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1004The knight speaks as he goes on his way (majestically) like the full moon; there is the thought of T’hinat’hin to gladden his heart. He says: "I am far from thee; alas! the falseness of cursed Fate! Thou hast the healing balsam for my wound.

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1005"Why doth the ardour of grief for the heroes continually burn me? why is my heart of rock and cliff become a hard rock? even three lances cannot show a bruise on me. Thou art the cause that this world is thus envenomed for me."

1006Avt’handil fares on alone to the seashore with the four slaves, with all his might he seeks balm for Tariel; weeping by day and night he pours forth pools of tears; all the world seems to him as straw, even as straw in weight.

1007Wherever he sees travellers walking by the shore he addresses them, he asks tidings of that sun (Nestan). He roamed a hundred days. He went up a hill; camels loaded with stuff appeared; merchants distressed stood in perplexity on the shore.

1008A countless caravan was there on the seashore, they were distressed, they were gloomy, they could neither stand nor go forward. The knight greeted them; they hailed him with praise. He asked: "Merchants, who are ye?" They began to converse.

1009Usam was the chief of the caravan, a wise man. He uttered respectfully a perfect eulogy, he invoked blessings on (Avt’handil) and praised his manners; he said: "O sun, thou art come as our life and comforter. Dismount; we will tell thee our story and business!"

1010He dismounted. They said: "We are Bagdad merchants, holders of the faith of Mahmad; we never drink new wines; we haste to trade in the city of the Sea-King; we are rich in wholesale goods, we have no cut pieces of stuff.'

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1011"Here on the seashore we found a man lying senseless; we succoured him till he could speak clearly with his tongue. We asked him: 'Who art thou, stranger? What business dost thou follow after?' He said to us: If ye go in they will slay you. It is well that I still live!'

1012"He said: 'From Egypt we set out with a caravan and a guard, we embarked upon the sea laden with many kinds of stuff, there pirates (in ships) with sharp (iron) pointed wooden rams slew us. All was lost; I know not how I came hither.'

1013"O lion and sun, this is the reason of our standing here. If we return, our loss will be a hundredfold; if we embark, alas! they may slay us, we have no strength for battle. We cannot stay, we cannot go, the power to maintain ourselves is gone from us."

1014The knight said: "Whoever grieves is nought, and strives in vain; whatever comes from above, we cannot avoid its coming. I am surety for your blood, I take upon myself what you shall shed; whoever fights with you, my sword will wear itself out on your foes."

1015They of the caravan were filled with great joy; they said: "He is some knight, some hero, not timid like us, he has self-confidence, let us be calm in heart." They embarked, they went on board ship, they set out from the coast.

1016With pleasant weather they journeyed without hardship; their convoyer, Avt’handil, leads them with brave heart. A pirate ship appeared with an exceedingly long

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flag; that ship had an (iron-shod) plough with (beam of) wood for shattering ships.

1017(The pirates) yelled and came on, they shouted and trumpeted; the caravan was afraid of the multitude of those warriors. The knight spoke: "Fear not their hardihood; either I slay them all or this is the day of my death.

1018"Nought undecreed can they do to me, even if all the hosts on earth engage me: if it be decreed, I shall not survive, the spears are ready for me, neither strongholds nor friends, not even brothers, can save me; he who knows this is stout-hearted like me.

1019"You merchants are cowards, unskilled in war. Lest they slay you with the arrow from afar, shut the doors behind you. Behold me alone how I fight, how I use my lion-like arms; see how I make the blood of the corsair's crew flow."

1020With gesture like a swift panther he clad his form in armour; in one hand he held an iron mace. He stood forth with dauntless heart in the front of the ship, and as he slew onlookers with his gaze, so he slew foes with his sword.

1021Those warriors yelled; their voices were uninterrupted. They thrust the beam upon which was the plough. The knight stood fearless at the head of the ship, he trembled not; he struck with the mace, he broke the beam, the lion's arm swerved not.

