A poor farmer was moaning to himself about his ill lot in life when an enormous djinn appeared before him.
Naturally the man was terrified, but he could not be silent when the djinn demanded his reason to be discontent.
“Good master,” said the man, “I have land enough, and this year even seed, but I cannot afford to hire the help I need to prepare and sow all the land.”
“You think you have too much work to do?”
“No one could do so much alone.”
The djinn offered a deal to the man, promising him great wealth if he were able to keep the djinn occupied until noon. Of course the man would lose his life if he failed this condition, but he felt himself in no real danger.
Eagerly the man agreed to the terms, and the djinn returned the next morning at sunrise.
First the farmer set the djinn to clearing and planting his lands. This he finished in less than an hour.
Then the man ordered a well be dug. Half an hour.
Realizing he’d made a bad bargain, the man became afraid, but thought of a third task– to dig a cellar and prepare the foundation for a grand home he would build if he somehow survived.
While the djinn was working at this task, the farmer went to his wife and confessed his folly, begging her forgiveness and attempting to set his affairs in order. She would have none of that.
“You say he must have a new task as soon as his current one is complete?”
“Yes. And he must continue to have a task until noon, or my life is forfeit.”
“Then, husband, there is no worry at all.”
She pulled one curly strand of hair from her head and handed it to him. “Tell him your final task is for him to straighten that hair.”
The man was horrified, but had no time to think of an alternative, for the djinn had completed his extravagant request in less than an hour and was back demanding more work.
Tremblingly extending the hair, the man told him to straighten it. The djinn took the task as seriously as all the other work.
He pulled at it, stretched it, smoothed it across his hairy goat leg. Every time he released the end it sprung away from his enforced straightness. As the sun climbed higher he began to grow angry. He put the hair on an anvil and hammered so hard the hammer broke.
But nothing he could do would straighten the curly hair, so he had to give the farmer what he’d promised.