patience, but he rejoiced in secret, for he hoped that from this deed evil would arise. So Byzun sped forth unto the garden, and he hid himself beneath the shade of a tall cypress, and he feasted his eyes upon the beauty of the women. And the garden was clad in its robes of spring, and the world was green and fair, and all the air was filled with the sweet sounds of music and of song. And there moved amid the rose-bushes maidens of Peri face, and in stature they were like to the cypress-trees, and one was exalted above them all. And she was daughter unto Afrasiyab, and Manijeh was she named.

Now it came about that as Manijeh stood at the door of her tent she beheld Byzun where he was hid. And she marvelled at his beauty, and her heart was captive unto him. So she called about her her maidens, and said-

"Go forth and question the stranger who regardeth us, for I bethink me that he is a Peri, or that Saiawush is come back unto the earth, for no mortal can own such beauty, neither can any man enter here."

Then one went forth and bare unto Byzun this message. And his heart leaped thereat, and he said-

"Say unto your mistress that I am come forth from Iran to slay the wild boars of Arman. And I came hither that perchance I might gaze upon the face of the daughter of Afrasiyab, for tidings of her beauty were told unto me, and reached even unto Iran. Go, therefore, and ask if I may speak with her."

Then the handmaidens did as Byzun desired, and Manijeh said, "Let him come forth."

So Byzun entered into the tents of Manijeh, and she received him with joy, and she caused his feet to be washed with musk and amber, and she poured jewels before him, and prepared for him a feast of sweet meats. And slaves stood around and made soft music, and the heart of Byzun was ensnared in the meshes of the net that had been spread. And three days and three nights did he sojourn beside Manijeh, and his passion for her waxed greater, and he thought not of Iran, neither of the time of departure. And Manijeh too rejoiced in his presence, and when the time was come for her to quit the garden of spring she would not part with him. So she gave unto him a cup wherein she had mingled a potion. And the wine caused Byzun to sleep, and while he slept the maidens bare him in a litter even into the house of Afrasiyab. And Manijeh hid him behind the curtains of the women, and none, save only her handmaidens, were aware of his presence.

Now when Byzun awoke he asked whither he was come, and when he learned that he was in the house of Afrasiyab he was afraid, and desired to return unto Iran. But Manijeh quieted his distrust, and he forgot his fears in her love. And she made the earth glad about him, and the hours fled on the wings of wine and of joy. And many days sped thus, and none knew what passed in the house of the women.

Then it came about that a guardian of the door learned thereof, and he came before Afrasiyab, and told unto him that his daughter hid within her house a man of the race of Iran. And Afrasiyab, when he learned it, was beside himself with anger, and he cursed Manijeh, and he said-

"The hour is come unto this man."
Then he called for Gersiwaz, his brother, and bade him go forth with a band of armed men unto the house of the women. And Gersiwaz did as Afrasiyab commanded, and he put guards at all the doors. Then the sounds of lutes and of rejoicing fell upon his ear, for none were aware of the vengeance that was come upon them. And when Gersiwaz was come unto the house of Manijeh, the daughter of Afrasiyab, he brake open the doors, and stood in the midst of the revels. And he beheld within the chamber many slaves playing on lutes of gold, and fair women that handed the wine-cups. And Manijeh was seated upon a throne of gold, and beside her was Byzun, the son of Gew, the Iranian, and joy was painted on his visage.

Now when Gersiwaz beheld Byzun, he cried, "O vile man, thou art fallen into my hands! How wilt thou now save thy life? "

And Byzun was dismayed, for he had neither sword nor armour, and he thought within himself-

"I fear me that my life will end this day."
But he drew forth from his boot a dagger that was hidden therein, and he threatened Gersiwaz, and he said that he would plunge it into his breast if he led him not before Afrasiyab.

Now Gersiwaz knew that Byzun was quick to act, and would do that which he spake, so he held back from combat, and he seized Byzun and bound him, and led him before Afrasiyab. And when Afrasiyab saw him in such plight, he said-

"O man of evil, wherefore didst thou come into my land?"
Then Byzun told him how he was gone forth to slay the boars, and how he was come into the garden of Afrasiyab, and he said that a Peri had borne him unto the palace, for he would not do hurt unto Manijeh. But Afrasiyab refused belief unto his words, and he commanded that a gibbet should be raised without his court, and that Byzun be hung thereon, because he had dishonoured the house of the women, and had stolen like a thief in the night into the house of the King. And in vain did Byzun invoke mercy at the hands of Afrasiyab, and he was led forth beyond the courts. And the men of Afrasiyab made ready the gallows, and Byzun stood bound beneath. And he wept sore in his distress, and he prayed to the winds that they would bear tidings of him unto the Shah of Iran, and he sware that his death should be avenged upon Turan.

Now while he waited thus there passed by Piran, the Pehliva, who was come forth to do homage unto the King. And when he beheld the gibbet he questioned concerning it, and when he learned that it was for Byzun he was troubled. So he got him from his horse and came near unto the youth, and questioned him of this adventure. And Byzun told him all that was come about, and how his evil comrade had laid for him a snare. Then Piran commanded that punishment be stayed until he should have spoken unto Afrasiyab. And he went in and stood before the King as a suppliant. Then Afrasiyab bade him make known his desires. And Piran opened his mouth and spake words of wisdom unto Afrasiyab, his King. And he reminded him of the death of Saiawush, and how Byzun was of much account in his own country, and how surely his blood would be avenged. And he said how the land of Turan was not ready to stand again in a new war, and he prayed Afrasiyab to content him with a dungeon. And he said-

"Heap chains upon Byzun, and let the earth hide him, that Iran may not know whither he is vanished."

Now Afrasiyab knew that the words of Piran were wise, and he gave ear unto them. So Byzun was led forth unto a desert place and he was laden with chains of iron and his tender flesh was bound and he was thrown into a deep hole. And the opening thereof was closed with a mighty stone that the Deev Akwan had torn from the nethermost sea, and neither sun nor moon could be seen by Byzun, and Afrasiyab trusted that his reason would forsake him in this pit. And when he had done thus unto Byzun, he bade Gersiwaz go in unto the house of the daughter that had dishonoured him, and tear off her costly robes, and her crown, and her veil. And he said-

"Let her be cast forth also into the desert, that she may behold the dungeon wherein Byzun is hid. And say unto her, 'Thou hast been his Spring, be now his comforter, and wait upon him in his narrow prison."'

And Gersiwaz did as Afrasiyab commanded, and he tore the veil from off Manijeh, and he caused her to walk barefooted unto the spot where Byzun was hid.

Now Manijeh was bowed down with sorrow, and she wept sore, and she wandered through the desert day and night bewailing her fate. And ever did she return unto the pit, and she sought how she might enter therein. But she could not move the mighty stone that closed its mouth. Yet after some days were gone by she found an opening where she could thrust in her hand. Now when she had found it she rejoiced, and daily she went forth unto the city and begged of men that they would give her bread. And none knew her for the daughter of Afrasiyab, but all had pity upon her sorry plight, and they gave her freely of that which they had. And she returned with it unto Byzun, and she fed him through the hole that she had made. And she spake unto him sweet words of comfort, and she kept his heart alive within him.

Now while these things were passing in Turan, Girgin was returned unto Iran much discomfited. And he pondered how he should come before the Shah, and what he should say unto Gew. And he told them that they had of their combined strength overcome the boars, and he boasted that he had done deeds of great prowess, and he said that a wild ass was come forth out of the forest and had borne away Byzun from before his eyes, and verily he held that it must be a Deev. Then Kai Khosrau questioned him closely, and when he had done so he saw that Girgin held not unto his story. So his mind misgave him, and he commanded that Girgin be put in chains. And he said-

"I will guard thee until I have learned tidings of Byzun."
Now Gew was beside himself with grief because of his only son, whom he loved, but Kai Khosrau spake comfort unto his soul. And he bade riders go forth unto all corners of the wind to seek tidings of Byzun, and he said-

"If I learn nought concerning him until the feast of Neurouz be come, I will search for him in the crystal globe wherein I can behold the world, and read the secrets of destiny."

Now when the horsemen had sought Byzun in vain throughout the plains of Iran and in the gorges of the land of Arman, they returned them unto the courts of the Shah. So when the feast of Neurouz was come, Kai Khosrau clothed himself in a robe of Roum, and he took from off his head the crown of the Kaianides, and he presented himself in humility before Ormuzd. Then he took in his hand the globe of crystal, and he prayed to God that He would grant unto him to behold the seven zones of the world. And God granted it. And Kai Khosrau surveyed all the lands of the earth, and nowhere upon them could he behold Byzun. And he was downcast and sad in his spirit, for he deemed that Byzun was departed from the world. Then Ormuzd showed unto him where he was hidden in a pit, and Kai Khosrau beheld him, and the damsel that watched beside him. So he called before him Gew, and said-

"Let thy heart cease from sorrow, for thy son liveth, and he is tended by a maiden of noble birth. But he is bound, and a mighty stone is laid above his prison, and Rustem alone can deliver him. Wherefore I counsel thee, speed forth unto Zaboulistan and entreat the son of Zal that he come unto our aid yet again."

Then Kai Khosrau wrote a letter unto Rustem, wherein he told him all that was come about, and he gave the writing unto Gew. And Gew sped forth therewith unto Zaboulistan.

Now when he was come within the courts of Rustem, Zal beheld him from afar, and he feared that evil was come upon Iran since the Shah sent forth a man of might like unto Gew to be his messenger. So he came forth in haste and questioned him. And when he learned his mission he bade him come within, and he told him how Rustem was gone forth to chase the wild ass, and he made a feast for him, and entertained him until his son was returned within the courts. Now when Rustem learned the tidings, his eyes were filled with tears, but he spake comfort unto Gew, and he said-

"Be not disquieted, for verily Rustem shall not remove the saddle from Rakush until he hath grasped the hand of Byzun, and broken his chains and his prison."

And when he had read the letter of the Shah, he made him ready to go, before Kai Khosrau. And when he was come into his presence, he did obeisance before him, and he said-

"O King of kings, I am ready to do thy commandments, for my mother brought me into the world that I might weary myself for thee, and unto thee pertaineth rest and joy, and unto me combat everlasting."

Then he chose forth from among the warriors men of renown, that they should go out with him to deliver Byzun. And Girgin sent greeting unto Rustem, and craved of him that he would plead for him with the Shah. And he bewailed his fault, and he entreated that he might go out to succour Byzun. And Rustem asked his forgiveness of Kai Khosrau, and when the Shah would have refused his suit, he pressed him hard. So Kai Khosrau listened to the desires of his Pehliva. Then he said unto him-

"Tell me what men and treasures thou desirest to bear with thee into Turan."

And Rustem said, "I desire not a large army, for I think to regain Byzun by the arts of wile. Give unto me, therefore, jewels and rich brocades, and carpets, and stuffs of value, for I purpose to go forth in the garb of a merchant."

Then Kai Khosrau gave him the key to all his treasures, and Rustem chose forth rich stuffs, and loaded them upon an hundred camels. And he desired seven valiant knights that they should go forth with him clad in the dress of merchants, and that an army be posted in secret upon the borders. And when all was ready the caravan went forth. And they journeyed until they came into the town of Khoten, and all the people came forth to gaze upon their merchandise. Then Rustem, in his disguise, went unto the house of Piran, and he poured gifts before him, and he asked leave of him that he might remain within the borders to sell his wares. And Piran granted his request. So Rustem took for himself a house, and showed his goods unto the people, and bartered them, and it was noised through all the land that a caravan was come out from Iran, and all who had need of aught flocked into the city. And the news spread even unto the ears of Manijeh. And when she learned that it was men of Iran who were come forth, she made her way unto the city, and came before Rustem and questioned him, saying-

"What news is there abroad in Iran concerning Byzun, the son of Gew, and doth no army come forth to save him? O noble merchant, I entreat of thee when thou goest back to thy land, to seek out Gew, and Kai Khosrau, and Rustem the mighty, and bring unto them tidings of Byzun, lest he perish in his chains."

