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The Epic of Kings
Translated by Helen Zimmern
THE SHAHS OF OLD
Kaiumers first sat upon the throne of Persia, and was master of the
world. He took up his abode in the mountains, and clad himself and
his people in tiger-skins, and from him sprang all kindly nurture
and the arts of clothing, till then unknown. Men and beasts from all
parts of the earth came to do him homage and receive laws at his hands,
and his glory was like to the sun. Then Ahriman the Evil, when he
saw how the Shah's honour was increased, waxed envious, and sought
to usurp the diadem of the world. So he bade his son, a mighty Deev,
gather together an army to go out against Kaiumers and his beloved
son Saiamuk and destroy them utterly.
Now the Serosch, the angel who defendeth men from the snares of the
Deevs, and who each night flieth seven times around the earth that
he may watch over the children of Ormuzd, when he learned this, appeared
like unto a Peri and warned Kaiumers. So when Saiamuk set forth at
the head of his warriors to meet the army of Ahriman, he knew that
he was contending against a Deev, and he put forth all his strength.
But the Deev was mightier than he, and overcame him, and crushed him
under his hands.
When Kaiumers heard the news of mourning, he was bowed to the ground.
For a year did he weep without ceasing, and his army wept with him;
yea, even the savage beasts and the birds of the air joined in the
wailing. And sorrow reigned in the land, and all the world was darkened
until the Serosch bade the Shah lift his head and think on vengeance.
And Kaiumers obeyed, and commanded Husheng, the son of Saiamuk, "Take
the lead of the army, and march against the Deevs." And the King,
by reason of his great age, went in the rear. Now there were in the
host Peris; also tigers, lions, wolves, and other fierce creatures,
and when the black Deev heard their roaring he trembled for very fear.
Neither could he hold himself against them, and Husheng routed him
utterly. Then when Kaiumers saw that his well-beloved son was revenged
he laid him down to die, and the world was void of him, and Husheng
reigned in his stead.
Now Husheng was a wise man and just, and the heavens revolved over
his throne forty years. justice did he spread over the land, and the
world was better for his reign. For he first gave to men fire, and
showed them how to draw it from out the stone; and he taught them
how they might lead the rivers, that they should water the land and
make it fertile; and he bade them till and reap. And he divided the
beasts and paired them and gave them names. And when he passed to
a brighter life he left the world empty of a throne of power. But
Tahumers, his son, was not unworthy of his sire. He too opened the
eyes of men, and they learned to spin and to weave; and he reigned
over the land long and mightily. But of him also were the Deevs right
envious, and sought to destroy him. Yet Tahumers overcame them and
cast them to earth. Then some craved mercy at his hands, and sware
how they would show him an art if he would spare them, and Tahumers
listened to their voice. And they taught him the art of writing, and
thus from the evil Deevs came a boon upon mankind.
Howbeit when Tahumers had sat upon the golden throne for the space
of thirty years he passed away, but his works endured; and Jemshid,
his glorious son, whose heart was filled with the counsels of his
father, came after him. Now Jemshid reigned over the land seven hundred
years girt with might, and Deevs, birds, and Peris obeyed him. And
the world was happier for his sake, and he too was glad, and death
was unknown among men, neither did they wot of pain or sorrow. And
he first parcelled out men into classes; priests, warriors, artificers,
and husbandmen did he name them. And the year also he divided into
periods. And by aid of the Deevs he raised mighty works, and Persepolis
was builded by him, that to this day is called Tukht-e-Jemsheed, which
being interpreted meaneth the throne of Jemshid. Then, when these
things were accomplished, men flocked from all corners of the earth
around his throne to do him homage and pour gifts before his face.
And Jemshid prepared a feast, and bade them keep it, and called it
Neurouz, which is the New Day, and the people of Persia keep it to
this hour. And Jemshid's power increased, and the world was at peace,
and men beheld in him nought but what was good.
Then it came about that the heart of Jemshid was uplifted in pride,
and he forgot whence came his weal and the source of his blessings.
He beheld only himself upon the earth, and he named himself God, and
sent forth his image to be worshipped. But when he had spoken thus,
the Mubids, which are astrologers and wise men, hung their heads in
sorrow, and no man knew how he should answer the Shah. And God withdrew
his hand from Jemshid, and the kings and the nobles rose up against
him, and removed their warriors from his court, and Ahriman had power
over the land.
Now there dwelt in the deserts of Arabia a king named Mirtas, generous
and just, and he had a son, Zohak, whom he loved. And it came about
that Ahriman visited the palace disguised as a noble, and tempted
Zohak that he should depart from the paths of virtue. And he spake
unto him and said-
"If thou wilt listen to me, and enter into a covenant, I will raise
thy head above the sun."
Now the young man was guileless and simple of heart, and he sware
unto the Deev that he would obey him in all things. Then Ahriman bade
him slay his father, "for this old man," he said, "cumbereth the ground,
and while he liveth thou wilt remain unknown." When Zohak heard this
he was filled with grief, and would have broken his oath, but Ahriman
suffered him not, but made him set a trap for Mirtas. And Zohak and
the evil Ahriman held their peace and Mirtas fell into the snare and
was killed. Then Zohak placed the crown of Thasis upon his head, and
Ahriman taught him the arts of magic, and he ruled over his people
in good and evil, for he was not yet wholly given up to guile.
Then Ahriman imagined a device in his black heart. He took upon himself
the form of a youth, and craved that he might serve the King as cook.
And Zohak, who knew him not, received him well and granted his request,
and the keys of the kitchen were given unto him. Now hitherto men
had been nourished with herbs, but Ahriman prepared flesh for Zohak.
New dishes did he put before him, and the royal favour was accorded
to his savory meats. And the flesh gave the King courage and strength
like to that of a lion, and he commanded that his cook should be brought
before him and ask a boon at his hands. And the cook said-
"If the King take pleasure in his servant, grant that he may kiss
Now Zohak, who feared no evil, granted the request, and Ahriman kissed
him on his shoulders. And when he had done so, the ground opened beneath
his feet and covered the cook, so that all men present were amazed
thereat. But from his kiss sprang hissing serpents, venomous and black;
and the King was afraid, and desired that they should be cut off from
the root. But as often as the snakes were cut down did they grow again,
and in vain the wise men and physicians cast about for a remedy. Then
Ahriman came once again disguised as a learned man, and was led before
Zohak, and he spake, saying-
"This ill cannot be healed, neither can the serpents be uprooted.
Prepare food for them, therefore, that they may be fed, and give unto
them for nourishment the brains of men, for perchance this may destroy
But in his secret heart Ahriman desired that the world might thus
be made desolate; and daily were the serpents fed, and the fear of
the King was great in the land. The world withered in his thrall,
the customs of good men were forgotten, and the desires of the wicked
Now it was spread abroad in Iran that in the land of Thasis there
reigned a man who was mighty and terrible to his foes. Then the kings
and nobles who had withdrawn from Jemshid because he had rebelled
against God, turned to Zohak and besought him that he would be their
ruler, and they proclaimed him Shah. And the armies of Arabia and
Persia marched against Jemshid, and he fled before their face. For
the space of twice fifty years no man knew whither he was gone, for
he hid from the wrath of the Serpent-King. But in the fulness of time
he could no longer escape the fury of Zohak, whose servants found
him as he wandered on the sea-shore of Cathay, and they sawed him
in twain, and sent tidings thereof to their lord. And thus perished
the throne and power of Jemshid like unto the grass that withereth,
because that he was grown proud, and would have lifted himself above
So the beloved of Ahriman, Zohak the Serpent, sat upon the throne
of Iran, the kingdom of Light. And he continued to pile evil upon
evil till the measure thereof was full to overflowing, and all the
land cried out against him. But Zohak and his councillors, the Deevs,
shut ear unto this cry, and the Shah reigned thus for the space of
a thousand years, and vice stalked in daylight, but virtue was hidden.
And despair filled all hearts, for it was as though mankind must perish
to still the appetite of those snakes sprung from Evil, for daily
were two men slaughtered to satisfy their desire. Neither had Zohak
mercy upon any man. And darkness was spread over the land because
of his wickedness.
But Ormuzd saw it and was moved with compassion for his people, and
he declared they should no longer suffer for the sin of Jemshid. And
he caused a grandson to be born to Jemshid, and his parents called
Now it befell that when he was born, Zohak dreamed he beheld a youth
slender like to a cypress, and he came towards him bearing a cow-headed
mace, and with it he struck Zohak to the ground. Then the tyrant awoke
and trembled, and called for his Mubids, that they should interpret
to him this dream. And they were troubled, for they foresaw danger,
and he menaced them if they foretold him evil. And they were silent
for fear three days, but on the fourth one who had courage spake and
"There will arise one named Feridoun, who shall inherit thy throne
and reverse thy fortunes, and strike thee down with a cow-headed mace."
When Zohak heard these words he swooned, and the Mubids fled before
his wrath. But when he had recovered he bade the world be scoured
for Feridoun. And henceforth Zohak was consumed for bitterness of
spirit, and he knew neither rest nor joy.
Now it came about that the mother of Feridoun feared lest the Shah
should destroy the child if he learned that he was sprung from Jemshid's
race. So she hid him in the thick forest where dwelt the wondrous
cow Purmaieh, whose hairs were like unto the plumes of a peacock for
beauty. And she prayed the guardian of Purmaieh to have a care of
her son, and for three years he was reared in the wood, and Purmaieh
was his nurse. But when the time was accomplished the mother knew
that news of Purmaieh had reached the ears of Zohak, and she feared
he would find her son. Therefore she took him far into Ind, to a pious
hermit who dwelt on the Mount Alberz. And she prayed the hermit to
guard her boy, who was destined for mighty deeds. And the hermit granted
her request. And it befell that while she sojourned with him Zohak
had found the beauteous Purmaieh and learned of Feridoun, and when
he heard that the boy was fled he was like unto a mad elephant in
his fury. He slew the wondrous cow and all the living things round
about, and made the forest a desert. Then he continued his search,
but neither tidings nor sight could he get of Feridoun, and his heart
was filled with anguish.
In this year Zohak caused his army to be strengthened, and he demanded
of his people that they should certify that he had ever been to them
a just and noble king. And they obeyed for very fear. But while they
sware there arose without the doorway of the Shah the cry of one who
demanded justice. And Zohak commanded that he should be brought in,
and the man stood before the assembly of the nobles.
Then Zohak opened his mouth and said, "I charge thee give a name unto
him who hath done thee wrong."
And the man, when he saw it was the Shah who questioned him, smote
his head with his hands. But he answered and said-
"I am Kawah, a blacksmith and a blameless man, and I sue for justice,
and it is against thee, O King, that I cry out. Seventeen fair sons
have I called mine, yet only one remaineth to me, for that his brethren
were slain to still the hunger of thy serpents, and now they have
taken from me this last child also. I pray thee spare him unto me,
nor heap thy cruelties upon the land past bearing."
And the Shah feared Kawah's wrath, beholding that it was great, and
he granted him the life of his son and sought to win him with soft
words. Then he prayed him that he would also sign the testimony that
Zohak was a just and noble king.
But Kawah cried, "Not so, thou wicked and ignoble man, ally of Deevs,
I will not lend my hand unto this lie," and he seized the declaration
and tore it into fragments and scattered them into the air. And when
he had done so he strode forth from the palace, and all the nobles
and people were astonished, so that none dared uplift a finger to
restrain him. Then Kawah went to the market-place and related to the
people all that which he had seen, and recalled to them the evil deeds
of Zohak and the wrongs they had suffered at his hands. And he provoked
them to shake off the yoke of Ahriman. And taking off the leathern
apron wherewith blacksmiths cover their knees when they strike with
the hammer, he raised it aloft upon the point of a lance and cried-
"Be this our banner to march forth and seek out Feridoun and entreat
him that he deliver us from out the hands of the Serpent-King."
Then the people set up a shout of joy and gathered themselves round
Kawah, and he led them out of the city bearing aloft his standard.
And they marched thus for many days unto the palace of Feridoun.
Now these things came about in the land of Iran after twice eight
years were passed over the head of Feridoun. And when that time was
accomplished, he descended from the Mount Alberz and sought out his
mother, questioning her of his lineage. And she told him how that
he was sprung from the race of Jemshid, and also of Zohak and of his
Then said Feridoun, "I will uproot this monster from the earth, and
his palace will I raze to the dust."
But his mother spake, and said, "Not so, my son, let not thine youthful
anger betray thee; for how canst thou stand against all the world?"
Yet not long did she suffer the hard task to hinder him, for soon
a mighty crowd came towards the palace led by one who bare an apron
uplifted upon a lance. Then Feridoun knew that succour was come unto
him. And when he had listened to Kawah, he came into the presence
of his mother with the helmet of kings upon his head, and he said
"Mother, I go to the wars, and it remaineth for thee to pray God for
Then he caused a mighty club to be made for him, and he traced the
pattern thereof upon the ground, and the top thereof was the head
of a cow, in memory of Purmaieh, his nurse. Then he cased the standard
of Kawah in rich brocades of Roum, and hung jewels upon it. And when
all was made ready, they set forth towards the West to seek out Zohak,
for, they knew not that he was gone to Ind in search of Feridoun.
Now when they were come to Bagdad, which is upon the banks of the
Tigris, they halted, and Feridoun bade the guardians of the flood
convey them across. But these refused, saying, the King bade that
none should pass save only those who bore the royal seal. When Feridoun
heard these words he was wroth, and he regarded not the rushing river
nor the dangers hidden within its floods. He girded his loins and
plunged with his steed into the waters, and all the army followed
after him. Now they struggled sore with the rushing stream, and it
seemed as though the waves would bear them down. But their brave horses
overcame all dangers, and they stepped in safety upon the shore. Then
they turned their faces towards the city which is now called Jerusalem,
for here stood the glorious house that Zohak had builded. And when
they had entered the city all the people rallied round Feridoun, for
they hated Zohak and looked to Feridoun to deliver them. And he slew
the Deevs that held the palace, and cast down the evil talisman that
was graven upon the walls. Then he mounted the throne of the idolater
and placed the crown of Iran upon his head, and all the people bowed
down before him and called him Shah.
Now when Zohak returned from his search after Feridoun and learned
that he was seated upon his throne, he encompassed the city with his
host. But the army of Feridoun marched against him, and the desires
of the people went with them. And all that day bricks fell from the
walls and stones from the terraces, and it rained arrows and spears
like to hail falling from a dark cloud, until Feridoun had overcome
the might of Zohak. Then Feridoun raised his cow-headed mace to slay
the Serpent-King. But the blessed Serosch swooped down, and cried-
"Not so, strike not, for Zohak's hour is not yet come."
Then the Serosch bade the Shah bind the usurper and carry him far
from the haunts of men, and there fasten him to a rock. And Feridoun
did as he was bidden, and led forth Zohak to the Mount Demawend. And
he bound him to the rock with mighty chains and nails driven into
his hands, and left him to perish in agony. And the hot sun shone
down upon the barren cliffs, and there was neither tree nor shrub
to shelter him, and the chains entered into his flesh, and his tongue
was consumed with thirst. Thus after a while the earth was delivered
of Zohak the evil one, and Feridoun reigned in his stead.
Five hundred years did Feridoun rule the world, and might and virtue
increased in the land, and all his days he did that which was good.
And he roamed throughout the kingdom to seek out that which was open
and that which was hid, and wrong was righted at his hands. With kindness
did he curb the sway of evil. He ordered the world like to a paradise,
he planted the cypress and the rose where the wild herb had sprouted.
Now after many years were passed there were born to him three sons,
whose mother was of the house of Jemshid. And the sons were fair of
mien, tall and strong, yet their names were not known to men, for
Feridoun had not tested their hearts. But when he beheld that they
were come to years of strength he called them about his throne and
bade them search out the King of Yemen, who had three daughters, fair
as the moon, that they should woo them unto themselves. And the sons
of Feridoun did according to the command of their father. They set
forth unto Yemen, and there went with them a host countless as the
stars. And when they were come to Yemen, the King came forth to greet
them, and his train was like to the plumage of a pheasant. Then the
sons of Feridoun gained the hands of the daughters of Serv, King of
Yemen, and departed with them to their own land. And Serv gave to
his new sons much treasure laid upon the backs of camels, and umbrellas
too did he give unto them in sign of kingship.
Now it came about that when Feridoun learned that his sons were returning,
he went forth to meet them and prove their hearts. So he took upon
him the form of a dragon that foamed at the mouth with fury, and from
whose jaws sprang mighty flames. And when his sons were come near
unto the mountain pass, he came upon them suddenly, like to a whirlwind,
and raised a cloud of dust about the place with his writhings, and
his roaring filled the air with noise. Then he threw himself upon
the eldest born, and the prince laid down his spear and said, "A wise
and prudent man striveth not with dragons." And he turned his back
and fled before the monster, and left him to fall upon his brothers.
Then the dragon sprang upon the second, and he said, "An it be that
I must fight, what matter if it be a furious lion or a knight full
of valour?" So he took his bow and stretched it. But the youngest
came towards him, and seeing the dragon, said, "Thou reptile, flee
from our presence, and strut not in the path of lions. For if thou
hast heard the name of Feridoun, beware how thou doest thus, for we
are his sons, armed with spears and ready for the fight. Quit therefore,
I counsel thee, thine evil path, lest I plant upon thy head the crown
Then the glorious Feridoun, when he had thus made trial of their hearts,
vanished from their sight. But presently he came again with the face
of their father, and many warriors, elephants, and cymbals were in
his train. And Feridoun bore in his hand the cow-headed mace, and
the Kawanee, the apron of Kawah, the kingly standard, was waved above
his head. Now when the sons saw their father, they alighted from their
steeds and ran to greet him, and kissed the ground before his feet.
And the cymbals were clashed, and the trumpets brayed, and sounds
of rejoicing were heard around. Then Feridoun raised his sons and
kissed their foreheads, and gave unto them honour according to their
due. And when they were come to the royal house he prayed to God that
He would bless his offspring, and calling them about him, he seated
them upon thrones of splendour. Then he opened his mouth and said
"O my sons, listen unto the words that I shall speak. The raging dragon
whose breath was danger was but your father, who sought to test your
hearts, and having learned them gave way with joy. But now will I
give to you names such as are fitting unto men. The first-born shall
be called Silim (may thy desires be accomplished in the world!) for
thou soughtest to save thyself from the clutches of the dragon, nor
didst thou hesitate in the hour of flight. A man who fleeth neither
before an elephant nor a lion, call him rather foolhardy than brave.
