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654When he was gone thence sadness was surely slaying him; he scratched his face, he rent the rose (of his cheeks), his hand he shortened; all the beasts licked

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up the blood that flowed from him. His swift pace shortened the long course.

655He came there where he had parted from his armies. They saw him, they knew him, they rejoiced in such manner as was fitting. They told the good tidings to Shermadin too; .men quickly ran to him: "He is come for whose sake hitherto joy has been embittered to us."

656He went to meet him, he embraced him, he put his mouth on his (Avt’handil's) hand, pouring forth tears he joyfully kissed the destroyer in the field. Thus he spoke: "O God, do I see really or darkly? How am I worthy of this, that mine eyes should gaze upon thee (safe and) sound!"

657The knight saluted him low, he put face upon face; he said: "I thank God that no grief afflicts thee!" The magnates did homage, whoever was worthy kissed him; there was great jubilation, great and small alike rejoiced.

658They came where a dwelling-house had been built; all the city was assembled to see him; forthwith he sat down to feast, gay, proud, merry; an assemblage of tongues could not fully describe the joy of that day.

659He told Shermadin, he narrated to him all he had seen--how he had found that knight whom he likened to the sun. Avt’handil was hampered by tears; he said with half-closed eyes: "Without him it seems to me alike to dwell in palace or hut."

660(Shermadin) told him all the home news: "None knows of thy departure; whatever thou toldst me so have I done." He went not thence that day, he feasted and rested; at dawn he mounted, he set out when the sun enlightened the day.

661He sat no more at feasting, nor stayed he again private; Shermadin, the bearer of good tidings, went to

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announce (Avt’handil's) arrival; swiftly he fared, in three days he made a ten days’ journey. That lion (Avt’handil) rejoiced that he was to see the sun's rival.

662He sent a message: "O king, proud art thou in might and majesty! I venture to tell thee this thing with fear, respect and precaution: I esteemed myself worthless in that I had learned nought of that knight; now I know and will tell thee all; I come in joy and safety."

663Rostevan is a king, proud, puissant, imperious, (so) Shermadin delivered all his message in person: "Avt’handil comes to the royal presence having found that knight." The king said: "(Now) I know that which I entreated and prayed for from God."

664Shermadin made report to T’hinat’hin, that night-less light: "Avt’handil comes to thy presence; he brings thee pleasing news." Thereat, light flashed forth from her, even braver than the sun's. She gave him a gift, and robes to all his people.

665The king mounted and went to meet the knight who was coming thither, for this (honour) the sun-faced one incurred a great debt (of gratitude); joyous and warm-hearted they met, and some of the multitude of magnates seemed as if drunken.

666When he approached, the knight alighted and did homage to the king. Rosten, possessed by excess of joy, kissed him. Glad-hearted and merry they entered the royal hall; all there assembled rejoice at the arrival of the knight.

667Avt’handil, the lion of lions, did homage to her, the sun of suns; there the crystal, rose and jet were beautified by tenderness; her face was brighter than heaven's light; a dwelling-house was no fit abode for them, the sky itself was their (proper) palace.

668That day they made a feast; drinking and eating they made abundant. The king gazes on the knight, as a tender father on a son. They were both beautified by a

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snowfall on fresh snow, a dew on the rose; generously they gave gifts, pearls like small coin.

669The drinking was done, the drinkers separated each to his own home; they suffered not the magnates to go, they set the knight near before them. The king inquires, and he relates what trials he had undergone, and then what he had seen and heard concerning the stranger.

670"When I speak of him, be not astonished if I ceaselessly lament, saying: 'Ah me!' To the sun alone can I liken him, or the face of him, the extinguisher of the mind of all who see him; a wilted rose among thorns, alas! he is far away!

671"When unendurable Fate makes a man suffer grief, the reed becomes like a thorn, the crystal turns to saffron colour." While Avt’handil was telling this his cheeks were bedewed with tears. He told in detail the story he had heard from (Tariel).

672"Having captured the caves in battle, he has for his house the abode of the Devis. He has the damsel of his beloved as his attendant. He is clad in panther's skin; he despises brocade and cloth of gold. No more sees he the world; an ever-new fire consumes him."

