After the Worm was killed, Ardashir returned to Gobar. His forces and treasures came to the frontiers of Kerman, and to the battle against Barjan. Now he had with him two of Artabanus's sons, the other two having been fugitives at the court of the King of Kabul. The latter dispatched a message, a written letter, to their sister, as she was the wife of Ardashir, to the following effect: "It is quite fair that people do not divulge secrets to such women, since thou hast forgotten the deaths of thy near relations, of thy illustrious kinsmen, whom that sinner [Ardashir], the enemy of God, unbecomingly killed to death. Consequently, thou hast abandoned every trace of love and affection for those two miserable brothers, who are subject to distress, difficulties, fear, terror, and indignity in exile and in the district of battles; as well as for those two other unlucky brothers of thine, upon whom that perfidious man inflicts punishment with the fetters of imprisonment, and who always wish for death as a gift. Thy mind has been sincere with the faithless one, so thou hast no sympathy or regard for us.
"That person will pass away distressed who will henceforward boast of, or trust, any woman in this world. Now this is, likewise, our mutual vow through thee, that thou shouldst choose some means for our sake, and dost not fail to avenge the deaths of thy father and thy near relations, who were illustrious; that thou shouldst accept from this man the fatal poison that is forwarded to thee with one of our trustworthy male relatives, and, whenever thou canst, administer it to that sinner and faithless wretch before he takes his meal, so that he directly dies, and both thy imprisoned brothers be set at liberty; and we, too, shall return to our native town, country, and land; thereby thy soul will be made worthy of Paradise, and an eternal fame established for thyself, while other women in this world will regard thy good acts as most worthy their respect and esteem."
When the daughter of Artabanus observed the letter sent to her in that form, along with poison, she contemplated upon the matter thus: "I ought to act accordingly, and relieve these two brothers from their fetters." One day as Ardashir was very hungry and thirsty, he went back from the chase to his residence to take dinner, and when he had finished saying of the Zarathustrian prayer of grace, his consort handed to him the poison mixed with flour and milk with these words: "First of all, pray drink this, because you will thereby refresh yourself from heat and fatigue."
Ardashir, having held it in his hand, was going to drink it, when, people relate that the glorious fire Frobag, which is victorious, flew into the room in the shape of a red hawk, struck the goblet containing the flour with its wing, and the goblet with the entire flour fell from the hand of Ardashir on the ground. Both Ardashir and his wife got confused when they beheld this. A cat and a dog that were in the house licked up the contents and perished instantly.
Ardashir understood that: "That was some poison prepared for killing me." He instantly sent for the chief of the Mobads, and questioned him thus: "O Airpat! what dost thou think of one who attempts the life of her lord, and what should be done to her?" The Mobad replied: "May you be immortal! May you attain to your object! She who attempts the life of her lord is worthy of death, and should be killed." Ardashir then ordered the Mobad: "Take this dissolute woman, who is a sorceress, who is the offspring of wicked parents, to the executioner, and order him to kill her." The high priest, holding the hand of the woman, left the court.
The latter addressed the priest in these words: "Inform Ardashir that this day I have completed seven months of pregnancy; because if I am worthy of death, this offspring that I have in my womb should not also be regarded as worthy of death." On hearing these words, the high priest turned about and went back to Ardashir, and addressed him as follows: "May you be immortal! This woman is pregnant, so she must not be executed, for a time, until she is delivered of the child; for if she is fit to be killed, the offspring that is in her womb from your Majesty should not also be considered worthy of death, and executed." As Ardashir entertained wrath, he said: "Don't stay a moment; kill her." The high priest knew that Ardashir was full of wrath, and would have to repent it; so he did not allow the woman to be killed; but he conveyed her to his house, and kept her in concealment.
He then said to his wife: "Keep this woman respectfully, and say nothing about her to anybody." When the time of delivery approached, she gave birth to a very worthy son. He was named Shapur [the later Shapur the Great]; and he was reared there till he reached the age of seven years.
One day Ardashir went a-hunting; and, on entering the forest, he gave his horse loose rein in pursuit of a female elk, when the male elk coming straight up against Ardashir, rescued the hind, and gave himself up to death. Ardashir laid low the male animal, and galloped his horse against the fawn. The mother, on seeing the rider turn his horse in pursuit of her fawn, came and relieved her young one by delivering herself up to death.
Ardashir, having observed this incident, stopped, pondering, and became sympathetical; and when he turned back his horse he mused upon the scene as follows: "Woe be unto man, who ought to follow, but does not follow, these dumb quadrupeds that are irrational and speechless, but so faithful toward one another that one lays down his life for the sake of his mate or his young one." He was then fully reminded of the child she had in her womb, and he, on horseback as he was, loudly uttered a mournful cry.
When the military chieftains, grandees, nobles, and princes beheld such a state of things, they stood perplexed for a time, and went all together toward the head of the Mobads and questioned him thus: "How could such a thing happen that Ardashir should remain in such a lonely mood, and be visited by wailing, grief, and sorrow, and should cry aloud in that manner?"
