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448"I wrote a letter: 'O king, great is your good fortune! The Khatavians plotted treachery to me, though it fell on them to their hurt; therefore am I tardy in telling you my true tidings. I have captured the king; I come to thee with spoil and prisoners.'

449"When I had put everything in order I set out from Khataet’hi. I took the treasures, I despoiled the kingdom, I could not get enough camels, I loaded bullocks with the burdens; I had found glory and honour, for what I had desired that had I obtained.

450"I led away captive the King of Khataet’hi. I came to India, sweet was the meeting with my foster-father; what eulogy he uttered to me cannot be repeated, for me to tell it were unseemly; he undid mine arm, he bound it with a soft bandage.

451"Fair tents stood pitched in the public square (maidan) for him who desired to speak with and gaze upon me. That day he (the king) who rested there spread a banquet, he caressed me, sitting near me he gazed at me.

452"That night we spent in feasting; pleasantly we made merry there. In the morning we left the maidan;

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we entered the city. The king commanded: 'Call the soldiers, assemble them, show me this day the Khatavians, lead in the prisoners.'

453"I led in King Ramaz captive before him. The king looked sweetly on him as on a son whom he had cradled. I made the deceitful and treacherous one seem deserving, and this is the excess of heroism in a brave man.

454"He entertained the King of the Khatavians, he caressed him, he conversed with him for a long time in a fitting manner; at dawn I was called, he spoke to me a compassionate word: 'Shall I pardon the Khatavian, my former enemy?'

455"I ventured to reply: 'Since God forgives the sinner, be you also merciful to him whose might is brought to nought.' He said to Ramaz: 'Know that I send thee hence forgiven, but show not thyself before me again disgraced.'

456"He levied a tribute of a hundred times a hundred drachmas, also a thousand khatauris, also brocades and satins; then he clad him and all his courtiers, and sent them away with pardon in place of wrath.

457"The Khatavian thanked him, bent, paid lowly homage; he said: 'By God, I repent my treachery towards you; if ever I sin against you again then kill me.' He departed and took all his (folk) with him.

458"A man of the king's came; it was dawn, and the morning grey was past; he brought a message: 'For three months have I been separated from thee, I have eaten no game killed by arrow in the field; if thou be not tired come forth, though it be time to be tired.'

459"I apparelled myself, I went into the hall of audience; a pack of harriers met me, all the space round the hall was full of falcons. The king sat decked in beauty

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like the sun; he rejoiced at the coming of me, the lovely and fair.

460"He said secretly to his wife, but unknown to me To gaze on Tariel returned from war is desirable, he brings light to the onlooker's heart, however dark it may be; whatever I ask thee to do, do it without delay.

461"'Now, without (consulting) thee I have thought of a plan; but thou too must know it: Since the maid is to be king, and has been so nominated by us ourselves, whoever shall see her, now let him who is like a tree in Eden see her--lo! even to-day; seat her by thy side, both of you meet us in the palace, I shall come joyful.'

462"We hunted over plain, mountain-foot and hill; there was a multitude of hounds, falcons and hawks. We returned early without having gone a stage from the long road. They did not play at ball; they broke up two games.

463"Folk eager to gaze on me filled the city, the bazaar and the roofs; tasselled robes adorned me who had finished the war; I was fair as a pale-hued rose bathed in tears, he who looked on me fainted; true is this, and no falsehood.

464"The veils I had found in the city of the Khatavians I bound round me, they became me, I maddened (still more) the heart of the mad. The king dismounted; we entered the apartments of my foster-parents. I saw the flash of her cheeks like sunlight, I trembled.

465"The form of that sun (Nestan) was clad in robes of orange; behind her was a host of eunuchs in cohorts and lines; with light she quite filled house, street and

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quarter; there, amid the roses (of her cheeks), shone in beauty coral-pearl twins (lips and rows of teeth).

466"I who had fought and been wounded had mine arm hung from my neck in a sling. The queen rose from her throne (and came) forward to meet me. She kissed me hard like a son, she made my rose cheek blue; she said to me: Henceforth expect not the foe to engage thee.'

467"Near at hand they made place for me, there where it pleased me; opposite sat the sun for whom my heart was dying. Stealthily I looked at her, she looked at me; no other converse was there; (when) I tore away mine eyes from her, thereby was life made hateful to me.

468"There was drinking and feasting on a scale fitting to their might, such another rejoicing eye has not seen, goblet and cup were all of turquoise and ruby; the king gave order that no drunk man be suffered to depart.

469"Being there I gave myself up to the excess of joy; when she gazed at me and I at her, my fire began to be extinguished. I called upon my wild, mad heart to have a care of men (that they observe not). How exceedingly pleasant it is to look face to face on the beloved!

470"The minstrels ceased to sing. 'Be silent!' They bent their heads. He (the king) said to me: 'Son Tariel, how can we tell thee how we rejoice! We are in bliss, therefore (? because) our adversaries are woeful; right are thine admirers, not idly do they vaunt.

471"Now, though it is fitting that we should clothe thee who art mighty in glory, we clothe thee not, we doff not those robes beauteously adorning thee. Now thou whose rays are spread abroad hast a hundred treasures from us, thou thyself canst have sewn what thou desirest, be not bashful before us.'

472"He sat down again joyful, drinking and singing increased, again the feast went on, the lyres and tinkling of harps. The queens retired when day met twilight and until evenings joy was not joy.

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473"We broke up; we could no more endure the drinking of great goblets. I went into my chamber, my perception became like that of one dazed; I had no power in me, made prisoner as I was, to extinguish that fire (of love). I remembered, and the memory of being gazed on by her rejoiced me.

474"A slave came; he told me true tidings: 'A veiled woman asks tidings of you.' Then I knew at once, I leaped up in all haste, with trembling heart; she came in, I saw Asmat’h, who was coming towards me.

475"For the sake of her for whom I am dying I was pleased to see Asmat’h, as if I saw herself (Nestan). I hindered her from doing me homage, I kissed her, I took her hand and seated her near me on my couch, and greeted her: 'Blessed art thou, come as a shoot from the aloe-tree!

476"'Tell me news of her; speak to me of nought else.' She said to me: 'I will tell thee truth; now from me (thou shalt) not (hear words uttered merely) to give pleasure. To-day ye saw each other, and tenderly were pleased; now again she commands to make known news of her through me.'

Next: XII. Letter of Nestan-Daredjan Written to Her Beloved