And the second, who from the beginning showed his courage, which was
ardent as a flame, I will call him Tur, the courageous, whom even
a mad elephant cannot daunt. But the youngest is a man prudent and
brave, who knoweth both how to haste and how to tarry; he chose the
midway between the flame and the ground, as it beseemeth a man of
counsel, and he hath proven himself brave, prudent, and bold. Irij
shall he be called, that the gate of power may be his goal, for first
did he show gentleness, but his bravery sprang forth at the hour of
When Feridoun had thus opened his lips he called for the book wherein
are written the stars, and he searched for the planets of his sons.
And he found that Jupiter reigned in the sign of the Archer in the
house of Silim, and the sun in the Lion in that of Tur, but in the
house of Irij there reigned the moon in the Scorpion. And when he
saw this he was sorrowful, for he knew that for Irij were grief and
bale held in store. Then having read the secrets of Fate, Feridoun
parted the world and gave the three parts unto his sons in suzerainty.
Roum and Khaver, which are the lands of the setting sun, did he give
unto Silim. Turan and Turkestan did he give unto Tur, and made him
master of the Turks and of China, but unto Irij he gave Iran, with
the throne of might and the crown of supremacy.
For many years had the sons of Feridoun sat upon their golden thrones
in happiness and peace, but evil was hidden in the bosom of Fate.
For Feridoun had grown old, and his strength inclined to the grave.
And as his life waned, the evil passions of his sons waxed stronger.
The heart of Silim was changed, and his desires turned towards evil;
his soul also was steeped in greed. And he pondered in his spirit
the parting of the lands, and he revolted thereat in his thoughts,
because that the youngest bore the crown of supremacy. Then he bade
a messenger mount him upon a dromedary swift of foot, and bear this
saying unto Tur-
"O King of Turan, thy brother greeteth thee, and may thy days be long
in the land. Tell unto me, I pray thee, for thou hast might and wisdom,
should we remain thus ever satisfied, for surely unto us, not unto
Irij, pertaineth the throne of Iran, but now is our brother set above
our heads, and should we not strive against the injustice of our father?
Now. when Tur had listened to these words, his head was filled with
wind, and he spake unto the messenger and said-
"Say unto your master, O my brother, full of courage, since our father
deceived us when we were young and void of guile, with his own hands
hath he planted a tree whence must issue fruit of blood and leaves
that are poison. Let us therefore meet and take counsel together how
we may rid us of our evil fate."
When Silim heard this he set forth from Roum, and Tur also quitted
China, and they met to counsel together how they should act. Then
they sent a messenger unto Feridoun the glorious, and they said-
"O King, aged and great, fearest thou not to go home unto thy God?
for evil hast thou done, and injustice dost thou leave behind thee.
Thy realm hast thou allotted with iniquity, and thine eldest born
hast thou treated with disfavour. But we thy sons entreat thee that
ere it be too late thou listen to our voice. Command thou Irij to
step down from the throne of Iran, and hide him in some corner of
the earth, that he be weak and forgotten like ourselves. Yet if thou
doest not our bidding, we will bring forth riders from Turkestan and
Khaver filled with vengeance, and will utterly destroy Irij and the
land of Iran."
When Feridoun had listened to these hard words he was angered, and
"Speak unto these men, senseless and impure, these sons of Ahriman,
perverse of heart, and say unto them, Feridoun rejoiceth that ye have
laid bare before him your hearts, for now he knoweth what manner of
men ye are. And he answereth unto you that he hath parted his realm
with equity. Many counsellors did he seek, and night and day did they
ponder it, and gave unto each that which seemed best in their sight.
And he now speaketh unto you a word that he doth bid you treasure
in your hearts, As ye sow, so also shall ye reap, for there is for
us another, an eternal home. And this is the rede sent unto you by
an aged man, that he who betrayeth his brother for greed is not worthy
to be sprung from a noble race. So pray unto God that He turn your
hearts from evil."
When the messenger had heard these words he departed. Then Feridoun
called Irij before him and warned him against the craft of his brethren,
and bade him prepare an army and go forth to meet them. But Irij,
when he had heard of the evil thoughts of his brothers, was moved,
"Not so, O my father, suffer that I go forth alone and speak unto
my brethren, that I may still the anger that they feel against me.
And I will entreat them that they put not their trust in the glory
of this world, and will recall unto them the name of Jemshid, and
how that his end was evil because that he was uplifted in his heart."
Then Feridoun answered and said, "Go forth, my son, if such be thy
desire. The wish of thy brethren is even unto war, but thou seekest
the paths of peace. Yet I pray thee take with thee worthy knights,
and return unto me with speed, for my life is rooted in thy happiness."
And he gave him a letter signed with his royal seal that he should
bear it unto the kings of Roum and China. And Feridoun wrote how that
he was old, and desired neither gold nor treasures, save only that
his sons should be united. And he commended unto them his youngest
born, who was descended from his throne and come forth to meet them
with peace in his heart.
Now when Irij was come to the spot where his brethren were encamped,
the army saw him and was filled with wonder at his beauty and at his
kingly form, and they murmured among themselves, saying, "Surely this
one alone is worthy to bear the sceptre." But when Silim and Tur heard
this murmur their anger was deepened, and they retreated into their
tents, and all night long did they hold counsel how they might do
hurt unto their brother.
Now when the curtain that hid the sun was lifted, the brethren went
forth unto the tents of Irij. And Irij would have greeted them, but
they suffered him not, but straightway began to question him, and
heap reproaches upon his head. And Tur said-
"Why hast thou uplifted thyself above us, and is it meet that thy
elders bow down before thee?"
When Irij heard their words, he answered, "O Kings greedy of power,
I say unto you, if ye desire happiness, strive after peace. I covet
neither the royal crown nor the hosts of Iran; power that endeth in
discord is an honour that leadeth to tears. And I will step down from
the throne of Iran if it shall foster peace between us, for I crave
not the possession of the world if ye are afflicted by the sight.
For I am humble of heart, and my faith bids me be kind."
Now Tur heard these words, but they softened not his spirit, for he
knew only that which is evil, and wist not that Irij spoke truly.
And he took up the chair whereon he sat and threw it at his brother
in his anger. Then Irij called for mercy at his hands, saying-
"O King, hast thou no fear of God, no pity for thy father? I pray
thee destroy me not, lest God ask vengeance for my blood. Let it not
be spoken that thou who hast life takest that gift from others. Do
not this evil. Crush not even the tiny ant that beareth a grain of
corn, for she hath life, and sweet life is a boon. I will vanish from
thy sight, I will live in solitude and secrecy, so thou grant that
I may yet behold the sun."
But these words angered Tur only the more, and he drew from his boot
a dagger that was poisoned and sharp, and he thrust it into the breast
of Irij, the kingly cedar. And the young lord of the world paled and
was dead. Then Tur cut the head from the trunk, and filled it with
musk and ambergris, and sent it unto the old man his father, who had
parted the world, saying-
"Behold the head of thy darling, give unto him now the crown and the
And when they had done this evil deed the brethren furled their tents,
and turned them back again unto the lands of Roum and Cathay.
Now Feridoun held his eyes fastened upon the road whither Irij was
gone, and his heart yearned after him. And when he heard that the
time of his return was come, he bade a host go forth to meet him,
and he himself went in the wake. Now when they were gone but a little
way they beheld a mighty cloud of dust upon the sky. And the cloud
neared, and there came thence a dromedary whereon was seated a knight
clad in the garb of woe. And he bare in his arms a casket of gold,
and in the casket were rich stuffs of silk, and in the stuffs was
wrapped the head of Irij. And when Feridoun beheld the face of the
messenger his heart was smote with fear, but when he saw the head
of his son he fell from his horse with sorrow. Then a cry of wailing
rent the air, and the army shouted for grief, and the flags were torn,
and the drums broken, and the elephants and cymbals hung with the
colours of mourning, because that Irij was gone from the world. And
Feridoun returned on foot unto the city, and all the nobles went with
him, and they retraced their steps in the dust. Now when they were
come to the garden of Irij, Feridoun faltered in his sorrow, and he
pressed the head of the young King, his son, unto his breast. And
he cast black earth upon his throne, and tore his hair, and shed tears,
and his cries mounted even unto the seventh sphere. And he spake in
his grief and said-
"O Master of the world, that metest out justice, look down, I pray
thee, upon this innocent whom his brethren have foully murdered! Sear
their hearts that joy cannot enter, and grant unto me my prayer. Suffer
that I may live until a hero, a warrior mighty to avenge, be sprung
from the seed of Irij. Then when I shall have beheld his face I will
go hence as it beseemeth me and the earth shall cover my body."
Thus wept Feridoun in the bitterness of his soul, neither would he
take comfort day and night, nor quit the garden of his son. And the
earth was his couch and the dust his bed, and he watered the ground
with his tears. And he rested in this spot till that the grass was
grown above his bosom, and his eyes were blinded with weeping. Yet
his tongue did not cease from plaining and his heart from sorrow.
And he cried continually-
"O Irij, O my son, my son, never prince died a death like thine! Thy
head was severed by Ahriman, thy body torn by lions."
Thus mourned Feridoun, and the voice of lamentation was abroad.
Then it came about that after many years had passed Feridoun bethought
him of the daughter of Irij, and how that men said she was fair. And
he sought for her in the house of the women; and when he learned that
she was fair indeed, he desired that a husband be found for her, and
he wedded her unto Pescheng, who was a hero of the race of Jemshid.
And there was born unto them a son fair and strong, worthy the throne.
And when he was yet but a tender babe they brought him to Feridoun
"O Lord of earth, let thy soul rejoice, behold this Irij!"
Then the lips of Feridoun were wreathed with smiles, and he took up
the infant in his arms and cried unto God, saying-
"O God, grant that my sight be restored unto me, that I may behold
the face of this babe."
And as he prayed his eyes were opened, and his sight rested upon his
son. Then Feridoun gave thanks unto God. And he called down blessings
upon the child, and prayed that the day might be blessed also, and
the heart of his enemies be torn with anguish. And he named him Minuchihr,
saying, "A branch worthy of a noble stock hath borne fruit." And the
child was reared in the house of Feridoun, and he suffered not that
ill came near unto him, and though the years passed above his head
the stars brought him no evil. And when he was of a ripe age Feridoun
gave to Minuchihr a throne of gold, and a mace, and a crown of jewels,
and the key to all his treasures. Then he commanded his nobles that
they should do him reverence and salute him king. And there were gathered
about the throne Karun, the son of Kawah, and Serv, King of Yemen,
and Guerschasp the victorious, and many other mighty princes more
than tongue can name. But the young Shah outshone them in strength
and beauty, and joy was once more in the land.
But tidings of the splendour that surrounded Feridoun pierced even
unto the lands of Roum and China, and the kings thereof were troubled
and downcast in their hearts. Then they conferred how they should
regain the favour of the Shah, for they feared Minuchihr when he should
be come unto years of might. So they sent a messenger unto Feridoun
bearing rich gifts, and bade him speak unto their father and say-
"O Shah, live for ever I bear a message from the humblest of thy slaves,
who are bowed unto the earth with contrition, wherefore they have
not ventured into thy presence. And they pray that thou pardon their
evil deed, for their hearts are good, and they did it not of themselves,
but because it was written that they should do this wrong, and that
which is written in the stars surely it is accomplished. And therefore,
O King, their eyes are filled with tears, and they pray thee incline
unto them thine ear. And as a sign of thy grace send unto them Minuchihr
thy son, for their hearts yearn to look upon his face and do him homage."
Now when Feridoun had listened to the words of his sons, he knitted
his brows in anger, for he knew that they sought only to beguile him.
And he said unto the messenger-
"Go, say unto your masters that their false-hearted words shall avail
them nothing. And ask them if they be not shamed to utter white words
with tongues of blackness. I have heard their message, hear now the
answer that I send. Ye say unto me that ye desire the love of Minuchihr,
and I ask of you, What did ye for Irij? And now that ye are delivered
of him ye seek the blood of his son. Verily I say unto you, never
shall ye look upon his face save when he leadeth a mighty army. Then
shall be watered with blood the leaves and fruits of the tree sprung
from the vengeance that is due. For unto this day hath vengeance slumbered,
since it became me not to stretch forth mine hand in battle upon my
sons; but now is there sprung a branch from the tree which the enemy
uprooted, and he shall come as a raging lion, girt with the vengeance
of his sire. And I say unto you, take back the treasures ye have sent
me, for think ye that for coloured toys I will abandon my vengeance,
and efface for baubles the blood that ye have spilled, or sell for
gold the head of mine offspring? And say yet again that while the
father of Irij lives he will not abandon his intent. And now that
thou hast listened unto my message, lay it up in thy heart and make
haste from hence."
When the messenger had heard these words he departed with speed. And
when he was come unto Silim and Tur he told them thereof, and how
he had seen Minuchihr sitting upon a throne of gold, and how for strength
he was like unto Tahumers, who had bound the Deevs. And he told how
heroes bearing names that filled the world with wonder stood round
about him, Kawah the smith, and Karun his son, and Serv, the King
of Yemen, and next in might unto the Shah was Saum, the son of Neriman,
the unvanquished in fight, and Guerschasp the victorious, his treasurer.
Then he spake of the treasures that filled the house of Feridoun,
and of the army great in number, so that the men of Roum and China
could not stand against them. And he told how their hearts were filled
with hatred of the Kings because of Irij.
The Kings, when they heard this and the message of their father, trembled
for fear. And Tur said unto Silim-
"Henceforth we must forego pleasure, for it behoveth us to hasten,
and not tarry till the teeth of this young lion be sharpened, and
he be waxed tall and strong."
Then they made ready their armies, and the number of their men was
past the counting. Helmet was joined to helmet, and spear to spear,
and jewels, baggage, and elephants without number went with them,
and you would have said it was a host that none could understand.
And they marched from Turan into Iran, and the two Kings rode before
them, their hearts filled with hate. But the star of these evil ones
was sinking. For Feridoun, when he learned that an army had crossed
the Jihun, called unto him Minuchihr his son, and bade him place himself
at the head of the warriors. And the host of the Shah was mighty to
behold, great and strong, and it covered the land like unto a cloud
of locusts. And they marched from Temmische unto the desert, and Minuchihr
commanded them with might. And on his right rode Karun the Avenger,
and on his left Saum, the son of Neriman, and above their heads waved
the flag of Kawah, and their armour glistened in the sun. Like as
a lion breaketh forth from the jungle to seize upon his prey, so did
this army rush forth to avenge the death of Irij. And the head of
Minuchihr rose above the rest like to the moon or the sun when it
shineth above the mountains. And he exhorted them in words of fire
that they rest not, neither weary, until they should have broken the
power of these sons of Ahriman.
Now Tur and Silim, when they saw that the Iranians were come out against
them, set in order their army. And when the day had torn asunder the
folds of night, the two armies met in battle, and the fight waged
strong until the setting of the sun. And the earth was a sea of blood,
and the feet of the elephants were like to pillars of coral. And when
the sun was sunk to his rest, Tur and Silim consulted how they might
seize upon Minuchihr by fraud, for they saw that his arm was strong
and his courage undaunted. So Tur set forth at the head of a small
band to surprise him in his tents. But Minuchihr was aware of his
evil plans, and sprang upon him. And when Tur would have fled Minuchihr
followed after him and struck a lance into his back. And when he had
killed him he cut his head from his trunk, and the body did he give
unto the wild beasts, but the head he sent to Feridoun. And he wrote
to him and sent him greeting, and told him all that was come about,
and how he should neither rest nor tarry until the death of Irij be
Now Silim, when he learned the fate of his brother, was sore afraid,
and cast about him for an ally. And there came unto him Kakoui, of
the seed of Zohak. But Minuchihr wrestled with him for a morning's
space and overcame him also, though the Deev was strong and powerful
in fight. Then Silim was cast down yet more, and he sought to hide
him by the sea-shore. But Minuchihr cut off his path and overtook
him, and with his own hand he slew him, and cut his head from his
trunk. And he raised the head upon his lance. And when the army of
Silim saw this they fled into the hills, and vanished like cattle
whom the snow hath driven from their pasture. Then they took counsel
and chose out a man from among their midst, one that was prudent and
gentle of speech. And they bade him go before the Shah and say-
"Have mercy upon us, O Shah, for neither hate nor vengeance drove
us forth against thee, but only this, that we obeyed the wills of
our lords. But we ourselves are peaceful men, tillers of the earth
and keepers of cattle, and we pray thee that thou let us return in
safety whence we are come. And we acknowledge thee our Shah, and we
pray thee make thy servants acquainted with thy desires."
When Minuchihr had heard these words he spake and said-
"My desire is not after these men, neither is my longing after blood
but mercy. Let every man lay down his arms and go his ways, and let
peace be in the land, and joy wait upon your feet."
When the men heard this they praised the Shah, and called down blessings
upon his head. And they came before him, every man bearing his armour
and the weapons of battle. And they laid them at his feet, and of
weapons there was reared a mighty mountain, and the blue steel glistened
in the sun. Then Minuchihr dismissed them graciously. And when the
army was dispersed he sent a messenger unto Feridoun bearing the head
of Silim and a writing. And when he had ordered all things he set
out at the head of his warriors unto the city of Feridoun. And his
grandsire came forth to meet him, and there came with him many elephants
swathed in gold, and warriors arrayed in rich attire, and a large
multitude clad in garments of bright hue. And flags waved above them,
and trumpets brayed, and cymbals clashed, and sounds of rejoicing
filled the air. But when Minuchihr saw that his grandsire came towards
him, he got from his horse and ran to meet him, and fell at his feet
and craved his blessing. And Feridoun blessed Minuchihr and raised
him from the dust. And he bade him sit again upon his horse and took
his hand, and they entered the city in triumph. And when they were
come to the King's house, Feridoun seated Minuchihr upon a throne
of gold. Then he called unto him Saum, the son of Neriman, and said-
"I pray thee bring up this youth and nourish him for the kingdom,
and aid him with thy might and mind."
And he took the hand of Minuchihr and put it into that of Saum, and
"Thanks be unto God the merciful, who hath listened unto my voice,
and granted the desires of His servant. For now shall I go hence,
and the world will I cumber no more."
