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There was formerly, sire, a merchant, who was possessed of great wealth, in land, merchandise, and ready money. Having one day an affair of great importance to settle at a considerable distance from home, he mounted his horse, and with only a sort of cloak-bag behind him, in which he had put a few biscuits and dates, he began his journey. He arrived without any accident at the place of his destination; and having finished his business, set out on his return.

On the fourth day of his journey he felt himself so incommoded by the heat of the sun that he turned out of his road, in order to rest under some trees by which there was a fountain. He alighted, and tying his horse to a branch of the tree, sat down on its bank to eat some biscuits and dates from his little store. When he had satisfied his hunger he amused himself with throwing about the stones of the fruit with considerable velocity. When he had finished his frugal repast he washed his hands, his face, and his feet, and repeated a prayer, like a good Mussulman.[3]

He was still on his knees, when he saw a genie,[4] white with age and of an enormous stature, advancing toward him, with a scimitar in his hand. As soon as he was close to him he said in a most terrible tone: "Get up, that I may kill thee with this scimitar, as thou hast caused the death of my son." He accompanied these words with a dreadful yell.

The merchant, alarmed by the horrible figure of this giant, as well as by the words he heard, replied in trembling accents: "How can I have slain him? I do not know him, nor have I ever seen him."

"Didst thou not," replied the giant, "on thine arrival here, sit down, and take some dates from thy wallet; and after eating them, didst thou not throw the stones about on all sides?"

"This is all true," replied the merchant; "I do not deny it."

"Well, then," said the other, "I tell thee thou hast killed my son; for while thou wast throwing about the stones, my son passed by; one of them struck him in the eye, and caused his death,[5] and thus hast thou slain my son."

"Ah, sire, forgive me," cried the merchant.

"I have neither forgiveness nor mercy," replied the giant; "and is it not just that he who has inflicted death should suffer it?"

"I grant this; yet surely I have not done so: and even if I have, I have done so innocently, and therefore I entreat you to pardon me, and suffer me to live."

"No, no," cried the genie, still persisting in his resolution, "I must destroy thee, as thou hast killed my son."

At these words, he took the merchant in his arms, and having thrown him with his face on the ground, he lifted up his saber, in order to strike off his head.

Schehera-zade, at this instant perceiving it was day, and knowing that the sultan rose early to his prayers,[6] and then to hold a council, broke off.

"What a wonderful story," said Dinar-zade, "have you chosen!"

"The conclusion," observed Schehera-zade, "is still more surprising, as you would confess if the sultan would suffer me to live another day, and in the morning permit me to continue the relation."

Schah-riar, who had listened with much pleasure to the narration, determined to wait till to-morrow, intending to order her execution after she had finished her story.

He arose, and having prayed, went to the council.

The grand vizier, in the meantime, was in a state of cruel suspense. Unable to sleep, he passed the night in lamenting the approaching fate of his daughter, whose executioner he was compelled to be. Dreading, therefore, in this melancholy situation, to meet the sultan, how great was his surprise in seeing him enter the council chamber without giving him the horrible order he expected!

The sultan spent the day, as usual, in regulating the affairs of his kingdom, and on the approach of night, retired with Schehera-zade to his apartment.[7]

On the next morning, the sultan did not wait for Schehera-zade to ask permission to continue her story, but said, "Finish the tale of the genie and the merchant. I am curious to hear the end of it." Schehera-zade immediately went on as follows:

When the merchant, sire, perceived that the genie was about to execute his purpose, he cried aloud: "One word more, I entreat you; have the goodness to grant me a little delay; give me only one year to go and take leave of my dear wife and children, and I promise to return to this spot, and submit myself entirely to your pleasure."

"Take Allah to witness of the promise thou hast made me," said the other.

"Again I swear," replied he, "and you may rely on my oath."

On this the genie left him near the fountain, and immediately disappeared.

The merchant, on his reaching home, related faithfully all that had happened to him. On hearing the sad news, his wife uttered the most lamentable groans, tearing her hair and beating her breast; and his children made the house resound with their grief. The father, overcome by affection, mingled his tears with theirs.

