The Epic of Kings
Translated by Helen Zimmern
Rustem and Sohrab
Give ear unto the combat of Sohrab
against Rustem, though it be a tale replete with tears.
It came about that on a certain day
Rustem arose from his couch, and his mind was filled with
forebodings. He bethought him therefore to go out to the
chase. So he saddled Rakush and made ready his quiver with
arrows. Then he turned him unto the wilds that lie near
Turan, even in the direction of the city of Samengan. And
when he was come nigh unto it, he started a herd of asses
and made sport among them till that he was weary of the
hunt. Then he caught one and slew it and roasted it for his
meal, and when he had eaten it and broken the bones for the
marrow, he laid himself down to slumber, and Rakush cropped
the pasture beside him.
Now while the hero was sleeping
there passed by seven knights of Turan, and they beheld
Rakush and coveted him. So they threw their cords at him to
ensnare him. But Rakush, when he beheld their design, pawed
the ground in anger, and fell upon them as he had fallen
upon the lion. And of one man he bit off the head, and
another he struck down under his hoofs, and he would have
overcome them all, but they were too many. So they ensnared
him and led him into the city, thinking in their hearts,
"Verily a goodly capture have we made." But Rustem when he
awoke from his slumbers was downcast and sore grieved when
he saw not his steed, and he said unto himself-
"How can I stand against the Turks,
and how can I traverse the desert alone?"
And his heart was full of trouble.
Then he sought for the traces of the horse's hoofs, and he
followed them, and they led him even unto the gates of the
city. Now when those within beheld Rustem, and that he came
before them on foot, the King and the nobles came forth to
greet him, and inquired of him how this was come about. Then
Rustem told them how Rakush was vanished while he slumbered,
and how he had followed his track even unto these gates. And
he sware a great oath, and vowed that if his courser were
not restored unto him many heads should quit their trunks.
Then the King of Samengan, when he saw that Rustem was
beside himself with anger, spoke words of soothing, and said
that none of his people should do wrong unto the hero; and
he begged him that he would enter into his house and abide
with him until that search had been made, saying-
"Surely Rakush cannot be hid."
And Rustem was satisfied at these words, and cast suspicion
from his spirit, and entered the house of the King, and
feasted with him, and beguiled the hours with wine. And the
King rejoiced in his guest, and encompassed him with sweet
singers and all honour. And when the night was fallen the
King himself led Rustem unto a couch perfumed with musk and
roses, and he bade him slumber sweetly until the morning.
And he declared to him yet again that all was well for him
and for his steed.
Now when a portion of the night was
spent, and the star of morning stood high in the arch of
heaven, the door of Rustem's chamber was opened, and a
murmur of soft voices came in from the threshold. And there
stepped within a slave bearing a lamp perfumed with amber,
and a woman whose beauty was veiled came after her. And as
she moved musk was scattered from her robes. And the women
came nigh unto the bed of the hero heavy with wine and
slumber. And he was amazed when he saw them. And when he had
roused him somewhat he spake and said-
"Who art thou, and what is thy name
and thy desire, and what seekest thou from me in the dark
Then the Peri-faced answered him,
saying, "I am Tahmineh, the daughter of the King of
Samengan, of the race of the leopard and the lion, and none
of the princes of this earth are worthy of my hand, neither
hath any man seen me unveiled. But my heart is torn with
anguish, and my spirit is tossed with desire, for I have
heard of thy deeds of prowess, and how thou fearest neither
Deev nor lion, neither leopard nor crocodile, and how thy
hand is swift to strike, and how thou didst venture alone
into Mazinderan, and how wild asses are devoured of thee,
and how the earth groaneth under the tread of thy feet, and
how men perish at thy blows, and how even the eagle dareth
not swoop down upon her prey when she beholdeth thy sword.
These things and more have they told unto me, and mine eyes
have yearned to look upon thy face. And now hath God brought
thee within the gates of my father, and I am come to say
unto thee that I am thine if thou wilt hear me, and if thou
wilt not, none other will I espouse. And consider, O
Pehliva, how that love hath obscured mine understanding and
withdrawn me from the bosom of discretion, yet peradventure
God will grant unto me a son like to thee for strength and
valour, to whom shall be given the empire of the world. And
if thou wilt listen unto me, I will lead forth before thee
Rakush thy steed, and I will place under thy feet the land
Now while this moon of beauty was
yet speaking, Rustem regarded her. And he saw that she was
fair, and that wisdom abode in her mind; and when he heard
of Rakush, his spirit was decided within him, and he held
that this adventure could not end save gloriously. So he
sent a Mubid unto the King and demanded the hand of Tahmineh
from her father. And the King, when he heard the news, was
rejoiced, and gave his daughter unto the Pehliva, and they
concluded an alliance according to custom and the rites. And
all men, young and old, within the house and city of the
King were glad at this alliance, and called down blessings
Now Rustem, when he was alone with
the Peri-faced, took from his arm an onyx that was known
unto all the world. And he gave it to her, and said-
"Cherish this jewel, and if Heaven
cause thee to give birth unto a daughter, fasten it within
her locks, and it will shield her from evil; but if it be
granted unto thee to bring forth a son, fasten it upon his
arm, that he may wear it like his father. And he shall be
strong as Keriman, of stature like unto Saum the son of
Neriman, and of grace of speech like unto Zal, my father."
The Peri-faced, when she had heard
these words, was glad in his presence. But when the day was
passed there came in unto them the King her father, and he
told Rustem how that tidings of Rakush were come unto his
ears, and how that the courser would shortly be within the
gates. And Rustem, when he heard it, was filled with longing
after his steed, and when he knew that he was come he
hastened forth to caress him. And with his own hands he
fastened the saddle, and gave thanks unto Ormuzd, who had
restored his joy between his hands. Then he knew that the
time to depart was come. And he opened his arms and took
unto his heart Tahmineh the fair of face, and he bathed her
cheek with his tears and covered her hair with kisses. Then
he flung him upon Rakush, and the swift-footed bare him
quickly from out of her sight. And Tahmineh was sorrowful
exceedingly, and Rustem too was filled with thoughts as he
turned him back into Zaboulistan. And he pondered this
adventure in his heart, but to no man did he speak of what
he had seen or done.
Now when nine moons had run their
course there was born unto Tahmineh a son in the likeness of
his father, a babe whose mouth was filled with smiles,
wherefore men called him Sohrab. And when he numbered but
one month he was like unto a child of twelve, and when he
numbered five years he was skilled in arms and all the arts
of war, and when ten years were rolled above his head there
was none in the land that could resist him in the games of
strength. Then he came before his mother and spake words of
daring. And he said-
"Since I am taller and stouter than
my peers, teach unto me my race and lineage, and what I
shall say when men ask me the name of my sire. But if thou
refuse an answer unto my demands, I will strike thee out
from the rolls of the living."
When Tahmineh beheld the ardour of
her son, she smiled in her spirit because that his fire was
like to that of his father. And she opened her mouth and
"Hear my words, O my son, and be
glad in thine heart, neither give way in thy spirit to
anger. For thou art the offspring of Rustem, thou art
descended from the seed of Saum and Zal, and Neriman was thy
forefather. And since God made the world it hath held none
like unto Rustem, thy sire."
Then she showed to him a letter
written by the Pehliva, and gave to him the gold and jewels
Rustem had sent at his birth. And she spake and said-
"Cherish these gifts with gratitude,
for it is thy father who hath sent them. Yet remember, O my
son, that thou close thy lips concerning these things; for
Turan groaneth under the hand of Afrasiyab, and he is foe
unto Rustem the glorious. If, therefore, he should learn of
thee, he would seek to destroy the son for hatred of the
sire. Moreover, O my boy, if Rustem learned that thou wert
become a mountain of valour, perchance he would demand thee
at my hands, and the sorrow of thy loss would crush the
heart of thy mother."
But Sohrab replied, "Nought can be
hidden upon earth for aye. To all men are known the deeds of
Rustem, and since my birth be thus noble, wherefore hast
thou kept it dark from me so long? I will go forth with an
army of brave Turks and lead them unto Iran, I will cast Kai
Kaous from off his throne, I will give to Rustem the crown
of the Kaianides, and together we will subdue the land of
Turan, and Afrasiyab shall be slain by my hands. Then will I
mount the throne in his stead. But thou shalt be called
Queen of Iran. for since Rustem is my father and I am his
son no other kings shall rule in this world, for to us alone
behoveth it to wear the crowns of might. And I pant in
longing after the battlefield, and I desire that the world
should behold my prowess. But a horse is needful unto me, a
steed tall and strong of power to bear me, for it beseemeth
me not to go on foot before mine enemies."
Now Tahmineh, when she had heard the
words of this boy, rejoiced in her soul at his courage. So
she bade the guardians of the flocks lead out the horses
before Sohrab her son. And they did as she had bidden, and
Sohrab surveyed the steeds, and tested their strength like
as his father had done before him of old, and he bowed them
under his hand, and he could not be satisfied. And thus for
many days did he seek a worthy steed. Then one came before
him and told of a foal sprung from Rakush, the swift of
foot. When Sohrab heard the tidings he smiled, and bade that
the foal be led before him. And he tested it and found it to
be strong. So he saddled it and sprang upon its back and
"Now that I own a horse like thee,
the world shall be made dark to many."
Then he made ready for war against
Iran, and the nobles and warriors flocked around him. And
when all was in order Sohrab came before his grandsire and
craved his counsel and his aid to go forth into the land of
Iran and seek out his father. And the King of Samengan, when
he heard these wishes, deemed them to be just, and he opened
the doors of his treasures without stint and gave unto
Sohrab of his wealth, for he was filled with pleasure at
this boy. And he invested Sohrab with all the honours of a
King, and he bestowed on him all the marks of his good
Meantime a certain man brought news
unto Afrasiyab that Sohrab was making ready an army to fall
upon Iran, and to cast Kai Kaous from off his throne. And he
told Afrasiyab how the courage and valour of Sohrab exceeded
words. And Afrasiyab, when he heard this, hid not his
contentment, and he called before him Human and Barman, the
doughty. Then he bade them gather together an army and join
the ranks of Sohrab, and he confided to them his secret
purpose, but he enjoined them to tell no man thereof. For he
"Into our hands hath it been given
to settle the course of the world. For it is known unto me
that Sohrab is sprung from Rustem the Pehliva, but from
Rustem must it be hidden who it is that goeth out against
him, then peradventure he will perish by the hands of this
young lion, and Iran, devoid of Rustem, will fall a prey
into my hands. Then will we subdue Sohrab also, and all the
world will be ours. But if it be written that Sohrab fall
under the hand of Tehemten, then the grief he shall endure
when he shall learn that he hath slain his son will bring
him to the grave for sorrow."
So spake Afrasiyab in his guile, and
when he had done unveiling his black heart he bade the
warriors depart unto Samengan. And they bare with them gifts
of great price to pour before the face of Sohrab. And they
bare also a letter filled with soft words. And in the letter
Afrasiyab lauded Sohrab for his resolve, and told him how
that if Iran be subdued the world would henceforth know
peace, for upon his own head would he place the crown of the
Kaianides; and Turan, Iran, and Samengan should be as one
When Sohrab had read this letter,
and saw the gifts and the aid sent out to him, he rejoiced
aloud, for he deemed that now none could withstand his
might. So he caused the cymbals of departure to be clashed,
and the army made them ready to go forth. Then Sohrab led
them into the land of Iran. And their track was marked by
desolation and destruction, for they spared nothing that
they passed. And they spread fire and dismay abroad, and
they marched on unstayed until they came unto the White
Castle, the fortress wherein Iran put its trust.
Now the guardian of the castle was
named Hujir, and there lived with him Gustahem the brave,
but he was grown old, and could aid no longer save with his
counsels. And there abode also his daughter Gurdafrid, a
warlike maid, firm in the saddle, and practised in the
fight. Now when Hujir beheld from afar a dusky cloud of
armed men he came forth to meet them. And Sohrab, when he
saw him, drew his sword, and demanded his name, and bade him
prepare to meet his end. And he taunted him with rashness
that he was come forth thus unaided to stand against a lion.
But Hujir answered Sohrab with taunts again, and vowed that
he would sever his head from his trunk and send it for a
trophy unto the Shah. Yet Sohrab only smiled when he heard
these words, and he challenged Hujir to come near. And they
met in combat, and wrestled sore one with another, and
stalwart were their strokes and strong; but Sohrab overcame
Hujir as though he were an infant, and he bound him and sent
him captive unto Human.
But when those within the castle
learned that their chief was bound they raised great
lamentation, and their fears were sore. And Gurdafrid too,
when she learned it, was grieved, but she was ashamed also
for the fate of Hujir. So she took forth burnished mail and
clad herself therein, and she hid her tresses under a helmet
of Roum, and she mounted a steed of battle and came forth
before the walls like to a warrior. And she uttered a cry of
thunder, and flung it amid the ranks of Turan, and she
defied the champions to come forth to single combat. And
none came, for they beheld her how she was strong, and they
knew not that it was a woman, and they were afraid. But
Sohrab, when he saw it, stepped forth and said-
"I will accept thy challenge, and a
second prize will fall into my hands."
Then he girded himself and made
ready for the fight. And the maid, when she saw he was
ready, rained arrows upon him with art, and they fell quick
like hail, and whizzed about his head; and Sohrab, when he
saw it, could not defend himself, and was angry and ashamed.
Then he covered his head with a shield and ran at the maid.
But she, when she saw him approach, dropped her bow and
couched a lance, and thrust at Sohrab with vigour, and shook
him mightily, and it wanted little and she would have thrown
him from his seat. And Sohrab was amazed, and his wrath knew
no bounds. Then he ran at Gurdafrid with fury, and seized
the reins of her steed, and caught her by the waist, and
tore her armour, and threw her upon the ground. Yet ere he
could raise his hand to strike her, she drew her sword and
shivered his lance in twain, and leaped again upon her
steed. And when she saw that the day was hers, she was weary
of further combat, and she sped back unto the fortress. But
Sohrab gave rein unto his horse, and followed after her in
his great anger. And he caught her, and seized her, and tore
the helmet from off her head, for he desired to look upon
the face of the man who could withstand the son of Rustem.
And lo! when he had done so, there rolled forth from the
helmet coils of dusky hue, and Sohrab beheld it was a woman
that had overcome him in the fight. And he was confounded.
But when he had found speech he said-
"If the daughters of Iran are like
to thee, and go forth unto battle, none can stand against
Then he took his cord and threw it
about her, and bound her in its snare, saying-
"Seek not to escape me, O moon of
beauty, for never hath prey like unto thee fallen between my
Then Gurdafrid, full of wile, turned
unto him her face that was unveiled, for she beheld no other
means of safety, and she said unto him-
"O hero without flaw, is it well
that thou shouldest seek to make me captive, and show me
unto the army? For they have beheld our combat, and that I
overcame thee, and surely now they will gibe when they learn
that thy strength was withstood by a woman. Better would it
beseem thee to hide this adventure, lest thy cheeks have
cause to blush because of me. Therefore let us conclude a
peace together. The castle shall be thine, and all it holds;
follow after me then, and take possession of thine own."
Now Sohrab, when he had listened,
was beguiled by her words and her beauty, and he said-
"Thou dost wisely to make peace with
me, for verily these walls could not resist my might."
And he followed after her unto the
heights of the castle, and he stood with her before its
gates. And Gustahem, when he saw them, opened the portal,
and Gurdafrid stepped within the threshold, but when Sohrab
would have followed after her she shut the door upon him.
Then Sohrab saw that she had befooled him, and his fury knew
no bounds. But ere he was recovered from his surprise she
came out upon the battlements and scoffed at him, and
counselled him to go back whence he was come; for surely,
since he could not stand against a woman, he would fall an
easy prey before Rustem, when the Pehliva should have
learned that robbers from Turan were broken into the land.
And Sohrab was made yet madder for her words, and he
departed from the walls in his wrath, and rode far in his
anger, and spread terror in his path. And he vowed that he
would yet bring the maid into subjection.
In the meantime Gustahem the aged
called before him a scribe, and bade him write unto Kai
Kaous all that was come about, and how an army was come
forth from Turan, at whose head rode a chief that was a
child in years, a lion in strength and stature. And he told
how Hujir had been bound, and how the fortress was like to
fall into the hands of the enemy; for there were none to
defend it save only his daughter and himself and he craved
the Shah to come to their aid.
Albeit when the day had followed yet
again upon the night, Sohrab made ready his host to fall
upon the castle. But when he came near thereto he found it
was empty, and the doors thereof stood open, and no warriors
appeared upon its walls. And he was surprised, for he knew
not that in the darkness the inmates were fled by a passage
that was hidden under the earth. And he searched the
building for Gurdafrid, for his heart yearned after her in
love, and he cried aloud-
"Woe, woe is me that this moon is
vanished behind the clouds!"
Now when Kai Kaous had gotten the writing of Gustahem, he
was sore afflicted and much afraid, and he called about him
his nobles and asked their counsels. And he said-
"Who shall stand against this Turk?
For Gustahem doth liken him in power unto Rustem, and saith
he resembleth the seed of Neriman."
Then the warriors cried with one
accord, "Unto Rustem alone can we look in this danger!"
And Kai Kaous hearkened to their
voice, and he called for a scribe and dictated unto him a
letter. And he wrote unto his Pehliva, and invoked the
blessings of Heaven upon his head, and he told him all that
was come to pass, and how new dangers threatened Iran, and
how to Rustem alone could he look for help in his trouble.
And he recalled unto Tehemten all that he had done for him
in the days that were gone by, and he entreated him once
again to be his refuge. And he said-
"When thou shalt receive this
letter, stay not to speak the word that hangeth upon thy
lips; and if thou bearest roses in thy hands, stop not to
smell them, but haste thee to help us in our need."
Then Kai Kaous sent forth Gew with
this writing unto Zaboulistan, and bade him neither rest nor
tarry until he should stand before the face of Rustem. And
"When thou hast done my behest, turn
thee again unto me; neither abide within the courts of the
Pehliva, nor linger by the roadside."
And Gew did as the Shah commanded,
and took neither food nor rest till he set foot within the
gates of Rustem. And Rustem greeted him kindly, and asked
him of his mission; and when he had read the writing of the
Shah, he questioned Gew concerning Sohrab. For he said-
"I should not marvel if such an hero
arose in Iran, but that a warrior of renown should come
forth from amid the Turks, I cannot believe it. But thou
sayest none knoweth whence cometh this knight. I have myself
a son in Samengan, but he is yet an infant, and his mother
writeth to me that he rejoiceth in the sports of his age,
and though he be like to become a hero among men, his time
is not yet come to lead forth an army. And that which thou
sayest hath been done, surely it is not the work of a babe.
But enter, I pray thee, into my house, and we will confer
together concerning this adventure."
Then Rustem bade his cooks make
ready a banquet, and he feasted Gew, and troubled his head
with wine, and caused him to forget cares and time. But when
morn was come Gew remembered the commands of the Shah that
he tarry not, but return with all speed, and he spake
thereof to Rustem, and prayed him to make known his resolve.
But Rustem spake, saying-
"Disquiet not thyself, for death
will surely fall upon these men of Turan. Stay with me yet
another day and rest, and water thy lips that are parched.
For though this Sohrab be a hero like to Saum and Zal and
Neriman, verily he shall fall by my hands."
And he made ready yet another
banquet, and three days they caroused without ceasing. But
on the fourth Gew uprose with resolve, and came before
Rustem girt for departure. And he said-
"It behoveth me to return, O
Pehliva, for I bethink me how Kai Kaous is a man hard and
choleric, and the fear of Sohrab weigheth upon his heart,
and his soul burneth with impatience, and he hath lost
sleep, and hath hunger and thirst on this account. And he
will be wroth against us if we delay yet longer to do his
Then Rustem said, "Fear not, for
none on earth dare be angered with me."
But he did as Gew desired, and made
ready his army, and saddled Rakush, and set forth from
Zaboulistan, and a great train followed after him.
Now when they came nigh unto the
courts of the Shah, the nobles came forth to meet them, and
do homage before Rustem. And when they were come in Rustem
gat him from Rakush and hastened into the presence of his
lord. But Kai Kaous, when he beheld him, was angry, and
spake not, and his brows were knit with fury; and when
Rustem had done obeisance before him, he unlocked the doors
of his mouth, and words of folly escaped his lips. And he
"Who is Rustem, that he defieth my
power and disregardeth my commands? If I had a sword within
my grasp I would split his head like to an orange. Seize
him, I command, and hang him upon the nearest gallows, and
let his name be never spoken in my presence."
When he heard these words Gew
trembled in his heart, but he said, "Dost thou put forth thy
hand against Rustem?"
And the Shah when he heard it was
beside himself, and he cried with a loud voice that Gew be
hanged together with the other; and he bade Tus lead them
forth. And Tus would have led them out, for he hoped the
anger of the Shah would be appeased; but Rustem broke from
his grasp and stood before Kai Kaous, and all the nobles
were filled with fear when they saw his anger. And he flung
reproaches at Kai Kaous, and he recalled to him his follies,
and the march into Mazinderan and Hamaveran, and his flight
into Heaven; and he reminded him how that but for Rustem he
would not now be seated upon the throne of light. And he
bade him threaten Sohrab the Turk with his gallows, and he
"I am a free man and no slave, and
am servant alone unto God; and without Rustem Kai Kaous is
as nothing. And the world is subject unto me, and Rakush is
my throne, and my sword is my seal, and my helmet my crown.
And but for me, who called forth Kai Kobad, thine eyes had
never looked upon this throne. And had I desired it I could
have sat upon its seat. But now am I weary of thy follies,
and I will turn me away from Iran, and when this Turk shall
have put you under his yoke I shall not learn thereof."
Then he turned him and strode from
out the presence-chamber. And he sprang upon Rakush, who
waited without, and he was vanished from before their eyes
ere yet the nobles had rallied from their astonishment. And
they were downcast and oppressed with boding cares, and they
held counsel among themselves what to do; for Rustem was
their mainstay, and they knew that, bereft of his arm and
counsel, they could not stand against this Turk. And they
blamed Kai Kaous, and counted over the good deeds that
Rustem had done for him, and they pondered and spake long.
And in the end they resolved to send a messenger unto Kai
Kaous, and they chose from their midst Gudarz the aged, and
bade him stand before the Shah. And Gudarz did as they
desired, and he spake long and without fear, and he counted
over each deed that had been done by Rustem; and he
reproached the Shah with his ingratitude, and he said how
Rustem was the shepherd, and how the flock could not be led
without its leader. And Kai Kaous heard him unto the end,
and he knew that his words were the words of reason and
truth, and he was ashamed of that which he had done, and
confounded when he beheld his acts thus naked before him.
And he humbled himself before Gudarz, and said-
"That which thou sayest, surely it
And he entreated Gudarz to go forth and seek Rustem, and bid
him forget the evil words of his Shah, and bring him back to
the succour of Iran. And Gudarz hastened forth to do as Kai
Kaous desired, and he told the nobles of his mission and
they joined themselves unto him, and all the chiefs of Iran
went forth in quest of Rustem. And when they had found him,
they prostrated themselves into the dust before him, and
Gudarz told him of his mission, and he prayed him to
remember that Kai Kaous was a man devoid of understanding,
whose thoughts flowed over like to new wine that fermenteth.
And he said-
"Though Rustem be angered against
the King, yet hath the land of Iran done no wrong that it
should perish at his hands. Yet, if Rustem save it not,
surely it will fall under this Turk."
But Rustem said, "My patience hath
an end, and I fear none but God. What is this Kai Kaous that
he should anger me? and what am I that I have need of him? I
have not deserved the evil words that he spake unto me, but
now will I think of them no longer, but cast aside all
thoughts of Iran."
When the nobles heard these words
they grew pale, and fear took hold on their hearts. But
Gudarz, full of wisdom, opened his mouth and said-
"O Pehliva! the land, when it shall
learn of this, will deem that Rustem is fled before the face
of this Turk; and when men shall believe that Tehemten is
afraid, they will cease to combat, and Iran will be
downtrodden at his hands. Turn thee not, therefore, at this
hour from thy allegiance to the Shah, and tarnish not thy
glory by this retreat, neither suffer that the downfall of
Iran rest upon thy head. Put from thee, therefore, the words
that Kai Kaous spake in his empty anger, and lead us forth
to battle against this Turk. For it must not be spoken that
Rustem feared to fight a beardless boy."
And Rustem listened and pondered
these words in his heart, and knew that they were good. But
"Fear hath never been known of me,
neither hath Rustem shunned the din of arms, and I depart
not because of Sohrab, but because that scorn and insult
have been my recompense."
Yet when he had pondered a while
longer, he saw that he must return unto the Shah. So he did
that which he knew to be right, and he rode till he came
unto the gates of Kai Kaous, and he strode with a proud step
into his presence.
Now when the Shah beheld Rustem from
afar, he stepped down from off his throne and came before
his Pehliva, and craved his pardon for that which was come
about. And he said how he had been angered because Rustem
had tarried in his coming, and how haste was his birthright,
and how he had forgotten himself in his vexation. But now
was his mouth filled with the dust of repentance. And Rustem
"The world is the Shah's, and it
behoveth thee to do as beseemeth thee best with thy
servants. And until old age shall my loins be girt in fealty
unto thee. And may power and majesty be thine for ever!"
And Kai Kaous answered and said, "O
my Pehliva, may thy days be blessed unto the end!"
Then he invited him to feast with
him, and they drank wine till far into the night, and held
counsel together how they should act; and slaves poured rich
gifts before Rustem, and the nobles rejoiced, and all was
well again within the gates of the King.
Then when the sun had risen and
clothed the world with love, the clarions of war were
sounded throughout the city, and men made them ready to go
forth in enmity before the Turks. And the legions of Persia
came forth at the behest of their Shah, and their countless
thousands hid the earth under their feet, and the air was
darkened by their spears. And when they were come unto the
plains where stood the fortress of Hujir, they set up their
tents as was their manner. So the watchmen saw them from the
battlements, and he set up a great cry. And Sohrab heard the
cry, and questioned the man wherefore he shouted; and when
he learned that the enemy were come, he rejoiced, and
demanded a cup of wine, and drank to their destruction. Then
he called forth Human and showed him the army, and bade him
be of good cheer, for he said that he saw within its ranks
no hero of mighty mace who could stand against himself. So
he bade his warriors to a banquet of wine, and he said that
they would feast until the time was come to meet their foes
in battle. And they did as Sohrab said.
Now when night had thrown her mantle
over the earth, Rustem came before the Shah and craved that
he would suffer him to go forth beyond the camp that he
might see what manner of man was this stripling. And Kai
Kaous granted his request, and said that it was worthy a
Pehliva of renown. Then Rustem went forth disguised in the
garb of a Turk, and he entered the castle in secret, and he
came within the chamber where Sohrab held his feast. Now
when he had looked upon the boy he saw that he was like to a
tall cypress of good sap, and that his arms were sinewy and
strong like to the flanks of a camel, and that his stature
was that of a hero. And he saw that round about him stood
brave warriors. And slaves with golden bugles poured wine
before them, and they were all glad, neither did they dream
of sorrow. Then it came about that while Rustem regarded
them, Zindeh changed his seat and came nigh unto the spot
where Rustem was watching. Now Zindeh was brother unto
Tahmineh, and she had sent him forth with her son that he
might point out to him his father, whom he alone knew of all
the army, and she did it that harm might not befall if the
heroes should meet in battle. Now Zindeh, when he had
changed his seat, thought that he espied a watcher, and he
strode towards the place where Rustem was hid, and he came
before him and said-
"Who art thou? Come forth into the
light that I may behold thy face."
But ere he could speak further,
Rustem had lifted up his hand and struck him, and laid him
dead upon the ground.
Now Sohrab, when he saw that Zindeh
was gone out, was disquieted, and he asked of his slaves
wherefore the hero returned not unto the banquet. So they
went forth to seek him, and when they had found him in his
blood, they came and told Sohrab what they had seen. But
Sohrab would not believe it; so he ran to the spot and bade
them bring torches, and all the warriors and singing girls
followed after him. Then when Sohrab saw that it was true he
was sore grieved; but he suffered not that the banquet be
ended, for he would not that the spirits of his men be
damped with pity. So they went back yet again to the feast.
Meanwhile Rustem returned him to the
camp, and as he would have entered the lines he encountered
Gew, who went around to see that all was safe. And Gew, when
he saw a tall man clad in the garb of a Turk, drew his sword
and held himself ready for combat. But Rustem smiled and
opened his mouth, and Gew knew his voice, and came to him
and questioned him what he did without in the darkness. And
Rustem told him. Then he went before Kai Kaous also and
related what he had seen, and how no man like unto Sohrab
was yet come forth from amid the Turks. And he likened him
unto Saum, the son of Neriman.
Now when the morning was come,
Sohrab put on his armour. Then he went unto a height whence
he could look down over the camp of the Iranians. And he
took with him Hujir, and spake to him, saying-
"Seek not to deceive me, nor swerve
from the paths of truth. For if thou reply unto my questions
with sincerity, I will loosen thy bonds and give thee
treasures; but if thou deceive me, thou shalt languish till
death in thy chains."
And Hujir said, "I will give answer
unto thee according to my knowledge."
Then Sohrab said, "I am about to
question thee concerning the nobles whose camps are spread
beneath our feet, and thou shalt name unto me those whom I
point out. Behold yon tent of gold brocade, adorned with
skins of leopard, before whose doors stand an hundred
elephants of war. Within its gates is a throne of turquoise,
and over it floateth a standard of violet with a moon and
sun worked in its centre. Tell unto me now whose is this
pavilion that standeth thus in the midst of the whole camp?"
And Hujir replied, "It pertaineth
unto the Shah of Iran."
Then Sohrab said, "I behold on its right hand yet another
tent draped in the colours of mourning, and above it
floateth a standard whereon is worked an elephant."
And Hujir said, "It is the tent of
Tus, the son of Nuder, for he beareth an elephant as his
Then Sohrab said, "Whose is the camp
in which stand many warriors clad in rich armour? A flag of
gold with a lion worked upon it waveth along its field."
