ER RESHID AND THE BARMECIDES. (152)

It is said that the most extraordinary of that which happened to Er Reshid was as follows: His brother El Hadi, (153) when he succeeded to the Khalifate, enquired of a seal-ring of great price, that had belonged to his father El Mehdi, (154) and it came to his knowledge that Er Reshid had taken it. So he required it of the latter, who refused to give it up, and El Hadi insisted upon him, but he still denied the seal-ring of the Khalifate. Now this was on the bridge [over the Tigris], and he threw the ring into the river. When El Hadi died and Er Reshid succeeded to the Khalifate, he came in person to that bridge, with a seal-ring of lead, which he threw into the river at the same place, and bade the divers seek it. So they did [his bidding] and brought up the first ring, and this was reckoned [an omen] of Er Reshid's good fortune and [a presage of] the continuance of his reign. (155)

When Er Reshid came to the throne, he invested Jaafer ben Yehya ben Khalid el Bermeki (156) with the vizierate. Now Jaafer was eminently distinguished for generosity and munificence, and the stories of him to this effect are renowned and are written in the books. None of the viziers attained to the rank and favour which he enjoyed with Er Reshid, who was wont to call him brother (157) and used to carry him with him into his house. The period of his vizierate was nineteen years, (158) and Yehya one day said to his son Jaafer, "O my son, what time thy reed trembleth, water it with kindness." (159) Opinions differ concerning the reason of Jaafer's slaughter, but the better is as follows. Er Reshid could not brook to be parted from Jaafer nor from his [own] sister Abbaseh, daughter of El Mehdi, a single hour, and she was the loveliest woman of her time; so he said to Jaafer, "I will marry thee to her, that it may be lawful to thee to look upon her, but thou shalt not touch her." [Accordingly, they were married] and they used both to be present in Er Reshid's sitting chamber. Now the Khalif would rise bytimes [and go forth] from the chamber, and they being both young and filled with wine, Jaafer would rise to her and swive her. She conceived by him and bore a handsome boy and fearing Er Reshid, despatched the newborn child by one of her confidants to Mecca the Holy, may God the Most High advance it in honour and increase it in venerance and nobility and magnification! The affair abode concealed till there befell despite between Abbaseh and one of her slave-girls, whereupon the latter discovered the affair of the child to Er Reshid and acquainted him with its abiding-place. So, when the Khalif made the pilgrimage, he despatched one who brought him the boy and found the affair true, wherefore he caused befall the Barmecides that which befell. (160)




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