Now Rustem, when he heard her words, was afraid for his secret, for he knew not who she was. Wherefore he spoke roughly unto her, and he said-

"I am a man of peace and of ignoble birth, a merchant, and I know nought of Gew, or of Byzun, or of the Shah. Get thee hence, maiden, thou dost but hinder my business, and this alone concerneth me."

When he had thus spoken, Manijeh looked on him with sorrow, and wept, saying-

"Do the men of Iran refuse tidings unto the poor?"
Then Rustem repented him of his harshness, and said-
"Woman, who art thou, and how do these things regard thee? "
And he caused food to be put before her, and he comforted her with kind words. Then Manijeh said-

"I am daughter unto Afrasiyab, and my father hath cast me forth because of Byzun."

And she told him all that was come about, and how she had tended her beloved, and how she had kept him alive. And she related unto Rustem how he languished in his chains, and how they put their trust alone in Rustem the Pehliva. And she said-

"When it was told unto me that men from Iran were come forth, I sped hither unto thee, for I hoped that tidings of Byzun might come thus unto the mighty warrior."

When Rustem heard her words he was moved with compassion. And when he had spoken softly unto her, he gave to her savoury meats, and he bade her bear them unto Byzun. Now within the body of a fowl he had hidden a ring whereon was graven his seal. And when Byzun came upon it, and felt the ring, and that it bare the name of Rustem, his heart laughed within him, for he knew that the end of his ills was come. And his lips laughed also, and his laughter shook the walls of the pit.

Now when Manijeh heard his laughter she was amazed, and she feared lest his wits were distraught, and she leaned over the mouth of the pit and spake, saying-

"O man of ill fortune, wherefore is thy heart thus light, thou who seest neither sun, nor moon, nor stars?"

Then Byzun answered and said, "Hope is sprung up in my breast."
And Manijeh said, "Whence dost thou behold the rays of hope?"
And Byzun answered, "I know not whether I can confide it unto thee, for a woman cannot keep a secret."

Now Manijeh was pained at these words, and she upbraided Byzun, and recalled to him all she had suffered for his sake. And Byzun repented him of his hasty speech, for he knew that she was prudent and strong of spirit. So he said-

"Swear unto me a great oath, and I will tell it unto thee."
And Manijeh sware. Then Byzun said-
"I know that the merchant who is come forth from Iran is come out because of me. Go therefore again into his presence, and say unto him, 'O Pehliva of the King of kings, tell unto me, art thou the master of Rakush?' "

Now Manijeh, when she had heard these words, sped forth to do the bidding of Byzun. And she came before Rustem, and spake to him the words that had been told her. And he answered and said-

"Go say unto thy friend, verily I am the master of Rakush, and that I am come forth to deliver him."

Then he bade her gather together wood into a pyre, and set light thereto when the night should be come, that he might know where Byzun was laid. And Manijeh did as Rustem commanded, and she wearied not to scour the land, and she stripped the trees of their branches, and her tender body was torn of thorns; but she bare all gladly for the sake of Byzun, whom she loved. And when the night was fallen she set light unto the wood, and Rustem came forth unto the spot, and his seven comrades came with him. And each strove in turn to lift the stone that closed the pit, but none could roll it aside. Then Rustem prayed to God that He would grant him strength, and he came unto the mouth of the pit, and he bent down his body, and he spake unto Byzun, and questioned him how he was come into these straits. Then he said-

"I would ask of thee a boon. Grant thy forgiveness unto Girgin, if it be given unto me to move this stone, and to free thee from out of this pit. For verily he repenteth him of his evil deed, and because he is valiant I would that there should be peace between you."

But Byzun said, "Thou knowest not all the evil that Girgin hath brought upon me. I cannot give ear unto thy request, for I desire to take vengeance upon him."

Then Rustem said, "If thy mind be thus evil that thou wilt not listen to my desires, nor remember how I am come forth in friendship to succour thee, I shall mount upon Rakush and leave thee to perish in thy chains."

When Byzun heard these words he gave a loud cry, and bewailed his evil plight. And he said, "Be it as thou desirest."

Then Rustem laid hold of the stone, and he put forth all his strength, and he lifted it from off the mouth of the pit and threw it far into the desert. Then he let down his cord and enmeshed Byzun therein, and drew him forth from his dungeon. And he was a sorry sight to see, for the earth had withered his body, and his skin hung about his bones.

Now Rustem, when he had broken the chains of Byzun, covered him with a cloak and set him upon a horse, and he took Manijeh also, and led them unto his house in the city. Then when he had refreshed them with water, and covered them with new robes, he desired that they be led unto the spot where the army was hidden. And he said unto Byzun-

"I desire to fall upon Turan, but thou art too wasted to fight."
But Byzun said, "Not so; let Manijeh go forth into shelter, but it behoveth not a man to be guarded like a woman."

And he refused ear to the desires of Rustem, and he clad him in a coat of mail, and he girded him to ride beside the Pehliva. And they went forth in the darkness until they were come unto the house of Afrasiyab. And when they were come there, Rustem lifted the doors from off their hinges and entered into the precincts, and he slew the guards that kept the curtains, and he made him a passage unto the chamber of Afrasiyab. And when he stood therein he lifted up his voice of thunder, and he cried-

"Sleep, man of folly, and may thy slumbers be deep. Thou hast rested upon thy throne while Byzun was hidden in a pit. But thou hast forgotten that a road leadeth from Iran into Turan, and thou didst think in thine evil heart that none would come forth to avenge him. Listen, therefore, unto my voice; for I am Rustem, the son of Zal, the Pehliva, and I have broken down thy doors, and released Byzun from his chains, and I am come to do vengeance upon thee."

When Afrasiyab heard these words he awoke, and cried out in his fear. And he called upon the names of his guards. But no man came forth, because they had been laid low by the hands of Rustem. Then Afrasiyab made his way unto the door, and because it was dark he escaped thence, and he fled before the face of Rustem, and left his house between his hands. Then Rustem took much rich booty of slaves, and horses, and jewels, and when he had done so he sped back unto his army, for he knew that with the day Afrasiyab would come forth with an host to assail him. And it came about as he foresaw, and when the day was risen the watchers cried out that an army marched forth from Turan. Then Rustem set his men in battle order, and he sent Manijeh and the slaves and the booty into Iran, and he placed himself at the head of the host, and Byzun rode beside him. And there was fought a mighty battle, and great was the slaughter, and the bodies of the slain and the broken armour covered the earth. And the banner of Turan sank, and Afrasiyab fled before his enemies.

Then Rustem returned with joy unto Kai Khosrau, and the Shah was glad also. And he came forth to greet his Pehliva, and there rode with him Gew and Gudarz, his warriors. And when Kai Khosrau saw Rustem he embraced him, and said-

"O stay of my soul, and man of valour, thou resemblest the sun, for wheresoever men may look they behold the traces of thy mighty deeds. Happy is Zal who owneth a son such as thou!"

Then he blessed him, and showered rich gifts upon him; and Gew blessed him also, and Gudarz, because he had brought back Byzun into their midst. Then Kai Khosrau gave orders that a great feast be prepared, and the heroes drank until their heads were heavy with wine. But in the morning Rustem came before the Shah in audience, and opened his mouth and said-

"May it please the King to lend his ear unto his slave. I desire to return unto Zal, my father."

And Kai Khosrau listened to the just desires of Rustem, though he would fain have kept him in his courts.

Now when Rustem was departed, Kai Khosrau called before him Byzun, and he spake to him of that which was come about, and he poured pity upon the daughter of Afrasiyab when he learned all she had suffered for the sake of Byzun; and he gave him rich gifts, and bade him bear them unto her, and he said-

"Cherish this woman in thy bosom, and suffer not that grief come nigh unto her, neither speak to her cold words, for she hath endured much for thee. And may thy life beside her be happy."

And when the Shah had thus spoken he dismissed Byzun from his presence.

Thus endeth the history of Byzun and Manijeh.

 

The Defeat of Afrasiyab

Mourning and sorrow filled the heart of Afrasiyab because of his defeat, and he pondered in his spirit how the fortunes of Iran might be retrieved. So he sent messengers unto all his vassals that they should unsheathe the sword of strife and make ready an army. And the nobles did as Afrasiyab bade them, and they got together an host that covered the ground, and sent it forth before the King. And the King placed Schideh his son at the head thereof, and he said unto him-

"Open not the door of peace, neither treat Kai Khosrau other than as an enemy."

Now when the Shah heard tidings of the army that Afrasiyab had made ready against him, he commanded that no man who could use the bridle and the stirrup should stay within the borders of Iran. And when the army was ready he placed at its head Gudarz the wise. But Kai Khosrau bade yet again that Gudarz should seek to win Piran the Pehliva unto Iran ere the hosts met in battle. For the Shah remembered the benefits he had received at his hands, and it grieved him sore to go out against him in enmity. And Gudarz did as the Shah desired, and when he had crossed the Jihun he sent Gew, his son, unto Piran that he might speak with him. But Piran shut ear unto the voice of Gew, and he said that he had led forth his army to battle, and that it behoved him to do that which was commanded of Afrasiyab.

So the two armies were drawn up in order of battle, and each desired that the other should fall upon them the first. And for three days and three nights they faced each other, and you would have said that no man so much as moved his lips. And Gudarz was posted before his men, and day and night he searched the stars and the sun and moon for augury. And he demanded of them whether he should advance or whether he should stay. And Piran also waited that he might behold what the Iranians would do.

But Byzun was angry thereat, and he went before his father and entreated him to urge his grandsire unto action. "For surely," he said, "Gudarz hath lost his wits that he thus regardeth the sun and stars, and thinketh not of the enemy." And Gew strove in vain to quiet him.

And in the ranks of Turan also Human grew impatient, and he asked permission of his brother to challenge the nobles of Iran to single fight. And Piran sought to dissuade him in vain. So he got ready his steed of battle, and rode until he came within the lines of Iran. And when he was come thither he sought out Rehham, the son of Gudarz, and challenged him to measure his strength. But Rehham said-

"My soul thirsteth after the combat, yet since my father hath commanded that the army advance not, it beseemeth me not to forget his behests. And remember, O valiant Turk, that he who ventureth first upon the battlefield hath no need to seek the pathway to return."

Then Human said, "Men had told unto me that Rehham was a knight of courage, but now I know that he is afraid." And he turned away his steed and rode until he came nigh unto Friburz, and he challenged him also in words of pride, and he said-

"Thou art brother unto Saiawush, show now if there live within thee aught of valour."

But Friburz answered, "Go forth before Gudarz and demand of him that I may fight, and verily if he listen unto thy voice, it will be a joy unto my soul."

Then Human said, "I see that thou art a hero only in words." And he turned his back upon him also, and he rode till that he came before Gudarz the Pehliva. And he raised his voice and spake unto him words of insolence, and he defied him to lead forth his army. But Gudarz would not listen unto his voice. Then Human turned him back unto the camp of Turan, and he said unto the army how that the men of Iran were craven. And when the army heard it they raised shouts of great joy.

