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Great prince of genies, you must know that we are three brothers, the two black dogs and myself. Our father, when he died, left each of us one thousand sequins. With that sum, we all became merchants. A little time after we had opened shop, my eldest brother, one of these two dogs, resolved to travel and trade in foreign countries. With this view, he sold his estate, and bought goods suited to the trade intended to follow.
He went away, and was absent a whole year. At the expiration of this time, a poor man, who I thought had come to ask alms, presented himself before me in my shop. I said to him, "God help you." He returned my salutation, and continued, "Is it possible you do not know me?" Upon this I looked at him narrowly, and recognised him: "Ah, brother," cried I, embracing him, "how could I know you in this condition?" I made him come into my house, and asked him concerning his health and the success of his travels. "Do not ask me that question," said he; "when you see me, you see all: it would only renew my grief, to relate to you the particulars of the misfortunes I have experienced since I left you, which have reduced me to my present condition."
I immediately shut up my shop, and taking him to a bath, gave him the best clothes I had. Finding on examining my books, that I had doubled my stock, that is to say, that I was worth two thousand sequins, I gave him one half; "With that," said I, "brother, you may make up your loss." He joyfully accepted the present, and having repaired his fortunes, we lived together, as before.
Some time after, my second brother, who is the other of these two dogs, would also sell his estate. His elder brother and myself did all we could to divert him from his purpose, but without effect. He disposed of it, and with the money bought such goods as were suitable to the trade which he designed to follow. He joined a caravan, and departed. At the end of the year he returned in the same condition as my other brother. Having myself by this time gained another thousand sequins, I made him a present of them. With this sum he furnished his shop, and continued his trade.
Some time after, one of my brothers came to me to propose that I should join them in a trading voyage; I immediately declined. "You have travelled," said I, "and what have you gained by it? Who can assure me, that I shall be more successful than you have been?" It was in vain that they urged open me all the considerations they thought likely to gain me over to their design, for I constantly refused; but after having resisted their solicitations five whole years, they importuned me so much, that at last they overcame my resolution. When, however, the time arrived that we were to make preparations for our voyage, to buy the goods necessary to the undertaking, I found they had spent all, and had not one dirrim left of the thousand sequins I had given to each of them. I did not, on this account, upbraid them. On the contrary, my stock being still six thousand sequins, I shared the half of it with them, telling them, "My brothers, we must venture these three thousand sequins, and hide the rest in some secure place: that in case our voyage be not more successful than yours was formerly, we may have wherewith to assist us, and to enable us to follow our ancient way of living." I gave each of them a thousand sequins, and keeping as much for myself, I buried the other three thousand in a corner of my house. We purchased goods, and having embarked them on board a vessel, which we freighted betwixt us, we put to sea with a favourable wind.
After two months sail, we arrived happily at port, where we landed, and had a very good market for our goods. I, especially, sold mine so well, that I gained ten to one. With the produce we bought commodities of that country, to carry back with us for sale.
When we were ready to embark on our return, I met on the sea- shore a lady, handsome enough, but poorly clad. She walked up to me gracefully, kissed my hand, besought me with the greatest earnestness imaginable to marry her, and take her along with me. I made some difficulty to agree to this proposal; but she urged so many things to persuade me that I ought not to object to her on account of her poverty, and that I should have all the reason in the world to be satisfied with her conduct, that at last I yielded. I ordered proper apparel to be made for her; and after having married her, according to form, I took her on board, and we set sail. I found my wife possessed so many good qualities, that my love to her every day increased. In the mean time my two brothers, who had not managed their affairs as successfully as I had mine, envied my prosperity; and suffered their feelings to carry them so far, that they conspired against my life; and one night, when my wife and I were asleep, threw us both into the sea.
My wife proved to be a fairy, and, by consequence, a genie, so that she could not be drowned; but for me, it is certain I must have perished, without her help. I had scarcely fallen into the water, when she took me up, and carried me to an island. When day appeared, she said to me, "You see, husband, that by saving your life, I have not rewarded you ill for your kindness to me. You must know, that I am a fairy, and being upon the sea-shore, when you were going to embark, I felt a strong desire to have you for my husband; I had a mind to try your goodness, and presented myself before you in disguise. You have dealt generously by me, and I am glad of an opportunity of returning my acknowledgment. But I am incensed against your brothers, and nothing will satisfy me but their lives."
I listened to this discourse with admiration; I thanked the fairy the best way I could, for the great kindness she had done me; "But, Madam," said I, "as for my brothers, I beg you to pardon them; whatever cause of resentment they have given me, I am not cruel enough to desire their death." I then informed her what I had done for them, but this increased her indignation; and she exclaimed, "I must immediately pursue those ungrateful traitors, and take speedy vengeance on them. I will destroy their vessel, and sink them into the bottom of the sea." "My good lady," replied I, "for heaven's sake forbear; moderate your anger, consider that they are my brothers, and that we ought to return good for evil."
I pacified her by these words; and as soon as I had concluded, she transported me in a moment from the island to the roof of my own house, which was terraced, and instantly disappeared. I descended, opened the doors, and dug up the three thousand sequins I had formerly secreted. I went afterwards to my shop, which I also opened; and was complimented by the merchants, my neighbours, upon my return. When I went back to my house, I perceived there two black dogs, which came up to me in a very submissive manner: I could not divine the meaning of this circumstance, which greatly astonished me. But the fairy, who immediately appeared, said, "Husband, be not surprised to see these dogs, they are your brothers." I was troubled at this declaration, and asked her by what power they were so transformed. "I did it," said she, "or at least authorised one of my sisters to do it, who at the same time sunk their ship. You have lost the goods you had on board, but I will compensate you another way. As to your two brothers, I have condemned them to remain five years in that shape. Their perfidiousness too well deserves such a penance." Having thus spoken and told me where I might hear of her, she disappeared.
The five years being now nearly expired, I am travelling in quest of her; and as I passed this way, I met this merchant, and the good old man who led the hind, and sat down by them. This is my history, O prince of genies! do not you think it very extraordinary?" "I own it is," replied the genie, "and on that account I remit the merchant the second third of the crime which he has committed against me."
[Resume The Merchant and the Genie]
Scott, Jonathan (1754-1829). The Arabian Nights Entertainments. London: Pickering and Chatto, 1890. 4 Volumes. Project Gutenberg.
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