Book of Dede Korkut/Legend V

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Book of Dede Korkut
Anonymous
Legend V: The Story of Emren, Son of Begil

Bayindir Khan, the son of Kam Gan, arose from his place and had his large white tent erected on the surface of the black earth. His brown canopy colored the sky, and his silk carpets were spread out in a thousand places. The beys of the Inner and Outer Oghuz were all invited to his presence.

The tribute of the nine divisions of Georgia was brought forward. It consisted only of a horse, a sword and a club, and Bayindir Khan was very much disappointed with it. Dede Korkut came, played the kopuz and then asked: "My khan, why are you upset?"

Bayindir Khan replied: "Why should I not be upset? Every year in the past they sent gold and silver money, which we distributed among the beys and young men to make them happy. Now, to whom can I give these things? Whom would I make happy with them?"

Dede Korkut suggested: "My khan, let us give these three things to a young man, and let him serve as the watchman of the Oghuz."

Bayindir Khan asked: "To whom shall we give them?" He looked to his left and his right, but no one would accept them. There was a man there by the name of Begil. Bayindir Khan looked at him and said: "What do you say?"

Begil accepted the gifts by standing up and then kissing the earth. Dede Korkut politely girded him with the sword, placed the club on his shoulder and attached his bow to his wrist. Begil had his strong horse brought to him so that he could mount it. He packed up his tent, gathered his relatives, broke camp, and left the Oghuz. Going to Berde and Genje, he settled there to patrol the border of an area where nine divisions of Georgians were stationed. Whenever a stranger or an infidel came along, he cut off his head and sent it to the Oghuz as a gift.

He attended Bayindir Khan's annual council, but one day a messenger came from Bayindir Khan asking him to report to the court right away. Begil went to Bayindir Khan's court, presented him his gifts and kissed his hand. The khan entertained him as his guest, rewarding him with a good horse, fine clothes and much gold. Begil was the khan's house guest for three days. One day, the khan said: "Beys, let us entertain him now as our hunting guest and feed him with game for three more days." A hunting party was announced.

While preparations were being made for the hunt, some of the beys praised their horses, while others boasted about the way they drew their swords and shot their arrows. Salur Kazan praised neither his horse nor himself, but he talked about Begil's skill as a hunter. If there was a hunting party of three hundred and sixty-six horsemen and they went after a deer, Begil would neither pull his bowstring nor shoot his arrow. He used to remove his bow from over his wrist and just throw it around the neck of the male deer or wild cattle, and stop the animal by pulling it. If the animal was lean, he used to make a hole through its ear as a sign and let it free. If the animal was fat, he used to cut its throat. Whenever the beys killed a deer with a hole in its ear, they knew that it was Begil's and they would send it to him.

Kazan Bey wondered aloud: "Is the skill in the horse or in the man?"

Those present said: "It is in the man, my khan."

The khan insisted: "No. If the horse does not do his work, the man cannot boast. The skill is in the horse."

Begil was not pleased with these remarks of the khan. He said: "You have pushed us into the mud with the crupper of our horse, and among all these heroes." He just dropped the gifts he had received from Bayindir in front of him, for he was offended, and then he left his council. They brought him his horse, and he rode home with his brown-eyed companions. There, his sons came out to meet them, but he would not fondle them; he would not talk to his white-faced wife.

She addressed him at this point. Let us hear, my khan, what she said.

My bey, the master of my golden throne,
You whom I loved with all my heart
When I opened my eyes. You arose and set out
And, taking your brown-eyed companions,
You crossed, by night, the Ala Mountain with the curving back;
You crossed, by night, swift rivers and fair streams,
To reach, by night, the council of the white-browed Bayindir, our khan.
You ate and drank among the brown-eyed beys.
Saw you not your relatives and tribesmen?
Were you angered in some argument?
And where is your fine horse?
You lack your golden armor and your helmet.
You failed to fondle your young brown-eyed sons.
You spoke not to your white-faced love.
Now tell me what it is that troubles you."

Begil replied to his wife. Let us see, my khan, what he said to her.

