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.