The year quickly passed. The good merchant having settled his affairs, paid his just debts, given alms to the poor, and made provision to the best of his ability for his wife and family, tore himself away amid the most frantic expressions of grief; and mindful of his oath, he arrived at the destined spot on the very day he had promised.

While he was waiting for the arrival of the genie, there suddenly appeared an old man leading a hind, who, after a respectful salutation, inquired what brought him to that desert place. The merchant satisfied the old man's curiosity, and related his adventure, on which he expressed a wish to witness his interview with the genie. He had scarcely finished his speech when another old man, accompanied by two black dogs, came in sight, and having heard the tale of the merchant, he also determined to remain to see the event.

Soon they perceived, toward the plain, a thick vapor or smoke, like a column of dust raised by the wind. This vapor approached them, and then suddenly disappearing, they saw the genie, who, without noticing the others, went toward the merchant, scimitar in hand. Taking him by the arm, "Get up," said he, "that I may kill thee, as thou hast slain my son."

Both the merchant and the two old men, struck with terror, began to weep and fill the air with their lamentations.

When the old man who conducted the hind saw the genie lay hold of the merchant, and about to murder him without mercy, he threw himself at the monster's feet, and, kissing them, said, "Lord Genie, I humbly entreat you to suspend your rage, and hear my history, and that of the hind, which you see; and if you find it more wonderful and surprising than the adventure of this merchant, whose life you wish to take, may I not hope that you will at least grant me one half part the blood of this unfortunate man?"

After meditating some time, the genie answered, "Well then, I agree to it."


The hind, whom you, Lord Genie, see here, is my wife. I married her when she was twelve years old, and we lived together thirty years, without having any children. At the end of that time I adopted into my family a son, whom a slave had borne. This act of mine excited against the mother and her child the hatred and jealousy of my wife. During my absence on a journey she availed herself of her knowledge of magic to change the slave and my adopted son into a cow and a calf, and sent them to my farm to be fed and taken care of by the steward.

Immediately on my return I inquired after my child and his mother.

"Your slave is dead," said she, "and it is now more than two months since I have beheld your son; nor do I know what has become of him."

I was sensibly affected at the death of the slave; but as my son had only disappeared, I flattered myself that he would soon be found. Eight months, however, passed, and he did not return; nor could I learn any tidings of him. In order to celebrate the festival of the great Bairam,[8] which was approaching, I ordered my bailiff to bring me the fattest cow I possessed, for a sacrifice. He obeyed my commands. Having bound the cow, I was about to make the sacrifice, when at the very instant she lowed most sorrowfully, and the tears even fell from her eyes. This seemed to me so extraordinary that I could not but feel compassion for her, and was unable to give the fatal blow. I therefore ordered her to be taken away, and another brought.

My wife, who was present, seemed very angry at my compassion, and opposed my order.

I then said to my steward, "Make the sacrifice yourself; the lamentations and tears of the animal have overcome me."

The steward was less compassionate, and sacrificed her. On taking off the skin we found hardly anything but bones, though she appeared very fat.

"Take her away," said I to the steward, truly chagrined, "and if you have a very fat calf, bring it in her place."

He returned with a remarkably fine calf, who, as soon as he perceived me, made so great an effort to come to me that he broke his cord. He lay down at my feet, with his head on the ground, as if he endeavored to excite my compassion, and to entreat me not to have the cruelty to take away his life.

"Wife," said I, "I will not sacrifice this calf, I wish to favor him. Do not you, therefore, oppose it."

She, however, did not agree to my proposal; and continued to demand his sacrifice so obstinately that I was compelled to yield. I bound the calf, and took the fatal knife to bury it in his throat, when he turned his eyes, filled with tears, so persuasively upon me, that I had no power to execute my intention. The knife fell from my hand, and I told my wife I was determined to have another calf. She tried every means to induce me to alter my mind; I continued firm, however, in my resolution, in spite of all she could say; promising, for the sake of appeasing her, to sacrifice this calf at the feast of Bairam on the following year.

