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176 Dionosi the wise, Ezros bear me witness in this: It is pitiable when the rose wherewith the ruby of Badakhshan is not to be compared and whereto a reedstem serves as form, becomes covered with rime and frost-bitten; wherever he wanders abroad he is wearied of abodes.

177 Avt’handil travelled over that plain at a flying pace, he left the bounds of the Arabs, he journeyed in foreign lands; but separation from his sun had taken away part of his life; he said: "If I were near her now I should not shed hot tears."

178 Fresh snow had fallen, and, freezing on the rose, blasted it. He wished to strike his heart; sometimes he uplifted his knife. He said: "Fate (the world) has increased my grief ninety, an hundred fold. I have gone away from all rejoicing, from harp, lyre and pipe."

179 The rose separated from its sun faded more and more. He said to his heart: "Be patient!" Thus he fainted not wholly. He journeyed through passing strange I places on his quest, he asked tidings of wayfarers, he was friendly with them.

180 There seeks he the shedder of tears which flowed to increase the sea. The land seems to him a couch, his

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arm his pillow. He says to himself: "O beloved, I am far from thee, my heart stays with thee; I lament. for thy sake death would be joy to me."

181 He journeyed over all the face of the earth, he went thoroughly over it, so that beneath heaven was no place left where he had not been; but he met none who had heard tidings of him he sought; meanwhile three years save three months had passed.

182 He arrived in a certain dreadful country, exceeding rough; for a month he saw no man, no son of Adam. Neither Vis nor Ramin saw such woe like unto his. By day and by night he thought of her, his beloved.

183 He reached as a resting-place the slope of a great high mountain; thence appeared a plain which it would take seven days to cross. At the foot of the mountain flowed a river that could not be bridged; both sides were covered down to the water's edge with forests.

184 He goes up, turns round (?) and counts the time, the remaining days--he has two months left. He sighs at this, he rejoices not. "Alas! if the thing were revealed!" Again he is timid in heart by reason of this. No man can turn evil to good; none can be born again of himself.

185 He became thoughtful; he stood to consider the matter. He said to himself: "If I return thus, why have I spent so much time in the field? What can I dare say to my star, how I have spent the days? I have learned not even gossip regarding him I seek.

186 "If I return not, I must spend yet more time in the quest, if I can learn no tidings of him I seek; when

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the time agreed upon with Shermadin is past, his cheeks will be bathed (in tears), he will go and tell the king what soever things are fitting.

187 "He will tell him of my death, as I myself bade him. Then would there be mourning, weeping; bitter would the matter be for them. Thereafter should I return after travelling everywhere." On this he thinks, weeping, distressed in mind.

188 He said: "O God, why make Thy judgments crooked because of me? why, alas! should I have made such a journey in vain? Thou hast rooted up joys from my heart; Thou hast given griefs a nest there. All my days my tears will never cease."

189 Then he said, "Patience is better," and communed thus with himself: "Let me not die a day too soon, cast not down my heart; without God I can do nothing, my tears flow in vain. No one can change that which is decreed; that which is not to be will not be."

189a He said to himself: "Die, for thee it is better than shameful life. Thou wilt go back; T’hinat’hin, who brightens the sunny day, will meet thee; she will ask thee for tidings of that sun; what does groaning avail?" Thus thinking, he forthwith sets out for the reedy, watery edge of the wood.

190 "All beings under the heavens have surely passed me by in turn, but regarding that man nought can I learn anywhere. Doubtless they who called him a Kadj spoke truth. Now tears avail me not; why should I weep in vain?"

190a Avt’handil descended the mountain, he crossed river and woods, he put his steed to a gallop towards the plain; the murmur of the water and trees annoys him; his power (arms) and pride were spent; the crystal field

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with the jetty growth was beautiful (i.e., his face was beautified by the growth of his beard).

191 He resolved to return, he sighed and groaned; he turned towards the plain; he traced out the road with his eyes; for a month he has seen no human being anywhere; there were terrible wild beasts, but he hunted them not.

