FORTY-ONE -- The dastan of Khvajah ‘Amar ‘Ayyar’s going from his previous fort to the fort of Devdad, with Princess Mihr Nigar and the army of Islam.

The sweetly-speaking narrators write that after a year, the officers said to Khvajah ‘Amar ‘Ayyar, “The provisions in the fort are exhausted.  All the people are oppressed by hunger, they’re distraught and confused.”  The Khvajah asked Sayad, “In this area is there any other fort in which we could go and stay for a while, and be free of the worry of want?”  Sayad said, “Two stages’ journey from here is a fort named #Devdad; it was built by Jamshed, and equipped very elegantly with all the comforts.  In strength, no fort can equal it--even Mount #Alburz can’t compare with it for height and firmness.  Nature has placed four mountains around it.  Jamshed placed very heavy iron staples in those mountains, and attached very thick chains to them.  He put up very strong pegs, and closed the fort up with iron slabs; he brought it to an extremely high level of strength.  Leaving a space of four hands, he built iron walls, and filled up the space with sand.  And the fort is so extensive in size that there are fields within it; it is not necessary to send for grain from outside.  Anyone staying in the fort lacks for nothing, not even food.  But there is only one way into the fort, and it is such a narrow road that only one man can pass at a time, two men cannot go abreast on it; a number of people cannot manage to enter at the same time.”

‘Amar, hearing about the fort, was delighted; sending for the officers, he instructed them, “Keep very close watch over this fort.  I am going to see about another fort, I’m going to carry out a scheme for your comfort.”  With these words, he took off his royal attire, put on ‘ayyari costume, left the fort, and traveled with huge bounds to the fort of Devdad.  He circled around the fort, looking for a point of entry, but found none; he couldn’t see any way to get in.  Seating himself on a hillock, he looked at the interior part of the fort and marveled at it, for such a fort had never been seen or heard of before.  Seeking a means of entry into the fort, he dived repeatedly into the ocean of thought and began to devise plans; various kinds of ideas began to pass through his mind.

And what did he see then but an iron balcony with a window.  At the window a water-carrier was standing, drawing up water from below, hauling up water as was his appointed duty.  ‘Amar reflected that he would never find a better stairway than this for entering the fort, no other stratagem would be available.  Keeping out of the water-carrier’s sight, he leaped into the water and seated himself in the leather bucket.

When the water-carrier found the bucket heavy, he was astonished.  Peering down, he saw that a man of peculiar appearance was sitting in the bucket.  In his stupidity he thought, “My fortune is made--a merman/1/ has come into my bucket!  My ascendant star has brought me an infinite treasury!”  He began to draw up the bucket slowly and gently, for fear the merman would fall out and the matchless prize would be lost.  When the bucket had risen up to the pulley, he stretched out his hand to seize the merman, and planned to pull him out of the bucket.  ‘Amar sprang out to where the water-carrier was, grabbed him by the neck, and threw him down into the water--he played this trick on him.  The water in the moat was deep, the water-carrier’s cup of life had already been filled to the brim.  Rising and sinking a few times, he drowned in the sea of death.

‘Amar, taking on his appearance, began drawing up the water; he took over the water-carrier’s job.  When the water-skin had been filled, he reflected, “I don’t know where he normally took his water, or what it was meant to be used for.”  Prudently he lay down.  The other water-carriers, who had come to draw water, and had brought their water-skins to that place, waved their hands and asked, “Friend Fattu, are you all right?  Why are you lying down like this?”  ‘Amar replied, “Oh brothers, I’m feeling feverish right now, the heat has spread into my heart.  If you would kindly send word to my home, it would be extremely gracious of you.”

A water-carrier informed Fattu’s children, “Fattu is lying on the wall of the fort, trembling with fever; he is panting with the heat and his fever.”  The wife and children went running there as soon as they heard the news, picked him up, and brought him home; seeing his condition, everyone was very grieved.  ‘Amar stayed peacefully asleep, and allowed himself a good rest.  When about half the night was over, Fattu’s wife woke him up and asked, “Won’t you eat something, won’t you at least put a little food into your stomach?”  ‘Amar replied, “I’m not hungry.”  She said, “I’ve made some soft porridge--do eat a little, so you won’t lose your strength.”  ‘Amar replied, “All right, bring it.  If you really want to, well, you can feed me some.”

