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795When he saw the vizier arrived with reverence in the hall of audience, Rosten said: "I recall not what thou saidst yesterday; thou didst annoy and enrage me, for a long time I could not compose my soul, therefore did I scold thee, vizier, heart of heart.

796"I remember not what he (Avt’handil) wanted, (nor) why I treated thee so ill! Truly say the sages: Spite is a net of woes!' Never act in such a way! Consider the matter carefully. Now, tell me what thou saidst! Speak and repeat thy discourse!"

797Again the vizier submitted his speech of yesterday. When he (Rosten) heard it, he made no lengthy answer: "If I think thee not mad may I be the Jew Levi! 1 Let me hear no more of this, else I wholly give thee up!"

798When the vizier went forth to seek, he could not find the crystal one (Avt’handil); only the slaves with

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flowing tears told of his flight. He (the vizier) said: "I cannot go to court; I should remember former days. Whoever is daring let him dare; I repent what I have already said."

799When the vizier came not, the king again sent a man; the man learned the news and stood outside, none dared report the departure. Rosten began to suspect, therefore grief increased tenfold. He said: "Doubtless he who alone overpowers hundreds has stolen away!"

800With bent head he meditated; in his heart was great gloom. He sighed and looked up; he commanded a slave: "Go, let that villain come hither and tell me now; let him enter." When the vizier came back his colour paled and he was careful.

801Again the vizier entered the audience chamber, gloomily, not gaily. The king inquired: "Is the sun gone away, become inconstant like the moon?" (The vizier) told him all, how he (Avt’handil) had gone away secretly: "The sun no longer shines on us; the weather is not bright!"

802When the king heard this, he cried out with an exceeding great cry, he lamented, he said: "Alas, my foster-son, my dazed eyes shall see thee no more!" He made the onlookers to marvel by scratching his face and tearing his beard. "Whither art thou gone, and where hast thou lost those pillars of light?

803"If thou hast thyself, none will think thee an orphan; but as for me, what can I do, O foster-son? Now plagues befit me as an abode; thou hast left me orphaned, me whose wretched heart longs for thee. Till I am reunited to thee, tongues cannot tell my sufferings!

804"When shall I see thee joyous returning from the chase? I shall no longer see thee after the game of ball, graceful in form, a faultless gem! No more shall I hear

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thine alluring voice. Now without thee, alas! what shall I do with the throne and whole palace?

805"I know that hunger will not kill thee, however far thou roamest; thy bow will provide thee, and thine arrowheads. Perchance God in His mercy will again lighten our woes; but if I die, O foster-son, by whom shall I be mourned!"

806A noise was heard, a great host of men had assembled; there is a crowd of courtiers at the palace, seizing their beards with their hands; all rend and strike themselves, the sound of their slapping is heard. They said: "Darkness is upon us, accursed, since our sun is gone from the sky!"

807When the king saw his magnates, he complained to them with tears and groaning. He said: "You see our sun has made his rays quite rare to us! In what have we annoyed him, wherein have we sinned, why has he parted from us, why forsaken us! How can any take for us the leadership of the hosts he maintained!"

808All wept, lamented; then at length they grew calm. The king commanded: "Ask! is he alone, or with a squire?" The vassal Shermadin came fearfully, shamefacedly; he gave (the king) the testament, he wept, life seemed to him but loss.

809He said: "I found this written by him in his chamber; weeping slaves stood there, they tore hair and beard; he is stolen away alone, neither youth nor greybeard is near him; if you slay me it will be just, an unseemly life irks me."

810When they read the will, again they wept a long time. Then (the king) commanded: "Let not my troops

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don gay colours. Let us make the downtrodden, the orphans and widows, to pray; let us help them that God may give him paths of peace!"


127:1 ? reference to Gen. xlix. 5-7. (i.e. "cursed for mine anger").

Next: XXIV. Avt’handil's Second Departure and Meeting with Tariel