A fisherman with a wife and three children has a custom to throw out his nets four times a day, no more. One day he throws out his net, but can’t get it easily in. To avoid destroying het net he goes into the sea to bring the net and its contents to the shore. When he gets the on the shore he sees that he has caught an ass. Bewildered by this strange catch he prays to Allah to forgive him if he had done anything wrong and thanks Him for the dead ass. He throws his net a second time and gets a pitcher full of shreds broken glass and mud. Again he prays to Allah asking Him to give him his daily bread. So a third time he throws his net and he finds a jug in it with a leaden cap.
When he removes the cap there comes an Ifrit from the jar. The Evil Spirit thanks the fisherman for releasing him and asks the fisherman in what way he wishes to die. The fisherman, startled by the words of the Jinni, asks why the Evil Spirit wishes to kill him, whilst it was him who set the Ifrit free. Upon this the Ifrit replies: “I sinned against a prophet and he put me in this jar. I promised to give riches to anyone who would set me free, but none came. A century later I promised to open the earth for him who set me free, but none came. Then I promised to fulfil three wishes but after a century none came. Then in my wrath I said that he who would set me free may choose his death.” The fisherman knows he has to collect his wits to get himself out of this situation. He says to the Evil Spirit that he never believes such a large Ifrit can fit in such a small jar. Whereupon the Jinni in his pride says: “What? You do not believe me?” He turns into vapour and goes into the jar. The fisherman quickly puts the cap on the jar. The Ifrit begs him to let him out, but the fisherman reclines, saying the Ifrit will kill him. The fisherman wants to throw the jar into the sea and place a sign on the shore to warn people. But the Ifrit begs him again and promises him by the Almighty that he won’t hurt the fisherman, and bring him out of his poverty. Upon hearing this the fisherman releases the Evil Spirit. Once out of the jar the Ifrit destroys the cap so the fisherman already regrets his deed. But the Ifrit brings him to a lake.
In this lake are many-coloured fish and the Ifrit says to bring some fish to the Sultan. Then he disappears. The fisherman catches four fishes one colour each: white, red, blue and yellow. When he brings the fishes to the King he is much pleased and orders a slave-girl to prepare the fish. The fisherman receives four hundred dinars. When the slave-girl puts the fish in a frying-pan a fissure appears in the wall and a beautiful lady appears. She says to the fish to remember the agreement and the fish turn black as charcoal. The Sultan is amazed and orders the fisherman to bring new fish, which he does. A second time the lady appears. New fish are brought again, but now the King himself is present and sees the lady. Consulting the fisherman where he got the fish, the King goes to the lake. Even the oldest inhabitants say that there wasn’t such a lake as there is now, on which the Sultan swears to find the truth of this mystery. After a long walk he finds a palace built of swart stone plated with iron. He enters the palace but can’t find anyone. Then he hears a lament and goes to its source. He finds a man stuck in stone from his middle downwards who tells him his story.
Now follows The Tale of the Ensorcelled Prince.
The slave of the Prince’s story is just beyond in the palace and King kills the slave and throws him in a well in the palace. He then puts on the clothes of slave and wait for the sorceress with his sword aside him. The sorceress comes in, first tortures the Prince again and then goes to her slave. She is amazed that he can now speak and the King feebly asks her to lift the spell from the Prince, because he can’t sleep through the callings to heaven. She does so and tells the Prince to disappear and never return, otherwise she would slay him. She returns to her slave and the King asks her to lift the spell from the citizens as their wailing prevent him to heal. She does so and the lake becomes a crowded city again and the mountains become islands again and the fishes are turned back to people. Then she returns to her slave and he asks her to come closer. The King then slays her on the spot. Outside the King finds the Prince. The Prince tells him that instead of a two days march between his capital and the King’s city is now a year, because of the lifting of the spell. The Prince states that he will never part from the King. The Prince goes to his palace and says he will be on pilgrimage to the Holy Places. When they come to the palace of the King they are met by the Wazir and the army. The King says to bring the Fisherman to him and gives him a robe of honour, takes one of his daughters as his wife, gives the other to the Prince and makes their brother head-treasurer. The Wazir is made Sultan of the City in the Black Islands. The fisherman becomes the richest man of his age and his daughters marries with Kings, until death comes to them.
From The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night — Volume 01
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