And Hujir said, "It belongeth unto
Gudarz the brave. And those who stand about it are his sons,
for eighty men of might are sprung from his loins."
Then Sohrab said, "To whom belongeth
the tent draped with green tissues? Before its doors is
planted the flag of Kawah. I see upon its throne a Pehliva,
nobler of mien than all his fellows, whose head striketh the
stars. And beside him standeth a steed tall as he, and his
standard showeth a lion and a writhing dragon."
When Hujir heard this question he
thought within himself, "If I tell unto this lion the signs
whereby he may know Rustem the Pehliva, surely he will fall
upon him and seek to destroy him. It will beseem me better,
therefore, to keep silent, and to omit his name from the
list of the heroes." So he said unto Sohrab-
"This is some ally who is come unto
Kai Kaous from far Cathay, and his name is not known unto
And Sohrab when he heard it was
downcast, and his heart was sad that he could nowhere
discover Rustem; and though it seemed unto him that he
beheld the marks whereby his mother said that he would know
him, he could not credit the words of his eyes against the
words of Hujir. Still he asked yet again the name of the
warrior, and yet again Hujir denied it unto him, for it was
written that that should come to pass which had been
decreed. But Sohrab ceased not from his questionings. And he
"Who dwelleth beneath the standard
with the head of a wolf?"
And Hujir said, "It is Gew, the son of Gudarz, who dwelleth
within that tent, and men call him Gew the valiant."
Then Sohrab said, "Whose is the seat
over which are raised awnings and brocades of Roum, that
glisten with gold in the sunlight?
And Hujir said, "It is the throne of
Fraburz, the son of the Shah."
Then Sohrab said, "It beseemeth the
son of a Shah to surround himself with such splendour."
And he pointed unto a tent with
trappings of yellow that was encircled by flags of many
colours. And he questioned of its owner.
And Hujir said, "Guraz the
lion-hearted is master therein."
Then Sohrab, when he could not learn the tent of his father,
questioned Hujir concerning Rustem, and he asked yet a third
time of the green tent. Yet Hujir ever replied that he knew
not the name of its master. And when Sohrab pressed him
concerning Rustem, he said that Rustem lingered in
Zaboulistan, for it was the feast of roses. But Sohrab
refused to give ear unto the thought that Kai Kaous should
go forth to battle without the aid of Rustem, whose might
none could match. So he said unto Hujir-
"An thou show not unto me the tents
of Rustem, I will strike thy head from off thy shoulders,
and the world shall fade before thine eyes. Choose,
therefore, the truth or thy life."
And Hujir thought within himself,
"Though five score men cannot withstand Rustem when he be
roused to battle-fury, my mind misgiveth me that he may have
found his equal in this boy. And, for that the stripling is
younger, it might come about that he subdue the Pehliva.
What recketh my life against the weal of Iran? I will
therefore abandon me into his hands rather than show unto
him the marks of Rustem the Pehliva." So he said-
"Why seekest thou to know Rustem the
Pehliva? Surely thou wilt know him in battle, and he shall
strike thee dumb, and quell thy pride of youth. Yet I will
not show him unto thee."
When Sohrab heard these words he
raised his sword and smote Hujir, and made an end of him
with a great blow. Then he made himself ready for fight, and
leaped upon his steed of battle, and he rode till he came
unto the camp of the Iranians, and he broke down the
barriers with his spear, and fear seized upon all men when
they beheld his stalwart form and majesty of mien and
action. Then Sohrab opened his mouth, and his voice of
thunder was heard even unto the far ends of the camp. And he
spake words of pride, and called forth the Shah to do battle
with him, and he sware with a loud voice that the blood of
Zindeh should be avenged. Now when Sohrab's voice had rung
throughout the camp, confusion spread within its borders,
and none of those who stood about the throne would accept
his challenge for the Shah. And with one accord they said
that Rustem was their sole support, and that his sword alone
could cause the sun to weep. And Tus sped him within the
courts of Rustem. And Rustem said-
"The hardest tasks doth Kai Kaous
ever lay upon me."
But the nobles would not suffer him to linger, neither to
waste time in words, and they buckled upon him his armour,
and they threw his leopard-skin about him, and they saddled
Rakush, and made ready the hero for the strife. And they
pushed him forth, and called after him-
"Haste, haste, for no common combat
awaiteth thee, for verily Ahriman standeth before us."
Now when Rustem was come before
Sohrab, and beheld the youth, brave and strong, with a
breast like unto Saum, he said to him-
"Let us go apart from hence, and
step forth from out the lines of the armies."
For there was a zone between the two
camps that none might pass. And Sohrab assented to the
demand of Rustem, and they stepped out into it, and made
them ready for single combat. But when Sohrab would have
fallen upon him, the soul of Rustem melted with compassion,
and he desired to save a boy thus fair and valiant. So he
said unto him-
"O young man, the air is warm and
soft, but the earth is cold. I have pity upon thee, and
would not take from thee the boon of life. Yet if we combat
together, surely thou wilt fall by my hands, for none have
withstood my power, neither men nor Deevs nor dragons.
Desist, therefore, from this enterprise, and quit the ranks
of Turan, for Iran hath need of heroes like unto thee."
Now while Rustem spake thus, the
heart of Sohrab went out to him. And he looked at him
wistfully, and said-
"O hero, I am about to put unto thee
a question, and I entreat of thee that thou reply to me
according to the truth. Tell unto me thy name, that my heart
may rejoice in thy words, for it seemeth unto me that thou
art none other than Rustem, the son of Zal, the son of Saum,
the son of Neriman."
But Rustem replied, "Thou errest, I
am not Rustem, neither am I sprung from the race of Neriman.
Rustem is a Pehliva, but I, I am a slave, and own neither a
crown nor a throne."
These words spake Rustem that Sohrab
might be afraid when he beheld his prowess, and deem that
yet greater might was hidden in the camp of his enemy. But
Sohrab when he heard these words was sad, and his hopes that
were risen so high were shattered, and the day that had
looked so bright was made dark unto his eyes. Then he made
him ready for the combat, and they fought until their spears
were shivered and their swords hacked like unto saws. And
when all their weapons were bent, they betook them unto
clubs, and they waged war with these until they were broken.
Then they strove until their mail was torn and their horses
spent with exhaustion, and even then they could not desist,
but wrestled with one another with their hands till that the
sweat and blood ran down from their bodies. And they
contended until their throats were parched and their bodies
weary, and to neither was given the victory. Then they
stayed them a while to rest, and Rustem thought within his
mind how all his days he had not coped with such a hero. And
it seemed to him that his contest with the White Deev had
been as nought to this.
Now when they had rested a while
they fell to again, and they fought with arrows, but still
none could surpass the other. Then Rustem strove to hurl
Sohrab from his steed, but it availed him nought, and he
could shake him no more than the mountain can be moved from
its seat. So they betook themselves again unto clubs, and
Sohrab aimed at Rustem with might and smote him, and Rustem
reeled beneath the stroke, and bit his lips in agony. Then
Sohrab vaunted his advantage, and-bade Rustem go and measure
him with his equals; for though his strength be great, he
could not stand against a youth. So they went their ways,
and Rustem fell upon the men of Turan, and spread confusion
far and wide among their ranks; and Sohrab raged along the
lines of Iran, and men and horses fell under his hands. And
Rustem was sad in his soul, and he turned with sorrow into
his camp. But when he saw the destruction Sohrab had wrought
his anger was kindled, and he reproached the youth, and
challenged him to come forth yet again to single combat. But
because that the day was far spent they resolved to rest
until the morrow.
Then Rustem went before Kai Kaous
and told him of this boy of valour, and he prayed unto
Ormuzd that He would give him strength to vanquish his foe.
Yet he made ready also his house lest he should fall in the
fight, and he commanded that a tender message be borne unto
Rudabeh, and he sent words of comfort unto Zal, his father.
And Sohrab, too, in his camp lauded the might of Rustem, and
he said how the battle had been sore, and how his mind had
misgiven him of the issue. And he spake unto Human, saying-
"My mind is filled with thoughts of
this aged man, mine adversary, for it would seem unto me
that his stature is like unto mine, and that I behold about
him the tokens that my mother recounted unto me. And my
heart goeth out towards him, and I muse if it be Rustem, my
father. For it behoveth me not to combat him. Wherefore, I
beseech thee, tell unto me how this may be."
But Human answered and said, "Oft
have I looked upon the face of Rustem in battle, and mine
eyes have beheld his deeds of valour; but this man in no
wise resembleth him, nor is his manner of wielding his club
These things spake Human in his
vileness, because that Afrasiyab had enjoined him to lead
Sohrab into destruction. And Sohrab held his peace, but he
was not wholly satisfied.
Now when the day had begun to
lighten the sky and clear away the shadows, Rustem and
Sohrab strode forth unto the midway spot that stretched
between the armies. And Sohrab bare in his hands a mighty
club, and the garb of battle was upon him; but his mouth was
full of smiles, and he asked of Rustem how he had rested,
and he said-
"Wherefore hast thou prepared thy
heart for battle? Cast from thee, I beg, this mace and sword
of vengeance, and let us doff our armour, and seat ourselves
together in amity, and let wine soften our angry deeds. For
it seemeth unto me that this conflict is impure. And if thou
wilt listen to my desires, my heart shall speak to thee of
love, and I will make the tears of shame spring up into
thine eyes. And for this cause I ask thee yet again, tell me
thy name, neither hide it any longer, for I behold that thou
art of noble race. And it would seem unto me that thou art
Rustem, the chosen one, the Lord of Zaboulistan, the son of
Zal, the son of Saum the hero."
But Rustem answered, "O hero of
tender age, we are not come forth to parley but to combat,
and mine ears are sealed against thy words of lure. I am an
old man, and thou art young, but we are girded for battle,
and the Master of the world shall decide between us."
Then Sohrab said, "O man of many
years, wherefore wilt thou not listen to the counsel of a
stripling? I desired that thy soul should leave thee upon
thy bed, but thou hast elected to perish in the combat. That
which is ordained it must be done, therefore let us make
ready for the conflict."
So they made them ready, and when
they had bound their steeds they fell upon each other, and
the crash of their encounter was heard like thunder
throughout the camps. And they measured their strength from
the morning until the setting of the sun. And when the day
was about to vanish, Sohrab seized upon Rustem by the girdle
and threw him upon the ground, and kneeled upon him, and
drew forth his sword from his scabbard, and would have
severed his head from his trunk. Then Rustem knew that only
wile could save him. So he opened his mouth and said-
"O young man, thou knowest not the
customs of the combat. It is written in the laws of honour
that he who overthroweth a brave man for the first time
should not destroy him, but preserve him for fight a second
time, then only is it given unto him to kill his adversary."
And Sohrab listened to Rustem's
words of craft and stayed his hand, and he let the warrior
go, and because that the day was ended he sought to fight no
more, but turned him aside and chased the deer until the
night was spent. Then came to him Human, and asked of the
adventures of the day. And Sohrab told him how he had
vanquished the tall man, and how he had granted him freedom.
And Human reproached him with his folly, and said-
"Alas, young man, thou didst fall
into a snare, for this is not the custom among the brave.
And now perchance thou wilt yet fall under the hands of this
Sohrab was abashed when he heard the
words of Human, but he said-
"Be not grieved, for in an hour we meet again in battle, and
verily he will not stand a third time against my youthful
Now while Sohrab was thus doing,
Rustem was gone beside a running brook, and laved his limbs,
and prayed to God in his distress. And he entreated of
Ormuzd that He would grant him such strength that the
victory must be his. And Ormuzd heard him, and gave to him
such strength that the rock whereon Rustem stood gave way
under his feet, because it had not the power to bear him.
Then Rustem saw it was too much, and he prayed yet again
that part thereof be taken from him. And once more Ormuzd
listened to his voice. Then when the time for combat was
come, Rustem turned him to the meeting-place, and his heart
was full of cares and his face of fears. But Sohrab came
forth like a giant refreshed, and he ran at Rustem like to a
mad elephant, and he cried with a voice of thunder-
"O thou who didst flee from battle,
wherefore art thou come out once more against me? But I say
unto thee, this time shall thy words of guile avail thee
And Rustem, when he heard him, and
looked upon him, was seized with misgiving, and he learned
to know fear. So he prayed to Ormuzd that He would restore
to him the power He had taken back. But he suffered not
Sohrab to behold his fears, and they made them ready for the
fight. And he closed upon Sohrab with all his new-found
might, and shook him terribly, and though Sohrab returned
his attacks with vigour, the hour of his overthrow was come.
For Rustem took him by the girdle and hurled him unto the
earth, and he broke his back like to a reed, and he drew
forth his sword to sever his body. Then Sohrab knew it was
the end, and he gave a great sigh, and writhed in his agony,
and he said-
"That which is come about, it is my
fault, and henceforward will my youth be a theme of derision
among the people. But I sped not forth for empty glory, but
I went out to seek my father; for my mother had told me by
what tokens I should know him, and I perish for longing
after him. And now have my pains been fruitless, for it hath
not been given unto me to look upon his face. Yet I say unto
thee, if thou shouldest become a fish that swimmeth in the
depths of the ocean, if thou shouldest change into a star
that is concealed in the farthest heaven, my father would
draw thee forth from thy hiding-place, and avenge my death
upon thee when he shall learn that the earth is become my
bed. For my father is Rustem the Pehliva, and it shall be
told unto him how that Sohrab his son perished in the quest
after his face."
When Rustem heard these words his
sword fell from out of his grasp, and he was shaken with
dismay. And there broke from his heart a groan as of one
whose heart was racked with anguish. And the earth became
dark before his eyes, and he sank down lifeless beside his
son. But when he had opened his eyes once more, he cried
unto Sohrab in the agony of his spirit. And he said-
"Bearest thou about thee a token of
Rustem, that I may know that the words which thou speakest
are true? For I am Rustem the unhappy, and may my name be
struck from the lists of men!"
When Sohrab heard these words his
misery was boundless, and he cried-
"If thou art indeed my father, then
hast thou stained thy sword in the life-blood of thy son.
And thou didst it of thine obstinacy. For I sought to turn
thee unto love, and I implored of thee thy name, for I
thought to behold in thee the tokens recounted of my mother.
But I appealed unto thy heart in vain, and now is the time
gone by for meeting. Yet open, I beseech thee, mine armour,
and regard the jewel upon mine arm. For it is an onyx given
unto me by my father, as a token whereby he should know me."
Then Rustem did as Sohrab bade him,
and he opened his mail and saw the onyx; and when he had
seen it he tore his clothes in his distress, and he covered
his head with ashes. And the tears of penitence ran from his
eyes, and he roared aloud in his sorrow. But Sohrab said-
"It is in vain, there is no remedy.
Weep not, therefore, for doubtless it was written that this
Now when the sun was set, and Rustem
returned not to the camp, the nobles of Iran were afraid,
and they went forth to seek him. And when they were gone but
a little way they came upon Rakush, and when they saw that
he was alone they raised a wailing, for they deemed that of
a surety Rustem was perished. And they went and told Kai
Kaous thereof, and he said-
"Let Tus go forth and see if this
indeed be so, and if Rustem be truly fallen, let the drums
call men unto battle that we may avenge him upon this Turk."
Now Sohrab, when he beheld afar off
the men that were come out to seek Rustem, turned to his
father and said-
"I entreat of thee that thou do unto
me an act of love. Let not the Shah fall upon the men of
Turan, for they came not forth in enmity to him but to do my
desire, and on my head alone resteth this expedition.
Wherefore I desire not that they should perish when I can
defend them no longer. As for me, I came like the thunder
and I vanish like the wind, but perchance it is given unto
us to meet again above."
Then Rustem promised to do the
desires of Sohrab. And he went before the men of Iran, and
when they beheld him yet alive they set up a great shout,
but when they saw that his clothes were torn, and that he
bare about him the marks of sorrow, they asked of him what
was come to pass. Then he told them how he had caused a
noble son to perish. And they were grieved for him, and
joined in his wailing. Then he bade one among them go forth
into the camp of Turan, and deliver this message unto Human.
And he sent word unto him, saying-
"The sword of vengeance must slumber
in the scabbard. Thou art now leader of the host, return,
therefore, whence thou camest, and depart across the river
ere many days be fallen. As for me, I will fight no more,
yet neither will I speak unto thee again, for thou didst
hide from my son the tokens of his father, of thine iniquity
thou didst lead him into this pit."
Then when he had thus spoken, Rustem
turned him yet again unto his son. And the nobles went with
him, and they beheld Sohrab, and heard his groans of pain.
And Rustem, when he saw the agony of the boy, was beside
himself, and would have made an end of his own life, but the
nobles suffered it not, and stayed his hand. Then Rustem
remembered him that Kai Kaous had a balm mighty to heal. And
he prayed Gudarz go before the Shah, and bear unto him a
message of entreaty from Rustem his servant. And he said-
"O Shah, if ever I have done that
which was good in thy sight, if ever my hand have been of
avail unto thee, recall now my benefits in the hour of my
need, and have pity upon my dire distress. Send unto me, I
pray thee, of the balm that is among thy treasures, that my
son may be healed by thy grace."
And Gudarz outstripped the whirlwind
in his speed to bear unto the Shah this message. But the
heart of Kai Kaous was hardened, and he remembered not the
benefits he had received from Rustem, and he recalled only
the proud words that he had spoken before him. And he was
afraid lest the might of Sohrab be joined to that of his
father, and that together they prove mightier than he, and
turn upon him. So he shut his ear unto the cry of his
Pehliva. And Gudarz bore back the answer of the Shah, and he
"The heart of Kai Kaous is flinty,
and his evil nature is like to a bitter gourd that ceaseth
never to bear fruit. Yet I counsel thee, go before him
thyself, and see if peradventure thou soften this rock."
And Rustem in his grief did as
Gudarz counselled, and turned to go before the Shah, but he
was not come before him ere a messenger overtook him, and
told unto him that Sohrab was departed from the world. Then
Rustem set up a wailing such as the earth hath not heard the
like of, and he heaped reproaches upon himself, and he could
not cease from plaining the son that was fallen by his
hands. And he cried continually-
"I that am old have killed my son. I
that am strong have uprooted this mighty boy. I have torn
the heart of my child, I have laid low the head of a
Then he made a great fire, and flung
into it his tent of many colours, and his trappings of Roum,
his saddle, and his leopard-skin, his armour well tried in
battle, and all the appurtenances of his throne. And he
stood by and looked on to see his pride laid in the dust.
And he tore his flesh, and cried aloud-
"My heart is sick unto death."
Then he commanded that Sohrab be swathed in rich brocades of
gold worthy of his body. And when they had enfolded him, and
Rustem learned that the Turanians had quitted the borders,
he made ready his army to return unto Zaboulistan. And the
nobles marched before the bier, and their heads were covered
with ashes, and their garments were torn. And the drums of
the war-elephants were shattered, and the cymbals broken,
and the tails of the horses were shorn to the root, and all
the signs of mourning were abroad.
Now Zal, when he saw the host
returning thus in sorrow, marvelled what was come about; for
he beheld Rustem at their head, wherefore he knew that the
wailing was not for his son. And he came before Rustem and
questioned him. And Rustem led him unto the bier and showed
unto him the youth that was like in feature and in might
unto Saum the son of Neriman, and he told him all that was
come to pass, and how this was his son, who in years was but
an infant, but a hero in battle. And Rudabeh too came out to
behold the child, and she joined her lamentations unto
theirs. Then they built for Sohrab a tomb like to a horse's
hoof, and Rustem laid him therein in a chamber of gold
perfumed with ambergris. And he covered him with brocades of
gold. And when it was done, the house of Rustem grew like to
a grave, and its courts were filled with the voice of
sorrow. And no joy would enter into the heart of Rustem, and
it was long before he held high his head.
Meantime the news spread even unto
Turan, and there too did all men grieve and weep for the
child of prowess that was fallen in his bloom. And the King
of Samengan tore his vestments, but when his daughter
learned it she was beside herself with affliction. And
Tahmineh cried after her son, and bewailed the evil fate
that had befallen him, and she heaped black earth upon her
head, and tore her hair, and wrung her hands, and rolled on
the ground in her agony. And her mouth was never weary of
plaining. Then she caused the garments of Sohrab to be
brought unto her, and his throne and his steed. And she
regarded them, and stroked the courser and poured tears upon
his hoofs, and she cherished the robes as though they yet
contained her boy, and she pressed the head of the palfrey
unto her breast, and she kissed the helmet that Sohrab had
worn. Then with his sword she cut off the tail of his steed
and set fire unto the house of Sohrab, and she gave his gold
and jewels unto the poor. And when a year had thus rolled
over her bitterness, the breath departed from out her body,
and her spirit went forth after Sohrab her son.
On a certain day it came about that Tus, Gew, Gudarz, and
other brave knights of Iran went forth to chase wild asses
in the forests of Daghoui. Now when they were come into the
wood, they found therein a woman of surpassing beauty, and
the hearts of Tus and Gew burned towards her in love. And
when they had questioned her of her lineage, and learned
that she was of the race of Feridoun, each desired to take
her to wife. But none would give way unto the other, and hot
words were bandied, and they were like to come unto blows.
Then one spake, and said-
"I counsel you, let Kai Kaous decide between you." And
they listened to the voice of the counsellor, and they took
with them the Peri-faced, and led her before Kai Kaous, and
recounted to him all that was come about. But Kai Kaous,
when he beheld the beauty of the maid, longed after her for
himself, and he said that she was worthy of the throne; and
he took her and led her into the house of his women.
Now after many days there was born to her a son, and he
was of goodly mien, tall and strong, and the name that was
given to him was Saiawush. And Kai Kaous rejoiced in this
son of his race, but he was grieved also because of the
message of the stars concerning him. For it was written that
the heavens were hostile unto this infant; neither would his
virtues avail him aught, for these above all would lead him
In the meantime the news that a son had been born unto
the Shah spread even unto the land of Rustem. And the
Pehliva, when he learned thereof, aroused him from his
sorrow for Sohrab, and he came forth out of Zaboulistan, and
asked for the babe at the hands of its father, that he might
rear it unto Iran. And Kai Kaous suffered it, and Rustem
bare the child unto his kingdom, and trained him in the arts
of war and of the banquet. And Saiawush increased in might
and beauty, and you would have said that the world held not
Now when Saiawush was become strong (so that he could
ensnare a lion), he came before Rustem, bearing high his
head. And he spake, saying-
"I desire to go before the Shah, that my father may
behold me, and see what manner of man thou hast made of me."
And Rustem deemed that he spake well. So he made great
preparations, and marched unto Iran with a mighty host, and
Saiawush rode with him at their head. And the land rejoiced
when it looked on the face of Saiawush, and there was great
joy in the courts of the King, and jewels and gold and
precious things past the telling rained upon Rustem and
Saiawush his charge. And Kai Kaous was glad when he beheld
the boy, and gave rich rewards unto Rustem; but Saiawush did
he place beside him on the throne. And all men spake his
praises, and there was a feast given, such as the world hath
not seen the like.
Then Saiawush stayed in the courts of his father, and
seven years did he prove his spirit; but in the eighth, when
he had found him worthy, he gave unto him a throne and a
crown. And all was well, and men had forgotten the evil
message of the stars. But that which is written in the
heavens, it is surely accomplished, and the day of ill
fortune drew nigh. For it came about that Sudaveh beheld the
youth of Saiawush, and her eyes were filled with his beauty,
and her soul burned after him. So she sent unto him a
messenger, and invited him to enter the house of the women.
But he sent in answer words of excuse, for he trusted her
not. Then Sudaveh made complaint before Kai Kaous that
Saiawush had deafened his ear unto her request, and she bade
the Shah send him behind the curtains of the women's house,
that his son might become acquainted with his sisters. And
Kai Kaous did that which Sudaveh asked of him, and Saiawush
obeyed his commands.
But Sudaveh, when she had so far accomplished her longing
that she had gotten him within the house, desired that he
should speak with her alone. But Saiawush resisted her wish.
And three times did Sudaveh entice him behind the curtains
of the house, and three times was Saiawush cold unto her
yearning. Then Sudaveh was wroth, and she made complaint
unto the Shah, and she slandered the fair fame of Saiawush,
and she spread evil reports of him throughout the land, and
she inflamed the heart of Kai Kaous against his son. Now the
Shah was angered beyond measure, and it availed nought unto
Saiawush to defend himself, for Kai Kaous was filled with
the love of Sudaveh, and he listened only unto her voice.
And he remembered how she had borne his captivity in
Hamaveran, and he knew not of her evil deceits. And when she
said that Saiawush had done her great wrong, Kai Kaous was
troubled in his spirit, and he resolved how he should act,
for his heart went out also unto his son, and he feared that
guile lurked in these things. And he could not decide
between them. So he caused dromedaries to be sent forth,
even unto the borders of the land, and bring forth wood from
the forests. And they did so, and there was reared a mighty
heap of logs, so that the eye could behold it at a distance
of two farsangs. And it was piled so that a path ran through
its midst such as a mounted knight could traverse. And the
Shah commanded that naphtha be poured upon the wood; and
when it was done he bade that it be lighted, and there were
needed two hundred men to light the pyre, so great was its
width and height. And the flames and smoke overspread the
heavens, and men shouted for fear when they beheld the
tongues of fire, and the heat thereof was felt in the far
corners of the land.
Now when all was ready, Kai Kaous bade Saiawush his son
ride into the midst of the burning mount, that he might
prove his innocence. And Saiawush did as the King commanded,
and he came before Kai Kaous, and saluted him, and made him
ready for the ordeal. And when he came nigh unto the burning
wood, he commended his soul unto God, and prayed that He
would make him pure before his father. And when he had done
so, he gave rein unto his horse, and entered into the flame.
And a great cry of sorrow arose from all men in the plains
and in the city, for they held that no man could come forth
alive from this furnace. And Sudaveh heard the cry, and came
forth upon the roof of her house that she might behold the
sight, and she prayed that ill might befall unto Saiawush,
and she held her eyes fastened upon the pyre. But the nobles
gazed on the face of Kai Kaous, and their mouths were filled
with execrations, and their lips trembled with wrath at this
And Saiawush rode on undaunted, and his white robes and
ebon steed shone forth between the flames, and their anger
was reflected upon his helmet of gold. And he rode until he
was come unto the end of the pathway, and when he came forth
there was not singed a hair of his head, neither had the
smoke blackened his garments.
Now when the people beheld that he was come forth alive,
they rent the welkin with their shouting. And the nobles
came forth to greet him, and, save only Sudaveh, there was
joy in all hearts. Now Saiawush rode till he came before the
Shah, and then he got him off his horse, and did homage
before his father. And when Kai Kaous beheld him, and saw
that there were no signs of fire about him, he knew that he
was innocent. So he raised his son from off the ground, and
placed Saiawush beside him on the throne, and asked his
forgiveness for that which was come to pass. And Saiawush
granted it. Then Kai Kaous feasted his son with wine and
song, and three days did they spend in revels, and the door
of the King's treasury was opened.
But on the fourth day Kai Kaous mounted the throne of the
Kaianides. He took in his hand the ox-headed mace, and he
commanded that Sudaveh be led before him. Then he reproached
her with her evil deeds, and he bade her make ready to
depart the world, for verily death was decreed unto her. And
in vain did Sudaveh ask for pardon at the hands of the King,
for she continued to speak ill of Saiawush, and she said
that by the arts of magic alone had he escaped the fire, and
she ceased not to cry against him. So the King gave orders
that she be led forth unto death, and the nobles approved
his resolve, and invoked the blessings of Heaven upon the
head of the Shah. But Saiawush, when he learned it, was
grieved, for he knew that the woman was beloved of his
father. And he went before Kai Kaous, and craved her pardon.
And Kai Kaous granted it with gladness, for his heart
yearned after Sudaveh. So Saiawush led her back, and the
curtains of the house of the women hid her once more behind
them, and the Shah was glad again in her sight.
Then it came about that the love of Kai Kaous for Sudaveh
grew yet mightier, and he was as wax under her hands. And
when she saw that her empire over him was strengthened, she
filled his ear with plaints of Saiawush, and she darkened
the mind of the Shah till that his spirit was troubled, and
he knew not where he should turn for truth.
Now while Kai Kaous thus dallied behind the curtains of
his house, Afrasiyab made him ready with three thousand
chosen men to fall upon the land of Iran. And Kai Kaous,
when he learned it, was sad, for he knew that he must
exchange the banquet for the battle; and he was angered also
with Afrasiyab, and he poured out words of reproof against
him because he had broken his covenant and had once more
attacked his land. Yet he made him ready to lead forth his
army. Then a Mubid prayed him that he would not go forth
himself, and he recalled unto Kai Kaous how twice already he
had endangered his kingdom. But Kai Kaous was wroth when he
heard these words, and he bade the Mubid depart from his
presence, and he sware that he alone could turn the army
unto good issue.
But Saiawush, when he heard it, took heart of grace, for
he thought within his spirit, "If the King grant unto me to
lead forth his army, perchance I may win unto myself a name
of valour, and be delivered from the wiles of Sudaveh." So
he girded himself with the armour of battle and came before
the King his father, and made known to him his request. And
he recalled unto Kai Kaous how that he was his son, and how
he was sprung from a worthy race, and how his rank permitted
him to lead forth a host; and Kai Kaous listened to his
words with gladness, and assented to his desires. Then
messengers were sent unto Rustem to bid him go forth to
battle with his charge and guard him. And Kai Kaous said
unto his Pehliva-
"If thou watchest over him, I can slumber; but if thou
reposest, then doth it beseem me to act."
And Rustem answered and said, "O King, I am thy servant,
and it behoveth me to do thy will. As for Saiawush, he is
the light of my heart and the joy of my soul; I rejoice to
lead him forth before his enemies."
So the trumpets of war were sounded, and the clang of
armour and the tramp of horsemen and of foot filled the air.
And five Mubids bare aloft the standard of Kawah, and the
army followed after them. And they passed in order before
Kai Kaous, and he blessed the troops and his son, who rode
at their head. And he spake, saying-
"May thy good star shine down upon thee, and mayst thou
come back to me victorious and glad."
