The Merchant and The Genie

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Once upon a time, a very rich merchant lived in a city. He had a loving family and had all necessities of life provided for. Many a time, he left home to visit other kingdoms to spread his business and make new contacts.

Once when he was to cross a desert to reach a far off town, he started early from home. He carried some water, dates and dry fruits to eat on the way. He went to the town and did great business. Then he returned home eagerly.

On the way, in the desert, he felt very tired because it was noon. He saw an oasis nearby and went to it. There he washed his face, had some fresh water and sat down to rest under the shade of a palm tree. He took out some dates that he was carrying and started eating them. While eating the dates he started throwing stones here and there and was looking for better shelter. Finally he got up and went to the pond to wash his hands.

Just then he saw a fierce-looking large genie running to him. He held a shining sword in his hand that he held high as if to strike. Soon enough the genie stood in front of the merchant. The genie roared, "You are going to be dead soon. I'll kill you as you dared to kill my only son!"

"What! I killed your son," the merchant said in a shaky voice. "Yes. When you threw the stones, that hit my son's head and he was dead," the genie said.

"I am sorry, sir, I didn't mean to harm your son. Please be kind and merciful!" the merchant begged.

"I will hear none of your pleas. You'll be dead just as my son is. I will kill you right now." With these words, the genie pulled the merchant to the ground. He lifted his hand to strike the merchant.

Then the merchant said, "Sir, you may do what you want to but please do fulfil my last wish."

"Alright, what is your last wish?" the genie asked. The merchant replied.

"Let me go to the city to meet my family for the last time. I'll go to the city, clear all my debts and dues, arrange some money for my family's future life and give alms to the poor so that I get a seat in heaven after my death."

"Oh! That's a lot you ask for. And how long do you need for that?" the genie enquired.

"Sir, I'll need at least a year for all this. I promise that exactly a year from today. I'll meet you right here on the same spot. Then you can kill me to avenge your son's death," said the merchant.

The genie grew thoughtful. Then he said, "But remember if you are not here twelve months after today, you'll die even a crueller death which I've set for you."

The merchant bowed in agreement. Then he hastened to reach the city. He walked on for three days and finally reached his home. Once there he met his family and told them about what happened in the desert. The family could not bear to think of parting from him. They wept bitterly but the merchant said that he would have to keep the promise a year later.

Next day, the merchant woke up early and soon got busy setting his business affairs. He met a lawyer and made a will. He gave all the dues to the other merchants. He gave food, clothes and dinars to the poor and needy. He spent a lot of time with his family.

Soon enough a year passed. Then the day dawned when the merchant was to meet the genie in the desert. He bid a tearful farewell to his wife and children. He then proceeded towards the desert with tears in his eyes.

The merchant reached the oasis. There he waited on the spot here he had last seen the genie. As he waited anxiously, he saw old man approaching him. The old men lead a hind. He came to the merchant and said, "Hello, what are you doing here all alone? Aren't you afraid of the genie that resides in these places?"

The merchant greeted the old man. Then he told him his sad story. The old man was curious to see the genie so he decided to stay and ait with the merchant. A while later the merchant saw another old man approaching them. This old man was leading two black dogs. The old man with the dogs reached them and said, "Hello, others! What makes you sit here in the afternoon sun?"

The old man with the hind narrated the merchant's sad tale. The old man with the dogs thought a while. Then he said, "I'll stay and watch the encounter between our brother here and the wicked genie." Saying so, he, too, sat down with the merchant to wait for the genie's arrival. Half an hour later, a fourth old man came to the spot. He, too, enquired what the three of them were waiting for. When he heard the merchant's tale and the genie's condition, he, too, sat down to see what would happen.

A few minutes later, there was a loud thunder and the genie appeared before them from a cloud of smoke. His fiery red eyes and sword in his hand showed how angry and eager he was to kill the merchant. He' went to the merchant and threw him to the ground.

“So you are here!" he roared. "Your time has come at last!" With these words, the genie lifted his hand high up in the air to strike merchant’s head with the sword.

All the old men shook with fear and then started weeping with grief at the merchant's fate. Then the old man with the hind addressed the genie. "Oh! Genie, I bow before your power. Please hear my plea."

“What do you want, old man?" the genie asked in an angry voice. Please listen to my story. If you find it more wonderful and rising than that of the merchant, you'll have to spare a third of merchant's life."

The genie was angry but he grew curious to listen to the old man's. The old man with the hind then told his tale.
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