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1099"In this city it is a rule that on New Year's Day no merchant trades, none sets out on a journey; we all straightway begin to deck and beautify ourselves; the sovereigns make a great court banquet.

1100"We great merchants are bound to take presents to court; they (the sovereigns) must give gifts befitting us. For ten days there is heard everywhere the sound of the cymbal and tambourine; in the public square, tilting, ball-play, the stamping of horses.

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1101"My husband, Usen, is the leader of the great merchants, I lead their wives; I need none to invite me; rich or poor, we give, presents to the queen; we entertain ourselves agreeably at court, we come home merry.

1102"New Year's Day was come, we gave our gifts to the queen; we gave to them, they gave to us, we filled them, we were filled. After a time we went forth merry, at our will; again we sat down to rejoice, we were not of their company.

1103"At eventide I went into the garden to sport; I took the ladies with me, it behoved me to entertain; them; I brought with me minstrels, they discoursed sweet song; I played and gambolled like a child, I changed veil and hair.

1104"There in the garden were fair mansions beautifully built, lofty, with a prospect on every side, overhanging the sea. Thither I led the ladies, them that were with me; anew we made a banquet, we sat pleasantly, joyously.

1105"Merry, I entertained the merchants’ wives, pleasantly, in a sisterly way. While drinking, without any cause a distaste came upon me. When they perceived me thus, they separated, all that sat at meat. I was left alone; some sadness fell on my heart like soot.

1106"I opened the window and turned my face to the sea, I looked out, I shook off the sadness growing within me. Far away I saw something small, it floated in the sea, methought a bird or beast; to what else could I liken it?

1107"From afar I could not recognize it; when it came near it was a boat; two men clad in black, and black also of visage, on either side stood close; only a (? woman's) head appeared; they came ashore, that strange sight astonished me.

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1108"They beached the boat; they landed in front the garden. They looked thither, they looked hither, (to see if any anywhere observed them, they saw no creature, nothing alarmed them. Secretly I watched them; I was quiet indoors.

1109"What they landed from the boat in a chest--they took off the lid--was a maiden of wondrous form, who stepped forth; on her head was a black veil, beneath she was clad in green. It would suffice the sun to be like her in beauty.

1110"When the maiden turned towards me, rays rose upon the rock; the lightning of her cheeks flashed over land and sky; I blinked mine eyes, I could no more gaze on her than on the sun; I closed the curtain of the door on my side; they could not perceive that they were watched.

1111"I called four slaves who waited upon me; I pointed: 'See what beauty the Indians hold captive! Steal down, go forth, quietly, not racing hastily. If they will sell her to you, give them the price, whatever they may be wanting.

1112"'If they will not give her to you, let them not: take her away, capture her from them, slay them, bring hither that moon, do the errand well, use your best endeavour!' My slaves stole down from above as if they flew; they chaffered, they sold not. I saw the blacks looked right ill pleased.

1113"I stood at the window; when I saw they would not sell her, I cried: 'Slay them!' They seized them and cut off their heads, they threw them out into the sea; they turned back, they guarded the maiden. I went down to meet her, I took her, she had not tarried long on the. seashore.

1114"How can I tell thee her praise! what loveliness! what delicacy! I swear she is the sun; ’tis untrue that the sun is sun! Who can endure her rays, who can delineate

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her! If she consume me, lo! I am ready, no preparation is needed for this."

1115When she had ended these words, P’hatman rent her face with her hands; Avt’handil, too, wept, he shed hot tears; they forgot each other, for her (Nestan's) sake they became as mad; the spring (of tears) flawing down from above melted the slight new-fallen snow (of the cheek).

1116They wept. The knight said: "Break not off! Conclude!" P’hatman said: "I received her; I made my heart faithful to her. I kissed her every part, and thereby I wearied her. I seated her on my couch, I caressed her, I loved her.

1117"I said to her: 'Tell me, O sun, who thou art or of what race a child! Whither were those Ethiops taking thee, lady of the Pleiads of heaven?' To all these words she made me no answer. I saw a hundred springs of tears dropping from her eyes.

1118"When I pressed her with questions, with much discourse, she wept with gentle voice, sobbing from the heart; a stream flowed through the jetty trough (of her lashes) from the narcissus (eyes), upon the crystal and ruby (of her cheeks). Gazing at her I burned, I became dead-hearted.