Now the shouting of the men of Turan pierced even unto the cars of the Iranians, and they were sore hurt thereat; and the nobles came before Gudarz and laid before him their complaints, and they entreated of him that he would lead them forth that they might prove their valour. And Byzun, when he heard what had been done, came before his grandsire like to a lion in his fury, and he craved that he would grant unto him that he might reply unto the challenge of Human. Now when Gudarz beheld that all the nobles were against him, he listened unto the ardour of Byzun, and he gave to him leave to go forth, and he accorded to him the armour of Saiawush, and he blessed him and bade him be victorious. Then Byzun sent a messenger unto Human, and the place of combat was chosen. And when the sun was risen they met upon the field, and Human cried unto his adversary, and he said-

"O Byzun, thine hour is come, for I will send thee back unto Gew in such guise that his heart shall be torn with anguish."

But Byzun answered and said, "Why waste we our time in words, let us fall upon one another."

Then they did as Byzun desired. And they fought with swords and with arrows, with maces also and with fists, and sore was the struggle and weary, and the victory leaned unto neither side. And they strove thus from the time of dawn until the sun had lengthened the shadows, and Byzun was afraid lest the day should end in doubt. Then he sent up a prayer unto Ormuzd that He would lend unto him strength. And Ormuzd listened unto the petition of His servant. Then Byzun caught Human in his arms and flung him upon the ground, and he beat out his brains, and he severed his head from off his trunk, that the murder of Saiawush might be avenged. Then he gave thanks unto God, and turned him back unto the camp, and he bore aloft the head of Human. And the army of Iran, when they beheld it, set up a great shout, but from the ranks of Turan there came the noise of wailing. And Piran was bowed down with grief and anger, and he commanded the army should go forth and fall upon the Iranians.

Now there was fought a battle such as men have not seen the like. And the earth was covered with steel, and arrows fell from the clouds like hail, and the ground was torn with hoofs, and blood flowed like water upon the plains. And the dead lay around in masses, and the feet of the horses could not stir because of them. Then the chiefs of the army said among themselves-

"If we part not these heroes upon the field of vengeance, there will remain nought when the night is come save only the earth that turns, and God, the Master of the world."

Yet they withdrew not from the combat until the darkness had thrown a mantle over the earth, and they could no longer look upon their foes.

Now when the earth was become like unto ebony, the leaders of the hosts met in conference. And it was decided between them that they should choose forth valiant men from their midst, and that on the morrow the fate of the lands should be decided by them. For they grieved for the blood that had been spilled, and they desired that the hand of destruction be stayed. So when the morning was come they chose forth their champions, and ten men of valour were picked from each host, and Piran and Gudarz led them out unto the plain. Now on each side of the plain uprose a mountain. So Gudarz said unto his comrades-

"Whosoever among you hath laid low his adversary, let him mount this hill and plant the flag that he hath won upon its crest, that the army may learn whom we have vanquished."

And Piran spake unto his men in like manner. Then the ten drew up and faced one another, and each man stood opposed to the adversary that he had chosen. Now Friburz was the first to begin combat, and he was opposed unto Kelbad, the kinsman of Piran. And he rode at him with fury, and he laid him low with his bow, and he galloped with joy unto the mountain and planted the standard of Kelbad upon its crest. Then when it was done, Gew came forward to meet his adversary, and he was placed over against Zereh, the man whom Kai Khosrau hated because he had severed the head of Saiawush from its trunk. And Gew was careful not to slay him, but he threw his cord about him and caught him in the snares and bound him. Then he took from him his standard, and led him bound unto the mountain. And there followed after him Gourazeh, and he too laid low his foe and planted his flag upon the crest of the hill. And likewise did all the champions of Iran; and when the ninth hour was ended there waved nine standards from off the hill, and none remained to fight save only Piran and Gudarz the aged. Then Gudarz girded him for the combat, and for a mighty space they wrestled sore, but in the end Gudarz laid low the power of Piran.

Now when the Iranians beheld the standard of Piran planted aloft amid those of his champions, they were beside themselves for joy, and they called down the blessings of Heaven upon the knight. Then a messenger was sent to bear the tidings unto Kai Khosrau, and he took with him Zereh that the Shah might with his own hand sever that vile head from off its trunk. And Kai Khosrau rejoiced at the news, and he rode forth that he might visit his army. But when he beheld the body of Piran he wept sore, and he remembered his kindness of old, and he grieved for the man that had been to him a father. Then he commanded that a royal tomb be raised unto Piran, and he seated him therein upon a throne of gold, and he did unto him all reverence. But when it was done he aided his army to beat back the men of Turan yet again, and he caused them to sue for peace. And when they had brought forth their armour and piled it at the feet of Kai Khosrau, he bade them depart in peace. Then he returned with joy unto his own land, and he gave thanks unto God for the victory that was his. But he knew also that the time of peace could not be long, and that Afrasiyab would dream of vengeance.

 

The Passing of Kai Khosrau

Now it came to pass as Kai Khosrau foretold. For Afrasiyab, when he learned the death of Piran, was beside himself with grief. And he lifted up his voice in wailing, and he spake, saying-

"I will no longer taste the joys of life, nor live like unto a man that weareth a crown, until I be avenged upon Kai Khosrau, the offspring of an accursed race. May the seed of Saiawush perish from off the face of the earth!

"And when he had so spoken he made ready for yet another war, and from all corners of the earth the kings came forth to aid him. And Kai Khosrau, when he learned thereof, got ready his army also, and he sware that he would lead this war of vengeance unto a good end. So he sent greeting unto Rustem his Pehliva, and prayed of him that he would aid him in his resolve. And Rustem listened to the voice of his Shah, and came forth from Zaboulistan with a mighty army to aid him. Then the Shah confided his hosts unto Tur and Rustem, and the valleys, and the hills, and the deserts, and the plains were filled with the dust that uprose from their footsteps. And they were warriors that bare high their heads, and they knew neither weariness nor fear.

Now when the armies met, Afrasiyab called before him Pescheng, his son, and bade him bear a writing unto the Shah of Iran. And he wrote, saying-

"That which thou hast done, it is contrary to custom; for a son may not lift his hand against his father, and the head of a grandson that goeth out in enmity against his grandsire is filled with evil. And I say unto thee, Saiawush was not slain without just cause, for he turned him away from his ruler. And if thou sayest unto me that I am an evil man, and issue of the race of Ahriman, remember that thou too art sprung from my loins, and that thy insults fall back upon thyself. Renounce, therefore, this strife, and let a treaty be made between us, and the blood of Saiawush be forgotten. And if thou wilt listen unto my voice, I will cover thee with jewels, and gold and precious things will I give unto thee, and joy shall reign throughout the land."

But Kai Khosrau, when he had read this message, knew that Afrasiyab sought only to beguile him. So he sent a writing unto the King of Turan, and he said-

"The cause of strife between us is not sprung from Saiawush alone, but for that which thou didst aforetime, and which thy fathers did unto Irij. Yet that which thou hast done hath caused the measure of wrath to overflow. Wherefore the sword alone can decide between us."

Then he challenged the nobles of Turan to come forth in combat. And he himself strove with Schideh, the son of Afrasiyab, and he laid him low after the manner in which Afrasiyab had laid low the head of Saiawush. And when he had done so, the army of Turan came forth to avenge their king, but the men of Iran overcame them. And Afrasiyab was constrained to fly from before the face of Kai Khosrau, and it was as gall and wormwood unto his spirit. And Kai Khosrau followed after him, and he would not suffer him to hide himself from his sight; and he made him come forth yet again in battle, and yet again he routed him utterly. And the men of Iran slew the men of Turan until the field of battle was like unto a sea of blood, and they fought until the night covered the heavens, and the eyes of the warriors were darkened with sleep. And Afrasiyab fled yet again beyond the borders of Turan, and he craved of his vassals that they would hide him from the wrath of Kai Khosrau. But the nobles were afraid of the Shah, and of Rustem, who went with him; and they refused shelter unto Afrasiyab, and he was hunted over the face of the earth. Then he sought out the King of China, and asked of him that he would shelter him. And the King gave him shelter for a while. But when Kai Khosrau learned where Afrasiyab was hid, he followed after him, and he bade the King of China render to him his enemy, and he menaced him with fire and sword if he did not listen to his behest. So the King bade Afrasiyab depart from out his borders. And Afrasiyab fled yet again, but wheresoever he hid himself he was found of Kai Khosrau, and his life was a weariness unto him.

Now for the space of two years Kai Khosrau did thus unto Afrasiyab, and the glory of Turan was eclipsed, and Rustem reigned within the land. And when the second year was ended the power of Afrasiyab was broken, and Kai Khosrau bethought him to return unto Iran and seek out Kai Kaous, his sire. And the old Shah, when he learned it, was young again for joy. He caused his house to be decked worthy a guest, and he made ready great feasts, and he called forth all his nobles to do honour unto Kai Khosrau, his son. And all the land was decked in festal garb, and the world resembled cloth of gold, and musk and amber perfumed the air, and jewels were strewn about the streets like unto vile dust.

Now when the Shah came nigh unto the city, Kai Kaous went forth to meet him, and he prostrated him in the dust before his son. But Kai Khosrau suffered it not, but raised him, and he kissed him upon his cheeks, and he took his hand, and he told unto him of all the wonders that he had beheld upon his travels, and of the mighty deeds that had been done of Rustem and his men. And Kai Kaous was filled with marvel at his grandson, and he could not cease from praising him and pouring gifts before his face. And when they had feasted the army, and were sated with speech, they went in unto the temple of Ormuzd and gave thanks unto God for all His blessings.

Now while these things were passing in the land of Iran, Afrasiyab wandered over the earth, and he knew neither rest nor nourishment. And his soul was unquiet, and his body was weary, and he feared danger on all sides. And he roamed till that he found a cavern in the side of a mountain, and he crept into it for rest. And he remained a while within the cave pondering his evil deeds, and his heart was filled with repentance. And he prayed aloud unto God that He would grant him forgiveness of his sins, and the cries of his sorrow rent the air.

Now the sound thereof pierced even unto the ears of Houm, a hermit of the race of Feridoun, who had taken up his abode in the mountains. And Houm, when he heard the cries, said within himself, "These are lamentations of Afrasiyab." So he sought out the spot whence they came forth, and when he had found Afrasiyab he wrestled with him and caught him in his snare. Then he bound him, and led him even into Iran before the face of Kai Khosrau, that the Shah might deal with him according to his desire.

Now when Afrasiyab was come before the Shah, Kai Khosrau reproached him yet again with his vile deeds. And when he had done speaking, he lifted up his sword and he smote with it the neck of Afrasiyab, and he severed his head from off his trunk, even as Afrasiyab had done unto Saiawush, his father. And thus was the throne of Turan made void of Afrasiyab, and his evil deeds had in the end brought evil upon himself. And Gersiwaz, whom the Shah had taken captive in the battle, was witness of the fate of his brother. And when he had looked upon the end of Afrasiyab, Kai Khosrau lifted up the sword against him also, and caused him to perish in like manner as he had slain Saiawush.

And when it was done, and the vengeance was complete, the Shah caused a writing to be sent unto all his lands, and to every noble therein and every vassal, even from the west unto the east. And he told unto them therein how that the war of vengeance was ended, and how that the earth was delivered of the serpent brood. And he bade them think on the arts of peace and deliver up their hearts to gladness. And when it was done Kai Kaous made him ready to depart from the world. So he gave thanks unto God that He had suffered him to see the avenging of Saiawush accomplished, and he said-

"I have beheld my grandson, the light of mine eyes, avenge me and himself. And now am I ready to go forth unto Thee, for thrice fifty years have rolled above my head, and my hair is white and my heart is weary."