673When he had finished the story--the matter of his grief--the sight of the light of that sun, not ugly to look upon, gladdened him. They praised his rose-like hand which had been firmly held. "This prowess is sufficient for thee since thou art the undoer of grief."

674T’hinat’hin rejoiced at the hearing of this news. That day she was merry at the drinking, and eating was

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not wearisome to her. That sun met in his bedchamber a slave with a courteous word. She ordered him to come to her. Tongue cannot tell how pleased he was.

675The knight went joyful, tender, not ill content, the lion who had roamed the fields with the lions of the field and had lost his colour, a knight of the world, in quality a gem and a faultless ruby, but for heart's sake he had exchanged heart for heart.

676Bold sits the sun upon her throne, majestic, unconstrained, a fair aloe planted in Eden, generously watered by Euphrates’ stream; the jetty hair and the eyebrow thickets adorned the crystal and ruby (of her countenance). Who am I that I should praise her? It needs the myriad tongues of Athenian sages to praise her fitly.

677She set the joyful knight before her with his chair, they both sat full of gladness to converse as befitted them; they spoke with dignity and fluency, not with unpolished words. She said: "Thou hast found him in whose quest thou hast seen misfortunes?"

678He answered: "When the world gives a man his heart's desire, it befits not to recall grief (which is) as a day that is past. I found the tree, an aloe in form, watered by the stream of the world; there (I found) the face (which was) like the rose, but now is wan.

679"There saw I the cypress, the rose-like, whose power was spent; he (Tariel) says: 'I have lost the crystal, and that where the crystal unites with glass (?).' I burn (for him) because, like me, unendurable fire consumes him." Then again he told the story he had heard from (Tariel).

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680He recounted all his misfortunes and sorrows by the road during the quest. Then he told her how God had thought him worthy to find what he desired. "World, life, man, (all) seems to him as to a beast; alone he roams mad with the brutes, he weeps in the field.

681"Ask me not, what praise can I speak, how couldst thou understand from me! nothing can please one who has seen him; the eyes of the beholders are weakened as by the brilliance of the sun; the rose is not become saffron, now the violet is gathered in nosegays."

682He told her in detail what he knew, what he had seen, heard: "Like a panther he has a trail, and for house and abode a cave; a damsel is there ready to cherish him, to maintain his life and bear his sorrows. Alas! Fate makes all dwellers in the world to shed tears!"

683When the maiden heard this story she had attained the fulfilment of her will; her moon-like face shone as ’twere with radiance at the full. She said: "What answer can I make to give comfort to him, and pleasure, and what is the balm for the healing of his wound?"

684The knight replied: "Who has confidence in a rash man? He for my sake sacrifices himself to be burned, he who must not be burned. I have appointed the time of my return; I have promised him to sacrifice myself for him. I swear it by my sun whom I contemplate as a sun!

685"A friend should spare himself no trouble for his friend's sake, he should give heart for heart, love as a road and a bridge. Then, again, the grief of his beloved should be a great grief to a lover. Lo! without him joy is nought to me, and myself I hold of none account."

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686The sun-like one said: "All my heart's desire is fulfilled: first thou art come in safety having found that which was lost, then the love implanted by me in thee has grown, I have found balm for my heart hitherto burned.

687"Fate treats every man like the weather, sometimes there is sunshine and sometimes the sky thunders forth in wrath; hitherto grief has been upon me, now this gladness is my lot; since the world has joy in it why should any be sad!

688"Thou dost well not to break the oath thou didst swear; it is necessary to fulfil strong love for a friend, to seek for his cure, to know the unknown. (But) tell me, what shall I, luckless, do if the sun of my heaven be hidden!"

689The knight replied: "By nearness (to thee) I have united to seven woes eight. Vain is it for one who is frozen to blow on water to warm himself therewith; vain is the love, the kiss from beneath, of the sun at its setting. If I be near thee, once is it woe, and if I go far from thee a thousandfold woe.

690"Woe is me if I wander where, alas! the simoom burns the roamer; my heart is the target of an arrow, a dart is shot to pierce it; the term of my life seems by this day to be shortened to one-third; I long for a refuge, but the time is past for seeking shelter against troubles.

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691"I have heard your discourse, I have understood what you command; the rose reveals the thorn, why should I prick myself therewith? but, O sun, become altogether a sun for me, and let me carry with me some hopeful token of life."

