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Payne: The Second Old Man's Story

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These two dogs are my elder brothers. Our father died and left us three thousand dinars, and I opened a shop that I might buy and sell therein, and my brothers did each the like. But before long, my eldest brother sold his stock for a thousand dinars and bought goods and merchandise and setting out on his travels, was absent a whole year. One day, as I was sitting in my shop, a beggar stopped before me and I said to him, "God assist thee!" But he said to me, weeping, "Dost thou not recognize me?" I took note of him, and behold, it was my brother. So I rose and welcomed him and made him sit down by me and inquired how he came in such a case: but he answered, "Do not ask me: my wealth is wasted and fortune has turned her back on me." Then I carried him to the bath and clad him in one of my own suits and took him to live with me. Moreover, I cast up my accounts and found that I had made a thousand dinars profit, so that my capital was now two thousand dinars. I divided this between my brother and myself, saying to him, "Put it that thou hast never travelled nor been abroad." He took it gladly and opened a shop with it. Presently, my second brother arose like the first and sold his goods and all that belonged to him and determined to travel. We would have dissuaded him, but he would not be dissuaded and bought merchandise with which he set out on his travels, and we saw no more of him for a whole year; at the end of which time he came to us as had done his elder brother, and I said to him, "O my brother, did I not counsel thee not to travel?" And he wept and said, "O my brother, it was decreed: and behold, I am poor, without a dirhem or a shirt to my back." Then I carried him to the bath and clad him in a new suit of my own and brought him back to my shop, where we ate and drank together; after which, I said to him, "O my brother, I will make up the accounts of my shop, as is my wont once a year, and the increase shall be between thee and me." So I arose and took stock and found I was worth two thousand dinars increase, in excess of capital, wherefore I praised the Divine Creator and gave my brother a thousand dinars, with which he opened a shop. In this situation we remained for some time, till one day, my brothers came to me and would have me go on a voyage with them; but I refused and said to them, "What did your travels profit you, that I should look to profit by the same venture?" And I would not listen to them; so we abode in our shops, buying and selling, and every year they pressed me to travel, and I declined, until six years had elapsed. At last I yielded to their wishes and said to them, "O my brothers, I will make a voyage with you, but first let me see what you are worth." So I looked into their affairs and found they had nothing left, having wasted all their substance in eating and drinking and merrymaking. However, I said not a word of reproach to them, but sold my stock and got in all I had and found I was worth six thousand dinars. So I rejoiced and divided the sum into two equal parts and said to my brothers, "These three thousand dinars are for you and me to trade with." The other three thousand I buried, in case what befell them should befall me also, so that we might still have, on our return, wherewithal to open our shops again. They were content and I gave them each a thousand dinars and kept the like myself. Then we provided ourselves with the necessary merchandise and equipped ourselves for travel and chartered a ship, which we freighted with our goods. After a month's voyage, we came to a city, in which we sold our goods at a profit of ten dinars on every one (of prime cost). And as we were about to take ship again, we found on the beach a damsel in tattered clothes, who kissed my hand and said to me, "O my lord, is there in thee kindness and charity? I will requite thee for them." Quoth I, "Indeed I love to do courtesy and charity, though I be not requited." And she said, "O my lord, I beg thee to marry me and clothe me and take me back to thy country, for I give myself to thee. Entreat me courteously, for indeed I am of those whom it behoves to use with kindness and consideration; and I will requite thee therefor: do not let my condition prejudice thee." When I heard what she said, my heart inclined to her, that what God (to whom belong might and majesty) willed might come to pass. So I carried her with me and clothed her and spread her a goodly bed in the ship and went in to her and made much of her. Then we set sail again and indeed my heart clove to her with a great love and I left her not night nor day and occupied myself with her to the exclusion of my brothers. Wherefore they were jealous of me and envied me my much substance; and they looked upon it with covetous eyes and took counsel together to kill me and to take my goods, saying, "Let us kill our brother, and all will be ours." And Satan made this to seem good in their eyes. So they took me sleeping beside my wife and lifted us both up and threw us into the sea. When my wife awoke, she shook herself and becoming an Afriteh, took me up and carried me to an island, where she left me for awhile. In the morning, she returned and said to me, "I have paid thee my debt, for it is I who bore thee up out of the sea and saved thee from death, by permission of God the Most High. Know that I am of the Jinn who believe in God and His Apostle (whom God bless and preserve!) and I saw thee and loved thee for God's sake. So I came to thee in the plight thou knowest of and thou didst marry me, and now I have saved thee from drowning. But I am wroth with thy brothers, and needs must I kill them." When I heard her words, I wondered and thanked her for what she had done and begged her not to kill my brothers. Then I told her all that had passed between us, and she said, "This very night will I fly to them and sink their ship and make an end of them." "God on thee," answered I, "do not do this, for the proverb says, 'O thou who dost good to those who do evil, let his deeds suffice the evil doer!' After all, they are my brothers." Quoth she, "By Allah, I must kill them." And I besought her till she lifted me up and flying away with me, set me down on the roof of my own house, where she left me. I went down and unlocked the doors and brought out what I had hidden under the earth and opened my shop, after I had saluted the folk and bought goods. At nightfall, I returned home and found these two dogs tied up in the courtyard: and when they saw me, they came up to me and wept and fawned on me. At the same moment, my wife presented herself and said to me, "These are thy brothers." "Who has done this thing unto them?" asked I; and she answered, "I sent to my sister, who turned them into this form, and they shall not be delivered from the enchantment till after ten years." Then she left me, after telling me where to find her; and now, the ten years having expired, I was carrying the dogs to her, that she might release them, when I fell in with this merchant, who acquainted me with what had befallen him. So I determined not to leave him, till I saw what passed between thee and him: and this is my story.' 'This is indeed a rare story,' said the genie, 'and I remit to thee a third part of his blood and his crime.' Then came forward the third old man, he of the mule, and said, 'O genie, I will tell thee a story still more astonishing than the two thou hast heard, and do thou remit to me the remainder of his blood and crime.' The genie replied, 'It is well.' So the third old man said, 'Know, O Sultan and Chief of the Jinn, that...

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Payne, John (1842-1916). The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night. London. 1901. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version. Wollamshram Vol. V. Wollamshram Vol. VI. Wollamshram Vol. VII. Wollamshram Vol. VIII. Wollamshram Vol. IX. Please consult the Wollamshram edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version.


1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM


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