Great prince of the genii, you must
know that we are three brothers these two
black dogs and myself. Our father died, leaving
us each a thousand sequins. With this sum we
all three took up the same profession, and became
merchants. A short time after we had opened our
shops, my eldest brother, one of these two dogs, resolved
to travel in foreign countries for the sake of merchandise.
With this intention he sold all he had and bought
merchandise suitable to the voyages he was about to
make. He set out, and was away a whole year.
At the end of this time a beggar came to my shop.
“Good-day,” I said. “Good-day,”
he answered; “is it possible that you do not
recognise me?” Then I looked at him closely
and saw he was my brother. I made him come into
my house, and asked him how he had fared in his enterprise.
“Do not question me,”
he replied, “see me, you see all I have.
It would but renew my trouble to tell of all the
misfortunes that have befallen me in a year, and have
brought me to this state.”
I shut up my shop, paid him every
attention, taking him to the bath, giving him my most
beautiful robes. I examined my accounts, and
found that I had doubled my capital that
is, that I now possessed two thousand sequins.
I gave my brother half, saying: “Now,
brother, you can forget your losses.”
He accepted them with joy, and we lived together as
we had before.
Some time afterwards my second brother
wished also to sell his business and travel.
My eldest brother and I did all we could to dissuade
him, but it was of no use. He joined a caravan
and set out. He came back at the end of a year
in the same state as his elder brother. I took
care of him, and as I had a thousand sequins to spare
I gave them to him, and he re-opened his shop.
One day, my two brothers came to me
to propose that we should make a journey and trade.
At first I refused to go. “You travelled,”
I said, “and what did you gain?” But
they came to me repeatedly, and after having held
out for five years I at last gave way. But when
they had made their preparation, and they began to
buy the merchandise we needed, they found they had
spent every piece of the thousand sequins I had given
them. I did not reproach them. I divided
my six thousand sequins with them, giving a thousand
to each and keeping one for myself, and the other
three I buried in a corner of my house. We bought
merchandise, loaded a vessel with it, and set forth
with a favorable wind.
After two months’ sailing we
arrived at a seaport, where we disembarked and did
a great trade. Then we bought the merchandise
of the country, and were just going to sail once more,
when I was stopped on the shore by a beautiful though
poorly dressed woman. She came up to me, kissed
my hand, and implored me to marry her, and take her
on board. At first I refused, but she begged
so hard and promised to be such a good wife to me,
that at last I consented. I got her some beautiful
dresses, and after having married her, we embarked
and set sail. During the voyage, I discovered
so many good qualities in my wife that I began to love
her more and more. But my brothers began to
be jealous of my prosperity, and set to work to plot
against my life. One night when we were sleeping
they threw my wife and myself into the sea. My
wife, however, was a fairy, and so she did not let
me drown, but transported me to an island. When
the day dawned, she said to me,
“When I saw you on the sea-shore
I took a great fancy to you, and wished to try your
good nature, so I presented myself in the disguise
you saw. Now I have rewarded you by saving your
life. But I am very angry with your brothers,
and I shall not rest till I have taken their lives.”
I thanked the fairy for all that she
had done for me, but I begged her not to kill my brothers.
I appeased her wrath, and in a moment
she transported me from the island where we were to
the roof of my house, and she disappeared a moment
afterwards. I went down, and opened the doors,
and dug up the three thousand sequins which I had
buried. I went to the place where my shop was,
opened it, and received from my fellow-merchants congratulations
on my return. When I went home, I saw two black
dogs who came to meet me with sorrowful faces.
I was much astonished, but the fairy who reappeared
said to me,
“Do not be surprised to see
these dogs; they are your two brothers. I have
condemned them to remain for ten years in these shapes.”
Then having told me where I could hear news of her,
The ten years are nearly passed, and
I am on the road to find her. As in passing
I met this merchant and the old man with the hind,
I stayed with them.
This is my history, O prince of genii!
Do you not think it is a most marvellous one?
“Yes, indeed,” replied
the genius, “and I will give up to you the third
of the merchant’s punishment.”
Then the third old man made the genius
the same request as the other two had done, and the
genius promised him the last third of the merchant’s
punishment if his story surpassed both the others.
So he told his story to the genius,
but I cannot tell you what it was, as I do not know.
But I do know that it was even more
marvellous than either of the others, so that the
genius was astonished, and said to the third old man,
“I will give up to you the third part of the
merchant’s punishment. He ought to thank
all three of you for having interested yourselves
in his favour. But for you, he would be here
So saying, he disappeared, to the
great joy of the company. The merchant did not
fail to thank his friends, and then each went on his
way. The merchant returned to his wife and children,
and passed the rest of his days happily with them.
“But, sire,” added Scheherazade,
“however beautiful are the stories I have just
told you, they cannot compare with the story of the