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    2- The Merchant and the Genie

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    Chapter 3
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    There was formerly a merchant who possessed much property in
    lands, goods, and money, and had a great number of clerks,
    factors, and slaves. He was obliged from time to time to visit
    his correspondents on business; and one day being under the
    necessity of going a long journey on an affair of importance, he
    took horse, and carried with him a wallet containing biscuits and
    dates, because he had a great desert to pass over, where he could
    procure no sort of provisions. He arrived without any accident at
    the end of his journey; and having dispatched his affairs, took
    horse again, in order to return home.

    The fourth day of his journey, he was so much incommoded by the
    heat of the sun, and the reflection of that heat from the earth,
    that he turned out of the road, to refresh himself under some
    trees. He found at the root of a large tree a fountain of very
    clear running water. Having alighted, he tied his horse to a
    branch, and sitting down by the fountain, took some biscuits and
    dates out of his wallet. As he ate his dates, he threw the shells
    carelessly in different directions. When he had finished his
    repast, being a good Moosulmaun, he washed his hands, face, and
    feet, and said his prayers. Before he had finished, and while he
    was yet on his knees, he saw a genie, white with age, and of a
    monstrous bulk, advancing towards him with a cimeter in his hand.
    The genie spoke to him in a terrible voice: "Rise, that I may
    kill thee with this cimeter, as thou hast killed my son;" and
    accompanied these words with a frightful cry. The merchant being
    as much alarmed at the hideous shape of the monster as at his
    threatening language, answered him, trembling, "Alas! my good
    lord, of what crime can I be guilty towards you, that you should
    take away my life?" "I will," replied the genie, "kill thee, as
    thou hast killed my son." "Heavens," exclaimed the merchant, "how
    could I kill your son? I never knew, never saw him." "Did not you
    sit down when you came hither?" demanded the genie: "did you not
    take dates out of your wallet, and as you ate them, did not you
    throw the shells about in different directions?" "I did all that
    you say," answered the merchant, "I cannot deny it." "If it be
    so," resumed the genie, "I tell thee that thou hast killed my
    son; and in this manner: When thou wert throwing the shells
    about, my son was passing by, and thou didst throw one into his
    eye, which killed him; therefore I must kill thee." "Ah! my lord!
    pardon me!" cried the merchant. "No pardon," exclaimed the genie,
    "no mercy. Is it not just to kill him that has killed another?"
    "I agree it is," replied the merchant, "but certainly I never
    killed your son; and if I have, it was unknown to me, and I did
    it innocently; I beg you therefore to pardon me, and suffer me to
    live." "No, no," returned the genie, persisting in his
    resolution, "I must kill thee, since thou hast killed my son."
    Then taking the merchant by the arm, he threw him with his face
    on the ground, and lifted up his cimeter to cut off his head.

    The merchant, with tears, protested he was innocent, bewailed his
    wife and children, and supplicated the genie, in the most moving
    expressions. The genie, with his cimeter still lifted up, had the
    patience to hear his unfortunate victims to the end of his
    lamentations, but would not relent. "All this whining," said the
    monster, "is to no purpose; though you should shed tears of
    blood, they should not hinder me from killing thee, as thou hast
    killed my son." "What!" exclaimed the merchant, "can nothing
    prevail with you? Will you absolutely take away the life of a
    poor innocent?" "Yes," replied the genie, "I am resolved."

    As soon as she had spoken these words, perceiving it was day, and
    knowing that the sultan rose early in the morning to say his
    prayers, and hold his council, Scheherazade discontinued her
    story. "Dear sister," said Dinarzade, "what a wonderful story is
    this!" "The remainder of it," replied Scheherazade "is more
    surprising, and you will be of this opinion, if the sultan will
    but permit me to live over this day, and allow me to proceed with
    the relation the ensuing night." Shier-ear, who had listened to
    Scheherazade with much interest, said to himself, "I will wait
    till to-morrow, for I can at any time put her to death when she
    has concluded her story." Having thus resolved not to put
    Scheherazade to death that day, he rose and went to his prayers,
    and to attend his council.

    During this time the grand vizier was in the utmost distress.
    Instead of sleeping, he spent the night in sighs and groans,
    bewailing the lot of his daughter, of whom he believed he should
    himself shortly be the executioner. As, with this melancholy
    prospect before him, he dreaded to meet the sultan, he was
    agreeably surprised when he found the prince entered the council
    chamber without giving him the fatal orders he expected.

    The sultan, according to his custom, spent the day in regulating
    his affairs; and when the night had closed in, retired with
    Scheherazade. The next morning before day, Dinarzade failed not
    to call to her sister: "My dear sister, if you be not asleep, I
    pray you till day-break, which is very near, to go on with the
    story you began last night." The sultan, without waiting for
    Scheherazade to ask his permission, bade her proceed with the
    story of the genie and the merchant; upon which Scheherazade
    continued her relation as follows. [FN: In the original work
    Scheherazade continually breaks off to ask the sultan to spare
    her life for another day, that she may finish the story she is
    relating. As these interruptions considerably interfere with the
    continued interest of the stories, it has been deemed advisable
    to omit them.]

