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The Old Man with The Two Black Dogs
Long time back, ours was a happy and prosperous family.
We were three brothers who loved each other very much. In due time, our old father became very ill.
He left for heaven and willed each of us a thousand gold dinars.
We were clever so we invested in various shops and soon became well-to-do merchants.
One day my eldest brother had the idea of expanding his trade connections in other kingdoms. He decided to travel to other lands across the sea for this purpose.
He then sold all his shops, luxury items and the house to get some money. For buying a variety of goods, he set sail in a beautiful trade ship. Nearly a year went by, but we heard nothing from him.
One afternoon, as I sat fanning myself at the shop, a beggar approached me. He was looking very weak. He was barely covered in tattered clothes. I picked a silver coin from my pocket and gave it to him. Seeing this, the poor beggar burst out in tears.
“Oh! What fate!” he cried bitterly. “A brother is giving another alms in pity.”
I gave him a second look. Suddenly I recognised him to be my eldest brother. I consoled him and took him home. After a warm bath and some delicious hot lunch, my brother told me his sad tale. He said that he could not earn as much as he had invested in his new ventures.
The heavy losses had made him poor and he had reached back home with great difficulty. I had by then earned two thousand gold dinars in my business so I gave one thousand gold dinars to my eldest brother. I encouraged him to start a new business.
Some months later, my second brother decided to seek foreign lands to expand his business. I narrated our eldest brother’s example to him but he insisted on going for trading overseas. He soon joined a caravan that was ready to leave for a foreign land. He, too, went with many hopes and a lot of goods.
For a year, I heard no news of his business ventures. When a year went by, one fine morning he arrived at my doorstep much in the same state as my elder brother. He told me that his caravan had been looted by bandits and he lost everything.
Once again I lent my thousand dinars to my other brother too. He was happy to begin his business again. Soon both my brothers did well in their ventures and prospered. We lived happily and together again.
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One fine morning, both my brothers came to me and said, “Brother, all three of us must go on a long journey to expand our business. We’ll trade together and amass wealth.”
I refused because I had seen my brothers becoming penniless after such adventurous business trips. But they persisted. After refusing their request for nearly five years, I gave in. After making necessary arrangements, the three of us bought grand goods to sell.
My brothers spent all their money to buy the goods. I, thus, took six thousand dinars that I had and gave them a thousand dinars each. I kept one thousand dinars for my use.
Then I dug a safe hole in my house and buried the three thousand dinars that I was left with. Then we loaded the goods on a large ship and set sail.
Nearly two months after sailing, we anchored at a port. We made a lot of money by trading there. When we got ready to leave, a beautiful but poor woman approached me.
She bowed to me and kissed my hand. Then she said, “Sir, please be kind enough to accept me as your wife. I have nobody to care for me and nowhere to stay.”
I was taken aback. I said, “Dear woman, I don’t even know you. How can you expect me to marry a stranger?”
The woman pleaded tearfully and persuaded me to take her as my wife. She promised to be loyal and loving and soon we were married after the required arrangements were made.
As we set sail, she took on the role of a caring wife. She was soft-spoken, hard working and always ready to serve me or help my brothers. I was very happy to have her as a wife. My happiness was not favoured by my brothers who grew jealous day by day. Their resentment took shape of a plot to kill me and my wife.
Thus, one night, as my wife and I were in deep sleep, my two brothers threw us aboard. My wife who was a fairy used her powers to save both of us. Soon I found ourselves on an island.
Then my wife said, “Dear, I am a fairy. I married you for I saw a kind-hearted man who would be a fit husband for me. You have taken good care of me but I am very hurt and angry at the way your ungrateful brothers have treated you. I’ll punish them by sinking their ship.”
I was horrified. “Please don’t do that. After all they are my brothers. Let’s forgive and forget.” But nothing could stop my angry fairy wife. She declared that her fury would end only after she avenged herself.
Then she chanted some magic words! I stood before my house in my hometown. My fairy wife was by my side. I opened the door to welcome her into her new home. I saw two sinister black dogs just inside the door. I was surprised.
“Dear, I don’t know where these black dogs came from. I never had any pets either.” I explained.
“I know, dear,” my fairy wife said. “These black dogs are your own ungrateful brothers. I changed them into the black dogs to punish them. Now you can treat them anyway you wish. I must take your leave now. The spell cast by me will last for ten years. You can contact me after that time.”
My fairy wife told me where her home was and vanished into thin air. Now ten years have passed. I am leading the black dogs in search of my fairy wife.
“Now, Oh! Genie, you must not have ever heard of such a wonderous, unbelievable tale. I ask you to grant a third of the merchant’s life in return of this tale.”
The genie agreed again. Then the third old man said, “I’ll tell you a stranger and fantastic story of all.” He then told such a tale full of unbelievable events and wonderous magic that the genie declared to spare a third of the merchant’s punishment.
Thus, the genie departed. The merchant and the three men then went on their journeys.
The merchant reached home and was received happily by his family. Then he told the strange tale of how he was freed.
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