The next morning my steward desired to speak with me in private. He informed me that his daughter, who had some knowledge of magic, wished to speak with me. On being admitted to my presence, she informed me that during my absence my wife had turned the slave and my son into a cow and calf, that I had already sacrificed the cow, but that she could restore my son to life if I would give him to her for her husband, and allow her to visit my wife with the punishment her cruelty had deserved. To these proposals I gave my consent.

The damsel then took a vessel full of water, and pronouncing over it some words I did not understand, she threw the water over the calf, and he instantly regained his own form.

"My son! My son!" I exclaimed, and embraced him with transport. "This damsel has destroyed the horrible charm with which you were surrounded. I am sure your gratitude will induce you to marry her, as I have already promised for you."

He joyfully consented; but before they were united the damsel changed my wife into this hind, which you see here.

Since this, my son has become a widower, and is now traveling. Many years have passed since I have heard anything of him. I have, therefore, now set out with a view to gain some information; and as I did not like to trust my wife to the care of any one during my search, I thought proper to carry her along with me. This is the history of myself and this hind. Can anything be more wonderful?

"I agree with you," said the genie, "and in consequence, I grant to you a half of the blood of this merchant."

As soon as the first old man had finished, the second, who led the two black dogs, made the same request to the genie for a half of the merchant's blood, on the condition that his tale exceeded in interest the one that had just been related. On the genie signifying his assent, the old man began.


Great Prince of the genies, you must know that these two black dogs, which you see here, and myself, are three brothers. Our father, when he died, left us one thousand sequins each. With this sum we all embarked in business as merchants. My two brothers determined to travel, that they might trade in foreign parts. They were both unfortunate, and returned at the end of two years in a state of abject poverty, having lost their all. I had in the meanwhile prospered. I gladly received them, and gave them one thousand sequins each, and again set them up as merchants.

My brothers frequently proposed to me that I should make a voyage with them for the purpose of traffic. Knowing their former want of success, I refused to join them, until at the end of five years I at length yielded to their repeated solicitations. On consulting on the merchandise to be bought for the voyage, I discovered that nothing remained of the thousand sequins I had given to each. I did not reproach them; on the contrary, as my capital was increased to six thousand sequins, I gave them each one thousand sequins, and kept a like sum myself, concealing the other three thousand in a corner of my house, in order that if our voyage proved unsuccessful we might be able to console ourselves and begin our former profession.

We purchased our goods, embarked in a vessel, which we ourselves freighted, and set sail with a favorable wind. After sailing about a month, we arrived, without any accident, at a port, where we landed, and had a most advantageous sale for our merchandise. I, in particular, sold mine so well that I gained ten for one.

About the time that we were ready to embark on our return, I accidentally met on the seashore a female of great beauty, but very poorly dressed. She accosted me by kissing my hand, and entreated me most earnestly to permit her to be my wife. I stated many difficulties to such a plan; but at length she said so much to persuade me that I ought not to regard her poverty, and that I should be well satisfied with her conduct, I was quite overcome. I directly procured proper dresses for her, and after marrying her in due form, she embarked with me, and we set sail.

During our voyage I found my wife possessed of so many good qualities that I loved her every day more and more. In the meantime my two brothers, who had not traded so advantageously as myself, and who were jealous of my prosperity, began to feel exceedingly envious. They even went so far as to conspire against my life; for one night, while my wife and I were asleep, they threw us into the sea. I had hardly, however, fallen into the water, before my wife took me up and transported me to an island. As soon as it was day she thus addressed me:

"You must know that I am a fairy, and being upon the shore when you were about to sail, I wished to try the goodness of your heart, and for this purpose I presented myself before you in the disguise you saw. You acted most generously, and I am therefore delighted in finding an occasion of showing my gratitude, and I trust, my husband, that in saving your life I have not ill rewarded the good you have done me. But I am enraged against your brothers, nor shall I be satisfied till I have taken their lives."

I listened with astonishment to the discourse of the fairy, and thanked her, as well as I was able, for the great obligation she had conferred on me.

"But, madam," said I to her, "I must entreat you to pardon my brothers."

I related to her what I had done for each of them, but my account only increased her anger.

