Thursday, May 18, 2017

Kolbrin - The Book of gleanings - Chpt 9 - Asarua

A tale of young love and also a tale of courtship customs of the times.  Read carefully Asarua's efforts in grooming the woodland she resides in.  Curiously a house of wattle is a typical European thatched cottage.  not so sure it actually applies to the Middle East.

This is a continuation of Hurmanetar's tale of course.

Another impressive glimpse into the Bronze Age.  Silver and gold are valued along with Bronze.



Ancheti had been left with the daughters of Formana who, having just reached maidenhood, were wilful and vexed him sorely, so that he sought places of solitude, being an unbearded youth imleamed in such matters.

Beyond the place where they dwelt there was a river, and from the hillside, away from the forest, a small stream flowed down to join it. Upward of the stream was a valley in which lay a small lake fed by an unfailing stream of sweet water. Here, in a house of wattle, dwelt a maiden whose name was Asarua, and she lived with her mother, Mamuah, who was a wise woman and blind.

The young woman had barely reached maidenhood and neither hunted for food nor dug in the ground. She dwelt in a garden of trees, her implements of toil being pruning hook and knife. Her days were spent in joyful tasks and a song was ever on her lips. She worked happily among the trees, loosening the soil about their roots, cutting away the overgrowth and pulling up the weeds. She knew the art of fostering twigs so that fruits grew on trees strange to them. She grew vines, the fruits of which were not used for wine, and these she twined around bowers and over the branches of trees.

The women dwelt under the protection of Asarua's father, but the mother of Asarua was not of his household, for he was a strange king though a mighty one. The place wherein they dwelt was fenced about and guarded by seven fierce hounds, tawny-coated and long of body. The maiden was supple and firm-breasted, she was tall and graceful, red of cheek and light of skin. Her sole garment was plainly woven and unadorned, for she lacked all the things with which women bedeck themselves. Upon her head she wore a garland of leaves and her only ornaments were flowers. She was shy and restrained of glance; nevertheless, she was not unobserved, for the eyes of men had fallen upon her from outside the place wherein she dwelt. They did not enter the place, for to them it was sacred ground upon which men feared to trespass.

One day, a hunter passed by and became smitten by her beauty and modesty. He thought also of what she had to offer, fine fruits and green growing herbs, a garden of plenty where, in her embrace, he could find rest from the rigours of the hunt. He came to pay his court, garbed as for the chase with bow on back and spear in hand. He brought with him two wild geese and a young piglet to lay at her feet, but when his steps brought him within the fence the hounds were loosed upon him. The hunter, seeing that he was unwelcome, took counsel with himself and thought, "Perhaps if I am imcouth in her sight, my brother the shepherd, will seem better in her eyes".

Therefore, the shepherd came and sat on the grass outside the fence, paying his court with music from the pipes, but she paid no heed to him. Still he remained, until wearying of his piping she called out, "Go, for what want I with one who sits blowing wind all day? Go learn music from the flowing waters".

In the days that followed others came, among them a merchant, a rich man, a lord of grainfields and vineyards.

Word of her beauty had been brought to him and he was challenged by her inaccessibility. So he thought, "If indeed it is as men say, then I will have this woman for my own. Have I not riches enough to provide all that gladdens the heart of a woman? So he came wearing a mantle of scarlet with brooches of bronze. He wore buckles of silver and ornaments of cornelian and gold. He was a man possessed of a smooth, well oiled tongue, the owner of a storehouse of fine words. He came with attendants who drove off another who sat outside the fence. The merchant came boldly through the gate of the fence, but Asarua met him. When he paid court with bejewelled words she said, "What have you to offer but gold and treasure? Think you that such unfeeling things can capture my heart? Am I to be bought as a woman bound within her father's household? Am I to be another counted among the many women you have known? An occupant of a comerplace within your heart, O man of many lovers". Then he was wrath with her, but she took no heed and the hounds drove him off, even the lordly one, for the ground here was sacred.

One day, not much later, the young Ancheti came that way and in passing he saw the maiden Asarua, but because of bis unfamiliarity with women he hesitated to speak, though he, too, was smitten by her beauty and maidenly bearing.

Passing that way again Ancheti stopped by the place and seeing an old woman seated beneath the free he said to her, "Mother, may I have some water, for I am thirsty from journeying". The woman replied, "My son, there is water in plenty below on the other side of this place, which young ears should hear, but I am blind and cannot see. I, too, thirst and therefore I beg that you enter and bring me cool water from the pool below the waterfall".

So Ancheti entered and drank, and he gave water to the woman. Though Asarua espied him from afar she did not come near, but neither were the hounds allowed near him.