The chief of the Mobads, the commander-in-chief of Arian, the commander of the guards, the chief of the secretaries, and the moral preceptor of the princes went near Ardashir, fell prostrate on their faces, made obeisance, and addressed him as follows: "May you be immortal! Pray do not render yourself melancholy in this manner and fill your heart with grief and lamentation. If it be possible to contrive means, through human activity, to undo an act that has been done, make us also cognizant of it, so that we may lay before you our bodies, lives, riches, wealth, wives and children; but if it be such a calamity that no remedy can be found, pray do not render yourself and ourselves, the subjects of the region, full of grief and lamentation."
Ardashir said in reply: "Nothing adverse has now happened unto me; but today on my personally beholding the dumb, speechless, and stupid quadrupeds in a certain condition in the forest, I was reminded of the wife and innocent child that was in the mother's womb, of whose execution I was the deviser and judge; wherefore a grievous sin should be on my soul." When the head Mobad observed that Ardashir repented of the act, he fell prostrate on his face, and addressed him thus: "May you be immortal! Order that the punishment of margarzan sinners, or of those that disobey the king's command, should be inflicted upon me."
Ardashir said surprisingly: "Why dost thou speak so? What crime hast thou committed?" The chief of the Mobads answered: "That woman and the child, whom you had ordered to kill, have not been killed by us, and a son has been born, who is more handsome and accomplished than all the newly born children and princes." Ardashir said with amazement: "What sayest thou?" The high priest said: "May you be immortal! It is so as I have said." Ardashir ordered that a superb present consisting of red rubies, kingly pearls, and jewels, should be made to the Mobad.
Directly somebody entered, bringing in Shapur. On beholding his own son, Shapur, Ardashir fell prostrate on his face, and offered much thanksgiving unto Ahuramazda, the Amshaspands, the Glory of the Kavans, and the victorious Atash-i-Vahram, and he spoke as follows: "What has come to me has never been the lot of any lord or king. Who was there that came back to life from amongst the dead, like such a beautiful offspring as mine, before the millennium, the Resurrection, and the Final Renovation, of Soshyans?" On that very site he ordered the erection of a city which they call Raye-i-Shapur. He also established there an Atash-i-Varahran, transferred much riches and wealth to the building of the "King of the Sacred Fires," and ordered the continuation therein of many religious duties and acts.
Afterward Ardashir marched toward different frontiers, and fought many bloody battles with the principal rulers of the territory of Arian. But always when one of the frontiers was restored to order, another rose in perfidy and unsubmission. Ardashir largely gave away his riches for this very purpose; and he communed with himself as follows: "Is it not perhaps destined for me by Providence that the kingdom of Arian should be restored by me to an absolute monarchy?"
He, therefore, determined thus: "We ought to consult several learned and sagacious Indian princes, who are soothsayers, as to whether it is so that it is not appointed by our destiny to conduct the sovereignty of the kingdom of Arian, and we ought to remain content with our lot, to invoke blessings, to abandon these bloody battles, and to rest quietly ourselves from such drudgery of the time of life."
Consequently, Ardashir dispatched one of his confidential men to the head Kait of India to put him the question concerning the restoration of the kingdom of Arian to an empire. When Ardashir's man reached the presence of the Kait of India, the latter, observing the messenger, spoke to him, before he could express himself, to the following effect: "Are you sent by the King of the Persians to put me the question: 'Will the sovereignty of the kingdom of Arian reach unto me as its emperor'? Now return and give him this reply from me: 'Such a monarchy can not be restored by any one except by a person who will be a descendant of two different families; one is yours, another that of Mitrok, son of Anoshepat.'"
The messenger returned to the presence of Ardashir, and communicated the opinion of the Kait of India, so that Ardashir became informed of it. When Ardashir heard his words, he said: "May the day never come when, from the line of Mitrok, whose soul is perverted, anybody should become dominant in the kingdom of Arian, because as regards myself Mitrok, who was of a grievous and mischievous race, was personally my enemy, while his descendants, who are alive, are all enemies of myself and my children; so if they become powerful and seek their father's vengeance, they will prove harmful to my children."
In consequence of wrath and malice, Ardashir went to the dwelling of Mitrok, and ordered that all his children should be belabored and killed. There was a daughter of Mitrok's, three years old, whom the village authorities privately carried away from the house, and gave in charge of a farmer, directing him that he should bring her up, and attend to her wants. The farmer acted accordingly and reared her in an excellent manner. And when several years elapsed the maiden reached the age of womanhood, and the beauty and gait of her body, her dexterity, her physical strength and power developed so well that she was regarded as the best and most prominent of all women.
According to the appointment of nature and time, one day Shapur, son of Ardashir, happened to pass by that town on his way to the hunting-ground; and at the close of the chase he himself with nine horsemen returned to the country-farm wherein the maiden lived. The farmer's daughter was sitting on the top of the well, drawing water from it, and supplying it to the quadrupeds. The farmer was away on some business. As soon as the maiden beheld Shapur and his horsemen, she got up, made obeisance, and addressed him as follows: "You are welcome in health, goodness, and blessings. Pray take rest, because this place is delightful, and the shade of trees pleasant; and as the time is hot I will draw out some water, which you yourself and the horses may drink."