192 Though Avt’handil was become wild with heart groaning and sighing, yet he wished to eat, after the wont of Adam's race; he killed game with his arrow, with arm longer than Rostom's; he alighted on the edge of the reedy ground and kindled a fire with a steel.

193 He let his horse pasture while he roasted the meat. He saw six horsemen coming towards him. He said: They look like brigands; else what good is to be found? No other human being has ever been here."

194 He took his bow and arrow in his hand, and went gaily towards them. Two bearded men were leading their beardless brother, his head was wounded, his heart had swooned from loss of blood; they wept and grieved, his poor spirit was almost fled.

195 He called out: "Brothers, who are ye? I took you for brigands." They replied: "Be calm, help us and put out the fire; if thou canst not help us, add grief to our grief, and make it complete; weep with us who need pity, scratch thy cheeks too."

196 Avt’handil approached; he spoke to the men with the grieved hearts. They told him their story, speaking with tears: "We are three brothers, for this we shed bitter tears; we have a large fortified town in the region of Khataet’hi.

197 "We heard of good hunting ground, we went forth

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to the chase, countless soldiers accompanied us, we dismounted on the bank of a stream; the hunting pleased us, for a month we went not away; we killed wild beasts without measure in the plain, on the mountain and on the ridge.'

198 "We three brothers shamed the archers with us, so we three vied still one with another: 'I kill best, I am better than thou,' thus each pushed his claim with words; we could not manifest the truth, we wrangled, we strove with one another (none wanted to be last).

199 "To-day we sent away the soldiers loaded with stags’ hides. We said among ourselves: 'Let us judge truly who of us is mightier with his arm.' We remained alone, we were private, we killed in our own sight, we shot not before onlookers.

200 "We had three armour-bearers (squires) with us; we ordered the soldiers to go away, mistrusting nought; we hunted over plain, through wood and den, we slaughtered the wild beast, and not even a bird flew up.

201 "Suddenly there appeared a knight, morose and gloomy of visage, seated on a black horse, black as Pegasus; his head and form were clad in a panther's skin with the fur outside, and beauty such as his has ne’er been seen by man before.

202 "We gazed upon his rays, we scarce could support the brightness, we said: 'He is a sun on the earth; we cannot say (there is a sun) in heaven.' We wished to seize him, we were venturesome and tried; this is the cause of our sighs, moans, weeping.

203 "I, the eldest, earnestly begged the man from the younger, my next brother asked for his horse as a keepsake, this one only asked leave to conquer him. We granted him this as his due. As we went towards him he came forward unchanged, calmly and in beauty.

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204 "Ruby mingled with crystal beautified the pale roses (of his cheeks). He withered up tender thoughts towards us, he explained nothing, neither did he let us go, he showed not any consideration for us at all, with his whip he ripened us who had spoken tartly to him.

205 "We gave him over to our youngest brother, we elders kept back, he seized upon him (and said): 'Stand!' Thus he spake to him with his tongue. He (Tariel) held no sword in his hand, so we moved away; he struck him on the head with his whip, we saw the blood flow indeed.

206 "With a stroke of his whip he cleft his head thus, like a corpse he became lifeless, like earth he was brought to earth; thus he humbled, levelled with the ground, him who had been audacious to him. Before our eyes he went away, bold, severe and haughty.

207 "He turned not back again; he went away quietly and without haste. Lo! there he rides--look! like the sun and moon." The weeping ones joylessly showed him far off to Avt’handil; there only appeared his black steed carrying along that sun.

208 Behold, it befell Avt’handil that his cheeks need no longer be covered with snow from tears, since he had not passed so much time abroad in vain; when a man attains the thing wished for, when he must find what he sought, then need he no longer remember past woes.

209 He said: "Brothers, I am a wanderer without a place. To seek that knight I have gone far from the home of my upbringing. Now from you I have learned what it was by no means easy to discover. May God never again give you cause to grieve.

210 "As I meet my wish, my heart's desire, so even may God not let your brother suffer." He showed them his resting-place. "Go at your ease," said he, "give him repose in the shade, rest your weary selves."

