“New lamps for old” was the cry heard around the neighborhood.
It was easy to dismiss as just an attempt by a merchant’s brat to gain entry to our household for nefarious purposes. But we also had a number of old lamps gathering dust and tarnish. We could let the worst of those go in exchange for something new. Let him have all the joy he can find in polishing up the odd bits of junk.
But first, we must make sure we aren’t giving away something more valuable than it appears.
Our oldest and dirtiest lamp was duly sent for, and proved to be even worse than I remembered. It had been neglected in an unused storage room, and developed a considerable patina of corrosion, tarnish, cobwebs, and soot.
A few minutes later, the youth was ushered into the room. His eyes scanned the shelves and tables, and fairly lit up when he saw the lamp sitting in a pool of its own dust on my table. At that point, I was sure there was something specific he was looking for, and that we had missed.
While he watched in horrified fascination, I had my butler polish the lamp, and stand by to fill and light the lamp after.
On the third rub, smoke billowed from the lamp and filled the room. A voice rang out: “Who dares disturb the sleep of the Djinn of the Lamp? Step forth and suffer the consequences.”
Moving in a rare example of unchoreographed grace, my entire household staff took a step backwards, leaving the butler standing alone and holding the lamp and a very dirty rag in his hands.
The Djinn faced the butler and glared. The butler quaked but stood his ground.
A moment later, the smoke was clearing, the butler had vanished, and the lamp fell to the ground.
Broken free of his shock, the youth fled screaming into the night.
Neither the youth nor the butler were heard from again. I had the lamp returned to storage, this time to sit on a note that warned of further handling.