"I stood up from my place to go,
Mounting my black-maned Kazilik horse.
I crossed, by night, the Ala Mountain with the curving back;
I crossed, by night, swift rivers and fair streams;
I reached the council of the white-browed Bayindir;
I ate and drank among the brown-eyed beys.
I saw my tribesmen and my relatives.
I saw, too, that our khan's eyes turned away from us.
Let all the camp prepare to move,
For we shall go to Georgian lands.
Let it be known that I revolted from the Oghuz."

His wife said: "My man, my bey, the kings are the shadows of Allah on Earth. Whoever revolts against his king will have bad luck. If there is rust in a clean heart, wine will remove it. Since you went away, no one has hunted on your beautiful mountains stretching yonder. Go there and hunt. It will cheer your heart."

Begil found his wife's advice to be reasonable. Having his Kazilik horse brought out, he mounted it and went hunting. As he wandered about, hunting, a deer jumped out along the trail before him. He let his horse chase the deer, and, when they reached the animal, he just put his bowstring around its neck. The animal jumped down a steep decline, however, and Begil, who could not stop his horse, flew after the deer and broke his right leg when it struck a rock. He raised himself and cried out: "I have neither a grown son nor a brother to help me now." He took an arrowhead from his quiver and, cutting the cruppers of his horse, he tied it firmly around his leg beneath his clothes. Gathering what strength he had left, he leaped upon his horse, held tightly to its mane, and rode back all alone. As he approached his camp, his turban became tangled around his neck.

He was met by his son Emren Bahadir, who saw that his father's face was pale and that his turban had fallen around his neck. The boy questioned his father about his companions. Let us see, my khan, what he said.

"You stood up from your place to go,
Mounting your black-maned Kazilik horse.
You went to hunt at the foot of yonder mountains brown.
Were you met by black-dressed infidels?
Were all your dark-eyed warriors killed?
Tell it all briefly, for my poor head is a sacrifice for you."

Let us see how Begil answered his son, my khan.

"Son, son, oh, son!
I stood up from my place and went
To hunt at the foot of yonder mountains dark.
I was not met by black-dressed infidels,
Nor were my brown-eyed warriors killed.
Fear not, my son. My comrades are all safe and strong.
But I have not been well for three days, son.
Remove me from my horse and bear me to my bed."

The son of a lion is also a lion. He put his arms around his father, took him down from his horse and carried him to his bed. He covered him with his cloaks and shut the door of his room.

When Begil's young companions had seen that the hunt had ended, each went to his home. For five days after that, Begil did not appear at the council, nor did he tell anyone that his leg was broken. One morning as he was moaning and sighing in his bed, his wife said to him: "My young bey, if you had been met by superior enemy forces, you would not have minded that. If an arrow were stuck in your thigh, you would not moan. Will you not tell your secret to your legal wife who sleeps with you? What is the matter with you?"

Begil replied: "My love, I fell from my horse and my leg was broken."

She clapped her hands and told this news to the servant. She went outside and told it to the doorkeeper. What came out through the thirty-two teeth spread throughout the camp in no time: "Begil fell off his horse, and his leg was broken!"

It happened that there was an infidel spy in that place. He heard the news and reported it to his king, who said: "Bestir yourselves! Catch Begil Bey while he is lying in his bed. Bind his hands, cut off his beautiful head and spill his red blood upon the earth. Plunder his tribe and his camp, and capture both his daughters and his daughters-in-law."

It happened that Begil also had a spy in the area. He sent word to Begil, saying: "Prepare for battle! The enemy is coming."

Begil looked up and said: "The heavens are deep and far away, and the earth is hard." He called his son to his side and spoke to him. Let us hear, my khan, what he said.