Then when he had given gifts unto his servants he withdrew into solitude,
and gazed without cease upon the heads of his sons, neither refrained
he from bewailing their evil fate, and the sorrow they had brought
upon him. And daily he grew fainter, and at last the light of his
life expired, and Feridoun vanished from the earth, but his name remained
behind him. And Minuchihr mourned for his grandsire with weeping and
lamentation, and raised above him a stately tomb. But when the seven
days of mourning were ended, he put upon his head the crown of the
Kaianides, and girt his loins with a red sash of might. And the nation
called him Shah, and he was beloved in the land.
Seistan, which is to the south of Iran, was ruled by Saum, the Pehliva,
girt with might and glory, and, but for the grief that he was childless,
his days were happy. Then it came to pass that a son was born unto
him, beautiful of face and limb, who had neither fault nor blemish
save that his hair was like unto that of an aged man. Now the women
were afraid to tell Saum, lest he be wroth when he should learn that
his child was thus set apart from his fellow-men. So the infant had
gazed upon the light eight days ere he knew thereof. Then a woman,
brave above the rest, ventured into his presence. She bowed herself
unto the dust and craved of Saum the boon of speech. And he suffered
her, and she spake, saying-
"May the Lord keep and guard thee. May thine enemies be utterly destroyed.
May the days of Saum the hero be happy. For the Almighty hath accomplished
his desire. He hath given to him an heir, a son is born unto the mighty
warrior behind the curtains of his house, a moon-faced boy, beautiful
of face and limb, in whom there is neither fault nor blemish, save
that his hair is like unto that of an aged man. I beseech thee, O
my master, bethink thee that this gift is from God, nor give place
in thine heart to ingratitude."
When Saum had listened to her words he arose and went unto the house
of the women. And he beheld the babe that was beautiful of face and
limb, but whose head was like unto that of an aged man. Then Saum,
fearing the jeers of his enemies, quitted the paths of wisdom. He
lifted his head unto heaven and murmured against the Lord of Destiny,
and cried, saying-
"O thou eternally just and good, O source of happiness, incline thine
ear unto me and listen to my voice. If I have sinned, if I have strayed
in the paths of Ahriman, behold my repentance and pardon me. My soul
is ashamed, my heart is angered for reason of this child, for will
not the nobles say this boy presageth evil? They will hold me up to
shame, and what can I reply to their questions? It behoveth me to
remove this stain, that the land of Iran be not accursed."
Thus spake Saum in his anger, railing against fate, and he commanded
his servants to take the child and cast it forth out of the land.
Now there standeth far from the haunts of men the Mount Alberz, whose
head toucheth the stars, and never had mortal foot been planted upon
its crest. And upon it had the Simurgh, the bird of marvel, builded
her nest. Of ebony and of sandal-wood did she build it, and twined
it with aloes, so that it was like unto a king's house, and the evil
sway of Saturn could not reach thereto. And at the foot of this mount
was laid the child of Saum. Then the Simurgh, when she spied the infant
lying upon the ground, bereft of clothes and wherewithal to nourish
it, sucking its fingers for very hunger, darted to earth and raised
him in her talons. And she bare him unto her nest, that her young
might devour him. But when she had brought him her heart was stirred
within her for compassion. Therefore she bade her young ones spare
the babe and treat him like to a brother. Then she chose out tender
flesh to feed her guest, and tended the infant forsaken of his sire.
And thus did the Simurgh, nor ever wearied till that moons and years
had rolled above their heads, and the babe was grown to be a youth
full of strength and beauty. And his renown filled the land, for neither
good nor evil can be hidden for ever. And his fame spread even unto
the ears of Saum, the son of Neriman.
Then it came to pass that Saum dreamed a dream, wherein he beheld
a man riding towards him mounted upon an Arab steed. And the man gave
him tidings of his son, and taunted him, saying-
"O thou who hast offended against every duty, who disownest thy son
because that his hair is white, though thine own resembleth the silver
poplar, and to whom a bird seemeth fit nurse for thine offspring,
wilt thou abjure all kinship with him for ever?"
Now when Saum awoke he remembered his dream, and fear came upon him
for his sin. And he called unto him his Mubids, and questioned them
concerning the stripling of the Mount Alberz, and whether this could
be indeed his son, for surely frosts and heat must long since have
destroyed him. Then the Mubids answered and said-
"Not so, thou most ungrateful unto God, thou more cruel than the lion,
the tiger, and the crocodile, for even savage beasts tend their young,
whilst thou didst reject thine own, because thou heldest the white
hair given unto him by his Creator for a reproach in the sight of
men. O faint of heart, arise and seek thy child, for surely one whom
God hath blessed can never perish. And turn thou unto him and pray
that he forgive thee."
When Saum had heard these words he was contrite, and called about
him his army and set forth unto the mountains. And when they were
come unto the mount that is raised up to the Pleiades, Saum beheld
the Simurgh and the nest, and a stripling that was like unto himself
walking around it. And his desire to get unto him was great, but he
strove in vain to scale the crest. Then Saum called upon God in his
humility. And God heard him, and put it into the heart of the Simurgh
to look down and behold the warrior and the army that was with him.
And when she had seen Saum she knew wherefore the chief was come,
and she spake and said-
"O thou who hast shared this nest, I have reared thee and been to
thee a mother, for thy father cast thee out; the hour is come to part
us, and I must give thee again unto thy people. For thy father is
Saum the hero, the Pehliva of the world, greatest among the great,
and he is come hither to seek his son, and splendour awaiteth thee
When the youth had heard her words his eyes were filled with tears
and his heart with sorrow, for he had never gazed upon men, though
he had learned their speech. And he said-
"Art thou then weary of me, or am I no longer fit to be thy house-fellow?
See, thy nest is unto me a throne, thy sheltering wings a parent.
To thee I owe all that I am, for thou wast my friend in need."
And the Simurgh answered him saying, "I do not send thee away for
enmity, O my son; nay, I would keep thee beside me for ever, but another
destiny is better for thee. When thou shalt have seen the throne and
its pomp my nest will sink in thine esteem. Go forth, therefore, my
son, and try thy fortune in the world. But that thou mayst remember
thy nurse who shielded thee, and reared thee amid her little ones,
that thou mayst remain under the shadow of her wings, bear with thee
this feather from her breast. And in the day of thy need cast it into
the fire, and I will come like unto a cloud and deliver thee from
Thus she spake, and raised him in her talons and bore him to the spot
where Saum was bowed to the dust in penitence. Now when Saum beheld
his son, whose body was like unto an elephant's for strength and beauty,
he bent low before the Simurgh and covered her with benison. And he
cried out and said-
"O Shah of birds, O bird of God, who confoundest the wicked, mayst
thou be great for ever."
But while he yet spake the Simurgh flew upwards, and the gaze of Saum
was fixed upon his son. And as he looked he saw that he was worthy
of the throne, and that there was neither fault nor blemish in him,
save only his silvery locks. Then his heart rejoiced within him, and
he blessed him, and entreated his forgiveness. And he said-
"O my son, open thine heart unto the meanest of God's servants, and
I swear unto thee, in the presence of Him that made us, that never
again will I harden my heart towards thee, and that I will grant unto
thee all thy desires."
Then he clothed him in rich robes and named him Zal, which being interpreted
meaneth the aged. And he showed him unto the army. And when they had
looked on the youth they saw that he was goodly of visage and of limb,
and they shouted for very joy. Then the host made them ready to return
unto Seistan. And the kettle-drummers rode at their head, mounted
upon mighty elephants whose feet raised a cloud of dust that rose
unto the sky. And the tabors were beat, and the trumpets brayed, and
the cymbals clashed, and sounds of rejoicing filled the land because
that Saum had found his son, and that Zal was a hero among men.
Now the news spread even unto Minuchihr that Saum was returning from
the mountains with great pomp and joy. And when he had heard it he
bade Nuder go forth to meet the Pehliva and bid him bring Zal unto
the court. And when Saum heard the desires of his master he obeyed
and came within his gates. Then he beheld the Shah seated upon the
throne of the Kaianides, bearing his crown upon his head, and on his
right hand sat Karun the Pehliva, and he bade Saum be seated on his
left. And the Shah commanded Saum that he should speak. Then Saum
unbosomed himself before the Shah and spake concerning his son, neither
did he hide his evil deed. And Minuchihr commanded that Zal be brought
before him. So the chamberlains brought him into the presence of the
King, and he was clad in robes of splendour, and the King was amazed
at his aspect. And he turned and said unto Saum-
"O Pehliva of the world, the Shah enjoineth you have a care of this
noble youth, and guard him for the land of Iran. And teach him forthwith
the arts of war, and the pleasures and customs of the banquet, for
how should one that hath been reared in a nest be familiar with our
Then the Shah bade the Mubids cast Zal's horoscope, and they read
that he would be a brave and prudent knight. Now when he had heard
this the Pehliva was relieved of all his fears, and the Shah rejoiced
and covered Saum with gifts. Arab horses did he give unto him with
golden saddles, Indian swords in scabbards of gold, brocades of Roum,
skins of beasts, and carpets of Ind, and the rubies and pearls were
past the numbering. And slaves poured musk and amber before him. And
Minuchihr also granted to Saum a throne, and a crown and a girdle
of gold, and he named him ruler of all the lands that stretch from
the Sea of China to that of Sind, from Zaboulistan to the Caspian.
Then he bade that the Pehliva's horse be led forth, and sent him away
from his presence. And Saum called down blessings upon the Shah, and
turned his face towards home. And his train followed after him, and
the sound of music went before them.
Then when the tidings came to Seistan that the great hero was drawing
nigh, the city decked itself in festive garbs, and every man called
down the blessings of Heaven upon Zal, the son of Saum, and poured
gifts at his feet. And there was joy in all the land for that Saum
had taken back his son.
Now Saum forthwith called about him his Mubids, and bade them instruct
the youth in all the virtues of a king.
And daily Zal increased in wisdom and strength, and his fame filled
the land. And when Saum went forth to fight the battles of the Shah,
he left the kingdom under his hands, and Zal administered it with
judgment and virtue.
ZAL AND RUDABEH
Anon it came about that Zal desired to see the kingdom. And he set
forth, and there followed after him a goodly train, and when they
had journeyed a while they marched with pomp into Cabul. Now Mihrab,
who was descended from Zohak the Serpent, reigned in Cabul, yet he
was worthy, prudent, and wise. When he heard that the son of Saum,
to whom he paid tribute, drew nigh unto the city, he went out to meet
him, and his nobles went with him, and slaves bearing costly gifts.
And Zal, hearing that Mihrab was at hand, prepared a feast in his
tents, and Mihrab and his train feasted with him until the night was
far spent. Now, after the King was gone, Zal praised his beauty. Then
a noble rose up and said unto him-
"O Zal, thou knowest not beauty since thou hast not beheld the daughter
of this man. For she is like unto the slender cypress, her face is
brighter than the sun, her mouth is a pomegranate flower."
When Zal heard these words he was filled with longing, and sleep would
not visit his eyelids for thinking of her beauty.
Now, when the day dawned, he opened the doors of his court, and the
nobles stood about him, each man according to his rank. And presently
there came from Cabul Mihrab the King to tender morning greeting to
the stranger without his gates. And Zal desired that Mihrab should
crave a boon at his hands. Then spake Mihrab unto him saying-
"O ruler mighty and great, I have but one desire, and to bring it
to pass is easy. For I crave thee that thou dwell as guest beneath
my roof, and let my heart rejoice in thy presence."
Then Zal said unto him, "O King, ask not this boon at my hands, I
pray thee, for it can in nowise be accomplished. The Shah and Saum
would be angered should they learn that I had eaten under the roof
of Zohak. I beg of thee ask aught but this."
When Mihrab heard these words he was sorrowful, and bent low before
Zal, and departed from out the tents. And the eye of Zal looked after
him, and yet again he spake his praises. Then he bethought him of
the King's daughter, and how that she was fair, and he was sunk in
brooding and desire, and the days passed unheeded over his head.
Now it came to pass that on a certain morning Mihrab stepped forth
from his palace to the house of the women to visit Sindokht his wife,
and her daughter Rudabeh. Truly the house was like to a garden for
colour and perfume, and over all shone those moons of beauty. Now
when Mihrab had greeted Rudabeh he marvelled at her loveliness, and
called down the blessings of Heaven upon her head. Then Sindokht opened
her lips and questioned Mihrab concerning the stranger whose tents
were without their gates. And she said-
"I pray thee tell unto me what manner of man is this white-haired
son of Saum, and is he worthy the nest or the throne? "
Then Mihrab said unto her, "O my fair cypress, the son of Saum is
a hero among men. His heart is like unto a lion's, his strength is
as an elephant's, to his friends he is a gracious Nile, unto his enemies
a wasting crocodile. And in him are even blemishes turned to beauties,
his white locks but enhance his glory."
When Rudabeh had listened to these words her heart burned with love
for Zal, so that she could neither eat nor rest, and was like unto
one that hath changed her shape. And after a while, because that she
could bear the burden thereof no longer, she told her secret to the
slaves that loved and served her. And she charged them tell no man,
and entreated of them that they would aid her to allay the troubles
of her heart. And when the slaves had listened to her story, they
were filled with fear, and with one accord entreated her that she
would dismiss from her heart one branded among men, and whom his own
father had cast out. But Rudabeh would not listen to their voice.
And when they beheld that she was firm in her spirit, and that their
words were vain, they cast about how they might serve her. And one
among them who was wise above the rest opened her lips and spake-
"O moon-faced beauty, slender cypress, it shall be done at thy desire.
Thy slaves will neither rest nor slumber until the royal youth shall
have become the footstool to thy feet."
Then Rudabeh was glad and said-
"An the issue be happy, there shall be planted for thee a noble tree,
and it shall bear riches and jewels, and wisdom shall cull its fruits."
Then the slaves pondered in their hearts how they should compass their
end, for they knew that only by craft could it be brought about. Straightway
they clothed themselves in costly raiment, and went forth blithely
into the garden of flowers that was spread beside the river's bank
without the city. And they gathered roses, and decked their hair with
blossoms, and threw them into the stream for sooth-telling; and as
they gathered they came unto the spot over against which were pitched
the tents of Zal. Now Zal beheld them from his tent, and he questioned
them concerning these rose-gatherers. And one uprose and said unto
"They are slaves sent forth by the moon of Cabul into the garden of
Now when Zal heard this his heart leaped for joy, and he set forth
unto the river's bank with only one page to bear him company. And
seeing a water-bird fly upwards, he took his bow and shot it through
the heart, and it fell among the rose-gatherers. Then Zal bade the
boy cross the water and bring him the bird. And when he had landed,
the moon-faced women pressed about him and questioned him, saying-
"O youth, tell us the name of him who aimeth thus surely, for verily
he is a king among men."
Then the boy answering said, "What! know ye not the son of Saum the
hero? The world hath not his equal for strength and beauty."
But the girls reproved him, and said, "Not so, boast not thus vainly,
for the house of Mihrab holdeth a sun that o'ershines all besides."
And the page smiled, and the smile yet lingered on his lips when he
came back to Zal. And Zal said-
"Why smilest thou, boy? What have they spoken unto thee that thou
openest thy lips and showest thy ivory teeth? "
Then the boy told unto him the speech of the women. And Zal said-
"Go over yet again and bid them tarry, that they may bear back jewels
with their roses."
And he chose forth from among his treasures trinkets of pearl and
gold, and sent them to the slaves. Then the one who had sworn to serve
Rudabeh above the rest craved that she might look upon the face of
the hero, for she said-
"A secret that is known to three is one no longer."
And Zal granted her desire, and she told him of Rudabeh and of her
beauty, and his passion burned the more. And he spake-
"Show unto me, I pray thee, the path by which I may behold this fair
one, for my heart is filled with longing."
Then the slave said, "Suffer that we go back to the house of the women,
and we will fill the ears of Rudabeh with praises of the son of Saum,
and will entangle her in the meshes of our net, and the lion shall
rejoice in his chase of the lamb."
Then Zal bade her go forth, and the women returned to the house rejoicing
"The lion entereth the snare spread forth to entrap him, and the wishes
of Rudabeh and Zal will be accomplished."
But when they were come to the gates the porter chid them that they
were gone without while the stranger sojourned in Cabul, and they
were troubled and sore afraid for their secret. But they stilled his
wrath and came unto where Rudabeh awaited them. And they told her
of Zal, the son of Saum, and of his beauty and his prowess. And Rudabeh
smiled and said-
"Wherefore have ye thus changed your note? For a while back ye spake
with scorn of this bird-reared youth, on whose head hang the locks
of a sage, but now are ye loud in his praises."
Then Rudabeh began privily to deck her house that it might be worthy
a guest. With brocades of Roum and carpets of Ind did she hang it,
and she perfumed it with musk and ambergris, and flowers did she cause
to bloom about the rooms. And when the sun was sunk, and the doors
of the house were locked and the keys withdrawn, a slave went forth
unto Zal, the son of Saum. And she spake unto him in a low voice-
"Come now, for all is ready."
And Zal followed after her. And when they were come to the house of
the women Zal beheld the daughter of the King standing upon the roof,
and her beauty was like unto a cypress on which the full moon shineth.
And when she beheld him, she spake and said-
"I bid thee welcome, O young man, son of a hero, and may the blessing
of Heaven rest upon thee."
And Zal answered her benison, and prayed that he might enter into
nearer converse, for he was on the ground and she was on the roof.
Then the Peri-faced loosened her tresses, and they were long, so that
they fell from the battlements unto the ground. And she said unto
"Here hast thou a cord without flaw. Mount, O Pehliva, and seize my
black locks, for it is fitting that I should be a snare unto thee."
But Zal cried, "Not so, O fair one, it would beseem me ill to do thee
And he covered her hair with kisses. Then he called for a cord and
made a running knot, and threw it upwards and fastened it to the battlements.
And with a bound he swung himself upon the roof. Then Rudabeh took
his hand and they stepped down together into the golden chambers,
and the slaves stood round about them. And they gazed upon each other
and knew that they excelled in beauty, and the hours slipped by in
sweet talk, while love was fanned in their hearts. Then Zal cried-
"O fair cypress, musk-perfumed, when Minuchihr shall learn of this
he will be angered and Saum also will chide. And they will say I have
forgotten my God, and will lift their hands against me. But I swear
unto thee that this life is to me vile if it be not spent in thy presence.