    When the merchant saw that the genie was going to cut off his
    head, he cried out aloud to him, "For heaven's sake hold your
    hand! Allow me one word. Have the goodness to grant me some
    respite, to bid my wife and children adieu, and to divide my
    estate among them by will, that they may not go to law after my
    death. When I have done this, I will come back and submit to
    whatever you shall please to command." "But," said the genie, "if
    I grant you the time you ask, I doubt you will never return?" "If
    you will believe my oath," answered the merchant, "I swear by all
    that is sacred, that I will come and meet you here without fail."
    "What time do you require then?" demanded the genie. "I ask a
    year," said the merchant; "I cannot in less settle my affairs,
    and prepare myself to die without regret. But I promise you, that
    this day twelve months I will return under these trees, to put
    myself into your hands." "Do you take heaven to be witness to
    this promise?" said the genie. "I do," answered the merchant,
    "and you may rely on my oath." Upon this the genie left him near
    the fountain, and disappeared.

    The merchant being recovered from his terror, mounted his horse,
    and proceeded on his journey, glad on the one hand that he had
    escaped so great a danger, but grieved on the other, when he
    reflected on his fatal oath. When he reached home, his wife and
    children received him with all the demonstrations of perfect joy.
    But he, instead of returning their caresses, wept so bitterly,
    that his family apprehended something calamitous had befallen
    him. His wife enquire reason of his excessive grief and tears;
    "We are all overjoyed," said she, "at your return; but you alarm
    us by your lamentations; pray tell us the cause of your sorrow."
    "Alas!" replied the husband, "I have but a year to live." He then
    related what had passed betwixt him and the genie, and informed
    her that he had given him his oath to return at the end of the
    year, to receive death from his hands.

    When they heard this afflicting intelligence, they all began to
    lament in the most distressing manner. His wife uttered the most
    piteous cries, beat her face, and tore her hair. The children,
    all in tears, made the house resound with their groans; and the
    father, not being able to resist the impulse of nature, mingled
    his tears with theirs: so that, in a word, they exhibited the
    most affecting spectacle possible.

    On the following morning the merchant applied himself to put his
    affairs in order; and first of all to pay his debts. He made
    presents to his friends, gave liberal alms to the poor, set his
    slaves of both sexes at liberty, divided his property among his
    children, appointed guardians for such of them as were not of
    age; and after restoring to his wife all that was due to her by
    their marriage contract, he gave her in addition as much as the
    law would allow him.

    At last the year expired, and he was obliged to depart. He put
    his burial clothes in his wallet; but when he came to bid his
    wife and children adieu, their grief surpassed description. They
    could not reconcile their minds to the separation, but resolved
    to go and die with him. When, however, it became necessary for
    him to tear himself from these dear objects, he addressed them in
    the following terms: "My dear wife and children, I obey the will
    of heaven in quitting you. Follow my example, submit with
    fortitude to this necessity, and consider that it is the destiny
    of man to die." Having thus spoken, he went out of the hearing of
    the cries of his family; and pursuing his journey, arrived on the
    day appointed at the place where he had promised to meet the
    genie. He alighted, and seating himself down by the fountain,
    waited the coming of the genie, with all the sorrow imaginable.
    Whilst he languished under this painful expectation, an old man
    leading a hind appeared and drew near him. After they had saluted
    one another, the old man said to him, "Brother, may I ask why you
    are come into this desert place, which is possessed solely by
    evil spirits, and where consequently you cannot be safe? From the
    beautiful trees which are seen here, one might indeed suppose the
    place inhabited; but it is in reality a wilderness, where it is
    dangerous to remain long."

    The merchant satisfied his curiosity, and related to him the
    adventure which obliged him to be there. The old man listened
    with astonishment, and when he had done, exclaimed, "This is the
    most surprising thing in the world! and you are bound by the most
    inviolable oath. However, I will be witness of your interview
    with the genie." He then seated himself by the merchant, and they
    entered into conversation.

    "But I see day," said Scheherazade, "and must leave off; yet the
    best of the story is to come." The sultan resolving to hear the
    end of it, suffered her to live that day also.

    The next morning Dinarzade made the same request to her sister as
    before: "My dear sister," said she, "if you be not asleep, tell
    me one of those pleasant stories that you have read." But the
    sultan, wishing to learn what followed betwixt the merchant and
    the genie, bade her proceed with that, which she did as follows.

    Sir, while the merchant and the old man who led the hind were
    conversing, they saw another old man coming towards them,
    followed by two black dogs; after they had saluted one another,
    he asked them what they did in that place? The old man with the
    hind told him the adventure of the merchant and genie, with all
    that had passed between them, particularly the merchant's oath.
    He added, that it was the day agreed on, and that he was resolved
    to stay and see the issue.

    The second old man thinking it also worth his curiosity, resolved
    to do the same, and took his seat by them. They had scarcely
    begun to converse together, when there arrived a third old man
    leading a mule. He addressed himself to the two former, and asked
    why the merchant who sat with them looked so melancholy? They
    told him the reason, which appeared to him so extraordinary, that
    he also resolved to witness the result; and for that purpose sat
    down with them.

    In a short time they perceived a thick vapour, like a cloud of
    dust raised by a whirlwind, advancing towards them. When it had
    come up to them it suddenly vanished, and the genie appeared;
    who, without saluting them, went to the merchant with a drawn
    cimeter, and taking him by the arm, said, "Get thee up, that I
    may kill thee, as thou didst my son." The merchant and the three
    old men began to lament and fill the air with their cries.

    When the old man who led the hind saw the genie lay hold of the
    merchant, and about to kill him, he threw himself at the feet of
    the monster, and kissing them, said to him, "Prince of genies, I
    most humbly request you to suspend your anger, and do me the
    favour to hear me. I will tell you the history of my life, and of
    the hind you see; and if you think it more wonderful and
    surprising than the adventure of the merchant, I hope you will
    pardon the unfortunate man a third of his offence." The genie
    took some time to deliberate on this proposal, but answered at
    last, "Well then, I agree."
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