Arabian Nights: The Story of the Merchant and the Genie

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 mean he washed his face and hands in the fountain.

When he was thus employed he saw an enormous Genie, 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 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 not you throw the stones about?”

“Yes,” said the merchant, “I certainly did so.”

“Then,” said the Genie, “I tell you you have killed my son, for whilst you were throwing about the stones, my son passed by, and one of them struck him in the eye and killed him. So I shall kill you.”

“Ah, sir, forgive me!” cried the merchant.

“I will have no mercy on you,” answered the Genie.

“But I killed your son quite unintentionally, so I implore you to spare my life.”

“No,” said the Genie, “I shall kill you as you killed my son,” and so saying, he seized the merchant by the arm, threw him on the ground, and lifted his sabre to cut off his head.

The merchant, protesting his innocence, bewailed his wife and children, and tried pitifully to avert his fate. The Genie, with his raised scimitar, waited till he had finished, bit was not in the least touched.

Scheherazade, at this point, seeing that it was day, and knowing that the Sultan always rose very early to attend the council, stopped speaking.

“Indeed, sister,” said Dinarzade, “this is a wonderful story.”

“The rest is still more wonderful,” replied Scheherazade, “and you would say so, if the sultan would allow me to live another day, and would give me leave to tell it to you the next night.”

Schahriar, who had been listening to Scheherazade with pleasure, said to himself, “I will wait till to-morrow; I can always have her killed when I have heard the end of her story.”

All this time the grand-vizir was in a terrible state of anxiety. But he was much delighted when he saw the Sultan enter the council-chamber without giving the terrible command that he was expecting.

The next morning, before the day broke, Dinarzade said to her sister, “Dear sister, if you are awake I pray you to go on with your story.”

The Sultan did not wait for Scheherazade to ask his leave. “Finish,” said he, “the story of the Genie and the merchant. I am curious to hear the end.”

So Scheherazade went on with the story. This happened every morning. The Sultana told a story, and the Sultan let her live to finish it.

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 fail.”

“How long do you require?” asked the Genie.

“I ask you for a year’s grace,” replied the merchant. “I promise you that to-morrow twelvemonth, I shall be waiting under these trees to give myself up to you.”

On this the Genie left him near the fountain and disappeared.

The merchant, having recovered from his fright, mounted his horse and went on his road.

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 was the matter.

“Tell us, I pray you,” said his wife, “what has happened.”

“Alas!” answered her husband, “I have only a year to live.”

Then he told them what had passed between him and the Genie, and how he had given his word to return at the end of a year to be killed. When they heard this sad news they were in despair, and wept much.

The next day the merchant began to settle his affairs, and first of all to pay 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, on the very day that he had appointed. 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 hind 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? To see these beautiful trees one would imagine it was inhabited, but it is a dangerous place to stop long in.”

The merchant told the old man why he was obliged to come there. He listened in astonishment.

“This is a most marvelous 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 this place. The old man who was leading the hind told him the adventure of the merchant and the Genie. The second old man had not 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 see what would pass between the Genie and the merchant, so waited with the rest.

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, sword in hand, and, taking him by the arm, 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 hind threw himself at the monster’s feet and said, “O Prince of the Genii, I beg of you to stay your fury and to listen to me. I am going to tell you my story and that of the hind I have with me, and if you find it more marvellous than that of the merchant whom you are about to kill, I hope that you will do away with a third part of his punishment?”

The Genie considered some time, and then he said, “Very well, I agree to this.”

32 thoughts on “Arabian Nights: The Story of the Merchant and the Genie

  1. I have a very horrible genie story and this is not a joke it has really happened!

    I bought a book writing about how to contact with genies, and there were about 20 ways of contacting them so i have chosen one of the simple methods.

    In this method it was telling there are 300 days that after 60 days they may contact me any time which mean they may contact me either at 61st day or after 250 days even but they will definitely contact. The session was suppose to be at night only which was taken around 2 hours I woke up every night for 2 hours for more than 80 days and still nobody has contacted me.
    After 81 days I got really pissed and I cursed them in a very bad manner. And I closed the book and I wanted to sleep. This incident happened 8 years ago at that time me and my sister was sleeping in the same room we had a 2 storey bed. She was sleeping down.
    After I closed to my book I went to my room and I saw my sister sitting on her bed but not sleeping. I felt something and I didn’t want to walk into the room. Her name is Ozge and I told her “Ozge, why aren’t you sleepin?” and she smiled at me only but there was definitely something wrong. I still could not go to my room. She wasn’t saying anything and she was just smiling but I was so freaked out because even the way she smiles was different.
    She was still smiling as if she wanted to tell me something but it was a very weird smile just like she really need to tell something but she doesn’t know how to start. And the most scary part is just coming that I swear it was a man voice coming from her that she told me “listen” and I screamed the moment she talked with a men voice and she continued with the same man’s voice “just listen, listen, please” as if she was trying to calm me down but when I continued screaming she slept again. And my mom came to me asking why did you scream I told her the story and she told me she head her talking and it was not a man voice it was my imagination. And I slept believing her.
    Last year I opened this topic in front of my friends and my mom finally after 7 years accepted the fact that even she saw that man’s voice but she never wanted to tell me. My sister doesn’t remember anything about this.

  2. arabian night is avery good story but the tale of the mercant and genie is incomplete

  3. the story is written not complete because of such a reason, i know the whole story of Arabian nights, the genie and the merchant is just part of it.

    • Challarao,

      What do you mean by ‘incompleteness?’ The full version of the story as translated by Andrew Lang is there. Are you looking for all the other stories as well?

  4. Hi ppl.
    I’m planning to write a poem on Genie. I’d like to seek help from you all. Can anybody tell me some untold story about a Genie or his/her experience with them. The story must have a thrilling end. plz mail me at: [email protected]

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