JA'AFAR THE BARMECIDE AND THE BEAN SELLER.



When Harun al-Rashid crucified Ja'afar the Barmecide [FN#224] he commended that all who wept or made moan for him should also be crucified; so the folk abstained from that. Now it chanced that a wild Arab, who dwelt in a distant word, used every year to bring to the aforesaid Ja'afar an ode [FN#225] in his honour, for which he rewarded him with a thousand dinars; and the Badawi took them and, returning to his own country, lived upon them, he and his family, for the rest of the year. Accordingly, he came with his ode at the wonted time and, finding that Ja'afar had been crucified, betook himself to the place where his body was hanging, and there made his camel kneel down and wept with sore weeping and mourned with grievous mourning; and he recited his ode and fell asleep. Presently Ja'afar the Barmecide appeared to him in a vision and said, "Verily thou hast wearied thyself to come to us and findest us as thou seest; but go to Bassorah and ask for a man there whose name is such and such, one of the merchants of the town, and say to him, 'Ja'afar, the Barmecide, saluteth thee and biddeth thee give me a thousand dinars, by the token of the bean.' " Now when the wild Arab awoke, he repaired to Bassorah, where he sought out the merchant and found him and repeated to him what Ja'afar had said in the dream; whereupon he wept with weeping so sore that he was like to depart the world. Then he welcomed the Badawi and seated him by his side and made his stay pleasant and entertained him three days as an honoured guest; and when he was minded to depart he gave him a thousand and five hundred dinars, saying, "The thousand are what is commanded to thee, and the five hundred are a gift from me to thee; and every year thou shalt have of me a thousand gold pieces." Now when the Arab was about to take leave, he said to the merchant, "Allah upon thee, tell me the story of the bean, that I may know the origin of all this." He answered: "In the early part of my life I was poor and hawked hot beans [FN#226] about the streets of Baghdad to keep me alive. So I went out one raw and rainy day, without clothes enough on my body to protect me from the weather; now shivering for excess of cold and now stumbling into the pools of rain-water, and altogether in so piteous a plight as would make one shudder with goose-skin to look upon. But it chanced that Ja'afar that day was seated with his officers and his concubines, in an upper chamber overlooking the street when his eyes fell on me; so he took pity on my case and, sending one of his dependents to fetch me to him, said as soon as he saw me, 'Sell thy beans to my people.' So I began to mete out the beans with a measure I had by me; and each who took a measure of beans filled the measure with gold pieces till all my store was gone and my basket was clean empty. Then I gathered together the gold I had gotten, and Ja'afar said to me, 'Hast thou any beans left?' 'I know not,' answered I, and then sought in the basket, but found only one bean. So Ja'afar took from me the single bean and, splitting it in twain, kept one half himself and gave the other to one of his concubines, saying, 'For how much wilt thou buy this half bean?' She replied, 'For the tale of all this gold twice-told;' whereat I was confounded and said to myself, 'This is impossible.' But, as I stood wondering, behold, she gave an order to one of her hand-maids and the girl brought me the sum of the collected monies twice-told. Then said Ja'afar, 'And I will buy the half I have by me for double the sum of the whole,' presently adding, 'Now take the price of thy bean.' And he gave an order to one of his servants, who gathered together the whole of the money and laid it in my basket; and I took it and went my ways. Then I betook myself to Bassorah, where I traded with the monies and Allah prospered me amply, to Him be the praise and the thanks! So, if I give thee every year a thousand dinars of the bounty of Ja'afar, it will in no wise injure me. Consider then the munificence of Ja'afar's nature and how he was praised both alive and dead, the mercy of Allah Almighty be upon him! And men also recount the tale of