THE MERCHANT AND THE GENIUS 7
Alas, good sir, what can I have done to you to deserve death?'
' I shall kill you,' repeated the genius, ' 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 not you sit down on the ground?' asked the genius, '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 I certainly did so.'
' Then,' said the genius, '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 genius.
' But I killed your son quite unintentionally, so I implore you to spare my life.'
' No,' said the genius, '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 genius, with his raised scimitar, waited till he had finished, but 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 you the next night'