EL MAMOUN AND ZUBEIDEH (163)

It is said that El Mamoun (164) came one day upon Zubeideh, mother of El Amin, (165) and saw her moving her lips and muttering somewhat he understood not; so he said to her, "O mother mine, dost thou imprecate [curses] upon me, for that I slew thy son and despoiled him of his kingdom?" "Not so, by Allah, O Commander of the Faithful!" answered she, and he said, "What then saidst thou?" Quoth she, "Let the Commander of the Faithful excuse me." But he was instant with her, saying, "Needs must thou tell it." And she replied, "I said, 'God confound importunity!'" "How so?" asked the Khalif, and she said, "I played one day at chess with the Commander of the Faithful [Haroun er Reshid] and he imposed on me the condition of commandment and acceptance. (166) He beat me and bade me put off my clothes and go round about the palace, naked; so I did this, and I incensed against him. Then we fell again to playing and I beat him; so I bade him go to the kitchen and swive the foulest and sorriest wench of the wenches thereof. [I went to the kitchen] and found not a slave-girl fouler and filthier than thy mother; (167) so I bade him swive her. He did as I bade him and she became with child by him of thee, and thus was I [by my unlucky insistance] the cause of the slaying of my son and the despoiling him of his kingdom." When El Mamoun heard this, he turned away, saying, "God curse the importunate!" to wit, himself, who had importuned her till she acquainted him with that matter.




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