This was a fun assignment written for my Forms and Techniques of Fiction class where we had to write a story patterned after Arabian Nights. Hope you enjoy my tale:
The Tale of the Merchant, the Chandler and the Two Carpenters
On his way home, a merchant traveled down a long, dusty road, and when the sun reached its highest point, the rays burned hard on the back of his neck.
Up ahead, the merchant saw some shade and decided it would be there that he would sit down and take a drink.
As the merchant got closer to the shaded portion of the road, he noticed a black hole facing him. As he approached, he realized that the black hole was in fact a dark tunnel. As he put his face to the entrance, he felt a cool, moist breeze caress his face, so he closed his eyes and allowed it to cool him off. Finally, after he felt refreshed, he sat down at the mouth of the tunnel so that he could feel the moist breeze as he drank a few sips of water.
As he sat, he began thinking of his father who had just died. The man was old in age and had very few possessions with him at death, but as the merchant held his father’s hand for the last time, his father placed a diamond ring into his hand.
Feeling saddened over his father’s death, the merchant fished the ring out from his deep pocket and as he admired how the diamond sparkled as he reached it out to the sun, it suddenly slipped from his fingers and fell into the darkness of tunnel.
Gasping, the merchant got on his hands and knees and crawled into the mouth to retrieve his ring when he realized that the tunnel was in fact a dark pit.
The merchant backed his way out and sat on the ground trying to think of a way to retrieve his ring.
As the merchant sat in sadness, a carpenter came along and joined him.
“Greetings, sir. May I sit with you? As I traveled home, I noticed the shade and came over to rest my feet and drink some water.”
“Yes, yes,” the merchant answered indifferently. But looking up into the carpenter’s small wagon, he noticed some rope coiled like a snake. “Sir,” he said. “Would it be possible to use your rope so that I may go down to retrieve something that I’ve dropped down this hole?”
The carpenter stared at the man with surprise. “It’s only a tunnel. Why would you need rope?”
The merchant replied, “It looks like a tunnel, but it is in fact a black hole, and it’s taken something that belongs to me and I need so much to retrieve it.”
“Unfortunately, sir, while I’d love to loan you my rope, you’ll also need someone to man the rope as you venture down, and I am not that man. Tonight my daughter will wed, and I must be on my way.”
The merchant’s countenance fell. Then he got another idea. “Sir, if your daughter weds tonight, how will you pay her dowry, and with what money will you treat your wedding guests?”
The carpenter replied, “Our dowry is the little bit we have saved since her birth, and we’ll treat our guests to a humble meal.”
“What if you could treat your guests like royalty, and give a dowry that would make many jealous?”
The carpenter stared at the merchant and raised his eyebrows. “What do you mean?” He asked, his pride getting the better of him.
“The item that I wish to retrieve is a diamond ring given to me by my father at his death. When I retrieve my ring, I will sell it at the very next town and give you half if you would only lend me your rope and sustain me as I make my way down the hole.”
The carpenter did not hesitate and quickly tied the rope around the merchant.
“Wait!” The merchant exclaimed, examining the stature of the carpenter. “Do you have enough strength to let me slowly down and hold me?”
The carpenter backed away and stood aghast. “Sir, I assure you that I am a man of great strength.” He polished his biceps with his hands.
“Good enough,” the merchant said and made his way into the mouth of the black hole, eager to retrieve his ring.
The merchant was pleased as he smoothly descended into the blackness, until he realized that he had no way to find his ring in the darkness of the hole. “Please wait!” he called up to the carpenter.
As the merchant dangled inside the darkness, he heard a voice call to him.
“Hello,” the voice called from a crevice.
“Hello?” The merchant called out. Suddenly, a bright lamp began to burn and lit up all that surrounded the merchant, and he saw a chandler holding to a vine growing up from the bottom of the cave.
“I came down to the cave to retrieve something that I lost,” said the chandler. “And I warn you that you will not find anything that you search out, for the darkness covers all.”
The merchant stared at the chandler’s lamp. “Sir, would you be so kind to loan me your lamp?”
“While I would love nothing more than to help you by lending you my lamp so that you will have light, I am in great need to hurry out of this hole. My wife is having our very first child today, and I must be on my way.”
The merchant’s countenance fell, but then he got an idea. “Sir, wouldn’t you be so pleased to have enough money to care for your wife and your newborn child? To give them both the security that they deserve? The item that I wish to retrieve is a diamond ring given to me by my father at his death. When I retrieve my ring, I will sell it at the very next town and give half to the carpenter who holds my rope from above, but I will give you half of my half if you loan me your lamp.”
The chandler did not hesitate and quickly reached out for the merchant’s rope, so that he could join the merchant on his descent down into the tunnel. “I shall hold the light for you while you search.”
Knowing that the chandler would not release his lamp, the merchant hesitated for one moment, recalling the stature of the carpenter above. He is a strong man, he thought to himself. He told me so himself. He can certainly hold the weight of us both.
“Come along, sir,” the merchant called out to the chandler, and the chandler swung on his vine until he could reach out and take the merchant’s rope.
Clinging to the rope, the men fell for a few seconds because of the weight that the carpenter above struggled to sustain, and as they descended, the merchant noted that the rope began to move much slower.
Then, suddenly, the descent came to a halt.
“Have you found your ring?” The carpenter called down, his voice echoing down into the hole. “I am out of rope.”
The Second Carpenter
As the two men dangled, the merchant was ready to give up hope when a voice called out.
“Hello!” It was another carpenter who had some rope tied about his body, securing himself as he climbed up wall. “I climbed down into this cave to retrieve something that I lost.”
He had a lamp attached to his hat.
“Sir, I implore you!” The desperate merchant cried out. “May we please use your rope?”
“Sir, while I would love to help you, I must be on my way. My mother is recently widowed, and I must go and take care of her.”
The merchant’s countenance fell, but then he got an idea. “Sir, wouldn’t you be so pleased to have enough money to care for your mother for the rest of her days? The item that I wish to retrieve is a diamond ring given to me by my father at his death. When I retrieve my ring, I will sell it at the very next town and give half to the carpenter who holds my rope from above, and half of my half to this kind chandler who gives me light, but I will give you half of my portion that remains if you’ll only lend me your rope!”
The carpenter did not hesitate and quickly reached out for the merchant’s rope, so that he could join the two men where they dangled and tie the two ropes together. “I shall need to join you both, for I will have nothing to hold onto while you descend.”
Knowing that the carpenter spoke the truth, the merchant hesitated for one moment, recalling the stature of the first carpenter above. He is a strong man, he thought to himself. He told me so himself. He can certainly hold the weight of the three of us.
“Come along, sir,” the merchant called out to the carpenter on the wall, and he swung on his rope until the carpenter could reach out and take the rope. The carpenter quickly tied the ropes together and joined the two men. Suddenly, the first carpenter above began to yell, and soon, all four men tumbled down to the bottom of the black hole. Luckily, the chandler held tight to his lamp, and the second carpenter’s lamp was still fastened to his hat.
The four of them cried out for help.
Suddenly, a voice called out from above. “Who is down there?”
“We are a merchant, a carpenter, a chandler, and another carpenter,” the merchant cried out. “Would you please help us?”
“While I would love to help you men, I’m afraid that I no longer have work, and I must hurry home to tell my wife the bad news.”
The four men looked silently at each other under the soft glowing light where the glint of a diamond ring suddenly appeared…