211 Thus he spoke and went his way, he spurred on his horse, he flew like a hawks not hindered by the string,

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or like the moon meeting the sun, the sun of heavenly light, for this cause he has extinguished his burning fires.

212 He drew nearer, he bethought himself how he might contrive the meeting: "Senseless converse yet more enrages a madman. If a wise man would compass a difficult deed, he must not lose his presence of mind and tranquillity.

213 "Since yon man is so unreasoning and dazed that he suffers not any to speak with him or look on him, if I go up we shall meet only to slaughter each other, either he will kill me or I shall kill him; he will be still more hidden."

214 Avt’handil said: "Why should I suffer so many woes in vain? Whatever he is, it cannot be that he has no nests; let him go whithersoever he will, whatever walls encompass him there shall I seek him if my powers fail not."

215 Two days and nights they fared, one behind, one before, wearied by day and by night, eating no food; nowhere they paused, not one moment of time, from their eyes tears flowed, moistening the plains.

216 One day they travelled, and at eventide high rocks appeared. In the rocks were caves, in front a stream flowed down, it was not possible to say how many rushes were at the water's edge, tall trees whose tops eye could not reach rose high against the rock.

217 The knight made for the cave; he passed the streams and rocks. Avt’handil alighted from his horse, he betook himself to the great trees, he climbed up to look, at the foot he tethered his horse, thence he watched; that knight went shedding tears.

218 When the knight, the panther-skin-clad, passed the

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woods, a maiden dressed in a black mantle came forth to the door of the cave, she wept aloud, her tears uniting with the sea; the knight dismounted, with his arms he embraced her neck.

218a The knight said: "Sister Asmat’h, our bridges are fallen into the sea (i.e., we are lost); we shall never, timely, come upon the track of her for whom fires burn us." Thus he spoke and beat his hands upon his breast; the tears rained down. The maiden swooned, he embraced her; they wiped each other's tears of blood.

219 The forest became thicker from the tearing of their hair; each embraced the other, the youth the maid, and the maid the youth; they wailed, they lamented, the rocks re-echoed their voices; Avt’handil gazed in wonder on their behaviour.

220 That maid composed her soul, she endured the wound of her heart, she led the steed into the cave, she took off its trappings, she unbuckled the knight, she ungirded his armour. They went in. That day passed to its close.

221 Avt’handil was surprised. "How am I to know this story?" said he. Day dawned. The maiden came forth clad in the same colour; she put the bridle on the black (horse), she furbished it (the bridle) with the end of her veil; she saddled it, she carries the armour quietly, with no clattering.

222 It was the custom, it seems, with that knight never to tarry longer. The maiden wept and beat her breast, she tore her thick hair; they embraced each other, he kissed her and mounted his horse. Asmat’h, already gloomy, became still more gloomy.

223 Avt’handil once more saw near him the face of that man, his moustaches had hardly grown, he was without

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a beard. "Is it not the sun of heaven?" said he. He smelt the smell of the aloe wafted on the wind. For him the killing of a lion was just as easy as for a lion to kill a goat.

224 He rode out the same road he had come in by the day before, he passed the rushes, he went beyond, far into the plain. Avt’handil gazed in wonder; secretly he was hidden in the tree. He said: "God has managed this matter exceeding well for me.

225 "How could God have done better for me than this? I will seize the maid, I will make her tell me the story of that knight; I shall also tell her all mine, I shall make her know the truth. I shall not smite the knight with the sword, nor shall I have to be pierced by him."

226 He came down and loosed his horse, which he had tied to the tree, he mounted and rode up; the door of the cave was open, the heart-shaken, tear-flooded maiden ran out thence; she thought the rose-faced, crystal-haloed one was come back.

227 She knew not the face, it was not like the face of that knight; swiftly she turned, with a cry she made for rock and tree; the knight leaped from his horse, seized her like a partridge in a net; the rocks resounded with the maid's monotonous cry.

228 She yielded not to that knight; even the sight of him was hateful. Like a partridge under an eagle she fluttered hither and thither; she called on a certain Tariel for help, but he succoured her not. Avt’handil threw himself on his knees; he entreated her with his fingers.

