THE HISTORY OF THE FIRST OLD MAN AND THE HIND

THE HISTORY OF THE FIRST OLD MAN AND THE HIND

The hind, whom you, Lord Genie, see here, is my wife. I married her
when she was twelve years old, and we lived together thirty years,
without having any children. At the end of that time I adopted into my
family a son, whom a slave had borne. This act of mine excited against
the mother and her child the hatred and jealousy of my wife. During my
absence on a journey she availed herself of her knowledge of magic to
change the slave and my adopted son into a cow and a calf, and sent
them to my farm to be fed and taken care of by the steward.

Immediately on my return I inquired after my child and his mother.

"Your slave is dead," said she, "and it is now more than two months
since I have beheld your son; nor do I know what has become of him."

I was sensibly affected at the death of the slave; but as my son had
only disappeared, I flattered myself that he would soon be found.
Eight months, however, passed, and he did not return; nor could I
learn any tidings of him. In order to celebrate the festival of the
great Bairam,[8] which was approaching, I ordered my bailiff to bring
me the fattest cow I possessed, for a sacrifice. He obeyed my
commands. Having bound the cow, I was about to make the sacrifice,
when at the very instant she lowed most sorrowfully, and the tears
even fell from her eyes. This seemed to me so extraordinary that I
could not but feel compassion for her, and was unable to give the
fatal blow. I therefore ordered her to be taken away, and another
brought.

[Footnote 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.]

My wife, who was present, seemed very angry at my compassion, and
opposed my order.

I then said to my steward, "Make the sacrifice yourself; the
lamentations and tears of the animal have overcome me."

The steward was less compassionate, and sacrificed her. On taking off
the skin we found hardly anything but bones, though she appeared very
fat.

"Take her away," said I to the steward, truly chagrined, "and if you
have a very fat calf, bring it in her place."

He returned with a remarkably fine calf, who, as soon as he perceived
me, made so great an effort to come to me that he broke his cord. He
lay down at my feet, with his head on the ground, as if he endeavored
to excite my compassion, and to entreat me not to have the cruelty to
take away his life.

"Wife," said I, "I will not sacrifice this calf, I wish to favor him.
Do not you, therefore, oppose it."

She, however, did not agree to my proposal; and continued to demand
his sacrifice so obstinately that I was compelled to yield. I bound
the calf, and took the fatal knife to bury it in his throat, when he
turned his eyes, filled with tears, so persuasively upon me, that I
had no power to execute my intention. The knife fell from my hand, and
I told my wife I was determined to have another calf. She tried every
means to induce me to alter my mind; I continued firm, however, in my
resolution, in spite of all she could say; promising, for the sake of
appeasing her, to sacrifice this calf at the feast of Bairam on the
following year.

The next morning my steward desired to speak with me in private. He
informed me that his daughter, who had some knowledge of magic, wished
to speak with me. On being admitted to my presence, she informed me
that during my absence my wife had turned the slave and my son into a
cow and calf, that I had already sacrificed the cow, but that she
could restore my son to life if I would give him to her for her
husband, and allow her to visit my wife with the punishment her
cruelty had deserved. To these proposals I gave my consent.

The damsel then took a vessel full of water, and pronouncing over it
some words I did not understand, she threw the water over the calf,
and he instantly regained his own form.

"My son! My son!" I exclaimed, and embraced him with transport. "This
damsel has destroyed the horrible charm with which you were
surrounded. I am sure your gratitude will induce you to marry her, as
I have already promised for you."

He joyfully consented; but before they were united the damsel changed
my wife into this hind, which you see here.

Since this, my son has become a widower, and is now traveling. Many
years have passed since I have heard anything of him. I have,
therefore, now set out with a view to gain some information; and as I
did not like to trust my wife to the care of any one during my search,
I thought proper to carry her along with me. This is the history of
myself and this hind. Can anything be more wonderful?

"I agree with you," said the genie, "and in consequence, I grant to
you a half of the blood of this merchant."

As soon as the first old man had finished, the second, who led the two
black dogs, made the same request to the genie for a half of the
merchant's blood, on the condition that his tale exceeded in interest
the one that had just been related. On the genie signifying his
assent, the old man began.


THE HISTORY OF THE SECOND OLD MAN AND THE TWO 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. 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 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 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; 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.

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Główna Czytelnia Literatura Baśnie Tysiąca i Jednej Nocy THE HISTORY OF THE FIRST OLD MAN AND THE HIND
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