Story From Arabian Nights - The Lost Twins

The Lost Twins

Long long ago there lived a merchant who had two little sons, twins. Once the merchant sailed for a distant island. The king of the island found in him a friend, a philosopher, and a guide. He did not let him leave his court. Years passed. The merchant's wife, distressed at her husband's long absence, set out for the island, along with her two sons. A few years passed on their way. One night they were camping in a port town. They heard that a ship that came from the island, where the merchant was, lay at anchor there. "Go and enquire of the men in the ship about your father," the merchant's wife told her sons. The two boys went aboard the ship. They started playing hide and seek on the deck, forgetting for the time being the purpose of their visit to the ship. It so happened that the ship belonged to none other than their father. He had taken leave of the king of the island and was sailing home.

While the two boys were frolicking on the deck, the merchant found out that his money bag was missing. A servant of his ship who had stolen the bag falsely accused the two visiting boys of the crime. The furious merchant, not knowing who the boys were, commanded his servants to throw them into the sea. The merchant's wife passed the night in great anxiety, waiting for the return of her sons. When it was dawn, she went to the port and asked all if any of them had seen her sons. Her husband, the merchant, saw her. He was happy to be united with her. But the happiness was short-lived. When he heard from her a description of the boys, he felt like going mad, for he had thrown his own sons into the sea! Now their only hope and prayer was that their sons had been able to reach the shore. The couple went from place to place, looking for them. Time rolled by. They did not succeed in their mission and they grew more and more disappointed. They went back home. They decided to adopt a son. One day the merchant bought a boy from the slave market. When he brought him home, his wife exclaimed, "O my life, my son!" Indeed, it was one of their lost sons. But the boy could not say what happened to his brother. Thrown into the sea, they had drifted in different directions. He had been rescued by a boat. The boatman had sold him to a slave dealer. With newfound enthusiasm, the merchant set up a new business and prospered. A time came when he was once again able to sail for an island with the merchandise. The island they reached was ruled by a young king. The merchant's son went to greet him with some gifts.

The young king instantly took a fancy for him. He invited him for dinner. Thereafter he insisted that he live with him! The merchant's son too took a deep liking for the young king. Days passed happily. One evening the young king fell sick. For some time the merchant's son had a suspicion that the king had some enemies in the palace. He feared that they might harm the king when they knew that the king lay sick, unable to protect himself. At night the merchant's son stood guard before the king's bed-chamber, his sword drawn. In the morning the king was better. Those who were jealous of the merchant's son whispered to the king that at night the young man had been seen with his sword drawn, approaching the king's chamber. If he had not dared to harm the king, it is because others saw him in that condition. The king was in no mood to believe this. However, he feigned to be ill again in the evening. Afraid of foul play on him at night, the merchant's son appeared at the doorstep with sword drawn. "Capture him!" shouted the young king. Guards who were in hiding took hold of the young man and threw him into jail. The next day the young man's enemies pleaded with the king that the prisoner is put to death without any delay. "I know what a blunder a hasty action can mean. I must wait," said the king. The next day, a messenger brought a letter to the king It was from the prisoner's father. It read, "My lord, for one hasty action I am repenting all my life. I pray that you look into the allegation against my son thoroughly before punishing him further!"

The letter echoed his own words! The king was amused. He sent for the merchant. When the merchant came, he asked him what was the action that made him repent all his life. "Can you believe me, my lord? I threw both my sons into the sea!" cried out the merchant. Then he narrated the whole episode. The young king listened to him, speechless. Then he desired to meet the merchant's wife. She was brought to the court. "My mother! Don't you recognize me?" cried out the young king and he fell into the lady's arms. "My child!" That is all the merchant's wife could utter. She was in tears. It was a revelation to the merchant that his other son had been swept ashore and had attracted the attention of the king of the island. The childless king adopted him and he had succeeded him to the throne. No wonder that the twins, without knowing that they were brothers, used to feel a strong attachment for each other. The king reached the prison in a bound and embraced his brother. All ended well and they lived happily.

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