Then Kai Kaous returned him unto his house, and Saiawush
gave the signal to depart. And they marched until they came
unto the land of Zaboulistan.
Now when they were come there they rested them a while,
and feasted in the house of Zal. And while they revelled
there came out to join them riders from Cabul and from Ind,
and wherever there was a king of might he sent over his army
to aid them. Then when a month had rolled above their heads
they took their leave of Zal and of Zaboulistan, and went
forward till they came unto Balkh. And at Balkh the men of
Turan met them, and Gersiwaz, the brother of Afrasiyab, was
at their head. Now when he saw the hosts of Iran, he knew
that the hour to fight was come. So the two armies made them
in order, and they waged battle hot and sore, and for three
days the fighting raged without ceasing, but on the fourth
victory passed over to Iran. Then Saiawush called before him
a scribe, and wrote a letter, perfumed with musk, unto Kai
Kaous his father. And when he had invoked the blessings of
Heaven upon his head, he told him all that was come to pass,
and how he had conquered the foes of Iran. And Kai Kaous,
when he had read the letter, rejoiced, and wrote an answer
unto his son, and his gladness shone in his words, and you
would have said it was a letter like to the tender green of
But Afrasiyab, when he learned the news, was discomfited,
and that which Gersiwaz told unto him was bitter to his
taste, and he was beside himself for anger. Now when he had
heard his brother to an end, Afrasiyab laid him down to
slumber. Yet ere the night was spent there came out one to
the house of Gersiwaz and told unto him that Afrasiyab was
shouting like to a man bereft of reason. Then Gersiwaz went
in unto the King, and he beheld him lying upon the floor of
his chamber roaring in agony of spirit. Then he raised him,
and questioned him wherefore he cried out thus. But
"Question me not until I have recovered my wits, for I am
like to one possessed."
Then he desired that torches be brought within to light
up the darkness, and he gathered his robes about him and
mounted upon his throne. And when he had done so he called
for the Mubids, and he recounted to them the dream that had
visited his slumber. And he told how that he had seen the
earth filled with serpents, and the Iranians were fallen
upon him, and evil was come to him from Kai Kaous and a boy
that stood beside him on the throne. And he trembled as he
related his dream, and he would take no comfort from the
words of Gersiwaz.
Now the Mubids as they listened were afraid, and when
Afrasiyab bade them open their lips, they dared not for
fear. Then the King said that he would cleave open their
heads if they spake not, and he sware unto them a great oath
that he would spare them, even though the words they should
utter be evil. Then they revealed to him how it was written
that Saiawush would bring destruction upon Turan, and how he
would be victorious over the Turks, and how, even though he
should fall by the hands of Afrasiyab, this evil could not
be stayed. And they counselled Afrasiyab to contend no
longer against the son of Kai Kaous, for surely if he stayed
not his hand this evil could not be turned aside.
When Afrasiyab heard this message, he took counsel with
Gersiwaz, and he said-
"If I cease from warring against Saiawush surely none of
these things can come about. It beseemeth me to seek after
peace. I will send therefore silver and jewels and rich
gifts unto Saiawush, and will bind up with gold the eye of
So he bade Gersiwaz take from his treasures rich brocades
of Roum, and jewels of price, and bear them across the Jihun
to the camp of Saiawush. And he sent a message unto him,
"The world is disturbed since the days of Silim and Tur,
the valiant, since the times of Irij, who was killed
unjustly. But now, let us forget these things, let us
conclude an alliance together, and let peace reign in our
And Gersiwaz did as Afrasiyab bade, and he went forth,
and a train of camels bearing rich presents followed after
him. And he marched till he came within the tents of
Now when he had delivered his message unto Saiawush, the
young King marvelled thereat; and he took counsel with
Rustem how they should act, for he trusted not in the words
of Afrasiyab, and he deemed that poison was hidden under
these flowers. And Rustem counselled him that they should
entertain Gersiwaz the space of seven days, and that joy and
feasting should resound throughout the camp, and in the mean
season they would ponder their deeds. And it was done as
Rustem said, and the sounds of revelry were abroad, and
Gersiwaz rejoiced in the presence of Saiawush. But on the
eighth day Gersiwaz presented himself before Saiawush in
audience, and demanded a reply. And Saiawush said-
"We have pondered thy message, and we yield to thy
request, for we desire not bloodshed but peace. Yet since it
behoveth us to know that poison be not hidden under thy
words, we desire of thee that thou send over to us as
hostages an hundred chosen men of Turan, allied unto
Afrasiyab by blood, that we may guard them as a pledge of
When Gersiwaz heard this answer, he sent it unto
Afrasiyab by a messenger quick as the wind. And Afrasiyab,
when he heard it, was troubled, for he said-
"If I give way to this demand I bereave the land of its
choicest warriors; yet if I refuse, Saiawush will deny
belief unto my words, and the evils foretold will fall upon
So he chose out from among his army men allied to him by
blood, and he sent them forth unto Saiawush. Then he caused
the trumpets to sound, and retreated with his army unto
Turan, and restored unto Iran the lands he had seized.
Now when Rustem beheld the warriors, and that Afrasiyab
had spoken that which was true, he suffered Gersiwaz to
depart; and he held counsel with Saiawush how they should
acquaint Kai Kaous with that which was come to pass, for
"If Kai Kaous desire vengeance rather than peace, he will
be angered and commit a deed of folly. Who shall bear unto
him these tidings?"
And Rustem said, "Suffer that I go forth to tell them
unto Kai Kaous, for verily he will listen unto that which I
shall speak, and honour will fall upon Saiawush for this
Wherefore Rustem went before the King, and told him they
had conquered Afrasiyab, and how he was become afraid, and
how there was concluded a peace between them. And he vaunted
the wisdom of Saiawush that was quick to act and quick to
refrain, and he craved the Shah to confirm what they had
done. But Kai Kaous was angered when he heard it, and he
said that Saiawush had done like to an infant. And he loaded
reproaches upon Rustem, and said that his counsels were
vile, and he sware that he would be avenged upon Turan. Then
he recalled all they had suffered in the days that were past
at the hands of Afrasiyab, and he said the tree of vengeance
could not be uprooted. And he desired Rustem that he turn
him back unto Balkh, and say unto Saiawush that he should
destroy these hostages of Turan, and that he should fall
again upon Afrasiyab, nor cease from fighting. But Rustem,
when he had heard him to an end, opened his mouth and said
unto the Shah-
"O King, listen to my voice, and do not that which is
evil! Verily I say unto thee that Saiawush will not break
his oath unto Afrasiyab, neither will he destroy these men
of Turan that were delivered into his hands."
When Kai Kaous heard his speech his anger was kindled,
and he upbraided Rustem, and said that his evil counsels had
caused Saiawush to swerve from the straight path; and he
taunted him and bade him go back unto Seistan, and he said
that Tus should go forth as Pehliva unto his son. Then
Rustem too was angered, and he gave back the reproaches of
the Shah, and he turned him and quitted the courts and sped
him back unto his kingdom. But Kai Kaous sent Tus unto the
army at his borders, and he bade him speak his desires unto
Saiawush his son.
Now Saiawush, when he learned what was come about, was
sore discomfited, and he pondered how he should act. For he
said, "How can I come before Ormuzd if I depart from mine
oath? Yet, however I shall act, I see around me but
Then he called for Bahram and Zengueh, and confided to
them his troubles. And he said how that Kai Kaous was a king
who knew not good from evil, and how he had accomplished
that wherefore the army went forth, yet how the Shah desired
that vengeance should not cease. And he said-
"If I listen to the commands of the King, I do that which
is evil; yet if I listen not, surely he will destroy me.
Wherefore I will send back unto Afrasiyab the men he hath
placed within my hands, and then hide me from sight."
Then he sent Zengueh before Afrasiyab with a writing. And
he told therein all that was come about, and how that
discord was sprouted out of their peace. And he recalled
unto Afrasiyab how he had not broken their treaty though Kai
Kaous had bidden him do it, and he said how he could not
return unto the King his father. Then he prayed Afrasiyab
that he would make a passage for him through his dominions,
that he might hide him wheresoever God desired. For he said-
"I seek a spot where my name shall be lost unto Kai
Kaous, and where I may not know of his woeful deeds."
And Zengueh set forth and did as Saiawush desired, and he
took with him the hundred men of Turan, and all the gold and
jewels that Afrasiyab had sent. And when he was come within
the gates Afrasiyab received him right kindly, but when he
had heard his message he was downcast in his spirit. Then he
called for Piran, the leader of his hosts, and he took
counsel with him how he should act. And Piran said-
"O King, live for ever! There is but one road open unto
thee. For this Prince is noble, and he hath done that which
is right, for he would not give ear unto the evil designs of
Kai Kaous, his father. Wherefore I counsel thee, receive him
within thy courts, and give unto him a daughter in marriage,
and let him be to thee a son; for verily, when Kai Kaous
shall die, he will mount upon the throne of Iran, and thus
may the hate of old be quenched in love."
Now Afrasiyab, when he had listened to the words of
Piran, knew that they were good. So he sent for a scribe,
and dictated a writing unto Saiawush. And he said unto him
how the land was open to receive him, and how he would be to
him a father, and how he should find in Turan the love that
was denied of Kai Kaous. And he said-
"I will demand of thee nought but what is good, neither
will I suffer suspicion against thee to enter my soul."
Then he sealed the letter with his royal seal, and gave
it unto Zengueh the messenger, and bade him depart there
with speed. And Saiawush, when he had read it, was glad, and
yet he was also troubled in his spirit, for his heart was
sore because he was forced to make a friend of the foe of
his land. Yet he saw that it could in nowise be altered. So
he wrote a letter to Kai Kaous, and he told him therein how
it seemed that he could not do that which was right in his
eyes, and he recalled unto him the troubles that were come
upon him from Sudaveh, and he said how he could not break an
oath he had made. Then he confided this writing unto Bahram,
and he bade him take the lead of the army till that Tus
should be come forth from Iran. And when he had chosen out
an hundred warriors of renown from out the host, he departed
with them across the border.
Now when Tus arrived and learned what was come to pass,
he was confounded; and when tidings thereof reached Kai
Kaous, he was struck down with dismay. He cried out against
Afrasiyab, and against Saiawush his son, and his anger was
kindled. Yet he refrained from combat, and his mouth was
silent of war.
In the meantime Saiawush was come into Turan, and all the
land had decked itself to do him honour. And Piran came
forth to greet him, and there followed after him elephants,
white of hue, richly caparisoned, laden with gifts. And
these he poured before Saiawush, and gave him welcome. And
he told him how Afrasiyab yearned to look upon his face, and
"Turn thee in amity unto the King, and let not thy mind
be troubled concerning that which thou hast heard about him.
For Afrasiyab hath an ill fame, but he deserveth it not, for
he is good."
Then Piran led Saiawush before Afrasiyab. And when
Afrasiyab saw him, he rejoiced at his strength and his
beauty, and his heart went out towards him, and he embraced
him, and spake, saying-
"The evil that hath disturbed the world is quieted, and
the lamb and the leopard can feed together, for now is there
friendship between our lands."
Then he called down blessings upon the head of Saiawush,
and he took him by the hand and seated him beside him on the
throne. And he turned to Piran, and said-
"Kai Kaous is a man void of sense, or surely he would not
suffer a son like unto this to depart from out his sight."
And Afrasiyab could not cease from gazing upon Saiawush,
and all that he had he placed it at his command. He gave to
him a palace, and rich brocades, and jewels and gold past
the counting; and he prepared for him a feast, and there
were played the games of skill, and Saiawush showed his
prowess before Afrasiyab. And the sight of Saiawush became a
light to the eyes of the King of Turan and a joy unto his
heart, and he loved him like to a father. And Saiawush abode
within his courts many days, and in gladness and in sorrow,
in gaiety or in sadness, Afrasiyab would have none other
about him. And the name of Saiawush abode ever upon his
lips. And in this wise there rolled twelve moons over their
heads, and in the end Saiawush took unto himself to wife the
daughter of Piran the Pehliva. And yet again the heavens
revolved above his head, and he continued to abide within
the house of Afrasiyab. Then Piran gave counsel unto
Saiawush that he should ask of Afrasiyab the hand of his
daughter to wife. For he said-
"Thy home is now in Turan, wherefore it behoveth thee to
establish thy might; and if Afrasiyab be thy father indeed,
there can no hurt come near to thee. And peradventure, if a
son be born unto thee of the daughter of Afrasiyab, he will
bind up for ever the enmity of the lands."
And Saiawush listened to the counsel of Piran, for he
knew that it was good, and he asked the hand of Ferangis of
her father, and Afrasiyab gave it to him with great joy.
Then a mighty feast was made for the bridal, and Afrasiyab
poured gifts upon Saiawush past the telling, and he bestowed
on him a kingdom and a throne, and he blessed him as his
son; and when at length he suffered him to go forth unto his
realm, he sorrowed sore at his loss.
Now the space of one year did Saiawush abide in his
province, and at the end thereof, when he had visited its
breadth, he builded for himself a city in the midst. And he
named it Gangdis, and it was a place of beauty, such as the
world hath not seen the like. And Saiawush built houses and
planted trees without number, and he also caused an open
space to be made wherein men could rejoice in the game of
ball. And he was glad in the possession of this city, and
all men around him rejoiced, and the earth was the happier
for his presence, and there was no cloud upon the heaven of
his life. Yet the Mubids told unto him that Gangdis would
lead to his ill-fortune, and Saiawush was afflicted thereat.
But when a little time was sped and he beheld no evil, he
put from him their words, and he rejoiced in the time that
was; and he was glad in the house of his women, and he put
his trust in Afrasiyab.
But that which is written in the stars, surely it must be
accomplished! So it came about after many years that
Gersiwaz was jealous of the love which Afrasiyab his brother
bare unto Saiawush, and of the power that was his; and he
pondered in his heart how he might destroy him. Then he came
before Afrasiyab, and prayed the King that he would suffer
him to go forth and visit the city that Saiawush had
builded, whereof the mouths of men ran over in praises. And
Afrasiyab granted his request, and bade him bear words of
love unto Saiawush his son. So Gersiwaz sped forth unto the
city of Gangdis, and the master thereof received him kindly,
and asked him tidings of the King. And he feasted him many
days within his house, and he showed freely unto him all
that was his; and when he departed he heaped gifts upon his
head, for he knew not that Gersiwaz came in enmity unto him,
and that these things but fanned his envy.
Now when Gersiwaz returned unto Afrasiyab, the King
questioned him concerning his darling. Then Gersiwaz
answered and said-
"O King, he is no longer the man whom thou knewest. His
spirit is uplifted in pride of might, and his heart goeth
out towards Iran. And but that I should make my name to be
infamous unto the nations, I would have hidden from thee
this grief. But it behoveth me to tell unto thee that which
I have seen and which mine ears have heard. For it hath been
made known unto me that Saiawush is in treaty with his
father, and that they seek to destroy thee utterly."
When Afrasiyab heard these words he would not let them
take root in his spirit, yet he could not refuse countenance
to the testimony of his brother. And he was sad, and spake
not, and Gersiwaz knew not whether the seeds he had strewn
had taken root. So when a few days were gone by he came
again before the King and repeated unto him the charges that
he had made, and he urged him to act, and suffer not Turan
to be disgraced. Then Afrasiyab was caught in the meshes of
the net that Gersiwaz had spread. And he bade Gersiwaz go
forth and summon Saiawush unto his courts, and invite him to
bring the daughter of Afrasiyab to feast with her father.
And Gersiwaz sped forth with gladness, and delivered the
message of Afrasiyab unto the young King. Then Saiawush
"I am ready to do the will of Afrasiyab, and the bridle
of my horse is tied unto thy charger."
Then Gersiwaz thought within him, "If Saiawush come into
the presence of Afrasiyab, his courage and open spirit will
give the lie unto my words."
So he feigned before Saiawush a great sorrow, and when
the King questioned him thereof he consented to pour out
before him the griefs of his spirit. And he said to him how
that he loved him tenderly, and how he was in sorrow for his
sake, because that the ear of Afrasiyab had been poisoned
against him, and he counselled him that he should not seek
the courts of the King. And he said-
"Suffer me to return alone, and I will soften the heart
of Afrasiyab towards thee; and when he shall be returned
unto a right spirit, I will summon thee forth unto his
Now Saiawush, who was true and void of guile, listened
unto these words, for he knew not that they were false. So
he sent words of greeting and of excuse unto Afrasiyab, and
he said that he could not quit the chamber of Ferangis, for
she was sick and chained unto her couch. And Gersiwaz rode
forth bearing the letter, and he sware unto Saiawush that he
would cement the peace that was broken. But when he came
unto Afrasiyab he delivered not the writing, but spake evil
things of Saiawush, and maligned him. And he fed the anger
of Afrasiyab, until the King commanded that the army be led
forth to go against Saiawush his friend, and he took the
lead thereof himself.
Now when the men of Turan came nigh unto the city that
Saiawush had builded, Gersiwaz sent an envoy unto Saiawush,
"Flee, I counsel thee, for my words have availed nought,
and Afrasiyab cometh forth in enmity against thee."
When Saiawush learned this he was sore downcast in his
spirit, and he went unto Ferangis and charged her how she
should act when he should be fallen by the hands of
Afrasiyab, for he held it vile to go forth in combat with
one who had been to him a father. So he made ready his house
for death. Now when he came to his steed of battle he
pressed its head unto his breast, and he wept over it and
spake into its ear. And he said-
"Listen, O my horse, and be brave and prudent; neither
attach thyself unto any man until the day that Kai Khosrau,
my son, shall arise to avenge me. From him alone receive the
saddle and the rein."
Then he bade the men of Iran that were about him go back
unto their land, and when all was ready he went forth beyond
the gates. But even yet he hoped to turn from him the
suspicions of Afrasiyab, and he would not suffer his men to
offer combat unto the men of Turan. So he went before
Afrasiyab, and questioned him wherefore he was come out in
anger against him. Now Gersiwaz suffered not Afrasiyab to
reply, but heaped reproaches upon Saiawush, and said that he
had received him vilely, and that he had slandered his
benefactor. And Saiawush, when he had listened, was
confounded, and in vain did he strive to bear down the
upbraiding of his foe. For the heart of Afrasiyab was
angered yet the more, now that his eyes rested yet again
upon the face of Saiawush, whom he loved, because he deemed
that he must give credit unto the words of his brother, and
because distrust of Iran was graven in his soul. So he
hardened himself against the speech of Saiawush, and he bade
the army fall upon his beloved. But Saiawush remembered his
oath, and he stretched not forth his hand against Afrasiyab,
neither did he defend himself from the assaults of his men,
and he bade the warriors that were with him that they
unsheathe not the sword. So speedily were they mown down,
and their bodies lay round about Saiawush their King. And
when all were slain a knight stretched out his hand against
Saiawush, yet he slew him not, but bound him with cords, and
led him before Afrasiyab the King. And Afrasiyab commanded
that Saiawush be led forth into a desert place, and that his
head be severed from off his trunk. Now the army murmured
when they heard this command, and beheld the beauty of
Saiawush and his face of truth, and there stepped forth one
from among the nobles to plead for him. But Gersiwaz would
not suffer the heart of Afrasiyab to be softened.
Now while Gersiwaz yet spake evil of the young King,
there came forth from the house of the women Ferangis, the
daughter of Afrasiyab, and she demanded audience of her
father. And when he would have denied it, she forced herself
into his presence, and she pleaded for her lord, and she
sware that evil tongues had maligned him, and she entreated
of her father that he would not destroy the joy he had given
to her. And she said-
"Listen, O King! if thou destroyest Saiawush, thou
becomest a foe unto thyself. Deliver not by thy folly the
land of Turan unto the winds, and remember the deeds that
have been done of Iran in the days that are gone by. An
avenger will arise from out the midst of the Kaianides.
Mayest thou never recall my counsel too late."
But the world grew dark before the eyes of Afrasiyab with
anger. And he spake, and said-
"Go hence, and trouble not again my face; for how canst
thou judge of that which is right?"
Then he commanded that she should be bound, and cast into
Now Gersiwaz, when he beheld the anger of the King,
deemed that the time was ripe. He therefore gave a sign unto
the men that held Saiawush in bondage, and desired that they
should slay him. And by the hairs of his head they dragged
him unto a desert place, and the sword of Gersiwaz was
planted in the breast of the royal cedar. But when it was
done, and they had severed the head from the trunk, a mighty
storm arose over the earth, and the heavens were darkened.
Then they trembled and were sore afraid, and repented them
of their deed. And clamour arose in the house of Saiawush,
and the cries of Ferangis reached even unto Afrasiyab her
father. Then the King commanded that she should be killed
also. But Piran spake, and said-
"Not so, wicked and foolish man. Wouldst thou lift thine
hand against thine offspring, and hast thou not done enough
that is evil? Shed not, I counsel thee, the blood of yet
another innocent. But if thou desire to look no more upon
Ferangis, I pray thee confide her unto me, that she may be
to me a daughter in my house, and I will guard her from
Then Afrasiyab said, "Do that which seemeth best in thy
And he was glad in his heart, for he desired not to look
upon the face that should recall to him the friend that he
had loved. So Piran took Ferangis unto his house beyond the
mountains, and Afrasiyab returned unto his courts. But the
King was sorrowful in his spirit and unquiet in his heart,
and he could not cease from thinking of Saiawush, and he
repented of that which he had done.
The Return of Kai Khosrau
In a little time it came about that there was born unto
Ferangis, in the house of Piran, a son of the race of
Saiawush. And Piran, when he had seen the babe, goodly of
mien, who already in his cradle was like unto a king, sware
a great oath that Afrasiyab should not destroy it. And when
he went before the King to tell unto him the tidings, he
pleaded for him with his lips. Now the heart of Afrasiyab
had been softened in his sorrow for Saiawush, wherefore he
shut his ear unto the evil counsellors that bade him destroy
the babe which should bring vengeance upon Turan. And he
" I repent me of mine evil deed unto Saiawush, and though
it be written that much evil shall come upon me from this
child sprung from the loins of Tur and Kai Kobad, I will
strive no more to hinder the decree of the stars; let him,
therefore, be reared unto manhood. Yet I pray that he be
brought up among shepherds in the mountains far from the
haunts of men, and that his birth be hidden from him, that
he may not learn of his father or of the cruel things I did
And Piran consented unto the desires of Afrasiyab, and he
rejoiced because he had spared the babe. Then he took the
infant from its mother and bare it unto the mountains of
Kalun, and confided the boy unto the shepherds of the
flocks. And he said-
"Guard this child even as your souls, so that neither
rain nor dust come near him."
Thus it came about that no man knew of the babe, neither
did Ferangis know whither it was vanished. But oftentimes
was Piran sore disturbed in his spirit, for he knew that the
beginning of strife was yet to come, and that much evil must
befall Turan from this infant. Yet he forgot not his promise
of protection given unto Saiawush his friend, whom he had
led to put his trust in Afrasiyab. So he quieted his spirit
from thinking, for he knew that no man can change the course
of the stars.
Now when some time was passed the shepherds came out to
Piran and told him how they could not restrain this boy,
whose valour was like to that of a king. Then Piran went
forth to visit Kai Khosrau, and he was amazed when he looked
upon him and beheld his beauty and his strength, and he
pressed him unto his heart with tenderness. Then Kai Khosrau
"O thou that bearest high thy head, art thou not ashamed
to press unto thee the son of a shepherd? "
But Piran was inflamed with love for the boy, so he
pondered not his words, but said-
"O heir of kings, thou art not the son of a shepherd."
Then he told him of his birth, and clad him in robes
befitting his station, and took him back with him unto his
house. And henceforward was Kai Khosrau reared in the bosom
of Piran and of Ferangis his mother. And the days rolled
above their heads in happiness.
Then it came about one night that Piran was awakened by a
messenger from Afrasiyab the King. And the King bade Piran
come before him. And when he was come unto him, he said-
"My heart is disquieted because of the child of Saiawush,
and I repent me of my weakness which kept him alive; for in
my dreams I have beheld that he will do much evil unto
Turan. Wherefore I would now slay him to avert calamity."
Then Piran, wise in counsel, opened his mouth before
Afrasiyab and spake, saying-
"O King, disquiet not thyself because of this boy, for he
is devoid of wit; and though his face be like unto that of a
Peri, his head, which should bear a crown, is empty of
reason. Commit, therefore, no violence, but suffer that this
innocent continue to dwell among the flocks."
Afrasiyab, when he had listened to these words of wile,
was comforted; yet he said-
"Send Kai Khosrau before me, that I may behold with mine
eyes his simplicity."
And Piran assented to his request, because he ventured
not to gainsay it. So he returned him unto his house and
sought out the boy, and told him how he should disguise his
wit before the King. Then he led him unto the court mounted
upon a goodly charger, and all the people shouted when they
beheld his beauty and his kingly mien. And Afrasiyab too was
confounded at his aspect, and he gazed with wonder at his
limbs of power, and he strove to remember the promise that
he had given unto Piran that he would not hurt a hair of the
head of this boy. Then he began to question him that he
might search his spirit. And he said-
"Young shepherd, how knowest thou the day from the night?
What doest thou with thy flocks? How countest thou thy sheep
and thy goats?"
And Kai Khosrau replied-
"There is no game, and I have neither cords nor bow and
Then the King questioned him concerning the milk that was
given of the herds. And Kai Khosrau said-
"The tiger-cats are dangerous and have mighty claws."
Then Afrasiyab put to him yet a third question, and he asked
"What is the name of thy mother?"
And Kai Khosrau answered and said-"
"The dog ventureth not to bark when a lion threateneth him."
Then Afrasiyab asked him yet again whether he desired to go
forth into the land of Iran and be avenged upon his enemies.
And Kai Khosrau answered and said-
"When a leopard appeareth, the heart of a brave man is
torn with fear."
And Afrasiyab smiled at these answers and questioned him
no further. And he said unto Piran-
"Restore the boy unto his mother, and let him be reared
with kindness in the city that Saiawush hath builded, for I
behold that from him can no harm alight upon Turan."
When Piran heard these words he hastened to remove Kai
Khosrau from the court, and his heart was glad because of
the danger that had passed by. So Kai Khosrau was reared in
the house of his father, and Ferangis spake unto him of
Saiawush and of the vengeance that was due. And she
instructed him concerning the heroes of Iran and their deeds
of prowess, as she had learned them from Saiawush her lord.
In the mean season Kai Kaous had learned of the death of
Saiawush his son, and a mighty wailing went forth throughout
the land of Iran, so that even the nightingale in the
cypress was silent of her song, and the leaves of the
pomegranate tree in the forest were withered for sorrow. And
the heroes that stood about the throne of Kai Kaous clad
themselves in the garb of woe, and bare dust upon their
heads in place of helmets. And Rustem, when he learned of
it, was bowed to the earth with agony, and for seven days he
stirred not from the ground, neither would he let food or
comfort come near him. But on the eighth he roused him from
the earth, and caused the trumpets of brass to be sounded
into the air. And he assembled his warriors, and marched
with them into Iran, and he came before Kai Kaous and
Now when he was come into the presence-chamber he found
the Shah seated upon his throne. He was clothed in dust from
his head unto his feet, because of his grief. But Rustem
regarded it not, and straightway reproached him, and said-
"O King of evil nature, behold the harvest that is sprung
from the seed that thou didst sow! The love of Sudaveh and
her vile intents have torn from off thy head the diadem of
kings, and Iran hath suffered cruel loss because of thy
folly and thy suspicions. It is better for a king that he be
laid within his shroud than that he be given over to the
dominion of a woman. Alas for Saiawush! Was ever hero like
unto him? And henceforward I will know neither rest nor joy
until his cruel death be avenged."
When Kai Kaous had listened to the words of his Pehliva,
the colour of shame mounted into his cheek, but he held his
peace, for he knew that the words spoken of Rustem were
deserved. Then Rustem, when he saw that the King answered
him not, strode out from his presence. And he went into the
house of the women, and sought for Sudaveh, who had given
over Saiawush unto death. And when he had found her, he tore
her from off her throne, and he plunged his dagger into her
heart, and he quitted her not until the life was gone from
her. And Kai Kaous, when he learned it, trembled and was
afraid, for he dared not oppose himself unto Rustem. Then
Rustem commanded that the army of vengeance be made ready.
And he said-
"I will make the earth to tremble before my mace, as it
shall tremble on the day of judgment."
And when all was prepared they made them haste to be
gone, and the air was full of the gleaming of armour, and
the rattling of drums was heard on all sides.
Now when Afrasiyab learned that a great army was come
forth from Iran to avenge the death of Saiawush, he bade
Sarkha, the best beloved of his sons, lead forth the hosts
of Turan against them. But he craved Sarkha have a care that
Rustem, the son of Zal, put not his life in danger. And
Sarkha set forth, bearing aloft the black banner of Turan,
and he went towards the plains where Rustem was encamped.
Now when the armies beheld one another, their hearts were
inflamed, and the battle raged sore, and many were the brave
heads laid low on that day. And Sarkha fell into the hands
of Rustem, and he spared him not, because he was the best
beloved son of Afrasiyab. So he gave orders that Sarkha be
slain, even as Saiawush was slain, that the heart of his
enemy might be rent with anguish.
And when Afrasiyab learned it he was beside himself with
grief. And when he had torn his hair and wailed in the dust
for his son, he arose to go forth unto the army, that he
might avenge his death. And he said unto his knights-
"Henceforth ye must not think of sleep or hunger, neither
must ye breathe aught but vengeance, for I will never stay
my hand until this murder be avenged."
Now when the army that was with Afrasiyab came nigh unto
Rustem, Pilsam, that was brother to Piran, a warrior valiant
and true, challenged Rustem unto single combat. Then Piran
sought to stay him because of his youth, but Pilsam listened
not unto his counsel. So Rustem came forth against him, and
he was armed with a stout lance, and he was wrapped about
with his anger. And he fell upon Pilsam with fury, and he
lifted him from his saddle, and he took him by the girdle
and flung him, as a thing that is vile, into the midst of
the camp of the Turanians. Then he shouted with a voice of
"I counsel you, wrap ye this man in robes of gold, for my
mace hath made him blue."
