The Epic of Kings
By: Hakim Abol Qasem Ferdowsi Tousi
Translated by: Helen Zimmern
01- The Shah of Old
Kaiumers first sat upon the throne of Persia, and was master of the world. He took up
his ...
02- Feridoun
Five hundred years did Feridoun rule the world, and might and virtue increased in the
land ...
03- Zal
Seistan, which is to the south of Iran, was ruled by Sam, the Pehliva, girt with might and
glory, and, but for the grief that he was childless, his days were ...
04- Zal and Rodabeh
When Rodabeh had listened to these words her heart burned with love for Zal, so that she
could neither eat nor rest, and ...
05- Rostam
And when Rodabeh beheld the babe, she smiled and said: Verily he shall be called
Rostam ...
06- The March into the Mazanderan
Kai Kaous seated him on the crystal throne, and the world was obedient to his will. But
Ahriman was ...
07- Kai Kawous Committeth More Follies
Whilom the fancy seized upon the Shah of Iran that he would visit his empire, and look
face to face upon his ...
08- Rostam and Sohrab
Give ear unto the combat of Sohrab against Rostam, though it be a tale replete with tears.
09- Saiawosh
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 Saiawosh. And Kai Kawous ...
10- The Return of Kai Khosrow
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 ...
11- Firoud
But a little while had Kai Khosrow sat upon the throne of Iran, yet the world resounded
with his fame, and all men ...
12- The Vengeance of Kai Khosrow
Dire was the wailing among the army of Iran at their sore defeat, and they ...
13- Bijan and Manijeh
Peace reigned again within the borders of Iran, and the sword slept in its scabbard, and
Kai Khosrow ordered ...
14- The Defeat of Afrasiyab
Mourning and sorrow filled the heart of Afrasiyab because of his defeat, and he pondered
in his ...
15- The Passing of Kai Khosrau
Now it came to pass as Kai Khosrow foretold. For Afrasiyab, when he learned the death
of ...
16- Isfendiyar
Lohrasp reigned in wisdom upon the crystal throne, and Iran was as wax ...
17- Rustem and Isfendiyar
When a little while had been passed in feasting, Isfendiyar came before Goshtasp, his
father, and demanded the fulfilment of ...
18- The Death of Rostam
How shall a man escape from that which is written; How shall he flee from his destiny?
By : Hakim Abol Qasem Ferdowsi Tousi
1 - The Shahs of Old
Kaiumers first sat upon the throne of Persia, and was master of the world. He took up his
abode in the mountains, and clad himself and his people in tiger-skins, and from him
sprang all kindly nurture and the arts of clothing, till then unknown. Men and beasts from
all parts of the earth came to do him homage and receive laws at his hands, and his glory
was like to the sun. Then Ahriman the Evil, when he saw how the Shah's honour was
increased, waxed envious, and sought to usurp the diadem of the world. So he bade his
son, a mighty Deev, gather together an army to go out against Kaiumers and his beloved
son Saiamuk and destroy them utterly.
Now the Serosch, the angel who defendeth men from the snares of the Deevs, and who
each night flieth seven times around the earth that he may watch over the children of
Ormuzd, when he learned this, appeared like unto a Peri and warned Kaiumers. So when
Saiamuk set forth at the head of his warriors to meet the army of Ahriman, he knew that
he was contending against a Deev, and he put forth all his strength. But the Deev was
mightier than he, and overcame him, and crushed him under his hands.
When Kaiumers heard the news of mourning, he was bowed to the ground. For a year did
he weep without ceasing, and his army wept with him; yea, even the savage beasts and
the birds of the air joined in the wailing. And sorrow reigned in the land, and all the
world was darkened until the Serosch bade the Shah lift his head and think on vengeance.
And Kaiumers obeyed, and commanded Husheng, the son of Saiamuk, "Take the lead of
the army, and march against the Deevs." And the King, by reason of his great age, went
in the rear. Now there were in the host Peris; also tigers, lions, wolves, and other fierce
creatures, and when the black Deev heard their roaring he trembled for very fear. Neither
could he hold himself against them, and Husheng routed him utterly. Then when
Kaiumers saw that his well-beloved son was revenged he laid him down to die, and the
world was void of him, and Husheng reigned in his stead.
Now Husheng was a wise man and just, and the heavens revolved over his throne forty
years. Justice did he spread over the land, and the world was better for his reign. For he
first gave to men fire, and showed them how to draw it from out the stone; and he taught
them how they might lead the rivers, that they should water the land and make it fertile;
and he bade them till and reap. And he divided the beasts and paired them and gave them
names. And when he passed to a brighter life he left the world empty of a throne of
power. But Tahumers, his son, was not unworthy of his sire. He too opened the eyes of
men, and they learned to spin and to weave; and he reigned over the land long and
mightily. But of him also were the Deevs right envious, and sought to destroy him. Yet
Tahumers overcame them and cast them to earth. Then some craved mercy at his hands,
and sware how they would show him an art if he would spare them, and Tahumers
listened to their voice. And they taught him the art of writing, and thus from the evil
Deevs came a boon upon mankind.
Howbeit when Tahumers had sat upon the golden throne for the space of thirty years he
passed away, but his works endured; and Jamshid, his glorious son, whose heart was
filled with the counsels of his father, came after him. Now Jamshid reigned over the land
seven hundred years girt with might, and Deevs, birds, and Peris obeyed him. And the
world was happier for his sake, and he too was glad, and death was unknown among men,
neither did they wot of pain or sorrow. And he first parcelled out men into classes; priests,
warriors, artificers, and husbandmen did he name them. And the year also he divided into
periods. And by aid of the Deevs he raised mighty works, and Persepolis was builded by
him, that to this day is called Tukht-e-Jemsheed, which being interpreted meaneth the
throne of Jamshid. Then, when these things were accomplished, men flocked from all
corners of the earth around his throne to do him homage and pour gifts before his face.
And Jamshid prepared a feast, and bade them keep it, and called it Neurouz, which is the
New Day, and the people of Persia keep it to this hour. And Jamshid's power increased,
and the world was at peace, and men beheld in him nought but what was good.
Then it came about that the heart of Jamshid was uplifted in pride, and he forgot whence
came his weal and the source of his blessings. He beheld only himself upon the earth, and
he named himself God, and sent forth his image to be worshipped. But when he had
spoken thus, the Mubids, which are astrologers and wise men, hung their heads in sorrow,
and no man knew how he should answer the Shah. And God withdrew his hand from
Jamshid, and the kings and the nobles rose up against him, and removed their warriors
from his court, and Ahriman had power over the land.
Now there dwelt in the deserts of Arabia a king named Mirtas, generous and just, and he
had a son, Zohak, whom he loved. And it came about that Ahriman visited the palace
disguised as a noble, and tempted Zohak that he should depart from the paths of virtue.
And he spake unto him and said-
"If thou wilt listen to me, and enter into a covenant, I will raise thy head above the sun."
Now the young man was guileless and simple of heart, and he sware unto the Deev that
he would obey him in all things. Then Ahriman bade him slay his father, "for this old
man," he said, "cumbereth the ground, and while he liveth thou wilt remain unknown."
When Zohak heard this he was filled with grief, and would have broken his oath, but
Ahriman suffered him not, but made him set a trap for Mirtas. And Zohak and the evil
Ahriman held their peace and Mirtas fell into the snare and was killed. Then Zohak
placed the crown of Thasis upon his head, and Ahriman taught him the arts of magic, and
he ruled over his people in good and evil, for he was not yet wholly given up to guile.
Then Ahriman imagined a device in his black heart. He took upon himself the form of a
youth, and craved that he might serve the King as cook. And Zohak, who knew him not,
received him well and granted his request, and the keys of the kitchen were given unto
him. Now hitherto men had been nourished with herbs, but Ahriman prepared flesh for
Zohak. New dishes did he put before him, and the royal favour was accorded to his
savory meats. And the flesh gave the King courage and strength like to that of a lion, and
he commanded that his cook should be brought before him and ask a boon at his hands.
And the cook said-
"If the King take pleasure in his servant, grant that he may kiss his shoulders."
Now Zohak, who feared no evil, granted the request, and Ahriman kissed him on his
shoulders. And when he had done so, the ground opened beneath his feet and covered the
cook, so that all men present were amazed thereat. But from his kiss sprang hissing
serpents, venomous and black; and the King was afraid, and desired that they should be
cut off from the root. But as often as the snakes were cut down did they grow again, and
in vain the wise men and physicians cast about for a remedy. Then Ahriman came once
again disguised as a learned man, and was led before Zohak, and he spake, saying-
"This ill cannot be healed, neither can the serpents be uprooted. Prepare food for them,
therefore, that they may be fed, and give unto them for nourishment the brains of men,
for perchance this may destroy them."
But in his secret heart Ahriman desired that the world might thus be made desolate; and
daily were the serpents fed, and the fear of the King was great in the land. The world
withered in his thrall, the customs of good men were forgotten, and the desires of the
wicked were accomplished.
Now it was spread abroad in Iran that in the land of Thasis there reigned a man who was
mighty and terrible to his foes. Then the kings and nobles who had withdrawn from
Jamshid because he had rebelled against God, turned to Zohak and besought him that he
would be their ruler, and they proclaimed him Shah. And the armies of Arabia and Persia
marched against Jamshid, and he fled before their face. For the space of twice fifty years
no man knew whither he was gone, for he hid from the wrath of the Serpent-King. But in
the fulness of time he could no longer escape the fury of Zohak, whose servants found
him as he wandered on the sea-shore of Cathay, and they sawed him in twain, and sent
tidings thereof to their lord. And thus perished the throne and power of Jamshid like unto
the grass that withereth, because that he was grown proud, and would have lifted himself
above his Maker.
So the beloved of Ahriman, Zohak the Serpent, sat upon the throne of Iran, the kingdom
of Light. And he continued to pile evil upon evil till the measure thereof was full to
overflowing, and all the land cried out against him. But Zohak and his councillors, the
Deevs, shut ear unto this cry, and the Shah reigned thus for the space of a thousand years,
and vice stalked in daylight, but virtue was hidden. And despair filled all hearts, for it
was as though mankind must perish to still the appetite of those snakes sprung from Evil,
for daily were two men slaughtered to satisfy their desire. Neither had Zohak mercy upon
any man. And darkness was spread over the land because of his wickedness.
But Ormuzd saw it and was moved with compassion for his people, and he declared they
should no longer suffer for the sin of Jamshid. And he caused a grandson to be born to
Jamshid, and his parents called him Feridoun.
Now it befell that when he was born, Zohak dreamed he beheld a youth slender like to a
cypress, and he came towards him bearing a cow-headed mace, and with it he struck
Zohak to the ground. Then the tyrant awoke and trembled, and called for his Mubids, that
they should interpret to him this dream. And they were troubled, for they foresaw danger,
and he menaced them if they foretold him evil. And they were silent for fear three days,
but on the fourth one who had courage spake and said-
"There will arise one named Feridoun, who shall inherit thy throne and reverse thy
fortunes, and strike thee down with a cow-headed mace."
When Zohak heard these words he swooned, and the Mubids fled before his wrath. But
when he had recovered he bade the world be scoured for Feridoun. And henceforth
Zohak was consumed for bitterness of spirit, and he knew neither rest nor joy.
Now it came about that the mother of Feridoun feared lest the Shah should destroy the
child if he learned that he was sprung from Jamshid's race. So she hid him in the thick
forest where dwelt the wondrous cow Purmaieh, whose hairs were like unto the plumes
of a peacock for beauty. And she prayed the guardian of Purmaieh to have a care of her
son, and for three years he was reared in the wood, and Purmaieh was his nurse. But
when the time was accomplished the mother knew that news of Purmaieh had reached the
ears of Zohak, and she feared he would find her son. Therefore she took him far into Ind,
to a pious hermit who dwelt on the Mount Alberz. And she prayed the hermit to guard her
boy, who was destined for mighty deeds. And the hermit granted her request. And it
befell that while she sojourned with him Zohak had found the beauteous Purmaieh and
learned of Feridoun, and when he heard that the boy was fled he was like unto a mad
elephant in his fury. He slew the wondrous cow and all the living things round about, and
made the forest a desert. Then he continued his search, but neither tidings nor sight could
he get of Feridoun, and his heart was filled with anguish.
In this year Zohak caused his army to be strengthened, and he demanded of his people
that they should certify that he had ever been to them a just and noble king. And they
obeyed for very fear. But while they sware there arose without the doorway of the Shah
the cry of one who demanded justice. And Zohak commanded that he should be brought
in, and the man stood before the assembly of the nobles.
Then Zohak opened his mouth and said, "I charge thee give a name unto him who hath
done thee wrong."
And the man, when he saw it was the Shah who questioned him, smote his head with his
hands. But he answered and said-
"I am Kaweh, a blacksmith and a blameless man, and I sue for justice, and it is against
thee, O King, that I cry out. Seventeen fair sons have I called mine, yet only one
remaineth to me, for that his brethren were slain to still the hunger of thy serpents, and
now they have taken from me this last child also. I pray thee spare him unto me, nor heap
thy cruelties upon the land past bearing."
And the Shah feared Kaweh's wrath, beholding that it was great, and he granted him the
life of his son and sought to win him with soft words. Then he prayed him that he would
also sign the testimony that Zohak was a just and noble king.
But Kaweh cried, "Not so, thou wicked and ignoble man, ally of Deevs, I will not lend
my hand unto this lie," and he seized the declaration and tore it into fragments and
scattered them into the air. And when he had done so he strode forth from the palace, and
all the nobles and people were astonished, so that none dared uplift a finger to restrain
him. Then Kaweh went to the market-place and related to the people all that which he
had seen, and recalled to them the evil deeds of Zohak and the wrongs they had suffered
at his hands. And he provoked them to shake off the yoke of Ahriman. And taking off the
leathern apron wherewith blacksmiths cover their knees when they strike with the
hammer, he raised it aloft upon the point of a lance and cried-
"Be this our banner to march forth and seek out Feridoun and entreat him that he deliver
us from out the hands of the Serpent-King."
Then the people set up a shout of joy and gathered themselves round Kaweh, and he led
them out of the city bearing aloft his standard. And they marched thus for many days
unto the palace of Feridoun.
Now these things came about in the land of Iran after twice eight years were passed over
the head of Feridoun. And when that time was accomplished, he descended from the
Mount Alberz and sought out his mother, questioning her of his lineage. And she told
him how that he was sprung from the race of Jamshid, and also of Zohak and of his evil
Then said Feridoun, "I will uproot this monster from the earth, and his palace will I raze
to the dust."
But his mother spake, and said, "Not so, my son, let not thine youthful anger betray thee;
for how canst thou stand against all the world?"
Yet not long did she suffer the hard task to hinder him, for soon a mighty crowd came
towards the palace led by one who bare an apron uplifted upon a lance. Then Feridoun
knew that succour was come unto him. And when he had listened to Kaweh, he came into
the presence of his mother with the helmet of kings upon his head, and he said unto her-
"Mother, I go to the wars, and it remaineth for thee to pray God for my safety."
Then he caused a mighty club to be made for him, and he traced the pattern thereof upon
the ground, and the top thereof was the head of a cow, in memory of Purmaieh, his nurse.
Then he cased the standard of Kaweh in rich brocades of Roum, and hung jewels upon it.
And when all was made ready, they set forth towards the West to seek out Zohak, for,
they knew not that he was gone to Ind in search of Feridoun. Now when they were come
to Bagdad, which is upon the banks of the Tigris, they halted, and Feridoun bade the
guardians of the flood convey them across. But these refused, saying, the King bade that
none should pass save only those who bore the royal seal. When Feridoun heard these
words he was wroth, and he regarded not the rushing river nor the dangers hidden within
its floods. He girded his loins and plunged with his steed into the waters, and all the army
followed after him. Now they struggled sore with the rushing stream, and it seemed as
though the waves would bear them down. But their brave horses overcame all dangers,
and they stepped in safety upon the shore. Then they turned their faces towards the city
which is now called Jerusalem, for here stood the glorious house that Zohak had builded.
And when they had entered the city all the people rallied round Feridoun, for they hated
Zohak and looked to Feridoun to deliver them. And he slew the Deevs that held the
palace, and cast down the evil talisman that was graven upon the walls. Then he mounted
the throne of the idolater and placed the crown of Iran upon his head, and all the people
bowed down before him and called him Shah.
Now when Zohak returned from his search after Feridoun and learned that he was seated
upon his throne, he encompassed the city with his host. But the army of Feridoun
marched against him, and the desires of the people went with them. And all that day
bricks fell from the walls and stones from the terraces, and it rained arrows and spears
like to hail falling from a dark cloud, until Feridoun had overcome the might of Zohak.
Then Feridoun raised his cow-headed mace to slay the Serpent-King. But the blessed
Serosch swooped down, and cried-
"Not so, strike not, for Zohak's hour is not yet come."
Then the Serosch bade the Shah bind the usurper and carry him far from the haunts of
men, and there fasten him to a rock. And Feridoun did as he was bidden, and led forth
Zohak to the Mount Demawend. And he bound him to the rock with mighty chains and
nails driven into his hands, and left him to perish in agony. And the hot sun shone down
upon the barren cliffs, and there was neither tree nor shrub to shelter him, and the chains
entered into his flesh, and his tongue was consumed with thirst. Thus after a while the
earth was delivered of Zohak the evil one, and Feridoun reigned in his stead.
Five hundred years did Feridoun rule the world, and might and virtue increased in the
land, and all his days he did that which was good. And he roamed throughout the
kingdom to seek out that which was open and that which was hid, and wrong was righted
at his hands. With kindness did he curb the sway of evil. He ordered the world like to a
paradise, he planted the cypress and the rose where the wild herb had sprouted.
Now after many years were passed there were born to him three sons, whose mother was
of the house of Jamshid. And the sons were fair of mien, tall and strong, yet their names
were not known to men, for Feridoun had not tested their hearts. But when he beheld that
they were come to years of strength he called them about his throne and bade them search
out the King of Yemen, who had three daughters, fair as the moon, that they should woo
them unto themselves. And the sons of Feridoun did according to the command of their
father. They set forth unto Yemen, and there went with them a host countless as the stars.
And when they were come to Yemen, the King came forth to greet them, and his train
was like to the plumage of a pheasant. Then the sons of Feridoun gained the hands of the
daughters of Serv, King of Yemen, and departed with them to their own land. And Serv
gave to his new sons much treasure laid upon the backs of camels, and umbrellas too did
he give unto them in sign of kingship.
Now it came about that when Feridoun learned that his sons were returning, he went forth
to meet them and prove their hearts. So he took upon him the form of a dragon that
foamed at the mouth with fury, and from whose jaws sprang mighty flames. And when
his sons were come near unto the mountain pass, he came upon them suddenly, like to a
whirlwind, and raised a cloud of dust about the place with his writhings, and his roaring
filled the air with noise. Then he threw himself upon the eldest born, and the prince laid
down his spear and said, "A wise and prudent man striveth not with dragons." And he
turned his back and fled before the monster, and left him to fall upon his brothers. Then
the dragon sprang upon the second, and he said, "An it be that I must fight, what matter if
it be a furious lion or a knight full of valour?" So he took his bow and stretched it. But the
youngest came towards him, and seeing the dragon, said, "Thou reptile, flee from our
presence, and strut not in the path of lions. For if thou hast heard the name of Feridoun,
beware how thou doest thus, for we are his sons, armed with spears and ready for the
fight. Quit therefore, I counsel thee, thine evil path, lest I plant upon thy head the crown
of enmity."
Then the glorious Feridoun, when he had thus made trial of their hearts, vanished from
their sight. But presently he came again with the face of their father, and many warriors,
elephants, and cymbals were in his train. And Feridoun bore in his hand the cow-headed
mace, and the Kawanee, the apron of Kaweh, the kingly standard, was waved above his
head. Now when the sons saw their father, they alighted from their steeds and ran to greet
him, and kissed the ground before his feet. And the cymbals were clashed, and the
trumpets brayed, and sounds of rejoicing were heard around. Then Feridoun raised his
sons and kissed their foreheads, and gave unto them honour according to their due. And
when they were come to the royal house he prayed to God that He would bless his
offspring, and calling them about him, he seated them upon thrones of splendour. Then
he opened his mouth and said unto them-
"O my sons, listen unto the words that I shall speak. The raging dragon whose breath was
danger was but your father, who sought to test your hearts, and having learned them gave
way with joy. But now will I give to you names such as are fitting unto men. The first-
born shall be called Silim (may thy desires be accomplished in the world!) for thou
soughtest to save thyself from the clutches of the dragon, nor didst thou hesitate in the
hour of flight. A man who fleeth neither before an elephant nor a lion, call him rather
foolhardy than brave. And the second, who from the beginning showed his courage,
which was ardent as a flame, I will call him Tur, the courageous, whom even a mad
elephant cannot daunt. But the youngest is a man prudent and brave, who knoweth both
how to haste and how to tarry; he chose the midway between the flame and the ground, as
it beseemeth a man of counsel, and he hath proven himself brave, prudent, and bold. Irij
shall he be called, that the gate of power may be his goal, for first did he show gentleness,
but his bravery sprang forth at the hour of danger."
When Feridoun had thus opened his lips he called for the book wherein are written the
stars, and he searched for the planets of his sons. And he found that Jupiter reigned in the
sign of the Archer in the house of Silim, and the sun in the Lion in that of Tur, but in the
house of Irij there reigned the moon in the Scorpion. And when he saw this he was
sorrowful, for he knew that for Irij were grief and bale held in store. Then having read the
secrets of Fate, Feridoun parted the world and gave the three parts unto his sons in
suzerainty. Roum and Khaver, which are the lands of the setting sun, did he give unto
Silim. Turan and Turkestan did he give unto Tur, and made him master of the Turks and
of China, but unto Irij he gave Iran, with the throne of might and the crown of supremacy.
For many years had the sons of Feridoun sat upon their golden thrones in happiness and
peace, but evil was hidden in the bosom of Fate. For Feridoun had grown old, and his
strength inclined to the grave. And as his life waned, the evil passions of his sons waxed
stronger. The heart of Silim was changed, and his desires turned towards evil; his soul
also was steeped in greed. And he pondered in his spirit the parting of the lands, and he
revolted thereat in his thoughts, because that the youngest bore the crown of supremacy.
