Alfred John Church.

Stories of the magicians; Thalaba and the magicians of the Domdaniel, Rustem and the genii, Kehama and his sorceries online

. (page 8 of 13)
Online LibraryAlfred John ChurchStories of the magicians; Thalaba and the magicians of the Domdaniel, Rustem and the genii, Kehama and his sorceries → online text (page 8 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

without question, filled a cup with wine, and

rt;^: : '~

/W^ - *
; W.^

\ r \
^-j* *\

" '*^f-\> !






taking a harp which he found lying by the side
of the flagon, sang

" The scourge of the wicked am I,
And my days still in battle go by ;
Not for me is the red wine that glows
In the reveller's cup, nor the rose
That blooms in the land of delight ;
But with monsters and demons to fight."

The music and the voice of the singer reached
the ears of a witch that was in those parts.
Forthwith, by her art, she made her face as fair
as spring, and, approaching Rustem, asked him
how he fared, and sat down by his side. The
hero thanked heaven that he had thus found in
the desert such good fare and excellent company
for he did not know that the lovely visitor
was a witch. He welcomed her, and handed
her a cup of wine ; but, as he handed it, he
named the name of God, and at the sound her
colour changed, and she became as black as

When Rustem saw this, quick as the wind he
threw his lasso over her head.

" Confess who you are,'* he cried ; " show
yourself in your true shape."


Then the witch was changed into a decrepid,
wrinkled old woman. Rustem cut her in halves
with a blow of his sword.

The next day he continued his journey with
all the speed that he could use, and came to a
place where it was utterly dark. Neither sun,
nor moon, nor stars could be seen ; and all that
the hero could do was to let the reins fall on his
horse's neck, and ride on as chance might direct.

In time he came to a most delightful country,
where the sun was shining brightly, and where
the ground was covered with green. Rustem
took off his cuirass of leopard skin, and his
helmet, and let Raksh find pasture where he
could in the fertile fields, and lay down to sleep.
When the keeper of the fields saw the horse
straying among them and feeding, he was filled
with rage, and running up to the hero, dealt
him with his stick a great blow upon the feet.

Rustem awoke.

" Son of Satan," said the keeper, " why do
you let your horse stray in the corn-fields ? "

Rustem leapt upon the man, and without
uttering a single word good or bad, wrenched
his ears from his head.


Now the owner of this fertile country was a
young warrior of renown named Aulad. The
keeper ran up to him with his ears in his hand,
and said

" There has come to this place a son of
Satan, clad in a cuirass of leopard skin, with
an iron helmet. I was going to drive his horse
out of the corn-fields, when he leapt upon me,
tore my ears from my head without saying a
single word, and then lay down to sleep again."

Aulad was about to go hunting with his
chiefs ; but when he heard the keeper's story
he altered his plan, and set out to the place
where he heard that Rustem had been seen.
Rustem, as soon as he saw him approach, and
a great company with him, ran to Raksh, leapt
on his back, and rode forward. Aulad said to
him, " Who are you ? What are you doing
here ? Why did you pluck off my keeper's
ears and let your horse feed in the corn-fields ? "

"If you were to hear my name," said Rustem,
"it would freeze the blood in your heart."

So saying he drew his sword, and fastening
his lasso to the bow of his saddle, rushed as a
lion rushes into the midst of a herd of oxen.


With every blow of his sword he cut off a
warrior's head, till the whole of Aulad's company
was either slain or scattered. Aulad himself he
did not kill, but throwing his lasso, caught him
by the neck, dragged him from his horse, and
bound his hands. " Now," said he, "if you will tell
me the truth, and, without attempting to deceive,
will show me where the White Genius dwells,
and will guide me to where King Kaoiis is
kept prisoner, then I will make you King of
Mazanderan. But if you speak a word of false-
hood you die."