1119"She said to me: 'To me thou art a mother, better than a mother. Of what profit can my story be to thee? It is but the tale of a chatterer. A lone wanderer am I, overtaken by an unhappy fate. If thou ask me aught, may the might of the All-seeing curse thee!' (?)

1120"I said (to myself), 'It is not fitting untimeously to carry off and summon the sun; the captor will become mad and wholly lose his wits. A request should be timely,

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the making of every entreaty. How know I not that it not a time to converse with this sun!'

1121"I led away that sun-faced one, (already) praise I cannot call her unpraised. By the longing I have for her, and by her sun (life), I hardly could hide the ray that sun! I enveloped her in many folds of heavy brocade, not thin stuff." The tear hails down, the rose is frostbitten, from the lashes blows a snowy blast.

1122"I led into my home that sun-faced one, an aloe-tree in form. For her I furnished a house, therein I put her very secretly, I told no human being, I kept her privily, with precaution; I caused a negro to serve her; I used to enter, I saw her alone.

1123"How, alas! can I tell thee of her strange behaviour! Day and night weeping unceasing and flowing of tears! I entreated her: 'Hush!' For (but) one moment would she submit. Now without her how do I live; alas! woe is me!

1124"(When) I went in, pools of tears stood before her; in the inky abyss (of her eyes) were strewn jetty lances (eyelashes), from the inky lakes into the bowls full of jet there was a stream, and between the coral and cornelian (of her lips) glittered the twin pearls (rows of teeth).

1125"By reason of the ceaseless flow of tears I could not find time for inquiry. If I asked even, 'Who art thou? what brought thee into this plight?' like a fountain, a

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rivulet of blood gushed forth from the aloe-tree. No human being could endure more, unless made of stone.

1126"No coverlet she wanted, nor mattress to lie upon, she was ever in her veil and one short cloak, her arm she placed as a head-rest and reposed thereon. With a thousand entreaties I could scarce persuade her to eat a little.

1127"By-the-by, I will tell thee of the wonder of the veil and cloak: I have seen all kinds of rare and costly things, but I know not of what sort of stuff hers were made, for it had the softness of woven material and the firmness of forged (metal).

1128"Thus that lovely one tarried long in my house. I could not trust my husband; I feared he would inform. I said to myself: 'If I tell him, I know the rascal will betray my secret at court.' Thus I thought at my frequent goings in and comings out.

1129"I said to myself: 'If I tell him not, what am I to do, what can I do for her? I know not in the least what she wants, nor what any could do to help her. If my husband finds out, he will slay me, nothing can save me; how can I hide that sunlike light!

1130"'I, alas! what can I do alone! The burning of my fires increases. Come, I will trust him, I will not wrong Usen; I will make him swear not to betray me; if he give me full assurance, he cannot doom his soul, he will not be an oath-breaker!'

1131"Alone I went to my husband; I frolicked and fondled him. Then I said to him: 'I will tell thee something, but first swear to me thou wilt tell no human being, give me a binding oath.' He swore a fearful oath: 'May I beat my head on the rocks!

1132"'What thou tellest me I will reveal to no soul, even unto death, neither to old nor young, friend nor foe!' Then I told all to that kind-hearted man, Usen: 'Come,

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[paragraph continues] I will lead thee to a certain place here; come, I will show thee the sun's peer.'

1133"He rose to accompany me, we departed, we entered the palace gates. Usen marvelled; he even quaked when he saw the sunbeams. He said: 'What hast thou shown me, what have I seen, what is she, of what stuff? If she be verily an earthly being, may God's eyes look upon me with wrath!'

1134"I said: 'Nor know I aught of her being a creature of flesh; I have no knowledge more than I have told thee. Let me and thee ask who she is, and who is at fault that such madness afflicts her; perchance she will tell us somewhat, we will pray her to do us this great kindness.'

1135"We went in, we both had a care to show her respect. We said: 'O sun, for thy sake a furnace of flame burns us. Tell us what is the cure for the waning moon, what hath ensaffroned thee who art ruby-like in hue?'

1136"Whether she heard or hearkened not to what we said we know not; the rose was glued together, it showed not the pearl; the serpents (her locks) were twined in disorder; the garden was built with its front to the back; the sun was obscured (eclipsed) by the dragon, it dawned not upon us.

