Lions: God’s Gift to Man, Sultan’s Gift to Thomas Carr

At the Old American Legation in Tangier, there is a letter by US Consul Thomas Carr complaining about how the Moroccan Sultan gave him two lions as a gift and said that if the gift was refused the messenger’s head would be cut off. Here’s how I imagine that conversation went.

Messenger: And for you, sir, a gift from the Sultan.

Carr: One of the richest men in Africa! What could it be? Gold? Diamonds? Precious cloths?

Messenger: Precious cloths?

Carr: Just spitballing.

Messenger:  Your gift is – (dramatic hand flourish) – in those crates.

C: The ones where all the roaring is coming from?

M: There are no other crates in this room. Open them!

C: No! Are those lions in there?

M: Two of the most fearsome lions ever to walk the savanna of Africa. Perfect for entertaining guests and amusing children.

C: I don’t want lions. 

M: Well, they’re all we brought.

C: What do I feed them?

M: Flesh. It’s the only sustenance for which they hunger.

C: And if I refuse –

M: I will be decapitated.

C: What would you say is the resale value of lions, in terms of precious cloths?

M: At least a dozen.

C: Ugh. Fine. I’ll take them.