Now when the Turanians beheld that Pilsam was dead, they
wept sore, and their courage departed from out of them. And
in vain did Afrasiyab pray them to keep their hearts. Yet he
said within himself-
"The good fortune that watched over me is asleep."
And when they were met in battle yet again, and the army of
Rustem had beaten down once more that of Afrasiyab, the King
bethought him of flight. And the hosts of Turan vanished
like to the wind, but they left behind them much riches and
Now while they were flying from the face of Rustem,
Afrasiyab said unto Piran-
"Counsel me how I shall act concerning this child of
And Piran said, "Haste not to put him to death, for he shall
in nowise do thee hurt. But if thou wilt listen unto my
voice, send him far into Khoten, that he be hidden from
sight, and that the men of Iran learn not of his being."
And Afrasiyab did as Piran counselled, and a messenger
was sent forth to lead out the young King and his mother
unto the land of Cathay. And Afrasiyab himself fled until
that he came within the borders of China, and no man knew
where he was hidden. And the land of Turan was given over to
plunder, and the Iranians scathed it with fire and sword
because of Saiawush, whom Afrasiyab had foully slain. And
Rustem seated himself in the seat of Afrasiyab, and for the
space of seven years did he rule over the land. But in the
eighth messengers came out to him, and said how that Kai
Kaous was without a guide in Iran, and how they feared lest
folly might result from his deeds. So Rustem went forth to
stand beside his Shah.
Now when Afrasiyab learned that Rustem was departed out
of the land of Turan, his fears forsook him, and he gathered
together a mighty army, and he fell upon his borders, and he
regained them unto himself. And he wept when he beheld the
havoc that was come upon Turan, and he incited his army to
be avenged. So they fell into Iran, and shattered its host,
and they suffered not that repose come near unto their foes.
And they pursued them with fire and sword, and laid waste
their fields. And during seven years the heavens withheld
their rains, and good fortune was turned away from Iran, and
the prosperity of the land was quenched. And men groaned
sore under these misfortunes, neither did Rustem come forth
from Zaboulistan unto their aid.
Then it came about one night that Gudarz, who was
descended from Kawah the smith, dreamed a dream. He beheld a
cloud heavy with rain, and on the cloud was seated the
Serosch the blessed. And the angel of God said unto Gudarz-
"Open thine ears, if thou wilt deliver thy land from
anguish, and from Afrasiyab the Turk. There abideth in Turan
the son of a noble race, an issue sprung from the loins of
Saiawush, who is brave, and beareth high his head. And he is
sprung from Kai Kobad and from Tur, and from him alone can
deliverance come to Iran. Suffer, therefore, that Gew, thy
son, go forth in search of Kai Khosrau, and bid him remain
in his saddle until he shall have found this boy. For such
is the will of Ormuzd."
When Gudarz awoke, he thanked God for his dream, and
touched the ground with his white beard. And when the sun
was risen and had chased away the ravens of night, he called
before him his son, and he spake to him of his dream. And he
commanded him that he go forth to do the behests of God.
And Gew said, "I will obey thine orders while I live."
Then Gudarz said, "What companions wilt thou take with thee?
And Gew said, "My cord and my horse will suffice unto me for
company, for it is best to take none with me into Turan. For
behold, if I lead out an host, men will ask what I am, and
wherefore I come forth; but if I go alone, their doubts will
Then Gudarz said, "Go, and peace be upon thee."
So Gew made ready his steed, and when he had bidden farewell
unto the old man his father, he set out upon his travels.
And wherever he met a man walking alone, he questioned him
concerning Kai Khosrau; and if the man knew not the name, he
struck off his head, that none might learn his secret or
wherefore he was come forth.
Now Gew wandered thus many days throughout the length of
Turan, like to a man distraught, and he could learn nought
concerning Kai Khosrau, the young king. And seven years
rolled thus above his head, and he grew lean and sorrowful.
And for house he had nought save only his saddle, and for
nourishment and clothing the flesh and skin of the wild ass,
and in place of wine he had only bad water. And he began to
be downcast in his spirit, and afraid lest the dream dreamed
of his father had been sent unto him by a Deev. Now it came
about one day that while he pondered thus he entered a
forest, and when he was come into its midst, he beheld
therein a fountain, and a young man, slim as a cypress,
seated beside it. And the youth held in his hand a wine-cup,
and on his head was a crown of flowers, and his mien was
such that the soul of Gew rejoiced thereat, and the door of
his cares was loosened. And he said within himself-
"If this be not the King, then must I abandon my search,
for I think to behold in him the face of Saiawush."
Then he went nigh unto him.
Now when Kai Khosrau beheld the warrior, he smiled and said-
"O Gew, thou art welcome unto my sight, since thou art come
hither at the behest of God. Tell unto me now, I pray thee,
tidings of Tus and Gudarz, of Rustem, and of Kai Kaous the
King. Are they happy? Do they know of Kai Khosrau?"
When Gew heard this speech, he was confounded; and when
he had returned thanks unto God, he opened his mouth and
"O young King, who bearest high thy head, reveal unto me
who hath told thee of Gudarz and of Tus, of Rustem and of
Kai Kaous, and how knowest thou my name and aspect."
Then Kai Khosrau said, "My mother hath told me of the
things which she learned of my father. For I am son unto
Saiawush, and before he entered upon death he foretold unto
Ferangis how Gew would come forth from Iran to lead me unto
Then Gew said, "Prove unto me thy words. Suffer that mine
eyes behold the mark of the Kaianides which thou bearest
about thy body."
Then Kai Khosrau uncovered his arm, and when Gew looked
upon the mark that was borne of all the royal house since
the time of Kai Kobad, he fell down upon the ground and did
homage before this youth. But Kai Khosrau raised him from
the dust and embraced him, and questioned him concerning his
journey and the hardships he had passed through. Then Gew
mounted the young King upon his charger, and he walked
before him bearing an Indian sword unsheathed in his hand.
And they journeyed until they came to the city that Saiawush
Now when Ferangis saw them she received them joyfully,
for her quick spirit divined what was come to pass. But she
counselled them to tarry not in whatsoever they would do.
For she said-
"When Afrasiyab shall learn of this he will neither eat
nor sleep, he will send out an army against us. Let us flee,
therefore, before he cometh. And listen now unto the words
that I shall speak. Go forth unto the mountain that is
raised unto the clouds, and take with thee a saddle and a
bridle. And when thou shalt have scaled its crest thou wilt
behold a meadow green as a paradise, and browsing upon it
the flocks of Saiawush. And in their midst will be Behzah
the steed of battle. Go nigh unto him, my son, and embrace
him, and whisper thy name into his ear; and when he shall
have heard it he will suffer thee to mount him, and seated
upon him thou shalt escape from the slayer of thy father."
Then Gew and Kai Khosrau went out and did as Ferangis
told unto them; and they found the steed, and when Behzah
beheld the saddle of Saiawush and the leopard-skin he had
worn, he sighed, and his eyes were filled with tears. Then
he suffered Kai Khosrau to mount him, and they turned back
unto Ferangis. And she chose forth the armour of Saiawush
from among her treasures and gave it to her son, and she
clad herself in mail of Roum like unto a warrior, and she
sprang upon a horse of battle, and when all was done they
set forth to fly from the land of Afrasiyab.
Now one brought tidings unto Piran of these things, and
he was dismayed thereat, for he said-
"Now will be accomplished the fears of Afrasiyab, and
mine honour will be tarnished in his eyes."
So he bade Kelbad and three hundred valiant knights
pursue Kai Khosrau and bind him and bring him back in
Now Ferangis and her son slept for weariness by the
roadside, but Gew held guard over them. And when he beheld
Kelbad and the men that were with him, he knew that they
were come in pursuit; yet he awakened not Kai Khosrau, but
of his strength alone put them to flight. But when they were
gone he roused the sleepers, and he urged haste upon them.
But Piran, when he beheld that Kelbad returned unto him
defeated at the hand of one man, was loath to credit it, and
he was angered against him, and said that he would go forth
himself. So Piran made him ready, and a thousand brave
warriors went with him. For Piran was afraid of the anger of
Afrasiyab, and that he would put this flight unto his
account, and not unto that of the rotation of the stars. Now
when he was come unto the fugitives Gew and the young King
slumbered, but Ferangis was keeping watch. And when she
beheld the army she woke them and bade them prepare for
combat; but Gew suffered not that Kai Khosrau should go
forth, for he said-
"If I fall, what mattereth that? my father hath seventy
and eight sons like unto me; but thou art alone, and if thy
head shall fall, what other is worthy of the crown?"
And Kai Khosrau did as Gew desired. Then Gew gave combat
unto Piran, and by his courage he overcame the army; and he
caught the old man Piran in the meshes of his cord. Then he
brought him bound before Ferangis and Kai Khosrau her son.
Now Piran, when he beheld Kai Khosrau, demanded not mercy
at his hands, but invoked the blessings of Heaven upon his
head, and he mourned the fate of Saiawush. And he said-
"O King, had thy slave been nigh unto Afrasiyab, surely
the head of thy father would not have fallen at his hands.
And it was I who preserved thee and Ferangis thy mother, yet
now is it given unto me to fall under thy hands."
When Kai Khosrau heard these words his heart went out
unto Piran, and when he looked towards his mother he saw
that her eyes were filled with tears. Then she opened her
mouth and poured forth curses upon Afrasiyab her father, and
she wailed the fate of Saiawush, and she pleaded for the
life of this good old man. For she said-
"His tenderness hath been an asylum unto our sorrow, and
now is it given unto us to remember the benefits we have
received at his hands."
But Gew, when he heard it, said-
"O Queen, I pray thee speak not thus, for I have sworn a
great oath that I would stain the earth with the blood of
Piran, and how can I depart from my vow?"
Then Kai Khosrau said, "O hero like unto a lion, thou
shalt not break the oath that thou hast made before God.
Satisfy thy heart and accomplish thy vow. Pierce with thy
dagger the ear of Piran, and let his blood fall on the
earth, that thy vengeance and my clemency may both be
Then Gew did as Kai Khosrau bade, and when he had
crimsoned the earth with the blood of Piran, they mounted
him upon a charger fleet of foot and bound him thereon, and
caused him to swear unto them that none other but Gulshehr
his wife should release him from these bonds. And Piran
sware it and went forth, and his mouth poured blessings upon
Now while these things were passing Afrasiyab grew
impatient, and set forth himself at the head of a great army
that he might learn tidings of Kai Khosrau. And when he
heard that the armies had been beaten at the hand of one
man, his cheeks grew pale with fear; but when he met Piran
his Pehliva tied upon his charger, his anger knew no bounds,
so that he cried aloud, and commanded Piran that he depart
from out his presence. Then he sware that he would himself
destroy this Gew, and lay low the head of Kai Khosrau and of
his mother. And he made great haste after them, and he urged
upon his men that they must find Kai Khosrau before he
should have crossed the Jihun and have entered upon the land
of Iran; yet before ever he was come nigh to them, the three
were come unto its banks.
Now, a boat was lying ready, and a boatman slumbered
beside it; and Gew roused him, and said that he should bear
them across the river. But the man was greedy of gain, and
beheld that Gew was in haste. So he said-
"Why should I carry thee across? Yet, if thou desire it,
I demand that thou give unto me one of four things: thy coat
of mail, or thy black horse, yon woman, or the crown of gold
worn by this young man."
Then Gew was angry, and said-
"Thou speakest like a fool; thou knowest not what thou dost
Then he turned unto Kai Khosrau, and said-
"If thou be Kai Khosrau indeed, thou wilt not fear to enter
this river and cross it, even as it was crossed by Feridoun
Now the river was swollen with the rains, but the young
King regarded it not. He entered upon its surge with Behzah
his steed, and the horse of his father bare him across the
boiling waters. And Ferangis followed after him and Gew the
bold. And when Kai Khosrau was come unto the other side, he
dismounted and knelt and kissed the ground of Iran, and gave
thanks unto God the mighty.
Yet scarce were they come to the other side than
Afrasiyab came up with his army. And Afrasiyab demanded of
the boatman wherefore he had borne them across, and when the
man told him how it was come to pass, the King was bowed
down with anguish, for he knew now that that which was
written would be accomplished. So he returned him right
sorrowful unto his house.
Now when Kai Khosrau came nigh unto the courts of the
Shah, Gew sent a writing unto Kai Kaous and told him all
that was come to pass. And Kai Kaous sent forth riders to
lead before him his son; and the city was decked to give him
welcome, and all the nobles received him joyfully, and Kai
Kaous was glad at the sight of him, and all men regarded Kai
Khosrau as the heir, and only Tus was sorrowful at that
which was come to pass. But Tus was angered, and said that
he would pay homage only unto Friburz, and to none other.
And he came before Kai Kaous and said-
"Friburz is thy son also, why therefore wilt thou give
the crown unto one who is sprung from the race of Afrasiyab?
Then Gew said, "It is fitting that the son of Saiawush
should succeed unto the throne."
But Tus listened not, and refused allegiance unto Kai
Khosrau, and there was strife among the nobles of Iran.
Then one came before Kai Kaous and begged of him that he
would declare himself, for he said-
"If we are divided among ourselves we shall fall a prey
into the hands of Afrasiyab. Let the Shah, therefore, bind
up this quarrel."
Then Kai Kaous said, "Ye ask of me that which is hard,
for both my sons are dear unto me, and how should I choose
between them? Yet I will bethink me of a means to quiet this
dissension. Let Kai Khosrau and Friburz go forth unto
Bahman, the fortress that is upon my borders which no man
hath conquered, for it is an abode of Deevs, and fire
issueth thence continually. And let them take with them an
army, and I will bestow my crown and my treasures upon him
at whose hands the castle shall be subdued."
So Friburz and Kai Khosrau set forth, and Kai Khosrau
suffered that his elder take the lead. But in vain did
Friburz strive against the Deevs that were hidden behind the
walls, and when seven days had passed he returned
discomfited from his emprise. Then Kai Khosrau set forth,
and he wrote a letter, amber-perfumed, and in it he desired
the evil Deevs that they give place unto him in the name of
Ormuzd. And he affixed the letter unto the point of his
lance, and when he was come nigh unto the burning fort he
flung it beyond the walls. Then a great noise rent the air
like thunder, and the world became darkened, and when the
light returned unto the sky the castle was vanished from off
the face of the earth.
Now when Kai Kaous heard it, he knew that the son of
Saiawush was learned in the arts of magic, as was fitting
unto a king; and he beheld also that he was wise and brave.
And because that he was weary he surrendered the throne unto
him, and Kai Khosrau wore the crown of the Kaianides in his
But a little while had Kai Khosrau sat upon the throne of
Iran, yet the world resounded with his fame, and all men
bare upon their lips the praises of his wisdom. He cleansed
the earth of the rust of care, and the power of Afrasiyab
was chained up. And men from all parts of the earth came
forth to do homage before him; and Rustem also, and Zal the
aged, did obeisance at his footstool. And there came with
them an army that made the plains black like to ebony, and
the sounds of their war trumpets made the heart to tremble.
Then Kai Kaous made ready a great feast to do honour to his
Pehliva. And when they were seated thereat his mouth ran
over with praises of Saiawush, and he lamented the evil that
he had done, and he poured maledictions upon the head of
Afrasiyab. And he spake unto Kai Khosrau his son, and said-
"I demand of thee that thou swear before me a great oath,
and that thou keep it carefully. Swear unto me that thy
heart shall be ever filled with hatred of Afrasiyab, and
that thou wilt not let this flame be quenched by the waters
of forgetfulness, and that thou regard him not as the father
of thy mother, and that thou think only of Saiawush thy
sire, whom he hath slain. And swear unto me further that
there shall be no other mediator between you save only the
sword and the mace."
Then Kai Khosrau turned him towards the fire and sware
the oath demanded of his sire, and he vowed to keep it in
the name of God the Most High. And Kai Kaous caused the oath
to be written on a royal scroll, and he confided it to the
care of Rustem his Pehliva. And when it was done they
feasted seven days without ceasing, but on the eighth Kai
Khosrau mounted his throne. Then he called about him his
nobles, and he said unto them that the time was ripe to
avenge the death of his father, and he bade them make ready
their armies, and he told them how on a certain day they
should lead them out before him.
Now when the day was come Kai Khosrau descended into the
plains to receive them. And he was seated upon an elephant
of war, and on his head he wore the crown of might, and
about his neck the chain of supremacy; and in his hand he
bare a mace of might, and on his arms were bracelets of
great worth, and precious stones were strewn about his
garments. Now when he was come into the midst of the camp he
threw a ball of silver into a cup of gold. And when the army
heard the sound thereof they knew it to be the signal, and
they arose and passed before the Shah. And the first to come
forth was the army of Friburz. And Friburz was seated upon a
horse of saffron hue, and he wore shoes of gold upon his
feet, and in his hands were a sword and a mace; and around
his saddle was rolled a cord of might, and over his head
floated a banner the colour of the sun. And Kai Khosrau,
when he saw him, invoked blessings upon his head. And there
came after Friburz Gudarz the wise in counsel, and behind
him was borne a standard whereon was broidered a lion. And
at his right hand and his left marched his mighty sons, and
a brave army followed after them. And they did homage before
the Shah, and Kai Khosrau regarded them kindly. Then there
came after them yet many other noble knights, eager for
battle as a bull whom no man hath put to flight, and the
sounds of cymbals and the bells of war-elephants filled the
air, and lances and targets gleamed in the sun, and banners
of many hues streamed upon the breeze. And Kai Khosrau
blessed his heroes every one. Then he caused his treasurer
to bring forth rich gifts of gold and jewels and slaves, and
brocades of Roum, and cloth of gold, and skins of beaver.
And they placed them before him, and he divided them into
portions, and he said they should be owned of those who
should do feats of valour in the war against Afrasiyab. Then
he bade them to a great feast, and they made merry in the
house of the Shah.
But when the sun had unsheathed its sword of light and
the sombre night was fled in fear, Kai Khosrau commanded
that the trumpets of departure sound. Then the army came
before the Shah, and he gave into the keeping of Tus the
standard of Kawah, and he bade him lead forth the hosts. And
he said unto Tus-
"Be obedient unto my will and lead mine army aright. I
desire of thee that thou avenge the death of my father, but
I desire also that thou molest none but those that fight.
Have mercy upon the labourer and spare the helpless. And
furthermore, I charge thee that thou pass not through the
land of Kelat, but that thou leave it on one side and take
thy course through the desert. For in Kelat abideth Firoud
my brother, who was born of the daughter of Piran, and he
dwelleth in happiness, and I would not that sorrow come nigh
unto him. And he knoweth no man in Iran, not even by name,
and unto no man hath he done hurt, and I desire that no harm
come to him."
And Tus said, "I will remember thy will and take the road
that thou commandest."
Then the army set forth towards Turan, and they marched
many days until they came to a spot where the roads parted.
And the one led unto the desert, arid and devoid of water,
and the other led unto Kelat. Now when they were come to the
parting of the roads the army halted until Tus should have
told unto them which road they should follow. And when Tus
came up he said unto Gudarz-
"The desert is void of water, and what shall we do
deprived thereof, for the army sore needeth refreshment
after its march of weariness? It is better, therefore, that
we should take the road that leadeth to Kelat, and abide
there a while that our men may be rested."
And Gudarz said, "The King hath set thee at the head of
his army, but I counsel thee choose the path that he hath
named, lest sorrow come upon thee."
But Tus laughed, and said, "O noble hero, disquiet not
thyself, for what I do is pleasing in. the sight of the
Then he commanded the army that they march into Kelat,
and he remembered not the desires of Kai Khosrau.
Now when Firoud saw that the sky was darkened with dust
from the feet of dromedaries and elephants of battle, he
called before him Tokhareh his counsellor, and questioned
him concerning these things. And Tokhareh said-
"O young man, thou knowest not what is come to pass. This
army pertaineth unto thy brother, and he hath sent it forth
into Turan that the death of thy father be avenged; and it
marcheth right upon Kelat, and I know not where the battle
may take place."
Now Firoud, who was void of experience, was troubled when
he learned this; and he made safe his castle that was upon a
high hill, and he gathered in his flocks. Then he seated
himself upon the ramparts and looked down over the sea of
armour that approached him. And when he had done so he went
in before his mother, who had never ceased from weeping for
Saiawush her spouse. And he told her what was come about,
and he asked of her how he should act. Then she said unto
"Listen, O my son I There is a new Shah in Iran, and he
is brother unto thee, for ye are sprung from one father.
Now, since thy brother sendeth forth an host to avenge his
murder, it beseemeth thee not to remain aloof, but rather
shouldst thou serve as vanguard unto the host. Wherefore
call together thy knights, and then go forth and seek out
the leader of this host, and make thyself known to him. For
it behoveth not a stranger to reap this glory or usurp the
place that is due unto thy rank."
Then Firoud said, "Who shall be my stay in battle among
the heroes who carry high their heads?"
And his mother said, "Seek out Bahram, for he was a
friend unto thy father. And listen also to the words of
Tokhareh, and go not out at once with thine army until thou
hast made thyself known unto the men of Iran."
Then Firoud said, "O my mother, I will faithfully observe
And he went forth unto a high place on the mountain, and
he took with him Tokhareh, and they looked down upon the
mighty army that was spread at their feet. Then Firoud
questioned of the warriors, and Tokhareh answered him
according to his knowledge. And he counted up the standards
of the heroes, and he made Firoud acquainted with the names
of might in Iran.
Now, while they were so doing, Tus beheld them upon the
heights, and he was angered at the sight of them, and said-
"Let a wary knight go forth unto those two seated aloft,
and search out what manner of men they be. And if they be of
the army, let them be lashed two hundred times about the
head; but if they be Turks and spies, bind them, and bring
them before me that I may destroy them."
Then Bahram, the son of Gudarz, said, "I will search into
And he rode forth towards the mountain. Now Firoud,
beholding him, said unto Tokhareh, "Who is he that cometh
out with so haughty an air? By his bearing it would seem
that he holdeth me of light esteem, and that he would mount
hither by force."
Then Tokhareh said, "O Prince, be not angered thus
easily. I know not his name, but I seem to behold the device
of Gudarz, and perchance this is one of his sons."
Now Bahram, when he had neared the summit, lifted up his
voice, that was like unto thunder, and cried, saying-
"Who art thou that seatest thyself upon the heights and
lookest down upon the army? Fearest thou not Tus the
Then Firoud answered and said-
"Speak not unto me thus haughtily, for I have given thee no
cause. Thinkest thou, perchance, that I am but a wild ass of
the desert, and that thou art a lion, great of might? It
behoveth a man of sense to put a bridle on his tongue. For I
say unto thee, that thou art in nowise my better, neither in
courage nor in might. Look upon me, and judge whether I have
not head and heart and brain, and when thou shalt have seen
that I possess them, threaten me not with empty words. I
counsel this unto thee in friendship. And if thou wilt
listen to reason, I will put some questions unto thee."
Then Bahram replied, "Speak; thou art in the sky, and I
am on the ground."
Then Firoud asked of him who were the chiefs of this
army, and wherefore they were come forth. And Bahram named
unto him the names of might. Then Firoud said unto him-
"Why hast thou not spoken the name of Bahram? There is
none among all the host of Iran that mine eyes would rather
Then Bahram said, "O youth, say unto me who hath spoken
unto thee thus of Bahram, and who hath made thee acquainted
with Gudarz and Gew."
Then Firoud said, "My mother hath made them known unto
me, and she bade me seek out Bahram from among this host,
because that he was foster-brother unto my father."
Then Bahram spake, and said, "Verily thou are Firoud, of
the seed of Saiawush."
And Firoud answered, "Thou hast said. I am a branch of
the cypress that was struck down."
. Then Bahram said, "Uncover thine arm, that I may behold
the mark of the Kaianides."
And Firoud did so, and Bahram beheld the mark. Then he
knew that Firoud was of the race of Kai Kobad, and he did
homage before him, and he drew nigh unto him on the
mountain. Then Firoud laid bare before Bahram his desires,
and he said how that he would make a great feast unto the
army in his house, and how, when this was done, he desired
to take the lead and march with it into Turan, and he craved
Bahram to bear his words of greeting unto Tus. And Bahram
"O Prince, brave and young, I will bear thy message unto
Tus, and I will implore of him that he listen to thy voice.
Yet because he is a man easily angered, I fear the answer he
may return. For though he be valiant, yet is he also vain,
and he cannot forget that he is sprung from the race of the
Kaianides, and he deemeth ever that the first place
pertaineth unto him."
Then Bahram told Firoud wherefore he had been sent forth
by Tus, and he departed from him, saying-
"If Tus hearken unto my voice, I will return unto thee;
but if thou beholdest another, confide not thyself to him."
Then he departed, and came before Tus, and related to him
all that he had heard. And Tus was beside himself with
anger, and he cried out against this young man, and
questioned wherefore he would usurp his place. And he
upbraided Bahram for that which he had done, and he refused
to give credit unto his words, and he sware that he would
cause this youth to perish. And he called upon his warriors,
and bade them go forth and sever the head of this Turk. But
Bahram said unto them-
"Ye know not that he sendeth you forth against Firoud,
who is brother unto Kai Khosrau, and sprung from the seed of
Saiawush. I counsel you have the fear of the Shah before
your eyes, and lift not your hands in injustice against his
When the warriors heard these words, they retreated back
into the tents. But Tus was angered exceedingly, and he
commanded yet again that one should go forth to do his
behests. Then Rivniz, who was husband unto the daughter of
Tus, said that he would do his desires. So he rode forth
unto the mountain.
Now when Firoud beheld a horseman, who brandished aloft
his sword in enmity, he said unto Tokhareh-
"Tus despiseth my words, and since Bahram cometh not
back, my heart is disquieted. Look, I pray thee, if thou
canst tell unto me what noble this may be."
And Tokhareh said, "It is Rivniz, a knight of great
cunning, son unto Tus, whose daughter he hath in marriage."
Then Firoud asked, saying, "Since he attacketh me, whom
shall I slay-the steed or its rider?"
And Tokhareh said, "Direct thine arms against the man,
then perchance, when Tus shall learn of his death, he will
repent him that he listened not unto thy words of peace."
So Firoud bent his bow and shot Rivniz through the
breast. And he fell dead from off his saddle, and his horse
turned him back in terror unto the camp. Now when Tus beheld
the horse that was come back without its rider, he knew what
was come to pass, and his anger against Firoud burned yet
the more. So he called unto him Zerasp his son, and bade him
go forth and avenge the blood of Rivniz. And when Firoud saw
him approach, he asked yet again the name of his foe, and he
prepared his bow, that Tus might learn that he was a man
that should not be treated with dishonour. And when Zerasp
would have fought with him, he pinned him dead unto his
saddle. And the horse sped back with him into the camp, so
that Tus saw that which was come about. Then his fury knew
no limit, and he sprang upon his charger, and he set forth
himself against Firoud.
Now when Tokhareh beheld it, he said unto Firoud-
"Tus himself is come forth to combat thee, and thou canst
not stand against this crocodile. Retreat, therefore, I
counsel thee, into thy castle, and let us await the decrees
of the stars."
But Firoud answered in anger, "Who is Tus, that I should
fear him? I will not flee from his presence."
Then Tokhareh said, "If thou be resolved to do battle
with this lion, I counsel thee that thou destroy him not,
lest thy brother be angered if the leader of his host perish
by thy hand. Moreover, the army will come forth to avenge
him, and how canst thou stand against an host? Direct thine
arrows, therefore, against his charger, for a prince
fighteth not on foot. if, therefore, thou kill his horse
from Under him, thou wilt have shown unto him thy skill."
Then Firoud did as Tokhareh counselled, and the arrow was
faithful to its aim, and he shot the horse of Tus from under
him, and laid the charger low upon the ground. And Tus had
to turn him back on foot unto his camp, and rage against
Firoud burned in his spirit. And the nobles, when they
beheld their Pehliva treated thus with contempt,- were angry
also, and Gew said-
"Who is this young man, that he despiseth an army, and
how may he treat us with disdain? 'Though he be of the race
of the Kaianides, and of the seed of Kai Kobad, he hath
opened a door, and knoweth not whither it leadeth."
And as he spake he girded his armour about him, and made
him ready to go out against Firoud.
Now when Firoud beheld him he sighed, and said, "This
army is valiant, but it cannot distinguish good from evil. I
fear me that by them will Saiawush not be avenged, for their
leader is devoid of sense. Else could he not persist in
enmity against me. Tell me now, I pray, who this new foe may
Then Tokhareh said, "It is Gew, the son of Gudarz, a
knight of great renown, before whom even the lion trembleth
unto his marrow. And he led forth thy brother into Iran, and
he is girt with the armour of Saiawush, that no man can
pierce with in arrow. Direct thy bow, therefore, yet again
unto the charger, or thy strife will be vain."
And Firoud the brave did as Tokhareh said, and he sent
forth his arrow, and the horse of Gew sank unto the earth.
Now all the nobles rejoiced when Gew returned unto them in
safety; but Byzun, his son, was wroth, and he upbraided his
father, and he said-
"O thou who fearest not an army, how canst thou turn thee
back before a single knight?"
Then he sware a great oath that he would not quit the
saddle until the blood of Rivniz and of Zerasp should be
Now Gew was afraid for his son, who was young, and would
have restrained him. But Byzun suffered it not, and when his
father saw that he was resolved, he gave unto him the armour
of Saiawush, and sent him forth unto the mountain.
Now when Firoud saw that yet another was come out against
him, he questioned Tokhareh again of his name. And Tokhareh
"It is a youth who hath not his like in Iran. Byzun is he
called, and he is only son unto Gew the brave. And because
that he is clad in the armour of Saiawush, thy father,
strike at his horse, or thy bow will avail thee nought."
So Firoud shot his arrows at the horse, and he laid it
low, as he had done the others. Then Byzun cried, saying-
"O young man, who aimest thus surely, thou shalt behold
how warriors fight on foot."
