18 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
she whom you see before you. I wished her to have thia form rather than a stranger one, so that we could see her in the family without repugnance.
Since then my son has become a widower and has gone travelling. I am now going in search of him, and not wishing to confide my wife to the care of other people, I am taking her with me. Is not this a most marvellous tale ?
' It is indeed,' said the genius, ' and because of it I grant to you the third part of the punishment of this merchant.'
When the first old man had finished his story, the second, who was leading the two black dogs, said to the genius, c I am going to tell you what happened to me, and I am sure that you will find my story even more astonishing than the one to which you have just been listening. But when I have related it, will you grant me also the third part of the merchant's punishment ?'
' Yes,' replied the genius, ' provided that your story surpasses that of the hind.'
With this agreement the second old man began in this way.