EL MELIK EN NASIR AND HIS VIZIER

There was given to Abou Aamir ben Merwan, Vizier [to El Melik en Nasir of Egypt], (71) a boy of the Christians, than whom never fell eyes on a handsomer. En Nasir saw him and said to the Vizier, 'Whence comes this boy?' 'From God,' answered Abou Aamir; whereupon, 'Wilt thou fright us with stars,' quoth the King, 'and captive us with moons?' Abou Aamir excused himself to him and making up a present, sent it to him with the boy, to whom he said, 'Be thou part of the present: were it not of necessity, my soul had not consented to give thee away.' And he wrote with him these verses:

      Behold the full moon, O my lord, that cometh to thy sky; For none, that heaven than earth of moons is worthier, may deny.
      My soul, to pleasure thee, I give, nor ever yet of one, His soul to pleasure one who gave, before myself, heard I.

The thing pleased En Nasir and he requited him with much treasure and the Vizier became high in favour with him. After this, a slave-girl, one of the loveliest women in the world, was presented to the Vizier, and he feared lest this should come to the King's ears and he desire her, and the like should happen as with the boy. So he made up a present still costlier than the first and sent it with her to the King, together with these verses:

      My lord, the very sun is this; the moon thou hadst before: So now these planets twain shall meet and glitter side by side;
      A combination presaging fair fortune to my life. Do thou with them in all delight of Paradise abide;
      For they, by Allah, have no third in beauty nor hast thou A second dominion in all the world so wide.

Wherefore his credit redoubled with En Nasir; but after awhile, one of his enemies maligned him to the King, alleging that there still lurked in him desire for the boy and that he ceased not to lust after him, whenever the North wind moved him, and to gnash his teeth for that he had given him away. Quoth the King, 'Wag not thou thy tongue at him, or I will cut off thy head.' However, he wrote Abou Aamir a letter, as from the boy, to the following effect: 'O my lord, thou knowest that thou wast all and one to me and that I never ceased from delight with thee. Albeit I am with the Sultan, yet would I choose rather solitude with thee, but that I fear the King's mischief: wherefore contrive thou to demand me of him.' This letter he sent to Abou Aamir by a little page, whom he enjoined to say, 'This is from such an one: the King never speaks to him.' When the Vizier read the letter and heard the cheating message, he smelt a rat and wrote on the back of the scroll the following lines:

      After experience's laws, doth it become a man Of sense unto the lion's lair his steps foolwise to bend?
      I'm none of those whose reason love and passion overcrow; Nor am I ignorant of that the envious do pretend.
      Wert thou my soul, I gave thee up obediently, and now Shall soul, from body sundered, back again thereunto wend ?

When En Nasir knew of this answer, he marvelled at the Vizier's quickness of wit and would never again lend ear to any insinuation against him. Then said he to him, 'How didst thou escape falling into the snare?' And he answered, saying, 'Because my reason is unentangled in the toils of passion.'




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