And after he had thus spoken Kai Kaous passed away, and there remained of him in the world but the memory of his name. Then Kai Khosrau mourned for his grandsire as was fitting. But when the days of mourning were ended he mounted again the throne of the Kaianides, and for sixty years did Kai Khosrau rule the world in equity, and wisdom flourished under his hands. And wheresoever the Shah looked he beheld that his hand was stretched out in gladness, and there was peace in all the lands. Then he gave praise unto God that He had suffered him to do these things. And when he had done so he pondered within himself, and he grew afraid lest Ahriman should get possession of his soul, and lest he should grow uplifted in pride like unto Jemshid, that forgot whence came his weal and the source of his blessings. So he said within himself-

"It behoveth me to be careful, for I am sprung from the race of Zohak, and perchance I may become a curse unto the earth, like to him. Wherefore I will entreat of Ormuzd that He take me unto Himself before this evil befall me, since there is no longer work for me to do on earth."

Then he gave commandment to the keepers of the curtains that they suffer no man to enter in upon him, but he bade them refuse it with all kindness. And when it was done Kai Khosrau withdrew him into the inner courts, and he ungirded him of his sash of might, and he laved his limbs in a running stream, and he presented himself in prayer before God his Maker. And for seven days the Shah stood in the presence of Ormuzd, neither did he weary to importune Him in prayer.

Now while he did so many great ones of Iran came unto the courts of the Shah and demanded audience. And it was refused them. Then they murmured among themselves, and they marvelled why the thoughts of the King should have grown dark in a time of good fortune. And when they found that their importunity availed them nought, they consulted among themselves what they should do. Then Gudarz said-

"Let us send tidings of these things even unto Zal and Rustem, and entreat of them that they come unto our aid, for perchance Kai Khosrau will listen unto their voice."

So Gew was sent forth into Zaboulistan.
Now when he was gone, it came about that on a certain day, when the sun had lifted his shield of gold above the world, Kai Khosrau ordained that the curtains of the audience-chamber be lifted. So there came in unto him his Mubids and the nobles, and they stood about his throne, and their hands were crossed in supplication. Then Kai Khosrau, when he saw it, asked of them what they desired. So they opened their mouths and said-

"May it please the Shah to tell unto us wherein we have failed that we are shut out from his presence."

Then Kai Khosrau answered and said, "The fault is not with you, and the sight of my nobles is a feast unto mine eyes. But my heart hath conceived a desire that will not be quieted, and it giveth me rest neither by day nor by night and I know not how it will end. Yet the time is not ripe to tell unto you my secrets, but verily I will speak when the hour is come. Return, therefore, unto your homes, and be glad in your spirits, and rejoice in the wine-cup, for no foe troubleth the land, and prosperity hangeth over Iran."

Then when he had so spoken, Kai Khosrau dismissed them graciously. But when they were departed he gave commandment that the curtains be closed, and that no man be suffered to enter his courts. And he presented him yet again before God, and he prayed in the fervour of his spirit, and he entreated of Ormuzd that He would suffer him to depart from the world now that his task therein was ended. For he beheld that this life is but vanity, and he yearned to go hence unto his Maker. And for the space of five weeks did Kai Khosrau stand thus before his God, and he could neither eat nor sleep, and his heart was disquieted.

Now it came about one night that Kai Khosrau fell asleep for weariness. And there appeared unto him a vision, and the Serosch, the angel of God, stood before him. And he spake words of comfort to Kai Khosrau, and he said that the Shah had done that which was right in the sight of God, and he bade him prepare for his end, and he said-

"Before thou goest hence choose from amongst thy nobles a king that is worthy the throne. And let him be a man that hath a care of all things that are created, even unto the tiny emmet that creepeth along the ground. And when thou hast ordered all things, the moment of thy departure shall be come."

When Kai Khosrau awoke from his dream he rejoiced, and poured out his thanks before God. Then he went unto his throne and seated himself thereon, and got together his treasures. And he ordered the world for his departure.

Now while he did so, Zal and Rustem, his son, were come unto the city, and their hearts were filled with sore displeasure because of that which the nobles had told unto them. And the army came forth to greet them, and they wept sore, and prayed of Zal that he would turn back unto them the heart of Kai Khosrau. And they said, "A Deev hath led him astray." Then Zal and Rustem went in before the Shah. And Kai Khosrau, when he saw them, was amazed, but he was glad also, and he gave them his hand in greeting. And he accorded to them seats of honour, as was their due, and when he had done so, he asked of them wherefore they were come forth. Then Zal opened his mouth and spake, saying-

"I have heard, even in Zaboulistan, that the curtains of the Shah are closed unto his servants. And the people cry out thereat, and men say that Kai Khosrau is departed from the path that is right. Wherefore I am come forth to entreat of thee, if thou have a secret care, that thou confide it to thy servant, and surely a device may be found. For since the days of Minuchihr there is no Shah like to thee, but thy nobles are afraid lest thou stumble in the paths of Zohak and Afrasiyab. Wherefore they entreat of me that I admonish thee."

Now when Kai Khosrau had listened unto the voice of Zal the aged, he was not angered, but he answered, saying-

"O Zal, thou knowest not that whereof thou speakest. For I have withdrawn myself from men that I might do no evil, and I have prayed unto God that He take me unto Himself. And now is the Serosch come unto me, and I know that Ormuzd hath listened unto my voice."

When the nobles heard this they were afflicted, but Zal was angered, and he deemed that the wits of Kai Khosrau were distraught. And he said-

"Since I have stood before the throne of the Kaianides no Shah hath spoken words like to thine. And I fear that a Deev hath led thee astray, and I implore of thee that thou listen not unto his voice, and that thou give ear unto the words of an aged man, and that thou turn thee back into the path that is right."

And when Zal had done speaking, the nobles cried with one accord that he had spoken for them also. Then Kai Khosrau was sorrowful, but he would not suffer anger to come into his spirit. And when he had pondered, he opened his mouth and spake, saying-

"O Zal, I have given ear unto the words which thou hast spoken, give ear now unto the answer. For I have not departed from the paths of Ormuzd, and no Deev hath led me astray. And I swear it unto thee, even by God the Most High. But because I am sprung from Afrasiyab the evil one, and am linked unto the race of Zohak, I am afraid, and I fear to grow like to Jemshid and Tur, who wearied the world with their oppressions. And, behold, I have avenged my father, and have made the world submissive unto my will; and I have established justice in the realm, and the earth is glad, wherefore there is no longer aught for me to do, for the power of the wicked is broken. Therefore, lest I grow uplifted in my soul, I have entreated of Ormuzd that He suffer me now to go hence, even unto Himself. For I am weary of the throne and of my majesty, and my soul crieth for rest."

When Zal heard these words he was confounded, for he knew that they were true. And he fell in the dust before the Shah, and he craved his forgiveness for the hard speech that he had spoken, and he wept, saying-

"O Kai Khosrau, we desire not that thou go hence."
And the Shah accorded forgiveness unto the old man, because of the great love he bare him; and he lifted him from the ground and kissed him. And when he had done so, he bade him go forth with Rustem. And he commanded that the nobles and all their armies should camp upon the plains. And Zal did as the Shah desired, and the hosts were encamped without the doors.

Now when it was done, Kai Khosrau mounted upon the crystal throne, and he held in his hand the ox-headed mace, and he bare on his head the crown of the Kaianides, and a sash of might was girded round his loins. And on his right hand stood Rustem the Pehliva, and on his left Zal the aged. And he lifted up his voice and spake words of wisdom unto his army; and he said unto them that the sojourn of man was brief upon the earth, and that it became him to remember his end. And he said how he had also bethought him of his death. And he spake, saying-

"I have made me ready to depart, and my testament will I speak before you. I will give richly unto those that have wearied themselves in my service, and of those to whom I owe gratitude I will speak unto God, and implore of Him that He reward them according to their deserts. And I give unto the Iranians my gold, and my armour, and my jewels, and whosoever is great among you to him do I give a province."

Thus for the space of seven days did the Shah sit upon his throne and order his treasurer how he should act. Then on the eighth he called before him Gudarz the wise, and he gave to him instructions. And he bade him be kind unto the poor, and the widowed, and the fatherless, and he entreated him to dry the eye of care. Then he gave unto him much treasure, and rendered unto him thanks for the services that he had done before him. And he gave rich gifts also unto Zal, and Gew, and Rustem, and to all his nobles, according to their degree. And he desired of them that they should ask a boon at his hands, and whatsoever it was he gave it. And he spake, saying-

"May my memory be hateful unto none."
Then he called before him Rustem, and praised the mighty deeds that he had done, and he invoked the blessings of Heaven upon his Pehliva. And after many days, when all these things were accomplished, the Shah was weary, but his task was not yet fulfilled. For there was one among the nobles whose name he had not named. And the others knew thereof, but they ventured not again to admonish Kai Khosrau, for they were amazed at his wisdom and his justice, and they saw that he did that which was right.

Now after some time the Shah opened his mouth and called before him Byzun, and he said-

"Lead forth before me Lohurasp, who is sprung from the seed of Husheng, the Shah."

And Byzun did as Kai Khosrau commanded.
Now when he had brought Lohurasp before the throne, Kai Khosrau descended from its height, and he gave his hand unto Lohurasp and blessed him. Then he put upon his head the crown of the Kaianides and saluted him Shah, and he said-

"May the world be submissive to thy will."
But the nobles, when they saw it, were confounded, and they murmured among themselves that Lohurasp should have the kingdom, and they questioned wherefore they should pay allegiance unto him. Then Kai Khosrau was angered, and he opened his lips, saying-

"Ye speak of that ye know not, and haste hath unbridled your tongues. For I say unto you that which I have done I have done justly, and in the sight of God, and I know that Lohurasp is a man worthy the throne, and that Iran will prosper under his hands. And I desire that ye salute him Shah, and whosoever regardeth not this, my last desire, I hold him a rebel unto God, and judgment shall fall upon him."

Now Zal, when he heard these words, knew that they were just. So he stepped out from among the nobles and came before Lohurasp, and did obeisance unto him as to the Shah. And the army, when they saw it, shouted their homage also, and all the land of Iran was made acquainted with the tidings.

Now when it was done, Kai Khosrau turned him to his nobles, saying-

"I go now to prepare my spirit for death." And when he had so spoken he entered behind the curtains of his house. And he called before him his women, and he told unto them how he should depart. And they wept sore at the tidings. Then Kai Khosrau confided them unto Lohurasp, and he gave to him safe counsels, and he said-

"Be thou the woof and the warp of justice."
And when all was ready, he gat him upon his horse to go forth into the mountains. And Lohurasp would have gone also, but Kai Khosrau suffered it not. But there went with him Zal and Rustem, Gudarz also, and Gustahem and Gew, and Byzun the valiant, and Friburz, the son of Kai Kaous, and Tus the Pehliva. And they followed after him from the plains unto the crest of the mountains. And they ceased not from mourning that which was done of Kai Khosrau, and they said among themselves that never had Shah done like unto him. And they strove to change his purpose. But Kai Khosrau said unto them-

"All is well, wherefore weep ye and trouble my spirit? "
Now when they were gone with him the space of seven days, Kai Khosrau turned unto his nobles and spake, saying-

"Return now upon the road that ye are come, for I am about to enter in upon a path where neither herb nor water can be found. Wherefore I entreat of you that ye spare yourselves this weariness."

Then Zal and Rustem, and Gudarz the aged, listened unto the voice of the Shah, for they knew that he spake that which it became them to obey. But the others refused ear unto his voice, and they followed after him yet another day, but their force was spent in the desert. Now when the evening of that day was come they found a running stream. Then Kai Khosrau said, "Let us halt in this spot." And when they were encamped he spake unto them of the things that were past, and he said unto them that when the sun should have lifted up its face anew they should behold him no longer in their midst, for the time of his departure was at hand. And when the night was fallen he drew aside and bathed his body in the water, and prayed unto God his Maker. Then he came yet again before his nobles, and he awakened them from their slumbers, and he spake unto them words of parting. And he said-

"When the daylight shall be come back, I say unto you, return upon your path, neither linger in this place, though it should rain musk and amber, for out of the mountains a great storm will arise that shall uproot the trees and strip the leaves from off their branches. And there shall come a fall of snow such as Iran hath not seen the like. But if ye do not as I say unto you, verily ye shall never find the path of return."

