SEVEN -- [Gustahm makes a treacherous attack and wounds Bahram, but ‘Amar cures the wound.]

Now please hear about the Sasanians, who went with Bakhtak to Gustahm and began to complain that they had been treated unjustly.  Great and small, secretly and openly, all came before him with laments and appeals:  “We’ve been very much disgraced and dishonored by comparison to Hamzah, we’ve been utterly abased and belittled!  If no way is found to remove Hamzah, we can never rest content; life will not be worth living.  Day by day the king honors him more, and hour by hour our standing diminishes.”  Gustahm said, “No one can outdo Hamzah in strength, no one can overcome him.  But in three or four days I will spread the carpet of peace and then kill him, I’ll erase his name from the land.”

This council took place at night; in the morning Gustahm mounted and went to pay his respects to Amir Hamzah, and offered the most fulsome praise and flattery, and behaved with utter self-abasement and humility.  The Amir treated him with the greatest courtesy.  They rode together to the king’s court, and on the way many expressions of unity and affection fell from the lips of both.  When the Amir, leaving the court, set out for his own camp, and emerged from the royal court, Gustahm rode with him, and escorted him to his camp; he was, so to speak, spreading the net of deceit and treachery.  Every day Gustahm twice presented himself to pay his respects to the Amir, and flattered him in all kinds of ways, and pretended to sincerity and humility.  Gradually the Amir found a place for Gustahm in his heart, and no longer felt any rancor toward him.

One day Gustahm said to the Amir, “All Ctesiphon knows how graciously and generously you treat me, and I too should express my humility and service.  Therefore I beg you to visit my garden for three or four days of feasting, and increase my honor and reputation among my peers.”  The Amir, because he was pure-hearted and guileless, accepted his invitation and agreed to the party.  The custom was that the king held court for a week, then spent a week in retreat with his moon-faced ladies, enjoying himself.  At this time the king was absorbed in festivities within the harem, devoting himself to music and melody.  Gustahm said to the Amir, “This week we are at leisure; if you will visit this worthless one’s garden, and spend the week in enjoyment and pleasure, then it will be the highest graciousness on your part, and a source of honor and pride for me.”

The Amir, taking Bahram Gurd the Emperor of China and Muqbil and some other companions with him, set out with great pomp and ceremony for Gustahm’s garden, and joyously brought his radiant presence to enhance the gaiety of the garden.  Gustahm had carpeted the ground from the gate to the pavilion in velvet and brocade and satin, and had spread a regal carpet in the pavilion.  Seeing his enthusiasm, the Amir was delighted, and praised Gustahm’s good taste to his companions.  Gustahm offered them fresh and dried fruits and presents from Ctesiphon, and summoned silver-bodied cupbearers; wine-cups began to circulate.  And Gustahm himself, with his robe tied up like a servant’s, on the pretext of serving the guests, began biding his time.  He began to look over each friend and loyal companion, seeing who among them was weak and who cowardly.

Before the Amir’s arrival Gustahm had secretly hidden four hundred trusted champions in a corner of the garden, and had said to them, “When I give three knocks to summon you, come at once and slash the Amir and his well-wishers and companions to death with your harsh swords.  And above all do not be the least bit afraid, not even for a moment, of punishment by the king and Buzurchmihr.”  In short, when Gustahm saw that the night was half over, and the Amir and his companions were so drunk that they couldn’t tell black from white, he went from the pavilion into the servants’ passage and knocked three times in sequence.  Very forcefully he clapped his hands three times;  his people emerged from their ambush and, together with Gustahm, confronted the Amir and his companions.

Looking the Amir in the eye, Gustahm said, “Oh Arab, you held your head very high, you thought the nobles of the kingdom low and insignificant.  Now look:  your time has come, Death is standing beside you!”  With these words he aimed for the Amir’s head, and struck a blow at him with his sword.  Bahram, although he was thoroughly drunk, threw himself down on top of the Amir and made himself a shield.  That sword-blow of Gustahm’s did not reach the Amir, it fell on Bahram’s side and laid it open from here to there; the blow disembowelled him from one side to the other, and all the intestines came out of his stomach.

Muqbil had cleverly been alert, for he had drunk very little wine; he had been drinking only a little and had been noticing how the party was going.  Instantly seizing his bow, he began to shoot arrow after arrow, so that he stretched more than a hundred warriors out on the ground, the bodies lay piled in heaps in the garden.  Gustahm believed he had killed the Amir; he thought,  “I’ve already finished Hamzah off. Now if I stay here any longer I’ll needlessly become a target for Muqbil, I’ll lose my life for nothing.”  Together with those of his companions who had escaped from Muqbil’s hands, he fled for his life and ran off somewhere or other.

When the Amir recovered from his intoxication, he said to himself, “Oh, wonderful!  The gathering has a strange air, this is a peculiar kind of party!  The whole pavilion and the paths before it are so bloody they’re like a rose-garden--a new kind of spring has come to the garden.  Bahram, lying with his stomach torn open, is groaning and gasping for breath, and more than a hundred warriors are lying dead, struck by arrows.”  He asked Muqbil what had happened.  Muqbil replied, “Gustahm did it.  That eunuch, with a pretense of friendship, tried to kill you, and his treachery has become known far and near.  He himself ran off somewhere.”  In every street in Ctesiphon people heard that Gustahm had given a feast for Hamzah in his garden, and had attacked him by treachery.

