The Tale of the Second Sheik
The Tale of the Second Sheik
And so the second sheik began: These two dogs are my brothers. When our father died, he left each of us a small fortune in gold. I opened a shop with my money and sold fine embroidered silks, brocades, and linens. My two brothers decided to use their money to travel around the world and buy and sell spices.
After my brothers had been gone about a year, a beggar appeared in my shop. It took me some time to recognize that this bedraggled fellow was my brother. I took him back to my home, where he bathed. I gave him some of my fine clothes and a portion of the gold I had earned from my shop. He took this money and opened a shop of his own near mine.
Not long after that, another beggar appeared at my shop. And, as had happened before, it took me some time to recognize this filthy creature as my second brother. When I realized that indeed it was my brother, I took him to my home, bathed him, and gave him some decent clothing and gold I had earned from my shop. He, too, took the gold and opened a shop of his own near mine.
All went well for some time, but my brothers became consumed by wanderlust and asked me to join them on a journey around the globe. For some time, I resisted their entreaties, but finally I agreed. First, though, I asked that we all share what we had earned from our shops to finance our travels.
My brothers had not saved a single gold piece! They had spent their money on parties and fun. I, on the other hand, had saved six thousand pieces. It was agreed that we would take three thousand of the gold pieces on our travels and bury the other three thousand in our town. Then, when we returned from our travels, we would have some gold with which to reopen our shops.
So, we set sail and traveled around the globe. We bought and sold and traded, earning back ten gold pieces for every one that we invested.
Then, one day, we came upon a maiden in tattered clothes standing on the beach.
When she saw me, she kissed my hand and asked me if I could help her.
“Yes, of course,” I answered and offered her some gold pieces.
She responded by saying, “Marry me, then. I will be a wonderful wife.”
My heart warmed when I heard these words, and we agreed to be married. We found room for her on the ship and once again set sail. My brothers, though, became jealous of the time I was spending with my new wife and the gold I was accumulating through my savvy business dealings and trades. So, they plotted to throw my new wife and me overboard. After we were dead, they would take all of our gold.
One night, the brothers crept into our cabin and threw us off the ship. At that instant, my wife turned into an Ifritah, a wonderfully powerful spirit. She picked me up from the sea, rescuing me, and carried me to an island.
“Now you know that I am a genie,” she said, “but you did not know that when we were married. You were kind to me, so I have saved your life. However, your wicked brothers have made me angry and now I must go and kill them.”
I thanked her for saving my life but begged her not to kill my brothers. She would not relent. First, though, she picked me up and flew me back to the roof of my own house. I dug up the gold and reopened my shop.
One evening, I came home and found these two dogs tied up at the door to my house. They nuzzled me and whined and acted as if they wanted to speak to me.
Before I knew what had happened, my wife told me, “These two dogs are your brothers. I would have killed them, but my sister said I should be more forgiving. So instead, my sister has turned them into two dogs. They will remain dogs for ten years.”
“That is why,” concluded the sheik, “I am here, searching for my wife's sister, so that she may remove the curse that has turned my two brothers into dogs. That is my tale.”
Then, the genie turned to the second sheik and said, “Your tale is even stranger than the first. I happily give you the other half of this merchant's blood.”
At that, the merchant tearfully embraced the two sheiks and thanked them for saving his life.