And he ran up the side of the mountain, that he might
come near unto Firoud. But Firoud turned and entered in upon
his gates, and he rained down stones from his walls upon the
head of his adversary. Then Byzun taunted him, and said-
"O hero of renown, thou fliest before a man on foot, thou
who art brave! Alas! whither is vanished thy courage? "
Then he returned unto the camp, and told unto Tus how
that this scion of the Kaianides was filled with valour, and
how his bow was sure, and he said that he feared no man
could stand against him. But Tus said, "I will raze unto the
dust his castle, I will destroy this Turk, and avenge the
blood that he hath spilled."
Now when the brilliant sun was vanished and the black
night had invaded the earth with her army of stars, Firoud
caused his castle to be strengthened. And while he did so,
his mother dreamed a dream of evil portent, and she came
forth weeping before her son. And she spake, saying-
"O my son, the stars are evil disposed towards us, and I
am afraid for thee."
Then Firoud answered her, saying, "Woe unto thee, my
mother, for I know it is not given unto thee to cease from
shedding tears of sorrow. For verily I shall perish like
unto my father, in the flower of my youth. Yet will I not
crave mercy of these Iranians."
And he bade her go back unto the chamber of the women,
and pray God for his soul.
Now when the sun returned and lifted his glorious face
above the vault of heaven, there was heard the sound of
armour on all sides, and Firoud beheld that the host of Iran
was come forth against him. So he went out beyond the gates,
leading his warriors. And since there was no plain whereon
they could give battle, they fought upon the mountain-side,
and many were the Turkish heads that were felled. But Firoud
made great havoc among his enemies, and they beheld that he
was a lion in the fight. But the stars of the young hero
were waning, for even a brave man cannot contend alone
against an host. For when he would have ridden back unto his
castle, Rehham and Byzun lay in ambush against him, and they
closed unto him the two ends of the path. But Firoud was not
dismayed thereat. He fell upon the son of Gew, and would
have slain him; but Rehham came upon him from behind, and
struck him down with a mighty club. Then Firoud knew that
his hour was come, and he returned unto his mother. Now when
she saw him she raised a great cry, but he bade her keep
silence, and he spake, saying-
"Weep not, for the time suffereth it not. For the
Iranians follow fast upon me, and they will enter and take
this house, and do violence unto thee and to thy women. Go
out, therefore, and cast you from off the walls into the
abyss, that death may come upon you, and that Byzun when he
entereth find none alive. As for me, my moments are but few,
for the heroes of Iran have murdered the days of my youth."
And the women did as he commanded, save only his mother,
who abode beside him until the breath was gone out from his
body. Then she made a great fire, and threw therein all his
treasures, and she went out into the stables and laid low
the horses that were therein. And when she had made the
place a desert unto the Iranians, she returned unto the feet
of her son, and pierced her body with a sword.
Now when the Iranians had broken down the bars of the
gates and entered into the castle, they came unto the
chamber and beheld the bodies of Firoud and of his mother.
And when they saw them, they could not withhold their tears,
and they sorrowed for the anger of Tus, and the fear of Kai
Khosrau came upon them. And Gudarz said unto Tus-
"Thou hast sown hatred, and thou wilt reap war. It
beseemeth not a leader to be quick to ire. Thy haste hath
brought to death a youth of the race of the Kaianides, and
hath caused the blood of thy sons to be spilled."
When Tus heard these words he wept in his sorrow, and
"Evil fortune is come upon me."
Then he caused a royal tomb to be made, and seated Firoud
therein upon a throne of gold, and he decked him with all
the signs of kingship. And when he had so done he returned
with his army unto the plains, and three days they halted in
their grief. But on the fourth the trumpets were sounded for
departure, and Tus led forth the army towards Turan.
Now when Afrasiyab learned that a host was come forth
against him from out of Iran, he bade Piran make ready his
army. For he said-
"Kai Khosrau hath unveiled unto us the secrets of his
heart, and we know now that forgiveness is not hidden in his
Now while they made them in order, there came a great
storm of snow that covered the earth like to a carpet, and
the water became hard, and for many days no man beheld the
earth or the sun. And food was lacking unto the Iranians,
and they were fain to devour their steeds of battle. And
when at last the sun came back, the earth was changed into a
lake, and the Iranians suffered yet again. Then Tus said-
"Let us return whence we came forth."
But his army said, "Not so. Shall we flee before the face of
So they made them ready to meet their foes. And they
fought right valiantly, and many were the heads of Turan
that were laid in the dust by their hands, and the victory
inclined towards them. Then Tus was glad, and made a great
feast and invited thereto his warriors. And he darkened
their heads with wine, so that they laid aside their armour,
neither did they set watches in the camp. Now Piran, when he
learned of this, saw that the time served him, and when the
night was fallen he went out against the camp of Iran. And
all the nobles were drunk save only Gudarz the wise. Now
when he heard that the Turanians were come into the camp, he
ran to the tents of Tus and cried, saying-
"Is this the hour to hold the wine-cup?"
Then he called together his sons, and he set his army in
order; but the Turanians routed them utterly, for the men of
Iran were heavy with wine, and they knew not whither they
sent their blows. And the carnage was great, and when the
sun had brought back the day the ground was strewn thick
with the bodies of the Iranians. And cries of agony were
heard around, and there were none to heal the hurts, for
those that were whole were captive. And Tus was beside
himself for sorrow, and Gudarz alone was not defraught of
reason. So the old man sent forth a messenger to bear the
tidings of woe unto the Shah. Now he was a messenger that
made the earth disappear beneath his feet, and speedily did
he stand within the courts of the King. And Kai Khosrau,
when he had listened to his words, was angered, and his
tongue called down curses on the head of Tus. Then he
pondered all night how he should act, but when the cock crew
he wrote a letter unto Friburz the son of Kai Kaous. And he
bade him take unto him the flag of Kawah and the golden
boots, and lead the army in the place of Tus. And he bade
him in all things be obedient to the counsels of Gudarz the
wise, and he recalled how Tus had disobeyed his
commandments, and he said-
"I know no longer who is my friend or my foe."
Then he put his seal to the letter and gave it unto the
messenger. And the man sped forth and brought it into the
camp. Then Friburz read it out before the army. And when he
had heard it Tus did that which the Shah desired, and when
he had given over unto Friburz the command he turned him to
go back unto Iran.
Now when he was come before Kai Khosrau, he fell upon the
earth before his throne, and the Shah raised him not,
neither did he give him words of greeting. And when he
parted his lips, it was to let forth words of anger. And he
made known to him his sore displeasure, and he reproached
him with the death of Firoud, and he said-
"But that thou art sprung from Minuchihr, and that thy
beard is white, I would sever thy head from off thy body for
this deed. Yet, as it is, a dungeon shall be thy dwelling,
and thine evil nature thy gaoler."
And when he had thus spoken he drove him from his
presence, and gave orders that he should be put into chains.
Now while these things passed in Iran, Friburz craved of
Piran that he would grant unto him a truce. And Piran said-
"It is ye who have broken into our land; yet I will
listen unto your desires and grant unto you this truce, and
it shall be of the length of one moon. But I counsel unto
you that ye quit the land of Turan in its course."
But Friburz would not Lead back the army thus
discomfited, and he spent the time accorded to him in
preparation, and when it was at an end he offered battle
again to the Turanians. And there was waged a combat s sun
hath not looked upon its like, and the army of the Iranians
was overthrown. And the slaughter was terrible, neither did
the men of Turan escape, and many were the great ones of the
land that perished. And the men of Iran fought till that
their strength was departed. They had sought the conflict
and found defeat. And they that were not slain fled from the
battlefield, and it is they that saved their lives in this
manner whom thou must bewail.
Now when another day was risen upon the world, Piran sent
for his guards to bring him news of the Iranians. And when
they told him that their tents were vanished from off the
plains, he sent the news of victory to Afrasiyab. And the
King rejoiced thereat, and all the land prepared a great
feast unto the army. And when Piran entered into the city
the terraces thereof were decked with carpets of gay hue,
and the houses were clothed with arras of Roum, and pieces
of silver rained down upon the warriors. And the King poured
upon Piran gifts of such number that you would not have
patience to hear me recount them. And he sent him back unto
Khoten with much honour and many counsels. And he said-
"Let not thine army slumber, and trust not thy foe
because he is drawn back. I charge thee keep thine eyes
fixed upon the land of Rustem, for if thy vigilance slumber
he will surely come forth and destroy thee, for he alone is
to be feared of the men of Iran. Therefore be brave and
watchful, and may Heaven preserve thee unto my throne."
And Piran listened unto the words spoken of Afrasiyab, as
it beseemed him. And when he was returned unto his kingdom,
he set watchers upon all sides, that they might acquaint him
concerning Rustem the Pehliva.
The Vengeance of Kai Khosrau
Dire was the wailing among the army of Iran at their sore
defeat, and they turned them back discomfited. And they came
before the Shah, their hearts torn with anguish. And their
hands were crossed upon their breasts, and they were humble
as slaves. And Kai Khosrau was angry when he beheld them,
and he remembered Firoud, and he railed against Tus, from
whom was sprung this evil. And he said-
"Cursed be he and his elephants and his cymbals." And the
Shah withdrew from his courts, and he withheld his
countenance from the land. So the nobles went out unto
Rustem, and entreated of him that he would intercede for
them with the Shah. And Rustem did as they desired, and he
pleaded for the army and its leaders, and he spake good even
of Tus. And Kai Khosrau inclined his ear unto his Pehliva,
and he let the light of his countenance shine again upon his
army, and he confided unto Tus once more the standard of
Kawah, but he made Gew march beside him and restrain his
So they set forth again unto Turan, and Afrasiyab, when
he learned of their approach, made ready his army also. And
there were joined unto him the hosts of the Khakan of China,
and of the Kamous of Kushan, men mighty in the battlefield.
And from Ind and all the highlands of Asia there came forth
troops unto the aid of Afrasiyab, King of Turan. And he
rejoiced thereat, for he was assured that if Rustem came not
forth to aid them, the men of Iran could not stand against
Now when the two armies met, many and fierce were the
combats waged between them, and blows were given and
received, and swords flashed and showers of arrows descended
on all sides. And the blood of brave men was shed like unto
the shedding of rain from a black cloud. And day by day were
the Iranians weakened, for they were smitten with great
slaughter, and the number of their dead was past the
counting. But Afrasiyab rejoiced in his victory, and his
heart shouted within him when he learned after many days
that the Iranians were drawn back into the mountains. But
Kai Khosrau, when he learned it, was afflicted, and wept
sore. Then he sent greeting unto Rustem, his Pehliva, and he
craved of him that he would come forth to aid the army, for
in him alone could he put his trust. And Rustem said-
"O Shah, since the day that mine arm could wield a mace,
I have ever fought the battles of Iran, and it would seem
that rest may never come nigh unto me. Yet since I am thy
slave, it behoveth me to obey. I am ready to do thy
So he made ready an host to go unto the succour of Iran.
And while he did so the army was defeated yet again, and all
heart went from the Iranians, and they would have given them
over unto their foes. But while they pondered it, there came
tidings unto Gudarz that Rustem was drawing nigh. Yet they
feared to give way unto belief. But Piran when he heard it
was sore discomfited, for he remembered of old the might of
Rustem, and he knew that none could stand before it. But the
Khakan and the Kamous scoffed at his fears, and they made
loud boastings that Rustem should fall by their hands.
Now when some days had passed in this disquietude, it
came about one night that, when the moon showed her face
above the mountains, like unto a victorious king seated upon
a throne of turquoise, a watchman of Iran set up a great
cry. And he said-
"The plain is filled with dust, and the night resoundeth
with noise. And I behold a mighty army drawing nigh, and
they bear torches, and in their midst rideth Rustem the
When the men of Iran heard this, they set up a great
shout, and their hearts seemed to come back into their
bodies, and their courage, that had been as dead, returned.
And glad was the greeting that they gave unto Rustem the
Pehliva. And Rustem mustered them and put them into battle
order, and when the sun had wearied of the black veil, and
had torn the night asunder, and reappeared unto the world,
the men of Iran called upon the host of Turan to come forth
in combat. And they defied them unto battle, and they fought
with new valour, and they made great havoc in their ranks.
And when the evening was come, the day belonged unto Iran.
Then Piran called before him Human the brave, and said
"The nobles of Iran have found again their courage, since an
army is come to their aid. Yet I would know if Rustem be
their leader, for him alone do I fear."
And when he learned it his spirit was troubled. But the
Kamous mocked him, and sware a great oath that, ere the sun
should be set once more, he would have broken the might of
Rustem. For he said-
"There is none, not even a mad elephant, that is mine
equal in the fight."
So when the day was come, the Kamous challenged Rustem
unto single combat. And Rustem strode forth from the camp,
and the Kamous met him upon the plain. Then they struggled
sore, and wrestled one with another, but in the end Rustem
caught the Kamous in the meshes of his cord. And he showed
him unto the army, and he asked of them, saying-
"What death desire ye that the Kamous should die, for his
hour is come?"
Then he threw him among the nobles, and they made an end
of him with their spears, and they flung his body to the
Now when the Khakan heard of the death of the Kamous, he
sware that he would avenge him, and he sent forth a
messenger to defy Rustem. But Rustem said unto the
"I seek no quarrel with the Khakan, and in all your army
I desire only to look upon the face of Piran. And I beg of
him that he will come forth to greet me, for my heart
burneth towards him, because he was afflicted for the death
of Saiawush, my foster-son, and because of the good he did
unto Kai Khosrau and unto his mother."
So the messenger bare these words unto Piran. And Piran,
when he had taken counsel, listened unto the desires of
Rustem, and came into his tents. And he said-
"I am Piran, leader of the hosts of Turan. Speak unto me
And Rustem said, "I am Rustem of Zaboulistan, and I am
armed with a mace and a sword of Cabul."
Then he gave him greeting from Kai Khosrau, and he lauded
him for the good deeds that he had done unto Saiawush and to
his son, and he entreated him that he would turn away from
Afrasiyab, and go with him unto Kai Khosrau. And he said-
"Iran desireth not to destroy the innocent. Therefore
deliver over unto me the men upon whose head resteth the
blood of Saiawush, and we will withdraw our hosts, and there
shall be peace in the land."
Then Piran said, "That which thou askest, verily it can
never be, for the slayers of Saiawush are near kinsfolk unto
Afrasiyab. And because he hath named me the leader of his
hosts, it may not be that I abandon them. But I say unto
thee, that it would be sweeter unto me to die than to
conduct this warfare, and that my heart is torn because I
must lift up the sword of enmity against Kai Khosrau, my
And Rustem saw that the words that Piran spake were true,
and he sorrowed for him. And when they parted it was in
friendship, although they knew that battle must rage between
them. Then they drew up their armies, and for forty days
there was waged a battle, mighty and terrible. And great
ravages were committed, and Rustem did deeds of valour, and
the strong and the weak were alike impotent before him. And
the plains were strewn with the bodies of the slain, until
that an ant could not have found a road to pass between
them, and the blood of the wounded streamed on all sides,
and heads without bodies and bodies without heads covered
the ground. For neither the claw of the leopard nor the
trunk of the elephant, neither the high mountains nor the
waters of the earth, could prevail against Rustem when he
fought at the head of his hosts. And he slew the mightiest
among the Turanians, and only Piran was he mindful to spare.
And the Khakan of China was enmeshed in his cord, and he
sent him bound unto Kai Khosrau with news of the victory.
And when the Turanians fled before his face, he followed
after them and pursued them unto the mountains.
Then Piran made haste to come before Afrasiyab, and he
spake to him and said-
"The land is changed into a sea of blood, for Rustem is
come forth, and who can stand against him? And he followeth
after me close. Wherefore I counsel thee, flee; for how
canst thou stand alone against him? Alas for the woe that
thou hast brought upon Turan! Thou hast wounded our hearts
with the iron of the arrow wherewith thou didst slay
Saiawush the noble."
Then he urged upon him that he tarry not. So Afrasiyab
fled from before the face of Rustem and hid himself in the
mountains. And when Rustem came into his courts and found
that the King was fled, he seized upon much booty and
divided it among his men, and he feasted them many days in
the house of Afrasiyab, and he suffered them to enjoy
repose. Then he destroyed with fire the palace, and when he
had done so he turned him to go back unto Kai Khosrau.
Now when he was come within the city of the Shah, glad
cries rang through all the air, and the sound of drums
filled the land of Iran, and there was joy throughout its
breadth because the destroyer of Turan was returned. And the
heart of Kai Khosrau rejoiced like a paradise, and he came
out to meet his Pehliva mounted upon an elephant gaily
caparisoned, and music and singers went before him. And he
invited him to a great feast, and he poured rich gifts upon
him. And for a month Rustem abode in the presence of his
Shah, making merry with wine. And the singers chanted of his
great deeds, and the sounds of flutes and stringed
instruments went with their words. But when that time was
over Rustem asked of Kai Khosrau that he would suffer him to
return unto Zal his father, for his heart yearned to look
upon his face. And Kai Khosrau suffered it.
Now Rustem was not returned long unto Zaboulistan before
there came into the courts of the Shah a shepherd who
desired to speak with Kai Khosrau. And the Shah granted his
request, and the man opened his mouth before him, and he
"A wild ass is broken in among my horses, and he doeth
great mischief, for his breath is like unto a lion. Send
forth, therefore, I entreat of thee, O King of Kings, a
warrior of thine host that he may slay him."
Now Kai Khosrau, when he had listened, knew that this was
not a wild ass but the Deev Akwan, who had taken this
disguise upon him. So he cast about whom he should send
forth to meet him, and he knew there was none other but
Rustem, the son of Zal, to whom he could turn in this
strait. So he sent a messenger swift as a cloud before a
storm to summon him forth yet again. And Rustem obeyed the
voice of his Shah, and he set forth in search of the Deev,
and he was mounted upon Rakush his steed. And in his hand
was a mighty mace, and round his wrist was rolled a cord of
length. And he went in search of the wild ass, and when he
had found him he threw his cord about him. But the ass
vanished under his hands. Then Rustem knew that it was a
Deev, and that he fought against the arts of magic. Yet was
he not dismayed. And after a while the ass came forth again,
and Rustem threw his cord once more about him. And yet again
the Deev vanished under his hand. And thus did the Deev
three days and three nights without ceasing, so that
weariness came upon Rustem and he was heavy with slumber. So
he sought out a spot of safety and he laid him down to rest,
and he bade Rakush browse beside him.
Now when the Deev saw that Rustem was sleeping, he drew
nigh and loosened the earth whereon he lay, and lifted it
and placed it upon his head, that he might cast it away and
destroy Rustem. But as he carried him Rustem awoke, and when
he saw what was come to pass he feared that his hour was
come. And the Deev, when he beheld that Rustem was awakened,
spake, and said unto him-
"O hero, which death dost thou covet? Shall I fling thee
down upon the mountain or cast thee into the sea?"
Now Rustem knew that the Deev questioned him in wile, and
he bethought him that he would of a surety do that which
Rustem desired not, so he said-
"I have heard it said that it is not given to those that
perish in the waters to look upon the face of the Serosch or
to find rest in the life that is beyond."
Then the Deev said, "I desire that thou know not repose."
And he flung him into the sea at a spot where hungry
crocodiles would devour him.
Now Rustem, when he felt the water beneath him, forthwith
drew out his sword and combated the crocodiles with his
right hand, and with his left he swam towards the shore. And
long did he struggle and sore, but when the night was fallen
he put his foot upon the dry land. Then, when he had given
thanks unto God and rested him, he returned unto the spot
where he had found the Deev. And he sought after Rakush his
steed, and his eye beheld him not. Then fear filled his
spirit, and he roamed around to seek him. And he found him
at last among the horses of Afrasiyab, that grazed in a spot
hard by, for the keepers had ensnared him. But when Rakush
heard the voice of Rustem he neighed aloud, and brake from
the keepers and ran towards his master. And Rustem put the
saddle upon him and mounted him. Then he slew the keepers
and took their herds unto himself.
Now while he was so doing Afrasiyab came forth from his
hiding-place, for his heart yearned to look upon his horses.
And when he beheld Rustem in their midst he was dismayed,
and knew not whither he should turn, for he deemed that the
Pehliva had discovered his hiding-place and was come forth
against him. So he offered battle unto him with the men that
were with him. And Rustem accepted the challenge, although
he was alone; and he fought with might and overcame the men,
and slew sixty of them with his sword and forty with his
mace. And Afrasiyab fled once more from before him.
Now when it was done the Deev came forth again, for he
thought he could quell Rustem now that he was weary. But
Rustem sprang on him and crushed him, and he was slain at
his hands. Then the Pehliva returned unto Kai Khosrau. And
when the Shah had learned of all his deeds, and beheld the
booty that he had brought back, his mouth could not cease
from praising the prowess of Rustem, and he would have kept
his Pehliva beside him for ever. But Rustem said-
"Suffer thy servant to go forth. For I would make ready
an host, since it behoveth us not to cease from the
vengeance that is due unto Saiawush, for his murderers yet
cumber the ground."
Wherefore Rustem departed yet again from out the courts
of the Shah.
Byzun and Manijeh
Peace reigned again within the borders of Iran, and P the
sword slept in its scabbard, and Kai Khosrau ordered the
world with wisdom. And men rejoiced that the glory of Turan
had been brought low, and the Shah feasted his nobles in
lightness of heart.
Now it came about one day that while they were shortening
the hours with wine there entered in unto them the keeper of
the curtains of the door. And he said that men from Arman
stood without and craved an audience. Then Kai Khosrau bade
that they be let in. So the men came before him, and they
uttered cries of lamentation, and they fell down at his feet
and implored his aid. And Kai Khosrau said-
"Who hath done you wrong?"
Then the men answered, "Our wrong cometh unto us from the
borders of Turan, for there issue forth thence wild boars
that break into our fields and do destruction to our crops.
And our fortunes are entwined with the ground, and no man
can overcome these beasts. Wherefore, we pray thee, send
forth a Pehliva that he may subdue them, for our land
groaneth under this plague."
Then Kai Khosrau said, "It shall be done as you desire,"
and he dismissed them graciously. Then he called before him
his treasurer, and bade him bring forth precious stones, and
horses with girdles of gold, and rich brocades of Roum. And
when they were placed before him he showed them to his
nobles, and he said that whoever would go forth to combat
the wild boars should not find him close-handed. But for a
while none answered, for no man listed to go forth to battle
with wild beasts. Then Byzun, the son of Gew, arose and
"If the Shah will grant leave unto me, I will go forth
and slay these foes."
Now Gew was grieved thereat, because that Byzun was his
only son, and he feared for his youth. Therefore he sought
to restrain him. But Byzun suffered it not, and he said-
"O King, listen unto my desires; for though I be young in
years, yet am I old in prudence, and I will do nought that
is not fitting unto thy slave."
And Kai Khosrau granted his request, but he bade him take
forth with him Girgin, the wise in counsel, that he should
guide him aright. And Byzun did as the Shah desired, and
they set forth unto the land of Arman.
Now when they were come unto the wood they rested them,
and made a great fire, and drank wine until they were
refreshed. Then Girgin would have laid him down to slumber.
But Byzun said-
"Not so, let us go forth and seek the wild boars."
Then Girgin said, "Go thou alone, for it is thou who hast
engaged in this combat, and who hast taken to thyself the
gifts of the Shah. Therefore it behoveth me only to look
When Byzun heard these words he was amazed, but he
regarded them not, and he entered in upon the forest. And
after a while he came upon the wild boars, and they fell
upon him. But he slew them with his mace, and he reddened
the ground with their gore, and he went after them, even
unto their lairs, and not one of them did he suffer to
escape. Then when he had done thus, he parted their mighty
teeth from off their heads and hung them about his saddle,
that the men of Iran might behold them. And after this he
turned him back unto Girgin.
Now Girgin, when he beheld him mounted upon his horse,
and bearing round his saddle the tokens of his triumph, was
envious thereat. And with his mouth he gave him joy, but
Ahriman took hold of his spirit. So he pondered all night
long how he could lay a snare for Byzun. And when the
morning was come he praised his prowess, and they quaffed
wine together, and fair words were exchanged between them.
Then Girgin said-
"This land is known unto me, for I sojourned here with
Rustem. And I know that at the distance of two farsangs lies
the garden of Afrasiyab, where his women go forth to keep
the feast of spring. And I bethink me that the time is at
hand. Wherefore, I say unto thee, let us go hence, and
behold with our eyes the fair ones whom the King of Turan
hideth behind his curtains."
Now these words inflamed the blood of Byzun, and he gave
ear unto Girgin, for he was young, and he acted like a young
man. So they set forth upon the road, and Girgin filled the
mind of Byzun with feasts and with sounds of music. And when
they were come unto the spot, Byzun burned with impatience
to look upon the women of Afrasiyab. And Girgin feigned as
though he would restrain his foot within the skirt of
patience, but he rejoiced in secret, for he hoped that from
this deed evil would arise. So Byzun sped forth unto the
garden, and he hid himself beneath the shade of a tall
cypress, and he feasted his eyes upon the beauty of the
women. And the garden was clad in its robes of spring, and
the world was green and fair, and all the air was filled
with the sweet sounds of music and of song. And there moved
amid the rose-bushes maidens of Peri face, and in stature
they were like to the cypress-trees, and one was exalted
above them all. And she was daughter unto Afrasiyab, and
Manijeh was she named.
Now it came about that as Manijeh stood at the door of
her tent she beheld Byzun where he was hid. And she
marvelled at his beauty, and her heart was captive unto him.
So she called about her her maidens, and said-
"Go forth and question the stranger who regardeth us, for
I bethink me that he is a Peri, or that Saiawush is come
back unto the earth, for no mortal can own such beauty,
neither can any man enter here."
Then one went forth and bare unto Byzun this message. And
his heart leaped thereat, and he said-
"Say unto your mistress that I am come forth from Iran to
slay the wild boars of Arman. And I came hither that
perchance I might gaze upon the face of the daughter of
Afrasiyab, for tidings of her beauty were told unto me, and
reached even unto Iran. Go, therefore, and ask if I may
speak with her."
Then the handmaidens did as Byzun desired, and Manijeh
said, "Let him come forth."
So Byzun entered into the tents of Manijeh, and she
received him with joy, and she caused his feet to be washed
with musk and amber, and she poured jewels before him, and
prepared for him a feast of sweet meats. And slaves stood
around and made soft music, and the heart of Byzun was
ensnared in the meshes of the net that had been spread. And
three days and three nights did he sojourn beside Manijeh,
and his passion for her waxed greater, and he thought not of
Iran, neither of the time of departure. And Manijeh too
rejoiced in his presence, and when the time was come for her
to quit the garden of spring she would not part with him. So
she gave unto him a cup wherein she had mingled a potion.
And the wine caused Byzun to sleep, and while he slept the
maidens bare him in a litter even into the house of
Afrasiyab. And Manijeh hid him behind the curtains of the
women, and none, save only her handmaidens, were aware of
Now when Byzun awoke he asked whither he was come, and
when he learned that he was in the house of Afrasiyab he was
afraid, and desired to return unto Iran. But Manijeh quieted
his distrust, and he forgot his fears in her love. And she
made the earth glad about him, and the hours fled on the
wings of wine and of joy. And many days sped thus, and none
knew what passed in the house of the women.
Then it came about that a guardian of the door learned
thereof, and he came before Afrasiyab, and told unto him
that his daughter hid within her house a man of the race of
Iran. And Afrasiyab, when he learned it, was beside himself
with anger, and he cursed Manijeh, and he said-
"The hour is come unto this man."
Then he called for Gersiwaz, his brother, and bade him go
forth with a band of armed men unto the house of the women.
And Gersiwaz did as Afrasiyab commanded, and he put guards
at all the doors. Then the sounds of lutes and of rejoicing
fell upon his ear, for none were aware of the vengeance that
was come upon them. And when Gersiwaz was come unto the
house of Manijeh, the daughter of Afrasiyab, he brake open
the doors, and stood in the midst of the revels. And he
beheld within the chamber many slaves playing on lutes of
gold, and fair women that handed the wine-cups. And Manijeh
was seated upon a throne of gold, and beside her was Byzun,
the son of Gew, the Iranian, and joy was painted on his
Now when Gersiwaz beheld Byzun, he cried, "O vile man,
thou art fallen into my hands! How wilt thou now save thy
And Byzun was dismayed, for he had neither sword nor
armour, and he thought within himself-
"I fear me that my life will end this day."
But he drew forth from his boot a dagger that was hidden
therein, and he threatened Gersiwaz, and he said that he
would plunge it into his breast if he led him not before
Now Gersiwaz knew that Byzun was quick to act, and would
do that which he spake, so he held back from combat, and he
seized Byzun and bound him, and led him before Afrasiyab.
And when Afrasiyab saw him in such plight, he said-
"O man of evil, wherefore didst thou come into my land?"
Then Byzun told him how he was gone forth to slay the boars,
and how he was come into the garden of Afrasiyab, and he
said that a Peri had borne him unto the palace, for he would
not do hurt unto Manijeh. But Afrasiyab refused belief unto
his words, and he commanded that a gibbet should be raised
without his court, and that Byzun be hung thereon, because
he had dishonoured the house of the women, and had stolen
like a thief in the night into the house of the King. And in
vain did Byzun invoke mercy at the hands of Afrasiyab, and
he was led forth beyond the courts. And the men of Afrasiyab
made ready the gallows, and Byzun stood bound beneath. And
he wept sore in his distress, and he prayed to the winds
that they would bear tidings of him unto the Shah of Iran,
and he sware that his death should be avenged upon Turan.
Now while he waited thus there passed by Piran, the
Pehliva, who was come forth to do homage unto the King. And
when he beheld the gibbet he questioned concerning it, and
when he learned that it was for Byzun he was troubled. So he
got him from his horse and came near unto the youth, and
questioned him of this adventure. And Byzun told him all
that was come about, and how his evil comrade had laid for
him a snare. Then Piran commanded that punishment be stayed
until he should have spoken unto Afrasiyab. And he went in
and stood before the King as a suppliant. Then Afrasiyab
bade him make known his desires. And Piran opened his mouth
and spake words of wisdom unto Afrasiyab, his King. And he
reminded him of the death of Saiawush, and how Byzun was of
much account in his own country, and how surely his blood
would be avenged. And he said how the land of Turan was not
ready to stand again in a new war, and he prayed Afrasiyab
to content him with a dungeon. And he said-
"Heap chains upon Byzun, and let the earth hide him, that
Iran may not know whither he is vanished."