692The knight, sweetly and in sweet-sounding Georgian, giving good for good, spoke on this theme like a pleasant instructor to a pupil. The maiden gave him a pearl, she fulfilled his desire, and God grant that their present joy be perfected.

693What is better than for a man to approach the jet to the crystal and ruby, or to plant in the garden the aloe near the cypress, to water it and make a tree of it, to cause joy to the gazer and sorrow to him who cannot look thereon? Woe to the parted lover! He will be groaning, moaning, groaning.

694They found all their joy in gazing at each other. The knight went away, sundered from her he went dazed in heart; the sun wept tears of blood more abundant than the sea, and said: "Fate is insatiable, alas! in the drinking of my blood!"

695The knight went melancholy away, he beats his breast and so bruises it, for love makes a man weep and melts his heart. When a cloud hides the sun the earth is shadowed, so parting from his beloved makes twilight again, not morning.

696Blood and tears mingled made channel upon channel on his cheeks. He said "My sun (T’hinat’hin) is by no means satisfied with me because I sacrifice myself to comfort the peerless (Tariel). I marvel how the black eyelash brands the heart of adamant. Until I see her, O world, I wish for no joy from thee.

697"Him who yesterday was an aloe planted, watered

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and fully grown in Eden, him to-day Fate thrusts through with her lance, pierces with her knife. To-day my heart is caught in a net of unquenchable fire. Now know I the way of the world; it is a tale and nonsense."

698Thus speaking, the tears gush forth, he trembles and shudders; with heart-sigh, with deep groan, his form bends and sways (as he goes). Converse with the beloved is a embittered by parting. Alas! O Fate! The end enshrouds and swathes the beginning.

699The knight went and sat in his chamber; sometimes he weeps; sometimes he swoons, but in spirit he is near his beloved, he is not cut off from her. Like verdure in hoarfrost the hue of his face fades; see how soon lack of sun is apparent on the rose!

700Accursed is the heart of man, greedy, insatiable; sometimes the heart desiring joys endures all griefs; blind is the heart, perverse in seeing, not at all able to measure itself; no king, nor even death itself, can master it.

701While he spoke to his heart hearty words, he took the pearls, the love-token of his sun (T’hinat’hin), which had engirt the arm of his sun, and were comparable to her teeth; he put them to his mouth, he kissed them, his tears flowed like Pison.

702When day dawned there came an inquirer calling him to the court; the knight went forth, proud, gentle, not having slept, unrefreshed by sleep. A host of spectators who had hastened stood crowding one upon another. The king was arrayed for the field; drum and clarion were prepared.

703The king mounted. How can the pomp of those times be told now? By reason of the beating of the copper drums no word was heard by the ears. The hawks

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darkened the sun; hither and thither coursed the hound that day the fields were dyed purple with the blood shed by them.

704They hunted, they returned joyful, having traversed the meadow; they took in with them magnates, princes and all the hosts. He (the king) sat down; he found the couches and all the pavilions adorned; harp harmonized with lute, there was a full choir.

705The knight sat near the king, one questioned, the other replied; the crystal and ruby of their lips shone transparent, the lightning of their teeth flashed; those who were worthy sat near, they listened; afar off the hosts were grouped; none dared speak without mention of Tariel.

706The knight departed sad at heart, his tears flowed on the fields; nought save his love passed before his eyes; sometimes he rises, sometimes he lies down. How can one sleep who is mad! Whose heart e’er hearkened to a prayer for patience!

707He lies down; he says: "What can I imagine as, any consolation for my heart? I am sundered from thee, thou tree, in form as a reed, reared in Eden, thou joy of thy beholders, cause of woe to them that cannot gaze on thee. Since I am unworthy to see thee manifestly, would that I might behold thee in a dream."

708Thus spake he, weeping, with flowing tears. Once more he addressed his heart: "Patience is like the fountainhead of wisdom. If we endure not what can we do? How can we adapt ourselves to anguish? If we desire happiness from God we must accept griefs also."

709Again he says: "O heart, however much thou hast the desire for death it is better to bear life, sacrificing self for her; but hide it, let not the flame of thy fire be seen again. It ill befits a lover to expose his love."

Next: XIX. Avt’handil's Request to King Rostevan, and the Vizier's Discourse and Entreaty