KHUZEIMEH BEN BISHR AND IKRIMEH EL FEYYAZ.

There lived once, in the days of the Khalif Suleiman ben Abdulmelik, (40) a man of the Benou Ased, by name Khuzeimeh ben Bishr, who was notorious for benevolence and excellence and abounding generosity and righteous dealing with his brethren. After awhile, times grew strait with him and he became in need of the aid of those on whom he had lavished favour and kindness. So they succoured him awhile and then grew weary of him, which when he saw, he went in to his wife, who was the daughter of his father's brother, and said to her, 'O my cousin, I find that my brethren are changed to me; wherefore I am resolved to keep my house till death come to me.' So he shut his doors and abode in his house, living on that which he had by him, till it was spent and he knew not what to do. Now Ikrimeh er Rebaï [surnamed] el Feyyaz, (41) governor of Mesopotamia, had known him, and one day, as he sat in his audience-chamber, mention was made of Khuzeimeh, whereupon quoth Ikrimeh, 'How is it with him?' And they answered, saying, 'He is in a plight past telling, and hath shut his door and keeps the house.' Quoth Ikrimeh, 'This comes but of his excessive generosity: but how is it that Khuzeimeh ben Bishr finds none to succour him or requite him his benefits?' And they replied, 'He hath found nought of this.'

When it was night, Ikrimeh took four thousand dinars and laid them in one purse; then, bidding saddle his beast, he mounted and rode privily to Khuzeimeh's house, attended only by one of his servants, carrying the money. When he came to the door, he alighted and taking the purse from the servant, made him withdraw afar off; after which he went up to the door and knocked. Khuzeimeh came out to him, and he gave him the purse, saying, 'Better thy condition with this.' He took it and finding it heavy, put it from his hand and laying hold of the bridle of Ikrimeh's horse, said, 'Who art thou? My soul be thy ransom!' 'O man,' answered Ikrimeh, 'I come not to thee at the like of this time desiring that thou shouldst know me.' Khuzeimeh rejoined, saying, 'I will not let thee go till thou make thyself known to me.' And Ikrimeh said, 'I am Jabir Athrat el Kiram.' (42) Quoth Khuzeimeh, 'Tell me more.' But Ikrimeh answered, 'No,' and went away, whilst Khuzeimeh went in to his wife and said to her, 'Rejoice, for God hath sent us speedy relief; if these be but dirhems, yet are they many. Arise and light the lamp.' But she said, 'I have not wherewithal to do this.' So he spent the night handling the coins and felt by their roughness that they were dinars, but could not credit it.

Meanwhile, Ikrimeh returned to his own house and found that his wife had missed him and enquiring for him, had been told of his riding forth, wherefore she misdoubted of him and said to him, 'The governor of Mesopotamia rideth not abroad, unattended and secretly, after such an hour of the night, save to a wife or a concubine.' 'God knows,' answered he, 'that I went not forth to either of these.' 'Tell me then,' said she, 'wherefore thou wentest forth?' and he, 'I went not forth at this hour save that none should know it.' But she rejoined, saying, 'I must needs be told.' Quoth he, 'Wilt thou keep the matter secret, if I tell thee?' and she said, 'Yes.' So he told her the state of the case, adding, 'Wilt thou have me swear to thee?' 'No, no,' answered she; 'my heart is set at ease and trusteth in that which thou hast told me.'

As for Khuzeimeh, as soon as it was day, he made his peace with his creditors and set his affairs in order; after which he made ready and set out for the Court of the Khalif, who was then sojourning in Palestine. When he came to the royal palace, he sought admission of the chamberlain, who went in and told the Khalif of his presence. Now he was renowned for his beneficence and Suleiman knew of him; so he bade admit him. When he entered, he saluted the Khalif after the usual fashion, and the latter said to him, 'O Khuzeimeh, what hath kept thee so long from us?' 'Evil case,' answered he. Quoth the Khalif, 'What hindered thee from having recourse to us?' And he said, 'My infirmity, O Commander of the Faithful!' 'And why,' asked Suleiman, 'comest thou to us now?' 'Know, O Commander of the Faithful,' replied Khuzeimeh, 'that I was sitting one night late in my house, when one knocked at the door;' and he went on to tell him of all that had passed between Ikrimeh and himself. 'Knowest thou the man?' asked Suleiman. 'No, O Commander of the Faithful,' answered Khuzeimeh, 'he was disguised and would say nought but "I am Jabir Athrat el Kiram."' When Suleiman heard this, his heart burned within him to know the man, and he said, 'If we knew him, we would requite him his generosity.' Then he tied Khuzeimeh an ensign (43) and made him governor of Mesopotamia, in the stead of Ikrimeh; and he set out for El Jezireh. (44)