And I call upon Heaven to hear me that none other but thee will I
call my bride."
And Rudabeh said, "I too will swear unto thee this oath."
So the hours sped, and there arose from out the tents of the King
the sound of drums that announce the coming of the day. Then cried
Zal and Rudabeh of one accord-
"O glory of the world, tarry yet a while, neither arrive so quickly."
But the sun gave no ear to their reproaches, and the hour to part
was come. Then Zal swung himself from the battlements unto the ground,
and quitted the house of his beloved.
Now when the earth was flooded with light, and the nobles and chiefs
had tendered unto Zal their morning greetings as was their wont, he
called about him his Mubids, and laid before them how that he was
filled with love for a daughter of the Serpent. And the Mubids when
they heard it were troubled, and their lips were closed, and the words
were chained upon their tongues. For there was none of them that listed
to mingle poison in the honey of this love. Whereupon Zal reproved
them, and said that he would bestow on them rich gifts if they would
open their mouths. Then they spake and said unto him that the honour
of a king could not suffer by a woman, and though Mihrab be indeed
of Zohak's race, he was noble and valiant. And they urged him to write
unto his father and crave Saum to wait upon the Shah.
Then Zal called unto him a scribe and bade him write down the words
that he spake. And he told unto Saum his love and his fears. And he
recalled unto him how that he had cast him out, and how that he had
lived in a nest, and a bird had reared him, and the sun had poured
down upon his head, and raw flesh had been his nourishment the while
his father had sat within a goodly house clothed in silk. And he recalled
the promise given to him by Saum. Neither did he seek to justify that
which was come about. Then he gave the letter to a messenger, and
bade him ride until he should be come into the presence of Saum.
When Saum had heard the words of his son his spirit was troubled,
and he cried-
"Woe unto me, for now is clear what hath so long been hidden. One
whom a wild bird hath reared looketh for the fulfilment of wild desires,
and seeks union with an accursed race."
And he pondered long what he should answer. For he said, "If I say,
Abandon this desire, sow no discord, return to reason, I break my
oath and God will punish me. Yet if I say, Thy desire is just, satisfy
the passions of thy heart, what offspring can come to pass from the
union of a Deev and the nursling of a bird?"
And the heart of Saum was heavy with care. So he called unto him his
Mubids that they should search the stars, for he said-
"If I mingle fire and water I do ill, and ill will come of it."
Then all that day the Wise Men searched the secrets of Fate, and they
cast the horoscope of Zal and Rudabeh, and at even they returned to
the King rejoicing. And they found him torn with anguish. Then they
"Hail unto thee, O Saum, for we have followed the movement of the
stars and counted their course, and we have read the message of the
skies. And it is written, 'A clear spring shall issue into the day,
a son shall be born to Zal, a hero full of power and glory, and there
shall not be his like in Iran.' "
Now when Saum had drunk in these words, his soul was uplifted, and
he poured gifts upon the Mubids. Then he called to him the messenger
of Zal, and he gave him pieces of silver, and bade him return unto
his master and say-
"I hold thy passion folly, O my son, but because of the oath that
I have sworn to thee it shall be done at thy desire. I will hie me
unto Iran and lay thy suit before the Shah."
Then Saum called together his army and set forth for Iran, and the
sound of trumpets and cymbals went before him.
Now when the messenger was come back to Zal, he rejoiced and praised
God, and gave gold and silver to the poor, and gifts unto his servants.
But when night was come he could not close his eyes in slumber, nor
could he rest during the day. Neither did he drink wine nor demand
the singers, for his soul was filled with longing after his love.
And presently there came out to him a slave, and he gave unto her
Saum's letter that she might bear it to Rudabeh. And Rudabeh rejoiced
also, and chose from among her treasures a costly crown and a ring
of worth, and bade the woman bear them unto Zal. Now as she quitted
the chamber she met Sindokht. And the Queen questioned her and said-
"Whence comest thou? Reply to all my questions, neither seek thou
to deceive me, for already a long time do I suspect thy passing to
And the woman trembled as she heard these words, and fell down and
kissed the feet of the Queen, and said-
"Have pity on thine handmaiden, who is poor and gaineth her bread
as she can. I go into the houses of the rich and sell to them robes
and jewels. And Rudabeh hath this day bought of me a tiara and a bracelet
Then said Sindokht, "Show unto me the money thou hast received for
the same, that my anger be appeased."
And the woman answered and said, "Demand not that I show unto thee
that which I have not, for Rudabeh will pay me to-morrow."
Now Sindokht knew that these words were feigned, and she searched
the sleeve of the woman, and lo! she found therein the tiara that
Rudabeh had broidered with her hands. Then she was angered, and commanded
that the slave should be bound in chains. And she desired that her
daughter be brought into her presence. And when she was come, Sindokht
opened her mouth and spake, saying-
"O moon of noble race, to whom hath been taught naught but that which
is good, how hast thou gone astray upon the paths of evil? O my daughter,
confide unto thy mother thy secrets. From whom cometh this woman?
For what man are destined thy gifts?"
When she had heard, Rudabeh was abashed, but after a while she told
all unto Sindokht. Now when the Queen had heard she was confounded,
for she feared the wrath of the Shah, and that he would raze Cabul
to the dust for this mischance. And she went into her rooms and wept
in her sorrow. Then presently Mihrab the King came in to Sindokht,
and he was of joyful mind, for Zal had received him graciously. But
when he beheld her tears he questioned of her grief. Then she told
him how that his daughter was filled with love for Zal, the son of
Saum. And when Mihrab had heard her to an end, his heart also was
troubled, for he knew that Cabul could not stand before the Shah.
Minuchihr, too, when he had heard these things, was troubled, for
he beheld in them the device of Ahriman, and feared lest this union
should bring evil upon Iran. And he bade Nauder call Saum before him.
Now when Saum heard the desire of the Shah, he spake and said-
"I obey, and the sight of the King will be a banquet. unto my soul."
Then Saum went into the presence of Minuchihr, and he kissed the ground,
and called down blessings upon the head of the Shah. But Minuchihr
raised him and seated him beside him on the throne, and straightway
began to question him concerning the war, and the Deevs of Mazinderan.
Then Saum told him all the story of his battles. And Minuchihr listened
with joy though the tale was long, and when Saum had ended he praised
his prowess. And he lifted his crown unto heaven and rejoiced that
his enemies were thus confounded. Then be bade a banquet be spread,
and all night long the heroes feasted and shortened the hours with
wine. But when the first rays of morn had shed their light, the curtains
of the Shah's house were opened, that he might hold audience and grant
the petitions of his people. And Saum the Pehliva came the first to
stand before the King, for he desired to speak to him of Zal. But
the Shah of the world would not suffer him to open his lips, but said
"Go hence, O Saum, and take with thee thine army, for I command thee
to go yet again to battle. Set forth unto Cabul and burn the house
of Mihrab the King, and utterly destroy his race and all who serve
him, nor suffer that any of the seed of Zohak escape destruction,
for I will that the earth be delivered of this serpent brood."
When Saum heard these words he knew that the Shah was angered, and
that speech would avail him naught. So he kissed the throne and touched
the earth with his forehead, and said, "Lord, I am thy servant, and
I obey thy desires." And he departed, and the earth trembled under
the stamping of footmen and of hoofs, and the air of the city was
darkened with his spears.
Now the news of Saum's intent reached even unto Cabul, and the land
was sunk in woe, and weeping filled the house of the King. But Zal
was wroth, and he went forth to meet his father. And when he was come
to the spot where he had encamped his army, he craved an audience.
And Saum granted it, and Zal reminded him yet again of his oath, and
desired that he would spare the land of Cabul, nor visit his judgments
upon the innocent. When Saum had listened, his heart was moved, and
"O my son, thou speakest that which is right. To thee have I been
unjust from the day of thy birth. But stay thy wrath, for surely I
will find a remedy, and thy wishes shall yet be accomplished. For
thou shalt bear a letter unto the Shah, and when he shall have looked
on thy face, he will be moved with compassion and cease to trouble
Then Zal kissed the ground before his father and craved the blessings
of God upon his head. And Saum dictated a letter to the Shah, and
he spoke therein of all he had done for Minuchihr, and how he had
killed the dragon that had laid waste the land, how he had ever subdued
the foes of Iran, and how the frontiers were enlarged by his hands.
Yet now was he waxing old, and could no longer do doughty deeds. But
a brave son was his, worthy and true, who would follow in his footsteps.
Only his heart was devoured of love, and perchance he would die if
his longing were unsatisfied. And therewith he commended to the wisdom
of the Shah the affairs of Zal.
When the letter was ended Zal set forth with it unto the court, and
the flower of his army went with him.
But the fear of Minuchihr was great in Cabul, and Mihrab pondered
how he should quench the wrath of the King of kings. And he spake
to Sindokht and said-
"For that the King is angered against me because of thee and thy daughter,
and because I cannot stand before him, I will lead Rudabeh unto his
court and kill her before his eyes. Perchance his anger may be thus
Sindokht listened to his words in silence, and when he had ended she
cast about her for a plan, for she was quick of wit. And when she
had found one she came again into the presence of Mihrab, and she
craved of him that he should give her the key of his treasury. For
"This is not the hour to be strait-handed; suffer that I take what
seemeth good unto me and go before Saum, it may be that I move him
to spare the land."
And Mihrab agreed to her demand because of the fear that devoured
him. Then Sindokht went out to the house of Saum, and she took with
her three hundred thousand pieces of gold, and sixty horses caparisoned
in silver, bearing sixty slaves that held cups filled to the brim
with musk and camphor, and rubies, and turquoise, and precious stones
of every kind. And there followed two hundred dromedaries and four
tall Indian elephants laden with carpets and brocades of Roum, and
the train reached for two miles beyond the King's gates. Now when
Sindokht was come to Seistan she bade the guardians of the door say
unto Saum that an envoy was come from Cabul bearing a message. And
Saum granted an audience, and Sindokht was brought into his presence.
Then she kissed the ground at his feet and called upon Heaven to shower
down blessings on his head. And when she had done so, she caused her
gifts to be laid before Saum, and when Saum beheld these treasures,
he marvelled and thought within himself, "How cometh it that a woman
is sent as envoy from a land that boasteth such riches? If I accept
them the Shah will be angered, and if I refuse perchance Zal will
reproach me that I rob him of his heritage." So he lifted his head
"Let these treasures be given unto the treasurer of my son."
When Sindokht beheld that her gifts were accepted, she rejoiced and
raised her voice in speech. And she questioned Saum, saying-
"Tell me, I pray thee, what wrong have the people of Cabul done unto
thee that thou wouldst destroy them?"
Then answered Saum the hero, "Reply unto my questions and lie not.
Art thou the slave or the wife of Mihrab, and is it thy daughter whom
Zal hath seen? If indeed it be so, tell me, I pray, of her beauty,
that I may know if she be worthy of my son."
Then Sindokht said, "O Pehliva, swear to me first a great oath that
thou wilt spare my life and the lives of those dear unto me. And when
I am assured of thy protection I will recount all that thou desirest."
Then Saum took the hand of Sindokht, and he sware unto her a great
oath, and gave her his word and his promise. And when she had heard
it she was no longer afraid, and she told him all her secrets. And
"I am of the race of Zohak, and wife unto the valiant Mihrab, and
mother of Rudabeh, who hath found favour in the eyes of thy son. And
I am come to learn of thy desire, and who are thine enemies in Cabul.
Destroy the wicked, and those who merit chastisement, but spare, I
pray thee, the innocent, or thy deeds will change day into night."
Then spake Saum, "My oath is sacred, and if it cost my life, thou
and thine and Cabul may rest assured that I will not harm them. And
I desire that Zal should find a wife in Rudabeh, though she be of
an alien race."
And he told her how that he had written to the Shah a letter of supplication
such as only one in grief could pen, and how Zal was absent with the
message, and he craved her to tell him of Rudabeh.
But Sindokht replied, "If the Pehliva of the world will make the hearts
of his slaves rejoice, he will visit us and look with his own eyes
upon our moon."
And Saum smiled and said, "Rest content and deliver thine heart of
cares, for all shall end according unto thy desires."
When Sindokht heard this she bade him farewell and made all haste
to return. And Saum loaded her with gifts and bade her depart in peace.
And Sindokht's face shone brightly, like unto the moon when she hath
been eclipsed, and hope once more reigned in her breast.
Now listen to what happened to Zal while these things were passing
in Seistan. When he was come to the court of Minuchihr he hastened
into his presence, and kissed the ground at his feet, and lay prostrate
before him in the dust. And when the Shah saw this he was moved, and
bade his servants raise Zal, and pour musk before him. Then Zal drew
nigh unto the throne and gave to the King the letter written by Saum
the son of Neriman. And when Minuchihr had read it he was grieved,
"This letter, written by Saum thy father in his sorrow, hath awakened
an old pain within me. But for the sake of my faithful servant I will
do unto thee that which is thy desire. Yet I ask that thou abide with
me a little while that I may seek counsel about thee."
Then the cooks brought forth a table of gold, and Zal was seated beside
the Shah and all the nobles according to their rank, and they ate
flesh and drank wine together. Then when the mantle of night was fallen
over the earth Zal sprang upon his steed and scoured the land in the
unrest of his spirit, for his heart was full of thoughts and his mouth
of words. But when morning was come he presented himself before the
Shah in audience. And his speech and mien found favour in the eyes
of the Shah, and he called unto him his Wise Men and bade them question
the stars of this matter. Three days and three nights did the Mubids
search the heavens without ceasing, and on the fourth they came before
the Shah and spake. And they said unto him-
"Hail to thee, hero of the golden girdle, for we bring unto thee glad
tidings. The son of Saum and the daughter of Mihrab shall be a glorious
pair, and from their union shall spring a son like to a war-elephant,
and he shall subdue all men by his sword and raise the glory of Iran
even unto the skies. And he shall uproot the wicked from the earth
so that there shall be no room for them. Segsars and Mazinderan shall
feel the weight of his mace, and he shall bring much woe upon Turan,
but Iran shall be loaded with prosperity at his hands. And he will
give back sleep to the unhappy, and close the doors of discord, and
bar the paths of wrong-doing. The kingdom will rejoice while he lives;
Roum, Ind, and Iran will grave his name upon their seals."
When the Shah had heard this he charged the Mubids that they keep
secret that which they had revealed unto him. And he called for Zal
that he might question him and test his wisdom. And the Wise Men and
the Mubids were seated in a circle, and they put these questions to
the son of Saum.
And the first opened his mouth and said-
"Twelve trees, well grown and green, Fair and lofty, have I seen;
Each has sprung with vigorous sprout, Sending thirty branches out;
Wax no more, nor wane, they can In the kingdom of Iran."
And Zal pondered a while and then answered and said-
'Twelve moons in the year, and each I praise As a new-made king on
a new throne's blaze: Each comes to an end in thirty days."
Then the second Mubid questioned him and said-
"Thou whose head is high in air, Rede me now of coursers twain; Both
are noble, swift to speed; Black as storms in the night one steed,
The other crystal, white and fair, They race for ever and haste in
vain, Towards a goal they never gain."
And Zal thought again yet a while and answered-
"Two shining horses, one black, one white. That run for ever in rapid
flight; The one is the day, the other the night, That count the throbs
of the heavens height, Like the hunted prey from the following chase
They flee, yet neither wins the race."
Then the third Mubid questioned him and said-
"Thirty knights before the king Pass along. Regard the thing Closely;
one is gone. Again Look- the thirty are in train."
And Zal answered and spake-
"Thirty knights of whom the train Is full, then fails, then fills
again, Know, each moon is reckoned thus, So willed by God who governs
us, And thy word is true of the faint moon's wane, Now failing in
darkness, now shining plain."
Then the fourth Mubid questioned him and said-
"See a green garden full of springs; A strong man with a sickle keen
Enters, and reaps both dry and green; No word thine utmost anguish
And Zal bethought him and replied-
"Thy word was of a garden green, A reaper with a sickle keen, Who
cuts alike the fresh and the dry Nor heedeth prayer nor any cry: Time
is the reaper, we the grass; Pity nor fear his spirit has, But old
and young he reaps alike. No rank can stay his sickle's strike, No
love, but he will leave it lorn, For to this end all men are born.
Birth opes to all the gate of Life, Death shuts it down on love and
strife, And Fate, that counts the breath of man, Measures to each
a reckoned span."
Then the fifth Mubid questioned him and said-
"Look how two lofty cypresses Spring up, like reeds, from stormy seas,
There builds a bird his dwelling-place; Upon the one all night he
stays, But swift, with the dawn, across he flies; The abandoned tree
dries up and dies, While that whereon he sets his feet Breathes odours
out, surpassing sweet. The one is dead for ever and aye, The other
lives and blooms alway."
Then Zal yet again bethought him before he said-
"Hear of the sea-born cypresses, Where builds a bird, and rests, and
flees. From the Ram to the Scales the earth o'erpowers, Shadows obscure
of the night that lowers, But when the Scales' sign it must quit,
Darkness and gloom o'ermaster it; The sides of heaven thy fable shows
Whence grief to man or blessing flows, The sun like a bird flies to
and fro, Weal with him bringing, but leaving woe."
Then the sixth Mubid questioned him, and it was the last question
that he asked, and he deemed it the hardest of all to answer. And
all men hung upon his words and listened to the answer of Zal. And
the Mubid said-
"Builded on a rock I found A town. Men left the gate and chose A thicket
on the level ground. Soon their soaring mansions rose Lifting roofs
that reach the moon, Some men slaves, some kings, became, Of their
earlier city soon The memory died in all. Its name None breathed.
But hark! an earthquake; down, Lost in the chasm lies the land- Now
long they for their rock-built town, Enduring things they understand.