Hurmanetar had returned from his strange journey, but was puzzled when he saw Ancheti was silent and spoke little, that his thoughts were not inside him. So Hurmanetar questioned him, "Wherefore are you sick? What ails you? " Then, when Ancheti spoke to him of the maiden he had seen, Hurmanetar said, "This is a delicate matter and one not for the heavy tactics of men. Does not the fawn take flight at the sight of the hunting hound? While the moonflower that closes its petals at the touch of a man opens them at the touch of a woman. Your heart has guided you rightly when counselling caution, for you are ill equipped to catch this rare bird of beauty when unaided by wisdom. For a woman's errand let us send a woman, the nightingale sings in the presence of the owl but hides in silence when the hawk roosts nearby".

Then Hurmanetar spoke with the maidservant of she who had mothered the daughters of Formana, and the maidservant agreed to do the things he told her. Thus, on the morrow she went forth unaccompanied, and coming to the place where Asarua dwelt sat down outside the gate. When the eyes of the maiden eventually fell upon her Asarua saw the bent old woman, weary and travel-stained from the journey; and out of kindness, for she was gentle and compassionate by nature, brought the old woman in, that she might sit under the shade of a tree to rest herself and eat some fruit.

After the maidservant had rested in the shade and refreshed herself, she spoke to Asarua and said, "How lovely is your garden, how well watered, how bright and refreshing its many fruits. I have heard much of this place but more of you and your beauty; but no words of men have done justice to what I see with my own eyes".

Asarua said, "The words of men often differ from the thoughts of their hearts, while flattering words are bait above a well set trap. Let us not talk of men and their wiles but of more pleasant things. Come, let us walk around the garden".

They walked and came to a place where grew a tamarisk tree, and about the tamarisk entwined a vine holding many bunches of grapes. The old maidservant said, "Behold this tree, of what value would it be were it not for the vine? Would it have any value except as firewood? And what of the tree to which it clings, would it not straggle along the ground, laying in the dust to be crushed underfoot by any passer-by? It would be a helpless thing unable to raise itself up, a barren creeper bearing no fruit. So see what benefit comes from their union and learn wisdom. Is not the tree named as a man is named and the vine as a woman is named? We who are old see lessons in such things and in learning from them gain wisdom. The young are ever loath to even read to their benefit from the book which is always open before their eyes".

Asarua listened but said little and as they walked the maidservant spoke of the young daughters of Fonnana whom she had nursed, and of the ways of man and woman. She spoke as such women speak, her tongue following a winding road. The speech of men comes out like an arrow, but the speech of women comes out like a puff of smoke. Men talk with the naked tongue, but words from the mouth of a woman are veiled and devious.

The tongue of a woman is a sword sheathed in silk. Not for nought are women called the twin-tongued.

Perchance these words were added in the days of Thalos, for not all men think thus of women.

The maidservant had an inexhaustible supply of words and Asarua was so taken aback to hear the things of which she spoke that she could find no words to answer. Thus speaking, they came to the small dwelling place where the mother of Asarua was preparing a meal. She invited the maidservant to eat with them and to sleep there that night, and this the maidservant gladly accepted.

After they had eaten, the maidservant spoke with Mamuah, the mother of Asarua, and the talk was of unfortunate women whose daughters were fair yet refused to be married, daughters who closed their ears even to good advice on marriage; whether such women were true women or unnatural women. The words which mattered were few while the words in which they were buried were many, but the former were not lost on Mamuah whose ears were not closed to such talk and they entered her heart. She gave attentive ears when the other spoke of Ancheti who, though but a youth, was wise. Though he had not yet drunk deeply from the waters of wisdom, nevertheless the well from which he drew them was a never failing one. "Be wise", said the maidservant, "choose this young man, for surely none better will come this way. He does not wander from his place of duty; he is not slothful in manner, nor does he spend his days in futile pleasures. He does not go from woman to woman, and while it is true that this could be because of his age, yet he speaks of women only with respect, which is not the way with budding fornicators. He is manly, he is of the blood of kings and above all he is wise, because he has a wise instructor. He is a youth of good promise and one who would not bestow his love lightly".

The mother of Asarua heard the words of the maidservant with both ears and when the maidservant was departing said, "Come again when the moon is new, that we may speak more of these matters". Ancheti visited the place again and when the maidservant returned at the new moon Mamuah said, "It is well, my daughter will marry the youth Ancheti. But first he must bide in the place where he now serves for one year, then he must labour in this place for one year; after this he may marry Asarua with my blessing". This seemed good in the eyes of Ancheti and so it was that he laboured two years in order to marry Asarua. 

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