SUDDENLY, in the midst of his new-found fortune, Hassan, that glory of the land and ornament of mankind, turned his face from this transitory world to the home in the eternal country.

And the devil forged in the fire of hate, Mahmoud, the foul and impious, sat on the throne of Isfahan. And the young spring turned suddenly to winter: the flower of the Sefarviye, the noble Hussein Sultan, was thrown by the tricks of cheating fate into the dungeons of injustice. And all his kin, children, brothers, and cousins, nigh three score in number,* each worthy of the crown and empire, became the prey of that deaf dog, and perished miserably, save one alone, the elect, the chosen one, Tamasib the King. Fortune was kind to him, and removed him from danger, and soon he spread his wings, and little by little rose triumphant. And hardly had one year passed when darkness fell on the soul of Mahmoud, and madness possessed his brain, and he died by his own fell hand. And Ashraf sat in his place, and followed the road of justice; he became the medicine of that wounded land, and followed the path of lovingkindness. But for Sultan Hassein alone the hand of mercy was stayed. He was a shepherd to his people, but a wolf to that poor captive. And when Shah Tamasib heard thereof he brought an army and fell on his father's murderer; he tore him from his unclean roots, and that destroying torch was plunged into the flood; of all the Afghans not a trace was left, and the besom of the Shah of Iran swept the country clean of Afghan dirt.* Isfahan arose from her grave like a dead man called back to life. And Tamasib sat on the throne of his race, and ruled, with the pomp of olden times, a very Kaikabad. And those who of the race of Iran had espoused the cause of the Afghans were pardoned by his kindness. And thus that hated one, the rival of Valeh, for all his treachery and wickedness received forgiveness. And as Jesus brought the dead to life, even so the Shah raised him from the dust. But though his soul was free from the fear of death, yet wandering became his fate, for by the Shah's command he followed with the army wheresoever it might go; he was ever in the camp, possessed with sorrow; and his fair wife Hadijeh remained behind in her mother's house. Happy Valeh, whom fortune favoured so!

In his uncle's house abode his heart's desire; there was his Mecca, there his idol! As the compass turns to the north, so turned his face to his Kaabe; and as two gamesters play together, one losing, one winning, turn by turn, and as their thoughts are fixed on the stake, and their desire is to that alone, so did Valeh and Hadijeh play together, and the stake was love; and when he had his fill of the house he would go out into the garden.

Oh, give me wine, for my heart is heavy, I can abide no more here, I must forth into the garden. Sing, musician, I am troubled. I long to hear the nightingale; perchance when I have heard him my heart will be lightened; give me wine, for my heart is heavy, and when I have drunken I will forth into the garden.

In the season of the spring, when the lamps of the world are lit anew, when the wind of the new year brings a pleasant smell, and the earth gives forth sweet savours, the nightingale, the master of a thousand tones, lifted up his voice to sing a marriage song. The nightingale made his sweet complaint, and the rose was lit by the flame of beauty; and when she heard the voice of her singer, the flaming rose, for smoke, uttered sweet savours. There stands the cypress by the waterside, like a fair Alef; and the skirts of the desert are loaded with yellow roses.*

In such a season came Hadijeh into the garden; like spring she came into the garden, and with her came a troop of friends and servants; she like the spring, they like the flowers of spring. She came smiling, in content and jollity, and all the flowers bade her welcome. And when they were aware of her presence they held their tribute ready, the gold of their petals and the jewels of their dew. And when the nightingale saw Hadijeh, he forgot the rose; when the ring­dove beheld her form, the cypress mourned neglected.* The rosebud smiled when she saw her, and said, “My mouth is like hers”; and the nightingale answered, “Like, but not so fair.” When she raised her veil all the flowers said together, “Behold, another spring is come!”

And from behind her fell Valeh's shadow at her feet: fell from her hands the reins of waiting.

And they passed from flower to flower. And for Valeh Paradise with its houris was nought in comparison with her: without her life itself was nothing: pleasure and sorrow and death and life what were they in the light of love? With­out love, Paradise is as hell: with love, hell the envy of Paradise.

And as they walked they came to a flowering tree; not a tree, but Sinai aflame; on every branch was the white hand of Moses,* and from every branch the wind scattered flowers, when, like a sportive fair one, the tree flicked her shining skirts. And in the tree sat a nightingale, and he was busied with the song of his desire. And when Valeh heard the song of that fellow-servitor of love, he wept and raised his voice and sang:

“Oh eye and light of living things, the garden of life rejoices in thee; without thee the joy of life is gone. Thou art the cupbearer, but the wine of life moistens not my lips. How long shall I live bereft of love? I shall die from the pain of living.”

And when she heard his song, she answered:

“Oh tulip from the garden of love, heart-weary prisoner of love, we are not strangers, though lovers we may not be; stretch not out thy hand for the cup of meeting, enough for thee is the wine of friendship: for he that drinks that pure wine shall thirst no more; seek not a guide to that forbidden road; forget it, sweet friend, for friendship is here.”