Seek in thy soul the truth of this; This before kings proclaim, I
was, If rightly thou the riddle rede, Black earth to musk thou hast
And Zal pondered this riddle but a little while, and then opened his
mouth and said-
"The eternal, final world is shown By image of a rock-built town;
The thicket is our passing life, A place of pleasure and of pain,
A world of dreams and eager strife, A time for labour, and loss, and
gain; This counts thy heart-beats, at its will Prolongs their pulse
or makes it still. But winds and earthquake rouse: a cry Goes up of
bitterness and woe, Now we must leave our homes below And climb the
rocky fastness high. Another reaps our fruit of pain, That yet to
another leaves his gain; So was it aye, must so remain. Well for us
if our name endure, Though we shall pass, beloved and pure, For all
the evil man hath done, Stalks, when he dies, in the sight of the
sun; When dust is strown on breast and head, Then desolation reigns
When Zal had spoken thus the Shah was glad, and an the assembly were
amazed, and lauded the son of Saum. And the King bade a great banquet
be prepared, and they drank wine until the world was darkened, and
the heads of the drinkers were troubled. Then when morn was come Zal
prayed that the Shah would dismiss him. But Minuchihr said-
"Not so, abide with me yet another day," and he bade the drums be
beaten to call together his heroes, for he desired to test Zal also
in feats of strength. And the Shah sat upon the roof of his house
and looked down upon the games, and he beheld Zal, the son of Saum,
do mighty deeds of prowess. With his arrow did he shoot farther and
straighter than the rest, and with his spear he pierced all shields,
and in wrestling he overcame the strongest who had never known defeat.
When the nobles beheld these doughty deeds they shouted and clapped
their hands, and Minuchihr loaded Zal with gifts. Then he prepared
a reply unto the letter of Saum. And he wrote-
"O my Pehliva, hero of great renown, I have listened to thy desires,
and I have beheld the youth who is worthy to be thy son. And he hath
found favour in my sight, and I send him back to thee satisfied. May
his enemies be impotent to harm him."
Then when the Shah had given him leave to go, Zal set forth, and he
bare his head high in the joy of his heart. And when he came before
his father and gave to him the letter of the Shah, Saum was young
again for happiness. Then the drums sounded the signal to depart,
and the tents were prepared, and a messenger, mounted on a fleet dromedary,
was sent unto Mihrab to tell him that Saum and Zal were setting forth
for Cabul. And when Mihrab heard the tidings his fears were stilled,
and he commanded that his army be clad in festal array. And silken
standards of bright colour decked the city, and the sounds of trumpets,
harps, and cymbals filled the air. And Sindokht told the glad tidings
to Rudabeh, and they made ready the house like unto a paradise. Carpets
broidered with gold and precious stones did they lay down upon its
floors, and set forth thrones of ivory and rich carving. And the ground
they watered with rose-water and wine.
Then when the guests were come near unto Cabul, Mihrab went forth
to meet them, and he placed upon the head of Zal a crown of diamonds,
and they came into the city in triumph. And all the people did homage
before them, and Sindokht met them at the doors of the King's house,
and poured out musk and precious stones before them. Then Saum, when
he had replied to their homage, smiled, and turned to Sindokht and
"How much longer dost thou think to hide Rudabeh from our eyes?"
And Sindokht said, "What wilt thou give me to see the sun?"
Then Saum replied, "All that thou wilt, even unto my slaves and my
throne, will I give to thee."
Then Sindokht led him within the curtains, and when Saum beheld Rudabeh
he was struck dumb with wonder, for her beauty exceeded dreams, and
he knew not how he could find words to praise her. Then he asked of
Mihrab that he would give unto him her hand, and they concluded an
alliance according to custom and the law. And the lovers were seated
upon a throne, and Mihrab read out the list of the gifts, and it was
so long the ear did not suffice to hear them. Then they repaired unto
the banquet, and they feasted seven days without ceasing. And when
a month had passed Saum went back to Seistan, and Zal and Rudabeh
followed after him. And speedily did he set forth again to battle,
and left the kingdom in the hands of his son, and Zal administered
it with wisdom and judgment. And Rudabeh sat beside him on the throne,
and he placed a crown of gold upon her head.
Now ere the son of Zal was born, Rudabeh was sore afflicted, and neither by
day nor night could she find rest. Then Zal in his trouble bethought him of
the Simurgh, his nurse, and how she had given unto him a feather that he
might use it in the hour of his need. And he cast the feather into the fire
as she had commanded, and straightway a sound of rushing wings filled the
air, and the sky was darkened and the bird of God stood before Zal. And she
said unto him-
"O my son, wherefore art thou troubled, and why are the eyes of this lion
wet with tears?"
Then he told her of his sorrow, and she bade him be of good cheer, "For
verily thy nurse who shielded thee, and reared thee when thy father cast
thee out, is come yet again to succour thee."
And she told him how he should act, and when she had done speaking she
turned her once more towards her nest. But Zal did as she had commanded,
and there was born to him a son comely of limb. And when Rudabeh beheld the
babe, she smiled and said-
"Verily he shall be called Rustem (which, being interpreted, meaneth
delivered), for I am delivered of my pains."
And all the land was glad that a son was come unto Zal the hero, and the
sounds of feasting and joy were heard throughout its breadth.
Then fleet messengers brought the sweet tidings unto Saum. And they bare
with them an image of Rustem sewn of silk, whereon were traced the features
of this lion's whelp, and a club was put into its hands, and it was mounted
upon a dromedary. Now when Saum beheld the image his heart leaped up within
him. He poured mountains of gold before the messengers, and gave thanks
unto Ormuzd that he had suffered his eyes to look upon this child.
And when eight summers had rolled above their heads, Saum learned that
Rustem was mighty of stature and fair of mien, and his heart yearned
towards him. He therefore made ready a mighty host and passed unto
Zaboulistan, that he might look upon his son. And Rustem rode forth to meet
his sire, mounted upon an elephant of war, and when he beheld Saum he fell
upon his face and craved his blessing. And Saum blessed Rustem, the son of
Then Rustem spake unto Saum and said, "O Pehliva, I rejoice in that I am
sprung from thee, for my desires are not after the feast, neither do I
covet sleep or rest. My heart is fixed upon valour, a horse do I crave and
a saddle, a coat of mail and a helmet, and my delight is in the arrow.
Thine enemies will I vanquish, and may my courage be like unto thine."
And Saum, when he had heard these words, was astonished, and blessed Rustem
yet again. And his eyes could not cease from gazing upon the face of the
boy, and he lingered in the land until a moon had run her course.
Now it befell that when yet two springs had passed, Rustem was awakened
from his slumber by a mighty roaring that shook the walls of the house,
even unto the foundation, and a cry went forth that the white elephant of
the King had broken its chain in fury, and that the housemates were in
danger. And Rustem, when he learned it, sprang from his bed, and desired of
the guards that they should suffer him to pass into the court that he might
conquer the beast. But the guards barred the way from him, saying-
"How can we answer for it before the King if thou run into danger?"
But Rustem would not listen to their voice. He forced a passage for himself
with his mighty arms, with his strong fists he broke down the barriers of
the door. And when he was without he beheld how that all the warriors were
sore afraid of the elephant, because that he was mad with rage. And Rustem
was ashamed for them in his soul, and he ran towards the beast with a loud
cry. Then the elephant, when he saw him, raised his trunk to strike him,
but Rustem beat him upon the head with his club, and smote him that he
died. And when he had done this deed, he returned unto his bed and slept
until the morning. But the news of his prowess spread throughout the house
of the King and far into the land, even unto the realms of Saum. And Zal,
and all men with him, rejoiced because a hero was arisen in Iran.
Now, while these things were passing in the house of Zal, in the land of
Zaboulistan, Minuchihr made him ready to pass from the world, for he had
reached twice sixty years. He called before him Nauder his son, and gave
him wise counsels, and exhorted him that he should ever walk in the paths
of wisdom. And he bade him rest his throne upon the strength of Saum and
Zal, and the child that was sprung from their loins. Then when he had
spoken, Minuchihr closed his eyes and sighed, and there remained of him
only a memory in the world.
But Nauder forgot the counsels of his father. He vexed the land and reigned
in anger, and cruel deeds were committed in his name, so that the people
rose up and cried against the King. And men of might came unto Saum and
laid before him their plaints, and the petitions of the people, and they
prayed that he would wrest the crown from the head of Nauder, and place it
upon his own. But Saum was sore grieved when he had heard these words, and
he spake, saying-
"Not so, for it beseemeth me not to put out my hand after the crown, for
Nauder is of the race of the Kaianides, and unto them is given majesty and
Then he girt his sword about his loins, and took with him a host, and rode
before the face of the Shah. And when he was come unto him, Saum exhorted
him with prayers and tears that he would turn him from the paths of evil.
And Nauder listened unto the voice of Saum the Pehliva, and joy was abroad
But the tidings spread, even into Turan, that Minuchihr the just was
departed, and that the hand of Nauder was heavy upon the land. And Poshang,
who was of the race of Tur, heard the news thereof with gladness, for he
deemed that the time was ripe to remember the vengeance that was due unto
the blood of his sire. Therefore he called about him his warriors, and bade
them go forth to war against Iran, saying the time was come to avenge his
father and draw unto himself the heritage. And while his son Afrasiyab made
ready the host to fulfil the desire of his father, there spread the news
that Saum the Pehliva had been gathered unto the dust, and that Zal tarried
in his house to build him a tomb. And the news gave courage unto Afrasiyab
and his men, and they made haste to gain the frontier.
But the grandson of Feridoun had learned of their coming, and he prepared
him to meet the foes of his land. Then he sent forth an army that
overshadowed the earth in its progress. But the army of Afrasiyab was great
also, and it covered the ground like unto ants and locusts. And both hosts
pitched their tents in the plains of Dehstan, and made them ready for the
fight. And the horses neighed loud, and the pawing of their hoofs shook the
deep places of the earth, and the dust of their trampling uprose even unto
heaven. Then when they had put their men into array, they fell upon each
other, and for two days did they rage in fierce combat, neither did the
victory lean to either side. And the clamour and confusion were mighty, and
earth and sky seemed blended into one. And the carnage was great, and blood
flowed like water, and heads fell from their trunks like unto autumn leaves
that are withered. But on the third day it came about that the upper hand
was given unto the men of Turan, and Nauder the King, and the flower of his
army with him, fell into the hands of the foe.
Then Afrasiyab cut off the head of Nauder the Shah, and sat himself down
upon the throne of light. And he proclaimed himself lord of Iran, and
required of all men that they should do him homage, and pour gifts before
his face. But the people would not listen unto his voice, and they sent
messengers into Seistan, and craved counsel of the Pehliva in their
distress. And Zal, when he heard their tidings, cast aside the sorrow for
Saum his father, and girded his loins in enmity against the son of Tur. And
he bade the Iranians choose out Zew, the son of Thamasp, of the blood of
Feridoun, of wisdom in speech, that he should rule over them on the throne
of the Kaianides. And the people did as Zal commanded.
Now the throne of Feridoun grew young again under the sway of Zew. With
power did he beat back the host of Turan, a covenant of peace did he wring
from their hands. And it was written that the Jihun should divide the
lands, and that the power of Zal the Pehliva should end where men take up
their abode in tents. And Zew ruled rightly in the sight of Ormuzd, and God
gave unto the land the key of abundance. Yet few were the years that he
commanded with equity, and Garshasp his son reigned in his stead. But
neither to him was it given to reign long with glory, and bitter fruit
sprouted yet again from the tree of misfortune. For the throne of the
Kaianides was empty, and Afrasiyab, when he learned thereof, followed the
counsels of Poshang his father, and hurried him unto the land of Iran, that
he might place himself upon the seat of power. And all the men of Iran,
when they learned thereof, were sore afraid, and they turned them once
again unto the son of Saum. And they spake unto him hard words, and heaped
reproaches upon him that he had not averted these dangers from their heads.
And Zal in his heart smiled at their ingratitude and lipwisdom, but he also
sorrowed with them and with his land. And he spake, saying-
"I have ever done for you what was fitting and right, and all my life have
I feared no enemy save only old age. But that enemy is now upon me,
therefore I charge you that ye look unto Rustem to deliver you. Howbeit he
shall be backed by the counsels of his father."
Then he called before him his son, who was yet of tender age, and he said
"O my son, thy lips still smell of milk, and thy heart should go out to
pleasure. But the days are grave, and Iran looketh unto thee in its danger.
I must send thee forth to cope with heroes."
And Rustem answered and said, "Thou knowest, O my father, that my desires
are rather after war than pleasures. Give unto me, therefore, a steed of
strength and the mace of Saum thy father, and suffer that I go out to meet
the hosts of Ahriman."
Then Zal's heart laughed within him when he heard these words of manhood.
And he commanded that all the flocks of horses, both from Zaboulistan and
Cabul, be brought before his son, that he might choose from their midst his
steed of battle. And they were passed in order before Rustem, and he laid
upon the backs of each his hand of might to test them if they could bear
his weight of valour. And the horses shuddered as they bent beneath his
grasp, and sank upon their haunches in weakness. And thus did he do with
them all in turn, until he came unto the flocks of Cabul. Then he perceived
in their midst a mare mighty and strong, and there followed after her a
colt like to its mother, with the chest and shoulders of a lion. And in
strength it seemed like an elephant, and in colour it was as rose leaves
that have been scattered upon a saffron ground. Now Rustem, when he had
tested the colt with his eyes, made a running knot in his cord and threw it
about the beast. And he caught the colt in the snare, though the mare
defended it mightily. Then the keeper of the flock came before Rustem and
"O youth puissant and tall, take not, I counsel thee, the horse of
And Rustem answered him and asked, "To whom then pertaineth this steed? I
see no mark upon its flanks."
And the keeper said, "We know not its master, but rumours are rife anent it
throughout the land, and men name it the Rakush of Rustem. And I warn thee,
the mother will never permit thee to ride on it. Three years has it been
ready for the saddle, but none would she suffer to mount thereon."
Then Rustem, when he heard these words, swung himself upon the colt with a
great bound. And the mare, when she saw it, ran at him and would have
pulled him down, but when she had heard his voice she suffered it. And the
rose-coloured steed bore Rustem along the plains like unto the wind. Then
when he was returned, the son of Zal spake and said to the keeper-
"I pray thee, tell unto me what is the price of this dragon?"
But the keeper replied, "If thou be Rustem, mount him, and retrieve the
sorrows of Iran. For his price is the land of Iran, and seated upon him
thou wilt save the world."
And Rustem rejoiced in Rakush (whose name, being interpreted, meaneth the
lightning), and Zal rejoiced with him, and they made them ready to stand
Now it was in the time of roses, and the meadows smiled with verdure, when
Zal led forth his hosts against the offspring of Tur. And the standard of
Kawah streamed upon the breeze, and Mihrab marched on the left, and
Gustahem marched on the right, and Zal went in the midst of the men, but
Rustem went at the head of all. And there followed after him a number like
to the sands of the sea, and the sounds of cymbals and bells made a noise
throughout the land like unto the day of judgment, when the earth shall cry
unto the dead, "Arise." And they marched in order even unto the shores of
the river Rai, and the two armies were but some farsangs apart.
Albeit, when Afrasiyab heard that Rustem and Zal were come out against him,
he was in nowise dismayed, for he said, "The son is but a boy, and the
father is old; it will not, therefore, be hard for me to keep my power in
Iran." And he made ready his warriors with gladness of heart.
But Zal, when he had drawn up his army in battle array, spake unto them,
"O men valiant in fight, we are great in number, but there is wanting to us
a chief, for we are without the counsels of a Shah, and verily no labour
succeedeth when the head is lacking. But rejoice, and be not downcast in
your hearts, for a Mubid hath revealed unto me that there yet liveth one of
the race of Feridoun to whom pertaineth the throne, and that he is a youth
wise and brave."
And when he had thus spoken, he turned him to Rustem and said-
"I charge thee, O my son, depart in haste for the Mount Alberz, neither
tarry by the way. And wend thee unto Kai Kobad, and say unto him that his
army awaiteth him, and that the throne of the Kaianides is empty."
And Rustem, when he had heard his father's command, touched with his
eyelashes the ground before his feet, and straightway departed. In his hand
he bare a mace of might, and under him was Rakush the swift of foot. And he
rode till he came within sight of the Mount Alberz, whereon had stood the
cradle of his father. Then he beheld at its foot a house beauteous like
unto that of a king. And around it was spread a garden whence came the
sounds of running waters, and trees of tall stature uprose therein, and
under their shade, by a gurgling rill, there stood a throne, and a youth,
fair like to the moon, was seated thereon. And round about him leaned
knights girt with red sashes of power, and you would have said it was a
paradise for perfume and beauty.
Now when those within the garden beheld the son of Zal ride by, they came
out unto him and said-
"O Pehliva, it behoveth us not to let thee go farther before thou hast
permitted us to greet thee as our guest. We pray thee, therefore, descend
from off thy horse and drink the cup of friendship in our house."
But Rustem said, "Not so, I thank you, but suffer that I may pass unto the
mountain with an errand that brooketh no delay. For the borders of Iran are
encircled by the enemy, and the throne is empty of a king. Wherefore I may
not stay to taste of wine."
Then they answered him, "If thou goest unto the mount, tell us, we pray
thee, thy mission, for unto us is it given to guard its sides."
And Rustem replied, "I seek there a king of the seed of Feridoun, who
cleansed the world of the abominations of Zohak, a youth who reareth high
his head. I pray ye, therefore, if ye know aught of Kai Kobad, that ye give
me tidings where I may find him."
Then the youth that sat upon the throne opened his mouth and said, "Kai
Kobad is known unto me, and if thou wilt enter this garden and rejoice my
soul with thy presence I will give thee tidings concerning him."
When Rustem heard these words he sprang from off his horse and came within
the gates. And the youth took his hand and led him unto the steps of the
throne. Then he mounted it yet again, and when he had filled a cup with
wine, he pledged the guest within his gates. Then he gave a cup unto
Rustem, and questioned him wherefore he sought for Kai Kobad, and at whose
desire he was come forth to find him. And Rustem told him of the Mubids,
and how that his father had sent him with all speed to pray the young King
that he would be their Shah, and lead the host against the enemies of Iran.
Then the youth, when he had listened to an end, smiled and said-
"O Pehliva, behold me, for verily I am Kai Kobad of the race of Feridoun!"
And Rustem, when he had heard these words, fell on the ground before his
feet, and saluted him Shah. Then the King raised him, and commanded that
the slaves should give him yet another cup of wine, and he bore it to his
lips in honour of Rustem, the son of Zal, the son of Saum, the son of
Neriman. And they gave a cup also unto Rustem, and he cried-
"May the Shah live for ever!"
