328When he had wept for some time he again began to tell his tale: "One day the king and I had come home from the chase, and he said: 'Let us see my daughter!'
[paragraph continues] He took me by the hand. . . . Does it not surprise thee that I live when I remember that time?
329"I saw the garden fairer indeed than all places of delight: the voice of birds was heard, sweeter than a siren's, there were many fountains of rose-water for baths, over the door were hung curtains of cloth of gold.
330"The king ordered me to take some wood-partridges and carry them to the maiden. I took them and went to burn myself at a flame. Then I began to pay the debt of Fate. It needs a lance of adamant to pierce a heart of rock.
331"I knew he wished none to see his sunlike one; I stood outside, and the king went in through the curtain of the door; I could see nothing, I only heard the sound of talk; he commanded Asmat’h to take the partridges from the Amirbar.
332"Asmat’h drew aside the curtain; I stood outside the curtain. I saw the maiden (Nestan); a lance pierced my mind and heart. (Asmat’h) came, I gave her the partridges, she took them from me who was burned with fire. Ah me! since then in eternal furnace I burn!"
333Now failed that light which despised even the sun; he could tell no more, he fainted, groaning bitterly. The knight (Avt’handil) and Asmat’h wept; the vicinage reechoed their voices. They said gloomily: "The arms that brought to nought heroes are become useless, alas!"
334Asmat’h sprinkled water (upon him), Taria came back to consciousness; for a long time he could not speak, melancholy bound and overcame his heart; he sat down and moaned bitterly, his tears were mingled with the earth; he said: "Woe is me! what a great agitation is her memory to me!
335"Trusters in Fortune have their pick of her gifts, they are lucky, but at last are not spared her treachery; I praise the prudence of those sages who oppose her. Hearken to my tidings if life remain in me!
336"They took in the partridges; I could make no way
for myself. I fell, I fainted, force was fled from mine arms and shoulder. When I came back to life I heard the voice of weeping and woe; the household surrounded me like one who is embarking on a ship.
337"I lay in a fair bed in a great chamber; the king and queen wept over me with undrying tears, they scratched their faces with their hands, tearing their cheeks; mullahs sat round, they called my sickness bewitchment of Beelzebub.
338"When the king saw mine eyes open he embraced my neck; he said to me with tears: 'My son, my son, dost thou indeed live? Speak one word!' I could give no answer; like a madman I was greatly affrighted. Again I fell into a faint; blood rushed into my heart.
339"All the muqris and mullahs watched round me, in their hands they held the Koran, all of them read; they thought I was struck by the Adversary of mankind, I know not of what they raved. For three days I was lifeless; inextinguishable fires burned me.
340"The doctors also marvelled, saying: 'What manner of sickness is this? Nothing medicable afflicts him; some melancholy has laid hold of him.' Sometimes I leaped up like a madman, I uttered idle words. The queen poured forth tears enough to make a sea.
341"For three days was I in the palace neither alive nor dead; then understanding came back to me, I remembered what had befallen me; I said: 'Alas! in what a plight am I, despairing of life!' I prayed the Creator for patience; I ventured to make a discourse of entreaty.
342"I said: 'O God! abandon me not, hearken to my supplication, give me strength to endure that I may rise a little; to stay here will reveal my secret; let me reach home!' He did so and I mended; I steeled my wounded heart.
343"I sat up. . . . Many men were come from the king, they carried back the good news: 'He sits up!' The queen ran in, the king came running bareheaded, he knew not what he did, he glorified God (while) all others were silent.
344"They sat down on either side of me; I sipped some soup. I said: 'My lord, now my heart is stronger. I long to mount a horse, to see river and field.' They brought me a horse, I mounted, the king went with me.
345"We went forth; we passed by the moedan (public square) and the river-bank. I went home, I sent back the king, who accompanied me to the threshold of the house. I went in; I felt worse, woe was added to woe; I said to myself: 'I would die! what more can Fate do to me!' (or, what more than this can my ill luck merit!)
