Once upon a time there was a merchant who possessed great wealth in land and in merchandise. He had to take journeys to arrange his affairs. One day he mounted his
horse, taking with him a small wallet containing a few biscuits and dates as he had to
pass through the desert. Having finished his business, he set out on his return journey. On
the fourth day of his journey, he turned out of his road to rest under some trees. He found
at the foot of a large walnut-tree a fountain of clear and running water. He dismounted,
fastened his horse to a branch of a tree and sat by the fountain. He ate some dates and
biscuits. When he had finished this frugal meal, he washed his face and hands in the fountain. He heard a thunderous noise.
There appeared before him an enormous genie, white with rage, coming towards him, with a curved sword in his hand.
“Arise." the Genie cried in a terrible voice, “and let me kill you as you have killed my
As he uttered these words he gave a frightful yell. The merchant was as much terrified at the hideous face of the monster and answered him tremblingly. "Alas! good sir. I know not you, nor your son"
“I shall kill you." repeated the Genie, 'as you have killed my son."
“But," said the merchant…"How can I have killed your son? I do not know him and I have never even seen him."
‘When you arrived here, did you not sit down on the ground' asked the Genie, "and did you not take some dates from your wallet and whilst eating them did you not throw the seeds about?"
‘Yes." said the merchant. "I certainly did."
“Then." said the Genie. "The seeds you flung away struck my son in the eye and killed
him So I shall kill you."
“Ah. Sir, forgive me. I had no intention to kill your son." cried the merchant.
“I will have no mercy on you.’ Answered the Genie.
He seized the merchant by the arm, threw on the ground and lifted his saber to cut
off his head.
The merchant, pleaded to the Genie to allow him to see his wife and children and promised to return to the Genie.
When the merchant saw that the Genie was determined to cut off his head, he said…"One word more, I entreat you. Grant me a little delay…just a short time to go home and bid my wife and children farewell and to make my will. When I have done this I will come
back here and you shall kill me.’
"But." said the Genie. If I grant you the delay you ask. I am afraid that you will not
come back ’
"I give you my word of honour," answered the merchant, "that I will come back without
"How long do you require?’ asked the Genie.
'I ask you for a year's grace," replied the merchant. "I promise you that exactly after
twelve months I shall be walling under these trees to give myself up to you."
On this the Genie left him near the fountain and disappeared.
The merchant, mounted his horse and continued his journey towards home.
When he arrived home, his wife and children received him with the greatest joy. But instead of embracing them, he began to weep so bitterly that they soon guessed that
something terrible had happened to him.
“what has happened, asked his wife."
"Alas!" answered her husband. “I have only a year to live."
Then he told them what had passed between him and the Genie. When they heard this sad
news they were in despair and dismay.
The next day the merchant began to settle his affairs. He paid all his debts. He gave presents to his friends and large alms to the poor. He set his slaves at liberty and provided
for his wife and children. The year soon passed away and he was obliged to depart. When he tried to say good-bye, he was quite overcome with grief and with difficulty tore himself away.
At length he reached the place -where he had first seen the Genie. He dismounted and sat
down at the edge of the fountain where he awaited the Genie in terrible suspense.
Whilst he was thus waiting, an old man leading a red deer came towards him They greeted one another and then the old man said to him. "May I ask. brother, what brought
you to this desert place, where there are so many evil genii about? It is a dangerous place
to stay too long."
The merchant told the old man why he was obliged to come there. He listened in
“This is an incredible affair. I should like to be a witness of your interview with the Genie. "
So saying he sat down by the merchant.
While they were talking, another old man came up, followed by two black dogs. He
greeted them and asked what they were doing in that place. The old man who was
leading the red deer told him the problem of the merchant and the Genie. The second old
man had no sooner heard the story than, he too decided to stay there to see what would
happen. He sat down by the others and was talking when a third old man arrived. He
asked why the merchant who was with them, looked so sad. They told him the story and he also resolved to stay with them.
They soon saw in the distance a thick smoke, like a cloud of dust. This smoke came
nearer and nearer and then, all at once, it vanished and they saw the Genie who without speaking to them, approached the merchant and said. "Get up and let me kill you as you killed my son."
The merchant and the three old men began to weep and groan.
Then the old man leading the red deer threw himself at the monster’s feet and said, "O Prince of the Genii. I beg of you to listen to me. I am going to tell you my story and that
of the red deer I have with me and if you find it more miserable than that of the merchant
whom you are about to kill, You can do away with his punishment?"
The Genie thought for a while and then said. "Very well. I agree to this.' The Genie
listened to the story of the old man and his deer which was even more pathetic. The
Genie became pacified and let the merchant go home without punishment.