"Son, son, oh, son!
The light of my eyes in darkness, son!
The strength of my backbone, son!
Now see what befell me;
See what recently happened to me.
Son, I arose from my place
And mounted the red stallion's back — may its neck be broken.
While I hunted and wandered about,
He was angry and threw me to earth,
So I broke my right leg.
It was this that befell my poor head.
The news has now crossed the dark mountains,
Has crossed rivers flowing with blood,
Until it has reached Iron Gate Pass,
Where Shokli Melik with his dappled horse
In ambush waits, while the smoke from his camp
Settles round the dark mountains.
He has ordered that Begil Bey be caught in his bed
And his white hands be tied,
That his colorful camp should be plundered,
His pale daughters and daughters-in-law should be captured.
Son, arise from your place and depart.
Go quickly and mount your black Kazilik horse.
Pass, by night, over yon Ala Mountain
To reach the council of white-browed Bayindir, our khan.
Greet Bayindir there with the word of your mouth
And then kiss the hand of Kazan, bey of beys.
Tell how your white-bearded father is pressed,
How he wishes Kazan Bey to come to his aid.
Tell him lest he comes, the land will be ruined,
My daughters and daughters-in-law will be captured."

The son replied to his father. Let us see what he said, my khan.

"My father, what is it you say?
Oh, why are you burning my heart?
I refuse to arise from my place and depart,
Or to mount my big Kazilik horse with black mane,
Or to pass Ala Mountain with back that is curved,
Or to go to the council of white-browed Bayindir.
Who is Kazan, I ask? I shall not kiss his hand.
Give to me the red stallion beneath you.
Let me ride him until he sweats blood.
Give to me your steel armor all hard-backed;
Let me put on the clothes made for you.
Give to me your black sword made of steel;
Let me cut human heads off for you.
Give to me your white-tailed whistling arrow;
Let me shoot it through enemy ranks.
Give to me your three hundred bold warriors;
Let me fight in the cause of Mohammed's religion for you."

Begil replied to this as follows: "I am extremely pleased with what you have said, son. I only hope that you will fight just as hard as I would. Ho! Bring my armor and let my son wear it. Bring my stallion and let my son mount it. Let him enter the battlefield before my people are frightened."

After the young man was arrayed, he embraced his father and mother and kissed their hands. Taking his three hundred men, he reached the field of battle. Whenever the red stallion picked up the scent of the enemy, he would paw the earth with his hooves, sending a cloud of dust skyward.

The infidels said: "That horse is Begil's! Let us go!"

Their bey said: "Look well, and let me know if it is Begil coming. If it is, I shall run away before you do."

A watchman looked and saw that the horse was indeed Begil's, though Begil himself was not on it. There was instead a small bird-like boy on the horse. He went and reported this to the infidel bey, saying: "The horse, the weapons and the helmet are Begil's, but Begil himself is not there."

The infidel bey said, "Select one hundred men to make a lot of noise and frighten the boy, for boys are bird-hearted. He will just leave the field and run away."

One hundred men were selected, and they rode against the boy, addressing him as follows:

"Boy, boy, oh, boy!
Oh, bastard boy!
Whose horse beneath him is so lean, oh, boy.
Whose black steel sword is nicked, oh, boy.
Whose spear is notched, oh, boy.
Whose bow with white bowstring is short, oh, boy.
Whose quiver holds far fewer arrows than ninety, oh, boy.
Whose companions are naked, oh, boy.
Whose dark eyes are weakened, oh, boy.
Shokli Melik has made awful plans for you, boy.
'Catch that boy on the field.
Tie his hands round his wrists.
Then cut off his beautiful unthinking head,
And pour his red blood on the ground'.
If you have a white-bearded father, preserve him from tears.
If you have a white-headed mother, preserve her from pain.
A brave hero cannot fight alone.
The wormwood is held by weak roots.
You cuckold, the son of a cuckold, your time is at hand.
Turn back and depart!"

But the boy replied to him as follows:

"Speak not such nonsense, oh, infidel dog!
Do you fear the red stallion that gallops beneath me?
As soon as he saw you, he started to prance.
The steel armor I wear is tight on my shoulder.
My sword of black steel cuts its sheath with impatience.
Why do you not like my spear?
It can cut through your breast, then fly into the sky.
Loud is the twang of my bowstring strong.
In their quiver my arrows lie restless.
My men all demand that we fight.
It is shameful to try to intimidate heroes.
Step forward, oh, infidel. Now let us fight."