Now the nobles were troubled when they heard these words, and the slumber that fell upon their eyelids was fined with sorrow. But when the raven of night flew upwards, and the glory of the world flooded the earth with its light, Kai Khosrau was vanished from among them, and they sought out his traces in vain. Now when they beheld that he was gone, they wept in the bitterness of their hearts, and Friburz spake, saying-

"O my friends, listen to the words that I shall speak. I pray of you, let us linger yet a while in this spot, lest peradventure Kai Khosrau should return. And since it is good to be here, I know not wherefore we should haste to depart."

And the nobles listened to his voice, and they encamped them on this spot, and they spake continually of Kai Khosrau, and wept for him, but they forgot the commandment that he had spoken. Now while they slept there arose a mighty wind, and it brought forth clouds, and the sky grew dark, and before the daylight was come back unto the world the earth was wrapped in snow like to a shroud, and none could tell the valleys and the hills asunder. And the nobles, when they awoke, knew not whither they should turn, and they sought after their path in vain. And the snow fell down upon them, and they could not free them of its might, and though they strove against it, it rose above their heads and buried them, and after a little the life departed out of their bodies.

Now after many days, when Zal, and Rustem, and Gudarz beheld that the nobles returned not, they grew afraid and sent forth riders to seek them. And the men searched long, but in the end they found the bodies, and they bare them down into the plains. And sore was the wailing in the army when they beheld it, and a noble tomb was raised above their heads. But Lohurasp, when he learned that Kai Khosrau was vanished, mounted the throne of the Kaianides. And he called before him his people that they should do allegiance unto him. And they did so, and the place of Kai Khosrau knew him no more.

 

Isfendiyar

Lohurasp reigned in wisdom upon the crystal throne, and Iran was as wax under his hands. And men were content under his sway, save only Gushtasp, his son, who was rebellious of spirit. And Gushtasp was angered because his father would not abandon unto him the sovereignty. Wherefore, when he beheld that his pleading was vain, he stole away from Iran and sought out the land of Roum, and the city that Silim his forefather had builded. And he did great deeds of prowess in the land, so that the King gave unto him his daughter to wife.

Now Lohurasp, when he learned of the mighty deeds done of his son, strove to win him back unto himself. So he sent forth messengers bearing words of greeting and entreated of Gushtasp that he would return unto the courts of his father. And he sware unto him that if he would listen unto his voice, he would abandon unto him the throne. So Gushtasp listened to the voice of his father, and he returned him unto Iran. And Lohurasp stepped down from off the throne of the Kaianides and gave place unto Gushtasp, his son. And one hundred and twenty years had he reigned in equity, and now that it was done he hid himself within the temples of Balkh, that he might live in the sight of God, and make him ready to meet his end. And Gushtasp, his son, ruled the land worthily, and he administered justice in such wise that sheep could drink at the same brook as the wolves.

Now when he had sat some while upon the throne, there appeared in the land Zerdusht, the prophet of the Most High. And he came before the Shah and taught him, and he went out in all the land and gave unto the people a new faith. And he purged Iran of the might of Ahriman. He reared throughout the realm a tree of goodly foliage, and men rested beneath its branches. And whosoever ate of the leaves thereof was learned in all that regardeth the life to come, but whosoever ate of the branches was perfect in wisdom and faith. And Zerdusht gave unto men the Zendavesta, and he bade them obey its precepts if they would attain everlasting life.

But tidings concerning Zerdusht were come even unto Arjasp, who sat upon the throne of Afrasiyab, and he said within himself, "This thing is vile." So he refused ear unto the faith, and he sent a writing unto Gushtasp, wherein he bade him return unto the creed of his fathers. And he said-

"If thou turn thee not, make thee ready for combat; for verily I say unto thee, that unless thou cast out Zerdusht, this man of guile, I will overthrow thy kingdom and seat me upon thy throne."

When Gushtasp heard the haughty words that Arjasp had spoken, he marvelled within himself. Then he called before him a scribe, and sent back answer unto Arjasp. And he said that he would deliver up unto the sword whosoever swerved from the paths of Zerdusht, and whosoever would not choose them, him also would he destroy. And he bade him, therefore, get ready to meet Iran in battle. Then when he had sent this writing, Gushtasp got together his hosts and mustered them, and he beheld that they outnumbered the grass upon the fields. And the dust that uprose from their feet darkened the sky, and the neighing of their horses and the clashing of their armour were heard above the music of the cymbals. And the banners pierced the clouds like to trees that grow upon a mountain. And Gushtasp gave the command of this host unto Isfendiyar, his son. And Isfendiyar was a hero of renown, and his tongue was a bright sword, and his heart was bounteous as the ocean, and his hands were like the clouds when rain falls to gladden the earth. And he took the lead of the army, and he led it forth into Turan.

Now when the men of Turan and of Iran met in conflict, a great battle was waged between them, and for the space of twice seven days they did not cease from combat, neither did any of the heroes close their eyes in slumber. And their rage was hot one against another, but in the end the might of Iran overcame, and Arjasp fled before the face of Isfendiyar.

Then Isfendiyar returned him unto Iran, and presented himself before his father, and demanded a blessing at his hands. But Gushtasp said-

"The time is not yet come when thou shouldest mount the throne."
So he sent him forth yet again that he might turn all the lands unto the faith of Zerdusht. And Isfendiyar did as Gushtasp commanded.

Now while he was gone forth there came before the Shah one Gurjam, who was of evil mind and foe unto Isfendiyar. And he spake ill of Isfendiyar unto his father, and he said unto Gushtasp that his son strove to wrest from him the sovereignty. And Gushtasp, when he learned it, was wroth, and he sent forth messengers that they should search out Isfendiyar, and bring him before the Shah in the assembly of the nobles. And when Isfendiyar was come, Gushtasp spake not unto him in greeting, but he turned him to his nobles, and he recounted unto them a parable. Then he told unto them of a son who sought to put to death his father, and he asked of them what punishment this father should mete out unto his child. And the nobles cried with one accord-

"This thing which thou relatest unto us, it is not right, and if there be a son so evil, let him be put into chains and cast in bondage."

Then Gushtasp said, "Let Isfendiyar be put into chains."
And Isfendiyar opened his mouth in vain before his father, for Gushtasp would not listen unto his voice. So they cast him out into a dungeon, and chains of weight were hung upon him, and the daylight came not nigh unto him, neither did joy enter into his heart. And he languished many years, and the heart of the Shah was not softened towards him.

Now when Arjasp learned that the might of Isfendiyar was fettered, and that Gushtasp was given over to pleasures, he gathered together an army to fall into Iran and avenge the defeat that was come upon his hosts. So he fell upon Balkh before any were aware of it and he put to death Lohurasp the Shah and he made captive the daughters of Gushtasp. And Arjasp threw fire into the temples of Zerdusht and did much destruction unto the city and it was some while ere Gushtasp learned that which he had done. But when he had news thereof he was dismayed, and he called together his army and put himself at their head. But the Turanians were mightier than he, and they routed him utterly, and Gushtasp fled before their face. Then the Shah called together his nobles, and consulted with them how he should act in these sore straits. And one among them who was wise above the rest said-

"I counsel thee that thou release Isfendiyar, thy son, and that thou give to him the command, for he alone can deliver the land."

And Gushtasp said, "I will do as thou sayest, and if Isfendiyar shall deliver us from this foe, I will abandon unto him the throne and the crown."

Then he sent messengers unto Isfendiyar that they should unbind his chains. But Isfendiyar, when they came before him, closed ear unto their voice. And he said-

"My father hath kept me in bondage until he hath need of me. Why therefore should I weary me in his cause? I will not go unto his aid."

Then the men reasoned with him, and they told unto him how it had been revealed unto Gushtasp that the words spoken of Gurjam were false, and that he had sworn that he would deliver this man of false words unto the vengeance of his son. But Isfendiyar was deaf yet again to their voice. Then one spake and said-

"Thou knowest not that thy brother is in bondage unto Arjasp. Surely it behoveth thee to deliver him."

When Isfendiyar heard these words he sprang unto his feet, and he commanded that the chains be struck from off his limbs. And because the men were slow, he was angered, and shook himself mightily, so that the fetters fell down at his feet. Then he made haste to go before his father. And peace was made between them on that day, and Gushtasp sware a great oath that he would give the throne unto Isfendiyar when he should return unto him victorious.

So Isfendiyar went out against the foes of Iran, and he mowed them down with the sword and he caused arrows to rain upon them like hail in spring, and the sun was darkened by the flight of the weapons. And he brake the power of Arjasp, King of Turan, and he drove him out from the borders of the realm. And when it was done, and the men of Iran had prevailed over the men of Turan, Isfendiyar presented himself before his father and craved of him the fulfilment of his promises. But Gushtasp, when he beheld that all was well once more, repented him of his resolve, for he desired not to give the throne unto his son. So he pondered in his spirit what he should say in his excuse, and he was ashamed in his soul. But his mouth revealed not the thoughts of his heart, and he spake angrily unto his son, and he said-

"I marvel that thou comest before me with this demand; for while thy sisters languish in the bondage of Arjasp, it beseemeth us not to hold this war as ended, lest men mock us with their tongues. And it hath been told unto me that they are hidden in the brazen fortress, and that Arjasp and all his men are gone in behind its walls. I charge thee, therefore, overthrow the castle and deliver thy sisters who pine. And I swear unto thee, when thou hast done it, I will abandon unto thee the throne, and thy name shall be exalted in the land."

Then Isfendiyar said, "I am the servant of the Shah, let him command his slave what he shall do."

And Gushtasp said, "Go forth."
Then Isfendiyar answered, "I go, but the road is not known unto me."

And Gushtasp said, "A Mubid hath revealed it unto me. Three roads lead unto the fortress of brass, and the one requireth three months to traverse, but it is safe, and much pasture is found on its path. And the second demandeth but two moons, yet it is a desert void of herbs. And the third asketh but seven days, but it is fraught with danger."

Then Isfendiyar said, "No man can die before his time is come. It behoveth a man of valour to choose ever the shortest path."

Now the Mubids and the nobles who knew the dangers that were hidden in this path sought to deter him, but Isfendiyar would not listen to their voice. So he set forth with his army, and they marched until they came to the spot where the roads divided. Now it needed seven stages to reach the fortress of Arjasp, and at each stage there lurked a danger, and never yet had any man overcome them or passed beneath its walls. But Isfendiyar would not give ear to fear, and he set forth upon the road, and each day he overcame a danger, and each danger was greater than the last. And on the first day he slew two raging wolves, and on the second he laid low two evil Deevs that were clothed as lions, and on the third he overcame a dragon whose breath was poison. And on the fourth day Isfendiyar slew a great magician who would have lured him into the paths of evil, and on the fifth he slew a mighty bird whom no man had ever struck down. And weariness was not known of Isfendiyar, neither could he rest from his labours, for there was no camping-place in his road of danger. And on the sixth day he was nigh to have perished with his army in a deep snow that fell upon him through the might of the Deevs. But he prayed unto God in his distress, and by the favour of Heaven the snow vanished from under his feet. Then on the seventh day he came nigh to perish in a flood of waters but Isfendiyar overcame them also, and stood before the castle of Arjasp. Now when he beheld it, his heart failed within him, for he saw that it was compassed by a wall of brass, and the thickness thereof was such that four horsemen could ride thereon abreast. So he sighed and said-

"This place cannot be taken, my pains have been in vain."
Yet he pondered in his spirit how it might be done, and he knew that only wile could avail. Wherefore he disguised himself in the garb of a merchant, and chose forth from his army a hundred camels, and he loaded them with brocades of Roum and much treasure. A hundred and sixty stalwart warriors too did he choose forth, and he seated them in chests, and the chests he bound upon the backs of the camels. And when the caravan was ready he marched at its head unto the doors of the fortress.

