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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 1 - 5/63 -


"lock the door, and take a stick and thrash her well; and I will answer for it, that will bring her to her senses, and make her forbear to importune him to discover what he ought not to reveal." The merchant had no sooner heard what the cock said, than he took up a stick, went to his wife, whom he found still crying, and shutting the door, belaboured her so soundly, that she cried out, "Enough, husband, enough, forbear, and I will never ask the question more." Upon this, perceiving that she repented of her impertinent curiosity, he desisted; and opening the door, her friends came in, were glad to find her cured of her obstinacy, and complimented her husband upon this happy expedient to bring his wife to reason.

"Daughter," added the grand vizier, "you deserve to be treated as the merchant treated his wife."

"Father," replied Scheherazade, "I beg you would not take it ill that I persist in my opinion. I am nothing moved by the story of this woman. I could relate many, to persuade you that you ought not to oppose my design. Besides, pardon me for declaring, that your opposition is vain; for if your paternal affection should hinder you from granting my request, I will go and offer myself to the sultan." In short, the father, being overcome by the resolution of his daughter, yielded to her importunity, and though he was much grieved that he could not divert her from so fatal a resolution, he went instantly to acquaint the sultan, that next night he would bring him Scheherazade.

The sultan was much surprized at the sacrifice which the grand vizier proposed to make. "How could you", said he, "resolve to bring me your own daughter?" "Sir," answered the vizier, "it is her own offer. The sad destiny that awaits her could not intimidate her; she prefers the honour of being your majesty's wile for one night, to her life." "But do not act under a mistake, vizier," said the sultan; "to-morrow. when I place Scheherazade in your hands, I expect you will put her to death; and if you fail, I swear that your own life shall answer." "Sir," rejoined the vizier "my heart without doubt will be full of grief to execute your commands; but it is to no purpose for nature to murmur. Though I am her father, I will answer for the fidelity of my hand to obey your order." Shier-ear accepted his minister's offer, and told him he might bring his daughter when he pleased.

T'he grand vizicr went with the intelligence to Schcherazade, who received it with as much joy as if it had been the most agreeable information she could have received. She thanked her father for having so greatly obliged her; and perceiving that he was overwhelmed with grief, told him for his consolation, that she hoped he would never repent of having married her to the sultan; and that, on the contrary, he should have reason to rejoice at his compliance all his days.

Her business now was to adorn herself to appear before the sultan; but before she went, she took her sister Dinarzade apart, and said to her, "My dear sister, I have need of your assistance in a matter of great importance, and must pray you not to deny it me. My father is going to conduct me to the sultan; do not let this alarm you, but hear me with patience. As soon as I am in his presence, I will pray him to allow you to lie in the bride- chamber, that I may enjoy your company this one night more. If I obtain that favour, as I hope to do, remember to awake me to- morrow an hour before day, and to address me in these or some such words: ‘My sister, if you be not asleep, I pray you that till day-break, which will be very shortly, you will relate to me one of the entertaining stories of which you have read so many.' I will immediately tell you one; and I hope by this means to deliver the city from the consternation it is under at present." Dinarzade answered that she would with pleasure act as she required her.

The grand vizier conducted Schcherazade to the palace, and retired, after having introduced her into the sultan's apartment. As soon as the sultan was left alone with her, he ordered her to uncover her face: he found her so beautiful that he was perfectly charmed; but perceiving her to be in tears, demanded the reason. "Sir," answered Scheherazade, "I have a sister who loves me tenderly, and I could wish that she might be allowed to pass the night in this chamber, that I might see her, and once more bid her adieu. Will you be pleased to allow me the consolation of giving her this last testimony of my affection?" Shier-ear having consented, Dinarzade was sent for, who came with all possible expedition.

An hour before day, Dinarzade failed not to do as her sister had ordered. "My dear sister," cried she, "if you be not asleep, I pray that until daybreak, which will be very shortly, you will tell me one of those pleasant stories you have read. Alas! this may perhaps be the last time that I shall enjoy that pleasure."

Scheherazade, instead of answering her sister, addressed herself to the sultan: "Sir, will your majesty be pleased to allow me to afford my sister this satisfaction?" "With all my heart," replied the sultan. Scheherazade then bade her sister attend, and afterwards, addressing herself to Shier-ear, proceeded as follows.

THE MERCHANT AND THE GENIE.

