Page:Early Christianity in Arabia.djvu/30

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he left twelve thousand Arabs as a body of reserve to retire upon in case of defeat. When he approached to the borders of China, the monarch of that empire, trusting more to stratagem than arms, dispatched one of his ministers to meet the tobbaa, whom he found on the point of crossing the desert, at the distance of about ten days from the Chinese territory. The minister had cut off his own nose, and pretended to be flying from the cruelty of the emperor as a deserter to the king of Hamyar. When Shamar questioned him as to the road, the distance, and the water, he answered, "between thee and water there are but three stations." The king, therefore, deceived by this answer, carried with him provisions only for three days, and entered the desert. After the three days were passed, the Arabian army ran short of water, and perished among the sand.[1] This expedition is placed by the generality of Arabian historians in the reign of Ghustasp king of Persia, though some make it contemporary with Bahman.

  1. Abulfeda, p. 8. Hamza, p. 26. Nuweir, p. 58. Ouseley's Oriental Geography, Appendix, p. 293. See also Price's Essay towards the history of Arabia, p. 98. Some historians state that Shamar was successful in his invasion of China, and that he returned to Yaman, after an absence of seven years, loaded with the plunder which he had taken from the cities of that distant empire. Nuweir, p. 68-70. This version of the story has most likely originated from confounding Shamar, with his descendant Al Akran, the second invader of China. This seems to be confirmed by the circumstance, that those authors place the expedition of Shamar at the same time as that of Al Akran.