The Arden production of The Arabian Nights should have included a story or two about a Demon like those included in the novel by Husain Haddawy.
By including these types of stories they could incorporate magic and demons into the play. There are many interesting ways that they adapter could portray magic and the appearance of demons.
The Story of the Merchant and the Demon from the novel tells of this wealthy merchant who travels from town to town selling goods. On one trip he rode for many days and then stopped to rest under a walnut tree.
He got something to eat out of his bag and began to throw the pits of the dates left and right. Then this old demon arrived and pulled out his sword to kill the merchant. Asking the demon why he wanted to kill him, the demon replied that the merchant had killed his son when he threw the date pit and it hit him in the head. The merchant began to weep and mourn his family and his wife and children.
(Haddawy p.18) He then began to recite verses and after he was finished and stopped crying, the demon said again that he must kill the merchant as the merchant had killed his son. The merchant then begged the demon for time to say his good byes to his family and his wife and his kids. The demon agreed to give the man one year to return only after the merchant swore as God as a witness.
When the merchant returned home and told of his troubles to his wife and children they all mourned. He than wrote his will, divided his property, discharged his obligations to people, left bequests and gifts, distributed alms, and engaged reciters to read portions of the Quran in his house. Then he summoned legal witnesses and in their presence freed his slaves and slave-girls, divided among his elder children their shares of the property, appointed guardians for his little ones, and gave his wife her share according to her marriage contract. (Haddawy p.
19) As the year came to an end, the merchant tearfully said his good byes and traveled to the orchard exactly one year later.
As he was waiting under the tree for the demon, an old man walked by with a deer and asked why he was sitting in the orchard which is filled with demons and devils. The merchant told the old man his story and the old man was so amazed that he wanted to see what would happen to the merchant. As the two men sat and waited for the demon, another old man walked by with two black hounds and asked what they were doing there.
The first old man told his the story of the merchant and the demon. The other man also wanted to see what would happen to the merchant and sat down. Then a third old man walked by and asked, Why do I see the two of you sitting here, with this merchant between you, looking abject, sad, and dejected?(Haddawy p. 21) They told the old man of the merchant and the demon and that they were waiting to see what would happen to the merchant.
This man of course wanted to see what the demon would do the merchant and sat down with the three men. Suddenly they saw the demon approaching them with his sword drawn and they began to weep and wail.
The first old man with the deer approached the demon and asked, If I tell you what happened to me and that deer, and you find it strange and amazing, indeed more amazing than what happened to you and the merchant, will you grant me a third of your claim on him for his crime and guilt?(Haddiwy p. 22) The demon agreed and the man began to tell his story.
The old man said that this deer was his cousin and he was married to her for thirty years. They could not have a child so he had a son with a mistress. His wife became jealous of his mistress and his son and caste a spell of them. She turned the son into a bull and the mistress into a cow.
She then gave them to a shepard who took them out with the other animals. She told her husband that his mistress had died and his son had run away. As the Great Feast of the Immolation approached, the man told the shepard to get a cow for sacrifice. He returned with the mistress that had been turned into a cow and as the husband went to slaughter the cow it began to cry.
The shepard then slaughtered the cow and it had no meat or fat. The shepard then brought a bull, the mans son, to be sacrificed and the bull ran at the husband and bowed at his feet. The husband wanted to spare him but his wife insisted, the bull began to cry and rolled at the mans feet until the husband spared him. The next day the shepard came to the man and told him that his daughter knows magic and could tell that the bull was the mans son and the slaughtered cow was the mans mistress.
The next day the man asked the shepards daughter to reverse the spell and she agreed to do so only if she could marry his son and could put a spell on his wife. The son became human and the wife was turned into a deer. After hearing this strange story the demon granted the old man one third of the mans life. (Haddiwy p.
Then the second old man with the two black hounds approached the demon and asked the same of the demon if he told the demon his story about the two hounds. They demon agreed and the old man told his story. The man said that these two hounds are his brothers. When their father died he had left his three sons with money and they each opened a shop.
One brother sold his shop and bought goods to trade as he left to travel. One year later a beggar came to the old mans shop and asked for food and clothes. The beggar was told to leave when he asked the shop owner if he recognized him because he was one of his brothers. They old man took in his brother and split his wealth with him.
Soon after the second brother sold his shop and went off on a trading journey. He too returned a year later with no money or goods. The old man again split his wealth with his other brother and he opened a shop again. Every year the two brothers would ask the old man if he wanted to go on a trading trip with them but he always refused until finally he agreed.
He asked his brothers how much money they had for the trip but they each had squandered all of it. He then sold all of his goods and received six thousand dinars. He brought three thousand with them and buried the other three thousand in the ground for when they return. They traveled to far countries and made a lot of money and upon boarding their ship back; the old man met a girl who asked him to take her with him.
He agreed and they married but his brother grew jealous of them and one night they there him and his wife into the sea. His wife turned into a she demon and brought him to an island. She told him that she wanted to kill his brothers but he insisted that she doesnt. She then brings him back to his home and he digs up his money and reopens his shop.
On the road he finds these two hounds tied up and she tells him that they are his two brothers and that they will stay like this for ten years. He then told the demon that he was on his way to the she demon with the hounds when he met the merchant. The demon grants his one third of the merchants life. (Haddiwy p.
Then the third old man approaches the demon and asks of the same if he tells the demon an even more amazing story that the other two old men. The demon agreed and the old man tells of a story that is stranger and more amazing then the first two. The demon was amazed and granted the old man one third of the merchants life. The demon released the merchant and went on his way.
The merchant thanked the three old men and they all parted. The merchant then returned to his family and wife and kids. (Haddiwy p. 29)