Then he bade a messenger mount him upon a dromedary swift of foot, and bear this
saying unto Tur-
"O King of Turan, thy brother greeteth thee, and may thy days be long in the land. Tell
unto me, I pray thee, for thou hast might and wisdom, should we remain thus ever
satisfied, for surely unto us, not unto Irij, pertaineth the throne of Iran, but now is our
brother set above our heads, and should we not strive against the injustice of our father? "
Now. when Tur had listened to these words, his head was filled with wind, and he spake
unto the messenger and said-
"Say unto your master, O my brother, full of courage, since our father deceived us when
we were young and void of guile, with his own hands hath he planted a tree whence must
issue fruit of blood and leaves that are poison. Let us therefore meet and take counsel
together how we may rid us of our evil fate."
When Silim heard this he set forth from Roum, and Tur also quitted China, and they met
to counsel together how they should act. Then they sent a messenger unto Feridoun the
glorious, and they said-
"O King, aged and great, fearest thou not to go home unto thy God? for evil hast thou
done, and injustice dost thou leave behind thee. Thy realm hast thou allotted with iniquity,
and thine eldest born hast thou treated with disfavour. But we thy sons entreat thee that
ere it be too late thou listen to our voice. Command thou Irij to step down from the throne
of Iran, and hide him in some corner of the earth, that he be weak and forgotten like
ourselves. Yet if thou doest not our bidding, we will bring forth riders from Turkestan
and Khaver filled with vengeance, and will utterly destroy Irij and the land of Iran."
When Feridoun had listened to these hard words he was angered, and straightway said-
"Speak unto these men, senseless and impure, these sons of Ahriman, perverse of heart,
and say unto them, Feridoun rejoiceth that ye have laid bare before him your hearts, for
now he knoweth what manner of men ye are. And he answereth unto you that he hath
parted his realm with equity. Many counsellors did he seek, and night and day did they
ponder it, and gave unto each that which seemed best in their sight. And he now speaketh
unto you a word that he doth bid you treasure in your hearts, As ye sow, so also shall ye
reap, for there is for us another, an eternal home. And this is the rede sent unto you by an
aged man, that he who betrayeth his brother for greed is not worthy to be sprung from a
noble race. So pray unto God that He turn your hearts from evil."
When the messenger had heard these words he departed. Then Feridoun called Irij before
him and warned him against the craft of his brethren, and bade him prepare an army and
go forth to meet them. But Irij, when he had heard of the evil thoughts of his brothers,
was moved, and said-
"Not so, O my father, suffer that I go forth alone and speak unto my brethren, that I may
still the anger that they feel against me. And I will entreat them that they put not their
trust in the glory of this world, and will recall unto them the name of Jamshid, and how
that his end was evil because that he was uplifted in his heart."
Then Feridoun answered and said, "Go forth, my son, if such be thy desire. The wish of
thy brethren is even unto war, but thou seekest the paths of peace. Yet I pray thee take
with thee worthy knights, and return unto me with speed, for my life is rooted in thy
And he gave him a letter signed with his royal seal that he should bear it unto the kings of
Roum and China. And Feridoun wrote how that he was old, and desired neither gold nor
treasures, save only that his sons should be united. And he commended unto them his
youngest born, who was descended from his throne and come forth to meet them with
peace in his heart.
Now when Irij was come to the spot where his brethren were encamped, the army saw
him and was filled with wonder at his beauty and at his kingly form, and they murmured
among themselves, saying, "Surely this one alone is worthy to bear the sceptre." But
when Silim and Tur heard this murmur their anger was deepened, and they retreated into
their tents, and all night long did they hold counsel how they might do hurt unto their
Now when the curtain that hid the sun was lifted, the brethren went forth unto the tents of
Irij. And Irij would have greeted them, but they suffered him not, but straightway began
to question him, and heap reproaches upon his head. And Tur said-
"Why hast thou uplifted thyself above us, and is it meet that thy elders bow down before
When Irij heard their words, he answered, "O Kings greedy of power, I say unto you, if
ye desire happiness, strive after peace. I covet neither the royal crown nor the hosts of
Iran; power that endeth in discord is an honour that leadeth to tears. And I will step down
from the throne of Iran if it shall foster peace between us, for I crave not the possession
of the world if ye are afflicted by the sight. For I am humble of heart, and my faith bids
me be kind."
Now Tur heard these words, but they softened not his spirit, for he knew only that which
is evil, and wist not that Irij spoke truly. And he took up the chair whereon he sat and
threw it at his brother in his anger. Then Irij called for mercy at his hands, saying-
"O King, hast thou no fear of God, no pity for thy father? I pray thee destroy me not, lest
God ask vengeance for my blood. Let it not be spoken that thou who hast life takest that
gift from others. Do not this evil. Crush not even the tiny ant that beareth a grain of corn,
for she hath life, and sweet life is a boon. I will vanish from thy sight, I will live in
solitude and secrecy, so thou grant that I may yet behold the sun."
But these words angered Tur only the more, and he drew from his boot a dagger that was
poisoned and sharp, and he thrust it into the breast of Irij, the kingly cedar. And the
young lord of the world paled and was dead. Then Tur cut the head from the trunk, and
filled it with musk and ambergris, and sent it unto the old man his father, who had parted
the world, saying-
"Behold the head of thy darling, give unto him now the crown and the throne."
And when they had done this evil deed the brethren furled their tents, and turned them
back again unto the lands of Roum and Cathay.
Now Feridoun held his eyes fastened upon the road whither Irij was gone, and his heart
yearned after him. And when he heard that the time of his return was come, he bade a
host go forth to meet him, and he himself went in the wake. Now when they were gone
but a little way they beheld a mighty cloud of dust upon the sky. And the cloud neared,
and there came thence a dromedary whereon was seated a knight clad in the garb of woe.
And he bare in his arms a casket of gold, and in the casket were rich stuffs of silk, and in
the stuffs was wrapped the head of Irij. And when Feridoun beheld the face of the
messenger his heart was smote with fear, but when he saw the head of his son he fell
from his horse with sorrow. Then a cry of wailing rent the air, and the army shouted for
grief, and the flags were torn, and the drums broken, and the elephants and cymbals hung
with the colours of mourning, because that Irij was gone from the world. And Feridoun
returned on foot unto the city, and all the nobles went with him, and they retraced their
steps in the dust. Now when they were come to the garden of Irij, Feridoun faltered in his
sorrow, and he pressed the head of the young King, his son, unto his breast. And he cast
black earth upon his throne, and tore his hair, and shed tears, and his cries mounted even
unto the seventh sphere. And he spake in his grief and said-
"O Master of the world, that metest out justice, look down, I pray thee, upon this innocent
whom his brethren have foully murdered! Sear their hearts that joy cannot enter, and
grant unto me my prayer. Suffer that I may live until a hero, a warrior mighty to avenge,
be sprung from the seed of Irij. Then when I shall have beheld his face I will go hence as
it beseemeth me and the earth shall cover my body."
Thus wept Feridoun in the bitterness of his soul, neither would he take comfort day and
night, nor quit the garden of his son. And the earth was his couch and the dust his bed,
and he watered the ground with his tears. And he rested in this spot till that the grass was
grown above his bosom, and his eyes were blinded with weeping. Yet his tongue did not
cease from plaining and his heart from sorrow. And he cried continually-
"O Irij, O my son, my son, never prince died a death like thine! Thy head was severed by
Ahriman, thy body torn by lions."
Thus mourned Feridoun, and the voice of lamentation was abroad.
Then it came about that after many years had passed Feridoun bethought him of the
daughter of Irij, and how that men said she was fair. And he sought for her in the house
of the women; and when he learned that she was fair indeed, he desired that a husband be
found for her, and he wedded her unto Pescheng, who was a hero of the race of Jamshid.
And there was born unto them a son fair and strong, worthy the throne. And when he was
yet but a tender babe they brought him to Feridoun and cried-
"O Lord of earth, let thy soul rejoice, behold this Irij!"
Then the lips of Feridoun were wreathed with smiles, and he took up the infant in his
arms and cried unto God, saying-
"O God, grant that my sight be restored unto me, that I may behold the face of this babe."
And as he prayed his eyes were opened, and his sight rested upon his son. Then Feridoun
gave thanks unto God. And he called down blessings upon the child, and prayed that the
day might be blessed also, and the heart of his enemies be torn with anguish. And he
named him Minuchihr, saying, "A branch worthy of a noble stock hath borne fruit." And
the child was reared in the house of Feridoun, and he suffered not that ill came near unto
him, and though the years passed above his head the stars brought him no evil. And when
he was of a ripe age Feridoun gave to Minuchihr a throne of gold, and a mace, and a
crown of jewels, and the key to all his treasures. Then he commanded his nobles that they
should do him reverence and salute him king. And there were gathered about the throne
Karun, the son of Kaweh, and Serv, King of Yemen, and Guerschasp the victorious, and
many other mighty princes more than tongue can name. But the young Shah outshone
them in strength and beauty, and joy was once more in the land.
But tidings of the splendour that surrounded Feridoun pierced even unto the lands of
Roum and China, and the kings thereof were troubled and downcast in their hearts. Then
they conferred how they should regain the favour of the Shah, for they feared Minuchihr
when he should be come unto years of might. So they sent a messenger unto Feridoun
bearing rich gifts, and bade him speak unto their father and say-
"O Shah, live for ever I bear a message from the humblest of thy slaves, who are bowed
unto the earth with contrition, wherefore they have not ventured into thy presence. And
they pray that thou pardon their evil deed, for their hearts are good, and they did it not of
themselves, but because it was written that they should do this wrong, and that which is
written in the stars surely it is accomplished. And therefore, O King, their eyes are filled
with tears, and they pray thee incline unto them thine ear. And as a sign of thy grace send
unto them Minuchihr thy son, for their hearts yearn to look upon his face and do him
Now when Feridoun had listened to the words of his sons, he knitted his brows in anger,
for he knew that they sought only to beguile him. And he said unto the messenger-
"Go, say unto your masters that their false-hearted words shall avail them nothing. And
ask them if they be not shamed to utter white words with tongues of blackness. I have
heard their message, hear now the answer that I send. Ye say unto me that ye desire the
love of Minuchihr, and I ask of you, What did ye for Irij? And now that ye are delivered
of him ye seek the blood of his son. Verily I say unto you, never shall ye look upon his
face save when he leadeth a mighty army. Then shall be watered with blood the leaves
and fruits of the tree sprung from the vengeance that is due. For unto this day hath
vengeance slumbered, since it became me not to stretch forth mine hand in battle upon
my sons; but now is there sprung a branch from the tree which the enemy uprooted, and
he shall come as a raging lion, girt with the vengeance of his sire. And I say unto you,
take back the treasures ye have sent me, for think ye that for coloured toys I will abandon
my vengeance, and efface for baubles the blood that ye have spilled, or sell for gold the
head of mine offspring? And say yet again that while the father of Irij lives he will not
abandon his intent. And now that thou hast listened unto my message, lay it up in thy
heart and make haste from hence."
When the messenger had heard these words he departed with speed. And when he was
come unto Silim and Tur he told them thereof, and how he had seen Minuchihr sitting
upon a throne of gold, and how for strength he was like unto Tahumers, who had bound
the Deevs. And he told how heroes bearing names that filled the world with wonder stood
round about him, Kaweh the smith, and Karun his son, and Serv, the King of Yemen, and
next in might unto the Shah was Saum, the son of Neriman, the unvanquished in fight,
and Guerschasp the victorious, his treasurer. Then he spake of the treasures that filled the
house of Feridoun, and of the army great in number, so that the men of Roum and China
could not stand against them. And he told how their hearts were filled with hatred of the
Kings because of Irij.
The Kings, when they heard this and the message of their father, trembled for fear. And
Tur said unto Silim-
"Henceforth we must forego pleasure, for it behoveth us to hasten, and not tarry till the
teeth of this young lion be sharpened, and he be waxed tall and strong."
Then they made ready their armies, and the number of their men was past the counting.
Helmet was joined to helmet, and spear to spear, and jewels, baggage, and elephants
without number went with them, and you would have said it was a host that none could
understand. And they marched from Turan into Iran, and the two Kings rode before them,
their hearts filled with hate. But the star of these evil ones was sinking. For Feridoun,
when he learned that an army had crossed the Jihun, called unto him Minuchihr his son,
and bade him place himself at the head of the warriors. And the host of the Shah was
mighty to behold, great and strong, and it covered the land like unto a cloud of locusts.
And they marched from Temmische unto the desert, and Minuchihr commanded them
with might. And on his right rode Karun the Avenger, and on his left Saum, the son of
Neriman, and above their heads waved the flag of Kaweh, and their armour glistened in
the sun. Like as a lion breaketh forth from the jungle to seize upon his prey, so did this
army rush forth to avenge the death of Irij. And the head of Minuchihr rose above the rest
like to the moon or the sun when it shineth above the mountains. And he exhorted them
in words of fire that they rest not, neither weary, until they should have broken the power
of these sons of Ahriman.
Now Tur and Silim, when they saw that the Iranians were come out against them, set in
order their army. And when the day had torn asunder the folds of night, the two armies
met in battle, and the fight waged strong until the setting of the sun. And the earth was a
sea of blood, and the feet of the elephants were like to pillars of coral. And when the sun
was sunk to his rest, Tur and Silim consulted how they might seize upon Minuchihr by
fraud, for they saw that his arm was strong and his courage undaunted. So Tur set forth at
the head of a small band to surprise him in his tents. But Minuchihr was aware of his evil
plans, and sprang upon him. And when Tur would have fled Minuchihr followed after
him and struck a lance into his back. And when he had killed him he cut his head from
his trunk, and the body did he give unto the wild beasts, but the head he sent to Feridoun.
And he wrote to him and sent him greeting, and told him all that was come about, and
how he should neither rest nor tarry until the death of Irij be avenged.
Now Silim, when he learned the fate of his brother, was sore afraid, and cast about him
for an ally. And there came unto him Kakoui, of the seed of Zohak. But Minuchihr
wrestled with him for a morning's space and overcame him also, though the Deev was
strong and powerful in fight. Then Silim was cast down yet more, and he sought to hide
him by the sea-shore. But Minuchihr cut off his path and overtook him, and with his own
hand he slew him, and cut his head from his trunk. And he raised the head upon his lance.
And when the army of Silim saw this they fled into the hills, and vanished like cattle
whom the snow hath driven from their pasture. Then they took counsel and chose out a
man from among their midst, one that was prudent and gentle of speech. And they bade
him go before the Shah and say-
"Have mercy upon us, O Shah, for neither hate nor vengeance drove us forth against thee,
but only this, that we obeyed the wills of our lords. But we ourselves are peaceful men,
tillers of the earth and keepers of cattle, and we pray thee that thou let us return in safety
whence we are come. And we acknowledge thee our Shah, and we pray thee make thy
servants acquainted with thy desires."
When Minuchihr had heard these words he spake and said-
"My desire is not after these men, neither is my longing after blood but mercy. Let every
man lay down his arms and go his ways, and let peace be in the land, and joy wait upon
your feet."
When the men heard this they praised the Shah, and called down blessings upon his head.
And they came before him, every man bearing his armour and the weapons of battle. And
they laid them at his feet, and of weapons there was reared a mighty mountain, and the
blue steel glistened in the sun. Then Minuchihr dismissed them graciously. And when the
army was dispersed he sent a messenger unto Feridoun bearing the head of Silim and a
writing. And when he had ordered all things he set out at the head of his warriors unto the
city of Feridoun. And his grandsire came forth to meet him, and there came with him
many elephants swathed in gold, and warriors arrayed in rich attire, and a large multitude
clad in garments of bright hue. And flags waved above them, and trumpets brayed, and
cymbals clashed, and sounds of rejoicing filled the air. But when Minuchihr saw that his
grandsire came towards him, he got from his horse and ran to meet him, and fell at his
feet and craved his blessing. And Feridoun blessed Minuchihr and raised him from the
dust. And he bade him sit again upon his horse and took his hand, and they entered the
city in triumph. And when they were come to the King's house, Feridoun seated
Minuchihr upon a throne of gold. Then he called unto him Saum, the son of Neriman, and
"I pray thee bring up this youth and nourish him for the kingdom, and aid him with thy
might and mind."
And he took the hand of Minuchihr and put it into that of Saum, and said-
"Thanks be unto God the merciful, who hath listened unto my voice, and granted the
desires of His servant. For now shall I go hence, and the world will I cumber no more."
Then when he had given gifts unto his servants he withdrew into solitude, and gazed
without cease upon the heads of his sons, neither refrained he from bewailing their evil
fate, and the sorrow they had brought upon him. And daily he grew fainter, and at last the
light of his life expired, and Feridoun vanished from the earth, but his name remained
behind him. And Minuchihr mourned for his grandsire with weeping and lamentation,
and raised above him a stately tomb. But when the seven days of mourning were ended,
he put upon his head the crown of the Kaianides, and girt his loins with a red sash of
might. And the nation called him Shah, and he was beloved in the land.
3 – Zal
Seistan, which is to the south of Iran, was ruled by Sam, the Pehliva, girt with might and
glory, and, but for the grief that he was childless, his days were happy. Then it came to
pass that a son was born unto him, beautiful of face and limb, who had neither fault nor
blemish save that his hair was like unto that of an aged man. Now the women were afraid
to tell Saum, lest he be wroth when he should learn that his child was thus set apart from
his fellow-men. So the infant had gazed upon the light eight days ere he knew thereof.
Then a woman, brave above the rest, ventured into his presence. She bowed herself unto
the dust and craved of Saum the boon of speech. And he suffered her, and she spake,
"May the Lord keep and guard thee. May thine enemies be utterly destroyed. May the
days of Saum the hero be happy. For the Almighty hath accomplished his desire. He hath
given to him an heir, a son is born unto the mighty warrior behind the curtains of his
house, a moon-faced boy, beautiful of face and limb, in whom there is neither fault nor
blemish, save that his hair is like unto that of an aged man. I beseech thee, O my master,
bethink thee that this gift is from God, nor give place in thine heart to ingratitude."
When Saum had listened to her words he arose and went unto the house of the women.
And he beheld the babe that was beautiful of face and limb, but whose head was like unto
that of an aged man. Then Saum, fearing the jeers of his enemies, quitted the paths of
wisdom. He lifted his head unto heaven and murmured against the Lord of Destiny, and
cried, saying-
"O thou eternally just and good, O source of happiness, incline thine ear unto me and
listen to my voice. If I have sinned, if I have strayed in the paths of Ahriman, behold my
repentance and pardon me. My soul is ashamed, my heart is angered for reason of this
child, for will not the nobles say this boy presageth evil? They will hold me up to shame,
and what can I reply to their questions? It behoveth me to remove this stain, that the land
of Iran be not accursed."
Thus spake Saum in his anger, railing against fate, and he commanded his servants to
take the child and cast it forth out of the land.
Now there standeth far from the haunts of men the Mount Alberz, whose head toucheth
the stars, and never had mortal foot been planted upon its crest. And upon it had the
Simurgh, the bird of marvel, builded her nest. Of ebony and of sandal-wood did she build
it, and twined it with aloes, so that it was like unto a king's house, and the evil sway of
Saturn could not reach thereto. And at the foot of this mount was laid the child of Saum.
Then the Simurgh, when she spied the infant lying upon the ground, bereft of clothes and
wherewithal to nourish it, sucking its fingers for very hunger, darted to earth and raised
him in her talons. And she bare him unto her nest, that her young might devour him. But
when she had brought him her heart was stirred within her for compassion. Therefore she
bade her young ones spare the babe and treat him like to a brother. Then she chose out
tender flesh to feed her guest, and tended the infant forsaken of his sire. And thus did the
Simurgh, nor ever wearied till that moons and years had rolled above their heads, and the
babe was grown to be a youth full of strength and beauty. And his renown filled the land,
for neither good nor evil can be hidden for ever. And his fame spread even unto the ears
of Saum, the son of Neriman.
Then it came to pass that Saum dreamed a dream, wherein he beheld a man riding
towards him mounted upon an Arab steed. And the man gave him tidings of his son, and
taunted him, saying-
"O thou who hast offended against every duty, who disownest thy son because that his
hair is white, though thine own resembleth the silver poplar, and to whom a bird seemeth
fit nurse for thine offspring, wilt thou abjure all kinship with him for ever?"
Now when Saum awoke he remembered his dream, and fear came upon him for his sin.
And he called unto him his Mubids, and questioned them concerning the stripling of the
Mount Alberz, and whether this could be indeed his son, for surely frosts and heat must
long since have destroyed him. Then the Mubids answered and said-
"Not so, thou most ungrateful unto God, thou more cruel than the lion, the tiger, and the
crocodile, for even savage beasts tend their young, whilst thou didst reject thine own,
because thou heldest the white hair given unto him by his Creator for a reproach in the
sight of men. O faint of heart, arise and seek thy child, for surely one whom God hath
blessed can never perish. And turn thou unto him and pray that he forgive thee."
When Sam had heard these words he was contrite, and called about him his army and set
forth unto the mountains. And when they were come unto the mount that is raised up to
the Pleiades, Sam beheld the Simurgh and the nest, and a stripling that was like unto
himself walking around it. And his desire to get unto him was great, but he strove in vain
to scale the crest. Then Sam called upon God in his humility. And God heard him, and
put it into the heart of the Simurgh to look down and behold the warrior and the army that
was with him. And when she had seen Sam she knew wherefore the chief was come, and
she spake and said-
"O thou who hast shared this nest, I have reared thee and been to thee a mother, for thy
father cast thee out; the hour is come to part us, and I must give thee again unto thy
people. For thy father is Sam the hero, the Pehliva of the world, greatest among the great,
and he is come hither to seek his son, and splendour awaiteth thee beside him."
When the youth had heard her words his eyes were filled with tears and his heart with
sorrow, for he had never gazed upon men, though he had learned their speech. And he
"Art thou then weary of me, or am I no longer fit to be thy house-fellow? See, thy nest is
unto me a throne, thy sheltering wings a parent. To thee I owe all that I am, for thou wast
my friend in need."
