The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night/The Vizier of Yemen and his Young Brother
THE VIZIER OF YEMEN AND HIS YOUNG BROTHER.
Bedreddin, Vizier of Yemen, had a young brother of singular beauty and kept strait watch over him. So he applied himself to seek a governor for him and coming upon an elder of dignified and reverend aspect, chaste and pious, lodged him in a house next his own, whence he used to come daily to the Vizier’s dwelling, to teach the latter’s brother. After awhile, the old man’s heart was taken with love for his pupil and longing grew upon him and his entrails were troubled, till, one day, he made moan of his case to the boy, who said, ‘What can I do, seeing that I may not leave my brother day or night? Thou seest how careful he is over me.’ Quoth the governor, ‘My lodging adjoins thine; so, when thy brother sleeps, do thou rise and entering the wardrobe, feign thyself asleep. Then come to the parapet of the roof and I will receive thee on the other side of the wall; so shalt thou sit with me awhile and return without thy brother’s knowledge.’ ‘I hear and obey,’ answered the boy. So, when awhile of the night was past, he entered the closet and waited till his brother lay down on his bed and was drowned in sleep, when he rose and going to the parapet of the roof, found the governor awaiting him, who gave him his hand and carried him to the sitting-chamber, where he had made ready various dainties for his entertainment, and they sat down to carouse.
Now it was the night of the full moon, and as they sat, passing the wine-cup to one another, her rays shone upon them, and the governor fell to singing. But, whilst they were thus in mirth and joyance and good cheer, such as confounds the wit and the sight and defies description, the Vizier awoke and missing his brother, arose in affright and found the door open. So he went up to the roof and hearing a noise of talk, peeped over the parapet and saw a light shining in the governor’s lodging. He looked in and espied his brother and his governor sitting carousing: but the latter became aware of him and sang the following verses, cup in hand, to a lively measure:
He gave me wine to drink, of his mouth’s nectar rare, Toasting with down of cheeks and what adjoineth there;
Then passed with me the night, embracing, cheek to cheek, A loveling midst mankind unpeered and past compare.
The full moon gazed on us all night; pray then to her, So to his brother she to tell of us forbear.
Now the Vizier was a merry man; so, when he heard this, he said, ‘By Allah, I will not betray you!’ And he went away and left them to their diversion.