1137"By our converse we could not induce her to answer. The coursing-panther sits sullen-faced, we could not comprehend her wrath; again we annoyed her, she wept tears flowing like a fountain, and, 'I know not! Let me alone!' quoth she; this only with her tongue she said to us.

1138"We sat down and wept with her and poured forth

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tears. What we had spoken to her made us sorry; how could we venture to say aught else? We could scarce persuade her to be quiet, we calmed her, we soothed her; we offered her some fruit, but we could not make her eat at all.

1139"Usen said: 'She has wiped away a multitude of woes from me. Those cheeks are fit for the sun; how can they be kissed by man! Most right is he who sees not her if his sufferings be increased a hundred-and-twenty-fold. If I prefer my children may God slay them!'

1140"A long time we gazed at her, (then) we went forth with sighs and moans; to be with her seemed to us joy, parting grieved us greatly. When we had leisure from affairs of trade we used to see her. Our hearts were inextricably prisoned in her net.

1141"After some time had passed, and nights and days were sped, Usen said to me: 'I have not seen our king since the day before yesterday; if thou advisest me, I will go and see him, I will go and pay my court and present gifts.' I replied: 'Certainly, by God, since such is your desire.'

1142"Usen set out pearls and gems on a tray. I entreated him, saying: 'At court thou wilt meet the drunken court folk. Kill me! if thou be not wary of the story of that maid.' Again he swore to me: 'I will not tell it, may swords strike my head!'

1143"Usen went; he found the king sitting feasting. Usen is the king's boon companion, and the king is his well-wisher. (The king) called him forward; he accepted the gifts he had brought. Now behold the tipsy merchant, how hasty, rash and ill-bred he is!

1144"When the king had drunk before Usen many great goblets, still they quaffed and again filled more tankards and beakers; he forgot those oaths; what (to him were)

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[paragraph continues] Korans and Meccas! Truly is it said: 'A rose befits not a crow, nor do horns suit an ass!'

1145"The great king said to the witless, drunken Usen: 'I marvel much whence thou gettest these gems to give us, (where) thou findest huge pearls and peerless rubies. By my head! I cannot return thee one-tenth for thy gifts!'

1146"Usen saluted, and said: 'O mighty sovereign, shedder of beams from above, O nourisher of creatures, O sun! Whatever else I have, whose is it, be it gold or treasure? What brought I forth from my mother's womb? By you it has been granted to me.

1147"'By your head! I make bold to say that gratitude for gifts beseems you not. I have somewhat else, a daughter-in-law for you, a bride to unite to your son; for this undoubtedly you will thank me when you see the sun's like; then will you oftener say: "Happiness is ours!"'

1148"Why should I lengthen (speech)? He brake his oath, the power of religion; he told of the finding of the maid portrayed by gazers as a sun. This pleased the king greatly; it gave gaiety to his heart. He ordered her conveyance to court and the fulfilment of Usen's utterance.

1149"Pleasantly I was sitting here at home; hitherto I had not sighed. At the door appeared the chief of the king's slaves, he brought with him sixty slaves, as is the custom of kings; they came in, I was much astonished, I said: 'This is some high affair (of state).'

1150"They greeted me: 'P’hatman,' said they, 'it is the command of the equal of the sun: that maid like two suns whom Usen presented to-day, now bring her to me, I shall take her with me; we have not far to go.' When I

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heard this, the heavens overwhelmed me, with wrath hill struck hill (or heap fell on heap).

1151"Thereupon in amazement I inquired: 'What maid do you want, which?' They said to me: 'Usen presented (one with) a face flashing with lightning.' There was nought to be done; the day of the taking away of my soul (i.e., Nestan) was fixed. I trembled, I could not rise, neither could I remain sitting.

1152"I went in; I saw that lovely one weeping and flooded in tears. I said: 'O sun, seest thou fully how black fate hath played me false! Heaven is turned towards me in wrath, I am despoiled, I am wholly uprooted; I am denounced, the king asketh for thee, therefore am I heartbroken.'

1153"She said to me: 'Sister, marvel not, however hard this may be! Luckless Fate hath ever been a doer of ill upon me; if some good had befallen me thou mightest have wondered, what marvel is evil? All kinds of woe are not new to me, old are they.'