"I must instantly fly after these ungrateful wretches," cried she, "and bring them to a just punishment; I will sink their vessel, and precipitate them to the bottom of the sea."

"No, beautiful lady," replied I, "for heaven's sake moderate your indignation, and do not execute so dreadful an intention; remember, they are still my brothers, and that we are bound to return good for evil."

No sooner had I pronounced these words, than I was transported in an instant from the island, where we were, to the top of my own house. I descended, opened the doors, and dug up the three thousand sequins which I had hidden. I afterward repaired to my shop, opened it, and received the congratulations of the merchants in the neighborhood on my arrival. When I returned home I perceived these two black dogs, which came toward me with a submissive air. I could not imagine what this meant, but the fairy, who soon appeared, satisfied my curiosity.

"My dear husband," said she, "be not surprised at seeing these two dogs in your house; they are your brothers."

My blood ran cold on hearing this, and I inquired by what power they had been transformed into that state.

"It is I," replied the fairy, "who have done it, and I have sunk their ship; for the loss of the merchandise it contained I shall recompense you. As to your brothers, I have condemned them to remain under this form for ten years, as a punishment for their perfidy."

Then informing me where I might hear of her, she disappeared.

The ten years are now completed, and I am traveling in search of her. This, O Lord Genie, is my history; does it not appear to you of a most extraordinary nature?

"Yes," replied the genie, "I confess it is most wonderful, and therefore I grant you the other half of this merchant's blood," and having said this, the genie disappeared, to the great joy of the merchant and of the two old men.

The merchant did not omit to bestow many thanks upon his liberators, who, bidding him adieu, proceeded on their travels. He remounted his horse, returned home to his wife and children, and spent the remainder of his days with them in tranquillity.


[3] Mussulman signifies resigned, or "conformed to the divine will." The Arabic word is Moslemuna, in the singular, Moslem; which the Mohammedans take as a title peculiar to themselves. The Europeans generally write and pronounce it Mussulman.—Sale's Koran, c. ii, p. 16. 4to, 1734.

[4] These tales are furnished throughout with a certain imaginary machinery. They have, as their foundation, the perpetual intervention of certain fantastic beings, in most cases superior to man, but yet subordinate to the authority of certain favored individuals. These beings may, for our purpose, be generally divided into genies, whose interference is generally for evil; peris, whose presence indicates favorable issues to those whom they befriend; and ghouls, monsters which have a less direct control over man's affairs, but represent any monster repugnant or loathsome to mankind.

[5] "Now this, at first sight, seems a singular, if not a ridiculous thing; but even this has its foundation in an Eastern custom. It is in this manner that prisoners are sometimes put to death; a man sits down at a little distance from the object he intends to destroy, and then attacks him by repeatedly shooting at him with the stone of the date, thrown from his two forefingers, and in this way puts an end to his life."—Preface to Forster's edition of Arabian Nights.

[6] "The Mohammedans divide their religion into two parts—Imana, faith; and Din, practice. The first is the confession, 'There is no God but the true God, and Mohammed is his prophet.' Under this are comprehended six distinct tenets,—1. Belief in God; 2. In His anger; 3. In His scriptures; 4. In His prophets; 5. In the resurrection and day of judgment; 6. God's absolute decree and predetermination of all events, good or evil. The points of practice are,—1. Prayer and purification; 2. Alms; 3. Fasting; 4. Pilgrimage to Mecca."—Sale's Preliminary Discourse, p. 171.

[7] In the original work, Schehera-zade continually breaks off to ask the sultan to spare her life for another day, that she may finish the story on which she is engaged, and he as regularly grants her request. These interruptions are omitted as interfering with the continued interest of the numerous stories told by the patriotic Schehera-zade.

[8] Bairam, a Turkish word, signifies a feast day or holiday. It commences on the close of the Ramadan—or the month's fast of the Mohammedans. At this feast they kill a calf, goat, or sheep; and after giving a part to the poor, eat the rest with their friends. It commences with the new moon, and is supposed to be instituted in memory of the sacrifice of his son by Abraham. The observance of the lesser Bairam is confined to Mecca.