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Scheherazade speaks of the Merchant and the Genie
This is part one of The Arabian Nights. Scheherazade sacrificed her freedom, so that no other woman was executed by the Sultan. However, she was able to stay alive, telling her amazing stories.
Genii are supernatural spirits or beings, and in this book, Scheherazade tells stories involving both human and Genie. According to the definition that is in this book (see my last article for details), Genii are demons that populate the universe, and it is only Solomon that has the power to punish Genii who disobey him.
In this story, the Merchant was on a journey, but on his fourth day, he decided to take out his dates and eat them. He threw away the remainder of a date, and to his surprise, a Genie appeared, very angry at what he did. The Genie wanted to kill the Merchant, because one of the dates killed the Genie's son; it hit the son's eye. The Merchant did not realize what he had done, but he pleaded with the Genie to let him live.
The Genie gave the Merchant one year to settle his matters with the family. After making all proper arrangements, the Merchant was to return for his death. The Merchant kept his promise, said his goodbyes and returned to the Genie.
Three old men appeared when the Merchant showed up to die. One had a hind, the second had two black dogs. I'll tell you about the third towards the end.
As the Genie was about to murder the Merchant, the first old man threw himself at the Genie's mercy, begging that the Genie remove 1/3 of the punishment, if he told a story more incredible than that of the Merchant. The Genie granted the first old man's request.
The first old man told the story of how he longed to have a son, so he purchased a female slave, who eventually gave him a son. His wife could not have children, so at the birth of the slave's son, she became very jealous. The old man said that when his son turned ten years, he left on a journey. The wife turned the female slave into a cow, and the son into a calf.
When the man returned, the wife told him that the slave died and the son disappeared. During a celebration, the man and the wife were to sacrifice a cow. A steward slaughtered the cow, and when cutting the cow open, the steward discovered the cow was no good. The wife persuaded the steward to kill the calf, but somehow he could not.
The steward's daughter knew that the calf was the old man's son. When the old man learned of this, he had his wife turned into a hind. At the conclusion of the story, the Genie forgave the Merchant by 1/3.
Now, the second old man, with the two dogs, pleaded with the Genie. The Genie agreed to forgive 1/3 if his story was also appealing. The second old man told his story. He too was a merchant, with two brothers. All three received one thousand sequins. Because the two brothers did not use their sequins wisely, they ended up in poverty.
This second old man was the middle brother and he felt pity for his poor brothers. However, both poor brothers convinced this wealthy brother to go on a business travel. While in travel, the second old man tells the Genie that he fell in love with a poor woman, and she asked him to be his wife.
The brothers plotted to throw the middle brother into the sea, along with his wife. Both the wife and the second old man were thrown into the sea, but because the wife was a fairy, she saved the second old man, and turned his brothers into dogs. The Genie forgave another 1/3.
As for the third old man, Scheherazade said, "it has not come to my knowledge", but she continues, "the story was the most impressive".
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