THE KHALIF EL MUTAWEKKIL AND HIS FAVOURITE MEHBOUBEH
There were in the palace of the Khalif El Mutawekkil ala Allah (63) four thousand concubines, whereof two thousand were Greeks [and other foreigners] and other two thousand native Arabians (64) and Abyssinians; and Obeid ibn Tahir (65) had given him two hundred white girls and a like number of Abyssinian and native girls. (66) Among these latter was a girl of Bassora, Mehboubeh by name, who was of surpassing beauty and elegance and voluptuous grace. Moreover, she played upon the lute and was skilled in singing and making verses and wrote excellent well; so that El Mutawekkil fell passionately in love with her and could not endure from her a single hour. When she saw this, she presumed upon his favour to use him haughtily and capriciously, so that he waxed exceeding wroth with her and forsook her, forbidding the people of the palace to speak with her.
On this wise she abode some days, but the Khalif still inclined to her; and he arose one morning and said to his courtiers, 'I dreamt, last night, that I was reconciled to Mehboubeh.' 'Would God this might be on wake!' answered they. As they were talking, in came one of the Khalif's maidservants and whispered him that they had heard a noise of singing and luting in Mehboubeh's chamber and knew not what this meant. So he rose and entering the harem, went straight to Mehboubeh's apartment, where he heard her playing wonder-sweetly upon the lute and singing the following verses:I wander through the halls, but not a soul I see, To whom I may complain or who will speak with me.
When the Khalif heard these verses, he marvelled at the strange coincidence of their dreams and entered the chamber. As soon as she was ware of him, she hastened to throw herself at his feet, and kissing them, said, "By Allah, O my lord, this is what I dreamt last night; and when I awoke, I made the verses thou hast heard.' ''By Allah,' replied El Mutawekkil, 'I also dreamt the like!' Then they embraced and made friends and he abode with her seven days and nights.
Now she had written upon her cheek, in musk, the Khalif's name, which was Jaafer: and when he saw this, he made the following verses:One wrote on her cheek, with musk, a name, yea, Jaafer to wit: My soul be her ransom who wrote on her cheek what I see on it!
When El Mutawekkil died, all his women forgot him save Mehboubeh, who ceased not to mourn for him, till she died and was buried by his side, the mercy of God be on them both!