Listeners, as you know the bazzar of Kahmdan, has Merchants fair and (some not so fair). Let me now speak of but one Merchant, of his daughter, how she overcame the injustice, of those that should as kin have treated her but reduced her instead, and how an envious heart fell to it's doom.

Many moons before the time as now I tell the tale, there lived within the walls of the Sultan's city a Merchant, whom as is and was the custom took a wife. Such in a wife the quality of beauty, honesty, loyalty (and obedience) as this, was wife indeed to the merchant. However, for such quality, there are sadly rivals lacking both quality and the good-sense to know their limits. Such it was for the Merchant, for his wife had a rival, in her heart sensing with the avarice of envy, that it should have been her that the Merchant took.

As child was born to the Merchant, a daughter, Such happy times is a child for those with blessing. But cold was the rival's heart with to envy turned. Oh and from such envy is the cold damnation of a vengeful scheme, for the rival consorted, and schemed, so that she should be the Merchant's affected. Fate is as to fortune is, for soon the mother was gravely ill, as though some enchantment ill, came quick across her, like a storm rises in the plain. And not all was this, for at Sea, the Merchant's ships were lost from the coast as a storm,came across them also. The Merchant held hope as he cared for his ill wife and daughter. In time he took the rival as nurse (or servant).

When last the merchant's first bride feel into final sleep, he sought solace such as the servant could provide. Yet the rival's heart was colder still, for it desired. The rival, as is and was custom, had married also, but in her cold heart still was her envious desire, and no sooner was twice the blessing of daughter shown upon that couple, then the husband fell to eternal silence. Rumoured it was that the rival having male heir not, had impressed herself upon her husband wrath condemnation for such cause as had denied her.

Without husband, and with daughters, the rival's heart saw grave opportunity, and upon the Merchant weak from the concerns of his trade, and wife's sad departure, took little to overcome. From servant and nurse, to new bride and wife was the rival raised. The merchants daughter now had step-mother, and did the rival now accept? Oh Listener, think me not such, cheap purveyor, For the step-mother in the Merchant's Daughter saw that of the mother which had colored dark her desires. And yet dark as heart was, curse not could she the Merchant's Daughter, weak as the Merchant was, and cold as her envy remained.

As moons passed, so poisoned were the step-sisters, by the step mother, that the Merchant's Daughter, not as kin treated her, but as mere servant, to fetch, to carry, to bear their taunts and jibes. The merchant's daughter bore these taunts for in hope in time she felt such would cease. Weak was the Merchant, and whilst he protested to his new wife of that described previously, did his daughter continue to bear the scheming of the step-mother and her step-sisters, unrestrained by his exhortations. Arrogant was the step mother also to his pleas, 'What need have I?' remarked the step-mother in arrogance 'to pay for those to keep the house, when I have at hand those to whom I can put the work?'. Thus cared she not for the Merchant's Daughter. After the step-mother the step-sisters were no better for arrogant also they taunted. 'Why take on the house?' they remarked when 'we have those to whom we can pass the task?' caring not also for the Merchant's daughter. Duty as kin aside, my listener.

Kind hearted as was the Merchant's Daughter she bore these taunts and the ceaseless tasks bestowed haughtily upon her, but show not wrath did she. True, was it that no longer did she smile as much she had in past. Only in the evening still, with the fire low did she sit in the kitchen and with quiet resignation let the tears form within the pale eyes. To fall, is injustice enough, but to take the bitter poison of a fall directed by ones supposed kin? To fall from a favoured child, to a mere servant (even slave)? Such is tolerance honourable? Hope she always held, for what is hope but refuge in injustice?

Further moons passed, until it came to pass one spring, that with much noise and proclomation, it was announced that the Sultan's son, a fine prince of honourable character had come of age. In celebration, it was told, a great feast and festival would be held in his honour, and that to show his character, the prince had in open invitation invited many (including the Merchant) to attend at the grand palace. It was whispered softly (and not so softly) that the Prince soon after this show of grace, would take as is and was custom a wife for himself. O should I dream at last? thought the Merchant's daughter. For it was known also that the Prince (and even perhaps his father the Sultan) was a just man indeed. If in honesty should she speak, would not her step-mothers injustice be shown shameful for it's cruelty? Not of marriage did the Merchant's Daughter seek, but of release.