When the king heard this he was very much grieved, and at once sent Crown Prince Hurmuz, Buzurchmihr, and Bakhtak:  “Find out how Hamzah is, and arrange treatment for him quickly.”  And he sent ‘Alqamah Axe-hand off with three thousand horsemen to arrest Gustahm, and promised them a large reward.  When the arrest order was issued, Gustahm, hearing of it, fled the city, and did his best to disappear.  Crown Prince Hurmuz, Buzurchmihr, and Bakhtak arrived in Gustahm’s garden; seeing the Amir safe, they began giving thanks to God.  And seeing Bahram wounded, they were very sorry.  The Amir said to Khvajah Buzurchmihr, “You are a physician--please treat Bahram quickly, please look after this dear friend.  For if, God forbid, Bahram should die, then take heed: I swear by Mecca the Great, I won’t leave one Sasanian alive!”  Buzurchmihr, examining Bahram’s wound, became very anxious; far from being able to prescribe, he felt stupefied and perplexed, his senses left him.

In the meantime, the Father of all Runners, the Chief of the Tricksters of the World, the Shaver of Infidels’ Beards, the ‘Ayyar of the Age--that is, Khvajah ‘Amar bin Umayyah Zamiri, arrived, and happily told the Amir of the health and well-being of Khvajah ‘Abdul Muttalib.  But seeing Bahram’s condition, he burst into tears, and began saying to the Amir, “What, oh Sahib-qiran!  Do people treat their companions this way?  Do noble ones show this kind of consideration to their supporters?  Do they torment and destroy those whom they favor?”  The Amir said, “Oh ‘Amar, this is not the time for exhortation, this is not the place for veiled taunts and jeers!  We must think of a way to cure Bahram, we must take the best care of this unfortunate one.”

‘Amar said to Khvajah Buzurchmihr, “You, by the grace of God Almighty, are the physician of all physicians; what treatment do you propose?  I am thinking about it myself, I am putting my mind to it.”  The Khvajah said, “It’s a deep slash, which is considered to be the worst of all types of wound.  Unless the intestines go back into the stomach, and take their proper place, we cannot put stitches in it; and it’s impossible for the intestines to go back into the stomach.  The intestines are completely dry and tangled into a knot; the moment we touch the artery of the heart, he will die, and then nothing can be done.  And it’s impossible to carry out any scheme for sewing up the wound without touching the artery of the heart.”  ‘Amar said, “Khvajah, really you are an infallible physician, and my own true teacher, but the fact is that medicine is a difficult art--who in our day truly understands it?”

With these words, he pulled a razor out of his pocket.  Holding Bahram down between his two legs, he advanced his hand toward Bahram’s stomach.  Khvajah Buzurchmihr asked ‘Amar, “What is your intention, what has your mind hit upon?”  ‘Amar said, “Those intestines which have come out of the stomach I will cut off, through my dexterity of touch, so that the wound can be sewn up and I can apply salve and cure him.”  The Khvajah was dumbfounded:  “What is he saying?  Is he determined to take this poor man’s life?”  Bahram, when he heard these words of ‘Amar’s, was stunned; despairing of his life, he was thoroughly terrified.  As he gave a deep gasp of sadness, all his intestines went back into his stomach, and settled themselves in their own proper places.

‘Amar said to the Khvajah, “There you are, now your object has been attained!  Just look, was there any problem?  Please put in the stitches and sew up the wound.”  Buzurchmihr praised ‘Amar’s wisdom and said, “Well done!” All those present laughed uncontrollably, and in chorus began lauding and praising ‘Amar’s cleverness.  The Khvajah sewed up Bahram’s wound, and ordered him to be given sherbet to drink, so that the diseased blood would go away, and whatever other diseased matter there might be would pass out.  And he said to the Amir, “Please have Bahram’s hands and feet bound, so he won’t be able to move.  Otherwise, the stitches will tear, and the mouth of the wound will separate; and in that event it is unlikely that he could survive, I would despair of his life. I will come morning and evening to examine the wound, I will devote myself heart and soul to treating him.”  With these words, the Khvajah and Crown Prince Hurmuz and Bakhtak took leave of the Amir and went to their own homes.  Since the Amir held Bahram in great affection, he decided to stay right there with his friends, and gave his companions the order to remain.

Buzurchmihr told the whole story to the king.  The king said, “Khvajah, in Ctesiphon there is no residence better than the #Garden of Justice, no mansion in this whole city is more splendid.  I want to have Hamzah stay there for some days, and to look after him as well as possible, and to give him some gifts, to remove any despondency he might feel.  I do not want him to have doubts about me and think that Gustahm has done this foolish and base deed on a hint from me.  Gustahm’s deed has given me so much grief and pain!  Not even a word of it reached my ears at all, I swear by the #Fire-temple of Nimrod:  I never had even a hint of Gustahm’s foul scheme!  You know that the moment I heard this dreadful news, I sent people all over to arrest him, I dispatched couriers and messengers in every direction.”  With these words, he at once sent the Amir gifts to be given in charity for Bahram’s sake, and expressed the intention of going to see him.

When Buzurchmihr went to see Bahram in the evening, he said to the Amir,  “The king has ordered and declared, ‘I have sent six officers in each of the four directions to seize Gustahm, and in every direction I have dispatched secret agents and couriers.  The moment that vile wretch is captured, his stomach will be cut open and stuffed with straw.  I give a thousand thanks that you suffered no harm at that brute’s hands, the Lord has shown His great benevolence and mercy!’  The king bestowed these gifts, with perfect graciousness he sent you these presents, and he said, ‘Ask about Bahram’s condition also on my behalf, and assure him of my royal favor.’  As for his treatment, the king urged me to use some strategy that would cure Bahram’s wound with the greatest speed.  And the king said, ‘It is my pleasure to take Hamzah along to spend a week enjoying the Garden of Justice, together with his companions and the nobles.  But Bakhtak and ‘Amar are not to be of the company, for both of them are sources of conflict, and they hate each other in their hearts.’”  The Amir agreed, and accepted the royal command.

== on to Chapter 8 ==

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