‘Amar, having eaten the soft porridge and washed his hands and face, lit the huqqah--when suddenly from outside someone called, and yelled out, “Friend Fattu, are you awake or asleep?  Just come outside a moment, I have something to say to you.”  ‘Amar said to himself, “May God protect me!  Let’s see what happens, and what new disastrous changes the times will show me.  At this time, when two watches of the night have passed, who has sought me out, and what urgent errand has brought him here?”

Fattu said to his wife, “Ask who it is.”  The woman asked, “Sir, what is your name, and what do you want with him at this hour of the night?  He’s very sick, he can’t go outside.  He’s so sick and weak, he can’t even walk a step!”  The man replied, “I am the chief of the king’s ‘ayyars, I’m the officer over them all.  I have to tell him something very important.”  When ‘Amar heard the word “’ayyar,” he was inwardly uncertain and doubtful, and his heart was overcome by foreboding.  He asked the woman, “Has this man come before?”  She said, “No, not at all.”  He felt even more fearful:  “Right at the first I’ve encountered an ‘ayyar--this is a very bad thing!  May God protect me!”  Helplessly, moaning and groaning, he went out:  “Oh God, save me from disaster!”

The chief, when he saw him, said, “Oh ‘Ayyar and King of ‘Ayyars, peace be upon you!”  ‘Amar replied, “Sir, this is the house of Fattu the water-carrier; the house of the King of ‘Ayyars must be down the street!”  Ham of Devdad replied, “Oh Khvajah, why hide from me?  I too am a Muslim, and I’ve been longing with my whole heart and soul to meet you, I’ve been waiting for you for two months and thinking of you every moment most lovingly!”  With these words, he fell at ‘Amar’s feet.  ‘Amar pressed Ham’s head to his breast, and began to say affectionate words.  Ham of Devdad said, “Let’s go--you can seize the king, you can carry out the task for which you’ve come.  Then after that we’ll see what happens, we’ll take heed of whatever comes to pass.  This servant will share in your fortunes, however dark the night may be.”

These two, keeping out of sight of the guards, used their nooses and arrived in the sleeping quarters of ‘Antar of Devdad; through their ingenuity they reached the inner part of the fort.  ‘Amar saw that the king, covered by a double-sided embroidered shawl, was sleeping on a bed under a satin canopy made in China.  He was all alone, without any servant near him; all the servants were heedless, and he too was deep in the sleep of ignorance.  ‘Amar pulled the end of the shawl away from the king’s face, and was on the verge of blowing knockout-powder into his nose, when the king seized his hand. ‘Amar jerked his hand away, he gave his hand a forceful wrench.  ‘Amar’s ring stayed in the king’s hand.  ‘Amar started to leave fast, to be on his way quickly.

The king called out to him, “Oh Khvajah, don’t run away from me!  Listen to me a moment, and do what I say.  Just now Hazrat Abraham appeared to me in a dream, made me a Muslim, told me of your coming, and instructed me to support you.  Otherwise, I don’t have any mystical knowledge through which to recognize you, or to know your situation without your telling me!”  ‘Amar, hearing this speech, stood still.  The king rose and embraced ‘Amar, and commanded with the greatest affection and sincerity, “In the morning go and bring all your people, bring them here without any hesitation.  This fort is yours.  Hurmuz and Faramarz are of no account--if even Jamshed or Jam/2/ came, he couldn’t take this fort, or give you any kind of trouble!”

‘Amar at once took leave of the king, and went to his previous fort.  Telling the officers that the fort of Devdad had been taken, he rested during the day.  When two watches of the night had passed, he had Mihr Nigar enter a gold-adorned palanquin, and sent her, along with the army, to the fort of Devdad.  He himself, having set up paper figures here and there in the old fort, started out last of all.  In two days he entered the fort of Devdad, and found every sort of comfort there.

/1/ The term used is [jal maanus].
/2/ Jam [jam] was an ancient king of Persia.

== on to Chapter 42 ==

 -- Amir Hamzah index page -- fwp's main page --