229 He said: "Hush! what (ill) can I do thee? I am a man of Adam's race. I have seen those roses and violets grown pale. Tell me something of him. Who is the cypress-formed, the halo-faced? I shall do nought else to thee, be comforted, cry not thus loudly."

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230 The weeping girl, like a suppliant for justice, said: "If thou be not mad, let me go; if thou art mad, return to reason. Now thou lightly askest me to tell thee a very hard matter; try not in vain, look not to me to tell his story."

231 Again she said: "O knight, what wilt thou, or what dost thou request of me? This thing cannot be even written with the pen. Once thou shalt say 'Tell me!' a hundred times I shall tell thee 'No!' As smiling is better than weeping, so I prefer mourning to song."

232 "Maiden, thou knowest not whence I come, what woes I have endured! For as long as I have sought tidings, from none have I heard them. I have found thee; however much my words may annoy thee, I cannot let thee go till thou tell me. Be not bashful with me."

233 The maiden said: "Why have I fallen in with thee? Who am I? or who art thou? The sun is not near me, this thou knewest, O hoarfrost, therefore thou thus annoyest me; long discourse is tedious, so I shall speak shortly to thee; on no account shall I tell thee aught, do whatsoever thou wilt."

234 Yet again he adjured her, he threw himself on his knees before her, but nought could he win from her; he wearied of entreaty, his indignation mounted to his face, blood flowed to his eyes, he arose, he drew her by the hair, he put a knife to her throat.

235 Thus he spoke: "How can I forgive thee so much ill-will? If I weep, shall the tear be in vain? It is better for thee to tell me, I shall trouble thee no more; if not, may God slay mine enemy as I slay thee!"

236 The maid replied: "Thou hast done exceeding ill to think of using force. If thou kill me not I shall not die; I am hale and alive. Why shall I tell thee anything until the time when I shall no longer see woes, and if thou kill me I shall have no head to converse with thee."

237 Again she said: "Oh, why didst thou find me! who

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art thou that speakest with me? Who? I cannot be made to tell this story with living tongue. I will make thee kill me at mine own wish; like a despised letter, easily shalt thou tear me.

238 "Think not that death would be suffering to me, for it would free me from weeping; it is the drier-up of the ford of tears; the whole world seems to me as straw, even so do I weigh it; I know not who thou art, that I should tell thee trusty words?"

239 The knight said (to himself): "Thus shall I not make her speak, I must think of some other way; it is better to ponder the matter." He let her go, and sat down apart; he wept, he began to shed tears. He said to the maiden: "I have angered thee; now I know not, alas! how I shall survive."

240 The maiden sat morose, she is sulky, she is not yet sweetened. Avt’handil sits below weeping; no longer does he speak. In the rose-garden the pool of tears is dammed up. The maiden, too, weeps over yonder, her heart! softening towards him.

241 She pitied the weeping knight, therefore her hot tears flowed, but she sat, strange to the stranger, she spoke not. The knight perceived that her hasty thoughts towards him were calmed; with flowing tears he entreated her; he arose and bent his knee before her.

242 He said: "I know that now I am by no means worthy to hope from thee; I have angered thee; I remain a stranger to thee and thus lonely; yet even now I have hope for myself from thee, for it is said that sin shall be forgiven unto seven times.

243 "Though my beginning in service has pleased thee ill, it is fitting to pity the lover; understand thou this: from any other, whomsoever, I can have no aid, none is

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my strength. I yield thee my life for my heart's sake. What more can I do?"

244 When the maid heard from the knight of his love, with heart sobs she began to shed tears a hundredfold snore; again she raised her voice in wailing, she smiled not. God gave Avt’handil his wish, his heart's comfort.

245 He said (to himself): "These words have changed her colour; doubtless her tears flow faster (for that) she is mad for someone." He spoke once more: "O sister, a lover is pitied even by his foes; thou, too, knowest that he himself seeks death, he shuns it not.

246 "I am a lover, a madman to whom life is unbearable. My sun sent me to seek that knight. Even a cloud could not reach me where I have been on that quest. I have found thy heart; his to thee, thine to him.

