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1073"Thou hast written to me; I have read thy letter in praise of me. Thou hast anticipated me, but the burning of the fire (of love) afflicts me more than thee. Thou wishest, I too want thy company uninterrupted. Our union is agreed since it is the desire of both."

1074I cannot tell thee how P’hatman's pleasure increased. She wrote: "The tears I, absent from thee, have shed suffice. Now I shall be unaccompanied, here shalt thou find me alone; hasten my union with thee, to-night when evening falls. Come!"

1075That very night when the letter of invitation was presented to the knight, when twilight was falling and he was going, another slave met him on the way (with the message): "Come not to-night; thou shalt find me unready for thee." This vexed him, he turned not back, he said: "What sort of thing is this?"

1076The invited guest went not back again on the withdrawal of his invitation. P’hatman sits troubled. Avt’handil the tree-like went in alone. He perceived the woman's uneasiness, he saw it forthwith on his going in; she could not reveal it from fear, and also out of complaisance for him.

1077They sat down together and began to kiss, to sport pleasantly, when a certain elegant youth of graceful mien appeared standing in the doorway. He entered; close behind followed a slave with sword and shield. When he saw Avt’handil he was afraid. "It looks," quoth he (to himself), "as if the road were rocky."

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1078When P’hatman saw, she was afraid, she shook and fell a-trembling. (The stranger) gazed with wonder at them lying caressing; he said: "I will not hinder, O woman . . . but when day breaks I shall cause thee to repent that thou hast had this youth.

1079"Thou hast shamed me, O wicked woman, and made me to be despised, but to-morrow thou shalt know the answer to be paid for this deed; I shall make thee to devour thy children with thy teeth; if I fail to do this, spit upon my beard 1, let me run mad in the fields!"

1080Thus he spake, and the man touched his beard 1 and went out of the door. P’hatman began to beat her head, her cheeks were scratched, the gurgling of her tears flowing like a fountain was heard. She said: "Come, stone me with stone, let the throwers approach!"

1081She laments: I have, alas! slain my husband, I have killed off my little children, I have given away as loot our possessions, the peerless cut gems! I am separated from my dear ones! Alas! the upbringer! Alas! the upbrought! I have made an end of myself; shameful are my words!"

1082Avt’handil hearkened to all this in perplexity. He said: "What troubles thee, what say’st thou, why dost thou thus lament, why did that youth threaten thee, what fault found he in thee? Be calm; tell me who he was and on what errand he roved!"

1083The woman replied: "O lion! I am mad with the flow of tears; ask me no more tidings, nought can I tell thee with my tongue. I have slain my children with mine own hand, therefore can I no more be gay; impatient for thy love I have slain myself.

1084"This kind of thing certainly should happen to

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the utterer of idle words, the chatterer who cannot hide a secret, the witless, mad, raving. 'Help me with your lamentations!" This will I say to all who see me. A physician cannot cure one who drinks his own blood!

1085"Do one thing of two: desire nothing more than this: If thou canst kill that man, go, slay him secretly by night; thus shalt thou save me and all my house from slaughter; return, I will tell thee all, the reason why I shed tears.

1086"If not, take away thy loads on asses this very night, escape from my neighbourhood, gather everything for flight. I doubt my sins will fill thee too with woe. If that knight go to court he will mare me eat my children with my mouth."

1087When Avt’handil, the proud, gifted with bold resolve, heard this, he arose and took a mace--how fair, how bold is he! "To ignore this matter would be remissness on my part!" said he. Think not any living is his like; there is none other like unto him!

1088To P’hatman he said: "Give me a man as instructor, as guide, let him show me the road truly, else I want no helper; I cannot look on that man as a warrior and mine equal. What I do I shall tell thee; wait for me, be calm!"

1089The woman gave him a slave as guide and leader. Again she cried out: "Inasmuch as the hot fire is to be cooled, if thou slay that knight to assuage the irritation of my heart, he has my ring, I entreat thee to bring it hither."

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1090Avt’handil of the peerless form passed the city. On the seashore stood a building of red-green stone; in the lower part fair palaces, then above terrace upon terrace, vast, beautiful, numerous, hanging one over the other.

1091Thither is the sun-faced Avt’handil led by his guide, who says to him in a low voice: "This is the palace of him thou seekest." He shows it to him, and says: "Seest thou him standing on yonder terrace? There he lies to sleep; know this, or thou shalt find him sitting."

1092Before the door of that luckless youth lay two guards. The knight (Avt’handil) passed, he stole in without making a sound; he put a hand on each of their throats, forthwith he slew them, he struck head upon head, brain and hair were mingled.


175:1 . . . When a Georgian is angry, he puts his hand to his beard as an invitation to his opponent to insult him if he fail to do what he promises.

Next: XXXIV. Here is the Slaying of the Chachnagir and His Two Guards by Avt’handil