Then instruments of music rent the air, and joy spread over all the
assembly. But when silence was fallen yet again, Kai Kobad opened his mouth
"Hearken, O my knights, unto the dream that I had dreamed, and ye will know
wherefore I called upon you this day to stand in majesty about my throne.
For in my sleep I beheld two falcons white of wing, and they came out unto
me from Iran, and in their beaks they bare a sunny crown. And the crown
they placed upon my head. And behold now is Rustem come out unto me like to
a white bird, and his father, the nursling of a bird, hath sent him, and
they have given unto me the crown of Iran."
And Rustem, when he had heard this dream, said, "Surely thy vision was
given unto thee of God! But now, I pray thee, up and tarry no longer, for
the land of Iran groaneth sore and awaiteth thee with much travail."
So Kai Kobad listened to the desires of Rustem, and swung him upon his
steed of war; and they rode day and night, until they came down from the
hills unto the green plains that are watered by murmuring streams. And
Rustem brought the King safely through the outposts of the enemy; and when
the night was fallen, he led him within the tents of Zal, and none knew
that he was come save only the Mubids. For seven days did they hold counsel
together, and on the eighth the message of the stars was received with joy.
And Zal made ready a throne of ivory and a banquet, and the crown of Iran
was placed upon the head of the young Shah. Then the nobles came and did
homage before him, and they revelled in wine till the night was far spent.
And they prayed him that he would make him ready to lead them against the
Turks. And Kai Kobad mustered the army and did as they desired.
And soon the battle raged hot and strong many days, and deeds of valour
were done on either side; but the men of Turan could not stand against the
men of Iran, neither could the strength of Rustem be broken. For he put
forth the power of a lion, and his shadow extended for miles. And from that
day men named him Tehemten (which being interpreted, meaneth the
strong-limbed), for he did deeds of prowess in the sight of men. And
Afrasiyab was discomfited, and fled before him, and his army followed
after, and their hearts were bruised and full of care.
But the Iranians, when they beheld that their foes had vanished before
them, turned them unto Kai Kobad and did homage before his throne. And Kai
Kobad celebrated the victory with much pomp, as is the manner of kings; and
he placed Rustem upon his right hand and Zal upon his left, and they
feasted and made them merry with wine.
In the meantime Afrasiyab returned him unto Poshang his father, who was of
the race of Tur. And he came before him right sorrowful and spake, saying-
"O King, whose name is glorious, thou didst evil to provoke this war. The
land which Feridoun the great did give in ancient time unto Tur the
valiant, it hath been delivered unto thee, and the partition was just. Why,
therefore, seekest thou to enlarge thy border? Verily I say, if thou haste
not to make peace with Iran, Kai Kobad will send out against us an army
from the four quarters of the earth, and they will subdue us, and by our
own act we shall make the land too narrow for us. For the world is not
delivered of the race of Irij, and the noxious poison hath not been
converted into honey. For when one dieth another taketh his place, and
never do they leave the world without a master. And there is arisen of the
race of Saum a warrior called Rustem, and none can withstand him. He hath
broken the power of thine host, and the world hath not seen his like for
stoutness; and withal he is but little more than a weanling. Ponder
therefore, O King, how shall it be when he may be come to years of vigour.
Surely I am a man who desireth to possess the world, the stay of thine
army, and thy refuge in danger, but before this boy my power fadeth like
unto the mists that rise above the hills."
When the King of Turan had listened to these words, the tears of bitterness
fell from his eyes. Then he called before him a scribe and he bade him
write a letter unto Kai Kobad, the Shah. And the scribe adorned it with
many colours and fair designs. And the scribe wrote-
"In the name of Ormuzd, the ruler of the sun and moon, greeting and
salutation unto Kai Kobad the gracious from the meanest of his servants.
Listen unto me, O valiant Shah, and ponder the words that I shall write.
May grace fall upon the soul of Feridoun, who wove the woof of our race!
Why should we any longer hold the world in confusion? That which he fixed,
surely it was right, for he parted the world with equity, and we do wrong
before him when we depart from the grooves that he hath shaped. I pray
thee, therefore, let us no longer speak of Tur and his evil acts unto Irij,
for if Irij was the cause of our hates, surely by Minuchihr hath he been
avenged. Let us return, then, within the bounds that Feridoun hath blest,
and let us part the world anew, as it was parted for Tur, and Selim, and
Irij. For wherefore should we seek the land of another, since in the end
each will receive in heritage a spot no larger than his body? If then Kai
Kobad will listen unto my prayer, let the Jihun be the boundary between us,
and none of my people shall behold its waters, nay, not even in a dream,
neither shall any Iranian cross its floods, save only in amity."
And the King put his seal upon the letter and sent it unto Kai Kobad, and
the messenger bare with him rich gifts of jewels and steeds of Araby. And
when Kai Kobad had read the letter he smiled in his spirit and said-
"Verily not my people sought out this war but Afrasiyab, who deemed that he
could wrest unto himself the crown of Iran, and could subdue the masterless
land unto his will. And he hath but followed in the footsteps of Tur his
father, for even as he robbed the throne of Irij, so did Afrasiyab take
from it Nauder the Shah. And I say to you that I need not make peace with
you because of any fear, but I will do it because war is not pleasing unto
me. I will give unto you, therefore, the farther side of the river, and it
shall be a boundary between us, and I pray that Afrasiyab may find rest
within his borders."
And Kai Kobad did according to his word. He drew up a fresh covenant
between them, and planted a new tree in the garden of power. And the
messenger took the writing unto Poshang, King of Turan, and Kai Kobad
proclaimed that there was peace throughout the land.
Now for the space of an hundred years did Kai Kobad rule over Iran, and he
administered his realm with clemency, and the earth was quiet before him,
and he gat his people great honour, and I ask of you what king can be
likened unto him? But when this time had passed, his strength waned, and he
knew that a green leaf was about to fade. So he called before him Kai Kaous
his son, and gave unto him counsels many and wise. And when he had done
speaking he bade them make ready his grave, and he exchanged the palace for
the tomb. And thus endeth the history of Kai Kobad the glorious. It
behoveth us now to speak of his son.
THE MARCH INTO MAZINDERAN
Kai Kaous seated him on the crystal throne, and the world was obedient to
his will. But Ahriman was angry that his power was so long broken in Iran,
and he sware unto himself that happiness should no longer smile upon the
land. And he imagined guile in his black heart.
Now it came about one day that the Shah sat in his trellised bower in the
garden of roses, drinking wine and making merry with his court. Then
Ahriman, when he beheld that they were thus forgetful of care, saw that the
time served him. So he sent forth a Deev clad as a singer, and bade him ask
for audience before the Shah. And the Deev did as he was bidden. And he
came before the servants of the King, and begged for entrance into the
arbour of flowers.
"For verily," he said, "I am a singer of sweet songs, and I come from
Mazinderan, and desire to pour my homage at the throne of my lord."
Now when Kai Kaous learned that a singer waited without, he commanded that
he should be brought in. Then he gave him wine and permitted him to open
his mouth before him. Now the Deev, when he had done homage before the
Shah, warbled unto his lyre words of deep cunning. And he sang how that no
land was like unto his own for beauty and riches, and he inflamed the
desires of the Shah after Mazinderan. And Ahriman fanned the flame within
the mind of the King, and when the Deev had ended, Kai Kaous was become
uplifted in his heart, like unto Jemshid. So he turned him unto his
warriors and said-
"O my friends, mighty and brave, we have abandoned ourselves unto feasting,
we have revelled in the arms of peace. But it behoveth not men to live long
in this wise, lest they grow idle and weak. And above all it behoveth not
me that am a Shah, for the Shah is called to be a hero among men, and the
world should be his footstool. Now verily the power and splendour of
Jemshid was lower than mine, and my wealth surpasseth that of Zohak and Kai
Kobad. It beseemeth me therefore to be greater also than they in prowess,
and to be master of Mazinderan, which ever resisted their might. I bid you
therefore make ready for combat, and I will lead you into the land whereof
this singer hath sung so sweetly."
Now the nobles, when they had heard these words, grew pale with fear, for
there was not one among them who listed to combat with Deevs. But none
durst open their lips in answer, yet their hearts were full of fear and
their mouths of sighs. But at last, when they could keep silence no longer,
some spake and said-
"Lord, we are thy servants, and that which thou biddest surely we must do."
But among themselves they took counsel how they should act if the Shah held
firm by his desire. And they recalled how not even Jemshid in his pride had
thought to conquer the Deevs of Mazinderan, before whom the sword hath no
power and wisdom no avail, neither had Feridoun, learned in magic, or
Minuchihr the mighty, ventured on this emprise. Then they bethought them of
Zal the son of Saum, and they sent forth a wind-footed dromedary and a
messenger. And they said unto Zal-
"Haste, we pray thee, neither tarry to cleanse thine head though it be
covered with dust; for Ahriman hath strown evil seed in the heart of Kai
Kaous, and it ripeneth to fruit already, and already it hath borne fruit,
and Iran is threatened with danger. But we look to thee that thou speak
words of good counsel unto the Shah, and avert these sorrows from our
Now Zal was sore distressed when he learned that a leaf on the tree of the
Kaianides was thus faded. And he said-
"Kai Kaous is void of knowledge, and the sun must revolve yet oft above his
head before he learneth the wisdom of the great. For unto true wisdom alone
is it given to know when to strike and when to tarry. But he is like unto a
child who deemeth the world will tremble if it but upraiseth its sword. And
but for my duty unto God and unto Iran, I would abandon him to his folly."
Then Zal revolved in his mind this trouble even until the sun was set. But
when the glory of the world was arisen yet again, he girt his sash about
his loins, and took in his hand the mace of might and set forth unto the
throne of the Shah. And he craved for audience, and prostrated himself
before the King. And when Kai Kaous permitted it, Zal opened his mouth and
spake words of wisdom. And he said-
"O King powerful and great, word is come unto me, even unto Seistan, of thy
device. But it seemeth unto me that mine ears have not heard aright. For
Mazinderan is the abode of Deevs, and no man can overcome their skill. Give
not, therefore, unto the wind thy men and thy treasures. Turn, I pray thee,
from this scheme, neither plant in the garden of Iran the tree of folly,
whose leaves are curses and whose fruits are evil, for thus did not the
kings before thee."
Then Kai Kaous, when he had listened, said, "I despise not thy counsel, nor
do I bid thee hold thy peace, for thou art a pillar unto Iran. But neither
shall thy words divert me from my desire, and Mazinderan shall pay tribute
to my hands. For thou considerest not how that my heart is bolder and my
might more great than that of my fathers before me. I go, therefore, and
the kingdom will I leave between thy hands and those of Rustem thy son."
When Zal heard these words, and beheld that Kai Kaous was firm in his
purpose, he ceased from opposing. Then he bowed him unto the dust, and
"O Shah, it is thine to command, and whether it be just or unjust, thy
servants serve thee even unto death. I have spoken the words that weighed
upon my heart. Three things it is not given to do, even unto a king: to
elude death, to bind up the eye of destiny, to live without nurture. Mayst
thou never repent thee of thy resolve, mayst thou never regret my counsels
in the hour of danger, may the might of the Shah shine for ever!"
And when he had ended, Zal went out of the presence of the King, and he was
right sorrowful, and the nobles mourned with him when they learned how
nought had been accomplished.
Then, ere the day succeeded unto the night, Kai Kaous set forth with his
horsemen unto Mazinderan.
Now when they were come within its borders, Kai Kaous commanded Gew that he
should choose forth a strong band from out their midst, and go before the
city with mighty clubs. And he bade him destroy the dwellers of the town,
neither should they spare the women nor the young, because that they too
were the children of Deevs. And Gew did as the Shah commanded. Then clubs
rained down upon the people like to hail, and the city that resembled a
garden was changed into a desert, and all the inmates thereof perished at
the hands of the enemy, neither did they find any mercy in their eyes. But
when the men of Iran had ceased from killing, they sent news thereof unto
the Shah, and told him of the riches that were hidden within the palaces.
And Kai Kaous said, "Blessed be he who sang to me of the glories of this
And he marched after Gew with the rest of his host, and seven days did they
never cease from plundering, neither could they be sated with the gold and
jewels that they found. But on the eighth the tidings of their deeds
pierced unto the King of Mazinderan, and his heart was heavy with care. He
therefore sent a messenger unto the mountains where dwelt the White Deev,
who was powerful and strong, and he entreated him that he would come unto
his succour, or verily the land would perish under the feet of Iran.
The White Deev, when he heard the message, uprose like to a mountain in his
strength, and he said-
"Let not the King of Mazinderan be troubled, for surely the hosts of Iran
shall vanish at my approach."
Then, when the night was fallen, he spread a dark cloud, heavy and thick,
over the land, and no light could pierce it, neither could fires be seen
across its midst, and you would have said the world was steeped in pitch.
And the army of Iran was wrapt in a tent of blackness. Then the Deev caused
it to rain stones and javelins, and the Iranians could not behold their
source, neither could they defend themselves or stand against the arts of
magic. And they wandered astray in their distress, and no man could find
his fellow, and their hearts were angered against the Shah for this
emprise. But when the morning was come, and glory was arisen upon the
world, they could not see it, for the light of their eyes was gone out. And
Kai Kaous too was blinded, and he wept sore, and the whole army wept with
him in their anguish. And the Shah cried in his distress-
"O Zal, O my Pehliva wise and great, wherefore did I shut mine ear unto thy
And the army echoed his words in their hearts, but their lips were silent
for boundless sorrow.
Then the White Deev spake unto Kai Kaous with a voice of thunder, and he
"O King, thou hast been struck like to a rotten trunk, on thine own head
alone resteth this destruction, for thou hast attained unto Mazinderan, and
entered the land after which thy heart desired."
And he bade his legion guard the Shah and all his army, and he withheld
from them wine and good cheer, and gave unto them but enough for
sustenance, for he desired not that they should die, but gloried in their
wretchedness. Then when he had so done he sent tidings thereof unto the
King of Mazinderan. And he bade the King take back the booty and rejoice in
the defeat of Iran. And he counselled him that he suffer not Kai Kaous to
perish, that he might learn to know good fortune from ill. And the White
Deev bade the King sing praises unto Ahriman the mighty, who had sent him
unto his aid. And having spoken thus he returned him unto his home in the
mountains, but the King of Mazinderan rejoiced in his spoils.
Now Kai Kaous remained in the land after which he had yearned, and his
heart was heavy with bitterness. And the eyes of his soul were opened, and
he cried continually, "This fault is mine;" and he cast about in his spirit
how he might release his host from the hands of the Deevs. But the Deevs
guarded him straitly, and he could send no messenger into Iran. Howbeit it
came about that a messenger escaped their borders, and bore unto Zal the
writing of Kai Kaous the afflicted. And Kai Kaous bowed himself in his
spirit unto the dust before Zal, and he wrote to him all that was come
about, and how that he and his host were blind and captive, and he poured
forth his repentance, and he said-
"I have sought what the foolish seek, and found what they find. And if thou
wilt not gird thy loins to succour me, I perish indeed."
When Zal heard this message he gnawed his hands in vexation. Then he called
before him Rustem, and said-
"The hour is come to saddle Rakush and to avenge the world with thy sword.
As for me, I number two hundred years, and have no longer the strength to
fight with Deevs. But thou art young and mighty. Cast about thee,
therefore, thy leopard-skin and deliver Iran from bondage."
And Rustem said, "My sword is ready, and I will go hence as thou dost bid.
Yet of old, O my father, the mighty did not go forth of their own will to
fight the powers of hell, neither doth one who is not weary of this world
go into the mouth of a hungry lion. But if God be with me I shall overcome
the Deevs and gird our army anew with the sashes of might. And I pray that
His blessing rest upon me."
Then Zal, when he heard these noble words, blessed his son, and prayed that
Ormuzd too would give him his blessing. And he bestowed on him wise
counsel, and told him how he could come unto the land of Mazinderan. And he
"Two roads lead unto this kingdom, and both are hard and fraught with
danger. The one taken of Kai Kaous is the safest, but it is long, and it
behoveth vengeance to be fleet. Choose therefore, I charge thee, the
shorter road, though it be beset with baleful things, and may Ormuzd return
thee safe unto mine arms."
When Rustem had drunk in the counsels of his father he seated him on Rakush
the fleet of foot. But when he would have departed, his mother came out
before him, and she made great wailing that Rustem should go before the
evil Deevs. And she would have hindered him, but Rustem suffered her not.
He comforted her with his voice, and bade her be of good cheer. He showed
unto her how that he had not of his own choice chosen this adventure. And
he bade her rest her hopes in God. And when he had done speaking she let
him depart, but the heart of Rudabeh yearned after her son, and her eyes
were red with weeping many days.
In the meanwhile the young hero of the world sped forth to do his duty unto
the Shah. And Rakush caused the ground to vanish under his feet, and in
twelve hours was a two days' journey accomplished. Then when eve was
fallen, Rustem ensnared a wild ass, and made a fire and roasted it for his
meal. And when he had done he released Rakush from the bonds of his saddle
and prepared for himself a couch among the reeds, neither was he afraid of
wild beasts or of Deevs.
But in the reeds was hidden the lair of a fierce lion, and the lion when he
returned unto his haunt beheld the tall man and the horse that watched
beside him. And he rejoiced at the fat meal that he held was in store. And
he thought within his mind, "I will first subdue the steed, then the rider
will be an easy prey." And he fell upon Rakush. But Rakush defended himself
mightily. With his hoofs did he trample upon the forehead of the lion, with
his sharp teeth did he tear his skin, and he trampled upon him till he
died. But the noise of the struggle had wakened Rustem, and when he beheld
the body of the lion, and Rakush standing beside it, he knew what had been
done. Then he opened his mouth in reproof, and said-
"O thoughtless steed, who bade thee combat lions? Wherefore didst thou not
wake me? for if thou hadst been overcome, who, I pray thee, could have
borne my weight into Mazinderan, whither I must hie me to deliver the Shah?
When he had thus spoken he turned again to sleep, but Rakush was sorrowful
and downcast in his spirit.
Now when morn was come they set forth once again upon their travels. And
all day long they passed through a desert, and the pitiless sun burned down
upon their heads, and the sand was living fire, and the steed and rider
were like to perish of thirst, and nowhere could Rustem find the traces of
water. So he made him ready to die, and commended his soul unto God, and
prayed Him to remember Kai Kaous, His servant, nor abandon him in his
distress. Then he laid him down to await the end. But lo! when he thought
it was come, there passed before him a ram, well nourished and fat. And
Rustem said unto himself-
"Surely the watering-place of this beast cannot be distant."
