The two powerful armies of the Tartars and the Persians are encamped along the banks of the Oxus River. It is night, and the soldiers are asleep, but daylight will bring a great conflict between mighty forces. To one Tartar, rest refuses to come. In the grayness of the early dawn, he leaves his bed and makes his solitary way through the black tents of the great encampment to the quarters of Peran-Wisa, commander of the Tartar army. He is Sohrab, the youthful champion of the Tartars. Hardly more than a boy, he develops into the mightiest fighter of the Tartar host. Young in years and famous in arms, he is nevertheless restless and discontented. Above everything else, he wants to find the father he has never seen, the incomparable Rustum, invincible chieftain of the Persians.
Rustum does not even know that he has a son. He is told that a woman of Ader-baijan, after his departure from that place, bore him a child, but that was years earlier. Rustum gives the matter little thought because he believes the child to be a girl. After Sohrab is born, the fearful mother, hoping to prevent her son from being taken from her and reared for war, deceives Rustum with that report. Nevertheless, Sohrab becomes a warrior, and his mother’s ruse avails nothing except to keep her son from a knowledge of his father.
Peran-Wisa awakens when Sohrab enters and asks an unusual favor of him: Sohrab wishes to challenge a leader of the Persians to single combat, the duel to occur as soon as arrangements can be made. He hopes that his fame as a fighter will thereby reach the ears of his father. Peran-Wisa urges patience and questions his wisdom in thus tempting fate, but at last he...
(The entire section is 687 words.)