JA’AFAR BIN YAHYA AND ABD AL-MALIK BIN SALITH THE ABBASIDE [FN#258]



It is told of Ja’afar bin Yahyá the Barmecide that he sat down one day to wine and, being minded to be private, sent for his boon-companions, with whom he was most familiar, and charged the chamberlain that he suffer none of the creatures of Almighty Allah to enter, save a man of his cup-mates, by name Abd al-Malik bin Sálih, who was behindhand with them.  Then they donned brightly-dyed dresses. [FN#259] for it was their wont, as often as they sat in the wine-séance, to endue raiment of red and yellow and green silk, and they sat down to drink, and the cups went round the lutes thrilled and shrilled.  Now there was a man of the kinsfolk of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, by name Abd al-Malik bin Salih [FN#260] bin Ali bin Abdallah bin al-Abbas, [FN#261] who was great of gravity and sedateness, piety and propriety, and Al-Rashid used instantly to require that he should company him in converse and carouse and drink with him and had offered him to such end abounding wealth, but he never would.  It fortuned that this Abd al-Malik bin Salih came to the door of Ja’afar bin Yahya, so he might bespeak him of certain requisitions of his, and the chamberlain, doubting not but he was the Abd al-Malik bin Salih aforesaid (whom Ja’afar had permitted him admit and that he should suffer none but him to enter), allowed him to go in to his master.  Accordingly Abd al-Malik went in, garbed in black, with his Rusáfiyah [FN#262] on his head.  When Ja’afar saw him, his reason was like to depart for shame and he understood the case, to wit, that the chamberlain had been deceived by the likeness of the name; and Abd al-Malik also perceived how the matter stood and perplexity was manifest to him in Ja’afar’s face.  So he put on a cheery countenance and said, “No harm be upon you! [FN#263]  Bring us of these dyed clothes.”  Thereupon they brought him a dyed robe [FN#264] and he donned it and sat discoursing gaily with Ja’afar and jesting with him.  Then said he, “Allow us to be a partaker in your pleasures, and give us to drink of your Nabíz.” [FN#265]  So they brought him a silken robe and poured him out a pint, when he said, “We crave your indulgence, for we have no wont of this.”  Accordingly Ja’afar ordered a flagon of Nabíz be set before him, that he might drink whatso he pleased. Then, having anointed himself with perfumes, he chatted and jested with them till Ja’afar’s bosom broadened and his constraint ceased from him and his shame, and he rejoiced in this with joy exceeding and asked Abd al-Malik, “What is thine errand?  Inform me thereof, for I cannot sufficiently acknowledge they courtesy.”  Answered the other, “I come (amend thee Allah!) on three requirements, of which I would have thee bespeak the Caliph; to wit, firstly, I have on me a debt to the amount of a thousand thousand dirhams, [FN#266] which I would have paid: secondly, I desire for my son the office of Wali or governor of a province, [FN#267] whereby his rank may be raised: and thirdly, I would fain have thee marry him to Al-’Aliyah, the daughter of the Commander of the Faithful, for that she is his cousin and he is a match for her.”  Ja’afar said, “Allah accomplisheth unto thee these three occasions.  As for the money, it shall be carried to thy house this very hour: as for the government, I make thy son Viceroy of Egypt; and as for the marriage, I give him to mate Such-an-one, the daughter of our lord the Prince of True Believers, at a dowry of such and such a sum.   So depart in the assurance of Allah Almighty.”  Accordingly Abd al-Malik went away much astonished at Ja’afar’s boldness in undertaking such engagements.  He fared straight for his house, whither he found that the money had preceded him, and in the morrow Ja’afar presented himself before Al-Rashid and acquainted him with what had passed, and that he had appointed Abd al-Malik’s son Wali of Egypt [FN#268] and had promised him his daughter, Al-’Aliyah to wife.  The Caliph was pleased to approve of this and he confirmed the appointment and the marriage.  Then he sent for the young man and he went not forth of the palace of the Caliphate till Al-Rashid wrote him the patent of investiture with the government of Egypt; and he let bring the Kazis and the witnesses and drew up the contract of marriage.



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