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The Arabian Nights Entertainments

The Story of the Merchant and the
Genius
Sire, there was once upon a time a merchant who possessed great wealth, in
land and merchandise, as well as in ready money. He was obliged from time to
time to take journeys to arrange his affairs. One day, having to go a long way
from home, he mounted his horse, taking with him a small wallet in which he had
put a few biscuits and dates, because he had to pass through the desert where
no food was to be got. He arrived without any mishap, and, having finished his
business, set out on his return. On the fourth day of his journey, the heat of the
sun being very great, 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 the tree, and sat by the fountain,
after having taken from his wallet some of his dates and biscuits. When he had
finished this frugal meal he washed his face and hands in the fountain.
When he was thus employed he saw an enormous genius, white with rage,
coming towards him, with a scimitar in his hand.
"Arise," he cried in a terrible voice, "and let me kill you as you have killed my
son!"
As he uttered these words he gave a frightful yell. The merchant, quite as much
terrified at the hideous face of the monster as at his words, answered him
tremblingly, "Alas, good sir, what can I have done to you to deserve death?"
"I shall kill you," repeated the genius, "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 genius,
"and did you not take some dates from your wallet, and whilst eating them did not
you throw the stones about?"
"Yes," said the merchant, "I certainly did so."
 
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