THE STORY OF THE FISHERMAN 27
' But what have I done to you ?' asked the fisherman. 'I cannot treat you in any other way,' said the genius,
' and if you would know why, listen to my story.
'I rebelled against the king of the genii. To punish me, he shut me up in this vase of copper, and he put on the leaden cover his seal, which is enchantment enough to prevent my coming out. Then he had the vase thrown into the sea. During the first period of my captivity I vowed that if anyone should free me before a hundred years were passed, I would make him rich even after his death. But that century passed, and no one freed me. In the second century I vowed that I would give all the treasures in the world to my deliverer; but he never came.
' In the third, I promised to make him a king, to be always near him, and to grant him three wishes every day; but that century passed away as the other two had done, and I remained in the same plight. At last I grew angry at being a captive for so long, and I vowed that if anyone would release me I would kill him at once, and would only allow him to choose in what manner he should die. So you see, as you have freed me to-day, choose in what way you will die.'
The fisherman was very unhappy. 'What an unlucky man I am to have freed you! I implore you to spare my life.'
'I have told you,' said the genius, ' that it is impossible. Choose quickly; you are wasting time.'
The fisherman began to devise a plot.
' Since I must die,' he said, ' before I choose the manner of my death, I conjure you on your honour to tell me if you really were in that vase? '
' Yes, I was,' answered the genius.
'I really cannot believe it,' said the fisherman. ' That vase could not contain one of your feet even, and how could your whole body go in ? I cannot believe it unless I see you do the thing.'