MOHAMMED EL AMIN AND JAAFER BEN EL HADI

Jaafer ben Mousa el Hadi (119) once had a slave-girl, a lute player, called El Bedr el Kebir, than whom there was not in her time a fairer of face nor a better-shaped nor a more elegant of manners nor a more accomplished in singing and smiting the strings; she was indeed perfect in beauty and charm. Mohammed el Amin, (120) son of Zubeideh, heard of her and was instant with Jaafer to sell her to him; but he replied, 'Thou knowest it beseems not one of my rank to sell slave-girls nor traffic in concubines; but, were it not that she was reared in my house, I would send her to thee, as a gift, nor grudge her to thee.'

Some days after this, El Amin went to Jaafer's house, to make merry; and the latter set before him that which it behoves to set before friends and bade El Bedr sing to him and gladden him. So she tuned the lute and sang right ravishingly, whilst El Amin fell to drinking and making merry and bade the cupbearers ply Jaafer with wine, till he became drunken, when he took the damsel and carried her to his own house, but laid not a finger on her. On the morrow, he sent to invite Jaafer; and when he came, he set wine before him and bade the girl sing to him, from behind the curtain. Jaafer knew her voice and was angered at this, but, of the nobleness of his nature and the greatness of his mind, he dissembled his vexation and let no change appear in his demeanour.

When the carousel was at an end, El Amin commanded one of his servants to fill the boat, in which Jaafer had come, with dirhems and dinars and all manner jewels and jacinths and rich clothes and other treasures of price. So he laid therein a thousand myriads of money and a thousand fine pearls, each worth twenty thousand dirhems; nor did he give over loading the barge with all manner of precious things, till the boatmen cried out for quarter, saying, 'The boat cannot hold any more;' whereupon he bade them carry all this to Jaafer's palace. Such are the fashions of the magnanimous, may God have mercy on them!




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