SIXTY -- The Amir goes to the Fire-temple of Nimrod in order to bring Naushervan back.
        Naushervan, wandering incognito as a merchant, was robbed and beaten by a highwayman named Bahram.  He was reduced to destitution, and no one would believe his claim to be the king.  Buzurchmihr discovered his sufferings through geomancy.  Mihr Angez wrote to Hamzah, begging him to go to Naushervan’s rescue.  Hamzah agreed.  On the way, he attacked, conquered, and converted the highwayman Bahram, who then accompanied him.  Hamzah heard travelers talking of a madman at the Fire-temple of Nimrod who pretended to be Naushervan.
The Amir, hearing this, set out for the Fire-temple of Nimrod.  He reached the Fire-temple.  The attendants, seeing the Amir, brought food and set it before him.  The Amir, with Bahram, ate the food; both of them ate together.  Sitting there, they began watching the world go by.  In the evening, the wood-gatherers, carrying their loads of wood, arrived.  The Fire-temple attendants gave one piece of bread to each, they distributed it according to custom.  Last of all Naushervan too arrived, bearing a few branches of wood on his head.  The Fire-temple attendant, examining the branches, said, “Oh old man, you aren’t able to bring as much wood as the others, you cannot work as hard as the others do.  Why should you get a whole piece of bread?  Obviously you will get less than the others.”  With these words, he gave Naushervan half a piece of bread.  Naushervan was glad to get the half-piece of bread.  Taking it from the attendant, he ate it and sat down in a corner; he said nothing to anyone.

The Amir, seeing Naushervan, felt tears come into his eyes.  He said, “’Thou exaltest whom Thou wilt, and Thou abasest whom Thou wilt.’/1/  This is the same Naushervan on whose dining-cloth thousands of kinds of dishes used to be spread out, for thousands of men to eat at their pleasure!”  Meanwhile, the Fire-temple attendant sent, with great elegance, a covered tray of food for the Amir.  The Amir said to Bahram, “Go and call Naushervan, bring him here at once.  But don’t mention my name to him, and don’t call him Naushervan either.  Tell him, ‘Come over here, old man, have some food.’”  Bahram called out to Naushervan as the Amir had commanded.

The moment Bahram heard the word ‘food,’ he ran over to the Amir:  in his greed for food, he hastened to present himself.  The Amir, while respectfully greeting Naushervan, began to weep uncontrollably; seeing his broken-down condition, he began sobbing bitterly.  Naushervan said, “Oh young man, generous lord, why do you weep while you are showing me favor?”  The Amir said, “Your face is very much like my father’s face, so the tears came to me:  I remembered him, and my heart couldn’t bear it.”  The Amir, seating Naushervan by his side, began to feed him tender morsels with his own hands, hiding his own tears as he wept.

When Naushervan had eaten his fill, he began asking the Amir, “Oh young man, tell the truth--who are you, and where do you come from?  What necessity has brought you to this place?”  The Amir said, “I’m a soldier, I always keep traveling around.  But you tell me:  who are you, and what is your name?”  He replied, “Oh young man, why should you want to know my name?  If I tell the truth, you’ll at once beat me and send me away!”  The Amir swore, “I won’t say a word of reproach to you.  Tell the real truth, and have no worries about me.  Be of good cheer, I won’t do anything to make you unhappy.”

The old man replied, “I am Naushervan bin Qubad; the revolving of the heavens has brought me to this state.”  The Amir said, “Why did you leave your pomp and glory and kingdom and wealth, and get yourself into this plight?  Why did you come away from your own place?”  Naushervan replied, “Because of the tyranny of an Arab named Hamzah, I left the kingship and lived for some days as a merchant; I wandered through forests and wilderness.  One day a highwayman named Bahram looted me, he left me utterly destitute.  From there, enduring many hardships, I reached this place.  It’s true that ‘Man proposes, but God disposes.’”

The Amir asked, “What wrong has Hamzah done you, how has he oppressed you?”  Naushervan replied, “At first he was obedient to my orders.  Then he fell in love with my daughter, and carried her off without my permission; he wounded my heart with the scar of separation from her.  I felt it as a disgrace, and wandered from city to city on this account.”  The Amir said, “I’ve heard that he doesn’t want your throne, but that on the contrary it is you who are his enemy, you are always thinking of ways to kill him.  Now you’re telling me just the reverse!”  Naushervan replied, “Oh young man, the truth is that he never sought to take my life or my throne.  But I had a vazir named Bakhtak, he was worthless and most mischievous.  That wretch planted enmity between me and Hamzah.”

