24 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
of something, and he noticed that it was fastened and sealed with lead, with the impression of a seal. He was delighted. 'I will sell it to the founder,' he said; 'with the money I shall get for it I shall buy a measure of wheat.'
He examined the jar on all sides; he shook it to see if it would rattle. But he heard nothing, and so, judging from the impression of the seal and the lid, he thought there must be something precious inside. To find out, he took his knife, and with a little trouble he opened it. He turned it upside down, but nothing came out, which surprised him very much. He set it in front of him, and whilst he was looking at it attentively, such a thick smoke came out that he had to step back a pace or two. This smoke rose up to the clouds, and stretching over the sea and the shore, formed a thick mist, which caused the fisherman much astonishment. When all the smoke was out of the jar it gathered itself together, and became a thick mass in which appeared a genius, twice as large as the largest giant. When he saw such a terrible-looking monster, the fisherman would like to have run away, but he trembled so with fright that he could not move a step.
' Great king of the genii,' cried the monster, 'I will never again disobey you!'
At these words the fisherman took courage.
'What is this you are saying, great genius? Tell me your history and how you came to be shut up in that vase.'
At this, the genius looked at the fisherman haughtily. 'Speak to me more civilly,' he said, 'before I kill you.'
'Alas! why should you kill me?'cried the fisherman. ' I have just freed you; have you already forgotten that?'
' No,' answered the genius; ' but that will not prevent me from killing you; and I am only going to grant you one favour, and that is to choose the manner of your death.'