And the Simurgh answered him saying, "I do not send thee away for enmity, O my son;
nay, I would keep thee beside me for ever, but another destiny is better for thee. When
thou shalt have seen the throne and its pomp my nest will sink in thine esteem. Go forth,
therefore, my son, and try thy fortune in the world. But that thou mayst remember thy
nurse who shielded thee, and reared thee amid her little ones, that thou mayst remain
under the shadow of her wings, bear with thee this feather from her breast. And in the day
of thy need cast it into the fire, and I will come like unto a cloud and deliver thee from
Thus she spake, and raised him in her talons and bore him to the spot where Sam was
bowed to the dust in penitence. Now when Sam beheld his son, whose body was like unto
an elephant's for strength and beauty, he bent low before the Simurgh and covered her
with benison. And he cried out and said-
"O Shah of birds, O bird of God, who confoundest the wicked, mayst thou be great for
But while he yet spake the Simurgh flew upwards, and the gaze of Sam was fixed upon
his son. And as he looked he saw that he was worthy of the throne, and that there was
neither fault nor blemish in him, save only his silvery locks. Then his heart rejoiced
within him, and he blessed him, and entreated his forgiveness. And he said-
"O my son, open thine heart unto the meanest of God's servants, and I swear unto thee, in
the presence of Him that made us, that never again will I harden my heart towards thee,
and that I will grant unto thee all thy desires."
Then he clothed him in rich robes and named him Zal, which being interpreted meaneth
the aged. And he showed him unto the army. And when they had looked on the youth
they saw that he was goodly of visage and of limb, and they shouted for very joy. Then
the host made them ready to return unto Seistan. And the kettle-drummers rode at their
head, mounted upon mighty elephants whose feet raised a cloud of dust that rose unto the
sky. And the tabors were beat, and the trumpets brayed, and the cymbals clashed, and
sounds of rejoicing filled the land because that Sam had found his son, and that Zal was a
hero among men.
Now the news spread even unto Minuchihr that Sam was returning from the mountains
with great pomp and joy. And when he had heard it he bade Nuder go forth to meet the
Pehliva and bid him bring Zal unto the court. And when Sam heard the desires of his
master he obeyed and came within his gates. Then he beheld the Shah seated upon the
throne of the Kaianides, bearing his crown upon his head, and on his right hand sat Karun
the Pehliva, and he bade Sam be seated on his left. And the Shah commanded Sam that
he should speak. Then Sam unbosomed himself before the Shah and spake concerning his
son, neither did he hide his evil deed. And Minuchihr commanded that Zal be brought
before him. So the chamberlains brought him into the presence of the King, and he was
clad in robes of splendour, and the King was amazed at his aspect. And he turned and
said unto Sam-
"O Pehliva of the world, the Shah enjoineth you have a care of this noble youth, and
guard him for the land of Iran. And teach him forthwith the arts of war, and the pleasures
and customs of the banquet, for how should one that hath been reared in a nest be familiar
with our ways?
Then the Shah bade the Mubids cast Zal's horoscope, and they read that he would be a
brave and prudent knight. Now when he had heard this the Pehliva was relieved of all his
fears, and the Shah rejoiced and covered Sam with gifts. Arab horses did he give unto
him with golden saddles, Indian swords in scabbards of gold, brocades of Roum, skins of
beasts, and carpets of Ind, and the rubies and pearls were past the numbering. And slaves
poured musk and amber before him. And Minuchihr also granted to Sam a throne, and a
crown and a girdle of gold, and he named him ruler of all the lands that stretch from the
Sea of China to that of Sind, from Zaboulistan to the Caspian. Then he bade that the
Pehliva's horse be led forth, and sent him away from his presence. And Sam called down
blessings upon the Shah, and turned his face towards home. And his train followed after
him, and the sound of music went before them.
Then when the tidings came to Seistan that the great hero was drawing nigh, the city
decked itself in festive garbs, and every man called down the blessings of Heaven upon
Zal, the son of Sam, and poured gifts at his feet. And there was joy in all the land for that
Sam had taken back his son.
Now Sam forthwith called about him his Mubids, and bade them instruct the youth in all
the virtues of a king.
And daily Zal increased in wisdom and strength, and his fame filled the land. And when
Sam went forth to fight the battles of the Shah, he left the kingdom under his hands, and
Zal administered it with judgment and virtue.
4 - Zal and Rodabeh
Anon it came about that Zal desired to see the kingdom. And he set forth, and there
followed after him a goodly train, and when they had journeyed a while they marched
with pomp into Cabul. Now Mihrab, who was descended from Zohak the Serpent,
reigned in Cabul, yet he was worthy, prudent, and wise. When he heard that the son of
Sam, to whom he paid tribute, drew nigh unto the city, he went out to meet him, and his
nobles went with him, and slaves bearing costly gifts. And Zal, hearing that Mihrab was
at hand, prepared a feast in his tents, and Mihrab and his train feasted with him until the
night was far spent. Now, after the King was gone, Zal praised his beauty. Then a noble
rose up and said unto him-
"O Zal, thou knowest not beauty since thou hast not beheld the daughter of this man. For
she is like unto the slender cypress, her face is brighter than the sun, her mouth is a
pomegranate flower."
When Zal heard these words he was filled with longing, and sleep would not visit his
eyelids for thinking of her beauty.
Now, when the day dawned, he opened the doors of his court, and the nobles stood about
him, each man according to his rank. And presently there came from Cabul Mihrab the
King to tender morning greeting to the stranger without his gates. And Zal desired that
Mihrab should crave a boon at his hands. Then spake Mihrab unto him saying-
"O ruler mighty and great, I have but one desire, and to bring it to pass is easy. For I
crave thee that thou dwell as guest beneath my roof, and let my heart rejoice in thy
Then Zal said unto him, "O King, ask not this boon at my hands, I pray thee, for it can in
nowise be accomplished. The Shah and Sam would be angered should they learn that I
had eaten under the roof of Zohak. I beg of thee ask aught but this."
When Mihrab heard these words he was sorrowful, and bent low before Zal, and departed
from out the tents. And the eye of Zal looked after him, and yet again he spake his praises.
Then he bethought him of the King's daughter, and how that she was fair, and he was
sunk in brooding and desire, and the days passed unheeded over his head.
Now it came to pass that on a certain morning Mihrab stepped forth from his palace to
the house of the women to visit Sindokht his wife, and her daughter Rodabeh. Truly the
house was like to a garden for colour and perfume, and over all shone those moons of
beauty. Now when Mihrab had greeted Rodabeh he marvelled at her loveliness, and
called down the blessings of Heaven upon her head. Then Sindokht opened her lips and
questioned Mihrab concerning the stranger whose tents were without their gates. And she
"I pray thee tell unto me what manner of man is this white-haired son of Sam, and is he
worthy the nest or the throne? "
Then Mihrab said unto her, "O my fair cypress, the son of Sam is a hero among men. His
heart is like unto a lion's, his strength is as an elephant's, to his friends he is a gracious
Nile, unto his enemies a wasting crocodile. And in him are even blemishes turned to
beauties, his white locks but enhance his glory."
When Rodabeh had listened to these words her heart burned with love for Zal, so that she
could neither eat nor rest, and was like unto one that hath changed her shape. And after a
while, because that she could bear the burden thereof no longer, she told her secret to the
slaves that loved and served her. And she charged them tell no man, and entreated of
them that they would aid her to allay the troubles of her heart. And when the slaves had
listened to her story, they were filled with fear, and with one accord entreated her that she
would dismiss from her heart one branded among men, and whom his own father had cast
out. But Rodabeh would not listen to their voice. And when they beheld that she was firm
in her spirit, and that their words were vain, they cast about how they might serve her.
And one among them who was wise above the rest opened her lips and spake-
"O moon-faced beauty, slender cypress, it shall be done at thy desire. Thy slaves will
neither rest nor slumber until the royal youth shall have become the footstool to thy feet."
Then Rodabeh was glad and said-
"An the issue be happy, there shall be planted for thee a noble tree, and it shall bear
riches and jewels, and wisdom shall cull its fruits."
Then the slaves pondered in their hearts how they should compass their end, for they
knew that only by craft could it be brought about. Straightway they clothed themselves in
costly raiment, and went forth blithely into the garden of flowers that was spread beside
the river's bank without the city. And they gathered roses, and decked their hair with
blossoms, and threw them into the stream for sooth-telling; and as they gathered they
came unto the spot over against which were pitched the tents of Zal. Now Zal beheld
them from his tent, and he questioned them concerning these rose-gatherers. And one
uprose and said unto him-
"They are slaves sent forth by the moon of Cabul into the garden of flowers."
Now when Zal heard this his heart leaped for joy, and he set forth unto the river's bank
with only one page to bear him company. And seeing a water-bird fly upwards, he took
his bow and shot it through the heart, and it fell among the rose-gatherers. Then Zal bade
the boy cross the water and bring him the bird. And when he had landed, the moon-faced
women pressed about him and questioned him, saying-
"O youth, tell us the name of him who aimeth thus surely, for verily he is a king among
Then the boy answering said, "What! know ye not the son of Sam the hero? The world
hath not his equal for strength and beauty."
But the girls reproved him, and said, "Not so, boast not thus vainly, for the house of
Mihrab holdeth a sun that o'ershines all besides."
And the page smiled, and the smile yet lingered on his lips when he came back to Zal.
And Zal said-
"Why smilest thou, boy? What have they spoken unto thee that thou openest thy lips and
showest thy ivory teeth? "
Then the boy told unto him the speech of the women. And Zal said-
"Go over yet again and bid them tarry, that they may bear back jewels with their roses."
And he chose forth from among his treasures trinkets of pearl and gold, and sent them to
the slaves. Then the one who had sworn to serve Rodabeh above the rest craved that she
might look upon the face of the hero, for she said-
"A secret that is known to three is one no longer."
And Zal granted her desire, and she told him of Rodabeh and of her beauty, and his
passion burned the more. And he spake-
"Show unto me, I pray thee, the path by which I may behold this fair one, for my heart is
filled with longing."
Then the slave said-
"Suffer that we go back to the house of the women, and we will fill the ears of Rodabeh
with praises of the son of Sam, and will entangle her in the meshes of our net, and the
lion shall rejoice in his chase of the lamb."
Then Zal bade her go forth, and the women returned to the house rejoicing and saying-
"The lion entereth the snare spread forth to entrap him, and the wishes of Rodabeh and
Zal will be accomplished."
But when they were come to the gates the porter chid them that they were gone without
while the stranger sojourned in Cabul, and they were troubled and sore afraid for their
secret. But they stilled his wrath and came unto where Rodabeh awaited them. And they
told her of Zal, the son of Sam, and of his beauty and his prowess. And Rodabeh smiled
and said-
"Wherefore have ye thus changed your note? For a while back ye spake with scorn of this
bird-reared youth, on whose head hang the locks of a sage, but now are ye loud in his
Then Rodabeh began privily to deck her house that it might be worthy a guest. With
brocades of Roum and carpets of Ind did she hang it, and she perfumed it with musk and
ambergris, and flowers did she cause to bloom about the rooms. And when the sun was
sunk, and the doors of the house were locked and the keys withdrawn, a slave went forth
unto Zal, the son of Sam. And she spake unto him in a low voice-
"Come now, for all is ready."
And Zal followed after her. And when they were come to the house of the women Zal
beheld the daughter of the King standing upon the roof, and her beauty was like unto a
cypress on which the full moon shineth. And when she beheld him, she spake and said-
"I bid thee welcome, O young man, son of a hero, and may the blessing of Heaven rest
upon thee."
And Zal answered her benison, and prayed that he might enter into nearer converse, for
he was on the ground and she was on the roof. Then the Peri-faced loosened her tresses,
and they were long, so that they fell from the battlements unto the ground. And she said
unto Zal-
"Here hast thou a cord without flaw. Mount, O Pehliva, and seize my black locks, for it is
fitting that I should be a snare unto thee."
But Zal cried, "Not so, O fair one, it would beseem me ill to do thee hurt."
And he covered her hair with kisses. Then he called for a cord and made a running knot,
and threw it upwards and fastened it to the battlements. And with a bound he swung
himself upon the roof. Then Rodabeh took his hand and they stepped down together into
the golden chambers, and the slaves stood round about them. And they gazed upon each
other and knew that they excelled in beauty, and the hours slipped by in sweet talk, while
love was fanned in their hearts. Then Zal cried-
"O fair cypress, musk-perfumed, when Minuchihr shall learn of this he will be angered
and Sam also will chide. And they will say I have forgotten my God, and will lift their
hands against me. But I swear unto thee that this life is to me vile if it be not spent in thy
presence. And I call upon Heaven to hear me that none other but thee will I call my
And Rodabeh said-
"I too will swear unto thee this oath."
So the hours sped, and there arose from out the tents of the King the sound of drums that
announce the coming of the day. Then cried Zal and Rodabeh of one accord-
"O glory of the world, tarry yet a while, neither arrive so quickly."
But the sun gave no ear to their reproaches, and the hour to part was come. Then Zal
swung himself from the battlements unto the ground, and quitted the house of his beloved.
Now when the earth was flooded with light, and the nobles and chiefs had tendered unto
Zal their morning greetings as was their wont, he called about him his Mubids, and laid
before them how that he was filled with love for a daughter of the Serpent. And the
Mubids when they heard it were troubled, and their lips were closed, and the words were
chained upon their tongues. For there was none of them that listed to mingle poison in the
honey of this love. Whereupon Zal reproved them, and said that he would bestow on
them rich gifts if they would open their mouths. Then they spake and said unto him that
the honour of a king could not suffer by a woman, and though Mihrab be indeed of
Zohak's race, he was noble and valiant. And they urged him to write unto his father and
crave Sam to wait upon the Shah.
Then Zal called unto him a scribe and bade him write down the words that he spake. And
he told unto Sam his love and his fears. And he recalled unto him how that he had cast
him out, and how that he had lived in a nest, and a bird had reared him, and the sun had
poured down upon his head, and raw flesh had been his nourishment the while his father
had sat within a goodly house clothed in silk. And he recalled the promise given to him
by Sam. Neither did he seek to justify that which was come about. Then he gave the letter
to a messenger, and bade him ride until he should be come into the presence of Sam.
When Sam had heard the words of his son his spirit was troubled, and he cried-
"Woe unto me, for now is clear what hath so long been hidden. One whom a wild bird
hath reared looketh for the fulfilment of wild desires, and seeks union with an accursed
And he pondered long what he should answer. For he said, "If I say, Abandon this desire,
sow no discord, return to reason, I break my oath and God will punish me. Yet if I say,
Thy desire is just, satisfy the passions of thy heart, what offspring can come to pass from
the union of a Deev and the nursling of a bird?"
And the heart of Sam was heavy with care. So he called unto him his Mubids that they
should search the stars, for he said-
"If I mingle fire and water I do ill, and ill will come of it."
Then all that day the Wise Men searched the secrets of Fate, and they cast the horoscope
of Zal and Rodabeh, and at even they returned to the King rejoicing. And they found him
torn with anguish. Then they said-
"Hail unto thee, O Sam, for we have followed the movement of the stars and counted
their course, and we have read the message of the skies. And it is written, 'A clear spring
shall issue into the day, a son shall be born to Zal, a hero full of power and glory, and
there shall not be his like in Iran.' "
Now when Sam had drunk in these words, his soul was uplifted, and he poured gifts upon
the Mubids. Then he called to him the messenger of Zal, and he gave him pieces of silver,
and bade him return unto his master and say-
"I hold thy passion folly, O my son, but because of the oath that I have sworn to thee it
shall be done at thy desire. I will hie me unto Iran and lay thy suit before the Shah."
Then Sam called together his army and set forth for Iran, and the sound of trumpets and
cymbals went before him.
Now when the messenger was come back to Zal, he rejoiced and praised God, and gave
gold and silver to the poor, and gifts unto his servants. But when night was come he
could not close his eyes in slumber, nor could he rest during the day. Neither did he drink
wine nor demand the singers, for his soul was filled with longing after his love. And
presently there came out to him a slave, and he gave unto her Sam's letter that she might
bear it to Rodabeh. And Rodabeh rejoiced also, and chose from among her treasures a
costly crown and a ring of worth, and bade the woman bear them unto Zal. Now as she
quitted the chamber she met Sindokht. And the Queen questioned her and said-
"Whence comest thou? Reply to all my questions, neither seek thou to deceive me, for
already a long time do I suspect thy passing to and fro."
And the woman trembled as she heard these words, and fell down and kissed the feet of
the Queen, and said-
"Have pity on thine handmaiden, who is poor and gaineth her bread as she can. I go into
the houses of the rich and sell to them robes and jewels. And Rodabeh hath this day
bought of me a tiara and a bracelet of gold."
Then said Sindokht, "Show unto me the money thou hast received for the same, that my
anger be appeased."
And the woman answered and said, "Demand not that I show unto thee that which I have
not, for Rodabeh will pay me to-morrow."
Now Sindokht knew that these words were feigned, and she searched the sleeve of the
woman, and lo! she found therein the tiara that Rodabeh had broidered with her hands.
Then she was angered, and commanded that the slave should be bound in chains. And she
desired that her daughter be brought into her presence. And when she was come,
Sindokht opened her mouth and spake, saying-
"O moon of noble race, to whom hath been taught naught but that which is good, how
hast thou gone astray upon the paths of evil? O my daughter, confide unto thy mother thy
secrets. From whom cometh this woman? For what man are destined thy gifts?"
When she had heard, Rodabeh was abashed, but after a while she told all unto Sindokht.
Now when the Queen had heard she was confounded, for she feared the wrath of the
Shah, and that he would raze Cabul to the dust for this mischance. And she went into her
rooms and wept in her sorrow. Then presently Mihrab the King came in to Sindokht, and
he was of joyful mind, for Zal had received him graciously. But when he beheld her tears
he questioned of her grief. Then she told him how that his daughter was filled with love
for Zal, the son of Sam. And when Mihrab had heard her to an end, his heart also was
troubled, for he knew that Cabul could not stand before the Shah.
Minuchihr, too, when he had heard these things, was troubled, for he beheld in them the
device of Ahriman, and feared lest this union should bring evil upon Iran. And he bade
Nauder call Sam before him. Now when Sam heard the desire of the Shah, he spake and
"I obey, and the sight of the King will be a banquet. unto my soul."
Then Sam went into the presence of Minuchihr, and he kissed the ground, and called
down blessings upon the head of the Shah. But Minuchihr raised him and seated him
beside him on the throne, and straightway began to question him concerning the war, and
the Deevs of Mazinderan. Then Sam told him all the story of his battles. And Minuchihr
listened with joy though the tale was long, and when Sam had ended he praised his
prowess. And he lifted his crown unto heaven and rejoiced that his enemies were thus
confounded. Then be bade a banquet be spread, and all night long the heroes feasted and
shortened the hours with wine. But when the first rays of morn had shed their light, the
curtains of the Shah's house were opened, that he might hold audience and grant the
petitions of his people. And Sam the Pehliva came the first to stand before the King, for
he desired to speak to him of Zal. But the Shah of the world would not suffer him to open
his lips, but said unto him-
"Go hence, O Sam, and take with thee thine army, for I command thee to go yet again to
battle. Set forth unto Cabul and burn the house of Mihrab the King, and utterly destroy
his race and all who serve him, nor suffer that any of the seed of Zohak escape
destruction, for I will that the earth be delivered of this serpent brood."
When Sam heard these words he knew that the Shah was angered, and that speech would
avail him naught. So he kissed the throne and touched the earth with his forehead, and
said, "Lord, I am thy servant, and I obey thy desires." And he departed, and the earth
trembled under the stamping of footmen and of hoofs, and the air of the city was
darkened with his spears.
Now the news of Sam's intent reached even unto Cabul, and the land was sunk in woe,
and weeping filled the house of the King. But Zal was wroth, and he went forth to meet
his father. And when he was come to the spot where he had encamped his army, he
craved an audience. And Sam granted it, and Zal reminded him yet again of his oath, and
desired that he would spare the land of Cabul, nor visit his judgments upon the innocent.
When Sam had listened, his heart was moved, and he said-
"O my son, thou speakest that which is right. To thee have I been unjust from the day of
thy birth. But stay thy wrath, for surely I will find a remedy, and thy wishes shall yet be
accomplished. For thou shalt bear a letter unto the Shah, and when he shall have looked
on thy face, he will be moved with compassion and cease to trouble thee."
Then Zal kissed the ground before his father and craved the blessings of God upon his
head. And Sam dictated a letter to the Shah, and he spoke therein of all he had done for
Minuchihr, and how he had killed the dragon that had laid waste the land, how he had
ever subdued the foes of Iran, and how the frontiers were enlarged by his hands. Yet now
was he waxing old, and could no longer do doughty deeds. But a brave son was his,
worthy and true, who would follow in his footsteps. Only his heart was devoured of love,
and perchance he would die if his longing were unsatisfied. And therewith he
commended to the wisdom of the Shah the affairs of Zal.
When the letter was ended Zal set forth with it unto the court, and the flower of his army
went with him.
But the fear of Minuchihr was great in Cabul, and Mihrab pondered how he should
quench the wrath of the King of kings. And he spake to Sindokht and said-
"For that the King is angered against me because of thee and thy daughter, and because I
cannot stand before him, I will lead Rodabeh unto his court and kill her before his eyes.
Perchance his anger may be thus allayed."
Sindokht listened to his words in silence, and when he had ended she cast about her for a
plan, for she was quick of wit. And when she had found one she came again into the
presence of Mihrab, and she craved of him that he should give her the key of his treasury.
For she said-
"This is not the hour to be strait-handed; suffer that I take what seemeth good unto me
and go before Sam, it may be that I move him to spare the land."
And Mihrab agreed to her demand because of the fear that devoured him. Then Sindokht
went out to the house of Sam, and she took with her three hundred thousand pieces of
gold, and sixty horses caparisoned in silver, bearing sixty slaves that held cups filled to
the brim with musk and camphor, and rubies, and turquoise, and precious stones of every
kind. And there followed two hundred dromedaries and four tall Indian elephants laden
with carpets and brocades of Roum, and the train reached for two miles beyond the
King's gates. Now when Sindokht was come to Seistan she bade the guardians of the door
say unto Sam that an envoy was come from Cabul bearing a message. And Sam granted
an audience, and Sindokht was brought into his presence. Then she kissed the ground at
his feet and called upon Heaven to shower down blessings on his head. And when she
had done so, she caused her gifts to be laid before Sam, and when Sam beheld these
treasures, he marvelled and thought within himself, "How cometh it that a woman is sent
as envoy from a land that boasteth such riches? If I accept them the Shah will be angered,
and if I refuse perchance Zal will reproach me that I rob him of his heritage." So he lifted
his head and said-
"Let these treasures be given unto the treasurer of my son."
When Sindokht beheld that her gifts were accepted, she rejoiced and raised her voice in
speech. And she questioned Sam, saying-
"Tell me, I pray thee, what wrong have the people of Cabul done unto thee that thou
wouldst destroy them?"