Shapur was vexed owing to fatigue, hunger, and thirst, so he answered the maiden peevishly thus: "We will have water for ourselves; thou needst not trouble thyself about it." The maiden went away dejected and sat aside. Then Shapur spoke to the horsemen as follows: "Throw that bucket into the well and draw out water, so that we may drink it, and you may give it to the quadrupeds to drink. They acted accordingly and cast the bucket into the well; but owing to the largeness of the bucket it was impossible for them to draw it up full of water. The maiden was observing this from a distance.
Shapur, on seeing that his horsemen could not draw the bucket up from the well, grew angry, went himself to the top of the well, and abusing those horsemen said: "Shame and disgrace to you who are less hardy and less qualified than a woman." So saying he seized the rope from the hands of the horsemen, and applying his own force to the rope he drew up the bucket from the well. The maiden felt surprised at the strength, skill, and vigor of Shapur.
No sooner did she see this than she, with the strength, skill, and vigor that were purely established in her, drew up the bucket full of water from the well, and went running to Shapur, bowed down to him, and exclaimed: "May you be immortal, Shapur, son of Ardashir, the best of heroes!" Shapur laughed and asked the maiden: "How dost thou come to know that I am Shapur?" The maiden replied: "I have heard from many people that there is not a single horseman in the kingdom of Arian who can emulate Shapur, son of Ardashir, in physical strength, vigor, the beauty and gait of body, and dexterity."
Shapur said to the maiden: "Tell me, truly, whose offspring art thou?" The maiden answered: "I am the daughter of the farmer who stays in this village." Shapur said: "Thou dost not say the truth, since the daughter of a peasant has no such skill, vigor, gait, and decency as thou possessest. Now we will not believe thee until thou speakest the truth." The maiden replied: "If thou shouldst give me protection, I would sincerely tell you the truth." Shapur exclaimed: "Protection! Don't be afraid."
The maiden said: "I am the daughter of Mitrok, son of Anoshepat, and brought to this place on account of the fear of Ardashir, and of the seven children of Mitrok none has survived up to now except myself." Shapur summoned the farmer before him, solemnly accepted the maiden as his wife, and remained with her for the night. According to the law of creation, that is, according to the law of nature, that very night the maiden became pregnant with Hormazd, son of Shapur [Hormazd I, r. 272, killed in battle by the Roman Emperor Aurelian]. Shapur kept his wife in royal pomp and respect, and Hormazd, son of Shapur, was born from her.
Shapur kept Hormazd in secrecy from his father, until he reached the age of seven years. One day Hormazd went to the race-course with the youth and princes of the family of Ardashir, and while he was playing polo with them Ardashir happened to be sitting there in his camp with the high priest, the commander of the warriors, several noblemen and grandees, and attentively beholding them. Hormazd, as well as the youth, was victorious and warlike at riding And naturally one of them struck his polo-club to the ball which fell on the side of Ardashir, and the latter connived at it. The youth stood dumbfounded, and none would ride on or proceed further owing to the grandeur of Ardashir. But Hormazd intrepidly went toward him, took up the ball, and, striking it back courageously, he raised a cry of Joy.
Ardashir asked one of those present: "Whose boy is this?" They said: "May you be immortal! We do not know this boy." Ardashir sent a person, called the boy in his presence and asked him: "Whose son art thou?" Hormazd answered: "I am the son of Shapur." Instantly he dispatched a person and summoned Shapur and questioned him thus: "Whose son is that?" Shapur solicited protection, saying: "Grant it, O Ardashir." And protection was granted by him to Shapur.
Shapur then said: "May you be immortal! This son is mine. I kept him in secrecy from you for seven years." Ardashir replied: "What is the cause of this impropriety of thy withdrawing such a worthy son from my sight for seven years?" So saying he embraced Hormazd, gave him many a gift, and garment, and offered thanksgiving to God. He then expressed himself thus: "This confirms what the Kait of India has predicted."
Afterward, when Hormazd attained to sovereignty, he was able to bring back the whole kingdom of Arian under an absolute monarchy; and he actually brought the head rulers of different frontiers under his submission. And he demanded contribution and tribute from Arum [Rome] and India, and made the kingdom of Arian more embellished, more efficient, and more famous than before.
And the Emperor of the Arumians, the Tab of Kabul, the Rajah of the Hindus, the Khan of the Turks, and other chief rulers of different countries, had come to his court with sweet salutations.
Completed with gratification, pleasure, and joy.
May Ardashir, the King of kings, son of Papak, and Shapur, the King of kings, son of Ardashir, and Hormazd, the King of kings, son of Shapur, be immortal-souled!
May the immortal-souled Rustam, son of Mitro-avan, who has written this copy, be so, and more so!