Now Afrasiyab knew that the words of Piran were wise, and
he gave ear unto them. So Byzun was led forth unto a desert
place and he was laden with chains of iron and his tender
flesh was bound and he was thrown into a deep hole. And the
opening thereof was closed with a mighty stone that the Deev
Akwan had torn from the nethermost sea, and neither sun nor
moon could be seen by Byzun, and Afrasiyab trusted that his
reason would forsake him in this pit. And when he had done
thus unto Byzun, he bade Gersiwaz go in unto the house of
the daughter that had dishonoured him, and tear off her
costly robes, and her crown, and her veil. And he said-
"Let her be cast forth also into the desert, that she may
behold the dungeon wherein Byzun is hid. And say unto her,
'Thou hast been his Spring, be now his comforter, and wait
upon him in his narrow prison."'
And Gersiwaz did as Afrasiyab commanded, and he tore the
veil from off Manijeh, and he caused her to walk barefooted
unto the spot where Byzun was hid.
Now Manijeh was bowed down with sorrow, and she wept
sore, and she wandered through the desert day and night
bewailing her fate. And ever did she return unto the pit,
and she sought how she might enter therein. But she could
not move the mighty stone that closed its mouth. Yet after
some days were gone by she found an opening where she could
thrust in her hand. Now when she had found it she rejoiced,
and daily she went forth unto the city and begged of men
that they would give her bread. And none knew her for the
daughter of Afrasiyab, but all had pity upon her sorry
plight, and they gave her freely of that which they had. And
she returned with it unto Byzun, and she fed him through the
hole that she had made. And she spake unto him sweet words
of comfort, and she kept his heart alive within him.
Now while these things were passing in Turan, Girgin was
returned unto Iran much discomfited. And he pondered how he
should come before the Shah, and what he should say unto
Gew. And he told them that they had of their combined
strength overcome the boars, and he boasted that he had done
deeds of great prowess, and he said that a wild ass was come
forth out of the forest and had borne away Byzun from before
his eyes, and verily he held that it must be a Deev. Then
Kai Khosrau questioned him closely, and when he had done so
he saw that Girgin held not unto his story. So his mind
misgave him, and he commanded that Girgin be put in chains.
And he said-
"I will guard thee until I have learned tidings of
Now Gew was beside himself with grief because of his only
son, whom he loved, but Kai Khosrau spake comfort unto his
soul. And he bade riders go forth unto all corners of the
wind to seek tidings of Byzun, and he said-
"If I learn nought concerning him until the feast of
Neurouz be come, I will search for him in the crystal globe
wherein I can behold the world, and read the secrets of
Now when the horsemen had sought Byzun in vain throughout
the plains of Iran and in the gorges of the land of Arman,
they returned them unto the courts of the Shah. So when the
feast of Neurouz was come, Kai Khosrau clothed himself in a
robe of Roum, and he took from off his head the crown of the
Kaianides, and he presented himself in humility before
Ormuzd. Then he took in his hand the globe of crystal, and
he prayed to God that He would grant unto him to behold the
seven zones of the world. And God granted it. And Kai
Khosrau surveyed all the lands of the earth, and nowhere
upon them could he behold Byzun. And he was downcast and sad
in his spirit, for he deemed that Byzun was departed from
the world. Then Ormuzd showed unto him where he was hidden
in a pit, and Kai Khosrau beheld him, and the damsel that
watched beside him. So he called before him Gew, and said-
"Let thy heart cease from sorrow, for thy son liveth, and
he is tended by a maiden of noble birth. But he is bound,
and a mighty stone is laid above his prison, and Rustem
alone can deliver him. Wherefore I counsel thee, speed forth
unto Zaboulistan and entreat the son of Zal that he come
unto our aid yet again."
Then Kai Khosrau wrote a letter unto Rustem, wherein he
told him all that was come about, and he gave the writing
unto Gew. And Gew sped forth therewith unto Zaboulistan.
Now when he was come within the courts of Rustem, Zal
beheld him from afar, and he feared that evil was come upon
Iran since the Shah sent forth a man of might like unto Gew
to be his messenger. So he came forth in haste and
questioned him. And when he learned his mission he bade him
come within, and he told him how Rustem was gone forth to
chase the wild ass, and he made a feast for him, and
entertained him until his son was returned within the
courts. Now when Rustem learned the tidings, his eyes were
filled with tears, but he spake comfort unto Gew, and he
"Be not disquieted, for verily Rustem shall not remove
the saddle from Rakush until he hath grasped the hand of
Byzun, and broken his chains and his prison."
And when he had read the letter of the Shah, he made him
ready to go, before Kai Khosrau. And when he was come into
his presence, he did obeisance before him, and he said-
"O King of kings, I am ready to do thy commandments, for
my mother brought me into the world that I might weary
myself for thee, and unto thee pertaineth rest and joy, and
unto me combat everlasting."
Then he chose forth from among the warriors men of
renown, that they should go out with him to deliver Byzun.
And Girgin sent greeting unto Rustem, and craved of him that
he would plead for him with the Shah. And he bewailed his
fault, and he entreated that he might go out to succour
Byzun. And Rustem asked his forgiveness of Kai Khosrau, and
when the Shah would have refused his suit, he pressed him
hard. So Kai Khosrau listened to the desires of his Pehliva.
Then he said unto him-
"Tell me what men and treasures thou desirest to bear
with thee into Turan."
And Rustem said, "I desire not a large army, for I think
to regain Byzun by the arts of wile. Give unto me,
therefore, jewels and rich brocades, and carpets, and stuffs
of value, for I purpose to go forth in the garb of a
Then Kai Khosrau gave him the key to all his treasures,
and Rustem chose forth rich stuffs, and loaded them upon an
hundred camels. And he desired seven valiant knights that
they should go forth with him clad in the dress of
merchants, and that an army be posted in secret upon the
borders. And when all was ready the caravan went forth. And
they journeyed until they came into the town of Khoten, and
all the people came forth to gaze upon their merchandise.
Then Rustem, in his disguise, went unto the house of Piran,
and he poured gifts before him, and he asked leave of him
that he might remain within the borders to sell his wares.
And Piran granted his request. So Rustem took for himself a
house, and showed his goods unto the people, and bartered
them, and it was noised through all the land that a caravan
was come out from Iran, and all who had need of aught
flocked into the city. And the news spread even unto the
ears of Manijeh. And when she learned that it was men of
Iran who were come forth, she made her way unto the city,
and came before Rustem and questioned him, saying-
"What news is there abroad in Iran concerning Byzun, the
son of Gew, and doth no army come forth to save him? O noble
merchant, I entreat of thee when thou goest back to thy
land, to seek out Gew, and Kai Khosrau, and Rustem the
mighty, and bring unto them tidings of Byzun, lest he perish
in his chains."
Now Rustem, when he heard her words, was afraid for his
secret, for he knew not who she was. Wherefore he spoke
roughly unto her, and he said-
"I am a man of peace and of ignoble birth, a merchant,
and I know nought of Gew, or of Byzun, or of the Shah. Get
thee hence, maiden, thou dost but hinder my business, and
this alone concerneth me."
When he had thus spoken, Manijeh looked on him with
sorrow, and wept, saying-
"Do the men of Iran refuse tidings unto the poor?"
Then Rustem repented him of his harshness, and said-
"Woman, who art thou, and how do these things regard thee? "
And he caused food to be put before her, and he comforted
her with kind words. Then Manijeh said-
"I am daughter unto Afrasiyab, and my father hath cast me
forth because of Byzun."
And she told him all that was come about, and how she had
tended her beloved, and how she had kept him alive. And she
related unto Rustem how he languished in his chains, and how
they put their trust alone in Rustem the Pehliva. And she
"When it was told unto me that men from Iran were come
forth, I sped hither unto thee, for I hoped that tidings of
Byzun might come thus unto the mighty warrior."
When Rustem heard her words he was moved with compassion.
And when he had spoken softly unto her, he gave to her
savoury meats, and he bade her bear them unto Byzun. Now
within the body of a fowl he had hidden a ring whereon was
graven his seal. And when Byzun came upon it, and felt the
ring, and that it bare the name of Rustem, his heart laughed
within him, for he knew that the end of his ills was come.
And his lips laughed also, and his laughter shook the walls
of the pit.
Now when Manijeh heard his laughter she was amazed, and
she feared lest his wits were distraught, and she leaned
over the mouth of the pit and spake, saying-
"O man of ill fortune, wherefore is thy heart thus light,
thou who seest neither sun, nor moon, nor stars?"
Then Byzun answered and said, "Hope is sprung up in my
And Manijeh said, "Whence dost thou behold the rays of
And Byzun answered, "I know not whether I can confide it
unto thee, for a woman cannot keep a secret."
Now Manijeh was pained at these words, and she upbraided
Byzun, and recalled to him all she had suffered for his
sake. And Byzun repented him of his hasty speech, for he
knew that she was prudent and strong of spirit. So he said-
"Swear unto me a great oath, and I will tell it unto
And Manijeh sware. Then Byzun said-
"I know that the merchant who is come forth from Iran is
come out because of me. Go therefore again into his
presence, and say unto him, 'O Pehliva of the King of kings,
tell unto me, art thou the master of Rakush?' "
Now Manijeh, when she had heard these words, sped forth
to do the bidding of Byzun. And she came before Rustem, and
spake to him the words that had been told her. And he
answered and said-
"Go say unto thy friend, verily I am the master of
Rakush, and that I am come forth to deliver him."
Then he bade her gather together wood into a pyre, and
set light thereto when the night should be come, that he
might know where Byzun was laid. And Manijeh did as Rustem
commanded, and she wearied not to scour the land, and she
stripped the trees of their branches, and her tender body
was torn of thorns; but she bare all gladly for the sake of
Byzun, whom she loved. And when the night was fallen she set
light unto the wood, and Rustem came forth unto the spot,
and his seven comrades came with him. And each strove in
turn to lift the stone that closed the pit, but none could
roll it aside. Then Rustem prayed to God that He would grant
him strength, and he came unto the mouth of the pit, and he
bent down his body, and he spake unto Byzun, and questioned
him how he was come into these straits. Then he said-
"I would ask of thee a boon. Grant thy forgiveness unto
Girgin, if it be given unto me to move this stone, and to
free thee from out of this pit. For verily he repenteth him
of his evil deed, and because he is valiant I would that
there should be peace between you."
But Byzun said, "Thou knowest not all the evil that
Girgin hath brought upon me. I cannot give ear unto thy
request, for I desire to take vengeance upon him."
Then Rustem said, "If thy mind be thus evil that thou
wilt not listen to my desires, nor remember how I am come
forth in friendship to succour thee, I shall mount upon
Rakush and leave thee to perish in thy chains."
When Byzun heard these words he gave a loud cry, and
bewailed his evil plight. And he said, "Be it as thou
Then Rustem laid hold of the stone, and he put forth all
his strength, and he lifted it from off the mouth of the pit
and threw it far into the desert. Then he let down his cord
and enmeshed Byzun therein, and drew him forth from his
dungeon. And he was a sorry sight to see, for the earth had
withered his body, and his skin hung about his bones.
Now Rustem, when he had broken the chains of Byzun,
covered him with a cloak and set him upon a horse, and he
took Manijeh also, and led them unto his house in the city.
Then when he had refreshed them with water, and covered them
with new robes, he desired that they be led unto the spot
where the army was hidden. And he said unto Byzun-
"I desire to fall upon Turan, but thou art too wasted to
But Byzun said, "Not so; let Manijeh go forth into shelter,
but it behoveth not a man to be guarded like a woman."
And he refused ear to the desires of Rustem, and he clad
him in a coat of mail, and he girded him to ride beside the
Pehliva. And they went forth in the darkness until they were
come unto the house of Afrasiyab. And when they were come
there, Rustem lifted the doors from off their hinges and
entered into the precincts, and he slew the guards that kept
the curtains, and he made him a passage unto the chamber of
Afrasiyab. And when he stood therein he lifted up his voice
of thunder, and he cried-
"Sleep, man of folly, and may thy slumbers be deep. Thou
hast rested upon thy throne while Byzun was hidden in a pit.
But thou hast forgotten that a road leadeth from Iran into
Turan, and thou didst think in thine evil heart that none
would come forth to avenge him. Listen, therefore, unto my
voice; for I am Rustem, the son of Zal, the Pehliva, and I
have broken down thy doors, and released Byzun from his
chains, and I am come to do vengeance upon thee."
When Afrasiyab heard these words he awoke, and cried out
in his fear. And he called upon the names of his guards. But
no man came forth, because they had been laid low by the
hands of Rustem. Then Afrasiyab made his way unto the door,
and because it was dark he escaped thence, and he fled
before the face of Rustem, and left his house between his
hands. Then Rustem took much rich booty of slaves, and
horses, and jewels, and when he had done so he sped back
unto his army, for he knew that with the day Afrasiyab would
come forth with an host to assail him. And it came about as
he foresaw, and when the day was risen the watchers cried
out that an army marched forth from Turan. Then Rustem set
his men in battle order, and he sent Manijeh and the slaves
and the booty into Iran, and he placed himself at the head
of the host, and Byzun rode beside him. And there was fought
a mighty battle, and great was the slaughter, and the bodies
of the slain and the broken armour covered the earth. And
the banner of Turan sank, and Afrasiyab fled before his
Then Rustem returned with joy unto Kai Khosrau, and the
Shah was glad also. And he came forth to greet his Pehliva,
and there rode with him Gew and Gudarz, his warriors. And
when Kai Khosrau saw Rustem he embraced him, and said-
"O stay of my soul, and man of valour, thou resemblest
the sun, for wheresoever men may look they behold the traces
of thy mighty deeds. Happy is Zal who owneth a son such as
Then he blessed him, and showered rich gifts upon him;
and Gew blessed him also, and Gudarz, because he had brought
back Byzun into their midst. Then Kai Khosrau gave orders
that a great feast be prepared, and the heroes drank until
their heads were heavy with wine. But in the morning Rustem
came before the Shah in audience, and opened his mouth and
"May it please the King to lend his ear unto his slave. I
desire to return unto Zal, my father."
And Kai Khosrau listened to the just desires of Rustem,
though he would fain have kept him in his courts.
Now when Rustem was departed, Kai Khosrau called before
him Byzun, and he spake to him of that which was come about,
and he poured pity upon the daughter of Afrasiyab when he
learned all she had suffered for the sake of Byzun; and he
gave him rich gifts, and bade him bear them unto her, and he
"Cherish this woman in thy bosom, and suffer not that
grief come nigh unto her, neither speak to her cold words,
for she hath endured much for thee. And may thy life beside
her be happy."
And when the Shah had thus spoken he dismissed Byzun from
Thus endeth the history of Byzun and Manijeh.
The Defeat of Afrasiyab
Mourning and sorrow filled the heart of Afrasiyab because
of his defeat, and he pondered in his spirit how the
fortunes of Iran might be retrieved. So he sent messengers
unto all his vassals that they should unsheathe the sword of
strife and make ready an army. And the nobles did as
Afrasiyab bade them, and they got together an host that
covered the ground, and sent it forth before the King. And
the King placed Schideh his son at the head thereof, and he
said unto him-
"Open not the door of peace, neither treat Kai Khosrau
other than as an enemy."
Now when the Shah heard tidings of the army that
Afrasiyab had made ready against him, he commanded that no
man who could use the bridle and the stirrup should stay
within the borders of Iran. And when the army was ready he
placed at its head Gudarz the wise. But Kai Khosrau bade yet
again that Gudarz should seek to win Piran the Pehliva unto
Iran ere the hosts met in battle. For the Shah remembered
the benefits he had received at his hands, and it grieved
him sore to go out against him in enmity. And Gudarz did as
the Shah desired, and when he had crossed the Jihun he sent
Gew, his son, unto Piran that he might speak with him. But
Piran shut ear unto the voice of Gew, and he said that he
had led forth his army to battle, and that it behoved him to
do that which was commanded of Afrasiyab.
So the two armies were drawn up in order of battle, and
each desired that the other should fall upon them the first.
And for three days and three nights they faced each other,
and you would have said that no man so much as moved his
lips. And Gudarz was posted before his men, and day and
night he searched the stars and the sun and moon for augury.
And he demanded of them whether he should advance or whether
he should stay. And Piran also waited that he might behold
what the Iranians would do.
But Byzun was angry thereat, and he went before his
father and entreated him to urge his grandsire unto action.
"For surely," he said, "Gudarz hath lost his wits that he
thus regardeth the sun and stars, and thinketh not of the
enemy." And Gew strove in vain to quiet him.
And in the ranks of Turan also Human grew impatient, and
he asked permission of his brother to challenge the nobles
of Iran to single fight. And Piran sought to dissuade him in
vain. So he got ready his steed of battle, and rode until he
came within the lines of Iran. And when he was come thither
he sought out Rehham, the son of Gudarz, and challenged him
to measure his strength. But Rehham said-
"My soul thirsteth after the combat, yet since my father
hath commanded that the army advance not, it beseemeth me
not to forget his behests. And remember, O valiant Turk,
that he who ventureth first upon the battlefield hath no
need to seek the pathway to return."
Then Human said, "Men had told unto me that Rehham was a
knight of courage, but now I know that he is afraid." And he
turned away his steed and rode until he came nigh unto
Friburz, and he challenged him also in words of pride, and
"Thou art brother unto Saiawush, show now if there live
within thee aught of valour."
But Friburz answered, "Go forth before Gudarz and demand
of him that I may fight, and verily if he listen unto thy
voice, it will be a joy unto my soul."
Then Human said, "I see that thou art a hero only in
words." And he turned his back upon him also, and he rode
till that he came before Gudarz the Pehliva. And he raised
his voice and spake unto him words of insolence, and he
defied him to lead forth his army. But Gudarz would not
listen unto his voice. Then Human turned him back unto the
camp of Turan, and he said unto the army how that the men of
Iran were craven. And when the army heard it they raised
shouts of great joy.
Now the shouting of the men of Turan pierced even unto
the cars of the Iranians, and they were sore hurt thereat;
and the nobles came before Gudarz and laid before him their
complaints, and they entreated of him that he would lead
them forth that they might prove their valour. And Byzun,
when he heard what had been done, came before his grandsire
like to a lion in his fury, and he craved that he would
grant unto him that he might reply unto the challenge of
Human. Now when Gudarz beheld that all the nobles were
against him, he listened unto the ardour of Byzun, and he
gave to him leave to go forth, and he accorded to him the
armour of Saiawush, and he blessed him and bade him be
victorious. Then Byzun sent a messenger unto Human, and the
place of combat was chosen. And when the sun was risen they
met upon the field, and Human cried unto his adversary, and
"O Byzun, thine hour is come, for I will send thee back
unto Gew in such guise that his heart shall be torn with
But Byzun answered and said, "Why waste we our time in
words, let us fall upon one another."
Then they did as Byzun desired. And they fought with
swords and with arrows, with maces also and with fists, and
sore was the struggle and weary, and the victory leaned unto
neither side. And they strove thus from the time of dawn
until the sun had lengthened the shadows, and Byzun was
afraid lest the day should end in doubt. Then he sent up a
prayer unto Ormuzd that He would lend unto him strength. And
Ormuzd listened unto the petition of His servant. Then Byzun
caught Human in his arms and flung him upon the ground, and
he beat out his brains, and he severed his head from off his
trunk, that the murder of Saiawush might be avenged. Then he
gave thanks unto God, and turned him back unto the camp, and
he bore aloft the head of Human. And the army of Iran, when
they beheld it, set up a great shout, but from the ranks of
Turan there came the noise of wailing. And Piran was bowed
down with grief and anger, and he commanded the army should
go forth and fall upon the Iranians.
Now there was fought a battle such as men have not seen
the like. And the earth was covered with steel, and arrows
fell from the clouds like hail, and the ground was torn with
hoofs, and blood flowed like water upon the plains. And the
dead lay around in masses, and the feet of the horses could
not stir because of them. Then the chiefs of the army said
"If we part not these heroes upon the field of vengeance,
there will remain nought when the night is come save only
the earth that turns, and God, the Master of the world."
Yet they withdrew not from the combat until the darkness
had thrown a mantle over the earth, and they could no longer
look upon their foes.
Now when the earth was become like unto ebony, the
leaders of the hosts met in conference. And it was decided
between them that they should choose forth valiant men from
their midst, and that on the morrow the fate of the lands
should be decided by them. For they grieved for the blood
that had been spilled, and they desired that the hand of
destruction be stayed. So when the morning was come they
chose forth their champions, and ten men of valour were
picked from each host, and Piran and Gudarz led them out
unto the plain. Now on each side of the plain uprose a
mountain. So Gudarz said unto his comrades-
"Whosoever among you hath laid low his adversary, let him
mount this hill and plant the flag that he hath won upon its
crest, that the army may learn whom we have vanquished."
And Piran spake unto his men in like manner. Then the ten
drew up and faced one another, and each man stood opposed to
the adversary that he had chosen. Now Friburz was the first
to begin combat, and he was opposed unto Kelbad, the kinsman
of Piran. And he rode at him with fury, and he laid him low
with his bow, and he galloped with joy unto the mountain and
planted the standard of Kelbad upon its crest. Then when it
was done, Gew came forward to meet his adversary, and he was
placed over against Zereh, the man whom Kai Khosrau hated
because he had severed the head of Saiawush from its trunk.
And Gew was careful not to slay him, but he threw his cord
about him and caught him in the snares and bound him. Then
he took from him his standard, and led him bound unto the
mountain. And there followed after him Gourazeh, and he too
laid low his foe and planted his flag upon the crest of the
hill. And likewise did all the champions of Iran; and when
the ninth hour was ended there waved nine standards from off
the hill, and none remained to fight save only Piran and
Gudarz the aged. Then Gudarz girded him for the combat, and
for a mighty space they wrestled sore, but in the end Gudarz
laid low the power of Piran.
Now when the Iranians beheld the standard of Piran
planted aloft amid those of his champions, they were beside
themselves for joy, and they called down the blessings of
Heaven upon the knight. Then a messenger was sent to bear
the tidings unto Kai Khosrau, and he took with him Zereh
that the Shah might with his own hand sever that vile head
from off its trunk. And Kai Khosrau rejoiced at the news,
and he rode forth that he might visit his army. But when he
beheld the body of Piran he wept sore, and he remembered his
kindness of old, and he grieved for the man that had been to
him a father. Then he commanded that a royal tomb be raised
unto Piran, and he seated him therein upon a throne of gold,
and he did unto him all reverence. But when it was done he
aided his army to beat back the men of Turan yet again, and
he caused them to sue for peace. And when they had brought
forth their armour and piled it at the feet of Kai Khosrau,
he bade them depart in peace. Then he returned with joy unto
his own land, and he gave thanks unto God for the victory
that was his. But he knew also that the time of peace could
not be long, and that Afrasiyab would dream of vengeance.
The Passing of Kai Khosrau
Now it came to pass as Kai Khosrau foretold. For
Afrasiyab, when he learned the death of Piran, was beside
himself with grief. And he lifted up his voice in wailing,
and he spake, saying-
"I will no longer taste the joys of life, nor live like
unto a man that weareth a crown, until I be avenged upon Kai
Khosrau, the offspring of an accursed race. May the seed of
Saiawush perish from off the face of the earth!
"And when he had so spoken he made ready for yet another
war, and from all corners of the earth the kings came forth
to aid him. And Kai Khosrau, when he learned thereof, got
ready his army also, and he sware that he would lead this
war of vengeance unto a good end. So he sent greeting unto
Rustem his Pehliva, and prayed of him that he would aid him
in his resolve. And Rustem listened to the voice of his
Shah, and came forth from Zaboulistan with a mighty army to
aid him. Then the Shah confided his hosts unto Tur and
Rustem, and the valleys, and the hills, and the deserts, and
the plains were filled with the dust that uprose from their
footsteps. And they were warriors that bare high their
heads, and they knew neither weariness nor fear.
Now when the armies met, Afrasiyab called before him
Pescheng, his son, and bade him bear a writing unto the Shah
of Iran. And he wrote, saying-
"That which thou hast done, it is contrary to custom; for
a son may not lift his hand against his father, and the head
of a grandson that goeth out in enmity against his grandsire
is filled with evil. And I say unto thee, Saiawush was not
slain without just cause, for he turned him away from his
ruler. And if thou sayest unto me that I am an evil man, and
issue of the race of Ahriman, remember that thou too art
sprung from my loins, and that thy insults fall back upon
thyself. Renounce, therefore, this strife, and let a treaty
be made between us, and the blood of Saiawush be forgotten.
And if thou wilt listen unto my voice, I will cover thee
with jewels, and gold and precious things will I give unto
thee, and joy shall reign throughout the land."
But Kai Khosrau, when he had read this message, knew that
Afrasiyab sought only to beguile him. So he sent a writing
unto the King of Turan, and he said-
"The cause of strife between us is not sprung from
Saiawush alone, but for that which thou didst aforetime, and
which thy fathers did unto Irij. Yet that which thou hast
done hath caused the measure of wrath to overflow. Wherefore
the sword alone can decide between us."
Then he challenged the nobles of Turan to come forth in
combat. And he himself strove with Schideh, the son of
Afrasiyab, and he laid him low after the manner in which
Afrasiyab had laid low the head of Saiawush. And when he had
done so, the army of Turan came forth to avenge their king,
but the men of Iran overcame them. And Afrasiyab was
constrained to fly from before the face of Kai Khosrau, and
it was as gall and wormwood unto his spirit. And Kai Khosrau
followed after him, and he would not suffer him to hide
himself from his sight; and he made him come forth yet again
in battle, and yet again he routed him utterly. And the men
of Iran slew the men of Turan until the field of battle was
like unto a sea of blood, and they fought until the night
covered the heavens, and the eyes of the warriors were
darkened with sleep. And Afrasiyab fled yet again beyond the
borders of Turan, and he craved of his vassals that they
would hide him from the wrath of Kai Khosrau. But the nobles
were afraid of the Shah, and of Rustem, who went with him;
and they refused shelter unto Afrasiyab, and he was hunted
over the face of the earth. Then he sought out the King of
China, and asked of him that he would shelter him. And the
King gave him shelter for a while. But when Kai Khosrau
learned where Afrasiyab was hid, he followed after him, and
he bade the King of China render to him his enemy, and he
menaced him with fire and sword if he did not listen to his
behest. So the King bade Afrasiyab depart from out his
borders. And Afrasiyab fled yet again, but wheresoever he
hid himself he was found of Kai Khosrau, and his life was a
weariness unto him.
Now for the space of two years Kai Khosrau did thus unto
Afrasiyab, and the glory of Turan was eclipsed, and Rustem
reigned within the land. And when the second year was ended
the power of Afrasiyab was broken, and Kai Khosrau bethought
him to return unto Iran and seek out Kai Kaous, his sire.
And the old Shah, when he learned it, was young again for
joy. He caused his house to be decked worthy a guest, and he
made ready great feasts, and he called forth all his nobles
to do honour unto Kai Khosrau, his son. And all the land was
decked in festal garb, and the world resembled cloth of
gold, and musk and amber perfumed the air, and jewels were
strewn about the streets like unto vile dust.
Now when the Shah came nigh unto the city, Kai Kaous went
forth to meet him, and he prostrated him in the dust before
his son. But Kai Khosrau suffered it not, but raised him,
and he kissed him upon his cheeks, and he took his hand, and
he told unto him of all the wonders that he had beheld upon
his travels, and of the mighty deeds that had been done of
Rustem and his men. And Kai Kaous was filled with marvel at
his grandson, and he could not cease from praising him and
pouring gifts before his face. And when they had feasted the
army, and were sated with speech, they went in unto the
temple of Ormuzd and gave thanks unto God for all His
Now while these things were passing in the land of Iran,
Afrasiyab wandered over the earth, and he knew neither rest
nor nourishment. And his soul was unquiet, and his body was
weary, and he feared danger on all sides. And he roamed till
that he found a cavern in the side of a mountain, and he
crept into it for rest. And he remained a while within the
cave pondering his evil deeds, and his heart was filled with
repentance. And he prayed aloud unto God that He would grant
him forgiveness of his sins, and the cries of his sorrow
rent the air.
Now the sound thereof pierced even unto the ears of Houm,
a hermit of the race of Feridoun, who had taken up his abode
in the mountains. And Houm, when he heard the cries, said
within himself, "These are lamentations of Afrasiyab." So he
sought out the spot whence they came forth, and when he had
found Afrasiyab he wrestled with him and caught him in his
snare. Then he bound him, and led him even into Iran before
the face of Kai Khosrau, that the Shah might deal with him
according to his desire.
Now when Afrasiyab was come before the Shah, Kai Khosrau
reproached him yet again with his vile deeds. And when he
had done speaking, he lifted up his sword and he smote with
it the neck of Afrasiyab, and he severed his head from off
his trunk, even as Afrasiyab had done unto Saiawush, his
father. And thus was the throne of Turan made void of
Afrasiyab, and his evil deeds had in the end brought evil
upon himself. And Gersiwaz, whom the Shah had taken captive
in the battle, was witness of the fate of his brother. And
when he had looked upon the end of Afrasiyab, Kai Khosrau
lifted up the sword against him also, and caused him to
perish in like manner as he had slain Saiawush.
And when it was done, and the vengeance was complete, the
Shah caused a writing to be sent unto all his lands, and to
every noble therein and every vassal, even from the west
unto the east. And he told unto them therein how that the
war of vengeance was ended, and how that the earth was
delivered of the serpent brood. And he bade them think on
the arts of peace and deliver up their hearts to gladness.
And when it was done Kai Kaous made him ready to depart from
the world. So he gave thanks unto God that He had suffered
him to see the avenging of Saiawush accomplished, and he
"I have beheld my grandson, the light of mine eyes,
avenge me and himself. And now am I ready to go forth unto
Thee, for thrice fifty years have rolled above my head, and
my hair is white and my heart is weary."