Then answered Sam the hero, "Reply unto my questions and lie not. Art thou the slave or
the wife of Mihrab, and is it thy daughter whom Zal hath seen? If indeed it be so, tell me,
I pray, of her beauty, that I may know if she be worthy of my son."
Then Sindokht said, "O Pehliva, swear to me first a great oath that thou wilt spare my life
and the lives of those dear unto me. And when I am assured of thy protection I will
recount all that thou desirest."
Then Sam took the hand of Sindokht, and he sware unto her a great oath, and gave her his
word and his promise. And when she had heard it she was no longer afraid, and she told
him all her secrets. And she said-
"I am of the race of Zohak, and wife unto the valiant Mihrab, and mother of Rodabeh,
who hath found favour in the eyes of thy son. And I am come to learn of thy desire, and
who are thine enemies in Cabul. Destroy the wicked, and those who merit chastisement,
but spare, I pray thee, the innocent, or thy deeds will change day into night."
Then spake Sam, "My oath is sacred, and if it cost my life, thou and thine and Cabul may
rest assured that I will not harm them. And I desire that Zal should find a wife in
Rodabeh, though she be of an alien race."
And he told her how that he had written to the Shah a letter of supplication such as only
one in grief could pen, and how Zal was absent with the message, and he craved her to
tell him of Rodabeh.
But Sindokht replied, "If the Pehliva of the world will make the hearts of his slaves
rejoice, he will visit us and look with his own eyes upon our moon."
And Sam smiled and said, "Rest content and deliver thine heart of cares, for all shall end
according unto thy desires."
When Sindokht heard this she bade him farewell and made all haste to return. And Sam
loaded her with gifts and bade her depart in peace. And Sindokht's face shone brightly,
like unto the moon when she hath been eclipsed, and hope once more reigned in her
Now listen to what happened to Zal while these things were passing in Seistan. When he
was come to the court of Minuchihr he hastened into his presence, and kissed the ground
at his feet, and lay prostrate before him in the dust. And when the Shah saw this he was
moved, and bade his servants raise Zal, and pour musk before him. Then Zal drew nigh
unto the throne and gave to the King the letter written by Sam the son of Neriman. And
when Minuchihr had read it he was grieved, and said-
"This letter, written by Sam thy father in his sorrow, hath awakened an old pain within
me. But for the sake of my faithful servant I will do unto thee that which is thy desire.
Yet I ask that thou abide with me a little while that I may seek counsel about thee."
Then the cooks brought forth a table of gold, and Zal was seated beside the Shah and all
the nobles according to their rank, and they ate flesh and drank wine together. Then when
the mantle of night was fallen over the earth Zal sprang upon his steed and scoured the
land in the unrest of his spirit, for his heart was full of thoughts and his mouth of words.
But when morning was come he presented himself before the Shah in audience. And his
speech and mien found favour in the eyes of the Shah, and he called unto him his Wise
Men and bade them question the stars of this matter. Three days and three nights did the
Mubids search the heavens without ceasing, and on the fourth they came before the Shah
and spake. And they said unto him-
"Hail to thee, hero of the golden girdle, for we bring unto thee glad tidings. The son of
Sam and the daughter of Mihrab shall be a glorious pair, and from their union shall spring
a son like to a war-elephant, and he shall subdue all men by his sword and raise the glory
of Iran even unto the skies. And he shall uproot the wicked from the earth so that there
shall be no room for them. Segsars and Mazinderan shall feel the weight of his mace, and
he shall bring much woe upon Turan, but Iran shall be loaded with prosperity at his hands.
And he will give back sleep to the unhappy, and close the doors of discord, and bar the
paths of wrong-doing. The kingdom will rejoice while he lives; Roum, Ind, and Iran will
grave his name upon their seals."
When the Shah had heard this he charged the Mubids that they keep secret that which
they had revealed unto him. And he called for Zal that he might question him and test his
wisdom. And the Wise Men and the Mubids were seated in a circle, and they put these
questions to the son of Sam.
And the first opened his mouth and said-
"Twelve trees, well grown and green, Fair and lofty, have I seen; Each has sprung with
vigorous sprout, Sending thirty branches out; Wax no more, nor wane, they can In the
kingdom of Iran."
And Zal pondered a while and then answered and said-
'Twelve moons in the year, and each I praise As a new-made king on a new throne's blaze:
Each comes to an end in thirty days."
Then the second Mubid questioned him and said-
"Thou whose head is high in air, Rede me now of coursers twain; Both are noble, swift to
speed; Black as storms in the night one steed, The other crystal, white and fair, They race
for ever and haste in vain, Towards a goal they never gain."
And Zal thought again yet a while and answered-
"Two shining horses, one black, one white. That run for ever in rapid flight; The one is
the day, the other the night, That count the throbs of the heavens height, Like the hunted
prey from the following chase They flee, yet neither wins the race."
Then the third Mubid questioned him and said-
"Thirty knights before the king Pass along. Regard the thing Closely; one is gone. Again
Look- the thirty are in train."
And Zal answered and spake-
"Thirty knights of whom the train Is full, then fails, then fills again, Know, each moon is
reckoned thus, So willed by God who governs us, And thy word is true of the faint
moon's wane, Now failing in darkness, now shining plain."
Then the fourth Mubid questioned him and said-
"See a green garden full of springs; A strong man with a sickle keen Enters, and reaps
both dry and green; No word thine utmost anguish wrings."
And Zal bethought him and replied-
"Thy word was of a garden green, A reaper with a sickle keen, Who cuts alike the fresh
and the dry Nor heedeth prayer nor any cry: Time is the reaper, we the grass; Pity nor
fear his spirit has, But old and young he reaps alike. No rank can stay his sickle's strike,
No love, but he will leave it lorn, For to this end all men are born. Birth opes to all the
gate of Life, Death shuts it down on love and strife, And Fate, that counts the breath of
man, Measures to each a reckoned span."
Then the fifth Mubid questioned him and said-
"Look how two lofty cypresses Spring up, like reeds, from stormy seas, There builds a
bird his dwelling-place; Upon the one all night he stays, But swift, with the dawn, across
he flies; The abandoned tree dries up and dies, While that whereon he sets his feet
Breathes odours out, surpassing sweet. The one is dead for ever and aye, The other lives
and blooms alway."
Then Zal yet again bethought him before he said-
"Hear of the sea-born cypresses, Where builds a bird, and rests, and flees. From the Ram
to the Scales the earth o'erpowers, Shadows obscure of the night that lowers, But when
the Scales' sign it must quit, Darkness and gloom o'ermaster it; The sides of heaven thy
fable shows Whence grief to man or blessing flows, The sun like a bird flies to and fro,
Weal with him bringing, but leaving woe."
Then the sixth Mubid questioned him, and it was the last question that he asked, and he
deemed it the hardest of all to answer. And all men hung upon his words and listened to
the answer of Zal. And the Mubid said-
"Builded on a rock I found A town. Men left the gate and chose A thicket on the level
ground. Soon their soaring mansions rose Lifting roofs that reach the moon, Some men
slaves, some kings, became, Of their earlier city soon The memory died in all. Its name
None breathed. But hark! an earthquake; down, Lost in the chasm lies the land- Now long
they for their rock-built town, Enduring things they understand. Seek in thy soul the truth
of this; This before kings proclaim, I was, If rightly thou the riddle rede, Black earth to
musk thou hast changed indeed."
And Zal pondered this riddle but a little while, and then opened his mouth and said-
"The eternal, final world is shown By image of a rock-built town; The thicket is our
passing life, A place of pleasure and of pain, A world of dreams and eager strife, A time
for labour, and loss, and gain; This counts thy heart-beats, at its will Prolongs their pulse
or makes it still. But winds and earthquake rouse: a cry Goes up of bitterness and woe,
Now we must leave our homes below And climb the rocky fastness high. Another reaps
our fruit of pain, That yet to another leaves his gain; So was it aye, must so remain. Well
for us if our name endure, Though we shall pass, beloved and pure, For all the evil man
hath done, Stalks, when he dies, in the sight of the sun; When dust is strown on breast
and head, Then desolation reigns with dread."
When Zal had spoken thus the Shah was glad, and an the assembly were amazed, and
lauded the son of Sam. And the King bade a great banquet be prepared, and they drank
wine until the world was darkened, and the heads of the drinkers were troubled. Then
when morn was come Zal prayed that the Shah would dismiss him. But Minuchihr said-
"Not so, abide with me yet another day," and he bade the drums be beaten to call together
his heroes, for he desired to test Zal also in feats of strength. And the Shah sat upon the
roof of his house and looked down upon the games, and he beheld Zal, the son of Sam,
do mighty deeds of prowess. With his arrow did he shoot farther and straighter than the
rest, and with his spear he pierced all shields, and in wrestling he overcame the strongest
who had never known defeat. When the nobles beheld these doughty deeds they shouted
and clapped their hands, and Minuchihr loaded Zal with gifts. Then he prepared a reply
unto the letter of Sam. And he wrote-
"O my Pehliva, hero of great renown, I have listened to thy desires, and I have beheld the
youth who is worthy to be thy son. And he hath found favour in my sight, and I send him
back to thee satisfied. May his enemies be impotent to harm him."
Then when the Shah had given him leave to go, Zal set forth, and he bare his head high in
the joy of his heart. And when he came before his father and gave to him the letter of the
Shah, Sam was young again for happiness. Then the drums sounded the signal to depart,
and the tents were prepared, and a messenger, mounted on a fleet dromedary, was sent
unto Mihrab to tell him that Sam and Zal were setting forth for Cabul. And when Mihrab
heard the tidings his fears were stilled, and he commanded that his army be clad in festal
array. And silken standards of bright colour decked the city, and the sounds of trumpets,
harps, and cymbals filled the air. And Sindokht told the glad tidings to Rodabeh, and they
made ready the house like unto a paradise. Carpets broidered with gold and precious
stones did they lay down upon its floors, and set forth thrones of ivory and rich carving.
And the ground they watered with rose-water and wine.
Then when the guests were come near unto Cabul, Mihrab went forth to meet them, and
he placed upon the head of Zal a crown of diamonds, and they came into the city in
triumph. And all the people did homage before them, and Sindokht met them at the doors
of the King's house, and poured out musk and precious stones before them. Then Sam,
when he had replied to their homage, smiled, and turned to Sindokht and said-
"How much longer dost thou think to hide Rodabeh from our eyes?"
And Sindokht said, "What wilt thou give me to see the sun?"
Then Sam replied, "All that thou wilt, even unto my slaves and my throne, will I give to
Then Sindokht led him within the curtains, and when Sam beheld Rodabeh he was struck
dumb with wonder, for her beauty exceeded dreams, and he knew not how he could find
words to praise her. Then he asked of Mihrab that he would give unto him her hand, and
they concluded an alliance according to custom and the law. And the lovers were seated
upon a throne, and Mihrab read out the list of the gifts, and it was so long the ear did not
suffice to hear them. Then they repaired unto the banquet, and they feasted seven days
without ceasing. And when a month had passed Sam went back to Seistan, and Zal and
Rodabeh followed after him. And speedily did he set forth again to battle, and left the
kingdom in the hands of his son, and Zal administered it with wisdom and judgment. And
Rodabeh sat beside him on the throne, and he placed a crown of gold upon her head.
5 - Rostam
Now ere the son of Zal was born, Rodabeh was sore afflicted, and neither by day nor
night could she find rest. Then Zal in his trouble bethought him of the Simurgh, his nurse,
and how she had given unto him a feather that he might use it in the hour of his need.
And he cast the feather 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 said unto him-
"O my son, wherefore art thou troubled, and why are the eyes of this lion wet with tears?"
Then he told her of his sorrow, and she bade him be of good cheer, "For verily thy nurse
who shielded thee, and reared thee when thy father cast thee out, is come yet again to
succour thee."
And she told him how he should act, and when she had done speaking she turned her
once more towards her nest. But Zal did as she had commanded, and there was born to
him a son comely of limb. And when Rodabeh beheld the babe, she smiled and said-
"Verily he shall be called Rostam (which, being interpreted, meaneth delivered), for I am
delivered of my pains."
And all the land was glad that a son was come unto Zal the hero, and the sounds of
feasting and joy were heard throughout its breadth.
Then fleet messengers brought the sweet tidings unto Sam. And they bare with them an
image of Rostam sewn of silk, whereon were traced the features of this lion's whelp, and
a club was put into its hands, and it was mounted upon a dromedary. Now when Sam
beheld the image his heart leaped up within him. He poured mountains of gold before the
messengers, and gave thanks unto Ormuzd that he had suffered his eyes to look upon this
And when eight summers had rolled above their heads, Sam learned that Rostam was
mighty of stature and fair of mien, and his heart yearned towards him. He therefore made
ready a mighty host and passed unto Zaboulistan, that he might look upon his son. And
Rostam rode forth to meet his sire, mounted upon an elephant of war, and when he beheld
Sam he fell upon his face and craved his blessing. And Sam blessed Rostam, the son of
Then Rostam spake unto Sam and said, "O Pehliva, I rejoice in that I am sprung from
thee, for my desires are not after the feast, neither do I covet sleep or rest. My heart is
fixed upon valour, a horse do I crave and a saddle, a coat of mail and a helmet, and my
delight is in the arrow. Thine enemies will I vanquish, and may my courage be like unto
And Sam, when he had heard these words, was astonished, and blessed Rostam yet again.
And his eyes could not cease from gazing upon the face of the boy, and he lingered in the
land until a moon had run her course.
Now it befell that when yet two springs had passed, Rostam was awakened from his
slumber by a mighty roaring that shook the walls of the house, even unto the foundation,
and a cry went forth that the white elephant of the King had broken its chain in fury, and
that the housemates were in danger. And Rostam, when he learned it, sprang from his bed,
and desired of the guards that they should suffer him to pass into the court that he might
conquer the beast. But the guards barred the way from him, saying-
"How can we answer for it before the King if thou run into danger?"
But Rostam would not listen to their voice. He forced a passage for himself with his
mighty arms, with his strong fists he broke down the barriers of the door. And when he
was without he beheld how that all the warriors were sore afraid of the elephant, because
that he was mad with rage. And Rostam was ashamed for them in his soul, and he ran
towards the beast with a loud cry. Then the elephant, when he saw him, raised his trunk
to strike him, but Rostam beat him upon the head with his club, and smote him that he
died. And when he had done this deed, he returned unto his bed and slept until the
morning. But the news of his prowess spread throughout the house of the King and far
into the land, even unto the realms of Sam. And Zal, and all men with him, rejoiced
because a hero was arisen in Iran.
Now, while these things were passing in the house of Zal, in the land of Zaboulistan,
Minuchihr made him ready to pass from the world, for he had reached twice sixty years.
He called before him Nauder his son, and gave him wise counsels, and exhorted him that
he should ever walk in the paths of wisdom. And he bade him rest his throne upon the
strength of Sam and Zal, and the child that was sprung from their loins. Then when he
had spoken, Minuchihr closed his eyes and sighed, and there remained of him only a
memory in the world.
But Nauder forgot the counsels of his father. He vexed the land and reigned in anger, and
cruel deeds were committed in his name, so that the people rose up and cried against the
King. And men of might came unto Sam and laid before him their plaints, and the
petitions of the people, and they prayed that he would wrest the crown from the head of
Nauder, and place it upon his own. But Sam was sore grieved when he had heard these
words, and he spake, saying-
"Not so, for it beseemeth me not to put out my hand after the crown, for Nauder is of the
race of the Kaianides, and unto them is given majesty and might."
Then he girt his sword about his loins, and took with him a host, and rode before the face
of the Shah. And when he was come unto him, Sam exhorted him with prayers and tears
that he would turn him from the paths of evil. And Nauder listened unto the voice of Sam
the Pehliva, and joy was abroad once more.
But the tidings spread, even into Turan, that Minuchihr the just was departed, and that the
hand of Nauder was heavy upon the land. And Poshang, who was of the race of Tur,
heard the news thereof with gladness, for he deemed that the time was ripe to remember
the vengeance that was due unto the blood of his sire. Therefore he called about him his
warriors, and bade them go forth to war against Iran, saying the time was come to avenge
his father and draw unto himself the heritage. And while his son Afrasiyab made ready
the host to fulfil the desire of his father, there spread the news that Sam the Pehliva had
been gathered unto the dust, and that Zal tarried in his house to build him a tomb. And the
news gave courage unto Afrasiyab and his men, and they made haste to gain the frontier.
But the grandson of Feridoun had learned of their coming, and he prepared him to meet
the foes of his land. Then he sent forth an army that overshadowed the earth in its
progress. But the army of Afrasiyab was great also, and it covered the ground like unto
ants and locusts. And both hosts pitched their tents in the plains of Dehstan, and made
them ready for the fight. And the horses neighed loud, and the pawing of their hoofs
shook the deep places of the earth, and the dust of their trampling uprose even unto
heaven. Then when they had put their men into array, they fell upon each other, and for
two days did they rage in fierce combat, neither did the victory lean to either side. And
the clamour and confusion were mighty, and earth and sky seemed blended into one. And
the carnage was great, and blood flowed like water, and heads fell from their trunks like
unto autumn leaves that are withered. But on the third day it came about that the upper
hand was given unto the men of Turan, and Nauder the King, and the flower of his army
with him, fell into the hands of the foe.
Then Afrasiyab cut off the head of Nauder the Shah, and sat himself down upon the
throne of light. And he proclaimed himself lord of Iran, and required of all men that they
should do him homage, and pour gifts before his face. But the people would not listen
unto his voice, and they sent messengers into Seistan, and craved counsel of the Pehliva
in their distress. And Zal, when he heard their tidings, cast aside the sorrow for Sam his
father, and girded his loins in enmity against the son of Tur. And he bade the Iranians
choose out Zew, the son of Thamasp, of the blood of Feridoun, of wisdom in speech, that
he should rule over them on the throne of the Kaianides. And the people did as Zal
Now the throne of Feridoun grew young again under the sway of Zew. With power did he
beat back the host of Turan, a covenant of peace did he wring from their hands. And it
was written that the Jihun should divide the lands, and that the power of Zal the Pehliva
should end where men take up their abode in tents. And Zew ruled rightly in the sight of
Ormuzd, and God gave unto the land the key of abundance. Yet few were the years that
he commanded with equity, and Garshasp his son reigned in his stead. But neither to him
was it given to reign long with glory, and bitter fruit sprouted yet again from the tree of
misfortune. For the throne of the Kaianides was empty, and Afrasiyab, when he learned
thereof, followed the counsels of Poshang his father, and hurried him unto the land of
Iran, that he might place himself upon the seat of power. And all the men of Iran, when
they learned thereof, were sore afraid, and they turned them once again unto the son of
Sam. And they spake unto him hard words, and heaped reproaches upon him that he had
not averted these dangers from their heads. And Zal in his heart smiled at their ingratitude
and lipwisdom, but he also sorrowed with them and with his land. And he spake, saying-
"I have ever done for you what was fitting and right, and all my life have I feared no
enemy save only old age. But that enemy is now upon me, therefore I charge you that ye
look unto Rostam to deliver you. Howbeit he shall be backed by the counsels of his
Then he called before him his son, who was yet of tender age, and he said unto him-
"O my son, thy lips still smell of milk, and thy heart should go out to pleasure. But the
days are grave, and Iran looketh unto thee in its danger. I must send thee forth to cope
with heroes."
And Rostam answered and said, "Thou knowest, O my father, that my desires are rather
after war than pleasures. Give unto me, therefore, a steed of strength and the mace of
Sam thy father, and suffer that I go out to meet the hosts of Ahriman."
Then Zal's heart laughed within him when he heard these words of manhood. And he
commanded that all the flocks of horses, both from Zaboulistan and Cabul, be brought
before his son, that he might choose from their midst his steed of battle. And they were
passed in order before Rostam, and he laid upon the backs of each his hand of might to
test them if they could bear his weight of valour. And the horses shuddered as they bent
beneath his grasp, and sank upon their haunches in weakness. And thus did he do with
them all in turn, until he came unto the flocks of Cabul. Then he perceived in their midst
a mare mighty and strong, and there followed after her a colt like to its mother, with the
chest and shoulders of a lion. And in strength it seemed like an elephant, and in colour it
was as rose leaves that have been scattered upon a saffron ground. Now Rostam, when he
had tested the colt with his eyes, made a running knot in his cord and threw it about the
beast. And he caught the colt in the snare, though the mare defended it mightily. Then the
keeper of the flock came before Rostam and said-
"O youth puissant and tall, take not, I counsel thee, the horse of another."
And Rostam answered him and asked, "To whom then pertaineth this steed? I see no
mark upon its flanks."
And the keeper said, "We know not its master, but rumours are rife anent it throughout
the land, and men name it the Rakhsh of Rostam. And I warn thee, the mother will never
permit thee to ride on it. Three years has it been ready for the saddle, but none would she
suffer to mount thereon."
Then Rostam, when he heard these words, swung himself upon the colt with a great
bound. And the mare, when she saw it, ran at him and would have pulled him down, but
when she had heard his voice she suffered it. And the rose-coloured steed bore Rostam
along the plains like unto the wind. Then when he was returned, the son of Zal spake and
said to the keeper-
"I pray thee, tell unto me what is the price of this dragon?"
But the keeper replied-
"If thou be Rostam, mount him, and retrieve the sorrows of Iran. For his price is the land
of Iran, and seated upon him thou wilt save the world."
And Rostam rejoiced in Rakhsh (whose name, being interpreted, meaneth the lightning),
and Zal rejoiced with him, and they made them ready to stand against Afrasiyab.
Now it was in the time of roses, and the meadows smiled with verdure, when Zal led
forth his hosts against the offspring of Tur. And the standard of Kawah streamed upon the
breeze, and Mihrab marched on the left, and Gustahem marched on the right, and Zal
went in the midst of the men, but Rostam went at the head of all. And there followed after
him a number like to the sands of the sea, and the sounds of cymbals and bells made a
noise throughout the land like unto the day of judgment, when the earth shall cry unto the
dead, "Arise." And they marched in order even unto the shores of the river Rai, and the
two armies were but some farsangs apart.
Albeit, when Afrasiyab heard that Rostam and Zal were come out against him, he was in
nowise dismayed, for he said, "The son is but a boy, and the father is old; it will not,
therefore, be hard for me to keep my power in Iran." And he made ready his warriors
with gladness of heart.