" It is well," said Aulad ; " I will do what you
desire. I will show you where the King is
imprisoned. It is four hundred miles from this
place ; and four hundred miles further, a difficult
and dangerous way, is the dwelling of the White
Genius. It is a cavern so deep that no mere
man has ever sounded it, and lies between
two mountains. Twelve thousand Genii watch
it during the night, for the White Genius is the
chief and master of all his tribe. You will find
him a terrible enemy, and, for all your strong
arms and hands, your keen sword, your lance
and your club, you will scarcely be able to


conquer him ; . and when you have conquered
him, there will still be much to be done. In
the city of the King of Mazanderan there are
thousands of warriors, and not a coward among
them ; and besides these, there are two hundred
war-elephants. Were you made of iron, could
you venture to deal alone with these sons of
Satan ? "

Rustem smiled when he heard this, and said,
" Come with me, and you will see what a single
man, who puts his trust in God, can do. And
now show me first the way to the King's





RUSTEM mounted on Raksh, and rode gaily
forward, and Aulad ran in front of him. For
a whole day and night he ran, nor ever grew
tired, till they reached the foot of Mount Asprus,
where King Kaotis had fallen into the power of
the Genii. About midnight they heard a great
beating of drums, and saw many fires blaze up.

Rustem said to Aulad, "What mean these
fires that are blazing up to right and left of us ? "

Aulad answered, " This is the way into
Mazanderan. The great Genius Arzeng must
be there."

Then Rustem went to sleep ; and when he
woke in the morning he took his lasso and
fastened Aulad to the trunk of a tree. Then
hanging his grandfather's club to his saddle-
bow, he rode on.


His conflict with Arzeng, the chief of the
army of the Genii, was soon finished. As he
approached the camp he raised his battle cry.
His shout was loud enough, one would have
said, to split the very mountains, and Arzeng,
when he heard it, rushed out of his tent.
Rustem set spurs to his horse, and galloping
up to the Genius, caught him by the head, tore it
from the body, and threw it into the midst of
the army. When the Genii saw it, and caught
sight also of the great club, they fled in the
wildest confusion, fathers trampling upon their
sons in their eagerness to escape. The hero put
the whole herd of them to the sword, and then
returned as fast as he could to the place where
he had left Aulad bound to the tree. He
unloosed the knots of the lasso, and bidding
him lead the way to the prison-house of the
King, set spurs to Raksh, Aulad running in
front as before.

When they entered the town, Raksh neighed.
His voice was as loud as thunder, and the King
heard it, and in a moment understood all that
had happened. " That is the voice of Raksh,"
.he said to the Persians that were with him ;


" our evil days are over. This was the way in
which he neighed in King Kobad's time, when
he made war on the Scythians."

The Persians said to themselves, " Our poor
King has lost his senses, or he is dreaming.
There is no help for us." But they had hardly-
finished speaking when the hero appeared, and
did homage to the King. Kaotis embraced him,
and then said : " If you are to help me, you
must go before the Genii know of your coming.
So soon as the White Genius shall hear of the
fall of Arzeng, he will assemble such an army of
his fellows as shall make all your pains and
labour lost. But you must know that you have
great difficulties to overcome. First, you must
cross seven mountains, all of them occupied by
troops of Genii ; then you will see before you
a terrible cavern more terrible, I have heard
say, than any other place in the world. The
entrance to it is guarded by warrior Genii, and
in it dwells the White Genius himself. He is both
the terror and the hope of his army. Conquer
him, and all will be well. A wise physician
tells me that the only remedy for my blindness
is to drop into my eyes three drops of the White


Genius' blood. Go and conquer, if you would
save your King."

Without any delay Rusteni set forth, Raksh
carrying him like the wind. When he reached
the great cavern, he said to Aulad, who had
guided him on his way as before, " The time of
conflict is come. Show me the way."

Aulad answered, " When the sun shall grow
hot, the Genii will go to sleep. That will be
your time to conquer them."

Rustem waited till the sun was at its highest,
and then went forth to battle. The Genii that
were on guard fled at the sound of his voice,
and he went on without finding any to resist
him till he came to the great cavern of which
the King had spoken. It was a terrible place
to see, and he stood for a while with his sword
in his hand, doubting what he should do. No
one would choose such a spot for battle, and as
for escaping from it, that was beyond all hope.
Long he looked into the darkness, and at last
he saw a monstrous shape which seemed to
reach across the whole breadth of the cave. It
was the White Genius that was lying asleep.
Rustem did not attempt to surprise him in his


sleep, but woke him by shouting his battle cry.
When the White Genius saw him he rushed at
once to do battle with him. First he caught
up from the ground a stone as big as a mill-
stone and hurled it at him. For the first time
Rustem felt a thrill of fear, so terrible was
his enemy. Nevertheless, gathering all his
strength, he struck at him a great blow with
his sword and cut off one of his feet. The
monster, though having but one foot, leapt
upon him like a wild elephant, and seized him
by the breast and arms, hoping to throw him
to the ground, and tore from his body great
morsels of flesh, so that the whole place was
covered with blood. Rustem said to himself,
" If I escape to-day I shall live for ever ; " and
the White Genius thought, " Even if I do
deliver myself from the claws of this dragon, I
shall never see Mazanderan again." Still he
did not lose courage, but continued to struggle
against the hero with all his might.