There was formerly a merchant who possessed much property in lands, goods, and money, and had a great number of clerks, factors, and slaves. He was obliged from time to time to visit his correspondents on business; and one day being under the necessity of going a long journey on an affair of importance, he took horse, and carried with him a wallet containing biscuits and dates, because he had a great desert to pass over, where he could procure no sort of provisions. He arrived without any accident at the end of his journey; and having dispatched his affairs, took horse again, in order to return home.

The fourth day of his journey, he was so much incommoded by the heat of the sun, and the reflection of that heat from the earth, that he turned out of the road, to refresh himself under some trees. He found at the root of a large tree a fountain of very clear running water. Having alighted, he tied his horse to a branch, and sitting down by the fountain, took some biscuits and dates out of his wallet. As he ate his dates, he threw the shells carelessly in different directions. When he had finished his repast, being a good Moosulmaun, he washed his hands, face, and feet, and said his prayers. Before he had finished, and while he was yet on his knees, he saw a genie, white with age, and of a monstrous bulk, advancing towards him with a cimeter in his hand. The genie spoke to him in a terrible voice: "Rise, that I may kill thee with this cimeter, as thou hast killed my son;" and accompanied these words with a frightful cry. The merchant being as much alarmed at the hideous shape of the monster as at his threatening language, answered him, trembling, "Alas! my good lord, of what crime can I be guilty towards you, that you should take away my life?" "I will," replied the genie, "kill thee, as thou hast killed my son." "Heavens," exclaimed the merchant, "how could I kill your son? I never knew, never saw him." "Did not you sit down when you came hither?" demanded the genie: "did you not take dates out of your wallet, and as you ate them, did not you throw the shells about in different directions?" "I did all that you say," answered the merchant, "I cannot deny it." "If it be so," resumed the genie, "I tell thee that thou hast killed my son; and in this manner: When thou wert throwing the shells about, my son was passing by, and thou didst throw one into his eye, which killed him; therefore I must kill thee." "Ah! my lord! pardon me!" cried the merchant. "No pardon," exclaimed the genie, "no mercy. Is it not just to kill him that has killed another?" "I agree it is," replied the merchant, "but certainly I never killed your son; and if I have, it was unknown to me, and I did it innocently; I beg you therefore to pardon me, and suffer me to live." "No, no," returned the genie, persisting in his resolution, "I must kill thee, since thou hast killed my son." Then taking the merchant by the arm, he threw him with his face on the ground, and lifted up his cimeter to cut off his head.

The merchant, with tears, protested he was innocent, bewailed his wife and children, and supplicated the genie, in the most moving expressions. The genie, with his cimeter still lifted up, had the patience to hear his unfortunate victims to the end of his lamentations, but would not relent. "All this whining," said the monster, "is to no purpose; though you should shed tears of blood, they should not hinder me from killing thee, as thou hast killed my son." "What!" exclaimed the merchant, "can nothing prevail with you? Will you absolutely take away the life of a poor innocent?" "Yes," replied the genie, "I am resolved."

As soon as she had spoken these words, perceiving it was day, and knowing that the sultan rose early in the morning to say his prayers, and hold his council, Scheherazade discontinued her story. "Dear sister," said Dinarzade, "what a wonderful story is this!" "The remainder of it," replied Scheherazade "is more surprising, and you will be of this opinion, if the sultan will but permit me to live over this day, and allow me to proceed with the relation the ensuing night." Shier-ear, who had listened to Scheherazade with much interest, said to himself, "I will wait till to-morrow, for I can at any time put her to death when she has concluded her story." Having thus resolved not to put Scheherazade to death that day, he rose and went to his prayers, and to attend his council.

During this time the grand vizier was in the utmost distress. Instead of sleeping, he spent the night in sighs and groans, bewailing the lot of his daughter, of whom he believed he should himself shortly be the executioner. As, with this melancholy prospect before him, he dreaded to meet the sultan, he was agreeably surprised when he found the prince entered the council chamber without giving him the fatal orders he expected.

The sultan, according to his custom, spent the day in regulating his affairs; and when the night had closed in, retired with Scheherazade. The next morning before day, Dinarzade failed not to call to her sister: "My dear sister, if you be not asleep, I pray you till day-break, which is very near, to go on with the story you began last night." The sultan, without waiting for Scheherazade to ask his permission, bade her proceed with the story of the genie and the merchant; upon which Scheherazade continued her relation as follows. [FN: In the original work Scheherazade continually breaks off to ask the sultan to spare her life for another day, that she may finish the story she is relating. As these interruptions considerably interfere with the continued interest of the stories, it has been deemed advisable to omit them.]


The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 1 - 5/63

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