صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Feridoun had three sons, Irij, Tur, and Silim. Having tested their bravery, he divided the kingdom among them, giving to Irij the kingdom of Iran. Although the other brothers had received equal shares of the kingdom, they were enraged because Iran was not their portion, and when their complaints to their father were not heeded, they slew their brother. Irij left a son, a babe named Minuchihr, who was reared carefully by Feridoun. In time he avenged his father, by defeating the armies of his uncles and slaying them both. Soon after this, Feridoun died, intrusting his grandson to Saum, his favorite pehliva, or vassal, who ruled over Seistan.

Saum was a childless monarch, and when at last a son was born to him he was very happy until he learned that while the child was perfect in every other way, it had the silver hair of an old man. Fearing the talk of his enemies, Saum exposed the child on a mountain top to die. There it was found by the Simurgh, a remarkable animal, part bird, part human, that, touched by the cries of the helpless infant, carried him to her great nest of aloes and sandal-wood, and reared him with her little ones.

Saum, who had lived to regret his foolish and wicked act, was told in a dream that his son still lived, and was being cared for by the Simurgh. He accordingly sought the nest, and carried his son away with great thanksgiving. The Simurgh parted tenderly with the little Zal, and presented him with a feather from her wing, telling him that whenever he was in danger, he had only to throw it on the fire and she would instantly come to his aid.

Saum first presented his son at the court of Minuchihr, and then took him home to Zaboulistan, where he was carefully instructed in every art and science.

At one time, while his father was invading a neighboring province, Zal travelled over the kingdom and stopped at the court of Mihrab, a tributary of Saum, who ruled at Kabul. Though a descendant of the serpent king, Mihrab was good, just, and wise, and he received the young warrior with hospitality. Zal had not been long in Kabul before he heard of


the beauties of Rudabeh, the daughter of Mihrab, and she, in turn, of the great exploits of Zal. By an artifice of the princess they met and vowed to love one another forever, though they knew their love would meet with opposition. Saum and Zal both pleaded Zal's cause before Minuchihr, who relented when he heard from the astrologers that a good and mighty warrior would come of the union. Rudabeh's mother won the consent of Mihrab, so that the young people were soon married with great pomp. To them a son was born named Rustem, who, when one day old, was as large as a year-old child. When three years old he could ride a horse, and at eight years was as powerful as any hero of the time.

Nauder succeeded the good Minuchihr, and under him Persia was defeated by the Turanians, and Afrasiyab occupied the Persian throne. But Zal, whose father, Saum, had died, overthrew him and placed Zew upon the throne. Zew's reign was short, and Garshasp, his son, succeeded him. When he was threatened by the Turanians, his people went for aid to Zal, who, because he was growing old, referred them to Rustem, yet of tender age. Rustem responded gladly, and his father commanded that all the horses from Zaboulistan to Kabul be brought forth that his son might select a steed therefrom. Every horse bent beneath his grasp until he came to the colt Rakush, which responded to Rustem's voice, and suffered him to mount it. From that day to his death, this steed was his faithful companion and preserver.

Garshasp was too weak to rule over the kingdom, and Zal despatched Rustem to Mt. Alberz, where he had been told in a dream a youth dwelt called Kai-Kobad, descended from Feridoun. Kai-Kobad welcomed Rustem, and the two, with the noblest of the kingdom, defeated the power of Turan.

After a reign of a hundred years, the wise Kai-Kobad died, and was succeeded by his son, the foolish Kai-Kaus, who, not satisfied with the wealth and extent of his kingdom, determined to conquer the kingdom of Mazinderan, ruled

by the Deevs. Zal's remonstrances were of no avail : the headstrong Kai-Kaus marched into Mazinderan, and, together with his whole army, was conquered, imprisoned, and blinded by the power of the White Deev.

When the news of the monarch's misfortune came to Iran, Rustem immediately saddled Rakush, and, choosing the shortest and most peril-beset route, set forth, unaccompanied, for Mazinderan. If he survived the dangers that lurked by the way, he would reach Mazinderan in seven days.

While sleeping in a forest, after his first day's journey, he was saved from a fierce lion by Rakush, who stood at his head.

