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Main > Arabic folktales > Fairy tale "The Seven Stages of Roostem"

The Seven Stages of Roostem

The news of this disaster soon spread over Persia, and notwithstanding the disgust of old Zâl at the headstrong folly of his monarch, he was deeply afflicted at the tale of his misfortune and disgrace. He sent for Roostem, to whom he said, “Go, my son, and with thy single arm, and thy good horse, Reksh, release our sovereign.” Roostem instantly obeyed. There were two roads, but he chose the nearest, though it was reported to be by far the most difficult and dangerous.

Fatigued with his first day’s journey, Roostem lay down to sleep, having turned Reksh loose to graze in a neighbouring meadow, where he was attacked by a furious lion; but this wonderful horse, after a short contest, struck his antagonist to the ground with a blow from his fore-hoof, and completed the victory by seizing the throat of the royal animal with his teeth. When Roostem awoke, he was surprised and enraged. He desired Reksh never again to attempt, unaided, such an encounter. “Hadst thou been slain,” asked he of the intelligent brute, “how should I have accomplished my enterprise?”

At the second stage Roostem had nearly died of thirst, but his prayers to the Almighty were heard. A fawn appeared, as if to be his guide; and following it, he was conducted to a clear fountain, where, after regaling on the flesh of a wild ass, which he had killed with his bow, he lay down to sleep. In the middle of the night a monstrous serpent, seventy yards in length, came out of its hiding-place, and made at the hero, who was awaked by the neighing of Reksh; but the serpent had crept back to its hiding-place, and Roostem, seeing no danger, abused his faithful horse for disturbing his repose. Another attempt of the serpent was defeated in the same way; but as the monster had again concealed itself, Roostem lost all patience with Reksh, whom he threatened to put to death if he again awaked him by any such unseasonable noises. The faithful steed, fearing his master’s rage, but strong in his attachment, instead of neighing when the serpent again made his appearance, sprang upon it, and commenced a furious contest.

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