Ignited coldly, in the step-mother, however was again not honest intention, but further avaricious desire. Whilst to her husband the merchant she owed a loyalty, through her daughters (the step-sisters) could she gain access to wealth untold, to influence unbounded, to the power that only the arrogant truly seek in heart to claim to seek to posses! As the Days to the feast passed, the step-mother taught the step-sisters many things, but to the Merchant's daughter, no wisdom, would she allow. 'For a Sultan?' the step-mother mocked. 'What girl as you should dream to be a Sultan's women? No more than servant are you, now!" . Within the Merchant's daughter a growing sadness grew, for she saw the arrogance the step-mother gave with pity, and the false logic, for to be the Prince's love was not her dream. 'Not for a Sultan' teased the step-sisters, arrogant in their ambition directed (by the step-mother). So the Merchant's Daughter returned again to her quiet forebearance. For what mere price indeed is the toleration of cold-heartedness, when the cold hearted shall inveitably fall, Listener?

Far was the Palace of the Sultan from the the Merchant's place (and nights a-few would pass the stars as they journeyed), and so came the day when Merchant, step-mother, and sisters readied themselves for the journey to the place. The merchant's daughter readied herself also, and much was the task to provision the step-mother and step-sisters for such trip. Yet cease not did the taunts of the step-sisters, 'As if such as you, would be welcome!" they taunted. 'Such as you! upon even gaze.'. Yet for all such mocking they knew not what the Merchant's Daughter's true aim should be.

Presently the merchants house was secured, the provisions at last laden, and small train across the plains set forth to the palace. And oh was the weight, borne by the Merchant's daughter, for again did the Merchant's exhortations fall upon the stony passes of the step mother's heart, and burden placed with her by step-sisters and step-mother alike. And when the stars came out did they come to a well, a small well but well nonetheless, and rest came short to the Merchant's Daughter.

In the midst of the night, the Merchant's daughter awoke, for she heard her step-sisters talking lowly, 'A Sultan's Woman?' 'We must be sure!' she overheard. 'But we should not?' remarked one sister. In silent concern the Merchant's daughter listened, her concern become a sad terror when one step-sister outlined what was to happen. 'We shall use such sleeping spice, and past the dawn shall she be lost to us,'. So her step-sisters in defiance of kin wanted rid off her, and such desired to be a Sultan's Woman? So quietly back she rested, until woken by her step sisters, offering water. 'You drink a little water?' they asked with false sincerity. 'I drink a little' replied the Merchant's Daughter sleepily, as her step-sisters offered up a water that tasted not pure and sweet, but tainted now like those that offered it. 'I drink a little' the Daughter sleepily, taking but more of the bitter taint. 'Now come with us' said the step-sisters as they lead (or near carried her) from the well back along the tracks they had come in the light before, and when as mere silver showed itself from Horizon, they left the Merchant's daughter fall, and left.

With a start the Merchant's daughter woke, Bright, oh so Bright! was the day! and confusion! Heat and dust, and she cried out, for there was only the rolling plains to hear such anguish. She ran, then walked, and as heat and confusion bore down, she came again to the well, but although the step-sisters had come back, since had they departed onward, leaving only ash and silence. Oh! Oh! cried the Merchant's Daughter, What now shall for release shall I hope? My Father will think me lost! Oh! Oh!, and breathing hard into the shade of a the well head she fell sobbing.

And then a low voice, old but female. 'Why does one that has the water of the well, so sadness show?', She looked but in the shade could discern none, again came the voice 'Why does one that has the water of the well, so Sadness show?'. 'W-Who?' the Merchant's daughter replied, startled and still discerning none. 'Do not, fear' the voice said. 'I am but of this place.' 'W-ho are you?'. 'Once', the voice trembled 'I was as you, and as was and is custom wife to a just man, good indeed.'. The Merchant's Daughter listened. 'But fool was I, fool.' and the voice became pained. 'For scorn at my husbands 'friends' did I 'guard' this well to well!' 'But surely to guard?' the Merchant's Daughter queried. 'O child, Is it not a well? To deny the well? O fool is it!' the voice trembled off. 'I denied the well to my husband's 'friends' !' and the Merchant's Daughter although sad knew what was meant. 'Whilst, loyal my once husband rebuked my foolishness. Stating that as I gaurd to well the waters, So should in memorial 'gaurd' them until the very stars cease to shine. O fool, fool am I!'

(to be continued)

(to be continued)

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