But Zal, when he had drawn up his army in battle array, spake unto them, saying-
"O men valiant in fight, we are great in number, but there is wanting to us a chief, for we
are without the counsels of a Shah, and verily no labour succeedeth when the head is
lacking. But rejoice, and be not downcast in your hearts, for a Mubid hath revealed unto
me that there yet liveth one of the race of Feridoun to whom pertaineth the throne, and
that he is a youth wise and brave."
And when he had thus spoken, he turned him to Rostam and said-
"I charge thee, O my son, depart in haste for the Mount Alberz, neither tarry by the way.
And wend thee unto Kai Kobad, and say unto him that his army awaiteth him, and that
the throne of the Kaianides is empty."
And Rostam, when he had heard his father's command, touched with his eyelashes the
ground before his feet, and straightway departed. In his hand he bare a mace of might,
and under him was Rakhsh the swift of foot. And he rode till he came within sight of the
Mount Alberz, whereon had stood the cradle of his father. Then he beheld at its foot a
house beauteous like unto that of a king. And around it was spread a garden whence came
the sounds of running waters, and trees of tall stature uprose therein, and under their
shade, by a gurgling rill, there stood a throne, and a youth, fair like to the moon, was
seated thereon. And round about him leaned knights girt with red sashes of power, and
you would have said it was a paradise for perfume and beauty.
Now when those within the garden beheld the son of Zal ride by, they came out unto him
and said-
"O Pehliva, it behoveth us not to let thee go farther before thou hast permitted us to greet
thee as our guest. We pray thee, therefore, descend from off thy horse and drink the cup
of friendship in our house."
But Rostam said, "Not so, I thank you, but suffer that I may pass unto the mountain with
an errand that brooketh no delay. For the borders of Iran are encircled by the enemy, and
the throne is empty of a king. Wherefore I may not stay to taste of wine."
Then they answered him, "If thou goest unto the mount, tell us, we pray thee, thy mission,
for unto us is it given to guard its sides."
And Rostam replied, "I seek there a king of the seed of Feridoun, who cleansed the world
of the abominations of Zohak, a youth who reareth high his head. I pray ye, therefore, if
ye know aught of Kai Kobad, that ye give me tidings where I may find him."
Then the youth that sat upon the throne opened his mouth and said, "Kai Kobad is known
unto me, and if thou wilt enter this garden and rejoice my soul with thy presence I will
give thee tidings concerning him."
When Rostam heard these words he sprang from off his horse and came within the gates.
And the youth took his hand and led him unto the steps of the throne. Then he mounted it
yet again, and when he had filled a cup with wine, he pledged the guest within his gates.
Then he gave a cup unto Rostam, and questioned him wherefore he sought for Kai Kobad,
and at whose desire he was come forth to find him. And Rostam told him of the Mubids,
and how that his father had sent him with all speed to pray the young King that he would
be their Shah, and lead the host against the enemies of Iran. Then the youth, when he had
listened to an end, smiled and said-
"O Pehliva, behold me, for verily I am Kai Kobad of the race of Feridoun!"
And Rostam, when he had heard these words, fell on the ground before his feet, and
saluted him Shah. Then the King raised him, and commanded that the slaves should give
him yet another cup of wine, and he bore it to his lips in honour of Rostam, the son of Zal,
the son of Sam, the son of Neriman. And they gave a cup also unto Rostam, and he cried-
"May the Shah live for ever!"
Then instruments of music rent the air, and joy spread over all the assembly. But when
silence was fallen yet again, Kai Kobad opened his mouth and said-
"Hearken, O my knights, unto the dream that I had dreamed, and ye will know wherefore
I called upon you this day to stand in majesty about my throne. For in my sleep I beheld
two falcons white of wing, and they came out unto me from Iran, and in their beaks they
bare a sunny crown. And the crown they placed upon my head. And behold now is
Rostam come out unto me like to a white bird, and his father, the nursling of a bird, hath
sent him, and they have given unto me the crown of Iran."
And Rostam, when he had heard this dream, said, "Surely thy vision was given unto thee
of God! But now, I pray thee, up and tarry no longer, for the land of Iran groaneth sore
and awaiteth thee with much travail."
So Kai Kobad listened to the desires of Rostam, and swung him upon his steed of war;
and they rode day and night, until they came down from the hills unto the green plains
that are watered by murmuring streams. And Rostam brought the King safely through the
outposts of the enemy; and when the night was fallen, he led him within the tents of Zal,
and none knew that he was come save only the Mubids. For seven days did they hold
counsel together, and on the eighth the message of the stars was received with joy. And
Zal made ready a throne of ivory and a banquet, and the crown of Iran was placed upon
the head of the young Shah. Then the nobles came and did homage before him, and they
revelled in wine till the night was far spent. And they prayed him that he would make him
ready to lead them against the Turks. And Kai Kobad mustered the army and did as they
And soon the battle raged hot and strong many days, and deeds of valour were done on
either side; but the men of Turan could not stand against the men of Iran, neither could
the strength of Rostam be broken. For he put forth the power of a lion, and his shadow
extended for miles. And from that day men named him Tehemten (which being
interpreted, meaneth the strong-limbed), for he did deeds of prowess in the sight of men.
And Afrasiyab was discomfited, and fled before him, and his army followed after, and
their hearts were bruised and full of care.
But the Iranians, when they beheld that their foes had vanished before them, turned them
unto Kai Kobad and did homage before his throne. And Kai Kobad celebrated the victory
with much pomp, as is the manner of kings; and he placed Rostam upon his right hand
and Zal upon his left, and they feasted and made them merry with wine.
In the meantime Afrasiyab returned him unto Poshang his father, who was of the race of
Tur. And he came before him right sorrowful and spake, saying-
"O King, whose name is glorious, thou didst evil to provoke this war. The land which
Feridoun the great did give in ancient time unto Tur the valiant, it hath been delivered
unto thee, and the partition was just. Why, therefore, seekest thou to enlarge thy border?
Verily I say, if thou haste not to make peace with Iran, Kai Kobad will send out against
us an army from the four quarters of the earth, and they will subdue us, and by our own
act we shall make the land too narrow for us. For the world is not delivered of the race of
Irij, and the noxious poison hath not been converted into honey. For when one dieth
another taketh his place, and never do they leave the world without a master. And there is
arisen of the race of Sam a warrior called Rostam, and none can withstand him. He hath
broken the power of thine host, and the world hath not seen his like for stoutness; and
withal he is but little more than a weanling. Ponder therefore, O King, how shall it be
when he may be come to years of vigour. Surely I am a man who desireth to possess the
world, the stay of thine army, and thy refuge in danger, but before this boy my power
fadeth like unto the mists that rise above the hills."
When the King of Turan had listened to these words, the tears of bitterness fell from his
eyes. Then he called before him a scribe and he bade him write a letter unto Kai Kobad,
the Shah. And the scribe adorned it with many colours and fair designs. And the scribe
"In the name of Ormuzd, the ruler of the sun and moon, greeting and salutation unto Kai
Kobad the gracious from the meanest of his servants. Listen unto me, O valiant Shah, and
ponder the words that I shall write. May grace fall upon the soul of Feridoun, who wove
the woof of our race! Why should we any longer hold the world in confusion? That which
he fixed, surely it was right, for he parted the world with equity, and we do wrong before
him when we depart from the grooves that he hath shaped. I pray thee, therefore, let us no
longer speak of Tur and his evil acts unto Irij, for if Irij was the cause of our hates, surely
by Minuchihr hath he been avenged. Let us return, then, within the bounds that Feridoun
hath blest, and let us part the world anew, as it was parted for Tur, and Selim, and Irij.
For wherefore should we seek the land of another, since in the end each will receive in
heritage a spot no larger than his body? If then Kai Kobad will listen unto my prayer, let
the Jihun be the boundary between us, and none of my people shall behold its waters, nay,
not even in a dream, neither shall any Iranian cross its floods, save only in amity."
And the King put his seal upon the letter and sent it unto Kai Kobad, and the messenger
bare with him rich gifts of jewels and steeds of Araby. And when Kai Kobad had read the
letter he smiled in his spirit and said-
"Verily not my people sought out this war but Afrasiyab, who deemed that he could wrest
unto himself the crown of Iran, and could subdue the masterless land unto his will. And
he hath but followed in the footsteps of Tur his father, for even as he robbed the throne of
Irij, so did Afrasiyab take from it Nauder the Shah. And I say to you that I need not make
peace with you because of any fear, but I will do it because war is not pleasing unto me. I
will give unto you, therefore, the farther side of the river, and it shall be a boundary
between us, and I pray that Afrasiyab may find rest within his borders."
And Kai Kobad did according to his word. He drew up a fresh covenant between them,
and planted a new tree in the garden of power. And the messenger took the writing unto
Poshang, King of Turan, and Kai Kobad proclaimed that there was peace throughout the
Now for the space of an hundred years did Kai Kobad rule over Iran, and he administered
his realm with clemency, and the earth was quiet before him, and he gat his people great
honour, and I ask of you what king can be likened unto him? But when this time had
passed, his strength waned, and he knew that a green leaf was about to fade. So he called
before him Kai Kaous his son, and gave unto him counsels many and wise. And when he
had done speaking he bade them make ready his grave, and he exchanged the palace for
the tomb. And thus endeth the history of Kai Kobad the glorious. It behoveth us now to
speak of his son.
6 - March into Mazanderan
Kai Kawous seated him on the crystal throne, and the world was obedient to his will. But
Ahriman was angry that his power was so long broken in Iran, and he swore unto himself
that happiness should no longer smile upon the land. And he imagined guile in his black
Now it came about one day that the Shah sat in his trellised bower in the garden of roses,
drinking wine and making merry with his court. Then Ahriman, when he beheld that they
were thus forgetful of care, saw that the time served him. So he sent forth a Deev clad as
a singer, and bade him ask for audience before the Shah. And the Deev did as he was
bidden. And he came before the servants of the King, and begged for entrance into the
arbour of flowers.
"For verily," he said- "I am a singer of sweet songs, and I come from Mazanderan, and
desire to pour my homage at the throne of my lord."
Now when Kai Kawous learned that a singer waited without, he commanded that he
should be brought in. Then he gave him wine and permitted him to open his mouth before
him. Now the Deev, when he had done homage before the Shah, warbled unto his lyre
words of deep cunning. And he sang how that no land was like unto his own for beauty
and riches, and he inflamed the desires of the Shah after Mazanderan. And Ahriman
fanned the flame within the mind of the King, and when the Deev had ended, Kai
Kawous was become uplifted in his heart, like unto Jemshid. So he turned him unto his
warriors and said-
"O my friends, mighty and brave, we have abandoned ourselves unto feasting, we have
revelled in the arms of peace. But it behoveth not men to live long in this wise, lest they
grow idle and weak. And above all it behoveth not me that am a Shah, for the Shah is
called to be a hero among men, and the world should be his footstool. Now verily the
power and splendour of Jemshid was lower than mine, and my wealth surpasseth that of
Zohak and Kai Kobad. It beseemeth me therefore to be greater also than they in prowess,
and to be master of Mazanderan, which ever resisted their might. I bid you therefore
make ready for combat, and I will lead you into the land whereof this singer hath sung so
Now the nobles, when they had heard these words, grew pale with fear, for there was not
one among them who listed to combat with Deevs. But none durst open their lips in
answer, yet their hearts were full of fear and their mouths of sighs. But at last, when they
could keep silence no longer, some spake and said-
"Lord, we are thy servants, and that which thou biddest surely we must do."
But among themselves they took counsel how they should act if the Shah held firm by his
desire. And they recalled how not even Jemshid in his pride had thought to conquer the
Deevs of Mazanderan, before whom the sword hath no power and wisdom no avail,
neither had Feridoun, learned in magic, or Minuchihr the mighty, ventured on this
emprise. Then they bethought them of Zal the son of Saum, and they sent forth a wind-
footed dromedary and a messenger. And they said unto Zal-
"Haste, we pray thee, neither tarry to cleanse thine head though it be covered with dust;
for Ahriman hath strown evil seed in the heart of Kai Kawous, and it ripeneth to fruit
already, and already it hath borne fruit, and Iran is threatened with danger. But we look to
thee that thou speak words of good counsel unto the Shah, and avert these sorrows from
our heads."
Now Zal was sore distressed when he learned that a leaf on the tree of the Kaianides was
thus faded. And he said-
"Kai Kawous is void of knowledge, and the sun must revolve yet oft above his head
before he learneth the wisdom of the great. For unto true wisdom alone is it given to
know when to strike and when to tarry. But he is like unto a child who deemeth the world
will tremble if it but upraiseth its sword. And but for my duty unto God and unto Iran, I
would abandon him to his folly."
Then Zal revolved in his mind this trouble even until the sun was set. But when the glory
of the world was arisen yet again, he girt his sash about his loins, and took in his hand the
mace of might and set forth unto the throne of the Shah. And he craved for audience, and
prostrated himself before the King. And when Kai Kawous permitted it, Zal opened his
mouth and spake words of wisdom. And he said-
"O King powerful and great, word is come unto me, even unto Seistan, of thy device. But
it seemeth unto me that mine ears have not heard aright. For Mazanderan is the abode of
Deevs, and no man can overcome their skill. Give not, therefore, unto the wind thy men
and thy treasures. Turn, I pray thee, from this scheme, neither plant in the garden of Iran
the tree of folly, whose leaves are curses and whose fruits are evil, for thus did not the
kings before thee."
Then Kai Kawous, when he had listened, said, "I despise not thy counsel, nor do I bid
thee hold thy peace, for thou art a pillar unto Iran. But neither shall thy words divert me
from my desire, and Mazanderan shall pay tribute to my hands. For thou considerest not
how that my heart is bolder and my might more great than that of my fathers before me. I
go, therefore, and the kingdom will I leave between thy hands and those of Rostam thy
When Zal heard these words, and beheld that Kai Kawous was firm in his purpose, he
ceased from opposing. Then he bowed him unto the dust, and spake, saying-
"O Shah, it is thine to command, and whether it be just or unjust, thy servants serve thee
even unto death. I have spoken the words that weighed upon my heart. Three things it is
not given to do, even unto a king: to elude death, to bind up the eye of destiny, to live
without nurture. Mayst thou never repent thee of thy resolve, mayst thou never regret my
counsels in the hour of danger, may the might of the Shah shine for ever!"
And when he had ended, Zal went out of the presence of the King, and he was right
sorrowful, and the nobles mourned with him when they learned how nought had been
Then, ere the day succeeded unto the night, Kai Kawous set forth with his horsemen unto
Now when they were come within its borders, Kai Kawous commanded Gew that he
should choose forth a strong band from out their midst, and go before the city with
mighty clubs. And he bade him destroy the dwellers of the town, neither should they
spare the women nor the young, because that they too were the children of Deevs. And
Gew did as the Shah commanded. Then clubs rained down upon the people like to hail,
and the city that resembled a garden was changed into a desert, and all the inmates
thereof perished at the hands of the enemy, neither did they find any mercy in their eyes.
But when the men of Iran had ceased from killing, they sent news thereof unto the Shah,
and told him of the riches that were hidden within the palaces.
And Kai Kawous said, "Blessed be he who sang to me of the glories of this realm."
And he marched after Gew with the rest of his host, and seven days did they never cease
from plundering, neither could they be sated with the gold and jewels that they found.
But on the eighth the tidings of their deeds pierced unto the King of Mazanderan, and his
heart was heavy with care. He therefore sent a messenger unto the mountains where
dwelt the White Deev, who was powerful and strong, and he entreated him that he would
come unto his succour, or verily the land would perish under the feet of Iran.
The White Deev, when he heard the message, uprose like to a mountain in his strength,
and he said-
"Let not the King of Mazanderan be troubled, for surely the hosts of Iran shall vanish at
my approach."
Then, when the night was fallen, he spread a dark cloud, heavy and thick, over the land,
and no light could pierce it, neither could fires be seen across its midst, and you would
have said the world was steeped in pitch. And the army of Iran was wrapt in a tent of
blackness. Then the Deev caused it to rain stones and javelins, and the Iranians could not
behold their source, neither could they defend themselves or stand against the arts of
magic. And they wandered astray in their distress, and no man could find his fellow, and
their hearts were angered against the Shah for this emprise. But when the morning was
come, and glory was arisen upon the world, they could not see it, for the light of their
eyes was gone out. And Kai Kawous too was blinded, and he wept sore, and the whole
army wept with him in their anguish. And the Shah cried in his distress-
"O Zal, O my Pehliva wise and great, wherefore did I shut mine ear unto thy voice!"
And the army echoed his words in their hearts, but their lips were silent for boundless
Then the White Deev spake unto Kai Kawous with a voice of thunder, and he said-
"O King, thou hast been struck like to a rotten trunk, on thine own head alone resteth this
destruction, for thou hast attained unto Mazanderan, and entered the land after which thy
heart desired."
And he bade his legion guard the Shah and all his army, and he withheld from them wine
and good cheer, and gave unto them but enough for sustenance, for he desired not that
they should die, but gloried in their wretchedness. Then when he had so done he sent
tidings thereof unto the King of Mazanderan. And he bade the King take back the booty
and rejoice in the defeat of Iran. And he counselled him that he suffer not Kai Kawous to
perish, that he might learn to know good fortune from ill. And the White Deev bade the
King sing praises unto Ahriman the mighty, who had sent him unto his aid. And having
spoken thus he returned him unto his home in the mountains, but the King of Mazanderan
rejoiced in his spoils.
Now Kai Kawous remained in the land after which he had yearned, and his heart was
heavy with bitterness. And the eyes of his soul were opened, and he cried continually,
"This fault is mine;" and he cast about in his spirit how he might release his host from the
hands of the Deevs. But the Deevs guarded him straitly, and he could send no messenger
into Iran. Howbeit it came about that a messenger escaped their borders, and bore unto
Zal the writing of Kai Kawous the afflicted. And Kai Kawous bowed himself in his spirit
unto the dust before Zal, and he wrote to him all that was come about, and how that he
and his host were blind and captive, and he poured forth his repentance, and he said-
"I have sought what the foolish seek, and found what they find. And if thou wilt not gird
thy loins to succour me, I perish indeed."
When Zal heard this message he gnawed his hands in vexation. Then he called before
him Rostam, and said-
"The hour is come to saddle Rakhsh and to avenge the world with thy sword. As for me, I
number two hundred years, and have no longer the strength to fight with Deevs. But thou
art young and mighty. Cast about thee, therefore, thy leopard-skin and deliver Iran from
And Rostam said, "My sword is ready, and I will go hence as thou dost bid. Yet of old, O
my father, the mighty did not go forth of their own will to fight the powers of hell, neither
doth one who is not weary of this world go into the mouth of a hungry lion. But if God be
with me I shall overcome the Deevs and gird our army anew with the sashes of might.
And I pray that His blessing rest upon me."
Then Zal, when he heard these noble words, blessed his son, and prayed that Ormuzd too
would give him his blessing. And he bestowed on him wise counsel, and told him how he
could come unto the land of Mazanderan. And he said-
"Two roads lead unto this kingdom, and both are hard and fraught with danger. The one
taken of Kai Kawous is the safest, but it is long, and it behoveth vengeance to be fleet.
Choose therefore, I charge thee, the shorter road, though it be beset with baleful things,
and may Ormuzd return thee safe unto mine arms."
When Rostam had drunk in the counsels of his father he seated him on Rakhsh the fleet
of foot. But when he would have departed, his mother came out before him, and she
made great wailing that Rostam should go before the evil Deevs. And she would have
hindered him, but Rostam suffered her not. He comforted her with his voice, and bade her
be of good cheer. He showed unto her how that he had not of his own choice chosen this
adventure. And he bade her rest her hopes in God. And when he had done speaking she
let him depart, but the heart of Rudabeh yearned after her son, and her eyes were red with
weeping many days.
In the meanwhile the young hero of the world sped forth to do his duty unto the Shah.
And Rakhsh caused the ground to vanish under his feet, and in twelve hours was a two
days' journey accomplished. Then when eve was fallen, Rostam ensnared a wild ass, and
made a fire and roasted it for his meal. And when he had done he released Rakhsh from
the bonds of his saddle and prepared for himself a couch among the reeds, neither was he
afraid of wild beasts or of Deevs.
But in the reeds was hidden the lair of a fierce lion, and the lion when he returned unto
his haunt beheld the tall man and the horse that watched beside him. And he rejoiced at
the fat meal that he held was in store. And he thought within his mind, "I will first subdue
the steed, then the rider will be an easy prey." And he fell upon Rakhsh. But Rakhsh
defended himself mightily. With his hoofs did he trample upon the forehead of the lion,
with his sharp teeth did he tear his skin, and he trampled upon him till he died. But the
noise of the struggle had wakened Rostam, and when he beheld the body of the lion, and
Rakhsh standing beside it, he knew what had been done. Then he opened his mouth in
reproof, and said-
"O thoughtless steed, who bade thee combat lions? Wherefore didst thou not wake me?
for if thou hadst been overcome, who, I pray thee, could have borne my weight into
Mazanderan, whither I must hie me to deliver the Shah?
When he had thus spoken he turned again to sleep, but Rakhsh was sorrowful and
downcast in his spirit.
Now when morn was come they set forth once again upon their travels. And all day long
they passed through a desert, and the pitiless sun burned down upon their heads, and the
sand was living fire, and the steed and rider were like to perish of thirst, and nowhere
could Rostam find the traces of water. So he made him ready to die, and commended his
soul unto God, and prayed Him to remember Kai Kawous, His servant, nor abandon him
in his distress. Then he laid him down to await the end. But lo! when he thought it was
come, there passed before him a ram, well nourished and fat. And Rostam said unto
"Surely the watering-place of this beast cannot be distant."
Then he roused him and led Rakhsh and followed in the footsteps of the ram, and behold,
it led him unto a spring of water, cool and clear. And Rostam drank thereof with greed,
and he gave unto Rakhsh, and bathed him in the waters, and when they were both
refreshed he sought for the traces of the ram. And they were nowhere to be found. Then
Rostam knew that Ormuzd had wrought a wonder for his sake, and he fell upon the
ground and lifted up his soul in thankfulness. Then when he had caught and eaten a wild
ass, he laid him down to slumber. And he spake and said unto Rakhsh-
"I charge thee, O my steed, that thou seek no strife during my slumbers. If an enemy
cometh before thee, come unto me and neigh beside mine ear, and verily I will waken and
come to thine aid."