When he drew near the city, Ikrimeh and the people of the place came forth to meet him and they saluted each other and went on into the town, where Khuzeimeh took up his lodging in the government house and bade take security for Ikrimeh and that he should be called to account. So an account was taken against him and he was found to be in default for much money, whereupon Khuzeimeh required him of payment; but he said, 'I have no means of paying aught.' Quoth Khuzeimeh, 'It must be paid;' and Ikrimeh answered, saying, 'I have it not; do what thou hast to do.' So Khuzeimeh ordered him to prison and sent to him again, to demand payment of the money; but he replied, 'I am not of those who preserve their wealth at the expense of their honour; do what thou wilt.' Then Khuzeimeh bade load him with irons and kept him in prison a month or more, till imprisonment began to tell upon him and he became wasted.

After this, news of his plight came to his wife, who was sore troubled thereat and sending for a freedwoman of hers, a woman of great wit and judgment, said to her, 'Go forthwith to the Amir Khuzeimeh's gate and say, "I have a counsel for the Amir." If they ask what it is, say, "I will not tell it save to himself;" and when thou winnest to him, ask to see him in private and say to him, "What is this thou hast done? Hath Jabir Athrat el Kiram deserved of thee no better requital than to be cast into strait prison and laden with irons?"' The woman did as she was bidden, and when Khuzeimeh heard her words, he cried out at the top of his voice, saying, 'Alas, the shame of it! Was it indeed he?' And she answered, 'Yes.' Then he bade saddle his beast forthright and summoning the chief men of the city, repaired with them to the prison and opening the door, went in with them to Ikrimeh, whom they found sitting in evil case, worn out and wasted with blows and misery. When he saw Khuzeimeh, he was abashed and hung his head; but the other bent down to him and kissed his face; whereupon he raised his head and said, 'What maketh thee do this?' 'The generosity of thy dealing,' replied Khuzeimeh, 'and the scurviness of my requital.' And Ikrimeh said, 'God pardon us and thee!'

Then Khuzeimeh bade the jailor strike off Ikrimeh's shackles and clap them on his own feet; but Ikrimeh said, 'What is this thou wilt do?' Quoth the other, 'I have mind to suffer what thou hast suffered.' 'I conjure thee by Allah,' cried Ikrimeh, 'do not so!' Then they both went out and returned to Khuzeimeh's house, where Ikrimeh would have taken leave of him and gone his way; but he forbade him and Ikrimeh said, 'What is thy will of me?' Quoth Khuzeimeh, 'I wish to change thy case, for my shame before the daughter of thine uncle is yet greater than my shame before thee.' So he caused clear the bath and entering with Ikrimeh, served him, himself, after which he bestowed on him a splendid dress of honour and mounted him and gave him much money. Then he carried him to his house and asked his leave to make his excuses to his wife and did so.

After this, he besought him to accompany him to the Khalif, who was then abiding at Remleh (45) and he agreed. So they journeyed thither and when they reached the palace, the chamberlain went in and acquainted the Khalif with Khuzeimeh's coming, whereat he was troubled and said, 'Is the governor of Mesopotamia come without our order? This can only be on some grave occasion.' Then he bade admit him and said to him, before he could salute him, 'What is behind thee, O Khuzeimeh?' 'Good, O Commander of the Faithful,' answered he. 'What bringeth thee?' asked Suleiman; and he answered, saying, 'I have discovered Jabir el Athrat el Kiram and thought to gladden thee with him, knowing thine excessive desire for his acquaintance and thy longing to see him.' 'Who is he?' asked the Khalif and Khuzeimeh said, 'He is Ikrimeh el Feyyaz. So Suleiman called for Ikrimeh, who approached and saluted him as Khalif; and the prince bade him welcome and making him draw near to his sitting place, said to him, 'O Ikrimeh, thy good deed to him hath brought thee nought but trouble. But now write in a scroll all thy needs and that which thou desirest.' He did so and the Khalif commanded to do all that he asked and that forthright. Moreover, he gave him ten thousand dinars and twenty chests of clothes over and above that he sought, and calling for a spear, tied him an ensign [and made him governor] over Armenia and Azerbijan and Mesopotamia, saying, 'Khuzeimeh's case is in thy hands; if thou wilt, continue him in his office, and if thou wilt, depose him.' And Ikrimeh said, 'Nay, but I restore him to his office, O Commander of the Faithful.' Then they went out from him and ceased not to be governors under Suleiman ben Abdulmelik all the days of his Khalifate.




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