Then he roused him and led Rakush and followed in the footsteps of the ram,
and behold, it led him unto a spring of water, cool and clear. And Rustem
drank thereof with greed, and he gave unto Rakush, and bathed him in the
waters, and when they were both refreshed he sought for the traces of the
ram. And they were nowhere to be found. Then Rustem knew that Ormuzd had
wrought a wonder for his sake, and he fell upon the ground and lifted up
his soul in thankfulness. Then when he had caught and eaten a wild ass, he
laid him down to slumber. And he spake and said unto Rakush-
"I charge thee, O my steed, that thou seek no strife during my slumbers. If
an enemy cometh before thee, come unto me and neigh beside mine ear, and
verily I will waken and come to thine aid."
And Rakush listened, and when he saw that Rustem slumbered, he gambolled
and grazed beside him. But when some watches of the night were spent, there
came forth an angry dragon whose home was in this spot, a dragon fierce and
fiery, whom even the Deevs dared not encounter. And when he beheld Rakush
and Rustem he was astonished that a man should slumber softly beside his
lair. And he came towards them with his breath of poison. Then Rakush, when
he saw it, stamped his hoofs upon the ground and beat the air with his
tail, so that the noise thereof resounded wide, and Rustem was awakened
with the din. And he was angry with Rakush that he had wakened him, for the
dragon had vanished, and he could see no cause for fear. And he said-
"It is thy fault, O unkind steed, that slumber is fled from me."
Then he turned him to sleep once again. But when the dragon saw it he came
forth once more, and once more did Rakush wake Rustem, and once more did
the dragon vanish ere the eyes of Rustem were opened. And when Rakush had
thus awakened the hero yet three times, Rustem was beside him with anger,
and wisdom departed from its dwelling. He piled reproaches upon the horse,
and hurled bitter words upon his head, and he sware that if he acted thus
again he would slay him with his arm of power, and would wander on foot
unto Mazinderan. And he said-
"I bade thee call upon me if dangers menaced, but thou sufferest me not to
slumber when all is well."
Then Rustem drew his leopard-skin about him and laid him down again to
sleep. But Rakush was pained in his spirit, and pawed the ground in his
vexation. Then the dragon came forth yet again, and was about to fall upon
Rakush, and the steed was sore distressed how he should act. But he took
courage and came beside Rustem once more, and stamped upon the ground and
neighed and woke him. And Rustem sprang up in fury, but this time it was
given unto him to behold the dragon, and he knew that Rakush had done that
which was right. And he drew his armour about him and unsheathed his sword,
and came forth to meet the fiery beast. Then the dragon said-
"What is thy name, and who art thou that dost venture against me? for
verily the woman that bore thee shall weep."
And the Pehliva answered, "I am Rustem, of the seed of Zal, and in myself I
am an host, and none can withstand my might."
But the dragon laughed at his words, and held them to be vain boasting.
Then he fell upon Rustem, the son of Zal, and he wound himself about his
body, and would have crushed him with his writhings, and you would have
said that the end of this hero was come. But Rakush, when he beheld the
straits of his master, sprang upon the dragon from the rear, and he tore
him as he had torn the lion, and Rustem pierced the beast with his sword,
and between them the world was delivered of this scourge. Then Rustem was
glad, and he praised Rakush, and washed him at the fountain, and gave
thanks to God who had given unto him the victory. And when he had so done
he sprang into his saddle, and rode until they were come unto the land of
Now when evening was fallen over the land they came unto a green and shady
vale, and a brook ran through it, and cool woods clothed its sides. And
beside a spring there was spread a table, and wine and all manner of good
cheer stood thereon. And Rustem, when he saw it, loosened his saddle and
bade Rakush graze and drink, and he seated him beside the table and enjoyed
its fare. And his spirit laughed with pleasure that he had found a table
ready dressed within the desert, for he knew not that it was the table of
the magicians, who were fled on his approach. And he ate and drank, and
when he had stilled his hunger he took up a lyre that lay beside him, and
he lilted to it in his ease of heart. And he sang-
"Rustem is the scourge of the base, Not for him were pleasures meant; Rare
are his feasts and holidays, His garden is the desert place, The
battlefield his tournament.
"There the sword of Rustem cleaves Not the armour of jousting knights, But
the skulls of dragons and Deevs; Nor shall Rustem, as he believes, Ever be
quit of the foes he fights.
"Cups of wine and wreaths of rose, Gardens where cool arbours stand,
Fortune gave such gifts as those Not to Rustem, but hurtling foes, Strife,
and a warrior's heart and hand."
Now the song of Rustem was come to the ears of one of the witches, and she
changed herself into a damsel with a face of spring. And she came before
Rustem and asked him his name, and toyed with him, and he was pleased with
her company. And he poured out wine and handed it unto her, and bade her
drink unto Ormuzd. But the magician, when she heard the name of God, fell
into a tremble and her visage changed, and Rustem beheld her in all her
vileness. Then his quick spirit knew her for what she was, and he made a
noose and caught her in his snare, and severed her in twain. And all the
magicians, when they saw it, were afraid, and none durst come forth to meet
the hero. But Rustem straightway departed from this spot.
And Rustem rode till that he was come unto a land where the sun never
shineth, neither stars lighten the blackness, and he could not see his
path. So he suffered Rakush to lead him at his will. And they stumbled
along amid the blackness, but at the end they came out again into the
light. And Rustem beheld a land that was swathed in verdure, and fields
wherein the crops were sprouting. Then he loosened Rakush and bade him
graze, and laid himself down to slumber awhile.
Now Rakush went forth to graze in a field that had been sown, and the
guardian thereof, when he saw it, was angry, and ran unto the spot where
Rustem was couched, and beat the soles of his feet with a stick and woke
him. And he flung reproaches and evil words upon him for that his horse was
broken into the pastures. Then Rustem was angry, and fell upon the man, and
took him by the ears and tore them from his body. And the man fled, howling
in his agony, and came before Aulad, the ruler of the land, and laid his
plaints before him. And Aulad also was angry, and went forth to seek
Rustem, and demand his name and mission, and wherefore he had thus
disturbed their peace. And Aulad sware that he would destroy him for this
Then Rustem answered, "I am the thunder-cloud that sendeth forth
lightnings, and none can stand before my strength. But if thou shouldest
hear my name, the blood would stand still within thy veins. Thou art come
against me with an host, see therefore how I shall scatter them like the
And when he had thus spoken, Rustem fell upon the warriors of Aulad, and he
beat them down before him, and their heads fell under the blows of his
sword of death. And the army was routed at the hands of one man. Now Aulad,
when he saw it, wept and fled; but Rustem pursued him, and threw his noose
about him, and caught him in the snare. And the world became dark unto
Aulad. Then Rustem bound him, and threw him on the ground, and said-
"If thou speak unto me that which is true, verily I will release thee; and
when I shall have overcome the Deevs, I will give the land of Mazinderan
into thy hands. Tell me, therefore, where dwelleth the White Deev, and
where may I find the Shah and his men, and how can I deliver them from
Then Aulad answered and told Rustem how it was an hundred farsangs unto the
spot where Kai Kaous groaned in his bondage, and how it was yet another
hundred unto the mountain pass where dwelt the Deev. And he told him how
the passes were guarded by lions and magicians and mighty men, and how none
had ever pierced thereunto. And he counselled him to desist from this
But Rustem smiled, and said, "Be thou my guide, and thou wilt behold an
elephant overcome the might of evil."
And when he had thus spoken he sprang upon Rakush, and Aulad in his bonds
ran after him, and they sped like the wind, neither did they halt by night
or day till they were come unto the spot where Kai Kaous had been smitten
by the Deevs. And when they were come there they could behold the
watch-fires of Mazinderan. Then Rustem laid him down to sleep, and he tied
Aulad unto a tree that he should not escape him. But when the sun was risen
he laid the mace of Saum before his saddle, and rode with gladness towards
the city of the Deevs.
Now when Rustem was come nigh unto the tents of Arzang, that led the army
of Mazinderan, he uttered a cry that rent the mountains. And the cry
brought forth Arzang from out his tent, and when he perceived Rustem he ran
at him, and would have thrown him down. But Rustem sprang upon Arzang, and
he seemed an insect in his grasp. And he overcame him, and parted his head
from his body, and hung it upon his saddlebow in triumph. And fear came
upon the army of Mazinderan when they saw it, and they fled in faintness of
spirit, and so great was the confusion that none beheld whither he bent his
steps. And fathers fell upon sons, and brothers upon brothers, and dismay
was spread throughout the land.
Then Rustem loosened the bonds of Aulad, and bade him lead him into the
city where Kai Kaous pined in his bondage. And Aulad led him. Now when they
neared the city, Rakush neighed so loud that the sound pierced even unto
the spot where Kai Kaous was hidden. And the Shah, when he heard it,
rejoiced, for he knew that succour was come. And he told it unto his
comrades. But they refused to listen unto these words, and deemed that
grief had distraught his wits. In vain therefore did Kai Kaous insist unto
them that his ears had heard the voice of Rakush. But not long did he
combat their unbelief, for presently there came before him Tehemten, the
stout of limb, and when the nobles heard his voice and his step they
repented them of their doubts. And Kai Kaous embraced Rustem and blessed
him, and questioned him of his journey and of Zal. Then he said-
"O my Pehliva, we may no longer waste the moments with sweet words. I must
send thee forth yet again to battle. For when the White Deev shall learn
that Arzang is defeated, he will come forth from out his mountain fastness,
and bring with him the whole multitude of evil ones, and even thy might
will not stand before them. Go therefore unto the Seven Mountains, and
conquer the White Deev ere the tidings reach him of thy coming. Unto thee
alone can Iran look for her succour, for I cannot aid thee, neither can my
warriors assist thee with their arms, for our eyes are filled with
darkness, and their light is gone out. Yet I grieve to send thee into this
emprise alone, for I have heard it spoken that the dwelling of the Deevs is
a spot of fear and terror, but alas! my grief is of no avail. And I conjure
thee, slay the Deev, and bring unto me the blood of his heart, for a Mubid
hath revealed unto me that only by this blood can our sight be restored.
And go forth now, my son, and may Ormuzd be gracious unto thee, and may the
tree of gladness sprout again for Iran!
Then Rustem did as Kai Kaous commanded, and he rode forth, and Aulad went
beside him to lead him in the way. And when they had passed the Seven
Mountains and were come unto the gates of hell, Rustem spake unto Aulad,
"Thou hast ever led me aright, and all that thou hast spoken I have surely
found it true. Tell me, therefore, now how I shall vanquish the Deevs."
And Aulad said, "Tarry, I counsel thee, till that the sun be high in the
heavens. For when it beateth fierce upon the earth the Deevs are wont to
lay them down to slumber, and when they are drunk with sleep they shall
fall an easy prey into thine hands."
Then Rustem did as Aulad bade him, and he halted by the roadside, and he
bound Aulad from head to foot in his snare, and he seated himself upon the
ends. But when the sun was high he drew forth his sword from out its
sheath, and shouted loud his name, and flung it among the Deevs like to a
thunderbolt. Then before they were well awakened from their sleep, he threw
himself upon them, and none could resist him, and he scattered their heads
with his sword. And when he had dispersed the guards he came unto the lair
of the White Deev.
Then Rustem stepped within the rocky tomb wherein the Deev was hidden, and
the air was murky and heavy with evil odours, and the Pehliva could not see
his path. But he went on void of fear, though the spot was fearful and
dangers lurked in its sides. And when he was come unto the end of the cave
he found a great mass like to a mountain, and it was the Deev in his midday
slumber. Then Rustem woke him, and the Deev was astonished at his daring,
and sprang at the hero, and threw a great stone like a small mountain upon
him. And Rustem's heart trembled, and he said unto himself, "If I escape
to-day, I shall live for ever." And he fell on the Deev, and they struggled
hot and sore, and the Deev tore Rustem, but Rustem defended himself, and
they wrestled with force till that the blood and sweat ran down in rivers
from their bodies. Then Rustem prayed to God, and God heard him and gave
him strength, and in the end Rustem overcame the White Deev and slew him.
And he severed his head from his trunk, and cut his heart from out his
Then Rustem returned him unto Aulad and told him what he had done. And
"O brave lion, who hast vanquished the world with thy sword, release now, I
pray thee, this thy servant, for thy snare is entered into my flesh. And
suffer that I recall to thee how that thou hast promised to me a
recompense, and surely thou wilt fulfil thy word."
And Rustem answered and said, "Ay, verily; but I have yet much to do ere
that my mission be ended. For I have still to conquer the King of
Mazinderan; but when these things shall be accomplished, in truth I will
fulfil my words unto thee."
Then he bade Aulad follow him, and they retraced their steps until they
were come unto the spot where Kai Kaous was held in bondage. And when Kai
Kaous learned that Rustem was returned with victory upon his brow he
shouted for joy, and all the host shouted with him, and they could not
contain themselves for happiness. And they called down the blessings of
Heaven upon the head of Rustem. But when the hero came before them, he took
of the blood of the White Deev and poured it into their eyes, and the eyes
of Kai Kaous and his men were opened, and they once again beheld the glory
of the day. Then they swept the ground around them with fire, with swords
they overcame their gaolers. But when they had finished, Kai Kaous bade
them desist from further bloodshed.
Then Kai Kaous wrote a letter unto the King of Mazinderan, and he
counselled him that he should conclude a peace. And he related to him how
that his mainstay was broken, for Rustem had overcome Arzang and slain the
White Deev. And he said that Rustem would slay him also if he should not
submit unto Iran and pay tribute to its Shah. Then Kai Kaous sent a
messenger with this writing unto the King of Mazinderan.
Now the King, when he had read the letter, and learned how that Arzang and
the White Deev and all his train were slain, was sore troubled, and he
paled in his spirit, and it seemed to him that the sun of his glory was
about to set. Howbeit he suffered not the messenger to behold his distress,
but wrote haughty words unto Kai Kaous, and dared him to come forth to meet
him. And he boasted of his might and reproached Kai Kaous with his folly.
And he threatened that he would raze Iran unto the dust.
When Kai Kaous had read this answer he was wroth, and his nobles with him.
And Rustem spake and said-
"Permit me, O my Shah, that I go forth before the King of Mazinderan, and
intrust unto me yet another writing."
Then Kai Kaous sent for a scribe, and the scribe cut a reed like to the
point of an arrow, and he wrote with it the words that Kai Kaous dictated.
And Kai Kaous made not many words. He bade the King lay aside his
arrogance, and he warned him of the fate that would await his disobedience,
and he said unto him that if he listened not he might hang his severed head
on the walls of his own city. Then he signed the letter with his royal
seal, and Rustem bore it forth from the camp.
Now when the King of Mazinderan learned that Kai Kaous sent him yet another
messenger, he bade the flower of his army go forth to meet him. And Rustem,
when he saw them come near, laid hold upon a tree of great stature and
spreading branches that grew by the wayside. And he uprooted the tree from
the earth, and brandished it in his hands like to a javelin. And those that
saw it were amazed at his strength. Then Rustem, when he beheld their awe,
flung the tree among them, and many a brave man was dismounted by this
mace. Then there stepped forth from the midst of the host one of the giants
of Mazinderan, and he begged that he might grasp Rustem by the hand. And
when he had hold of the hand of the Pehliva he pressed it with all his
might, for he thought that he could wring off this hand of valour. But
Rustem smiled at the feebleness of his grasp, and he grasped him in return,
and the giant grew pale, and the veins started forth upon his hands.
Then one set off to tell the King what he had seen. And the King sent forth
his doughtiest knight, and bade him retrieve the honour of their strength.
And Kalahour the knight said-
"Verily so will I do, and I will force the tears of pain from the eyes of
And he came towards Rustem and wrung his hand, and his gripe was like to a
vise, and Rustem felt the pang thereof, and he winced in his suffering. But
he would not let the men of Mazinderan glory in his triumph. He took the
hand of Kalahour in his own, and grasped it and crushed it till that the
blood issued from its veins and the nails fell from off its fingers. Then
Kalahour turned him and went before the Shah and showed unto him his hand.
And he counselled him to make peace with the land that could send forth
such messengers whose might none could withstand. But the King was loath to
sue for peace, and he commanded that the messenger be brought before him.
Then the elephant-bodied stood before the King of Mazinderan. And the King
questioned him of his journey, and of Kai Kaous, and of the road that he
was come. And while he questioned he took muster of him with his eyes, and
when he had done speaking he cried-
"Surely thou art Rustem, for thou hast the arms and breast of a Pehliva."
But Rustem replied, "Not so, I am but a slave who is not held worthy to
serve even in his train; for he is a Pehliva great and strong, whose like
the earth hath not seen." Then he handed unto the King the writing of his
master. But when the King had read it he was wild with anger, and he said
"Surely he that hath sent thee is mad that he addresseth such words unto
me. For if he be master in Iran, I am lord of Mazinderan, and never shall
he call me his vassal. And verily it was his own overweening that let him
fall between my hands, yet hath he learned no lesson from his disasters,
but deemeth he can crush me with haughty words. Go, say unto him that the
King of Mazinderan will meet him in battle, and verily his pride shall
learn to know humility."
And when the King had thus spoken he dismissed Rustem from his presence,
but he would have had him bear forth rich gifts. But Rustem would not take
them, for he too was angered, and he spurred him unto Kai Kaous with a
heart hungry for vengeance.
And Kai Kaous made ready his army, and the King of Mazinderan did likewise.
And they marched forth unto the meeting-place, and the earth groaned under
the feet of the war-elephants. And for seven days did the battle rage fast
and furious, and all the earth was darkened with the black dust; and the
fire of swords and maces flashed through the blackness like to lightning
from a thundercloud. And the screams of the Deevs, and the shouts of the
warriors, and the clanging of the trumpets, and the beating of drums, and
the neighing of horses, and the groans of the dying made the earth hideous
with noise. And the blood of the brave turned the plain into a lake, and it
was a combat such as none hath seen the like. But victory leaned to neither
side. Then on the eighth day Kai Kaous took from his head the crown of the
Kaianides and bowed him in the dust before Ormuzd. And he prayed and said-
"O Lord of earth, incline thine ear unto my voice, and grant that I may
overcome these Deevs who rest not their faith in Thee. And I pray Thee do
this not for my sake, who am unworthy of Thy benefits, but for the sake of
Iran, Thy kingdom."