Now when he was come thither, he craved permission of Arjasp that he might enter and sell unto them that dwelt therein. And Arjasp granted his request, and gave unto him houseroom, and bade him barter his wares in safety. Then Isfendiyar spread forth his goods and unloaded the treasures of the camels, but the chests wherein were hidden the warriors did he keep from the eyes of men. And after he had sojourned a while in the castle he beheld his sisters, and he saw that they were held as slaves, and his heart went out towards them. So he spake to them tenderly, and they knew his voice, and that help was come out to them, but they held their peace and made no sign. And Isfendiyar, when he saw that he was trusted of Arjasp, came before him and asked of him a boon. And Arjasp said that he would grant it. Then Isfendiyar said-

"Suffer that ere I go hence I may feast thee and thy nobles, that I may show my gratitude."

And it was done as Isfendiyar desired, and he made a great feast and troubled the heads of the nobles with wine. And when their heads were heavy and the moon was seated upon her silver throne, Isfendiyar arose and let forth his warriors from the chests. Then he fell upon the nobles and slew them, and they weltered in their blood. And with his own hand Isfendiyar struck down Arjasp, and he hung up his sons upon high gallows. Then he made signals unto his army that they should come forth to aid him, for there were yet many men hidden in the fort, and Isfendiyar had but a handful wherewith to withstand them. And they did as he desired, and there was a great slaughter within the brazen fort, but Isfendiyar bare off the victory. Then he took with him his sisters and much booty, and made haste to return unto Iran, and come into the presence of Gushtasp, his father. And the Shah rejoiced in his sight, and he made a great feast, and gave gifts richly unto all his servants. And the mouths of men overflowed with the doughty deeds done of Isfendiyar, and there was gladness throughout the land.

 
 Rustem and Isfendiyar

When a little while had been passed in feasting, Isfendiyar came before Gushtasp, his father, and demanded the fulfilment of the promises that he had made unto him. And he recalled unto Gushtasp how he had mistrusted him and thrown him into chains. And he spake of the doughty deeds that he had done at his behest, and he craved him to remember that Isfendiyar was his son. And Gushtasp knew that that which was spoken was right, but he desired not to abandon the throne. Wherefore he communed within him what he should do. Then he opened his mouth and spake, saying-

"Verily thou hast done that which thou sayest, and there is none who is thine equal in this world, save only Rustem, the son of Zal. And he acknowledgeth none his like. Now because he is grown proud in his spirit, and hath rendered no homage unto me, neither is come forth to aid me against Arjasp, I desire that thou go forth unto Zaboulistan, and that thou lead out the Pehliva, and bring him bound before me, that he may know that I am the Shah, and that he must do my behests. And when thou shalt have done it, I swear unto thee by Him from whom cometh all strength, and who hath kindled the sun and the stars unto light, that I will step down from the throne, neither withhold it from thee any longer."

Then Isfendiyar said, "O King, I would entreat of thee that thou ponder the words that thou hast spoken. For thine ancestors held this old man, ripe in wisdom, in much honour, and he was a staff unto their throne. Now since thou calledst him not forth, it was not fitting he should aid thee against Turan."

But Gushtasp would not listen unto the words of Isfendiyar, and he said-

"If thou lead not Rustem bound before me, I will not grant unto thee the throne."

Then Isfendiyar said, "Thou sendest me forth in guile on this emprise, for verily no man hath stood against the might of Rustem, wherefore I perceive that thou desirest not to abandon unto me the throne. I say unto thee, therefore, that I desire it no longer; but since I am thy slave, it beseemeth me to obey thy behests. I go forth therefore, and if peradventure I fall before Rustem, thou wilt answer unto God for my blood."

And when he had so spoken, Isfendiyar went out of the presence of the Shah, and he was exceeding sorrowful. Then he gathered together an army, and he set forth upon the road that leadeth to Seistan.

Now when they were gone but a little way, the camel that walked at their head laid him down in the dust. And the drivers struck him, but he would not rise from the earth. Then Isfendiyar said, "The omen is evil." But he commanded the driver that he cut off the head, that the evil might fall upon the beast and tarnish not the glory of the Shah. And it was done as Isfendiyar desired, but he could not rid him of his sadness, and he pondered in his spirit this sign.

Now when they were come unto the land of Zaboulistan, Isfendiyar spake, saying-

"I will send an envoy unto Rustem, a man prudent and wise. And I will entreat of the Pehliva that he come before me with gladness, for I desire no evil unto him, and I come forth only at the behest of the Shah."

Then he called before him Bahman, his son, and he spake long unto him, and he charged him with a message unto Rustem. And he bade him speak unto the son of Zal how Gushtasp was angered because he sought not his courts, wherefore he deemed that Rustem was grown proud in his spirit, and would uplift himself above his Shah. And he said-

"The King hath sent me out that I lead thee before him. I pray thee, therefore, come unto me, and I swear unto thee that no harm shall befall thee at his hands. For when I shall have led thee before him, I will demand as my guerdon that he suffer thee to go unharmed."

So Bahman laid up these words in his spirit, and he went with all speed unto the courts of Rustem. Now, he found therein none but Zal, for Rustem was gone forth with his warriors to chase the wild ass. And Zal came forth with courtesy to greet Bahman, and he asked of him his desires, and he invited him unto a feast. But Bahman said-

"My mission doth admit of no delay. Isfendiyar hath bidden me not tarry by the road. Tell me, therefore, where I may find thy son."

Then Zal showed unto him the way.
Now when Bahman was come unto the spot, he beheld a man like unto a mountain, who was roasting a wild ass for his supper. And in his hand was a wine-cup, and about him stood brave knights. Then Bahman said within himself, "Surely this is Rustem," and he watched him from where he was hid, and he beheld that Rustem devoured the whole of a wild ass for his meal, and he was amazed at the might and majesty of this man. Then he thought within him, "Peradventure if I cast down a rock upon him, I may slay him, for surely even Isfendiyar, my father, shall not withstand his strength." So he loosened a rock from the mountain-side, and set it rolling unto the spot where Rustem was encamped. Now Zevarah heard the sound thereof, and beheld the rock, and he said unto Rustem-

"Behold a rock that springeth forth from the mountain-side."
But Rustem smiled, and arose not from his seat; and when the rock was upon him, he lifted up his foot and threw it far unto the other side. Then Bahman was amazed, but he was affrighted also, and he dared not come forth at once. Yet when he was come before the Pehliva, Rustem greeted him kindly, and would have entertained him. And Bahman suffered it, and he marvelled yet again when he beheld that which was eaten of Rustem, and he was afraid. Then he delivered unto him the message of Isfendiyar, his father. And Rustem listened unto it, and when it was ended he spake, saying-

"Bear greeting unto the hero of renown, and say unto him that I have longed to look upon his face, and that I rejoice that he is come forth unto Zaboulistan. But his demand is the device of Deevs, and I would counsel him that he depart not from the paths of wisdom. And I say unto him, Count not upon thy strength, for it is given to no man to shut up the winds within a cage, neither can any man stand against my might. And I have ever done that which was right before the Shahs, thy fathers, and no man hath beheld Rustem in chains. Therefore thy demand is foolish, and I bid thee abandon it, and honour my house with thy presence. And when we shall have feasted, I will go forth with thee before Gushtasp, thy father, and the reins of my horse shall be tied unto thine throughout the journey. And when I shall be come before the Shah, and shall have taken counsel with him, I know that his anger against me, which is unjust, will vanish like unto smoke."

Then Rustem sent a messenger unto Rudabeh, his mother, to make ready a great feast in his courts. And Bahman sped back unto his father.

Now Isfendiyar, when he had listened unto the words sent by Rustem, mounted his steed, and rode forth to meet him. And Rustem was come forth also, and they met beside the stream. Then Rakush swam across its breadth, and the hero of the world stood before Isfendiyar, and he greeted him, and did homage unto the son of his Shah. And Rustem rejoiced in the sight of Isfendiyar, and he deemed that he beheld in him the face of Saiawush. And he said unto him-

"O young man, let us commune together concerning the things that divide us."

And Isfendiyar assented unto the desires of Rustem, and he pressed him unto his bosom, and his eyes could not cease from gazing upon his strength. Then Rustem said-

"O hero, I have a prayer to make before thee; I crave that thou enter into my house as my guest."

And Isfendiyar said, "I cannot listen unto thy demand, for the Shah commanded me neither to rest nor tarry until I should have brought thee unto him in chains. But I entreat of thee that thou consider that the chains of the King of kings do not dishonour, and that thou listen willingly unto the desires of the Shah, for I would not lift my hand in anger against thee, and I am grieved that it hath been given unto me to do this thing. But it behoveth me to fulfil the commandments of my father."

Thus spake Isfendiyar in the unquietude of his spirit, for he knew that what was demanded of Rustem was not fitting or right. And Rustem replied, saying-

"It would be counted shame unto me if thou shouldst refuse to enter into my house. I pray thee, therefore, yet again that thou accede to my desires, and when it shall be done I will do that which thou desirest, save only that I cannot submit unto the chains. For no man hath beheld me fettered, neither shall any do so while I draw my breath. I have spoken, and that which I have said, it is true."

And Isfendiyar said, "I may not feast with thee, and if thou listen not to my voice, I must fall upon thee in enmity. But to-day let there be a truce between us, and drink thou with me in my tents."

And Rustem said, "I will do so gladly, suffer only that I go forth and change my robes, for I am clad for the chase. And when thy meal shall be ready, send forth a messenger that he may lead me thither."

And when he had so spoken, Rustem leaped upon Rakush and returned unto his courts. Now when he had arrayed himself for the banquet, he awaited the envoy that Isfendiyar should send. But Isfendiyar was full of cares, and he said unto Bashuntan, his brother-

"We have regarded this affair too lightly, for it is full of danger. Wherefore I have no place in the house of Rustem, neither should he enter into mine, for the sword must decide our strife. For which cause I shall not bid him unto my feast."

Then Bashuntan answered and said, "A Deev hath led thee astray, O my brother, for it is not fitting that men like unto Rustem and Isfendiyar should meet in enmity. Wherefore I counsel thee that thou listen not unto our father, for his desires are evil, and he seeketh but to ensnare thee. Yet thou art wiser than he; abandon, therefore, this device of evil."

But Isfendiyar answered and said, "If I obey not the words of the King, my father, it will be a reproach unto me in this world, and I shall have to render account for it in the next before God, my Maker. And I would not lose both worlds because of Rustem."

Then Bashuntan said, "I have given unto thee counsel according to my wisdom, it resteth with thee to do as thou desirest."

Then Isfendiyar bade the cooks serve before him the banquet, but he sent not forth to call Rustem unto the feast.

Now Rustem, when he had waited a long while and beheld that Isfendiyar sent not to call him forth, was angered, and he said-

"Is this the courtesy of a King?"
And he sprang upon Rakush and rode unto the tents of the prince that he might question him wherefore he regarded Rustem thus lightly. Now the warriors of Iran, when they beheld the Pehliva, murmured among themselves against Gushtasp, and they spake as with the voice of one man, that surely the Shah was bereft of reason or he would not thus send Isfendiyar unto death. And they said-

"Gushtasp loveth yet more his treasures and his throne as age creepeth upon him, and this is but a device to preserve them unto himself."