So the two fought together, the blood and
sweat running from them in great streams.
At last Rustem caught the Genius round the
body, and, putting out all his strength, hurled

ftustem slaying the White Genius.


him to the ground with such force that his soul
was driven out of his body. Then he plunged
his poniard into the creature's heart, and tore
the liver out of his body. This done he
returned to Aulad, whom he had left bound
with his lasso, loosed him, and set out for the
place where he had left the King. But first
Aulad said to him, " I have the marks of your
bonds upon me ; my body is bruised with the
knots of your lasso ; I beseech you to respect
the promise which you made me of a reward.
A hero is bound to keep his word."

Rustem said : " I promised that you should
be King of Mazanderan, and King you shall be.
But I have much to do before my word can be
kept.. I have a great battle to fight, in which I
may be conquered, and I must rid this country
of the magicians with whom it is encumbered.
But be sure that, when all is done, I will not
fail of the promises which- 1 have made."

So Rustem returned to King Kaoiis, and,
dropping the blood of the White Genius into
his eyes, gave him back his sight. Seven days
the King and his nobles feasted together,
Rustem having the chief place. On the


eighth day they set out to clear the country
of the accursed race of magicians. When
they had done this, the King said, " The guilty
have now been punished. Let no others suffer.
And now I will send a letter to the King of

So the King wrote a letter in these words :
" You see how God has punished the wrong-
doers how He has brought to nought the
Genii and the Magicians. Quit then your
town, and come here to pay homage and tribute
to me. If you will not, then your life shall be
as the life of Arzeng and the White Genius."

This letter was carried to the King by a
certain chief named Ferbad. When the King
had read it he was greatly troubled. Three
days he kept Ferbad as his guest, and then
sent back by him this answer: "Shall the water
of the sea be equal to wine ? Am I one to
whom you can say, ' Come* down from your
throne, and present yourself before me ' ?
Make ready to do battle with me, for verily I
will bring upon the land of Persia such de-
struction that no man shall be able to say what
is high and what is low."


Ferbad hastened back to the King of Persia.
"The man," he said, " is resolved not to yield."
Then the King sent to Rustem. And Rustem
said, " Send me with a letter that shall be as
keen as a sword and a message like a thunder-
cloud." So the King sent for a scribe, who,
making the point of his reed as fine as an
arrow-head, wrote thus : " These are foolish
words, and do not become a man of sense.
Put away your arrogance, and be obedient to
my words. If you refuse, I will bring such an
army against you as shall cover your land from
one sea to the other ; and the ghost of the
White Genius shall call the vultures to feast on
your brains."

The King set his seal to this letter, and
Rustem departed with it, with his club hanging
to his saddle-bow. When the King of Mazan-
deran heard of his coming, he sent some of his
nobles to meet him. When Rustem saw them,
he caught a huge tree that was by the wayside
in his hands, twisted it with all his might, and
tore it up roots and all. Then he poised it in
his hand as if it were a javelin. One of the
nobles, the strongest of them all, rode up to


him, caught one of his hands, and pressed
it with all his might. Rustem only smiled ;
but when in his turn he caught the noble's
hand in his, he crushed all the veins and bones,
so that the man fell fainting from his horse.

When the King heard what had been done,
he called one of his warriors, Kalahour by
name, the strongest man in his dominions, and
said to him, " Go and meet this messenger ;
show him your prowess, and cover his face
with shame." So Kalahour rode to meet
Rustem, and, taking him by the hand, wrung
it with all the strength of an elephant. The
hand turned blue with the pain, but the hero
did not flinch or give any sign of pain. But
when in his turn he wrung the hand of Kala-
hour, the nails dropped from it as the leaves
drop from a tree. Kalahour rode back, his
hand hanging down, and said to the King, " It
will be better for you to make peace than to
fight with this lion, whose strength is such that
no man can stand against him. Pay this
tribute, and we will make it good to you.
Otherwise we are lost."