The Amir said, “If I bind Hamzah and give him into your custody, what will you give me?  Tell me truly how you will reward me.”  Naushervan happily replied, “Oh my noble son, through the graciousness of Lat and Manat, may I live to see the day when that high-headed one will be in my power!  At my hands he will be punished for his behavior.”  The Amir said, “Be of good cheer.  I will bind Hamzah and present him in your service.”  Naushervan said, “Oh young man, if you will seize Hamzah and hand him over to me, if you will do me this kindness, I will marry you to my daughter *Mihr Afroz, and will be grateful and beholden to you all my life.”

The Amir showed Naushervan every sort of kindness and hospitality.  From then on he did not allow him to go and gather wood, but he still did not reveal his identity to him.  He caused Naushervan to eat both meals of the day with him, he seated him respectfully by his side.  When the Amir’s three days as a guest were over, and he had enjoyed every comfort, on the fourth day the Fire-temple attendant, as was the custom, said to the Amir and Bahram, “According to our rule, your three days as a guest are over.  Now if you want to stay here, bring wood from the forest, go with the others into the forest.  You will receive bread as you have in the past, on condition that you bring as much wood as the others.”

The Amir, with Bahram and Naushervan, went off into the forest; spreading himself out at his ease in the shade of a tree, he went to sleep.  When only a little of the day remained, Naushervan said to the Amir, “Oh young man, how long will you go on sleeping?  You will be ill-treated to no purpose!  The day is almost over.  Let us break off some branches from the trees, take them to the Fire-temple, and get something to eat.”  The Amir said, “You go off to sleep too.  I’ll break off enough branches for your share also, I’ll do your part of the labor instead of you.”  The Amir, with these words, went back to sleep.

But Naushervan rose and collected some branches from here and there.  And keeping out of sight of the other wood-gatherers, he stole some wood from their piles and put it in his own bundle.  The Amir, seeing this pathetic misdeed of Naushervan’s, looked up at the sky and said, with great indignation he brought the words to his lips, “Your revolvolving has caused the King of the Seven Realms to commit a theft--you are always showing us new and fresh wonders!”  With these words, the Amir again went back to sleep.

When the sun began to set, Naushervan awakened the Amir and said, “Oh son, you have slept away the whole day.  Now all the wood-gatherers are going back with their loads.  When will you break off some branches, and set out?  Having no choice, I’ve broken off a few branches and collected them here.”  The Amir said, “I forbade you, I told you to avoid this work!  So why have you done such labor?  You’ve given yourself trouble for nothing!”

Finally Bahram got up.  Uprooting and overturning dead trees, he pulled them to the ground, ripped them apart, and made three huge loads.  The wood-gatherers, when they saw this, were absolutely astonished, and said to each other, “Are these men or Devs, that they uproot huge trees and pull them out roots and all?  Trees that are like mountains, they tear right out of the earth!”  In short, the Amir gave one load to Naushervan, and confided another to Bahram; putting one on his own head, he set out with the wood-gatherers for the Fire-temple.

On the way, the Amir noticed that Naushervan was staggering under the load of wood:  he was taking one step at a time, slowly and with great difficulty.  The Amir picked up Naushervan, together with his load, and seated him too on his head, he relieved him from even the pain of walking along the road.  When they came near the Fire-temple, he took Naushervan down from his head and deposited the loads of wood in the Fire-temple.  The Fire-temple attendants, seeing their loads, said, “These two men alone would be enough to bring all our wood--we don’t need any other wood-gatherers, there’s no necessity for more than these two!”  With these words, they sent delicious food in large quantities for the Amir and Bahram.  The Amir, with Naushervan and Bahram, had dinner.  They all felt well satisfied at heart.

That night, the Amir asked Naushervan, “Who pays for the upkeep of this fire-temple, where do its expenses come from, where does the manager get funds for it?”  Naushervan replied, “Oh son, all the attendants here are my own slaves, and its expenses are paid by my treasury.”  The Amir said, “Why don’t you reveal your identity?”  Naushervan said, “Oh son, when I first came, I told them my name.  But no one believed me, they wouldn’t even give me a place to stay!  And the attendants beat me so badly that I swelled up from head to foot like a full water-skin.”

The Amir said, “If you swear an oath that you will never again worship fire, and will take God to be One and the faith of Abraham to be the truth, then I will kill these attendants and destroy the Fire-temple, and set you again on your throne; I will make them all obey you.”  Naushervan swore.  The Amir at once went into the Fire-temple and threw one attendant into the fire, and sent many of them to Hell.  He pulled down the fire-temple, together with an idol-temple that adjoined it; he disgraced and humiliated all the fire-worshipers.

/1/ Qur’an 3:26, Arberry’s translation.

== on to Chapter 61 ==

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