Now Rustem, when he had presented himself before Isfendiyar, spake and said-

"O young man, it would seem unto me that thou didst not deem thy guest worthy a messenger. Yet I say unto thee that it is I who have made the throne of Iran to shine out unto all the world, and I have ever been the Pehliva of its Shahs, and have endured much pain and toil for their sakes. And I have not passed a day save in doing that which is right, and I have purged the land of its enemies. I am the protector of the Kings of Iran, and the mainstay of the good in all places of the earth. Wherefore it behoveth thee not to treat me thus disdainfully."

Then Isfendiyar said, "O Rustem, be not angered against me, but listen wherefore I sent not forth to call thee. For the day was hot and the road long, and I bethought me that fatigue would come upon thee from this course. Therefore I had resolved to visit thee in the morning. But since thou hast taken upon thee this fatigue, I pray of thee that thou rest within my tents, and that we empty the wine-cup together."

Then he made a place for him at his left hand.
But Rustem said, "This is not my place. It is not fitting that I should sit upon thy left, for my seat hath ever been at the right hand of the Shah."

Then Isfendiyar bade a chair of gold be brought, and he caused it to be placed upon his right, and he bade Rustem be seated upon it. And Rustem sat him down, but he was angered in his spirit because of the dishonour that Isfendiyar had shown unto him.

Now when they had drunk together awhile, Isfendiyar lifted up his voice and said-

"O Rustem, it hath been told unto me that thine origin is evil, for thou art sprung from a Deev whom Saum cast forth from his house. And he was reared of a vile bird, and his nourishment was garbage."

Then Rustem said, "Why speakest thou words that do hurt?" And he told unto him of his father, and Saum, and Neriman who was of the race of Husheng the Shah. And he vaunted the great deeds done of his house, and he hid not that which he had accomplished himself, and he said-

"Six hundred years have passed since I came forth from the loins of Zal, and for that space I have been the Pehliva of the world, and have feared neither that which was manifest, nor that which was hid. And I speak these things that thou mayest know. Thou art the King, and they that carry high their heads are thy subjects, but thou art new unto the world, wherefore thou knowest not the things that are come to pass."

When Isfendiyar had listened unto the words of Rustem, he smiled and spake, saying-

"I have given ear unto thy voice, give ear now also unto the words that I shall speak."

Then he vaunted him of his forefathers, and he recounted unto Rustem how that he had overcome the Turks, and how Gushtasp had cast him into chains, and he told him of the seven stations, and that he had converted the world unto the faith of Zerdusht. And he said-

"We have spoken enough concerning ourselves, let us drink until we be weary."

But Rustem said, "Not so, for thou hast not heard all the deeds that I have done, for they are many, and the ear sufficeth not to hear them, nor the mouth to tell. For if thou knewest them, thou wouldest not exalt thyself above me, or think to cast me into chains."

And he recounted to him yet again of his deeds of might.
But Isfendiyar said, "I entreat of thee that thou apply thyself unto the wine-cup, for verily thou shalt fall tomorrow in the fight, and the days of thy feasting shall be ended."

And Rustem answered, "Boast not thus rashly, thou shalt yet repent thee of thy words. But to-morrow will we meet in conflict since thou desirest it, and when I shall have lifted thee from off thy saddle, I will bear thee unto my house and spread a feast before thee, and pour upon thee my treasures. And when it shall be done, I will return with thee unto the courts of the Shah, thy father, and uproot from his spirit this plant of evil. And when thou shalt be mounted into his seat, I will serve thee with gladness as thy Pehliva."

But Isfendiyar said, "Thy words are idle, and we waste but our breath in talk of combat. Let us therefore apply us to the banquet."

And they did so, and ate and drank until the night was far spent, and all men were amazed at the hunger of Rustem.

Now when it was time for him to depart, he prayed Isfendiyar yet again that he would be his guest, and yet again Isfendiyar refused it to him, and he said-

"Suffer that I put chains about thee, and lead thee forth into Iran, that Gushtasp be satisfied. But if thou wilt not do this thing, I must attack thee with the spear."

Now Rustem, when he heard these words, was sorrowful in his soul. And he thought within him-

"If I suffer these chains it is a stain that cannot be wiped out, and I cannot outlive my dishonour, for men will mock at Rustem, who permitted a boy to lead him bound. Yet if I slay this youth, I do evil, for he is son unto the Shah, and my glory will be tarnished, for men will say I lifted my hand against a Kaianide. And there can arise no good out of this combat. Wherefore I will strive yet again to win him unto wisdom."

So he lifted up his voice and said, "I pray thee listen not to the counsel of Deevs, and shut thy lips concerning these chains. For it seemeth unto me that Gushtasp desireth evil against thee, that he sendeth thee forth against Rustem, the unvanquished in fight. Dishonour, therefore, not the champion of thy fathers, but feast within my gates, and let us ride forth in friendship unto Iran."

But Isfendiyar said, "I charge thee, old man, that thou waste not words concerning this thing, for I will not disobey the behests of my father. Prepare, therefore, for combat; for to-morrow I will make the world dark unto thine eyes."

Then Rustem said, "O foolish youth! when I grasp my mace, the head of my foe is lost. Prepare thee rather for thine end."

And when he had so spoken, he rode forth from out the tents of Isfendiyar, and he was exceeding sorrowful. But Isfendiyar smiled after him and said-

"The mother that hath borne thee shall weep. I will cast thee down from Rakush, I will lead thee bound into Iran."

But once again did Bashuntan come before Isfendiyar, and he pleaded with him for Rustem, and he bade him remember the great deeds that he had done unto Iran, and he desired him not to lift his hand against the Pehliva.

But Isfendiyar said-
"He is a thorn in my rose-garden, and through him alone can I attain unto the throne. Strive not, therefore, to hinder me, for thy pains will be in vain. For Zerdusht hath spoken that whosoever honoureth not the behests of his king, he shall surely suffer the pains of hell. And my father hath told unto me to do this thing, and though I grieve to do hurt unto Rustem, the desires of the Shah must be accomplished."

Then Bashuntan sighed and said, "Alas! a Deev hath taken possession of thy spirit."'

Now Rustem, when he was come into his house, commanded that his leopard-skin should be brought before him, and his helmet of Roum, his spear of Ind also, and the war garb of Rakush. And when he saw them, he said-

"O my raiment of battle, ye have rested a long time from strife, yet now must I take you forth again to combat, and it is for the hardest fight that ye have fought. For I must lift my hand against the son of my master, or suffer that he disgrace me in the sight of men."

And Rustem was sad, and all night he spake unto Zal of his end, and what he should do if he fell in battle.

Then when the morning was come he girded on his armour, but he resolved in his spirit that he would strive again with Isfendiyar in words. So he rode forth unto the tents of the young King; and when he was come nigh unto them he shouted with a loud voice. And he said-

"O Isfendiyar, hero of great renown, the man with whom thou wouldst wrestle is come forth; make thee ready, therefore, to meet him."

Then Isfendiyar came out from his tents, and he was armed for battle. Now when they were met, Rustem opened his mouth and prayed him yet again that he would stay his hand from this impiety. And he said-

"If thy soul thirsteth after blood and the tumult of battle, suffer that our hosts meet in combat, that thy desires may be satisfied."

But Isfendiyar said, "Thy talk is folly; thou art armed for the conflict, let not the hours be lost."

Then Rustem sighed and made him ready for combat. And he assailed Isfendiyar with his lance, but with a nimble stroke Isfendiyar resisted his attack. And they fought with their lances until they were bent, and when that was done they betook them unto swords. And ever the heroes parried the strokes that were dealt. And when their swords were broken they seized upon maces, but either hero warded off the blows. And they fought until that their shields were rent and their helmets dinted with the blows, and their armour was pierced in many places. And it was a bitter fight. But the end thereof came not, and they were weary, and neither had gained the upper hand. So they rested them awhile from combat. But when they were rested they fell again one on another, and they fought with arrows and bows. And the arrows of Isfendiyar whizzed through the air and fastened into the body of Rustem and of Rakush his steed; and twice thirty ar-rows did Isfendiyar thus send forth, until that Rakush was like to perish from his wounds. And Rustem also was covered with gore, and no man before this one had ever done harm unto his body. But the arrows of Rustem had done no ill unto Isfendiyar, because Zerdusht had charmed his body against all dangers, so that it was like unto brass.

Now Isfendiyar, when he beheld that Rustem staggered in his seat, called out unto him to surrender himself into his hands and suffer chains to be put about his body. But Rustem said-

"Not so, I will meet thee again in the morning," and he turned and swam across the stream, so that Isfendiyar was amazed, for he knew that the steed and rider had been sore wounded. And he exulted in his heart, and he reviled Rustem with his lips, but in his soul he was filled with wonder at the Pehliva, and his heart went out to him.

Now when Zal and Rudabeh beheld the Pehliva and that he was wounded, they rent the air with their cries, for never yet was he returned unto them vanquished, neither had any man done hurt unto the elephant-limbed. And they wailed sore in their distress, and Rustem joined his lamentations unto theirs. Then they pondered how they should act, and Zal bethought him of the Simurgh that had been his nurse, and the feather that she had given him from her breast that he might call upon her in the day of his need. So he brought it and cast it 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 spake and said unto him-

"O my son, what is come about that thou callest upon thy nurse that shielded thee?"

Then Zal told her all, and how Rustem was nigh to die of his wounds, and how Rakush too was sick unto death. Then the Simurgh said-

"Bring me before them."
And when she had seen them, she passed her wings over their hurts and forthwith they were whole. Then she spake unto Rustem and questioned him wherefore he sought to combat the son of the Shah, and Rustem told her. Then she said-

"Seek yet again to turn Isfendiyar unto thyself; yet if he listen not unto thy voice, I will reveal unto thee the secrets of Fate. For it is written that whosoever sheddeth the blood of Isfendiyar, he also shall perish; and while he liveth he shall not know joy, and in the life to come he shall suffer pains. But if this fate dismay thee not, go forth with me and I will teach thee this night how thou shalt close the mouth of thine enemy."

Then the Simurgh showed unto Rustem the way he should follow, and Rustem rode after her, and they halted not until they were come unto the sea-coast. And the Simurgh led him into a garden wherein grew a tamarisk, tall and strong, and the roots thereof were in the ground, but the branches pierced even unto the sky. Then the bird of God bade Rustem break from the tree a branch that was long and slender, and fashion it into an arrow, and she said-

"Only through his eyes can Isfendiyar be wounded. If, therefore, thou wouldst slay him, direct this arrow unto his forehead, and verily it shall not miss its aim."

Then she exhorted him once more that he bring this matter to a good end, and she led him on the path of return unto Zaboulistan, and when he was come there she blessed him and departed from out his sight.

Now when the morning was come, Rustem came unto the camp of Isfendiyar, and he was mounted upon Rakush his steed. And Isfendiyar slumbered, for he thought that of a surety Rustem was perished of his wounds. Then Rustem lifted up his voice, and cried-

"O man, eager to fight, wherefore slumberest thou when Rustem standeth before thee?"

Now Isfendiyar, when he heard his voice and saw that it was truly Rustem that stood before him, was amazed, and he said unto his nobles-

"This is the deed of Zal the sorcerer."
But unto Rustem he cried, "Make ready for combat; for this day thou shalt not escape my might. May thy name perish from off the earth."

Then Rustem spake, saying-
"I am not come forth to battle, but to treaty. Turn aside thine heart from evil, and root out this enmity. Make not, I pray thee, thy soul to be a dwelling-place for Deevs. And suffer that I recall unto thee the deeds I have done for Iran, and the list thereof is long. And feast this day within my house, and let us ride forth together unto the courts of the Shah, that I may make my peace with Gushtasp thy father."