At this moment Rustem rode up. The


King gave him a place at his right hand, and
asked him of his welfare. Rustem, for answer,
gave him the letter of Kei-Kaous. When the
King had read the letter, his face became black
as thunder. Then he said, " Carry back this
auswer to your master : ' You are lord of
Persia, and I of Mazanderan. Be content ;
seek not that which is not yours. Otherwise
your pride will lead you to your fall.' "

The King would have given Rustem royal
gifts, robes of honour, and horses, and gold.
But the hero would have none of them, but
went away in anger. When he had returned
to the King of Persia, he said to him, " Fear
nothing, but make ready for battle. As for the
warriors of this land of Mazanderan, they are
nothing ; I count them no better than a grain
of dust."

Meanwhile the King of the Magicians
prepared for war. He gathered an army,
horsemen and foot-soldiers and elephants, that
covered the face of the earth, and approached
the borders of Persia ; and, on the other hand,
King Kaous marshalled his men of war and
went out to encounter him. The King him-


self took his place in the centre of the line
of battle, and in front of all stood the great

One of the nobles of Mazanderan came out
of their line, with a great club in his hands, and
approaching the Persian army, cried in a loud
voice, "Who is ready to fight with me? He
should be one who is able to change water into

None of the Persian nobles answered him,
and King Kaotis said, " Why is it, ye men of
war, that your faces are troubled, and your
tongues silent before this Genius."

But still the nobles made no answer. Then
Rustem caught the rein of his horse, and,
putting the point of his lance over his shoulder,
rode up to the King, and said, "Will the King
give me permission to fight with this Genius ? "

The King said, " The task is worthy of you,
for none of the Persians dare to meet this
warrior. Go and prosper ! "

So Rustem set spurs to Raksh, and rode
against the warrior who had challenged the

" Hear," he said, as soon as he came near,


"your name is blotted out of the list of the
living ; for the moment is come when you shall
suffer the recompense of all your misdeeds."

The warrior answered, " Boast not yourself
so proudly. My sword makes mothers childless."

When Rustem heard this he cried with a
voice of thunder, " I am Rustem ! " and the
warrior, who had no desire to fight the
champion of the world, turned his back and
fled. But Rustem pursued him, and thrust at
him with his lance where the belt joins the
coat of mail, and pierced him through, for the
armour could not turn the point of the great
spear. Then he lifted him out of his saddle,
and raised him up in the air, as if he were a
bird which a man had run through with a spit.
This done, he dashed him down dead upon the
ground, and all the nobles of Mazanderan stood
astonished at the sight.

After this the two armies joined battle. The
air grew dark, and the flashing of the swords
and clubs flew like the lightning out of a
thunder-cloud, and the mountains trembled with
the cries of the combatants. Never had any
living man seen so fierce a fight before.


For seven days the battle raged, and neither
the one side nor the other could claim the victory.
On the eighth day King Kaolis bowed himself
before God, taking his crown from his head, and
prayed with his face to the ground, saying, " O
Lord God, give me, I beseech Thee, the victory
over the Genii who fear Thee not."

Then he set his helmet on his head, and put
himself at the head of his army. First of all
Rustem began the attack, charging the centre
of the enemy's army. He directed his course
straight to the place where the King of
Mazanderan stood, surrounded with his chiefs
and a great host of elephants. When the King
saw the shine of his lance, he lost courage, and
would have fled. But Rustem, with a cry like
a lion's roar, charged him, and struck him on
the girdle with his spear. The spear pierced
the steel, and would have slain the King, but
that by his magic art he changed himself, before
the eyes of all the Persian army, into a mass of
rock. Rustem stood astonished to see such a

When King Kaotis came up with his
warriors, he said to Rustem, " What is it ?'


What ails you that you tarry here, doing
nothing ?"

" My lord," answered Rustem, " I charged
the King of Mazanderan, spear in hand ; I
struck him on the girdle, but when I thought to
see him fall from his saddle, he changed himself
into a rock before my eyes, and now he feels
nothing that I can do."