247 "His face I have imprinted on my heart like a (holy) picture. For him mad, cut off, have I given up all my joy. One of two things do thou to me: make me a prisoner or set me free, give me life or slay me, adding grief to grief."

248 The maiden spoke to the knight a word more pleasant than her first: "What thou hast now thought of is much better; just now thou didst sow enmity in my heart, now thou hast found in me a friend more sisterly than a sister.

248a. "Then, since thou hast thought of love as thine aid, henceforth it will not be that I shall not be thy servant; if I devote not myself to thee, I shall make thee mad, I shall make thee sad; I shall die for thy sake if I find not some means to help thee.

249 "Now, whatever I tell thee, if thou wilt be obedient to me therein thou shalt meet whatever thou seekest, thou shalt certainly not fail; if thou hearkenest not to me thou shalt not find, let thy tears flow as they will; discontent with the world shall come upon thee, thou shalt die, thou shalt be put to shame."

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250 The knight replied: "This only resembles one thing (This is like a certain story): Two men were journeying somewhere along some road; the one who was behind saw the one in front fall into a well. He came up, called. down, weeps and cries 'Woe!'

251 "Thus he spoke: 'Comrade, stay there, wait for me; I go to bring ropes, I want to pull thee out.' The man who was beneath laughed, he marvelled greatly, he shouted up: 'Unless I wait, whither can I flee from thee, whither can I go?'

252 "Now, sister, thou holdest the rope about my neck; without thee I can undertake nothing; whatever thou doest to me rests with thee, thou art balm to the mad. Otherwise who would bind his sound head with hay-ropes? (? like a madman)."

253 The maid replied: "Thy discourse, O knight, pleases me. Doubtless thou art some good knight, worthy of the praise of the wise. Since thou hast heretofor suffered such griefs, hearken to what I tell thee, and thou I shalt find what thou seekest.

253a "Nowhere can news of that knight be found. If he himself tell thee not it will not be told; none other shouldst thou believe. If thou canst wait so long, wait until he come. Be calm; freeze not the rose, let it not be snowed up in tears.

254 "I will tell thee our names if thou wishest to know them: Tariel is the name of that distracted knight; I am called Asmat’h, whom the hot fire burns, sigh upon sigh, not once alone, but many times.

255 "More words about him than these I cannot tell. thee. The elegant, slender-formed roams the plain. I eat, alas! alone of the meat brought by him from the chase. He may come anon, I know not, or he may tarry a long time.

256 "I entreat thee to wait; go not elsewhere. When; he comes I shall plead with him; it may be I shall be able to do something. I shall make you known to each other

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[paragraph continues] I shall make him love thee. He himself will tell thee his story; thou shalt make thy beloved to rejoice."

257 The knight listened to the maid, he was obedient, be submitted. Thereupon they looked round, they heard a splash from the glen, they saw the moon (i.e., Tariel) come forth from the water, its rays beaming. They hastened back; they made no long tarrying there.

258 The maid said: "O knight, God give thee soon what thou desirest; but make thyself unseen, hide thyself inside. No human being is disobedient to that knight; perchance I may so contrive that the sight of thee anger him not."

259 The maiden hastily hid Avt’handil secretly in the cave. That knight alighted from his horse; his quiver and sword adorn him. They wept aloud, their tears flowing even to the sea. Avt’handil gazed from the window, himself hidden from view.

260 The bath of tears turned the crystal to the colour of jasper. A long time the knight and that black-robed maiden wept. She unbuckled his armour and took it in; she also led in the horse. They were silent; the black knife of jet (of their eyelashes) cut off the (flow of) tears.

261 Avt’handil watched from the window, a prisoner but now freed from his dungeon. The maid laid down the panther's skin, the knight sat upon it, he sighs with added grief; the jetty eyelashes are plaited by tears of blood.

262 That maiden betook herself to the lighting of a gentle fire with a steel; she thought he would eat meat roasted, (a bird cooked) whole; she gave it to him, he bit off a piece, it was difficult for him to eat, he had no appetite; he began to spit it out unchewed.