But Isfendiyar was angered at these words, and he said-
"Wilt thou never cease from speaking? Thou exhortest me to quit the paths of God, for I do wrong when I obey not the voice of my father. Choose, therefore, betwixt chains and the combat."

When Isfendiyar had so spoken, Rustem knew that his speech was of no avail. So he sighed and made ready for combat; and he took forth the arrow that was given to him of the Simurgh, and he let it fly towards his enemy. And it pierced the eye of the young King, and he fell upon the mane of his steed, and his blood reddened the field of battle. Then Rustem said unto him-

"The bitter harvest thou hast sown hath borne fruit."
Now Isfendiyar swooned in his agony and fell upon the ground. And there came out to him his brother and Bahman, his son; and they wailed when they beheld how his plight was evil. But when he was come unto himself he called after Rustem, and the Pehliva got him down from Rakush and came unto where he lay, and knelt beside him. And Isfendiyar said-

"My life ebbeth unto the close, wherefore I would confide unto thee my wishes. And thou shalt behold how greatly I honour thee, for it is not thou that hast brought me unto death, but Gushtasp, my father; and verily the curse of the prophet shall fall upon his head, for thou wert but the instrument of Fate. And listen now unto the words that I shall speak, for it is not given unto me to say many- I desire that thou take unto thyself Bahman, my son, and that thou rear him in the land of Zaboulistan, and that thou teach him the arts of war and of the banquet. And when the hour of Gushtasp shall be come, I charge thee that thou put Bahman in his place, and aid him with thy counsels that he may be upright in the sight of men."

And Rustem sware unto him that it should be done at his desire. Then Isfendiyar made him ready to depart, and he spake words of comfort unto his son, and he sent greetings unto his mother and to his wives that were in Iran. And he made them say unto his father that hence-forward he need not fear him beside the throne; and he cursed the name of Gushtasp, and he said that the Shah had done that which was worthy of his black soul. And he bade them speak before the throne and say-

"We shall meet again before the judge, and we shall speak, and listen to His decree."

Then he said unto Rustem, "Thou hast done this deed by the arts of magic."

And Rustem said, "It is true, for thou wouldst not listen unto my voice, and I could not bend my spirit unto chains."

And Isfendiyar said, "I am not angered against thee; thou hast done that thou couldst not alter, for it was written in the stars, and surely that which is written in the stars is accomplished."

Then Rustem said, "God is my witness that I strove to turn thee from thy resolve."

And Isfendiyar said, "It is known unto me." And when he had thus spoken he sighed, and the sun of that King was set. And there was great lamentation for him in the army, and Rustem, too, bewailed the hero that was fallen, and he prayed God for his soul. And he said-

"May thine enemies reap that which they have sown."
Then Rustem made ready for Isfendiyar a coffin of iron, and he caused it to be lined with silken stuffs, and he laid therein the body of the young King. And it was placed upon the back of a dromedary and forty others followed in its wake, and all the army of Isfendiyar came after them, clad in robes of mourning. And Bashuntan marched at the head of the train, and he led the horse of Isfendiyar, and its saddle was reversed, and its mane and its tail were shorn. And from its sides hung the armour of the young King. And weeping resounded through the ranks, and with sorrow did the army return unto Iran.

But Rustem remained in Zaboulistan, and he kept beside him Bahman, the son of Isfendiyar.

Now when Gushtasp learned the tidings of woe, he was bowed down to the earth with sorrow, and remorse came upon him and he strewed dust upon his head and he humbled himself before God. And men came before him and reproached him with that which he had done unto Isfendiyar, and he knew not how he should answer them. And Bashuntan came in and saluted him not, but upbraided him with his vile deeds. And he said-

"Neither the Simurgh, nor Rustem, nor Zal have made an end of Isfendiyar, but only thou, for thou alone hast caused him to perish."

And for the space of one year men ceased not to lament for Isfendiyar, and for many years were tears shed for that arrow. And men cried continually, "The glory of Iran hath been laid low, and it is at the hands of her Shah that it hath been done."

But Bahman grew up in the courts of Rustem, and the Pehliva guarded him like to a son.

 

The Death of Rustem

How shall a man escape from that which is written; How shall he flee from his destiny?

There stood a slave in the house of Zal, and she was fair to see, so that the heart of the aged man went out to her. And there was born to her a son, goodly of mien, like unto Saum the hero, and Zal named him Shugdad. Then he consulted the Mubids concerning him, and they searched the stars for his destiny, and they read therein that he would do much evil in the house of his father, and lay low the race of Saum, the son of Neriman. Now Zal, when he heard this, was sore afflicted, and he prayed unto God that He would avert this fate from his head. And he reared him tenderly, and when he was come unto man's estate he sent him forth into Cabul. And the King of Cabul rejoiced in the sight of the hero, and he kept him beside him and gave unto him his daughter to wife.

Now the King of Cabul paid tribute unto Rustem, and it was a grievance to him to do so, and since he had taken Shugdad as his son he deemed that it was fitting that he should be relieved of this burden. And he spake thereof unto Shugdad, and said how Rustem ceased not to demand it.

And Shugdad said, "This man is foolish. What mattereth it whether he be my brother or a stranger, let us consider how we may ensnare him."

So Shugdad and the King of Cabul passed a night pondering how they should bring Rustem unto destruction. And Shugdad said-

"Call together thy nobles unto a feast, and when thou shalt have drunk wine, speak insults unto me, and I will be angered and ride forth unto Zaboulistan and make plaint of thee before Rustem, and assuredly he will come forth to avenge me. And while I am gone, cause a deep pit to be dug on the road that Rustem must pass, a pit that will swallow him and Rakush his steed, and line the sides thereof with sharp spears, and swords, and lances. And when it is done, cover it with earth and let no man know thereof, nay, whisper it not even unto the moon."

And the King said, "Thy device is good," and he made a great feast and called thereto his warriors, and he spake words of insult unto Shugdad, and he reproached him, and said that he was not of the race of Saum, but son unto a slave. And he said that Rudabeh would refuse to him the name of brother unto Rustem. And he spake lightly also of Rustem. Then Shugdad uprose as though he were angered, and vowed that he would ride unto Zaboulistan and call forth Rustem to avenge the words that the King had spoken.

Now when Shugdad was come unto the courts of Zal, and had told unto Rustem the words that the King of Cabul had spoken, he was beside himself with anger, and he said-

"I will slake my vengeance for this speech."
Then he chose out an army and made ready to go into Cabul. But Shugdad said-

"Wherefore dost thou take forth so large an army? Surely Cabul shall be obedient when it but looketh upon thy face. Yet this army will cause the King to think that thou holdest him an enemy worthy of regard."

Then Rustem said, "That which thou sayest, it is wise," and he disbanded the army, and took with him but few men and rode with them to Cabul.

In the mean season the King of Cabul had done that which Shugdad had counselled, and the pits that had been dug were concealed with cunning. Now when Rustem came nigh to the city, Shugdad sent a messenger before him unto the King of Cabul, saying-

"Rustem cometh against thee, it behoveth thee to ask pardon for thy words."

And the King came forth, and his tongue was filled with honey, but his heart was filled with poison. And he bowed himself in the dust before Rustem, and he asked his forgiveness for the words that he had spoken, and he said-

"Consider not the words of thy servant that he did speak when his head was troubled with wine."

And Rustem forgave the King, and consented to be his guest. Then a great banquet was made, and while they feasted the King told unto Rustem how his forests were filled with wild asses and with rams, and he invited him to hunt therein ere he should return unto Zaboulistan. And these words were joy unto the ears of Rustem, and he consented unto the desires of the King. So the next day the King made ready a great hunt, and he led it unto the spot where the pits were hidden. And Shugdad ran beside the horse of Rustem, and showed unto him the path. But Rakush, when he smelt the soil that had been newly turned, reared him in air, and refused to go onwards. Then Rustem commanded him to go forward, but Rakush would not listen to his voice. And Rustem was angry when he beheld that Rakush was afraid. But Rakush sprang back yet again. Then Rustem took a whip and struck him, and before this day he had never raised his hand against his steed. So Rakush was grieved in his soul, and he did that which Rustem desired, and he sprang forward and fell into the pit. And the sharp spears entered his body and tore it, and they pierced also the flesh of Rustem, and steed and rider were impaled upon the irons that had been hidden by the King. But Rustem put forth all his strength, and raised himself. Yet when he had done it he was weary, and fell down beside the pit. And he swooned in his agony.

Now when Rustem was come unto himself, he saw Shugdad, and he beheld in his face the joy felt of this evil man at this adventure. Then he knew that it was his brother that was his foe. So he said unto him-

"It is thou who hast done this deed."
And Shugdad said, "Thou hast caused many to perish by the sword; it is meet that thou shouldst perish by it thyself."

Now while they yet spake, the King of Cabul came nigh unto the spot. And when he beheld Rustem, that weltered in his blood, he feigned a great sorrow, and he cried-

"O hero of renown, what thing hath befallen thee?
I will send forth my physicians, that they heal thee."
And Rustem said, "O man of wile, the time of physicians is gone by, and there is none that can heal me, save only death, that cometh to all men in their turn."

Then he said unto Shugdad, "Give unto me my bow, and place before me two arrows, and refuse not unto me this last request. For I would have them beside me lest a lion go by ere I am dead, and devour me for his prey."

And Shugdad gave unto Rustem his bow; but when he had done so he was afraid, and he ran unto a plane tree that stood near by. And the tree was old and hollow, and Shugdad hid himself in its trunk. But Rustem beheld him where he was hid, though the dimness of death was come over his eyes. So he raised him from the ground in his agony, and he took his bow and bent it with force, and he shot an arrow and fixed Shugdad unto the tree wherein he was hid. And the aim was just, and pierced even unto the heart of this evil man, so that he died. And Rustem, when he saw it, smiled, and said-

"Thanks be unto God, the Merciful, whom all my days I have sought to serve, that He hath granted unto me to avenge myself upon this wretch while the life is yet in me, and ere two nights have passed over this vengeance."

But when he had so spoken the breath went out of him, and the hero who had borne high his head was vanished from this world.

Now a warrior of the train of Rustem rode with all speed unto Zaboulistan, and told unto Zal the tidings of sorrow. And Zal was dismayed thereat, and his grief was boundless, and he cried continually after his son, and he heaped curses upon Shugdad, that had uprooted this royal tree. And he said-

"Wherefore have I been suffered to see this day? Wherefore have I not died before Rustem, my son? Wherefore am I left alone to mourn his memory?"

Now while he lamented thus, Feramorz, the son of Rustem, gathered together an army to avenge his father. And he went into Cabul, and he laid low all the men he found therein, and he slew the King and all his house, and he changed the land into a desert. And when he had done so, he sought out the body of Rustem, and of Rakush his steed, and he did unto them all honour, and they were borne in sorrow unto Zaboulistan. And Zal caused a noble tomb to be built for Rustem, his son, and he laid him therein, and there was placed beside him also Rakush, the steed that had served him unto the end.

And the wailing throughout the land because of the death of Rustem was such as the world hath not known the like. And Zal was crushed with sorrow, and Rudabeh was distraught with grief. And for many moons were no sounds save those of wailing heard in the courts of Seistan. And Rudabeh refused to take comfort, and she cried without ceasing-

"He is gone before us, but we shall follow. Let us rest our hopes in God."

And she gave unto the poor of her treasures, and daily she prayed unto Ormuzd, saying-

"O Thou who reignest above, to whom alone pertaineth honour and glory, purify the soul of Rustem from all sin, and grant that he rejoice in the fruits that he hath sown on earth, and give him a place beside Thee."

And now may the blessing of God rest upon all men. I have told unto them the Epic of Kings, and the Epic of Kings is come to a close, and the tale of their deeds is ended.

 

 
 
 
 
 

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