The Wings Of
By Judy Evans
As an avid reader and lover
of horse stories, I often peruse the antique shops for out-of-print horse
books, stud books of the various breeds...anything that is 'horsey' that
I don't already have. My most treasured book was acquired in this way.
It was in a quaint New England town that one store drew my attention. This
building seemed out of place among colonial and saltbox homes converted into
a row of collectible shops along Main Street, fondly called 'antique alley'
in my area. The two boutiques flanking it were pristine, almost startling;
so bright were their new coat of white paint and meticulously applied trim
of slate blue. In contrast, this homely structure was drab: weathered and
brown paint was peeling in strips from the siding. What little trim still
framed the doors and windows had rotted, leaving ugly black scars on the
soul of this once family dwelling. The 'antiques for sale' sign dangled
precariously from the front door and 'old books' was written in black marker
on a shop-worn cardboard placard that leaned off-center against the glass
Upon entering, the smell was musty and stifling. The proprietor, well over
retirement age, sat behind the counter. He was a short, dumpy man with a
ruddy complexion; engrossed in some sports magazine, he seemed oblivious
to my presence.
There did not appear to be any order or arrangement of the books
by category on the shelves. The old floorboards creaked as I moved from shelf
to shelf scanning the books. It was a book on the fourth shelf that caught
my eye. Obviously very old as the binding was tattered, the leather jacket
was mildewed and the size was unique. It was a small book. Gently I slid
it out from between two gigantic volumes. Such a fragile book, the pages
dry, discolored from age. There was no title, just a black cover with an
outline of a winged horse. Intrigued, I opened the book. The language was
totally foreign to me, but written under each word a previous owner or someone
from the past had translated in English. My hands shook with excitement as
I read, "The Wings of Pegasus" dedicated to "Htaruma Giznad, my beloved
Upon examining the book further, random notations were written in the
margins by the unknown translator. Chronological dates with question marks,
some crossed out boldly when eliminated with surety from the mystery of the
author's identity and era. Two dates were double underlined, one in 1241
and the other in 1225.
A brief exchange with the proprietor concluded the sale of the book. I could
barely contain my elation as I left the shop, the book tightly clutched in
my hand. There was no doubt in my mind that I would be totally engrossed
The story was set somewhere in the Middle East. I do not know the current
name of the country as boundaries have changed over the centuries. A young
princess, the only daughter of the Caliph, had a magnificent bay Arabian
stallion. His name was Htaruma Giznad. They were inseparable. The princess
was often seen on Giznad, galloping over the sands, her veil flowing behind
her, laughing as they raced the wind. Giznad, too, loved this, as his tail
was held straight up, like a banner, as he ran; his dark eyes intent on some
distant finish line. This familiar sight brought smiles to the Caliph's people,
as the princess was loved by all.
Than one day a messenger brought word to the Caliph's people that Giznad
had become ill and died. The princess had been by his side throughout his
brief illness and was now inconsolable. She wanted to know that life was
not over for Giznad and that Allah had a special place for horses. Above
all, she wanted to know that she would see him again.
The Caliph sent envoys to all the surrounding countries for someone who could
put the princess's mind at rest. Great wealth would be bestowed on the one
who could answer the question.
I do not know how much time passed, as those pages of the book were brittle
with age, and crumbled into ashes in my hand. But the book continues when
the princess is very ill. In her delirium, the princess would call Giznad
and relive their wonderful times together.
One of her attendants was an ancient looking woman. Her skin dark and wrinkled
from age and weather. She was not from the Caliph's province but from another
remote country. It was she that was tending the princess when she woke from
a long period of unconsciousness.
"Tell me everything you felt when you were with Giznad when he died", she
"I felt a gentle breeze", said the princess.
"Tell me everything you heard when you were with Giznad when he died", she
"I heard the fluttering of wings as if a great bird was near", said the
The old woman smiled. "Can you not see that your question has been answered?
Pegasus was sent to Earth to bring Giznad home to the Creator of all beings.
The gentle breeze was Pegasus breathing Life into Giznad. The "fluttering"
was the wings of Pegasus taking him home."
This little known book has brought me peace and comfort as well. For I, too,
had the same question as the princess. May this story bring solace to all
that have loved and lost a special horse.