263 He lay down a little, he fell asleep, but only for a short time; he was afraid, he screamed aloud, he leaped up as if dazed, he cried and incessantly beat his breast

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with a stone and his head with a stick; the maiden sits apart looking at him, ands scratches her face.

264 "Why hast thou returned?" she asked. "Tell me what has happened to thee." He answered: "I came upon a certain king hunting; he had countless soldiers, heavy weighed their baggage, he hunted in that plain where beaters were scattered.

265 "It was melancholy for me to see men, the fire flamed up still more; I came not near to meet him; I pitied myself. I returned pale from them. I hid in the wood. I thought: 'If he pursues me no more, I shall go away at daybreak to-morrow.'"

266 The maiden's tears sprang forth an hundredfold, ten thousandfold more. She said: "Thou roamest alone with wild beasts in the deep forest, thou approachest no man for converse and entertainment; thou canst not help her thus; why dost thou waste thy days in vain?

267 "Thou hast fared over the whole face of the earth; how couldst thou not find one man in whom to take pleasure, and who could be with thee without making thee mad, though it would not lessen thy grief? If thou diest and she perishes, what doth this profit thee?"

268 He said: "O sister, this is like thy heart, but for this wound there is no balm upon earth. Who can find such a man as hath not yet come into the world? My joy is death, the severance of flesh and soul.

269 "Where, why should God cause a man to be born under the same planet as I, even if I desired his companionship and converse! Who could bear my woes, or even attempt it? Save thee, sister, I have no human being anywhere."

270 The maid said: "Be not angry with me, I fear and entreat thee; since God has appointed me thy vizier, I cannot conceal the best that I know in the matter: to go to extremes is of no use; thou hast overstepped the bounds."

271 The knight replied: "I know not what thou askest

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of me; tell me clearly. How can I create a man for my service without God? God needs me to be unhappy; what can I do? Of a truth I am become as a wild beast, to this pass have I brought myself."

272 The maid again spoke: "I have harassed thee with overmuch advice, but if I could find a man who would come to thee of his own freewill, who would stay near thee, who would rejoice thee by his acquaintance, wilt thou swear not to kill him nor do him any hurt?"

273 He answered: "If thou wilt show him to me, greatly shall I rejoice at sight of him. (I swear) by the love of her for whose sake I wander mad in the fields, I shall do nought unpleasing, I shall never cause any bitterness to him; I shall be pleasant and love him, and do all I can to be amiable."

274 The maid rose and went to bring that knight. "He is not angry," quoth she, to encourage him. She took him by the hand and led him forth, like the full moon. When Tariel saw him he thought him like the sun.

275 Tariel met him. They were both fit to be ranked as suns, or as the moon in heaven, cloudless, spreading her rays on the plain beneath. Compared with them the aloe-tree was of no worth; they were like the seven planets; to what else shall I liken them?

276 They kissed each other, they were not bashful at being strangers; they opened the rose, from their lips their white teeth shone transparent. They embraced each other's neck, together they wept; their jacinth, which was worth rubies, they turned into amber.

277 The knight turned, he grasped Avt’handil's hand in his hand; they sat down together, and wept long with hot tears. Asmat’h calmed them with wonderful words: "Slay not yourselves; darken not the sun with your eclipse."

278 Tariel's rose was only covered with a light frost, not frozen. He said to (Avt’handil): "Haste, tell me thy secret. Who art thou? Whence art thou come? Where is thy

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home? As for me, death has forgotten me; even by it am I abandoned."

279 Avt’handil gave answer; beautiful are his words: "O lion and hero Tariel, thou who behavest gently, I am an Arabian, from the court of Arabia; I am consumed by love, unquenchable fire burns me.

280 "I love the daughter of my lord; her lusty-armed servants now view her as their king. Though thou knowest me not, I have seen thee, if thou wilt call it to mind. Dost thou remember when thou slewest the strong-armed  slaves?

281 "We saw thee roaming in the plain, and we came upon thee. My lord was angry with thee, and we quarrelled fiercely with thee. We called thee, thou earnest not, we pursued thee with soldiers; thou didst dye the fields crimson with the blood thou madest to flow.