Then he put the crown once more upon his head, and went out again before
And all that day the hosts fought like lions, and pity and mercy were
vanished from the world, and heaven itself seemed to rain maces. But Ormuzd
had heard the prayer of His servant, and when evening was come the army of
Mazinderan was faded like a flower. Then Rustem, perceiving the King of
Mazinderan, challenged him to single combat. And the King consented, and
Rustem overcame him, and raised his lance to strike him, saying-
"Perish, O evil Deev! for thy name is struck out of the lists of those who
carry high their heads."
But when he was about to strike him, the King put forth his arts of magic,
and he was changed into a rock within sight of all the army. And Rustem was
confounded thereat, and he knew not what he should do. But Kai Kaous
commanded that the rock should be brought before his throne. So those among
the army who were strong of limb meshed it with cords and tried to raise it
from the earth. But the rock resisted all their efforts and none could move
it a jot. Then Rustem, the elephant-limbed, came forward to test his power,
and he grasped the rock in his mighty fist, and he bore it in his hands
across the hills, even unto the spot that Kai Kaous had named, and all the
army shouted with amazement when they saw it.
Now when Rustem had laid down the stone at the feet of the Shah, he spake
and said unto it-
"Issue forth, I command thee, O King of Mazinderan, or I will break thee
into atoms with my mace."
When the King heard this threat he was afraid, and came out of the stone,
and stood before Rustem in all his vileness. And Rustem took his hand and
smiled and led him before Kai Kaous, and said-
"I bring thee this piece of rock, whom fear of my blows hath brought into
Then Kai Kaous reproached the King with all the evil he had done him, and
when he had spoken he bade that the head of this wicked man should be
severed from its trunk. And it was done as Kai Kaous commanded. Then Kai
Kaous gave thanks unto God, and distributed rich gifts unto his army, to
each man according to his deserts. And he prepared a feast, and bade them
rejoice and make merry with wine. And at last he called before him Rustem,
his Pehliva, and gave to him thanks, and said that but for his aid he would
not have sat again upon his throne. But Rustem said-
"Not so, O King, thy thanks are due unto Aulad, for he it was who led me
aright, and instructed me how I could vanquish the Deevs. Grant, therefore,
now that I may fulfil my promise unto him, and bestow on him the crown of
When Kai Kaous heard these words he did as Rustem desired, and Aulad
received the crown and the land, and there was peace yet again in Iran. And
the land rejoiced thereat, and Kai Kaous opened the doors of his treasures,
and all was well within his borders. Then Rustem came before the Shah and
prayed that he might be permitted to return unto his father. And Kai Kaous
listened to the just desires of his Pehliva, and he sent him forth laden
with rich gifts, and he could not cease from pouring treasure before him.
And he blessed him, and said-
"Mayst thou live as long as the sun and moon, and may thy heart continue
steadfast, mayst thou ever be the joy of Iran!"
Then when Rustem was departed, Kai Kaous gave himself up unto delights and
to wine, but he governed his land right gloriously. He struck the neck of
care with the sword of justice, he caused the earth to be clad with
verdure, and God granted unto him His countenance, and the hand of Ahriman
could do no hurt.
Thus endeth the history of the march into Mazinderan.
KAI KAOUS COMMITTETH MORE FOLLIES
Whilom the fancy seized upon the Shah of Iran that he would visit his
empire, and look face to face upon his vassals, and exact their tribute. So
he passed from Turan into China, and from Mikran into Berberistan. And
wheresoever he passed men did homage before him, for the bull cannot wage
battle with the lion. But it could not remain thus for ever, and already
there sprang forth thorns in the garden of roses. For while the fortunes of
the world thus prospered, a chieftain raised the standard of revolt in
Egypt, and the people of the land turned them from the gates of submission
unto Iran. And there was joined unto them the King of Hamaveran, who
desired to throw off the yoke of Persia. But Kai Kaous, when the tidings
thereof came unto him, got ready his army and marched against the rebels.
And when he came before them, their army, that had seemed invincible, was
routed, and the King of Hamaveran was foremost to lay down his arms and ask
pardon of his Shah. And Kai Kaous granted his petition, and the King
departed joyously from out his presence. Then one of those who stood about
the Shah said unto him-
"Is it known to thee, O Shah, that this King hideth behind his curtains a
daughter of beauty? It would beseem my lord that he should take this moon
unto himself for wife."
And Kai Kaous answered, "Thy counsel is good, and I will therefore send
messengers unto her father, and demand of him that he give me his daughter
as tribute, and to cement the peace that hath been made between us."
When the King of Hamaveran heard this message his heart was filled with
gall, and his head was heavy with sorrow, and he murmured in his spirit
that Kai Kaous, who owned the world, should desire to take from him his
chiefest treasure. And he hid not his grief from the Shah in his answer,
but he wrote also that he knew it behoved him to do the thing that Kai
Kaous desired. Then in his distress he called before him Sudaveh his
daughter, whom he loved, and he told her all his troubles, and bade her
counsel him how he should act. For he said-
"If I lose thee, the light of my life is gone out. Yet how may I stand
against the Shah?"
And Sudaveh replied, "If there be no remedy, I counsel thee to rejoice at
that which cannot be changed."
Now when her father heard these words he knew that she was not afflicted
concerning that which was come about. So he sent for the envoy of Kai Kaous
and assented unto his demands, and they concluded an alliance according to
the forms of the land. Then when the King had poured gifts before the
messenger, and feasted him with wine, he sent forth an escort to bear his
daughter unto the tents of the Shah. And the young moon went forth in a
litter, and she was robed in garbs of splendour, and when Kai Kaous beheld
her loveliness he was struck dumb for very joy. Then he raised Sudaveh unto
the throne beside him, and named her worthy to be his spouse. And they were
glad in each other, and rejoiced; but all was not to be well thus quickly.
For the King of Hamaveran was sore in his heart that the light of his life
was gone from him, and he cast about in his spirit how he should regain her
unto himself. And when she had been gone but seven days, he sent forth a
messenger unto Kai Kaous and entreated him that he would come and feast
within his gates, so that all the land might rejoice in their alliance.
When Sudaveh heard this message her mind misgave her, and she feared evil.
Wherefore she counselled the Shah that he should abstain from this feast.
But Kai Kaous would not listen unto the fears of Sudaveh, he would not give
ear unto her warning. Wherefore he went forth unto the city of the King of
Hamaveran, and made merry with him many days. And the King caused gifts to
be rained down upon Kai Kaous, and he flattered him, and cozened his
vanity, and he made much of his men, and he darkened their wits with fair
words and sweet wine. Then when he had lulled their fears, and caused them
to forget wherefore and why and all knowledge of misfortune, he fell upon
them and bound them with strong chains, and overthrew their glories and
their thrones. And Kai Kaous did he send unto a fortress whose head touched
the sky and whose foot was planted in the ocean. Then he sent forth a
strong band into the camp of Iran, and veiled women went with them, and he
charged them that they bring back Sudaveh unto his arms.
Now when Sudaveh saw the men and the women that went with them she guessed
what was come about, and she cried aloud and tore her robes in anguish. And
when they had brought her before her father she reproved him for his
treachery, and she sware that none should part her from Kai Kaous, even
though he were hidden in a tomb. Then the King was angered when he saw that
her heart was taken from him and given to the Shah, and he bade that she be
flung into the same prison as her lord. And Sudaveh was glad at his
resolve, and she went into the dungeon with a light heart, and she seated
herself beside the Shah, and served him and comforted him, and they bore
the weight of captivity together.
After these things were come about, the Iranians, because that their Shah
was held captive, returned unto Iran much discomfited. And when the news
spread that the throne was empty many would have seized thereon. And
Afrasiyab, when he learned it, straightway forgot hunger and sleep, and
marched a strong army across the border. And he laid waste the land of
Iran, and men, women, and children fell into bondage at his hands, and the
world was darkened unto the kingdom of light. Then some arose and went
before the son of Zal to crave his help in this sore need, saying unto him-
"Be thou our shield against misfortune, and deliver us from affliction, for
the glory of the Kaianides is vanished, and the land which was a paradise
is one no more."
Now Rustem, when he heard the news, was grieved for the land, but he was
angered also against the Shah that he had thus once again run into danger.
Yet he told the messengers that he would seek to deliver Kai Kaous, and
that when he had done so he would remember the land of Iran. And forthwith
he sent a secret messenger unto Kai Kaous, a man subtle and wise, and
caused him to say unto the Shah-
"An army cometh forth from Iran to redeem thee. Rejoice, therefore, and
cast aside thy fears."
And he also sent a writing unto the King of Hamaveran, and the writing was
filled with threats, and spake only of maces and swords and combat. And
Rustem loaded the King with reproaches because of his treachery, and he
bade him prepare to meet Rustem the mighty.
When the King of Hamaveran had read this letter his head was troubled, and
he defied Rustem, and threatened him that if he came forth against him he
should meet at his hands the fate of the Shah. But Rustem only smiled when
he heard this answer, and he said-
"Surely this man is foolish, or Ahriman hath filled his mind with smoke."
Then he mounted Rakush, and made ready to go into Hamaveran, and a vast
train of warriors went after him. And the King of Hamaveran, when he saw it
sent forth his army against him. But the army were afraid when they beheld
Rustem and his might of mien, his mace, and his strong arms and lion chest,
and their hearts departed from out their bodies, and they fled from before
his sight, and returned them unto the King of Hamaveran.
Now the King was seated in the midst of his counsellors, and when he saw
the army thus scattered before they had struck a blow, his heart misgave
him, and he craved counsel of his chiefs. Then they counselled him that he
should cast about him for allies. So the King of Hamaveran sent messengers
of entreaty unto the Kings of Egypt and Berberistan, and they listened to
his prayers, and sent out a great army unto his aid. And they drew them up
against Rustem, and the armies stretched for two leagues in length, and you
would have said the handful of Rustem could not withstand their force. Yet
Rustem bade his men be not discomfited, and rest their hopes on God. Then
he fell upon the armies of the Kings like to a flame that darteth forth,
and the ground was drenched with gore, and on all sides rolled heads that
were severed from their bodies; and wheresoever Rakush and Rustem showed
themselves, there was great havoc made in the ranks. And ere the evening
was come, the Kings of Egypt and Berberistan were his captives; and when
the sun was set, the King of Hamaveran knew that a day of ill fortune was
ended. So he sent forth to crave mercy at the hands of the Pehliva. And
Rustem listened to his voice, and said that he would stay his hand if the
King would restore unto him Kai Kaous, and the men and treasures that were
his. Then the King of Hamaveran granted the just requests of Rustem. So Kai
Kaous was led forth from his prison, and Sudaveh came with him. And when
they beheld him, the King of Hamaveran and his allies declared their
allegiance unto him, and they marched with him into Iran to go out against
Afrasiyab. And Sudaveh went with the army in a litter clothed with fair
stuffs, and encrusted with wood of aloes. And she was veiled that none
might behold her beauty, and she went with the men like to the sun when he
marcheth behind a cloud.
Now when Kai Kaous was come home again unto his land, he sent a writing
unto Afrasiyab. And he said-
"Quit, I command thee, the land of Iran, nor seek to enlarge thyself at my
cost. For knowest thou not that Iran is mine, and that the world pertaineth
But Afrasiyab answered, "The words which thou dost write are not becoming
unto a man such as thou, who didst covet Mazinderan and the countries round
about. If thou wert satisfied with Iran, wherefore didst thou venture
afield? And I say unto thee, Iran is mine, because of Tur my forefather,
and because I subdued it under my hand."
When Kai Kaous had heard these words he knew that Afrasiyab would not yield
save unto force. So he drew up his army into array, and they marched out to
meet the King of Turan. And Afrasiyab met them with a great host, and the
sound of drums and cymbals filled the air. And great was the strife and
bloody, but Rustem broke the force of Turan, and the fortunes of its army
were laid to rest upon the field of battle. And Afrasiyab, when he beheld
it, was discomfited, and his spirit boiled over like to new wine that
fermenteth. And he mourned over his army and the warriors that he had
trained, and he conjured those that remained to make yet another onslaught,
and he spake fair promises unto them if they would deliver unto his hands
Rustem, the Pehliva. And he said-
"Whoever shall bring him alive before me, I will give unto him a kingdom
and an umbrella, and the hand of my daughter in marriage."
And the Turks, when they heard these words, girded them yet again for
resistance. But it availed them nought, for the Iranians were mightier than
they, and they watered the earth with their blood until the ground was like
a rose. And the fortunes of the Turks were as a light put out, and
Afrasiyab fled before the face of Rustem, and the remnant of his army went
Then Kai Kaous seated himself once more upon his throne, and men were glad
that there was peace. And the Shah opened the doors of justice and
splendour, and all men did that which was right, and the wolf turned him
away from the lamb, and there was gladness through all the length of Iran.
And the Shah gave thanks unto Rustem that he had aided him yet again, and
he named him Jahani Pehliva, which being interpreted meaneth the champion
of the world, and he called him the source of his happiness. Then he busied
himself with building mighty towers and palaces, and the land of Iran was
made fair at his hands, and all was well once more within its midst.
But Ahriman the wakeful was not pleased thereat, and he pondered how he
could once again arouse the ambition of the Shah. So he held counsel with
his Deevs how they might turn the heart of Kai Kaous from the right path.
And one among them said-
"Suffer that I go before the Shah, and I will do thy behest."
And Ahriman suffered it. Then the Deev took upon him the form of a youth,
and in his hand he held a cluster of roses, and he presented them unto the
Shah, and he kissed the ground before his feet. And when Kai Kaous had
given him leave to speak he opened his mouth and said-
"O Shah, live for ever! though such is thy might and majesty that the vault
of heaven alone should be thy throne. All the world is submissive before
thee, and I can bethink me but of one thing that is lacking unto thy
Then Kai Kaous questioned him of this one thing, and the Deev said-
"It is that thou knowest not the nature of the sun and moon, nor wherefore
the planets roll, neither the secret causes that set them in motion. Thou
art master of all the earth, therefore shouldst thou not make the heavens
also obedient to thy will?"
When Kai Kaous heard these words of guile his mind was dimmed, and he
forgot that man cannot mount unto the skies, and he pondered without
ceasing how he could fly unto the stars and inquire into their secrets. And
he consulted many wise men in his trouble, but none could aid him. But at
last it came about that a certain man taught him how he could perchance
accomplish his designs. And Kai Kaous did according to his instructions. He
built him a framework of aloe-wood, and at the four corners thereof he
placed javelins upright, and on their points he put the flesh of goats.
Then he chose out four eagles strong of wing, and bound them unto the
corners of this chariot. And when it was done, Kai Kaous seated himself in
the midst thereof with much pomp. And the eagles, when they smelt the
flesh, desired after it, and they flapped their wings and raised
themselves, and raised the framework with them. And they struggled sore,
but they could not attain unto the meat; but ever as they struggled they
bore aloft with them Kai Kaous and the throne whereon he sat. And so long
as their hunger lasted, they strove after the prey. But at length their
strength would hold no longer, and they desisted from the attempt. And
behold! as they desisted the fabric fell back to earth, and the shock
thereof was great. And but for Ormuzd Kai Kaous would have perished in the
presumption of his spirit.
Now the eagles had borne the Shah even unto the desert of Cathay, and there
was no man to succour him, and he suffered from the pangs of hunger, and
there was nothing to assuage his longing, neither could his thirst be
stilled. And he was alone, and sorrowful and shamed in his soul that he had
yet again brought derision upon Iran. And he prayed to God in his trouble,
and entreated pardon for his sins.
While Kai Kaous thus strove with repentance, Rustem learned tidings of him,
and he set out with an army to seek him. And when he had found him he gave
rein unto his anger, and he rebuked him for his follies, and he said-
"Hath the world seen the like of this man? Hath a more foolish head sat
upon the throne of Iran? Ye would say there were no brains within this
skull, or that not one of its thoughts was good. Kai Kaous is like a thing
that is possessed, and every wind beareth him away. Thrice hast thou now
fallen into mishap, and who can tell whether thy spirit hath yet learned
wisdom? And it will be a reproach unto Iran all her days that a king puffed
up with idle pride was seated upon her throne, a man who deemed in his
folly that he could mount unto the skies, and visit the sun and moon, and
count the stars one by one. I entreat of thee to bethink thee of thy
forefathers, and follow in their steps, and rule the land in equity,
neither rush after these mad adventures."
When Kai Kaous had listened to the bitter words spoken by Rustem, he was
bowed down in his spirit and ashamed before him in his soul. And when at
last he opened his mouth it was to utter words of humility. And he said
"Surely that which thou speakest, it is true."
Then he suffered himself to be led back unto his palace, and many days and
nights did he lie in the dust before God, and it was long before he held
him worthy to mount again upon his throne. But when he deemed that God had
forgiven him, he seated him upon it once again. In humility did he mount
it, and he filled it in wisdom. And henceforth he ruled the land with
justice, and he did that which was right in the sight of God, and bathed
his face with the waters of sincerity. And kings and rulers did homage
before him, and forgot the follies that he had done, and Kai Kaous grew
worthy of the throne of light. And Iran was exalted at his hands, and power
and prosperity increased within its borders.
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
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
"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
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,
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
"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.
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
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
"Question me not until I have recovered my wits, for I am like to one
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
"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
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
"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
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
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,
"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
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
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
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
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,
"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
Then Piran, wise in counsel, opened his mouth before Afrasiyab and spake,
"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
"Send Kai Khosrau before me, that I may behold with mine eyes his
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
"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
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
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
"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
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
"I counsel you, wrap ye this man in robes of gold, for my mace hath made
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
And Firoud answered, "Thou hast said. I am a branch of the cypress that was
. Then Bahram said, "Uncover thine arm, that I may behold the mark of the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
Then the handmaidens did as Byzun desired, and Manijeh said, "Let him come
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
"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
"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
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
"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
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
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
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
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,
"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
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
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,
"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
"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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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,
"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,
"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
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
"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,
"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
"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
"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,
"I have given ear unto thy voice, give ear now also unto the words that I
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
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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
"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.