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.

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.]

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."

[Footnote 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._]

"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.

[Footnote 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.]

"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]

[Footnote 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

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

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

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

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

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Główna Czytelnia Literatura Baśnie Tysiąca i Jednej Nocy THE STORY OF THE MERCHANT AND THE GENIE
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