After the battle, the Queen and her warriors entered the throne hall of the vanquished Akbanids, where they found displayed on pedestals of marble all the great treasures of that kingdom. And the Queen, having little interest in the jewels and gold, passed all these by, until she came at last to the center of the room. And there, on a sheet of silk, sat a Lamp of humble aspect, wrought in bronze and without a drop of oil inside.With great reverence, the Queen took up the Lamp and at her touch, from it rose with a glittering cloud of smoke a terrible Jinni. And all who looked upon her quailed and trembled, but the Queen stood tall and trembled not. Yet in her eyes was a look of wonder.I am the Jinni of the Lamp, pronounced the Jinni. Three wishes shall ye have. Speak them and they shall be granted, yea, even the deepest desires of thine heart. Wilt thou have treasure? It is thine.And the Queen replied, Silver and gold I have.Wilt thou have kingdoms and men to rule over? asked the Jinni. Ask and it is thine.And the Queen replied, These I have also.Wilt thou have youth everlasting, never to age, never to sicken? asked the Jinni. Ask and it is thine.Does not the poet say that hairs of gray are more precious than silver and that in youth lies folly?The Jinni bowed low before the Queen. I see you are wise, O Queen and not easily fooled. So what would you ask of me, for I am thy slave.Give me thy hand, said the Queen and let us be friends. For does not the poet say, one true-hearted friend is worth ten thousand camels laden with gold?This the Jinni pondered, before replying, The poet also says, woe to the man who befriends the jinn, for he shakes hands with death.
Jessica Khoury