346"The bath of tears changed the crystal (of my face) to saffron colour; ten thousand knives cut my heart still more. The doorkeeper of the bedchamber entered, he called out the steward; I said to myself: 'What news does he know, either this one or that one?'
347"'It is Asmat’h's slave.' 'What knows she (? he)?' I called, 'Ask!' (? invite him in). He came in. He gave me a love-letter. I read it. I was surprised how I had made another's heart burn with heat; I had no suspicion of her, my heart burned with melancholy for this.
348"I was surprised wherefore I was loved, or how she (Asmat’h) dared to declare it to me. (But, thought I) disobedience avails not, she will denounce me for silence, she will lose hope of me, then will she reproach me. I wrote what answer was fitting to enamourment.
349"Days passed, and heart burned me still more with flame. I no longer watched the soldiers going to the plain to sport. I could not go to court. Many physicians began to come. Then I began to pay the joys and debts of the world.
350"They (the physicians) could do nothing for me; the twilight of darkness fell upon my heart. No one else discovered the burning of the hot fire (of love). They blamed my blood. The king ordered them to bleed my arm; I let it be done, so as to hide my sufferings, to let none suspect.
351"After my arm was bled I lay melancholy alone in my bed. My slave came in; I glanced at him to ask what he wanted. 'It is Asmat’h's slave,' said he. I told him to bring him in. I thought in my heart: 'What has she found in me, or who is she?'
352"The slave gave me a letter; I read it slowly.' I learned from the letter that she wished to come quickly to me. I wrote in reply: 'It is time. Thou art right to be surprised. Thou shalt come if thou wantest me; suspect me not of tardiness in coming.'
353"I said to my heart: 'Why do such lances make thee thus melancholy? I am Amirbar, king; all the Indians are subject to me. If it come to their knowledge they will make the deed a thousand times more weighty; if they find it out they will not let me travel in their regions.'
354"A man came from the king saying he wished to hear the news. I ordered him in; (the king) commanded me to be bled. I said: 'My arm has been bled; I have begun to mend. I come to your presence; it is fitting for me to rejoice the more for this again.'
355"I went to court. The king said: 'Now, do this no more!' He seated me quiverless on a horse; he girded not my loins (with weapons). He mounted, he let fly the falcons, the partridges shrank with fear, the archers formed in ranks said: 'Bravo! Bravo!'
356"We made a feast at home that day for those who
had been in the plain; the singers and minstrels were not dumb; the king gave away many precious stones praised as unique; none of those present were left dissatisfied that day.
357"I strove, (but) could not keep myself from melancholy; I thought on her, the fire burned into a larger flame in my heart. I took my comrades with me, I sat down; they called me an aloe-tree; I drank and feasted to hide my misery and grief.
358"My treasurer of the household whispered in mine ear: 'A certain woman asks if she can see the Amirbar; veils cover her face, (which is) worthy of the praise of the wise.' I replied: 'Take her to my chamber; she is invited by me.'
359"I rose up; those sitting at the banquet prepared to depart. 'By your leave!' said I, 'do not rise; I shall not tarry long.' I went forth and entered the chamber, a slave stood on guard at the door, I nerved my heart to suffer shame.
360"I halted at the door; the woman came forward to meet me and did me homage. She said to me: 'Blessed is he whoever is worthy to come before thee!' I marvelled; whoever saluted a lover? I thought: 'She knows not how to make love; even if she knew she sits quiet.'
361"She said to me: 'This day makes my heart to burn with a flame of shame. Thou thinkest I came hither to thee for that (purpose), but I find cause for hope in the fact that I have not waited long for thee; since I am worthy of this (attention) I cannot say that God's mercy has failed me.'
362"She rose; she said to me: 'I am commanded to inquire after thee by one who is bashful of thee. Suspect me not of what has been said by command of my mistress; such great boldness is in order to please her heart. This letter will tell thee for whom I speak.'