And Rakhsh listened, and when he saw that Rostam slumbered, he gambolled and grazed
beside him. But when some watches of the night were spent, there came forth an angry
dragon whose home was in this spot, a dragon fierce and fiery, whom even the Deevs
dared not encounter. And when he beheld Rakhsh and Rostam he was astonished that a
man should slumber softly beside his lair. And he came towards them with his breath of
poison. Then Rakhsh, when he saw it, stamped his hoofs upon the ground and beat the air
with his tail, so that the noise thereof resounded wide, and Rostam was awakened with
the din. And he was angry with Rakhsh that he had wakened him, for the dragon had
vanished, and he could see no cause for fear. And he said-
"It is thy fault, O unkind steed, that slumber is fled from me."
Then he turned him to sleep once again. But when the dragon saw it he came forth once
more, and once more did Rakhsh wake Rostam, and once more did the dragon vanish ere
the eyes of Rostam were opened. And when Rakhsh had thus awakened the hero yet three
times, Rostam was beside him with anger, and wisdom departed from its dwelling. He
piled reproaches upon the horse, and hurled bitter words upon his head, and he sware that
if he acted thus again he would slay him with his arm of power, and would wander on
foot unto Mazanderan. And he said-
"I bade thee call upon me if dangers menaced, but thou sufferest me not to slumber when
all is well."
Then Rostam drew his leopard-skin about him and laid him down again to sleep. But
Rakhsh was pained in his spirit, and pawed the ground in his vexation. Then the dragon
came forth yet again, and was about to fall upon Rakhsh, and the steed was sore
distressed how he should act. But he took courage and came beside Rostam once more,
and stamped upon the ground and neighed and woke him. And Rostam sprang up in fury,
but this time it was given unto him to behold the dragon, and he knew that Rakhsh had
done that which was right. And he drew his armour about him and unsheathed his sword,
and came forth to meet the fiery beast. Then the dragon said-
"What is thy name, and who art thou that dost venture against me? for verily the woman
that bore thee shall weep."
And the Pehliva answered-
"I am Rostam, of the seed of Zal, and in myself I am an host, and none can withstand my
But the dragon laughed at his words, and held them to be vain boasting. Then he fell
upon Rostam, the son of Zal, and he wound himself about his body, and would have
crushed him with his writhings, and you would have said that the end of this hero was
come. But Rakhsh, when he beheld the straits of his master, sprang upon the dragon from
the rear, and he tore him as he had torn the lion, and Rostam pierced the beast with his
sword, and between them the world was delivered of this scourge. Then Rostam was glad,
and he praised Rakhsh, and washed him at the fountain, and gave thanks to God who had
given unto him the victory. And when he had so done he sprang into his saddle, and rode
until they were come unto the land of the magicians.
Now when evening was fallen over the land they came unto a green and shady vale, and a
brook ran through it, and cool woods clothed its sides. And beside a spring there was
spread a table, and wine and all manner of good cheer stood thereon. And Rostam, when
he saw it, loosened his saddle and bade Rakhsh graze and drink, and he seated him beside
the table and enjoyed its fare. And his spirit laughed with pleasure that he had found a
table ready dressed within the desert, for he knew not that it was the table of the
magicians, who were fled on his approach. And he ate and drank, and when he had stilled
his hunger he took up a lyre that lay beside him, and he lilted to it in his ease of heart.
And he sang-
"Rostam is the scourge of the base, Not for him were pleasures meant; Rare are his feasts
and holidays, His garden is the desert place, The battlefield his tournament".
"There the sword of Rostam cleaves Not the armour of jousting knights, But the skulls of
dragons and Deevs; Nor shall Rostam, as he believes, Ever be quit of the foes he fights".
"Cups of wine and wreaths of rose, Gardens where cool arbours stand, Fortune gave such
gifts as those Not to Rostam, but hurtling foes, Strife, and a warrior's heart and hand."
Now the song of Rostam was come to the ears of one of the witches, and she changed
herself into a damsel with a face of spring. And she came before Rostam and asked him
his name, and toyed with him, and he was pleased with her company. And he poured out
wine and handed it unto her, and bade her drink unto Ormuzd. But the magician, when
she heard the name of God, fell into a tremble and her visage changed, and Rostam
beheld her in all her vileness. Then his quick spirit knew her for what she was, and he
made a noose and caught her in his snare, and severed her in twain. And all the magicians,
when they saw it, were afraid, and none durst come forth to meet the hero. But Rostam
straightway departed from this spot.
And Rostam rode till that he was come unto a land where the sun never shineth, neither
stars lighten the blackness, and he could not see his path. So he suffered Rakhsh to lead
him at his will. And they stumbled along amid the blackness, but at the end they came out
again into the light. And Rostam beheld a land that was swathed in verdure, and fields
wherein the crops were sprouting. Then he loosened Rakhsh and bade him graze, and laid
himself down to slumber awhile.
Now Rakhsh went forth to graze in a field that had been sown, and the guardian thereof,
when he saw it, was angry, and ran unto the spot where Rostam was couched, and beat
the soles of his feet with a stick and woke him. And he flung reproaches and evil words
upon him for that his horse was broken into the pastures. Then Rostam was angry, and
fell upon the man, and took him by the ears and tore them from his body. And the man
fled, howling in his agony, and came before Aulad, the ruler of the land, and laid his
plaints before him. And Aulad also was angry, and went forth to seek Rostam, and
demand his name and mission, and wherefore he had thus disturbed their peace. And
Aulad sware that he would destroy him for this deed.
Then Rostam answered-
"I am the thunder-cloud that sendeth forth lightnings, and none can stand before my
strength. But if thou shouldest hear my name, the blood would stand still within thy veins.
Thou art come against me with an host, see therefore how I shall scatter them like the
And when he had thus spoken, Rostam fell upon the warriors of Aulad, and he beat them
down before him, and their heads fell under the blows of his sword of death. And the
army was routed at the hands of one man. Now Aulad, when he saw it, wept and fled; but
Rostam pursued him, and threw his noose about him, and caught him in the snare. And
the world became dark unto Aulad. Then Rostam bound him, and threw him on the
ground, and said-
"If thou speak unto me that which is true, verily I will release thee; and when I shall have
overcome the Deevs, I will give the land of Mazanderan into thy hands. Tell me,
therefore, where dwelleth the White Deev, and where may I find the Shah and his men,
and how can I deliver them from bondage?"
Then Aulad answered and told Rostam how it was an hundred farsangs unto the spot
where Kai Kawous groaned in his bondage, and how it was yet another hundred unto the
mountain pass where dwelt the Deev. And he told him how the passes were guarded by
lions and magicians and mighty men, and how none had ever pierced thereunto. And he
counselled him to desist from this quest.
But Rostam smiled, and said, "Be thou my guide, and thou wilt behold an elephant
overcome the might of evil."
And when he had thus spoken he sprang upon Rakhsh, and Aulad in his bonds ran after
him, and they sped like the wind, neither did they halt by night or day till they were come
unto the spot where Kai Kawous had been smitten by the Deevs. And when they were
come there they could behold the watch-fires of Mazanderan. Then Rostam laid him
down to sleep, and he tied Aulad unto a tree that he should not escape him. But when the
sun was risen he laid the mace of Saum before his saddle, and rode with gladness towards
the city of the Deevs.
Now when Rostam was come nigh unto the tents of Arzang, that led the army of
Mazanderan, he uttered a cry that rent the mountains. And the cry brought forth Arzang
from out his tent, and when he perceived Rostam he ran at him, and would have thrown
him down. But Rostam sprang upon Arzang, and he seemed an insect in his grasp. And
he overcame him, and parted his head from his body, and hung it upon his saddlebow in
triumph. And fear came upon the army of Mazanderan when they saw it, and they fled in
faintness of spirit, and so great was the confusion that none beheld whither he bent his
steps. And fathers fell upon sons, and brothers upon brothers, and dismay was spread
throughout the land.
Then Rostam loosened the bonds of Aulad, and bade him lead him into the city where
Kai Kawous pined in his bondage. And Aulad led him. Now when they neared the city,
Rakhsh neighed so loud that the sound pierced even unto the spot where Kai Kawous was
hidden. And the Shah, when he heard it, rejoiced, for he knew that succour was come.
And he told it unto his comrades. But they refused to listen unto these words, and deemed
that grief had distraught his wits. In vain therefore did Kai Kawous insist unto them that
his ears had heard the voice of Rakhsh. But not long did he combat their unbelief, for
presently there came before him Tehemten, the stout of limb, and when the nobles heard
his voice and his step they repented them of their doubts. And Kai Kawous embraced
Rostam and blessed him, and questioned him of his journey and of Zal. Then he said-
"O my Pehliva, we may no longer waste the moments with sweet words. I must send thee
forth yet again to battle. For when the White Deev shall learn that Arzang is defeated, he
will come forth from out his mountain fastness, and bring with him the whole multitude
of evil ones, and even thy might will not stand before them. Go therefore unto the Seven
Mountains, and conquer the White Deev ere the tidings reach him of thy coming. Unto
thee alone can Iran look for her succour, for I cannot aid thee, neither can my warriors
assist thee with their arms, for our eyes are filled with darkness, and their light is gone
out. Yet I grieve to send thee into this emprise alone, for I have heard it spoken that the
dwelling of the Deevs is a spot of fear and terror, but alas! my grief is of no avail. And I
conjure thee, slay the Deev, and bring unto me the blood of his heart, for a Mubid hath
revealed unto me that only by this blood can our sight be restored. And go forth now, my
son, and may Ormuzd be gracious unto thee, and may the tree of gladness sprout again
for Iran!
Then Rostam did as Kai Kawous commanded, and he rode forth, and Aulad went beside
him to lead him in the way. And when they had passed the Seven Mountains and were
come unto the gates of hell, Rostam spake unto Aulad, and said-
"Thou hast ever led me aright, and all that thou hast spoken I have surely found it true.
Tell me, therefore, now how I shall vanquish the Deevs."
And Aulad said, "Tarry, I counsel thee, till that the sun be high in the heavens. For when
it beateth fierce upon the earth the Deevs are wont to lay them down to slumber, and
when they are drunk with sleep they shall fall an easy prey into thine hands."
Then Rostam did as Aulad bade him, and he halted by the roadside, and he bound Aulad
from head to foot in his snare, and he seated himself upon the ends. But when the sun was
high he drew forth his sword from out its sheath, and shouted loud his name, and flung it
among the Deevs like to a thunderbolt. Then before they were well awakened from their
sleep, he threw himself upon them, and none could resist him, and he scattered their
heads with his sword. And when he had dispersed the guards he came unto the lair of the
White Deev.
Then Rostam stepped within the rocky tomb wherein the Deev was hidden, and the air
was murky and heavy with evil odours, and the Pehliva could not see his path. But he
went on void of fear, though the spot was fearful and dangers lurked in its sides. And
when he was come unto the end of the cave he found a great mass like to a mountain, and
it was the Deev in his midday slumber. Then Rostam woke him, and the Deev was
astonished at his daring, and sprang at the hero, and threw a great stone like a small
mountain upon him. And Rostam's heart trembled, and he said unto himself, "If I escape
to-day, I shall live for ever." And he fell on the Deev, and they struggled hot and sore,
and the Deev tore Rostam, but Rostam defended himself, and they wrestled with force till
that the blood and sweat ran down in rivers from their bodies. Then Rostam prayed to
God, and God heard him and gave him strength, and in the end Rostam overcame the
White Deev and slew him. And he severed his head from his trunk, and cut his heart from
out his midst.
Then Rostam returned him unto Aulad and told him what he had done. And Aulad said-
"O brave lion, who hast vanquished the world with thy sword, release now, I pray thee,
this thy servant, for thy snare is entered into my flesh. And suffer that I recall to thee how
that thou hast promised to me a recompense, and surely thou wilt fulfil thy word."
And Rostam answered and said-
"Ay, verily; but I have yet much to do ere that my mission be ended. For I have still to
conquer the King of Mazanderan; but when these things shall be accomplished, in truth I
will fulfil my words unto thee."
Then he bade Aulad follow him, and they retraced their steps until they were come unto
the spot where Kai Kawous was held in bondage. And when Kai Kawous learned that
Rostam was returned with victory upon his brow he shouted for joy, and all the host
shouted with him, and they could not contain themselves for happiness. And they called
down the blessings of Heaven upon the head of Rostam. But when the hero came before
them, he took of the blood of the White Deev and poured it into their eyes, and the eyes
of Kai Kawous and his men were opened, and they once again beheld the glory of the day.
Then they swept the ground around them with fire, with swords they overcame their
gaolers. But when they had finished, Kai Kawous bade them desist from further
Then Kai Kawous wrote a letter unto the King of Mazanderan, and he counselled him
that he should conclude a peace. And he related to him how that his mainstay was broken,
for Rostam had overcome Arzang and slain the White Deev. And he said that Rostam
would slay him also if he should not submit unto Iran and pay tribute to its Shah. Then
Kai Kawous sent a messenger with this writing unto the King of Mazanderan.
Now the King, when he had read the letter, and learned how that Arzang and the White
Deev and all his train were slain, was sore troubled, and he paled in his spirit, and it
seemed to him that the sun of his glory was about to set. Howbeit he suffered not the
messenger to behold his distress, but wrote haughty words unto Kai Kawous, and dared
him to come forth to meet him. And he boasted of his might and reproached Kai Kawous
with his folly. And he threatened that he would raze Iran unto the dust.
When Kai Kawous had read this answer he was wroth, and his nobles with him. And
Rostam spake and said-
"Permit me, O my Shah, that I go forth before the King of Mazanderan, and intrust unto
me yet another writing."
Then Kai Kawous sent for a scribe, and the scribe cut a reed like to the point of an arrow,
and he wrote with it the words that Kai Kawous dictated. And Kai Kawous made not
many words. He bade the King lay aside his arrogance, and he warned him of the fate
that would await his disobedience, and he said unto him that if he listened not he might
hang his severed head on the walls of his own city. Then he signed the letter with his
royal seal, and Rostam bore it forth from the camp.
Now when the King of Mazanderan learned that Kai Kawous sent him yet another
messenger, he bade the flower of his army go forth to meet him. And Rostam, when he
saw them come near, laid hold upon a tree of great stature and spreading branches that
grew by the wayside. And he uprooted the tree from the earth, and brandished it in his
hands like to a javelin. And those that saw it were amazed at his strength. Then Rostam,
when he beheld their awe, flung the tree among them, and many a brave man was
dismounted by this mace. Then there stepped forth from the midst of the host one of the
giants of Mazanderan, and he begged that he might grasp Rostam by the hand. And when
he had hold of the hand of the Pehliva he pressed it with all his might, for he thought that
he could wring off this hand of valour. But Rostam smiled at the feebleness of his grasp,
and he grasped him in return, and the giant grew pale, and the veins started forth upon his
Then one set off to tell the King what he had seen. And the King sent forth his doughtiest
knight, and bade him retrieve the honour of their strength. And Kalahour the knight said-
"Verily so will I do, and I will force the tears of pain from the eyes of this messenger."
And he came towards Rostam and wrung his hand, and his gripe was like to a vise, and
Rostam felt the pang thereof, and he winced in his suffering. But he would not let the
men of Mazanderan glory in his triumph. He took the hand of Kalahour in his own, and
grasped it and crushed it till that the blood issued from its veins and the nails fell from off
its fingers. Then Kalahour turned him and went before the Shah and showed unto him his
hand. And he counselled him to make peace with the land that could send forth such
messengers whose might none could withstand. But the King was loath to sue for peace,
and he commanded that the messenger be brought before him.
Then the elephant-bodied stood before the King of Mazanderan. And the King questioned
him of his journey, and of Kai Kawous, and of the road that he was come. And while he
questioned he took muster of him with his eyes, and when he had done speaking he cried-
"Surely thou art Rostam, for thou hast the arms and breast of a Pehliva."
But Rostam replied, "Not so, I am but a slave who is not held worthy to serve even in his
train; for he is a Pehliva great and strong, whose like the earth hath not seen." Then he
handed unto the King the writing of his master. But when the King had read it he was
wild with anger, and he said to Rostam-
"Surely he that hath sent thee is mad that he addresseth such words unto me. For if he be
master in Iran, I am lord of Mazanderan, and never shall he call me his vassal. And verily
it was his own overweening that let him fall between my hands, yet hath he learned no
lesson from his disasters, but deemeth he can crush me with haughty words. Go, say unto
him that the King of Mazanderan will meet him in battle, and verily his pride shall learn
to know humility."
And when the King had thus spoken he dismissed Rostam from his presence, but he
would have had him bear forth rich gifts. But Rostam would not take them, for he too
was angered, and he spurred him unto Kai Kawous with a heart hungry for vengeance.
And Kai Kawous made ready his army, and the King of Mazanderan did likewise. And
they marched forth unto the meeting-place, and the earth groaned under the feet of the
war-elephants. And for seven days did the battle rage fast and furious, and all the earth
was darkened with the black dust; and the fire of swords and maces flashed through the
blackness like to lightning from a thundercloud. And the screams of the Deevs, and the
shouts of the warriors, and the clanging of the trumpets, and the beating of drums, and the
neighing of horses, and the groans of the dying made the earth hideous with noise. And
the blood of the brave turned the plain into a lake, and it was a combat such as none hath
seen the like. But victory leaned to neither side. Then on the eighth day Kai Kawous took
from his head the crown of the Kaianides and bowed him in the dust before Ormuzd. And
he prayed and said-
"O Lord of earth, incline thine ear unto my voice, and grant that I may overcome these
Deevs who rest not their faith in Thee. And I pray Thee do this not for my sake, who am
unworthy of Thy benefits, but for the sake of Iran, Thy kingdom."
Then he put the crown once more upon his head, and went out again before the army.
And all that day the hosts fought like lions, and pity and mercy were vanished from the
world, and heaven itself seemed to rain maces. But Ormuzd had heard the prayer of His
servant, and when evening was come the army of Mazanderan was faded like a flower.
Then Rostam, perceiving the King of Mazanderan, challenged him to single combat. And
the King consented, and Rostam overcame him, and raised his lance to strike him,
"Perish, O evil Deev! for thy name is struck out of the lists of those who carry high their
But when he was about to strike him, the King put forth his arts of magic, and he was
changed into a rock within sight of all the army. And Rostam was confounded thereat,
and he knew not what he should do. But Kai Kawous commanded that the rock should be
brought before his throne. So those among the army who were strong of limb meshed it
with cords and tried to raise it from the earth. But the rock resisted all their efforts and
none could move it a jot. Then Rostam, the elephant-limbed, came forward to test his
power, and he grasped the rock in his mighty fist, and he bore it in his hands across the
hills, even unto the spot that Kai Kawous had named, and all the army shouted with
amazement when they saw it.
Now when Rostam had laid down the stone at the feet of the Shah, he spake and said unto
"Issue forth, I command thee, O King of Mazanderan, or I will break thee into atoms with
my mace."
When the King heard this threat he was afraid, and came out of the stone, and stood
before Rostam in all his vileness. And Rostam took his hand and smiled and led him
before Kai Kawous, and said-
"I bring thee this piece of rock, whom fear of my blows hath brought into subjection."
Then Kai Kawous reproached the King with all the evil he had done him, and when he
had spoken he bade that the head of this wicked man should be severed from its trunk.
And it was done as Kai Kawous commanded. Then Kai Kawous gave thanks unto God,
and distributed rich gifts unto his army, to each man according to his deserts. And he
prepared a feast, and bade them rejoice and make merry with wine. And at last he called
before him Rostam, his Pehliva, and gave to him thanks, and said that but for his aid he
would not have sat again upon his throne. But Rostam said-
"Not so, O King, thy thanks are due unto Aulad, for he it was who led me aright, and
instructed me how I could vanquish the Deevs. Grant, therefore, now that I may fulfil my
promise unto him, and bestow on him the crown of Mazanderan."
When Kai Kawous heard these words he did as Rostam desired, and Aulad received the
crown and the land, and there was peace yet again in Iran. And the land rejoiced thereat,
and Kai Kawous opened the doors of his treasures, and all was well within his borders.
Then Rostam came before the Shah and prayed that he might be permitted to return unto
his father. And Kai Kawous listened to the just desires of his Pehliva, and he sent him
forth laden with rich gifts, and he could not cease from pouring treasure before him. And
he blessed him, and said-
"Mayst thou live as long as the sun and moon, and may thy heart continue steadfast,
mayst thou ever be the joy of Iran!"
Then when Rostam was departed, Kai Kawous gave himself up unto delights and to wine,
but he governed his land right gloriously. He struck the neck of care with the sword of
justice, he caused the earth to be clad with verdure, and God granted unto him His
countenance, and the hand of Ahriman could do no hurt.
Thus endeth the history of the march into Mazanderan.
7 - Kai Kawous Committeth More Follies
Whilom the fancy seized upon the Shah of Iran that he would visit his empire, and look
face to face upon his vassals, and exact their tribute. So he passed from Turan into China,
and from Mikran into Berberistan. And wheresoever he passed men did homage before
him, for the bull cannot wage battle with the lion. But it could not remain thus for ever,
and already there sprang forth thorns in the garden of roses. For while the fortunes of the
world thus prospered, a chieftain raised the standard of revolt in Egypt, and the people of
the land turned them from the gates of submission unto Iran. And there was joined unto
them the King of Hamaveran, who desired to throw off the yoke of Persia. But Kai
Kawous, when the tidings thereof came unto him, got ready his army and marched
against the rebels. And when he came before them, their army, that had seemed
invincible, was routed, and the King of Hamaveran was foremost to lay down his arms
and ask pardon of his Shah. And Kai Kawous granted his petition, and the King departed
joyously from out his presence. Then one of those who stood about the Shah said unto
"Is it known to thee, O Shah, that this King hideth behind his curtains a daughter of
beauty? It would beseem my lord that he should take this moon unto himself for wife."
And Kai Kawous answered, "Thy counsel is good, and I will therefore send messengers
unto her father, and demand of him that he give me his daughter as tribute, and to cement
the peace that hath been made between us."
When the King of Hamaveran heard this message his heart was filled with gall, and his
head was heavy with sorrow, and he murmured in his spirit that Kai Kawous, who owned
the world, should desire to take from him his chiefest treasure. And he hid not his grief
from the Shah in his answer, but he wrote also that he knew it behoved him to do the
thing that Kai Kawous desired. Then in his distress he called before him Soodabeh his
daughter, whom he loved, and he told her all his troubles, and bade her counsel him how
he should act. For he said-
"If I lose thee, the light of my life is gone out. Yet how may I stand against the Shah?"
