1.3 The Second Old Man and The 2 Black Dogs



Great Prince of the genies, you must know that these two black dogs, which you see here, and myself, are three brothers. Our father, when he died, left us one thousand sequins each. With this sum we all embarked in business as merchants. My two brothers determined to travel, that they might trade in foreign parts. They were both unfortunate, and returned at the end of two years in a state of abject poverty, having lost their all.[32] I had in the meanwhile prospered. I gladly received them, and gave them one thousand sequins each, and again set them up as merchants.

My brothers frequently proposed to me that I should make a voyage with them for the purpose of traffic. Knowing their former want of success, I refused to join them, until at the end of five years I at length yielded to their repeated solicitations. On consulting on the merchandise to be bought for the voyage, I discovered that nothing remained of the thousand sequins I had given to each. I did not reproach them; on the contrary, as my capital was increased to six thousand sequins, I gave them each one thousand sequins, and kept a like sum myself, concealing the other three thousand in a corner of my house, in order that if our voyage proved unsuccessful we might be able to console ourselves and begin our former profession.

We purchased our goods, embarked in a vessel, which we ourselves freighted, and set sail with a favorable wind. After sailing about a month, we arrived, without any accident, at a port, where we landed, and had a most advantageous sale for our merchandise. I, in particular, sold mine so well that I gained ten for one.

About the time that we were ready to embark on our return, I accidentally met on the seashore a female of great beauty, but very poorly dressed. She accosted me by kissing my hand, and entreated me most earnestly to permit her to be my wife. I stated many difficulties to such a plan; but at length she said so much to persuade me that I ought not to regard her poverty, and that I should be well satisfied with her conduct, I was quite overcome. I directly procured proper dresses for[33] her, and after marrying her in due form, she embarked with me, and we set sail.

During our voyage I found my wife possessed of so many good qualities that I loved her every day more and more. In the meantime my two brothers, who had not traded so advantageously as myself, and who were jealous of my prosperity, began to feel exceedingly envious. They even went so far as to conspire against my life; for one night, while my wife and I were asleep, they threw us into the sea. I had hardly, however, fallen into the water, before my wife took me up and transported me to an island. As soon as it was day she thus addressed me:

“You must know that I am a fairy, and being upon the shore when you were about to sail, I wished to try the goodness of your heart, and for this purpose I presented myself before you in the disguise you saw. You acted most generously, and I am therefore delighted in finding an occasion of showing my gratitude, and I trust, my husband, that in saving your life I have not ill rewarded the good you have done me. But I am enraged against your brothers, nor shall I be satisfied till I have taken their lives.”

I listened with astonishment to the discourse of the fairy, and thanked her, as well as I was able, for the great obligation she had conferred on me.

“But, madam,” said I to her, “I must entreat you to pardon my brothers.”

I related to her what I had done for each of them, but my account only increased her anger.

“I must instantly fly after these ungrateful wretches,” cried she, “and bring them to a just punishment; I will[34] sink their vessel, and precipitate them to the bottom of the sea.”

“No, beautiful lady,” replied I, “for heaven’s sake moderate your indignation, and do not execute so dreadful an intention; remember, they are still my brothers, and that we are bound to return good for evil.”

No sooner had I pronounced these words, than I was transported in an instant from the island, where we were, to the top of my own house. I descended, opened the doors, and dug up the three thousand sequins which I had hidden. I afterward repaired to my shop, opened it, and received the congratulations of the merchants in the neighborhood on my arrival. When I returned home I perceived these two black dogs, which came toward me with a submissive air. I could not imagine what this meant, but the fairy, who soon appeared, satisfied my curiosity.

“My dear husband,” said she, “be not surprised at seeing these two dogs in your house; they are your brothers.”

My blood ran cold on hearing this, and I inquired by what power they had been transformed into that state.

“It is I,” replied the fairy, “who have done it, and I have sunk their ship; for the loss of the merchandise it contained I shall recompense you. As to your brothers, I have condemned them to remain under this form for ten years, as a punishment for their perfidy.”

Then informing me where I might hear of her, she disappeared.

The ten years are now completed, and I am traveling in search of her. This, O Lord Genie, is my history;[35] does it not appear to you of a most extraordinary nature?

“Yes,” replied the genie, “I confess it is most wonderful, and therefore I grant you the other half of this merchant’s blood,” and having said this, the genie disappeared, to the great joy of the merchant and of the two old men.

The merchant did not omit to bestow many thanks upon his liberators, who, bidding him adieu, proceeded on their travels. He remounted his horse, returned home to his wife and children, and spent the remainder of his days with them in tranquillity.


[3] Mussulman signifies resigned, or “conformed to the divine will.” The Arabic word is Moslemuna, in the singular, Moslem; which the Mohammedans take as a title peculiar to themselves. The Europeans generally write and pronounce it Mussulman.—Sale’s Koran, c. ii, p. 16. 4to, 1734.

[4] These tales are furnished throughout with a certain imaginary machinery. They have, as their foundation, the perpetual intervention of certain fantastic beings, in most cases superior to man, but yet subordinate to the authority of certain favored individuals. These beings may, for our purpose, be generally divided into genies, whose interference is generally for evil; peris, whose presence indicates favorable issues to those whom they befriend; and ghouls, monsters which have a less direct control over man’s affairs, but represent any monster repugnant or loathsome to mankind.

[5] “Now this, at first sight, seems a singular, if not a ridiculous thing; but even this has its foundation in an Eastern custom. It is in this manner that prisoners are sometimes put to death; a man sits down at a little distance from the object he intends to destroy, and then attacks him by repeatedly shooting at him with the stone of the date, thrown from his two forefingers, and in this way puts an end to his life.”—Preface to Forster’s edition of Arabian Nights.

[6] “The Mohammedans divide their religion into two parts—Imana, faith; and Din, practice. The first is the confession, ‘There is no God but the true God, and Mohammed is his prophet.’ Under this are comprehended six distinct tenets,—1. Belief in God; 2. In His anger; 3. In His scriptures; 4. In His prophets; 5. In the resurrection and day of judgment; 6. God’s absolute decree and predetermination of all events, good or evil. The points of practice are,—1. Prayer and purification; 2. Alms; 3. Fasting; 4. Pilgrimage to Mecca.”—Sale’s Preliminary Discourse, p. 171.

[7] In the original work, Schehera-zade continually breaks off to ask the sultan to spare her life for another day, that she may finish the story on which she is engaged, and he as regularly grants her request. These interruptions are omitted as interfering with the continued interest of the numerous stories told by the patriotic Schehera-zade.

[8] Bairam, a Turkish word, signifies a feast day or holiday. It commences on the close of the Ramadan—or the month’s fast of the Mohammedans. At this feast they kill a calf, goat, or sheep; and after giving a part to the poor, eat the rest with their friends. It commences with the new moon, and is supposed to be instituted in memory of the sacrifice of his son by Abraham. The observance of the lesser Bairam is confined to Mecca.


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