The infidel replied: "A spoiled Oghuz is like a mad Turkoman! Look at him."

The infidel bey said: "Go and ask what relation he is to Begil."

The infidel came and talked to the young man in the following manner. Let us see what he said to him.

"We know the red stallion beneath you is Begil's;
But where now is Begil?
Your sword of black steel — that is Begil's;
But where now is Begil?
The steel armor you wear — that is Begil's;
But where now is Begil?
The young men who ride with you are Begil's;
But where now is Begil?
If Begil himself were at hand,
We should fight through the day into night;
We should pull our hard bowstrings,
And shoot white-tailed arrows that whistle.
Now tell us, young man — what relation is Begil to you?"

The son of Begil spoke to them at this point. Let us see what he said: "Oh, you infidel, do you not know me? The white-browed Bayindir Khan's chief bey, Salur Kazan, his brother Kara Gone, Donebilmez Dulek Evren, Alp Rustem, the son of Duzen, and Beyrek with the Gray Horse were drinking in Begil Bey's house when one of your spies came. Begil gave me his red stallion, his steel sword, his spear and three hundred warriors. I am Begil's son, oh, infidel. Come and let us fight."

The infidel bey replied: "Beware, oh, son of a cuckold! I am coming!" He took his six-jointed club and rode toward the young man, who held his shield up against the club. The infidel dealt the young man a terrific blow from above, breaking his shield, denting his helmet and scraping its visor, but he could not kill him. They fought with their clubs and swords all over the field. Their shoulders were bruised and their swords bent, but neither was able to defeat the other. They attacked one another with their spears, butted one another like bulls in the arena, and struck one another on the chests with their spears, both of which were broken. They grappled while riding their horses, pushing and pulling each other. The infidel finally overwhelmed the young man, who was exhausted.

Emren prayed to Almighty Allah as follows. Let us see what he said.

"You are higher than the highest, Allah the Sublime;
No one knows how high, O fairest Allah.
You gave a crown to Adam.
You placed a curse on Satan,
Dismissed him from your presence.
Abraham you saved,
Wrapped in a skin,
When he was cast into the flames,
And made a garden amidst the flames.
I come for refuge underneath your oneness.
Dear venerable Allah, help me now."

The infidel said: "Young man, are you praying to your god because you are defeated? If you have one god, I have seventy-two houses for idols."

The young man said: "Ho, you cursed heretic; if you are begging help from your idols, I am taking refuge in my Allah, who created the universe out of nothing."

Almighty Allah gave an order to Gabriel: "O Gabriel, go to that young man. I have given him the strength of forty men." The young man approached the infidel and struck him down. Blood began to gush out of his nose. The young man sprang like a falcon and grasped the infidel by the throat.

He said: "Oh, young man, wait. What is your religion called? I have decided to join your religion." Lifting his finger and confirming the oneness of Allah, he became a Muslim. When the rest of the infidels saw this, they fled from the field. Raiders then destroyed the infidel's camp and captured his daughters and brides.

The young man had the good news carried to his father by a messenger, saying: "I have defeated my enemy." His white-haired father came out to welcome him. He embraced his son, and they went home together.

He gave his son a grazing ground on the dark mountains lying yonder. He gave him fast black horses to ride and white sheep to be slaughtered for his banquet. He arranged for a bride with a red trousseau for his brown-eyed son. He sent one-fifth of all his spoils to white-browed Bayindir Khan. Taking his son with him then, he went to Bayindir Khan's council. He kissed his hand. The ruler showed a place to the right of Uruz, the son of Kazan. He had him dressed in a gown. Dede Korkut came and played the kopuz and recited this Oghuz legend, saying: "This Oghuz namah is for Emren, son of Begil." He then told legends about the deeds of Muslim heroes.

Let me pray, my khan: may your dark native mountains never fall down. May your big shady tree never be cut down, your Allah-given hope never be lost; and may Allah forgive your sins, for the sake of Mohammed — his name be praised —, oh, my khan.