And Soodabeh replied-
"If there be no remedy, I counsel thee to rejoice at that which cannot be changed."
Now when her father heard these words he knew that she was not afflicted concerning
that which was come about. So he sent for the envoy of Kai Kawous and assented unto
his demands, and they concluded an alliance according to the forms of the land. Then
when the King had poured gifts before the messenger, and feasted him with wine, he sent
forth an escort to bear his daughter unto the tents of the Shah. And the young moon went
forth in a litter, and she was robed in garbs of splendour, and when Kai Kawous beheld
her loveliness he was struck dumb for very joy. Then he raised Soodabeh unto the throne
beside him, and named her worthy to be his spouse. And they were glad in each other,
and rejoiced; but all was not to be well thus quickly.
For the King of Hamaveran was sore in his heart that the light of his life was gone from
him, and he cast about in his spirit how he should regain her unto himself. And when she
had been gone but seven days, he sent forth a messenger unto Kai Kawous and entreated
him that he would come and feast within his gates, so that all the land might rejoice in
their alliance.
When Soodabeh heard this message her mind misgave her, and she feared evil.
Wherefore she counselled the Shah that he should abstain from this feast. But Kai
Kawous would not listen unto the fears of Soodabeh, he would not give ear unto her
warning. Wherefore he went forth unto the city of the King of Hamaveran, and made
merry with him many days. And the King caused gifts to be rained down upon Kai
Kawous, and he flattered him, and cozened his vanity, and he made much of his men, and
he darkened their wits with fair words and sweet wine. Then when he had lulled their
fears, and caused them to forget wherefore and why and all knowledge of misfortune, he
fell upon them and bound them with strong chains, and overthrew their glories and their
thrones. And Kai Kawous did he send unto a fortress whose head touched the sky and
whose foot was planted in the ocean. Then he sent forth a strong band into the camp of
Iran, and veiled women went with them, and he charged them that they bring back
Soodabeh unto his arms.
Now when Soodabeh saw the men and the women that went with them she guessed what
was come about, and she cried aloud and tore her robes in anguish. And when they had
brought her before her father she reproved him for his treachery, and she sware that none
should part her from Kai Kawous, even though he were hidden in a tomb. Then the King
was angered when he saw that her heart was taken from him and given to the Shah, and
he bade that she be flung into the same prison as her lord. And Soodabeh was glad at his
resolve, and she went into the dungeon with a light heart, and she seated herself beside
the Shah, and served him and comforted him, and they bore the weight of captivity
After these things were come about, the Iranians, because that their Shah was held
captive, returned unto Iran much discomfited. And when the news spread that the throne
was empty many would have seized thereon. And Afrasiyab, when he learned it,
straightway forgot hunger and sleep, and marched a strong army across the border. And
he laid waste the land of Iran, and men, women, and children fell into bondage at his
hands, and the world was darkened unto the kingdom of light. Then some arose and went
before the son of Zal to crave his help in this sore need, saying unto him-
"Be thou our shield against misfortune, and deliver us from affliction, for the glory of the
Kaianides is vanished, and the land which was a paradise is one no more."
Now Rostam, when he heard the news, was grieved for the land, but he was angered also
against the Shah that he had thus once again run into danger. Yet he told the messengers
that he would seek to deliver Kai Kawous, and that when he had done so he would
remember the land of Iran. And forthwith he sent a secret messenger unto Kai Kawous, a
man subtle and wise, and caused him to say unto the Shah-
"An army cometh forth from Iran to redeem thee. Rejoice, therefore, and cast aside thy
And he also sent a writing unto the King of Hamaveran, and the writing was filled with
threats, and spake only of maces and swords and combat. And Rostam loaded the King
with reproaches because of his treachery, and he bade him prepare to meet Rostam the
When the King of Hamaveran had read this letter his head was troubled, and he defied
Rostam, and threatened him that if he came forth against him he should meet at his hands
the fate of the Shah. But Rostam only smiled when he heard this answer, and he said-
"Surely this man is foolish, or Ahriman hath filled his mind with smoke."
Then he mounted Rakhsh, and made ready to go into Hamaveran, and a vast train of
warriors went after him. And the King of Hamaveran, when he saw it sent forth his army
against him. But the army were afraid when they beheld Rostam and his might of mien,
his mace, and his strong arms and lion chest, and their hearts departed from out their
bodies, and they fled from before his sight, and returned them unto the King of
Now the King was seated in the midst of his counsellors, and when he saw the army thus
scattered before they had struck a blow, his heart misgave him, and he craved counsel of
his chiefs. Then they counselled him that he should cast about him for allies. So the King
of Hamaveran sent messengers of entreaty unto the Kings of Egypt and Berberistan, and
they listened to his prayers, and sent out a great army unto his aid. And they drew them
up against Rostam, and the armies stretched for two leagues in length, and you would
have said the handful of Rostam could not withstand their force. Yet Rostam bade his
men be not discomfited, and rest their hopes on God. Then he fell upon the armies of the
Kings like to a flame that darteth forth, and the ground was drenched with gore, and on
all sides rolled heads that were severed from their bodies; and wheresoever Rakhsh and
Rostam showed themselves, there was great havoc made in the ranks. And ere the
evening was come, the Kings of Egypt and Berberistan were his captives; and when the
sun was set, the King of Hamaveran knew that a day of ill fortune was ended. So he sent
forth to crave mercy at the hands of the Pehliva. And Rostam listened to his voice, and
said that he would stay his hand if the King would restore unto him Kai Kawous, and the
men and treasures that were his. Then the King of Hamaveran granted the just requests of
Rostam. So Kai Kawous was led forth from his prison, and Soodabeh came with him.
And when they beheld him, the King of Hamaveran and his allies declared their
allegiance unto him, and they marched with him into Iran to go out against Afrasiyab.
And Soodabeh went with the army in a litter clothed with fair stuffs, and encrusted with
wood of aloes. And she was veiled that none might behold her beauty, and she went with
the men like to the sun when he marcheth behind a cloud.
Now when Kai Kawous was come home again unto his land, he sent a writing unto
Afrasiyab. And he said-
"Quit, I command thee, the land of Iran, nor seek to enlarge thyself at my cost. For
knowest thou not that Iran is mine, and that the world pertaineth unto me?"
But Afrasiyab answered, "The words which thou dost write are not becoming unto a man
such as thou, who didst covet Mazanderan and the countries round about. If thou wert
satisfied with Iran, wherefore didst thou venture afield? And I say unto thee, Iran is mine,
because of Tur my forefather, and because I subdued it under my hand."
When Kai Kawous had heard these words he knew that Afrasiyab would not yield save
unto force. So he drew up his army into array, and they marched out to meet the King of
Turan. And Afrasiyab met them with a great host, and the sound of drums and cymbals
filled the air. And great was the strife and bloody, but Rostam broke the force of Turan,
and the fortunes of its army were laid to rest upon the field of battle. And Afrasiyab,
when he beheld it, was discomfited, and his spirit boiled over like to new wine that
fermenteth. And he mourned over his army and the warriors that he had trained, and he
conjured those that remained to make yet another onslaught, and he spake fair promises
unto them if they would deliver unto his hands Rostam, the Pehliva. And he said-
"Whoever shall bring him alive before me, I will give unto him a kingdom and an
umbrella, and the hand of my daughter in marriage."
And the Turks, when they heard these words, girded them yet again for resistance. But it
availed them nought, for the Iranians were mightier than they, and they watered the earth
with their blood until the ground was like a rose. And the fortunes of the Turks were as a
light put out, and Afrasiyab fled before the face of Rostam, and the remnant of his army
went after him.
Then Kai Kawous seated himself once more upon his throne, and men were glad that
there was peace. And the Shah opened the doors of justice and splendour, and all men did
that which was right, and the wolf turned him away from the lamb, and there was
gladness through all the length of Iran. And the Shah gave thanks unto Rostam that he
had aided him yet again, and he named him Jahani Pehliva, which being interpreted
meaneth the champion of the world, and he called him the source of his happiness. Then
he busied himself with building mighty towers and palaces, and the land of Iran was
made fair at his hands, and all was well once more within its midst.
But Ahriman the wakeful was not pleased thereat, and he pondered how he could once
again arouse the ambition of the Shah. So he held counsel with his Deevs how they might
turn the heart of Kai Kawous from the right path. And one among them said-
"Suffer that I go before the Shah, and I will do thy behest."
And Ahriman suffered it. Then the Deev took upon him the form of a youth, and in his
hand he held a cluster of roses, and he presented them unto the Shah, and he kissed the
ground before his feet. And when Kai Kawous had given him leave to speak he opened
his mouth and said-
"O Shah, live for ever! though such is thy might and majesty that the vault of heaven
alone should be thy throne. All the world is submissive before thee, and I can bethink me
but of one thing that is lacking unto thy glory."
Then Kai Kawous questioned him of this one thing, and the Deev said-
"It is that thou knowest not the nature of the sun and moon, nor wherefore the planets roll,
neither the secret causes that set them in motion. Thou art master of all the earth,
therefore shouldst thou not make the heavens also obedient to thy will?"
When Kai Kawous heard these words of guile his mind was dimmed, and he forgot that
man cannot mount unto the skies, and he pondered without ceasing how he could fly unto
the stars and inquire into their secrets. And he consulted many wise men in his trouble,
but none could aid him. But at last it came about that a certain man taught him how he
could perchance accomplish his designs. And Kai Kawous did according to his
instructions. He built him a framework of aloe-wood, and at the four corners thereof he
placed javelins upright, and on their points he put the flesh of goats. Then he chose out
four eagles strong of wing, and bound them unto the corners of this chariot. And when it
was done, Kai Kawous seated himself in the midst thereof with much pomp. And the
eagles, when they smelt the flesh, desired after it, and they flapped their wings and raised
themselves, and raised the framework with them. And they struggled sore, but they could
not attain unto the meat; but ever as they struggled they bore aloft with them Kai Kawous
and the throne whereon he sat. And so long as their hunger lasted, they strove after the
prey. But at length their strength would hold no longer, and they desisted from the
attempt. And behold! as they desisted the fabric fell back to earth, and the shock thereof
was great. And but for Ormuzd Kai Kawous would have perished in the presumption of
his spirit.
Now the eagles had borne the Shah even unto the desert of Cathay, and there was no man
to succour him, and he suffered from the pangs of hunger, and there was nothing to
assuage his longing, neither could his thirst be stilled. And he was alone, and sorrowful
and shamed in his soul that he had yet again brought derision upon Iran. And he prayed to
God in his trouble, and entreated pardon for his sins.
While Kai Kawous thus strove with repentance, Rostam learned tidings of him, and he set
out with an army to seek him. And when he had found him he gave rein unto his anger,
and he rebuked him for his follies, and he said-
"Hath the world seen the like of this man? Hath a more foolish head sat upon the throne
of Iran? Ye would say there were no brains within this skull, or that not one of its
thoughts was good. Kai Kawous is like a thing that is possessed, and every wind beareth
him away. Thrice hast thou now fallen into mishap, and who can tell whether thy spirit
hath yet learned wisdom? And it will be a reproach unto Iran all her days that a king
puffed up with idle pride was seated upon her throne, a man who deemed in his folly that
he could mount unto the skies, and visit the sun and moon, and count the stars one by one.
I entreat of thee to bethink thee of thy forefathers, and follow in their steps, and rule the
land in equity, neither rush after these mad adventures."
When Kai Kawous had listened to the bitter words spoken by Rostam, he was bowed
down in his spirit and ashamed before him in his soul. And when at last he opened his
mouth it was to utter words of humility. And he said unto Rostam-
"Surely that which thou speakest, it is true."
Then he suffered himself to be led back unto his palace, and many days and nights did he
lie in the dust before God, and it was long before he held him worthy to mount again
upon his throne. But when he deemed that God had forgiven him, he seated him upon it
once again. In humility did he mount it, and he filled it in wisdom. And henceforth he
ruled the land with justice, and he did that which was right in the sight of God, and
bathed his face with the waters of sincerity. And kings and rulers did homage before him,
and forgot the follies that he had done, and Kai Kawous grew worthy of the throne of
light. And Iran was exalted at his hands, and power and prosperity increased within its
8 - Rostam and Sohrab
Give ear unto the combat of Sohrab against Rostam, though it be a tale replete with tears.
It came about that on a certain day Rostam arose from his couch, and his mind was filled
with forebodings. He bethought him therefore to go out to the chase. So he saddled
Rakhsh 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
Rakhsh cropped the pasture beside him.
Now while the hero was sleeping there passed by seven knights of Turan, and they beheld
Rakhsh and coveted him. So they threw their cords at him to ensnare him. But Rakhsh,
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 Rostam 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 Rostam, 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 Rostam told
them how Rakhsh 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 Rostam 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 Rakhsh cannot be hid."
And Rostam 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 Rostam 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 Rostam'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 night?"
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 Mazanderan, 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 Rakhsh thy steed, and I will place under thy feet the land of Samengan."
Now while this moon of beauty was yet speaking, Rostam regarded her. And he saw that
she was fair, and that wisdom abode in her mind; and when he heard of Rakhsh, 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 upon Rostam.
Now Rostam, 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 Sam 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 Rostam how that
tidings of Rakhsh were come unto his ears, and how that the courser would shortly be
within the gates. And Rostam, 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 Rakhsh, and the swift-
footed bare him quickly from out of her sight. And Tahmineh was sorrowful exceedingly,
and Rostam 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
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 said-
"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 Rostam, thou art descended from the seed of Sam and
Zal, and Neriman was thy forefather. And since God made the world it hath held none
like unto Rostam, thy sire."
Then she showed to him a letter written by the Pehliva, and gave to him the gold and
jewels Rostam 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 Rostam 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
Rostam 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 Rostam, 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 Kawous from off his throne, I will give to Rostam 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
Rostam 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 Rakhsh, 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 cried,
"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 pleasure.
Meantime a certain man brought news unto Afrasiyab that Sohrab was making ready an
army to fall upon Iran, and to cast Kai Kawous 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 Hooman 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 Rostam the Pehliva, but from Rostam 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 Rostam, 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 land.
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 Hooman.
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 Rostam. 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
this land."
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 hands."
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
"Thou dost wisely to make peace with me, for verily these walls could not resist my
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 Rostam, 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 Kawous 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 Kawous 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 Rostam,
and saith he resembleth the seed of Neriman."
Then the warriors cried with one accord, "Unto Rostam alone can we look in this
And Kai Kawous 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 Rostam 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 Kawous sent forth Geew with this writing unto Zaboulistan, and bade him
neither rest nor tarry until he should stand before the face of Rostam. And he said-
"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 Geew did as the Shah commanded, and took neither food nor rest till he set foot
within the gates of Rostam. And Rostam greeted him kindly, and asked him of his
mission; and when he had read the writing of the Shah, he questioned Geew 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 Rostam bade his cooks make ready a banquet, and he feasted Geew, and troubled
his head with wine, and caused him to forget cares and time. But when morn was come
Geew remembered the commands of the Shah that he tarry not, but return with all speed,
and he spake thereof to Rostam, and prayed him to make known his resolve. But Rostam
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 Sam 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 Geew uprose with resolve, and came before Rostam girt for departure.
And he said-
"It behoveth me to return, O Pehliva, for I bethink me how Kai Kawous 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 behest."
Then Rostam said, "Fear not, for none on earth dare be angered with me."
But he did as Geew desired, and made ready his army, and saddled Rakhsh, 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 Rostam. And when they were come in Rostam gat him from
Rakhsh and hastened into the presence of his lord. But Kai Kawous, when he beheld him,
was angry, and spake not, and his brows were knit with fury; and when Rostam had done
obeisance before him, he unlocked the doors of his mouth, and words of folly escaped his
lips. And he said-
"Who is Rostam, 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
When he heard these words Geew trembled in his heart, but he said, "Dost thou put forth
thy hand against Rostam?"
And the Shah when he heard it was beside himself, and he cried with a loud voice that
Geew 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
Rostam broke from his grasp and stood before Kai Kawous, and all the nobles were filled
with fear when they saw his anger. And he flung reproaches at Kai Kawous, and he
recalled to him his follies, and the march into Mazanderan and Hamaveran, and his flight
into Heaven; and he reminded him how that but for Rostam he would not now be seated
upon the throne of light. And he bade him threaten Sohrab the Turk with his gallows, and
he said-
"I am a free man and no slave, and am servant alone unto God; and without Rostam Kai
Kawous is as nothing. And the world is subject unto me, and Rakhsh 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
Rakhsh, 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 Rostam was their
mainstay, and they knew that, bereft of his arm and counsel, they could not stand against
this Turk. And they blamed Kai Kawous, and counted over the good deeds that Rostam
had done for him, and they pondered and spake long. And in the end they resolved to
send a messenger unto Kai Kawous, and they chose from their midst Goodarz the aged,
and bade him stand before the Shah. And Goodarz did as they desired, and he spake long
and without fear, and he counted over each deed that had been done by Rostam; and he
reproached the Shah with his ingratitude, and he said how Rostam was the shepherd, and
how the flock could not be led without its leader. And Kai Kawous 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 Goodarz, and said-
"That which thou sayest, surely it is right."
And he entreated Goodarz to go forth and seek Rostam, and bid him forget the evil words
of his Shah, and bring him back to the succour of Iran. And Goodarz hastened forth to do
as Kai Kawous 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 Rostam. And when they had
found him, they prostrated themselves into the dust before him, and Goodarz told him of
his mission, and he prayed him to remember that Kai Kawous was a man devoid of
understanding, whose thoughts flowed over like to new wine that fermenteth. And he
"Though Rostam be angered against the King, yet hath the land of Iran done no wrong
that it should perish at his hands. Yet, if Rostam save it not, surely it will fall under this
But Rostam said, "My patience hath an end, and I fear none but God. What is this Kai
Kawous 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 Goodarz, full of wisdom, opened his mouth and said-
"O Pehliva! the land, when it shall learn of this, will deem that Rostam 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
Kawous spake in his empty anger, and lead us forth to battle against this Turk. For it
must not be spoken that Rostam feared to fight a beardless boy."
And Rostam listened and pondered these words in his heart, and knew that they were
good. But he said-
"Fear hath never been known of me, neither hath Rostam shunned the din of arms, and I
depart not because of Sohrab, but because that scorn and insult have been my
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
Kawous, and he strode with a proud step into his presence.
Now when the Shah beheld Rostam 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 Rostam 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 Rostam said-
"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 Kawous answered and said, "O my Pehliva, may thy days be blessed unto the
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 Rostam, 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 Hooman 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, Rostam 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 Kawous granted his request, and said that it
was worthy a Pehliva of renown. Then Rostam 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 Rostam regarded them, Zindeh
changed his seat and came nigh unto the spot where Rostam 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 Rostam 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, Rostam 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 Rostam returned him to the camp, and as he would have entered the lines he
encountered Geew, who went around to see that all was safe. And Geew, when he saw a
tall man clad in the garb of a Turk, drew his sword and held himself ready for combat.
But Rostam smiled and opened his mouth, and Geew knew his voice, and came to him
and questioned him what he did without in the darkness. And Rostam told him. Then he
went before Kai Kawous 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 Sam, 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 Goodarz 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 Rostam 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 Kawous from far Cathay, and his name is not
known unto me."
And Sohrab when he heard it was downcast, and his heart was sad that he could nowhere
discover Rostam; 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 asked-
"Who dwelleth beneath the standard with the head of a wolf?"
And Hujir said-
"It is Geew, the son of Goodarz, who dwelleth within that tent, and men call him Geew
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
Rostam, 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 Rostam, he
said that Rostam lingered in Zaboulistan, for it was the feast of roses. But Sohrab refused
to give ear unto the thought that Kai Kawous should go forth to battle without the aid of
Rostam, whose might none could match. So he said unto Hujir-
"An thou show not unto me the tents of Rostam, I will strike thy head from off thy
shoulders, and the world shall fade before thine eyes. Choose, therefore, the truth or thy
And Hujir thought within himself, "Though five score men cannot withstand Rostam
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 Rostam the Pehliva."
So he said-
"Why seekest thou to know Rostam 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
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 Rostam was their
sole support, and that his sword alone could cause the sun to weep. And Tus sped him
within the courts of Rostam. And Rostam said-
"The hardest tasks doth Kai Kawous 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 Rakhsh, 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
Now when Rostam was come before Sohrab, and beheld the youth, brave and strong,
with a breast like unto Sam, 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 Rostam, and they stepped out into it, and made them ready for single
combat. But when Sohrab would have fallen upon him, the soul of Rostam 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 Rostam 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 Rostam, the son of Zal, the son of Sam,
the son of Neriman."
But Rostam replied, "Thou errest, I am not Rostam, neither am I sprung from the race of
Neriman. Rostam is a Pehliva, but I, I am a slave, and own neither a crown nor a throne."
These words spake Rostam 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 Rostam 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 Rostam 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 Rostam
with might and smote him, and Rostam reeled beneath the stroke, and bit his lips in
agony. Then Sohrab vaunted his advantage, and-bade Rostam 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 Rostam 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 Rostam 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 Rostam went before Kai Kawous 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 Rostam, and he said how the battle had been sore, and
how his mind had misgiven him of the issue. And he spake unto Hooman, 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
Rostam, my father. For it behoveth me not to combat him. Wherefore, I beseech thee, tell
unto me how this may be."
But Hooman answered and said, "Oft have I looked upon the face of Rostam 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 the same."
These things spake Hooman 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, Rostam 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 Rostam 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 Rostam, the chosen one, the Lord of Zaboulistan, the son of
Zal, the son of Sam the hero."
But Rostam 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 Rostam 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 Rostam 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
And Sohrab listened to Rostam'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 Hooman, 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 Hooman 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 warrior."
Sohrab was abashed when he heard the words of Hooman, 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 strength."
Now while Sohrab was thus doing, Rostam 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 Rostam stood gave way under his feet, because it
had not the power to bear him. Then Rostam 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, Rostam 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 Rostam like to a mad elephant, and he cried with a voice of
"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 nought."
And Rostam, 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 Rostam 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
"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 Rostam the Pehliva, and it shall be told unto him how that Sohrab his son
perished in the quest after his face."
When Rostam 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 Rostam, that I may know that the words which thou
speakest are true? For I am Rostam 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 Rostam 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 should be."