282 "Thou didst cut the heads of all with a whip, without a sword. The king mounted, thou wert lost to us, we could . not cut off thy track; like a Kadj thou wert hidden, the slaves were terrified. This enraged us still more; we were completely stunned.

283 "The king became gloomy; you know that a monarch also has humours. They looked for thee, they sought thee everywhere, they wrote a letter of command. They could find none who had seen thee, neither young nor old. Now she has sent me, she to whom neither sun nor ether is to be compared.

284 "She said to me: 'Learn for me news of that vanished sun; then will I do that which thou desirest.' She told me that for three years the stream of tears was to flow without her; dost thou not marvel that I could bear the lack of the sight of her smile?

285 "Until now I have seen no man who saw thee. I saw

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robbers who spoke rudely with you; thou didst strike them with thy whip; one thou madest like a corpse; they whose brother was dying told me."

286 Tariel recalled their bygone fight. He said: "I remember the affair, though it happened long ago. I saw thee and thy master together at the chase. I was weeping because I was thinking, alas! of my destroyer.

287 "What did you want with me? What did you desire? What had we in common? You, mighty, were sporting; we bathed our cheeks in tears. When you set the slaves upon me you dared to take me; now, methinks, instead of capturing me you bare away corpses.

288 "I looked round when I saw thy lord approach me, I had pity on his kingship; therefore I laid not my hands upon him, I fled before your eyes, I said nothing. My horse looks invisible: in what other way shall I describe him?

289 "Before a man can blink or wink the eye, I can flee that which I know to be unpleasant. Those Turks, on the other hand, I did not consider myself unjust to them; their overbearance and my prowess ill became them.

290 "Now thou art come with good intent, the sight of thy face rejoices me, O cypress-formed, sunlike-faced, brave as a hero; but thou hast toiled, thou art not untried by trouble; hard is it to find a man (like me) abandoned by God in heaven."

291 Avt’handil said: "How dost thou praise me, thou worthy of the praise of the tongue of the wise? What am I to deserve such praise from thee? Thou art the image of the one sun, the light of heaven above, for the misery of the flowing of so many tears cannot change thee.

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292 "This day has made me forget her who darkened (by eclipse) my heart. I renounce her service; as for that, it shall be as thou wishest. Thus, though a jacinth is better, still a thousand times more do I desire glass. I shall stay near thee till death; more than this I desire not."

293 Tariel said: "Thy heart now is warm to me. I am amazed. What service worthy of thine attachment have I done for thee? But such is the law: lover pities lover. Thou art parted from thy beloved; what can recompense thee for this

294 "Thou art come forth to seek me in thy lady's service. God has made thee find me. Thou also hast endeavoured manfully. But how shall I tell thee why I am thus wandering? If I speak of it, hot fire will burn me; I shall become a flame, a smoke."

295 Upon this Tariel was silent, burned and enflamed. He said to Asmat’h: "Since thou hast been near me all the time, how dost thou not know that this bruised bruise is incurable? Anew this weeping knight burns me; I am his debtor for tears."

296 He said to the knight: "Whatever man takes to himself a brother--ay, or a sister--must have no care of death and trouble for their sake. How should God save the one if He cause not the other to perish? Listen, and I shall tell thee (my story) whatever befall me."

297 He said to Asmat’h: "Come, sit down here, bring water with thee, sprinkle me when fainting, bathe my breast. If thou seest me a corpse, weep for me, sob ceaselessly, dig a grave for me, here let the earth cradle me."

298 He sat down unbuttoned to tell his tale; he laid

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bare his shoulders. Like the sun clad in clouds he sat; a long time he shed no ray. He could not open his lips to speak; he clenched them. Then he drew his breath, cried out, hot tears gushed forth.

299 He sobbed: "O beloved, mine own, lost to me! My hope and life, my thought, my soul, my heart! Who cut thee off I know not, O tree planted in Eden! How can the hot fire not consume thee, O heart a hundred times kindled!

Next: V. The Telling of His Tale by Tariel When He First Told It to Avt’handil