On the second day, just as he believed himself perishing of thirst, he was saved by a sheep that he followed to a fountain of water ; on the third night, Rakush, whom he had angrily forbidden to attack any animal without waking him, twice warned him of the approach of a dragon. The first time the dragon disappeared when Rustem awoke, and he spoke severely to bis faithful horse. The second time he slew the dragon, and morning having dawned, proceeded through a desert, where he was offered food and wine by a

Not recognizing her, and grateful for the food, he offered her a cup of wine in the name of God, and she was immediately converted into a black fiend, whom he slew.

He was next opposed by Aulad, whom he defeated, and promised to make ruler of Mazinderan if he would guide him to the caves of the White Deev. A stony desert and a wide stream lay between him and the demon; but the undaunted Rustem passed over them, and choosing the middle of the day, at which time Aulad told him the Deevs slept, he slew the guards, entered the cavern, and after a terrible struggle, overcame and slew the great Deev.

He then released Kai-Kaus and his army, and restored their sight by touching their eyes with the blood from the Deev's heart.

Kai-Kaus, not satisfied with this adventure, committed


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many other follies, from which it taxed his warrior sorely to rescue him.

Once he was imprisoned by the King of Hamaveran after he had espoused his daughter; again he followed the advice of a wicked Deev, and tried to search the heavens in a flying-machine, that descended and left him in a desert waste. It was only after this last humiliation that he humbled himself, lay in the dust many days, and at last became worthy of the throne of his fathers.

At one time Rustem was hunting near the borders of Turan, and, falling asleep, left Rakush to graze in the forest, where he was espied by the men of Turan and at once captured. When Rustem awoke he followed his steed by the traces of its hoofs, until he came to the city of Samengan. The king received him kindly, and promised to restore the horse if it could be found. While his messengers went in search of it, he feasted his guest, and led him for the night to a perfumed couch.

In the middle of the night Rustem awoke, to see a beautiful young woman enter the room, accompanied by a maid. She proved to be the princess, who had fallen in love with Rustem. She pleaded with him to return her love, promising, if he did so, to restore his cherished horse. Rustem loi ed for his steed; moreover, the maiden was irresistibly beautiful. He accordingly yielded to her proposals, and the two were wedded the next day, the king having given his consent.

After tarrying some time in Samengan, Rustem was forced to return to Iran. Bidding his bride an affectionate farewell, he presented her with a bracelet.

“If thou art given a daughter, place this amulet in her hair to guard her from harm. If a son, bind it on his arm, that he may possess the valor of Nariman.”

In the course of time, the princess bore a boy, who was like his father in beauty and boldness, whom she christened Sohrab. But for fear that she would be deprived of him, she wrote to Rustem that a daughter had been born to her. To her son she declared the secret of his birth, and urged


him to be like his father in all things ; but she warned him not to disclose the secret, for she feared that if it came to the ears of Afrasiyab, he would destroy him because of his hatred of Rustem.

Sohrab, who had already cherished dreams of conquest, was elated at the knowledge of his parentage. “ Mother," exclaimed he, “I shall gather an army of Turks, conquer Iran, dethrone Kai-Kaus, and place my father on the throne; then both of us will conquer Afrasiyab, and I will mount the throne of Turan."

The mother, pleased with her son's valor, gave him for a horse a foal sprung from Rakush, and fondly watched his preparations for war.

The wicked Afrasiyab well knew that Sohrab was the son of Rustem. He was also aware that it was very dangerous to have two such mighty warriors alive, since if they became known to each other, they would form an alliance. He planned, therefore, to aid Sohrab in the war, keeping him in ignorance of his father, and to manage in some way to have the two meet in battle, that one or both might be slain.

The armies met and the great battle began. Sohrab asked to have Rustem pointed out to him, but the soldiers on his side were all instructed to keep him in ignorance. By some strange mischance the two men whom his mother had sent to enlighten him, were both slain. Rustem was moved at the sight of the brave young warrior, but remembering that Tahmineh's offspring was a daughter, thought nothing more of the thrill he felt at sight of him. At last Sohrab and Rustem met in single combat. Sohrab was moved with tenderness for his unknown opponents and besought him to tell him if he was Rustem, but Rustem declared that he was only a servant of that chief. For three days they fought bitterly, and on the fourth day Rustem overthrew his son. When Sohrab felt that the end had come he threatened his unknown opponent. “Whoever thou art, know that I came not out for empty glory but to find my father, and that though I have found him not, when he hears that thou hast slain his son he will search thee out and avenge me, no

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