And after he had thus spoken Kai Kaous passed away, and
there remained of him in the world but the memory of his
name. Then Kai Khosrau mourned for his grandsire as was
fitting. But when the days of mourning were ended he mounted
again the throne of the Kaianides, and for sixty years did
Kai Khosrau rule the world in equity, and wisdom flourished
under his hands. And wheresoever the Shah looked he beheld
that his hand was stretched out in gladness, and there was
peace in all the lands. Then he gave praise unto God that He
had suffered him to do these things. And when he had done so
he pondered within himself, and he grew afraid lest Ahriman
should get possession of his soul, and lest he should grow
uplifted in pride like unto Jemshid, that forgot whence came
his weal and the source of his blessings. So he said within
"It behoveth me to be careful, for I am sprung from the
race of Zohak, and perchance I may become a curse unto the
earth, like to him. Wherefore I will entreat of Ormuzd that
He take me unto Himself before this evil befall me, since
there is no longer work for me to do on earth."
Then he gave commandment to the keepers of the curtains
that they suffer no man to enter in upon him, but he bade
them refuse it with all kindness. And when it was done Kai
Khosrau withdrew him into the inner courts, and he ungirded
him of his sash of might, and he laved his limbs in a
running stream, and he presented himself in prayer before
God his Maker. And for seven days the Shah stood in the
presence of Ormuzd, neither did he weary to importune Him in
Now while he did so many great ones of Iran came unto the
courts of the Shah and demanded audience. And it was refused
them. Then they murmured among themselves, and they
marvelled why the thoughts of the King should have grown
dark in a time of good fortune. And when they found that
their importunity availed them nought, they consulted among
themselves what they should do. Then Gudarz said-
"Let us send tidings of these things even unto Zal and
Rustem, and entreat of them that they come unto our aid, for
perchance Kai Khosrau will listen unto their voice."
So Gew was sent forth into Zaboulistan.
Now when he was gone, it came about that on a certain day,
when the sun had lifted his shield of gold above the world,
Kai Khosrau ordained that the curtains of the
audience-chamber be lifted. So there came in unto him his
Mubids and the nobles, and they stood about his throne, and
their hands were crossed in supplication. Then Kai Khosrau,
when he saw it, asked of them what they desired. So they
opened their mouths and said-
"May it please the Shah to tell unto us wherein we have
failed that we are shut out from his presence."
Then Kai Khosrau answered and said, "The fault is not
with you, and the sight of my nobles is a feast unto mine
eyes. But my heart hath conceived a desire that will not be
quieted, and it giveth me rest neither by day nor by night
and I know not how it will end. Yet the time is not ripe to
tell unto you my secrets, but verily I will speak when the
hour is come. Return, therefore, unto your homes, and be
glad in your spirits, and rejoice in the wine-cup, for no
foe troubleth the land, and prosperity hangeth over Iran."
Then when he had so spoken, Kai Khosrau dismissed them
graciously. But when they were departed he gave commandment
that the curtains be closed, and that no man be suffered to
enter his courts. And he presented him yet again before God,
and he prayed in the fervour of his spirit, and he entreated
of Ormuzd that He would suffer him to depart from the world
now that his task therein was ended. For he beheld that this
life is but vanity, and he yearned to go hence unto his
Maker. And for the space of five weeks did Kai Khosrau stand
thus before his God, and he could neither eat nor sleep, and
his heart was disquieted.
Now it came about one night that Kai Khosrau fell asleep
for weariness. And there appeared unto him a vision, and the
Serosch, the angel of God, stood before him. And he spake
words of comfort to Kai Khosrau, and he said that the Shah
had done that which was right in the sight of God, and he
bade him prepare for his end, and he said-
"Before thou goest hence choose from amongst thy nobles a
king that is worthy the throne. And let him be a man that
hath a care of all things that are created, even unto the
tiny emmet that creepeth along the ground. And when thou
hast ordered all things, the moment of thy departure shall
When Kai Khosrau awoke from his dream he rejoiced, and
poured out his thanks before God. Then he went unto his
throne and seated himself thereon, and got together his
treasures. And he ordered the world for his departure.
Now while he did so, Zal and Rustem, his son, were come
unto the city, and their hearts were filled with sore
displeasure because of that which the nobles had told unto
them. And the army came forth to greet them, and they wept
sore, and prayed of Zal that he would turn back unto them
the heart of Kai Khosrau. And they said, "A Deev hath led
him astray." Then Zal and Rustem went in before the Shah.
And Kai Khosrau, when he saw them, was amazed, but he was
glad also, and he gave them his hand in greeting. And he
accorded to them seats of honour, as was their due, and when
he had done so, he asked of them wherefore they were come
forth. Then Zal opened his mouth and spake, saying-
"I have heard, even in Zaboulistan, that the curtains of
the Shah are closed unto his servants. And the people cry
out thereat, and men say that Kai Khosrau is departed from
the path that is right. Wherefore I am come forth to entreat
of thee, if thou have a secret care, that thou confide it to
thy servant, and surely a device may be found. For since the
days of Minuchihr there is no Shah like to thee, but thy
nobles are afraid lest thou stumble in the paths of Zohak
and Afrasiyab. Wherefore they entreat of me that I admonish
Now when Kai Khosrau had listened unto the voice of Zal
the aged, he was not angered, but he answered, saying-
"O Zal, thou knowest not that whereof thou speakest. For
I have withdrawn myself from men that I might do no evil,
and I have prayed unto God that He take me unto Himself. And
now is the Serosch come unto me, and I know that Ormuzd hath
listened unto my voice."
When the nobles heard this they were afflicted, but Zal
was angered, and he deemed that the wits of Kai Khosrau were
distraught. And he said-
"Since I have stood before the throne of the Kaianides no
Shah hath spoken words like to thine. And I fear that a Deev
hath led thee astray, and I implore of thee that thou listen
not unto his voice, and that thou give ear unto the words of
an aged man, and that thou turn thee back into the path that
And when Zal had done speaking, the nobles cried with one
accord that he had spoken for them also. Then Kai Khosrau
was sorrowful, but he would not suffer anger to come into
his spirit. And when he had pondered, he opened his mouth
and spake, saying-
"O Zal, I have given ear unto the words which thou hast
spoken, give ear now unto the answer. For I have not
departed from the paths of Ormuzd, and no Deev hath led me
astray. And I swear it unto thee, even by God the Most High.
But because I am sprung from Afrasiyab the evil one, and am
linked unto the race of Zohak, I am afraid, and I fear to
grow like to Jemshid and Tur, who wearied the world with
their oppressions. And, behold, I have avenged my father,
and have made the world submissive unto my will; and I have
established justice in the realm, and the earth is glad,
wherefore there is no longer aught for me to do, for the
power of the wicked is broken. Therefore, lest I grow
uplifted in my soul, I have entreated of Ormuzd that He
suffer me now to go hence, even unto Himself. For I am weary
of the throne and of my majesty, and my soul crieth for
When Zal heard these words he was confounded, for he knew
that they were true. And he fell in the dust before the
Shah, and he craved his forgiveness for the hard speech that
he had spoken, and he wept, saying-
"O Kai Khosrau, we desire not that thou go hence."
And the Shah accorded forgiveness unto the old man, because
of the great love he bare him; and he lifted him from the
ground and kissed him. And when he had done so, he bade him
go forth with Rustem. And he commanded that the nobles and
all their armies should camp upon the plains. And Zal did as
the Shah desired, and the hosts were encamped without the
Now when it was done, Kai Khosrau mounted upon the
crystal throne, and he held in his hand the ox-headed mace,
and he bare on his head the crown of the Kaianides, and a
sash of might was girded round his loins. And on his right
hand stood Rustem the Pehliva, and on his left Zal the aged.
And he lifted up his voice and spake words of wisdom unto
his army; and he said unto them that the sojourn of man was
brief upon the earth, and that it became him to remember his
end. And he said how he had also bethought him of his death.
And he spake, saying-
"I have made me ready to depart, and my testament will I
speak before you. I will give richly unto those that have
wearied themselves in my service, and of those to whom I owe
gratitude I will speak unto God, and implore of Him that He
reward them according to their deserts. And I give unto the
Iranians my gold, and my armour, and my jewels, and
whosoever is great among you to him do I give a province."
Thus for the space of seven days did the Shah sit upon
his throne and order his treasurer how he should act. Then
on the eighth he called before him Gudarz the wise, and he
gave to him instructions. And he bade him be kind unto the
poor, and the widowed, and the fatherless, and he entreated
him to dry the eye of care. Then he gave unto him much
treasure, and rendered unto him thanks for the services that
he had done before him. And he gave rich gifts also unto
Zal, and Gew, and Rustem, and to all his nobles, according
to their degree. And he desired of them that they should ask
a boon at his hands, and whatsoever it was he gave it. And
he spake, saying-
"May my memory be hateful unto none."
Then he called before him Rustem, and praised the mighty
deeds that he had done, and he invoked the blessings of
Heaven upon his Pehliva. And after many days, when all these
things were accomplished, the Shah was weary, but his task
was not yet fulfilled. For there was one among the nobles
whose name he had not named. And the others knew thereof,
but they ventured not again to admonish Kai Khosrau, for
they were amazed at his wisdom and his justice, and they saw
that he did that which was right.
Now after some time the Shah opened his mouth and called
before him Byzun, and he said-
"Lead forth before me Lohurasp, who is sprung from the
seed of Husheng, the Shah."
And Byzun did as Kai Khosrau commanded.
Now when he had brought Lohurasp before the throne, Kai
Khosrau descended from its height, and he gave his hand unto
Lohurasp and blessed him. Then he put upon his head the
crown of the Kaianides and saluted him Shah, and he said-
"May the world be submissive to thy will."
But the nobles, when they saw it, were confounded, and they
murmured among themselves that Lohurasp should have the
kingdom, and they questioned wherefore they should pay
allegiance unto him. Then Kai Khosrau was angered, and he
opened his lips, saying-
"Ye speak of that ye know not, and haste hath unbridled
your tongues. For I say unto you that which I have done I
have done justly, and in the sight of God, and I know that
Lohurasp is a man worthy the throne, and that Iran will
prosper under his hands. And I desire that ye salute him
Shah, and whosoever regardeth not this, my last desire, I
hold him a rebel unto God, and judgment shall fall upon
Now Zal, when he heard these words, knew that they were
just. So he stepped out from among the nobles and came
before Lohurasp, and did obeisance unto him as to the Shah.
And the army, when they saw it, shouted their homage also,
and all the land of Iran was made acquainted with the
Now when it was done, Kai Khosrau turned him to his
"I go now to prepare my spirit for death." And when he
had so spoken he entered behind the curtains of his house.
And he called before him his women, and he told unto them
how he should depart. And they wept sore at the tidings.
Then Kai Khosrau confided them unto Lohurasp, and he gave to
him safe counsels, and he said-
"Be thou the woof and the warp of justice."
And when all was ready, he gat him upon his horse to go
forth into the mountains. And Lohurasp would have gone also,
but Kai Khosrau suffered it not. But there went with him Zal
and Rustem, Gudarz also, and Gustahem and Gew, and Byzun the
valiant, and Friburz, the son of Kai Kaous, and Tus the
Pehliva. And they followed after him from the plains unto
the crest of the mountains. And they ceased not from
mourning that which was done of Kai Khosrau, and they said
among themselves that never had Shah done like unto him. And
they strove to change his purpose. But Kai Khosrau said unto
"All is well, wherefore weep ye and trouble my spirit? "
Now when they were gone with him the space of seven days,
Kai Khosrau turned unto his nobles and spake, saying-
"Return now upon the road that ye are come, for I am
about to enter in upon a path where neither herb nor water
can be found. Wherefore I entreat of you that ye spare
yourselves this weariness."
Then Zal and Rustem, and Gudarz the aged, listened unto
the voice of the Shah, for they knew that he spake that
which it became them to obey. But the others refused ear
unto his voice, and they followed after him yet another day,
but their force was spent in the desert. Now when the
evening of that day was come they found a running stream.
Then Kai Khosrau said, "Let us halt in this spot." And when
they were encamped he spake unto them of the things that
were past, and he said unto them that when the sun should
have lifted up its face anew they should behold him no
longer in their midst, for the time of his departure was at
hand. And when the night was fallen he drew aside and bathed
his body in the water, and prayed unto God his Maker. Then
he came yet again before his nobles, and he awakened them
from their slumbers, and he spake unto them words of
parting. And he said-
"When the daylight shall be come back, I say unto you,
return upon your path, neither linger in this place, though
it should rain musk and amber, for out of the mountains a
great storm will arise that shall uproot the trees and strip
the leaves from off their branches. And there shall come a
fall of snow such as Iran hath not seen the like. But if ye
do not as I say unto you, verily ye shall never find the
path of return."
Now the nobles were troubled when they heard these words,
and the slumber that fell upon their eyelids was fined with
sorrow. But when the raven of night flew upwards, and the
glory of the world flooded the earth with its light, Kai
Khosrau was vanished from among them, and they sought out
his traces in vain. Now when they beheld that he was gone,
they wept in the bitterness of their hearts, and Friburz
"O my friends, listen to the words that I shall speak. I
pray of you, let us linger yet a while in this spot, lest
peradventure Kai Khosrau should return. And since it is good
to be here, I know not wherefore we should haste to depart."
And the nobles listened to his voice, and they encamped
them on this spot, and they spake continually of Kai
Khosrau, and wept for him, but they forgot the commandment
that he had spoken. Now while they slept there arose a
mighty wind, and it brought forth clouds, and the sky grew
dark, and before the daylight was come back unto the world
the earth was wrapped in snow like to a shroud, and none
could tell the valleys and the hills asunder. And the
nobles, when they awoke, knew not whither they should turn,
and they sought after their path in vain. And the snow fell
down upon them, and they could not free them of its might,
and though they strove against it, it rose above their heads
and buried them, and after a little the life departed out of
Now after many days, when Zal, and Rustem, and Gudarz
beheld that the nobles returned not, they grew afraid and
sent forth riders to seek them. And the men searched long,
but in the end they found the bodies, and they bare them
down into the plains. And sore was the wailing in the army
when they beheld it, and a noble tomb was raised above their
heads. But Lohurasp, when he learned that Kai Khosrau was
vanished, mounted the throne of the Kaianides. And he called
before him his people that they should do allegiance unto
him. And they did so, and the place of Kai Khosrau knew him
Lohurasp reigned in wisdom upon the crystal throne, and
Iran was as wax under his hands. And men were content under
his sway, save only Gushtasp, his son, who was rebellious of
spirit. And Gushtasp was angered because his father would
not abandon unto him the sovereignty. Wherefore, when he
beheld that his pleading was vain, he stole away from Iran
and sought out the land of Roum, and the city that Silim his
forefather had builded. And he did great deeds of prowess in
the land, so that the King gave unto him his daughter to
Now Lohurasp, when he learned of the mighty deeds done of
his son, strove to win him back unto himself. So he sent
forth messengers bearing words of greeting and entreated of
Gushtasp that he would return unto the courts of his father.
And he sware unto him that if he would listen unto his
voice, he would abandon unto him the throne. So Gushtasp
listened to the voice of his father, and he returned him
unto Iran. And Lohurasp stepped down from off the throne of
the Kaianides and gave place unto Gushtasp, his son. And one
hundred and twenty years had he reigned in equity, and now
that it was done he hid himself within the temples of Balkh,
that he might live in the sight of God, and make him ready
to meet his end. And Gushtasp, his son, ruled the land
worthily, and he administered justice in such wise that
sheep could drink at the same brook as the wolves.
Now when he had sat some while upon the throne, there
appeared in the land Zerdusht, the prophet of the Most High.
And he came before the Shah and taught him, and he went out
in all the land and gave unto the people a new faith. And he
purged Iran of the might of Ahriman. He reared throughout
the realm a tree of goodly foliage, and men rested beneath
its branches. And whosoever ate of the leaves thereof was
learned in all that regardeth the life to come, but
whosoever ate of the branches was perfect in wisdom and
faith. And Zerdusht gave unto men the Zendavesta, and he
bade them obey its precepts if they would attain everlasting
But tidings concerning Zerdusht were come even unto
Arjasp, who sat upon the throne of Afrasiyab, and he said
within himself, "This thing is vile." So he refused ear unto
the faith, and he sent a writing unto Gushtasp, wherein he
bade him return unto the creed of his fathers. And he said-
"If thou turn thee not, make thee ready for combat; for
verily I say unto thee, that unless thou cast out Zerdusht,
this man of guile, I will overthrow thy kingdom and seat me
upon thy throne."
When Gushtasp heard the haughty words that Arjasp had
spoken, he marvelled within himself. Then he called before
him a scribe, and sent back answer unto Arjasp. And he said
that he would deliver up unto the sword whosoever swerved
from the paths of Zerdusht, and whosoever would not choose
them, him also would he destroy. And he bade him, therefore,
get ready to meet Iran in battle. Then when he had sent this
writing, Gushtasp got together his hosts and mustered them,
and he beheld that they outnumbered the grass upon the
fields. And the dust that uprose from their feet darkened
the sky, and the neighing of their horses and the clashing
of their armour were heard above the music of the cymbals.
And the banners pierced the clouds like to trees that grow
upon a mountain. And Gushtasp gave the command of this host
unto Isfendiyar, his son. And Isfendiyar was a hero of
renown, and his tongue was a bright sword, and his heart was
bounteous as the ocean, and his hands were like the clouds
when rain falls to gladden the earth. And he took the lead
of the army, and he led it forth into Turan.
Now when the men of Turan and of Iran met in conflict, a
great battle was waged between them, and for the space of
twice seven days they did not cease from combat, neither did
any of the heroes close their eyes in slumber. And their
rage was hot one against another, but in the end the might
of Iran overcame, and Arjasp fled before the face of
Then Isfendiyar returned him unto Iran, and presented
himself before his father, and demanded a blessing at his
hands. But Gushtasp said-
"The time is not yet come when thou shouldest mount the
So he sent him forth yet again that he might turn all the
lands unto the faith of Zerdusht. And Isfendiyar did as
Now while he was gone forth there came before the Shah
one Gurjam, who was of evil mind and foe unto Isfendiyar.
And he spake ill of Isfendiyar unto his father, and he said
unto Gushtasp that his son strove to wrest from him the
sovereignty. And Gushtasp, when he learned it, was wroth,
and he sent forth messengers that they should search out
Isfendiyar, and bring him before the Shah in the assembly of
the nobles. And when Isfendiyar was come, Gushtasp spake not
unto him in greeting, but he turned him to his nobles, and
he recounted unto them a parable. Then he told unto them of
a son who sought to put to death his father, and he asked of
them what punishment this father should mete out unto his
child. And the nobles cried with one accord-
"This thing which thou relatest unto us, it is not right,
and if there be a son so evil, let him be put into chains
and cast in bondage."
Then Gushtasp said, "Let Isfendiyar be put into chains."
And Isfendiyar opened his mouth in vain before his father,
for Gushtasp would not listen unto his voice. So they cast
him out into a dungeon, and chains of weight were hung upon
him, and the daylight came not nigh unto him, neither did
joy enter into his heart. And he languished many years, and
the heart of the Shah was not softened towards him.
Now when Arjasp learned that the might of Isfendiyar was
fettered, and that Gushtasp was given over to pleasures, he
gathered together an army to fall into Iran and avenge the
defeat that was come upon his hosts. So he fell upon Balkh
before any were aware of it and he put to death Lohurasp the
Shah and he made captive the daughters of Gushtasp. And
Arjasp threw fire into the temples of Zerdusht and did much
destruction unto the city and it was some while ere Gushtasp
learned that which he had done. But when he had news thereof
he was dismayed, and he called together his army and put
himself at their head. But the Turanians were mightier than
he, and they routed him utterly, and Gushtasp fled before
their face. Then the Shah called together his nobles, and
consulted with them how he should act in these sore straits.
And one among them who was wise above the rest said-
"I counsel thee that thou release Isfendiyar, thy son,
and that thou give to him the command, for he alone can
deliver the land."
And Gushtasp said, "I will do as thou sayest, and if
Isfendiyar shall deliver us from this foe, I will abandon
unto him the throne and the crown."
Then he sent messengers unto Isfendiyar that they should
unbind his chains. But Isfendiyar, when they came before
him, closed ear unto their voice. And he said-
"My father hath kept me in bondage until he hath need of
me. Why therefore should I weary me in his cause? I will not
go unto his aid."
Then the men reasoned with him, and they told unto him
how it had been revealed unto Gushtasp that the words spoken
of Gurjam were false, and that he had sworn that he would
deliver this man of false words unto the vengeance of his
son. But Isfendiyar was deaf yet again to their voice. Then
one spake and said-
"Thou knowest not that thy brother is in bondage unto
Arjasp. Surely it behoveth thee to deliver him."
When Isfendiyar heard these words he sprang unto his
feet, and he commanded that the chains be struck from off
his limbs. And because the men were slow, he was angered,
and shook himself mightily, so that the fetters fell down at
his feet. Then he made haste to go before his father. And
peace was made between them on that day, and Gushtasp sware
a great oath that he would give the throne unto Isfendiyar
when he should return unto him victorious.
So Isfendiyar went out against the foes of Iran, and he
mowed them down with the sword and he caused arrows to rain
upon them like hail in spring, and the sun was darkened by
the flight of the weapons. And he brake the power of Arjasp,
King of Turan, and he drove him out from the borders of the
realm. And when it was done, and the men of Iran had
prevailed over the men of Turan, Isfendiyar presented
himself before his father and craved of him the fulfilment
of his promises. But Gushtasp, when he beheld that all was
well once more, repented him of his resolve, for he desired
not to give the throne unto his son. So he pondered in his
spirit what he should say in his excuse, and he was ashamed
in his soul. But his mouth revealed not the thoughts of his
heart, and he spake angrily unto his son, and he said-
"I marvel that thou comest before me with this demand;
for while thy sisters languish in the bondage of Arjasp, it
beseemeth us not to hold this war as ended, lest men mock us
with their tongues. And it hath been told unto me that they
are hidden in the brazen fortress, and that Arjasp and all
his men are gone in behind its walls. I charge thee,
therefore, overthrow the castle and deliver thy sisters who
pine. And I swear unto thee, when thou hast done it, I will
abandon unto thee the throne, and thy name shall be exalted
in the land."
Then Isfendiyar said, "I am the servant of the Shah, let
him command his slave what he shall do."
And Gushtasp said, "Go forth."
Then Isfendiyar answered, "I go, but the road is not known
And Gushtasp said, "A Mubid hath revealed it unto me.
Three roads lead unto the fortress of brass, and the one
requireth three months to traverse, but it is safe, and much
pasture is found on its path. And the second demandeth but
two moons, yet it is a desert void of herbs. And the third
asketh but seven days, but it is fraught with danger."
Then Isfendiyar said, "No man can die before his time is
come. It behoveth a man of valour to choose ever the
Now the Mubids and the nobles who knew the dangers that
were hidden in this path sought to deter him, but Isfendiyar
would not listen to their voice. So he set forth with his
army, and they marched until they came to the spot where the
roads divided. Now it needed seven stages to reach the
fortress of Arjasp, and at each stage there lurked a danger,
and never yet had any man overcome them or passed beneath
its walls. But Isfendiyar would not give ear to fear, and he
set forth upon the road, and each day he overcame a danger,
and each danger was greater than the last. And on the first
day he slew two raging wolves, and on the second he laid low
two evil Deevs that were clothed as lions, and on the third
he overcame a dragon whose breath was poison. And on the
fourth day Isfendiyar slew a great magician who would have
lured him into the paths of evil, and on the fifth he slew a
mighty bird whom no man had ever struck down. And weariness
was not known of Isfendiyar, neither could he rest from his
labours, for there was no camping-place in his road of
danger. And on the sixth day he was nigh to have perished
with his army in a deep snow that fell upon him through the
might of the Deevs. But he prayed unto God in his distress,
and by the favour of Heaven the snow vanished from under his
feet. Then on the seventh day he came nigh to perish in a
flood of waters but Isfendiyar overcame them also, and stood
before the castle of Arjasp. Now when he beheld it, his
heart failed within him, for he saw that it was compassed by
a wall of brass, and the thickness thereof was such that
four horsemen could ride thereon abreast. So he sighed and
"This place cannot be taken, my pains have been in vain."
Yet he pondered in his spirit how it might be done, and he
knew that only wile could avail. Wherefore he disguised
himself in the garb of a merchant, and chose forth from his
army a hundred camels, and he loaded them with brocades of
Roum and much treasure. A hundred and sixty stalwart
warriors too did he choose forth, and he seated them in
chests, and the chests he bound upon the backs of the
camels. And when the caravan was ready he marched at its
head unto the doors of the fortress.
Now when he was come thither, he craved permission of
Arjasp that he might enter and sell unto them that dwelt
therein. And Arjasp granted his request, and gave unto him
houseroom, and bade him barter his wares in safety. Then
Isfendiyar spread forth his goods and unloaded the treasures
of the camels, but the chests wherein were hidden the
warriors did he keep from the eyes of men. And after he had
sojourned a while in the castle he beheld his sisters, and
he saw that they were held as slaves, and his heart went out
towards them. So he spake to them tenderly, and they knew
his voice, and that help was come out to them, but they held
their peace and made no sign. And Isfendiyar, when he saw
that he was trusted of Arjasp, came before him and asked of
him a boon. And Arjasp said that he would grant it. Then
"Suffer that ere I go hence I may feast thee and thy
nobles, that I may show my gratitude."
And it was done as Isfendiyar desired, and he made a
great feast and troubled the heads of the nobles with wine.
And when their heads were heavy and the moon was seated upon
her silver throne, Isfendiyar arose and let forth his
warriors from the chests. Then he fell upon the nobles and
slew them, and they weltered in their blood. And with his
own hand Isfendiyar struck down Arjasp, and he hung up his
sons upon high gallows. Then he made signals unto his army
that they should come forth to aid him, for there were yet
many men hidden in the fort, and Isfendiyar had but a
handful wherewith to withstand them. And they did as he
desired, and there was a great slaughter within the brazen
fort, but Isfendiyar bare off the victory. Then he took with
him his sisters and much booty, and made haste to return
unto Iran, and come into the presence of Gushtasp, his
father. And the Shah rejoiced in his sight, and he made a
great feast, and gave gifts richly unto all his servants.
And the mouths of men overflowed with the doughty deeds done
of Isfendiyar, and there was gladness throughout the land.
When a little while had been passed in feasting,
Isfendiyar came before Gushtasp, his father, and demanded
the fulfilment of the promises that he had made unto him.
And he recalled unto Gushtasp how he had mistrusted him and
thrown him into chains. And he spake of the doughty deeds
that he had done at his behest, and he craved him to
remember that Isfendiyar was his son. And Gushtasp knew that
that which was spoken was right, but he desired not to
abandon the throne. Wherefore he communed within him what he
should do. Then he opened his mouth and spake, saying-
"Verily thou hast done that which thou sayest, and there
is none who is thine equal in this world, save only Rustem,
the son of Zal. And he acknowledgeth none his like. Now
because he is grown proud in his spirit, and hath rendered
no homage unto me, neither is come forth to aid me against
Arjasp, I desire that thou go forth unto Zaboulistan, and
that thou lead out the Pehliva, and bring him bound before
me, that he may know that I am the Shah, and that he must do
my behests. And when thou shalt have done it, I swear unto
thee by Him from whom cometh all strength, and who hath
kindled the sun and the stars unto light, that I will step
down from the throne, neither withhold it from thee any
Then Isfendiyar said, "O King, I would entreat of thee
that thou ponder the words that thou hast spoken. For thine
ancestors held this old man, ripe in wisdom, in much honour,
and he was a staff unto their throne. Now since thou
calledst him not forth, it was not fitting he should aid
thee against Turan."
But Gushtasp would not listen unto the words of
Isfendiyar, and he said-
"If thou lead not Rustem bound before me, I will not
grant unto thee the throne."
Then Isfendiyar said, "Thou sendest me forth in guile on
this emprise, for verily no man hath stood against the might
of Rustem, wherefore I perceive that thou desirest not to
abandon unto me the throne. I say unto thee, therefore, that
I desire it no longer; but since I am thy slave, it
beseemeth me to obey thy behests. I go forth therefore, and
if peradventure I fall before Rustem, thou wilt answer unto
God for my blood."
And when he had so spoken, Isfendiyar went out of the
presence of the Shah, and he was exceeding sorrowful. Then
he gathered together an army, and he set forth upon the road
that leadeth to Seistan.
Now when they were gone but a little way, the camel that
walked at their head laid him down in the dust. And the
drivers struck him, but he would not rise from the earth.
Then Isfendiyar said, "The omen is evil." But he commanded
the driver that he cut off the head, that the evil might
fall upon the beast and tarnish not the glory of the Shah.
And it was done as Isfendiyar desired, but he could not rid
him of his sadness, and he pondered in his spirit this sign.
Now when they were come unto the land of Zaboulistan,
Isfendiyar spake, saying-
"I will send an envoy unto Rustem, a man prudent and
wise. And I will entreat of the Pehliva that he come before
me with gladness, for I desire no evil unto him, and I come
forth only at the behest of the Shah."
Then he called before him Bahman, his son, and he spake
long unto him, and he charged him with a message unto
Rustem. And he bade him speak unto the son of Zal how
Gushtasp was angered because he sought not his courts,
wherefore he deemed that Rustem was grown proud in his
spirit, and would uplift himself above his Shah. And he
"The King hath sent me out that I lead thee before him. I
pray thee, therefore, come unto me, and I swear unto thee
that no harm shall befall thee at his hands. For when I
shall have led thee before him, I will demand as my guerdon
that he suffer thee to go unharmed."
So Bahman laid up these words in his spirit, and he went
with all speed unto the courts of Rustem. Now, he found
therein none but Zal, for Rustem was gone forth with his
warriors to chase the wild ass. And Zal came forth with
courtesy to greet Bahman, and he asked of him his desires,
and he invited him unto a feast. But Bahman said-
"My mission doth admit of no delay. Isfendiyar hath
bidden me not tarry by the road. Tell me, therefore, where I
may find thy son."