Then King Kaoiis commanded that they
should take up the rock and put it before his
throne. But when the strongest men in the
army came to handle the rock, or sought to
draw it with cords, they could do nothing ;
it remained immovable. Rustem, however,
without any one to help him, lifted it from the
earth, and carrying it into the camp, threw it
down before the King's tent, and said, " Give
up these cowardly tricks and the art of magic.
Else I will break this rock into pieces."

When the King of Mazanderan heard this,
he made himself visible, black as a thunder-cloud,
with a helmet of steel upon his head, and a coat
of mail upon his breast. Rustem laughed, and
caught him by the hand, and brought him
before the King.


(i See," said he, " this lump of rock, who, for
fear of the hatchet, has given himself up to
me ! "

When Kaoiis looked at him and observed
how savage of aspect he was, with the neck and
tusks of a wild boar, he saw that he was not
worthy to sit upon a throne, and bade the
executioner take him away and cut him in
pieces. This done, he sent to the enemies'
camp, and commanded that all the spoil, the
King's throne, and his crown and girdle, the
the horses and the armour, the swords and
jewels, should be gathered together. Then he
called up his army, and distributed to them
rewards in proportion to what they had clone
and suffered. After this he spent seven days
in prayer, humbling himself before Gocl, and
offering up thanksgiving. On the eighth day
he seated himself on his throne, and opened his
treasures, and gave to all that had need. Thus
he spent another seven days. On the fifteenth
day, he called for wine and cups of amber and
rubies, and sat for seven days on his throne,
with the wine-cup in his hand.

He sent for Rustem, and said, " It is of your


doing, by your strength and courage, that I
have recovered my throne."

Rustem answered, "A man must do his duty.
As for the honours that you would give me, I
owe them all to Aulad, who has always guided
me on the right way. He hopes to be made
King of Mazanderan. Let the King, there-
fore, if it please him, invest him with the

And this the King did.

The next day Kaous and his army set out
to return to the land of Persia. When he had
reached his palace, he seated himself upon his
throne, and sending for Rustem, put him at his

Rustem said, " My lord, permit me to go
back to the old man Zal, my father."

The King commanded that they should
bring splendid presents for the hero. The
presents were these : A throne of turquoise,
adorned with rams' heads ; a royal crown set
about with jewels ; a robe of brocade of gold
such as is worn by the King of Kings ; a
bracelet and a chain of gold ; a hundred
maidens, with faces fair as the full moon, and


girdles of gold ; a hundred youths, whose hair
was fragrant with musk ; a hundred horses,
caparisoned with gold and silver ; a hundred
mules with black hair, with loads of brocade
that came from the land of Room and from
Persia. After these they brought and laid at
the hero's feet a hundred purses filled with gold
pieces ; a cup of rubies, filled with pure musk ;
another cup of turquoise, filled with attar of
roses ; and, last of all, a letter written on pages
of silk in ink made of wine and aloes and
amber and the black of lamps. By this letter
the King of Kings gave anew to Rustem the
kingdom of the South. Then Kaoiis blessed
him, and said : " May you live as long as men
shall see the sun and the moon in heaven !
May the great of the earth join themselves to
you ! May your own soul be full of modesty
and tenderness ! "

Rustem prostrated himself on the earth, and
kissed the throne ; and so took his departure.



ONE day Rustem thought that he would hunt.
So he filled his quiver with arrows, and^
mounting his horse Raksh, set out for the
country which borders on Tartary. As he
went he came upon a plain which was covered
with herds of wild asses. Rustem smiled to
see them, and, pursuing them on his fleet-
footed horse, killed many of them, some with
his arrows, and some, first catching them with
his lasso, with his club. His hunting done, he
lighted a great fire of brushwood, brambles,
and branches of trees ; then taking a young
tree to serve him for a spit, ran it through the
body of one of the asses, and roasted the flesh
at the fire. When it was well done, he tore it
joint from joint, ate his full of it, and broke the


bones for the marrow. His meal finished, he
lay down to sleep, while Raksh grazed on the
plain. While he slept, seven Tartar warriors
came that way, and saw the tracks of Raksh,

1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryAlfred John ChurchStories of the magicians; Thalaba and the magicians of the Domdaniel, Rustem and the genii, Kehama and his sorceries → online text (page 8 of 13)