Now when the sun was set, and Rostam 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 Rakhsh, and when they saw that he was alone they raised a wailing, for they
deemed that of a surety Rostam was perished. And they went and told Kai Kawous
thereof, and he said-
"Let Tus go forth and see if this indeed be so, and if Rostam 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 Rostam, 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 Rostam 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 Hooman. 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
Then when he had thus spoken, Rostam turned him yet again unto his son. And the
nobles went with him, and they beheld Sohrab, and heard his groans of pain. And Rostam,
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 Rostam
remembered him that Kai Kawous had a balm mighty to heal. And he prayed Goodarz go
before the Shah, and bear unto him a message of entreaty from Rostam 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 Goodarz outstripped the whirlwind in his speed to bear unto the Shah this message.
But the heart of Kai Kawous was hardened, and he remembered not the benefits he had
received from Rostam, 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 Goodarz bore back the answer of the Shah, and he said-
"The heart of Kai Kawous 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 Rostam in his grief did as Goodarz 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 Rostam 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 Pehliva."
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 Rostam
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 Rostam at their head, wherefore he knew that the wailing was not for his
son. And he came before Rostam and questioned him. And Rostam led him unto the bier
and showed unto him the youth that was like in feature and in might unto Sam 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 Rostam 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 Rostam grew like to a grave, and its courts were filled with the voice of sorrow. And
no joy would enter into the heart of Rostam, 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.
9 - Saiawosh
On a certain day it came about that Toos, Gew, Goodarz, 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 Toos and
Geew 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 Kawous 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 Kawous,
and recounted to him all that was come about. But Kai Kawous, 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 Saiawosh. And Kai Kawous 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 into destruction.
In the meantime the news that a son had been born unto the Shah spread even unto the
land of Rostam. 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 Kawous suffered it, and Rostam bare
the child unto his kingdom, and trained him in the arts of war and of the banquet. And
Saiawosh increased in might and beauty, and you would have said that the world held not
his like.
Now when Saiawosh was become strong (so that he could ensnare a lion), he came before
Rostam, 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 Rostam deemed that he spake well. So he made great preparations, and marched
unto Iran with a mighty host, and Saiawosh rode with him at their head. And the land
rejoiced when it looked on the face of Saiawosh, and there was great joy in the courts of
the King, and jewels and gold and precious things past the telling rained upon Rostam
and Saiawosh his charge. And Kai Kawous was glad when he beheld the boy, and gave
rich rewards unto Rostam; but Saiawosh 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
Then Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh, 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 Kawous that Saiawosh 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
Kawous did that which Sudaveh asked of him, and Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh resisted her
wish. And three times did Sudaveh entice him behind the curtains of the house, and three
times was Saiawosh cold unto her yearning. Then Sudaveh was wroth, and she made
complaint unto the Shah, and she slandered the fair fame of Saiawosh, and she spread
evil reports of him throughout the land, and she inflamed the heart of Kai Kawous against
his son. Now the Shah was angered beyond measure, and it availed nought unto Saiawosh
to defend himself, for Kai Kawous 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 Saiawosh had done her great
wrong, Kai Kawous 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 Kawous bade Saiawosh his son ride into the midst of the
burning mount, that he might prove his innocence. And Saiawosh did as the King
commanded, and he came before Kai Kawous, 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
Saiawosh, and she held her eyes fastened upon the pyre. But the nobles gazed on the face
of Kai Kawous, and their mouths were filled with execrations, and their lips trembled
with wrath at this deed.
And Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh rode till he came before the Shah, and then he got him off his
horse, and did homage before his father. And when Kai Kawous 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 Saiawosh beside him on the throne, and asked his
forgiveness for that which was come to pass. And Saiawosh granted it. Then Kai Kawous
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 Kawous 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 Saiawosh, 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 Saiawosh, when he
learned it, was grieved, for he knew that the woman was beloved of his father. And he
went before Kai Kawous, and craved her pardon. And Kai Kawous granted it with
gladness, for his heart yearned after Sudaveh. So Saiawosh 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 Kawous 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 Saiawosh, 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 Kawous 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 Kawous,
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 Kawous how twice already he had endangered his
kingdom. But Kai Kawous 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 Saiawosh, 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 Kawous 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 Kawous
listened to his words with gladness, and assented to his desires. Then messengers were
sent unto Rostam to bid him go forth to battle with his charge and guard him. And Kai
Kawous said unto his Pehliva-
"If thou watchest over him, I can slumber; but if thou reposest, then doth it beseem me to
And Rostam answered and said, "O King, I am thy servant, and it behoveth me to do thy
will. As for Saiawosh, 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 Kawous, 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 Kawous returned him unto his house, and Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh called before him a scribe, and
wrote a letter, perfumed with musk, unto Kai Kawous 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 Kawous, 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 spring.
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 Afrasiyab said-
"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 Kawous 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 Saiawosh 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
Kawous, 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 Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh, and will bind up with gold the eye of war."
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 Saiawosh. 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 borders."
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 Saiawosh, the young King marvelled
thereat; and he took counsel with Rostam how they should act, for he trusted not in the
words of Afrasiyab, and he deemed that poison was hidden under these flowers. And
Rostam 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 Rostam said, and the sounds of revelry
were abroad, and Gersiwaz rejoiced in the presence of Saiawosh. But on the eighth day
Gersiwaz presented himself before Saiawosh in audience, and demanded a reply. And
Saiawosh 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 thy words."
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,
Saiawosh will deny belief unto my words, and the evils foretold will fall upon me."
So he chose out from among his army men allied to him by blood, and he sent them forth
unto Saiawosh. 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 Rostam beheld the warriors, and that Afrasiyab had spoken that which was
true, he suffered Gersiwaz to depart; and he held counsel with Saiawosh how they should
acquaint Kai Kawous with that which was come to pass, for Saiawosh said-
"If Kai Kawous desire vengeance rather than peace, he will be angered and commit a
deed of folly. Who shall bear unto him these tidings?"
And Rostam said, "Suffer that I go forth to tell them unto Kai Kawous, for verily he will
listen unto that which I shall speak, and honour will fall upon Saiawosh for this
Wherefore Rostam 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 Saiawosh that was quick to act and quick to refrain, and he
craved the Shah to confirm what they had done. But Kai Kawous was angered when he
heard it, and he said that Saiawosh had done like to an infant. And he loaded reproaches
upon Rostam, 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 Rostam that he turn him back unto Balkh, and say unto Saiawosh that he should
destroy these hostages of Turan, and that he should fall again upon Afrasiyab, nor cease
from fighting. But Rostam, 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
Saiawosh will not break his oath unto Afrasiyab, neither will he destroy these men of
Turan that were delivered into his hands."
When Kai Kawous heard his speech his anger was kindled, and he upbraided Rostam,
and said that his evil counsels had caused Saiawosh to swerve from the straight path; and
he taunted him and bade him go back unto Seistan, and he said that Toos should go forth
as Pehliva unto his son. Then Rostam 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 Kawous sent Toos unto the army at his borders, and he bade him speak
his desires unto Saiawosh his son.
Now Saiawosh, 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 perdition."
Then he called for Bahram and Zengueh, and confided to them his troubles. And he said
how that Kai Kawous 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 Kawous 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 Kawous, and where I may not know
of his woeful deeds."
And Zengueh set forth and did as Saiawosh 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
Kawous, 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
Kawous 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 Saiawosh. 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 Kawous. 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 Saiawosh, 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 Kawous, 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
Toos 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 Toos arrived and learned what was come to pass, he was confounded; and
when tidings thereof reached Kai Kawous, he was struck down with dismay. He cried out
against Afrasiyab, and against Saiawosh his son, and his anger was kindled. Yet he
refrained from combat, and his mouth was silent of war.
In the meantime Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh,
and gave him welcome. And he told him how Afrasiyab yearned to look upon his face,
and he said-
"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 Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh, and he took him by the hand
and seated him beside him on the throne. And he turned to Piran, and said-
"Kai Kawous 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 Saiawosh, 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 Saiawosh showed his prowess before Afrasiyab. And the sight of Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh 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
Saiawosh abode ever upon his lips. And in this wise there rolled twelve moons over their
heads, and in the end Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh 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
Now the space of one year did Saiawosh 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
Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh, 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 Saiawosh had builded, whereof the mouths of men
ran over in praises. And Afrasiyab granted his request, and bade him bear words of love
unto Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh said-
"I am ready to do the will of Afrasiyab, and the bridle of my horse is tied unto thy
Then Gersiwaz thought within him, "If Saiawosh come into the presence of Afrasiyab,
his courage and open spirit will give the lie unto my words."
So he feigned before Saiawosh 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 house."
Now Saiawosh, 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 Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh, and maligned him. And he
fed the anger of Afrasiyab, until the King commanded that the army be led forth to go
against Saiawosh his friend, and he took the lead thereof himself.
Now when the men of Turan came nigh unto the city that Saiawosh had builded,
Gersiwaz sent an envoy unto Saiawosh, saying-
"Flee, I counsel thee, for my words have availed nought, and Afrasiyab cometh forth in
enmity against thee."
When Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh, and said that he had received him vilely, and that he had slandered his
benefactor. And Saiawosh, 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 Saiawosh, 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
Saiawosh, and he bade the army fall upon his beloved. But Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh their King. And when all were slain a knight stretched out his hand
against Saiawosh, yet he slew him not, but bound him with cords, and led him before
Afrasiyab the King. And Afrasiyab commanded that Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh, 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
Then he commanded that she should be bound, and cast into a dungeon.
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 Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh, 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 sight."
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 Saiawosh, and he
repented of that which he had done.
10 - The Return of Kai Khosrow
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
Saiawosh, wherefore he shut his ear unto the evil counsellors that bade him destroy the
babe which should bring vengeance upon Turan. And he said-
"I repent me of mine evil deed unto Saiawosh, 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 unto Saiawosh."
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 Saiawosh 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 Khosrow, 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
Khosrow said-
"O thou that bearest high thy head, art thou not ashamed to press unto thee the son of a
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 Khosrow 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 Saiawosh, 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
Afrasiyab, when he had listened to these words of wile, was comforted; yet he said-
"Send Kai Khosrow 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 Khosrow replied-
"There is no game, and I have neither cords nor bow and arrows."
Then the King questioned him concerning the milk that was given of the herds. And Kai
Khosrow said-
"The tiger-cats are dangerous and have mighty claws."
Then Afrasiyab put to him yet a third question, and he asked of him-
"What is the name of thy mother?"
And Kai Khosrow 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 Khosrow 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
"Restore the boy unto his mother, and let him be reared with kindness in the city that
Saiawosh hath builded, for I behold that from him can no harm alight upon Turan."
When Piran heard these words he hastened to remove Kai Khosrow from the court, and
his heart was glad because of the danger that had passed by. So Kai Khosrow was reared
in the house of his father, and Ferangis spake unto him of Saiawosh 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 Saiawosh her lord.
In the mean season Kai Kawous had learned of the death of Saiawosh 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 Kawous clad
themselves in the garb of woe, and bare dust upon their heads in place of helmets. And
Rostam, 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 Kawous and demanded audience.
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
Rostam 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 Saiawosh! Was ever hero like unto him? And henceforward I will know
neither rest nor joy until his cruel death be avenged."
When Kai Kawous 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 Rostam were
deserved. Then Rostam, 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 Saiawosh 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 Kawous, when he learned it, trembled and was afraid, for he
dared not oppose himself unto Rostam. Then Rostam 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
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 Saiawosh, 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 Rostam, 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 Rostam 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 Rostam, and he spared him
not, because he was the best beloved son of Afrasiyab. So he gave orders that Sarkha be
slain, even as Saiawosh 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 Rostam, Pilsam, that was
brother to Piran, a warrior valiant and true, challenged Rostam unto single combat. Then
Piran sought to stay him because of his youth, but Pilsam listened not unto his counsel.
So Rostam 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 thunder-
"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 Rostam 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 goodly treasure.
Now while they were flying from the face of Rostam, Afrasiyab said unto Piran-
"Counsel me how I shall act concerning this child of Saiawosh."
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 Saiawosh, whom Afrasiyab had foully slain. And Rostam 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 Kawous was without a
guide in Iran, and how they feared lest folly might result from his deeds. So Rostam went
forth to stand beside his Shah.
Now when Afrasiyab learned that Rostam 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
Rostam come forth from Zaboulistan unto their aid.
Then it came about one night that Goodarz, 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 Goodarz-
"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
Saiawosh, 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 Geew,
thy son, go forth in search of Kai Khosrow, and bid him remain in his saddle until he
shall have found this boy. For such is the will of Ormuzd."
When Goodarz 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 Geew said-
"I will obey thine orders while I live."
Then Goodarz said-
"What companions wilt thou take with thee?"
And Geew 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 slumber."
Then Goodarz said-
"Go, and peace be upon thee."
So Geew 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 Khosrow; 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 Geew wandered thus many days throughout the length of Turan, like to a man
distraught, and he could learn nought concerning Kai Khosrow, 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 Geew 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 Saiawosh."
Then he went nigh unto him. Now when Kai Khosrow beheld the warrior, he smiled and
"O Geew, 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 Toos and Goodarz, of Rostam, and of Kai
Kawous the King. Are they happy? Do they know of Kai Khosrow?"
When Geew heard this speech, he was confounded; and when he had returned thanks
unto God, he opened his mouth and spake, saying-
"O young King, who bearest high thy head, reveal unto me who hath told thee of
Goodarz and of Toos, of Rostam and of Kai Kawous, and how knowest thou my name
and aspect."
Then Kai Khosrow said-
"My mother hath told me of the things which she learned of my father. For I am son unto
Saiawosh, and before he entered upon death he foretold unto Ferangis how Geew would
come forth from Iran to lead me unto the throne."
Then Geew said-
"Prove unto me thy words. Suffer that mine eyes behold the mark of the Kaianides which
thou bearest about thy body."
Then Kai Khosrow uncovered his arm, and when Geew 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 Khosrow raised him from the dust and
embraced him, and questioned him concerning his journey and the hardships he had
passed through. Then Geew 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 Saiawosh had builded.
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 Saiawosh. 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 Geew and Kai Khosrow went out and did as Ferangis told unto them; and they
found the steed, and when Behzah beheld the saddle of Saiawosh and the leopard-skin he
had worn, he sighed, and his eyes were filled with tears. Then he suffered Kai Khosrow
to mount him, and they turned back unto Ferangis. And she chose forth the armour of
Saiawosh 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
"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 Khosrow and bind him
and bring him back in chains.
Now Ferangis and her son slept for weariness by the roadside, but Geew 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 Khosrow, but of his strength alone put
them to flight. But when they were gone he roused the sleepers, and he urged haste upon
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 Geew 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 Geew
suffered not that Kai Khosrow 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 Khosrow did as Geew desired. Then Geew 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 Khosrow her son.
Now Piran, when he beheld Kai Khosrow, demanded not mercy at his hands, but invoked
the blessings of Heaven upon his head, and he mourned the fate of Saiawosh. And he
"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 Khosrow 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
Saiawosh, 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 Geew, 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 Khosrow 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 satisfied."
Then Geew did as Kai Khosrow 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 Kai Khosrow.
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 Khosrow. 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 Geew, and lay low the head of Kai Khosrow and
of his mother. And he made great haste after them, and he urged upon his men that they
must find Kai Khosrow 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
Now, a boat was lying ready, and a boatman slumbered beside it; and Geew roused him,
and said that he should bear them across the river. But the man was greedy of gain, and
beheld that Geew 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 Geew was angry, and said-
"Thou speakest like a fool; thou knowest not what thou dost ask."
Then he turned unto Kai Khosrow, and said-
"If thou be Kai Khosrow indeed, thou wilt not fear to enter this river and cross it, even as
it was crossed by Feridoun thy sire."
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 Geew the bold. And when Kai
Khosrow 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 Khosrow came nigh unto the courts of the Shah, Geew sent a writing unto
Kai Kawous and told him all that was come to pass. And Kai Kawous 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 Kawous was glad at the sight of him, and all men regarded
Kai Khosrow as the heir, and only Toos was sorrowful at that which was come to pass.
But Toos was angered, and said that he would pay homage only unto Fariborz, and to
none other. And he came before Kai Kawous and said-
"Fariborz is thy son also, why therefore wilt thou give the crown unto one who is sprung
from the race of Afrasiyab?
Then Geew said-
"It is fitting that the son of Saiawosh should succeed unto the throne."
But Toos listened not, and refused allegiance unto Kai Khosrow, and there was strife
among the nobles of Iran.
Then one came before Kai Kawous 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 Kawous 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 Khosrow and Fariborz 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 Fariborz and Kai Khosrow set forth, and Kai Khosrow suffered that his elder take the
lead. But in vain did Fariborz strive against the Deevs that were hidden behind the walls,
and when seven days had passed he returned discomfited from his emprise. Then Kai
Khosrow 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 Kawous heard it, he knew that the son of Saiawosh 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 Khosrow wore
the crown of the Kaianides in his stead.
11 – Firoud
But a little while had Kai Khosrow 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 Rostam 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 Kawous made ready a great feast to do honour to his Pehliva. And when they were
seated thereat his mouth ran over with praises of Saiawosh, and he lamented the evil that
he had done, and he poured maledictions upon the head of Afrasiyab. And he spake unto
Kai Khosrow 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 Saiawosh 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 Khosrow 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 Kawous caused the
oath to be written on a royal scroll, and he confided it to the care of Rostam his Pehliva.
And when it was done they feasted seven days without ceasing, but on the eighth Kai
Khosrow 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 Khosrow 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 Fariborz. And Fariborz 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 Khosrow, when he saw him, invoked blessings upon his head. And there
came after Fariborz 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
Khosrow 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 Khosrow 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 Khosrow commanded that the trumpets of departure sound. Then the army came
before the Shah, and he gave into the keeping of Toos the standard of Kawah, and he
bade him lead forth the hosts. And he said unto Toos-
"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 Toos 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 Toos should have told unto them which road they should follow. And
when Toos 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 Toos laughed, and said, "O noble hero, disquiet not thyself, for what I do is pleasing
in. the sight of the King."
Then he commanded the army that they march into Kelat, and he remembered not the
desires of Kai Khosrow.
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 Saiawosh her spouse. And he told her what was come about,
and he asked of her how he should act. Then she said unto him-
"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 thy counsel."
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, Toos 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 this matter."
And he rode forth towards the mountain. Now Firoud, beholding him, said unto
"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 Toos the Pehliva? "
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
"Why hast thou not spoken the name of Bahram? There is none among all the host of Iran
that mine eyes would rather look upon."
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 Geew."
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 Saiawosh."
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 Toos. And Bahram said-
"O Prince, brave and young, I will bear thy message unto Toos, 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 Toos, and he departed
from him, saying-
"If Toos 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 Toos, and related to him all that he had heard. And
Toos 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 Khosrow,
and sprung from the seed of Saiawosh. I counsel you have the fear of the Shah before
your eyes, and lift not your hands in injustice against his brother."
When the warriors heard these words, they retreated back into the tents. But Toos 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 Toos, 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-
"Toos 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 Toos, whose
daughter he hath in marriage."
Then Firoud asked, saying, "Since he attacketh me, whom shall I slay-the steed or its
And Tokhareh said, "Direct thine arms against the man, then perchance, when Toos 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 Toos 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 Toos 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 Toos 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-
"Toos 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 Toos, 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 Toos from under him, and laid the charger low upon the ground. And
Toos 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 Geew 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
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 Saiawosh 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 be?"
Then Tokhareh said, "It is Geew, 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 Saiawosh, 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
Geew sank unto the earth. Now all the nobles rejoiced when Geew 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 avenged.
Now Geew 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 Saiawosh, 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 said-
"It is a youth who hath not his like in Iran. Byzun is he called, and he is only son unto
Geew the brave. And because that he is clad in the armour of Saiawosh, 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 Toos 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 Toos 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 Geew, 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 Toos, and the fear of Kai Khosrow came upon them. And Goodarz said unto Toos-
"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 Toos heard these words he wept in his sorrow, and said-
"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 Toos 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 Khosrow hath unveiled unto us the secrets of his heart, and we know now that
forgiveness is not hidden in his soul."
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 Toos said-
"Let us return whence we came forth."
But his army said-
"Not so. Shall we flee before the face of Afrasiyab?"
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 Toos 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 Goodarz the wise. Now when he heard that the
Turanians were come into the camp, he ran to the tents of Toos 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 Toos was beside himself for sorrow, and Goodarz 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 Khosrow, when he had listened to his
words, was angered, and his tongue called down curses on the head of Toos. Then he
pondered all night how he should act, but when the cock crew he wrote a letter unto
Fariborz the son of Kai Kawous. And he bade him take unto him the flag of Kawah and
the golden boots, and lead the army in the place of Toos. And he bade him in all things be
obedient to the counsels of Goodarz the wise, and he recalled how Toos 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 Fariborz read it out before the army. And when he had
heard it Toos did that which the Shah desired, and when he had given over unto Fariborz
the command he turned him to go back unto Iran.
Now when he was come before Kai Khosrow, 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, Fariborz 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 Fariborz 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
"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 Rostam, 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 Rostam the Pehliva.
12 - The Vengeance of Kai Khosrow
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
Khosrow was angry when he beheld them, and he remembered Firoud, and he railed
against Toos, 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 Rostam, and entreated of him that he would intercede for
them with the Shah. And Rostam did as they desired, and he pleaded for the army and its
leaders, and he spake good even of Toos. And Kai Khosrow inclined his ear unto his
Pehliva, and he let the light of his countenance shine again upon his army, and he
confided unto Toos once more the standard of Kawah, but he made Gew march beside
him and restrain his haste.
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 Rostam came not forth to aid them, the
men of Iran could not stand against his host.
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 Khosrow, when he learned
it, was afflicted, and wept sore. Then he sent greeting unto Rostam, 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 Rostam 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 desires."
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 Rostam 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 Rostam, 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 Rostam 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 Rostam the mighty."
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 Rostam the Pehliva. And Rostam 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 unto him-
"The nobles of Iran have found again their courage, since an army is come to their aid.
Yet I would know if Rostam 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
Rostam. 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 Rostam unto single combat. And
Rostam 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 Rostam caught the Kamous
in the meshes of his cord. And he showed him unto the army, and he asked of them,
"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 vultures.
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 Rostam. But Rostam said unto the messenger-
"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 Khosrow and unto his mother."
So the messenger bare these words unto Piran. And Piran, when he had taken counsel,
listened unto the desires of Rostam, and came into his tents. And he said-
"I am Piran, leader of the hosts of Turan. Speak unto me thy name."
And Rostam said-
"I am Rostam of Zaboulistan, and I am armed with a mace and a sword of Cabul."