Then Zal showed unto him the way.
Now when Bahman was come unto the spot, he beheld a man like
unto a mountain, who was roasting a wild ass for his supper.
And in his hand was a wine-cup, and about him stood brave
knights. Then Bahman said within himself, "Surely this is
Rustem," and he watched him from where he was hid, and he
beheld that Rustem devoured the whole of a wild ass for his
meal, and he was amazed at the might and majesty of this
man. Then he thought within him, "Peradventure if I cast
down a rock upon him, I may slay him, for surely even
Isfendiyar, my father, shall not withstand his strength." So
he loosened a rock from the mountain-side, and set it
rolling unto the spot where Rustem was encamped. Now Zevarah
heard the sound thereof, and beheld the rock, and he said
"Behold a rock that springeth forth from the
But Rustem smiled, and arose not from his seat; and when the
rock was upon him, he lifted up his foot and threw it far
unto the other side. Then Bahman was amazed, but he was
affrighted also, and he dared not come forth at once. Yet
when he was come before the Pehliva, Rustem greeted him
kindly, and would have entertained him. And Bahman suffered
it, and he marvelled yet again when he beheld that which was
eaten of Rustem, and he was afraid. Then he delivered unto
him the message of Isfendiyar, his father. And Rustem
listened unto it, and when it was ended he spake, saying-
"Bear greeting unto the hero of renown, and say unto him
that I have longed to look upon his face, and that I rejoice
that he is come forth unto Zaboulistan. But his demand is
the device of Deevs, and I would counsel him that he depart
not from the paths of wisdom. And I say unto him, Count not
upon thy strength, for it is given to no man to shut up the
winds within a cage, neither can any man stand against my
might. And I have ever done that which was right before the
Shahs, thy fathers, and no man hath beheld Rustem in chains.
Therefore thy demand is foolish, and I bid thee abandon it,
and honour my house with thy presence. And when we shall
have feasted, I will go forth with thee before Gushtasp, thy
father, and the reins of my horse shall be tied unto thine
throughout the journey. And when I shall be come before the
Shah, and shall have taken counsel with him, I know that his
anger against me, which is unjust, will vanish like unto
Then Rustem sent a messenger unto Rudabeh, his mother, to
make ready a great feast in his courts. And Bahman sped back
unto his father.
Now Isfendiyar, when he had listened unto the words sent
by Rustem, mounted his steed, and rode forth to meet him.
And Rustem was come forth also, and they met beside the
stream. Then Rakush swam across its breadth, and the hero of
the world stood before Isfendiyar, and he greeted him, and
did homage unto the son of his Shah. And Rustem rejoiced in
the sight of Isfendiyar, and he deemed that he beheld in him
the face of Saiawush. And he said unto him-
"O young man, let us commune together concerning the
things that divide us."
And Isfendiyar assented unto the desires of Rustem, and
he pressed him unto his bosom, and his eyes could not cease
from gazing upon his strength. Then Rustem said-
"O hero, I have a prayer to make before thee; I crave
that thou enter into my house as my guest."
And Isfendiyar said, "I cannot listen unto thy demand,
for the Shah commanded me neither to rest nor tarry until I
should have brought thee unto him in chains. But I entreat
of thee that thou consider that the chains of the King of
kings do not dishonour, and that thou listen willingly unto
the desires of the Shah, for I would not lift my hand in
anger against thee, and I am grieved that it hath been given
unto me to do this thing. But it behoveth me to fulfil the
commandments of my father."
Thus spake Isfendiyar in the unquietude of his spirit,
for he knew that what was demanded of Rustem was not fitting
or right. And Rustem replied, saying-
"It would be counted shame unto me if thou shouldst
refuse to enter into my house. I pray thee, therefore, yet
again that thou accede to my desires, and when it shall be
done I will do that which thou desirest, save only that I
cannot submit unto the chains. For no man hath beheld me
fettered, neither shall any do so while I draw my breath. I
have spoken, and that which I have said, it is true."
And Isfendiyar said, "I may not feast with thee, and if
thou listen not to my voice, I must fall upon thee in
enmity. But to-day let there be a truce between us, and
drink thou with me in my tents."
And Rustem said, "I will do so gladly, suffer only that I
go forth and change my robes, for I am clad for the chase.
And when thy meal shall be ready, send forth a messenger
that he may lead me thither."
And when he had so spoken, Rustem leaped upon Rakush and
returned unto his courts. Now when he had arrayed himself
for the banquet, he awaited the envoy that Isfendiyar should
send. But Isfendiyar was full of cares, and he said unto
Bashuntan, his brother-
"We have regarded this affair too lightly, for it is full
of danger. Wherefore I have no place in the house of Rustem,
neither should he enter into mine, for the sword must decide
our strife. For which cause I shall not bid him unto my
Then Bashuntan answered and said, "A Deev hath led thee
astray, O my brother, for it is not fitting that men like
unto Rustem and Isfendiyar should meet in enmity. Wherefore
I counsel thee that thou listen not unto our father, for his
desires are evil, and he seeketh but to ensnare thee. Yet
thou art wiser than he; abandon, therefore, this device of
But Isfendiyar answered and said, "If I obey not the
words of the King, my father, it will be a reproach unto me
in this world, and I shall have to render account for it in
the next before God, my Maker. And I would not lose both
worlds because of Rustem."
Then Bashuntan said, "I have given unto thee counsel
according to my wisdom, it resteth with thee to do as thou
Then Isfendiyar bade the cooks serve before him the
banquet, but he sent not forth to call Rustem unto the
Now Rustem, when he had waited a long while and beheld
that Isfendiyar sent not to call him forth, was angered, and
"Is this the courtesy of a King?"
And he sprang upon Rakush and rode unto the tents of the
prince that he might question him wherefore he regarded
Rustem thus lightly. Now the warriors of Iran, when they
beheld the Pehliva, murmured among themselves against
Gushtasp, and they spake as with the voice of one man, that
surely the Shah was bereft of reason or he would not thus
send Isfendiyar unto death. And they said-
"Gushtasp loveth yet more his treasures and his throne as
age creepeth upon him, and this is but a device to preserve
them unto himself."
Now Rustem, when he had presented himself before
Isfendiyar, spake and said-
"O young man, it would seem unto me that thou didst not
deem thy guest worthy a messenger. Yet I say unto thee that
it is I who have made the throne of Iran to shine out unto
all the world, and I have ever been the Pehliva of its
Shahs, and have endured much pain and toil for their sakes.
And I have not passed a day save in doing that which is
right, and I have purged the land of its enemies. I am the
protector of the Kings of Iran, and the mainstay of the good
in all places of the earth. Wherefore it behoveth thee not
to treat me thus disdainfully."
Then Isfendiyar said, "O Rustem, be not angered against
me, but listen wherefore I sent not forth to call thee. For
the day was hot and the road long, and I bethought me that
fatigue would come upon thee from this course. Therefore I
had resolved to visit thee in the morning. But since thou
hast taken upon thee this fatigue, I pray of thee that thou
rest within my tents, and that we empty the wine-cup
Then he made a place for him at his left hand.
But Rustem said, "This is not my place. It is not fitting
that I should sit upon thy left, for my seat hath ever been
at the right hand of the Shah."
Then Isfendiyar bade a chair of gold be brought, and he
caused it to be placed upon his right, and he bade Rustem be
seated upon it. And Rustem sat him down, but he was angered
in his spirit because of the dishonour that Isfendiyar had
shown unto him.
Now when they had drunk together awhile, Isfendiyar
lifted up his voice and said-
"O Rustem, it hath been told unto me that thine origin is
evil, for thou art sprung from a Deev whom Saum cast forth
from his house. And he was reared of a vile bird, and his
nourishment was garbage."
Then Rustem said, "Why speakest thou words that do hurt?"
And he told unto him of his father, and Saum, and Neriman
who was of the race of Husheng the Shah. And he vaunted the
great deeds done of his house, and he hid not that which he
had accomplished himself, and he said-
"Six hundred years have passed since I came forth from
the loins of Zal, and for that space I have been the Pehliva
of the world, and have feared neither that which was
manifest, nor that which was hid. And I speak these things
that thou mayest know. Thou art the King, and they that
carry high their heads are thy subjects, but thou art new
unto the world, wherefore thou knowest not the things that
are come to pass."
When Isfendiyar had listened unto the words of Rustem, he
smiled and spake, saying-
"I have given ear unto thy voice, give ear now also unto
the words that I shall speak."
Then he vaunted him of his forefathers, and he recounted
unto Rustem how that he had overcome the Turks, and how
Gushtasp had cast him into chains, and he told him of the
seven stations, and that he had converted the world unto the
faith of Zerdusht. And he said-
"We have spoken enough concerning ourselves, let us drink
until we be weary."
But Rustem said, "Not so, for thou hast not heard all the
deeds that I have done, for they are many, and the ear
sufficeth not to hear them, nor the mouth to tell. For if
thou knewest them, thou wouldest not exalt thyself above me,
or think to cast me into chains."
And he recounted to him yet again of his deeds of might.
But Isfendiyar said, "I entreat of thee that thou apply
thyself unto the wine-cup, for verily thou shalt fall
tomorrow in the fight, and the days of thy feasting shall be
And Rustem answered, "Boast not thus rashly, thou shalt
yet repent thee of thy words. But to-morrow will we meet in
conflict since thou desirest it, and when I shall have
lifted thee from off thy saddle, I will bear thee unto my
house and spread a feast before thee, and pour upon thee my
treasures. And when it shall be done, I will return with
thee unto the courts of the Shah, thy father, and uproot
from his spirit this plant of evil. And when thou shalt be
mounted into his seat, I will serve thee with gladness as
But Isfendiyar said, "Thy words are idle, and we waste
but our breath in talk of combat. Let us therefore apply us
to the banquet."
And they did so, and ate and drank until the night was
far spent, and all men were amazed at the hunger of Rustem.
Now when it was time for him to depart, he prayed
Isfendiyar yet again that he would be his guest, and yet
again Isfendiyar refused it to him, and he said-
"Suffer that I put chains about thee, and lead thee forth
into Iran, that Gushtasp be satisfied. But if thou wilt not
do this thing, I must attack thee with the spear."
Now Rustem, when he heard these words, was sorrowful in
his soul. And he thought within him-
"If I suffer these chains it is a stain that cannot be
wiped out, and I cannot outlive my dishonour, for men will
mock at Rustem, who permitted a boy to lead him bound. Yet
if I slay this youth, I do evil, for he is son unto the
Shah, and my glory will be tarnished, for men will say I
lifted my hand against a Kaianide. And there can arise no
good out of this combat. Wherefore I will strive yet again
to win him unto wisdom."
So he lifted up his voice and said, "I pray thee listen
not to the counsel of Deevs, and shut thy lips concerning
these chains. For it seemeth unto me that Gushtasp desireth
evil against thee, that he sendeth thee forth against
Rustem, the unvanquished in fight. Dishonour, therefore, not
the champion of thy fathers, but feast within my gates, and
let us ride forth in friendship unto Iran."
But Isfendiyar said, "I charge thee, old man, that thou
waste not words concerning this thing, for I will not
disobey the behests of my father. Prepare, therefore, for
combat; for to-morrow I will make the world dark unto thine
Then Rustem said, "O foolish youth! when I grasp my mace,
the head of my foe is lost. Prepare thee rather for thine
And when he had so spoken, he rode forth from out the
tents of Isfendiyar, and he was exceeding sorrowful. But
Isfendiyar smiled after him and said-
"The mother that hath borne thee shall weep. I will cast
thee down from Rakush, I will lead thee bound into Iran."
But once again did Bashuntan come before Isfendiyar, and
he pleaded with him for Rustem, and he bade him remember the
great deeds that he had done unto Iran, and he desired him
not to lift his hand against the Pehliva.
But Isfendiyar said-
"He is a thorn in my rose-garden, and through him alone can
I attain unto the throne. Strive not, therefore, to hinder
me, for thy pains will be in vain. For Zerdusht hath spoken
that whosoever honoureth not the behests of his king, he
shall surely suffer the pains of hell. And my father hath
told unto me to do this thing, and though I grieve to do
hurt unto Rustem, the desires of the Shah must be
Then Bashuntan sighed and said, "Alas! a Deev hath taken
possession of thy spirit."'
Now Rustem, when he was come into his house, commanded
that his leopard-skin should be brought before him, and his
helmet of Roum, his spear of Ind also, and the war garb of
Rakush. And when he saw them, he said-
"O my raiment of battle, ye have rested a long time from
strife, yet now must I take you forth again to combat, and
it is for the hardest fight that ye have fought. For I must
lift my hand against the son of my master, or suffer that he
disgrace me in the sight of men."
And Rustem was sad, and all night he spake unto Zal of
his end, and what he should do if he fell in battle.
Then when the morning was come he girded on his armour,
but he resolved in his spirit that he would strive again
with Isfendiyar in words. So he rode forth unto the tents of
the young King; and when he was come nigh unto them he
shouted with a loud voice. And he said-
"O Isfendiyar, hero of great renown, the man with whom
thou wouldst wrestle is come forth; make thee ready,
therefore, to meet him."
Then Isfendiyar came out from his tents, and he was armed
for battle. Now when they were met, Rustem opened his mouth
and prayed him yet again that he would stay his hand from
this impiety. And he said-
"If thy soul thirsteth after blood and the tumult of
battle, suffer that our hosts meet in combat, that thy
desires may be satisfied."
But Isfendiyar said, "Thy talk is folly; thou art armed
for the conflict, let not the hours be lost."
Then Rustem sighed and made him ready for combat. And he
assailed Isfendiyar with his lance, but with a nimble stroke
Isfendiyar resisted his attack. And they fought with their
lances until they were bent, and when that was done they
betook them unto swords. And ever the heroes parried the
strokes that were dealt. And when their swords were broken
they seized upon maces, but either hero warded off the
blows. And they fought until that their shields were rent
and their helmets dinted with the blows, and their armour
was pierced in many places. And it was a bitter fight. But
the end thereof came not, and they were weary, and neither
had gained the upper hand. So they rested them awhile from
combat. But when they were rested they fell again one on
another, and they fought with arrows and bows. And the
arrows of Isfendiyar whizzed through the air and fastened
into the body of Rustem and of Rakush his steed; and twice
thirty ar-rows did Isfendiyar thus send forth, until that
Rakush was like to perish from his wounds. And Rustem also
was covered with gore, and no man before this one had ever
done harm unto his body. But the arrows of Rustem had done
no ill unto Isfendiyar, because Zerdusht had charmed his
body against all dangers, so that it was like unto brass.
Now Isfendiyar, when he beheld that Rustem staggered in
his seat, called out unto him to surrender himself into his
hands and suffer chains to be put about his body. But Rustem
"Not so, I will meet thee again in the morning," and he
turned and swam across the stream, so that Isfendiyar was
amazed, for he knew that the steed and rider had been sore
wounded. And he exulted in his heart, and he reviled Rustem
with his lips, but in his soul he was filled with wonder at
the Pehliva, and his heart went out to him.
Now when Zal and Rudabeh beheld the Pehliva and that he
was wounded, they rent the air with their cries, for never
yet was he returned unto them vanquished, neither had any
man done hurt unto the elephant-limbed. And they wailed sore
in their distress, and Rustem joined his lamentations unto
theirs. Then they pondered how they should act, and Zal
bethought him of the Simurgh that had been his nurse, and
the feather that she had given him from her breast that he
might call upon her in the day of his need. So he brought it
and cast it into the fire as she had commanded, and
straightway a sound of rushing wings filled the air and the
sky was darkened, and the bird of God stood before Zal. And
she spake and said unto him-
"O my son, what is come about that thou callest upon thy
nurse that shielded thee?"
Then Zal told her all, and how Rustem was nigh to die of
his wounds, and how Rakush too was sick unto death. Then the
"Bring me before them."
And when she had seen them, she passed her wings over their
hurts and forthwith they were whole. Then she spake unto
Rustem and questioned him wherefore he sought to combat the
son of the Shah, and Rustem told her. Then she said-
"Seek yet again to turn Isfendiyar unto thyself; yet if
he listen not unto thy voice, I will reveal unto thee the
secrets of Fate. For it is written that whosoever sheddeth
the blood of Isfendiyar, he also shall perish; and while he
liveth he shall not know joy, and in the life to come he
shall suffer pains. But if this fate dismay thee not, go
forth with me and I will teach thee this night how thou
shalt close the mouth of thine enemy."
Then the Simurgh showed unto Rustem the way he should
follow, and Rustem rode after her, and they halted not until
they were come unto the sea-coast. And the Simurgh led him
into a garden wherein grew a tamarisk, tall and strong, and
the roots thereof were in the ground, but the branches
pierced even unto the sky. Then the bird of God bade Rustem
break from the tree a branch that was long and slender, and
fashion it into an arrow, and she said-
"Only through his eyes can Isfendiyar be wounded. If,
therefore, thou wouldst slay him, direct this arrow unto his
forehead, and verily it shall not miss its aim."
Then she exhorted him once more that he bring this matter
to a good end, and she led him on the path of return unto
Zaboulistan, and when he was come there she blessed him and
departed from out his sight.
Now when the morning was come, Rustem came unto the camp
of Isfendiyar, and he was mounted upon Rakush his steed. And
Isfendiyar slumbered, for he thought that of a surety Rustem
was perished of his wounds. Then Rustem lifted up his voice,
"O man, eager to fight, wherefore slumberest thou when
Rustem standeth before thee?"
Now Isfendiyar, when he heard his voice and saw that it
was truly Rustem that stood before him, was amazed, and he
said unto his nobles-
"This is the deed of Zal the sorcerer."
But unto Rustem he cried, "Make ready for combat; for this
day thou shalt not escape my might. May thy name perish from
off the earth."
Then Rustem spake, saying-
"I am not come forth to battle, but to treaty. Turn aside
thine heart from evil, and root out this enmity. Make not, I
pray thee, thy soul to be a dwelling-place for Deevs. And
suffer that I recall unto thee the deeds I have done for
Iran, and the list thereof is long. And feast this day
within my house, and let us ride forth together unto the
courts of the Shah, that I may make my peace with Gushtasp
But Isfendiyar was angered at these words, and he said-
"Wilt thou never cease from speaking? Thou exhortest me to
quit the paths of God, for I do wrong when I obey not the
voice of my father. Choose, therefore, betwixt chains and
When Isfendiyar had so spoken, Rustem knew that his
speech was of no avail. So he sighed and made ready for
combat; and he took forth the arrow that was given to him of
the Simurgh, and he let it fly towards his enemy. And it
pierced the eye of the young King, and he fell upon the mane
of his steed, and his blood reddened the field of battle.
Then Rustem said unto him-
"The bitter harvest thou hast sown hath borne fruit."
Now Isfendiyar swooned in his agony and fell upon the
ground. And there came out to him his brother and Bahman,
his son; and they wailed when they beheld how his plight was
evil. But when he was come unto himself he called after
Rustem, and the Pehliva got him down from Rakush and came
unto where he lay, and knelt beside him. And Isfendiyar
"My life ebbeth unto the close, wherefore I would confide
unto thee my wishes. And thou shalt behold how greatly I
honour thee, for it is not thou that hast brought me unto
death, but Gushtasp, my father; and verily the curse of the
prophet shall fall upon his head, for thou wert but the
instrument of Fate. And listen now unto the words that I
shall speak, for it is not given unto me to say many- I
desire that thou take unto thyself Bahman, my son, and that
thou rear him in the land of Zaboulistan, and that thou
teach him the arts of war and of the banquet. And when the
hour of Gushtasp shall be come, I charge thee that thou put
Bahman in his place, and aid him with thy counsels that he
may be upright in the sight of men."
And Rustem sware unto him that it should be done at his
desire. Then Isfendiyar made him ready to depart, and he
spake words of comfort unto his son, and he sent greetings
unto his mother and to his wives that were in Iran. And he
made them say unto his father that hence-forward he need not
fear him beside the throne; and he cursed the name of
Gushtasp, and he said that the Shah had done that which was
worthy of his black soul. And he bade them speak before the
throne and say-
"We shall meet again before the judge, and we shall
speak, and listen to His decree."
Then he said unto Rustem, "Thou hast done this deed by
the arts of magic."
And Rustem said, "It is true, for thou wouldst not listen
unto my voice, and I could not bend my spirit unto chains."
And Isfendiyar said, "I am not angered against thee; thou
hast done that thou couldst not alter, for it was written in
the stars, and surely that which is written in the stars is
Then Rustem said, "God is my witness that I strove to
turn thee from thy resolve."
And Isfendiyar said, "It is known unto me." And when he
had thus spoken he sighed, and the sun of that King was set.
And there was great lamentation for him in the army, and
Rustem, too, bewailed the hero that was fallen, and he
prayed God for his soul. And he said-
"May thine enemies reap that which they have sown."
Then Rustem made ready for Isfendiyar a coffin of iron, and
he caused it to be lined with silken stuffs, and he laid
therein the body of the young King. And it was placed upon
the back of a dromedary and forty others followed in its
wake, and all the army of Isfendiyar came after them, clad
in robes of mourning. And Bashuntan marched at the head of
the train, and he led the horse of Isfendiyar, and its
saddle was reversed, and its mane and its tail were shorn.
And from its sides hung the armour of the young King. And
weeping resounded through the ranks, and with sorrow did the
army return unto Iran.
But Rustem remained in Zaboulistan, and he kept beside
him Bahman, the son of Isfendiyar.
Now when Gushtasp learned the tidings of woe, he was
bowed down to the earth with sorrow, and remorse came upon
him and he strewed dust upon his head and he humbled himself
before God. And men came before him and reproached him with
that which he had done unto Isfendiyar, and he knew not how
he should answer them. And Bashuntan came in and saluted him
not, but upbraided him with his vile deeds. And he said-
"Neither the Simurgh, nor Rustem, nor Zal have made an
end of Isfendiyar, but only thou, for thou alone hast caused
him to perish."
And for the space of one year men ceased not to lament
for Isfendiyar, and for many years were tears shed for that
arrow. And men cried continually, "The glory of Iran hath
been laid low, and it is at the hands of her Shah that it
hath been done."
But Bahman grew up in the courts of Rustem, and the
Pehliva guarded him like to a son.
The Death of Rustem
How shall a man escape from that which is written; How
shall he flee from his destiny?
There stood a slave in the house of Zal, and she was fair
to see, so that the heart of the aged man went out to her.
And there was born to her a son, goodly of mien, like unto
Saum the hero, and Zal named him Shugdad. Then he consulted
the Mubids concerning him, and they searched the stars for
his destiny, and they read therein that he would do much
evil in the house of his father, and lay low the race of
Saum, the son of Neriman. Now Zal, when he heard this, was
sore afflicted, and he prayed unto God that He would avert
this fate from his head. And he reared him tenderly, and
when he was come unto man's estate he sent him forth into
Cabul. And the King of Cabul rejoiced in the sight of the
hero, and he kept him beside him and gave unto him his
daughter to wife.
Now the King of Cabul paid tribute unto Rustem, and it
was a grievance to him to do so, and since he had taken
Shugdad as his son he deemed that it was fitting that he
should be relieved of this burden. And he spake thereof unto
Shugdad, and said how Rustem ceased not to demand it.
And Shugdad said, "This man is foolish. What mattereth it
whether he be my brother or a stranger, let us consider how
we may ensnare him."
So Shugdad and the King of Cabul passed a night pondering
how they should bring Rustem unto destruction. And Shugdad
"Call together thy nobles unto a feast, and when thou
shalt have drunk wine, speak insults unto me, and I will be
angered and ride forth unto Zaboulistan and make plaint of
thee before Rustem, and assuredly he will come forth to
avenge me. And while I am gone, cause a deep pit to be dug
on the road that Rustem must pass, a pit that will swallow
him and Rakush his steed, and line the sides thereof with
sharp spears, and swords, and lances. And when it is done,
cover it with earth and let no man know thereof, nay,
whisper it not even unto the moon."
And the King said, "Thy device is good," and he made a
great feast and called thereto his warriors, and he spake
words of insult unto Shugdad, and he reproached him, and
said that he was not of the race of Saum, but son unto a
slave. And he said that Rudabeh would refuse to him the name
of brother unto Rustem. And he spake lightly also of Rustem.
Then Shugdad uprose as though he were angered, and vowed
that he would ride unto Zaboulistan and call forth Rustem to
avenge the words that the King had spoken.
Now when Shugdad was come unto the courts of Zal, and had
told unto Rustem the words that the King of Cabul had
spoken, he was beside himself with anger, and he said-
"I will slake my vengeance for this speech."
Then he chose out an army and made ready to go into Cabul.
But Shugdad said-
"Wherefore dost thou take forth so large an army? Surely
Cabul shall be obedient when it but looketh upon thy face.
Yet this army will cause the King to think that thou holdest
him an enemy worthy of regard."
Then Rustem said, "That which thou sayest, it is wise,"
and he disbanded the army, and took with him but few men and
rode with them to Cabul.
In the mean season the King of Cabul had done that which
Shugdad had counselled, and the pits that had been dug were
concealed with cunning. Now when Rustem came nigh to the
city, Shugdad sent a messenger before him unto the King of
"Rustem cometh against thee, it behoveth thee to ask
pardon for thy words."
And the King came forth, and his tongue was filled with
honey, but his heart was filled with poison. And he bowed
himself in the dust before Rustem, and he asked his
forgiveness for the words that he had spoken, and he said-
"Consider not the words of thy servant that he did speak
when his head was troubled with wine."
And Rustem forgave the King, and consented to be his
guest. Then a great banquet was made, and while they feasted
the King told unto Rustem how his forests were filled with
wild asses and with rams, and he invited him to hunt therein
ere he should return unto Zaboulistan. And these words were
joy unto the ears of Rustem, and he consented unto the
desires of the King. So the next day the King made ready a
great hunt, and he led it unto the spot where the pits were
hidden. And Shugdad ran beside the horse of Rustem, and
showed unto him the path. But Rakush, when he smelt the soil
that had been newly turned, reared him in air, and refused
to go onwards. Then Rustem commanded him to go forward, but
Rakush would not listen to his voice. And Rustem was angry
when he beheld that Rakush was afraid. But Rakush sprang
back yet again. Then Rustem took a whip and struck him, and
before this day he had never raised his hand against his
steed. So Rakush was grieved in his soul, and he did that
which Rustem desired, and he sprang forward and fell into
the pit. And the sharp spears entered his body and tore it,
and they pierced also the flesh of Rustem, and steed and
rider were impaled upon the irons that had been hidden by
the King. But Rustem put forth all his strength, and raised
himself. Yet when he had done it he was weary, and fell down
beside the pit. And he swooned in his agony.
Now when Rustem was come unto himself, he saw Shugdad,
and he beheld in his face the joy felt of this evil man at
this adventure. Then he knew that it was his brother that
was his foe. So he said unto him-
"It is thou who hast done this deed."
And Shugdad said, "Thou hast caused many to perish by the
sword; it is meet that thou shouldst perish by it thyself."
Now while they yet spake, the King of Cabul came nigh
unto the spot. And when he beheld Rustem, that weltered in
his blood, he feigned a great sorrow, and he cried-
"O hero of renown, what thing hath befallen thee?
I will send forth my physicians, that they heal thee."
And Rustem said, "O man of wile, the time of physicians is
gone by, and there is none that can heal me, save only
death, that cometh to all men in their turn."
Then he said unto Shugdad, "Give unto me my bow, and
place before me two arrows, and refuse not unto me this last
request. For I would have them beside me lest a lion go by
ere I am dead, and devour me for his prey."
And Shugdad gave unto Rustem his bow; but when he had
done so he was afraid, and he ran unto a plane tree that
stood near by. And the tree was old and hollow, and Shugdad
hid himself in its trunk. But Rustem beheld him where he was
hid, though the dimness of death was come over his eyes. So
he raised him from the ground in his agony, and he took his
bow and bent it with force, and he shot an arrow and fixed
Shugdad unto the tree wherein he was hid. And the aim was
just, and pierced even unto the heart of this evil man, so
that he died. And Rustem, when he saw it, smiled, and said-
"Thanks be unto God, the Merciful, whom all my days I
have sought to serve, that He hath granted unto me to avenge
myself upon this wretch while the life is yet in me, and ere
two nights have passed over this vengeance."
But when he had so spoken the breath went out of him, and
the hero who had borne high his head was vanished from this
Now a warrior of the train of Rustem rode with all speed
unto Zaboulistan, and told unto Zal the tidings of sorrow.
And Zal was dismayed thereat, and his grief was boundless,
and he cried continually after his son, and he heaped curses
upon Shugdad, that had uprooted this royal tree. And he
"Wherefore have I been suffered to see this day?
Wherefore have I not died before Rustem, my son? Wherefore
am I left alone to mourn his memory?"
Now while he lamented thus, Feramorz, the son of Rustem,
gathered together an army to avenge his father. And he went
into Cabul, and he laid low all the men he found therein,
and he slew the King and all his house, and he changed the
land into a desert. And when he had done so, he sought out
the body of Rustem, and of Rakush his steed, and he did unto
them all honour, and they were borne in sorrow unto
Zaboulistan. And Zal caused a noble tomb to be built for
Rustem, his son, and he laid him therein, and there was
placed beside him also Rakush, the steed that had served him
unto the end.
And the wailing throughout the land because of the death
of Rustem was such as the world hath not known the like. And
Zal was crushed with sorrow, and Rudabeh was distraught with
grief. And for many moons were no sounds save those of
wailing heard in the courts of Seistan. And Rudabeh refused
to take comfort, and she cried without ceasing-
"He is gone before us, but we shall follow. Let us rest
our hopes in God."
And she gave unto the poor of her treasures, and daily
she prayed unto Ormuzd, saying-
"O Thou who reignest above, to whom alone pertaineth
honour and glory, purify the soul of Rustem from all sin,
and grant that he rejoice in the fruits that he hath sown on
earth, and give him a place beside Thee."
And now may the blessing of God rest upon all men. I have
told unto them the Epic of Kings, and the Epic of Kings is
come to a close, and the tale of their deeds is ended.