1154"Her eyes poured forth frequent tears like pearls. She rose as fearless as if she were a panther or a hero; joy no longer seemed joy nor did woe seem woe to her. She begged me to cover her form and face with a veil.

1155"I went into the treasure-house; I took out gems and pearls on which no price was set, as much as I could, every single separate one was worth a city. I went back; I girded them round the waist of her for whose sake my black (sad) heart was dying.

1156"I said: 'O my (dear one)! Perchance this sort of thing may somewhere be of use to thee!' I gave that face, the sun's peer, into the hands of the slaves. The

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king was warned, he met her; the kettledrum was beaten, there was hubbub. She went forward with bent head, calm, saying nought.

1157"Onlookers flocked upon her, there was trampling and uproar; the officers could not hold them back, there was no quiet there. When the king saw her, cypress-like, coming towards him, he said in amazement: 'O sun, how art thou brought hither (from heaven)?' (or, 'how contest thou hither?')

1158"Sun-like, she made those who gazed on her to blink. The king deigned to say: 'I have seen (sights), she hath turned me into (one) who has seen nought. Who but God could imagine her? Right is he who is in love with her if he, wretched, roam mad in deserts!'

1159"He seated her at his side, he talked to her with sweet discourse; quoth he: 'Tell me who art thou, whose art thou, of what race art thou come?' With her sun-like face she gave no answer; with bowed head, of gentle mien, sorrowful she sits.

1160"Whatever he said, she hearkened not to the king. Elsewhere was her heart; of somewhat else she thought. The roses were glued together; she opened not the pearl. She made them that looked on her wonder of what she thought.

1161"The king said: 'What can we think of? with what can we comfort our heart? There can be no opinion save these two: Either she is in love with someone, she is thinking of her beloved, save him she has no leisure for any, to none can she speak;

1162"'Or she is some sage, lofty and high-seeing ; joy

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seems not joy to her, nor sorrow wheal it is heaped on sorrow, as a tale she looks on misfortune and happiness alike; she is elsewhere, elsewhere she soars, her mind is like a dove's.

1163"'God grant my son come home victorious. I will have for his home-coming this sun ready for him; perchance he will make her say something, and we also shall know what is revealed; till then, let the moon rest with waning ray far sundered from the sun.'

1164"Of the king's son I will tell thee: a good, fearless youth, peerless in valour and beauty, fair in face and form; at that time he was gone forth to war, there had he tarried long; for him his father prepared her, the starlike one.

1165"They brought her and apparelled her form in maidenly garb; on it was seen many a ray of glittering gems, on her head they set a crown of a whole ruby, there the rose was beautified by the colour of the transparent crystal (of her face).

1166"The king commanded: 'Deck the chamber of the princess royal.' They set up a couch of gold, of red of the Occident. The great king himself, the lord of the whole palace, arose and set thereon that sun, the joy of the heart of beholders.

1167"He commanded nine eunuchs to stand guard at the door. The king sat down to a feast befitting their race; to Usen he gave immeasurable (gifts) as a return for that peer of the sun; they made trumpet and kettledrum to sound for the increasing of the noise.

1168"They prolonged the feasting; the drinking went on exceeding long. The sun-faced maiden says to Fate: 'What a murderous fate have I! Whence am I come

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hither, to whom shall I belong, for whose sake am I mad? What shall I do? What shall I undertake? What will avail me? A very hard life have I!'

1169"Again she says: 'I will not wither the rose-like beauty. I will attempt somewhat; perchance God will protect me from my foe. What reasonable man slays himself before death (comes)? When he is in trouble, then it needs that the intelligent should have his wits!'

1170"She called the eunuchs, and said: 'Hearken, come to reason! You are deceived, mistaken as to my royalty; your lord is in error in desiring me for a daughter-in-law. In vain, alas! sounds he for me the trumpet, the kettledrum and clarion.

1171"'I am not suited to be your queen; elsewhither leads my path. God keep man far from me, be he sun-faced, cypress-formed! You beg of me something different; my business is of another kind. With you my life beseems me not.

1172"'Without fail I shall slay myself, I shall strike a knife into my heart; your lord will kill you, you will have no time of tarrying in the world. This then is better: I will give you the weighty treasure wherewith my waist is girded, let me steal away, let me go free, lest you regret.'

