WHAT THE ROSE DID TO THE CYPRESS 31
him to Taram-taq. But the prince drew the dagger of Tlmus and thrust it upwards through the giant's armpit, for its full length. This made Chil-maq drop him and try to pick up his club; but when he stooped the mighty sword shore him through at the waist.
When news of his champion's death reached Taram-taq he put himself at the head of an army of his negroes and led them forth. Many fell before the magic sword, and the prince laboured on in spite of weakness and fatigue till he was almost worn out. In a moment of respite from attack he struck his fire-steel and burned a hair of the king-lion; and he had just succeeded in this when the negroes charged again and all but took him prisoner. Suddenly from behind the distant veil of the desert appeared an army of lions led by their king. ' What brings these scourges of heaven here ? ' cried the negroes. They came roaring up, and put fresh life into the prince. He fought on, and when he struck on a belt the wearer fell in two, and when on a head he cleft to the waist. Then the ten thousand mighty lions joined the fray and tore in pieces man and horse.
Taram-taq was left alone ; he would have retired into his fort, but the prince shouted : ' Whither away, accursed one ? Are you fleeing before me ?' At these defiant words the chief shouted back, ' Welcome, man ! Come here and I will soften you to wax beneath my club.' Then he hurled his club at the prince's head, but it fell harmless because the prince had quickly spurred his horse forward. The chief, believing he had hit him, wras looking down for him, when all at once he came up behind and cleft him to the waist and sent him straight to hell.
The king-lion greatly praised the dashing courage of Prince Almas. They went together into the Castle of Clashing Swords and found it adorned and fitted in princely fashion. In it was a daughter of Taram-taq, still a child. She sent a message to Prince Almas saying,