1021(a)The beam was destroyed, and Avt’handil remained with ship unshattered. Those warriors feared, they sought a way to shelter, they could not contrive it in time; he leaped on his foes, threshing them down round about him; there was not left there living man unhacked by him.

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1022With intrepid heart he slew those warriors like goats; some he threw down on the ship, some he cast into the sea; he threw one upon another, eight upon nine and nine upon eight; those who were left were hidden among the corpses, they stifled their cries.

1023As much as his heart desired was he victorious in the fight with them. Some humbly adjured him: "Slay us not, by thy faith!" Those he slew not, he enslaved them, whoever survived his wounds. Truly saith the Apostle: "Fear makes love."

1024O man! boast not of thy strength, brag not drunken like! Might is of none avail if the power of the Lord aid thee not. A tiny spark overcomes, and burns up great trees. If God protect thee, it cuts alike well whether thou strike with a log or a sword.

1025There Avt’handil saw their great treasures. He grappled twin-like ship to ship. He called the caravan. Usam was merry when he saw, he rejoiced, he lamented not, he spoke a eulogy in his praise, he gave form to great imaginings.

1026Praisers of Avt’handil need even a thousand tongues; even they could not tell how fair he appeared after the fight. The caravan shouted, saying: "Lord, thanks to Thee! The sun has shed down on us his beams; the dark night has broken into day for us."

1027They came up to him, they kissed his head, face, feet, hand; they spoke praise unstinted to the fair, the praiseworthy; the sight of him maddens the wise man as well as the fool!" We all are saved by thee in so hard a mischance."

1028The knight said: "Thanks to God, the Creator, Maker of all, by whom the heavenly powers decree what

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is to be done here; ’tis they that do all deeds hidden and some revealed. It is necessary to everyone to believe; a wise man has faith in the future.

1029"God hath deigned to spare your blood, so many souls! I, alas! vain earth, what am I? Of myself, what have I done? Now I have slain your foes, I have fulfilled what I spoke; I have brought you the ship complete with its wealth as a gift."

1030Pleasant it is when a good knight has won the battle, when he has surpassed his comrades who were with him. They congratulated him, they praised him, in this state they were ashamed. The wound becomes him well, but little was he hurt.

1031That day they looked at that ship of the corsairs, they put not off till the morrow. How could they count the quantity of treasure lying there! They conveyed it to their ship, they completely emptied the (pirate) ship; they smashed it up and burned some of it; the wood they bartered not for sixpence.

1032Usam conveyed to Avt’handil a message from the merchants: "We are strengthened by thee; we know our baseness. Whatever we have is thine, of this there can be no doubt; whatever thou givest us, let it be ours, we have made an assembly here."

1033The knight announced: "O brothers, but now ye heard it: the stream which flowed from your eyes has been perceived by God, He hath saved you alive. What am I? What joy, alas! have I given you? What could I do with whatever you gave me? I have myself and my horse!

1034"As much treasure as I desired to amass I had of mine own, countless priceless coverlets of silk. What use

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could I make of yours? What do I want? I am but your companion. Moreover, I have some other dangerous business.

1035"Now, of this countless treasure I have found here, take what you each wish; I shall be a claimant against none. One thing I entreat: grant my request, one not to be mistrusted; I have a certain matter to be kept hidden within you.

1036"Till the time comes, speak not of me as if I were not your master. Say, 'He is our chief,' call me not knight. I will clothe myself as a merchant, I will begin chaffering; keep the secret, by the brotherhood between us."

1037This thing very greatly rejoiced the caravan; they came and saluted him, saying: "It is our hope--the very request we should have made to you, you yourself have made to us--that we may serve him whose face we acknowledge as the face of the sun."

1038Thence they departed and travelled on, they wasted no time; they met fair weather, they sailed ever pleasantly; they delighted in Avt’handil, they sang his praises; they presented him with a pearl of the tint of the knight's teeth.

Next: XXIX. The Story of Avt’handil's Arrival in Gulansharo