MOHAMMED AL-AMIN AND THE SLAVE-GIRL



Ja’afar bin Musá al-Hádi [FN#133] once had a slave-girl, a lutist, called Al-Badr al-Kabír, than whom there was not in her time a fairer of face nor shapelier of shape nor a more elegant of manners nor a more accomplished in the art of singing and striking the strings; she was indeed perfect in beauty and extreme in every charm.  Now Mohammed al-Amín, [FN#134] son of Zubaydah, heard of her and was urgent with Ja’afar to sell her to him; but he replied, “Thou knowest it beseemeth not one of my rank to sell slave-girls nor set prices on concubines; but were she not a rearling I would send her to thee, as a gift, not grudge her to thee.”  And Mohammed al-Amin, some days after this went to Ja’afar’s house, to make merry; and the host set before him that which it behoveth to set before true friends and bade the damsel Al-Badr al-Kabir sing to him and gladden him.  So she tuned the lute and sang with a ravishing melody; whilst Mohammed al-Amin fell to drinking and jollity and bade the cupbearers ply Ja’afar with much wine, till they made him drunken, when he took the damsel and carried her to his own house, but laid not a finger on her.  And when the morrow dawned he bade invite Ja’afar; and when he came, he set wine before him and made the girl sing to him, from behind the curtain.  Ja’afar knew her voice and was angered at this, but, of the nobleness of his nature and the magnanimity of his mind he showed no change.  Now when the carousal was at an end, Al-Amin commanded one of his servants to fill the boat, wherein Ja’afar had come, with dirhams and dinars and all manner of jewels and jacinths and rich raiment and goods galore.  So he laid therein a thousand myriads of money and a thousand fine pearls, each worth twenty thousand dirhams; nor did he give over loading the barge with all manner of things precious and rare, till the boatmen cried out for help, saying, “The boat can’t hold any more;” whereupon he bade them carry all this to Ja’afar’s palace.  Such are the exploits of the magnanimous, Allah have mercy on them!  And a tale is related of



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