1173"She undid the pearls and gems that girdled her; she doffed, too, the crown, transparent, of a whole ruby; she gave them, she said: 'Take them, with burning heart I implore you; let me go, and you will have paid a great debt to your God!'

1174"The slaves were greedy for her costly treasure, they forgot the fear of the king as of a bellman, they resolved to let her of the peerless face escape. See what gold doth, that crook from a devilish root!

1175"Gold never gives joy to them that love it; till the

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day of death greed makes them gnash their teeth. (Gold) comes in and goes out, they murmur at the course of the planets when it is lacking; moreover it binds the soul here (in this world), and hinders it from soaring up.

1176"When the eunuchs had ended the matter as she wished, one took off his garment and gave it to her; they passed through other doors (because) the great hall was full of drunken men. The moon remained full, unswallowed by the serpent.

1177"The slaves, too, disappeared; they stole forth with her. The maiden knocked at my door, and asked for me, P’hatman. I went, I knew her, I embraced her, was I not surprised! She would not come in with me at all, saying: 'Why dost thou invite me?' I regretted it.

1178"She said to me: 'I have bought myself with what thou gavest me. May God in return reward thee with heavenly favour! No longer canst thou hide me, let me go, send me off swiftly on horseback ere the king get wit and send men to gallop in pursuit.'

1179"Swiftly I entered the stable, I loosed the best steed, I saddled it, set her upon it; cheerful was she, not sighing. She was like the sun, the best of heaven's lights, when it mounts the Lion 1My labour was lost; I could not harvest what I had sown.

1180"The day drew down to evening, the rumour spread, her pursuers came; inside the city was a state of siege, they raised a hue and cry; they questioned me, I said: 'If you find her there in the house where I am, may I be guilty towards the kings and answerable for their blood-money.'

1181"They sought, nought could they discover, they returned abashed. From that time the king and all his familiars mourn. Behold the palace folk; they go in (clad

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in raiment) dyed violet colour 1. The sun went away from us; since then we lack light.

1182"Now I shall narrate to thee anon the whereabouts of that moon, but first of all I will tell thee why that man threatened me. I, alas! was his doe; he was my buck; Timidity slurs a man, and wantonness a woman.

1183"I am not content with my husband, for he is lean and ill-favoured; this man, the Chachnagir, was a gentleman high at court; we loved each other, though I shall wear no mourning weeds for him; would that one might give me a cup of his blood to sip!

1184"Like a woman, like a fool, I told him this story of the coming of that sun to me, and of her stealing away like a fox; he threatened me with exposure, not like a friend, like a foe. Now when I think of him as a corpse, ah! how relieved am I!

1185"Whenever we quarrelled alone he menaced me. When I called thee I did not think he was at home; he had arrived, he told me of his coming. Thou also wert coming; I was afraid, so I begged thee: 'Do not come!' I sent a slave to meet thee.

1186"You turned not back, you came, you brought beams of light to me; you both met, you were assembled to fight over me, so I feared, I could think of no way. He, alas! desired my death in his heart, and not (only) with his tongue.

1187"If thou hadst not slain him, and if he had gone forthwith to court, in his wrath he would have denounced me, (for) his heart was burned as with fire; the angry king

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would have cleared away my house at one swoop, he would, O God! have made me eat my children, then he would have stoned me with stone.

1188"God reward thee in return--what thanks can I render thee! thee who hast delivered me safe from that serpent's gaze! Now henceforth I can be happy in my star and fate! No longer do I fear death. Ha! ha! . . ."

1189Avt’handil said: "Fear not! even in the book is it thus written: 'Of all foes the most hateful is the friend-foe; if a man be wise, he will not heartily confide.' Fear I no more from him, now is he corpse-like.

1190"Tell me the same story--since thou spedst the maiden, all the tidings thou hast learned or heard of her." Again P’hatman spoke weeping; again the tear flowed from her eyes. Quoth she: "The ray which sun-like illumined the fields was brought to nought."


191:1 i.e., when it enters Leo.

192:1 For mourning, 1479.

Next: XXXVI. The Story of the Capture of Nestan-Daredjan by the Kadjis, Told by P’hatman to Avt’handil