ALADDIN AND THE WONDERFUL LAMP - 4 books and stories free download online pdf in English



So Aladdin curbed his impatience and agreed to wait until the following day; but, since he realised that it was not impossible that the project might fail, and that he might have to seek to the Slave of the Lamp for advice and help in difficulty, he spoke to his mother on the matter. “O my mother,” he said, “it was the condition of thy promise that I should not invoke the Slave of the Lamp in the furtherance of this my desire; yet it must be understood between us that if thou make a blunder—which thou needst not do—then, to extricate us from a dire calamity, I am free to rub the Lamp and see what its Slave can do for our salvation.”

His mother assented to this, for she knew, if she failed with the Sultan, all was lost; and, in such case, even the aid of a demon would be acceptable. “Then,” said Aladdin, “see thou to it that in thy gossip to our neighbours no word of the Lamp escape thy lips, for, if this wonderful possession of ours become known, it will speedily pass out of our hands and its virtues with it. Therefore keep thy counsel, O my mother, and babble not of our secret.” “Fear nothing, my son,” she replied, “the Lamp is our peculiar possession, and no word shall pass my lips concerning it.” And they ceased not to talk of their project, and the saving powers of the Lamp, far into the night.

When morning dawned Aladdin’s mother arose and prepared herself for the visit to the Palace, and, wrapping the bowl of jewels in a cloth, went forth early. When she arrived at the Palace she found herself among the first there assembled, and at once fell to watching the princes and nobles and high officials as they came in. When the audience was full the Sultan came in and seated himself on the royal divan. All bowed down before him, and then stood waiting with folded arms for his permission to be seated. And, when he gave permission, all sat down in their due order of precedence. Then he listened to their petitions in the same order, and gave his decisions, until the hour[90] grew late, and the audience was declared closed. The Sultan arose and went into the Palace, and the princes, with the nobles and the people, went their ways. Among them went Aladdin’s mother, thinking to herself that this would be a matter of many days.

She hastened home to Aladdin, who, when he saw her with the bowl of jewels just as when she departed, cried, “What is this, O my mother? Hath he refused the jewels, and thy head still on thy shoulders?” “Nay, my son,” she replied; “be patient! There were many before me and I had no opportunity.” And she told him how she had gained a place in the audience, and how it was only a matter of waiting till her turn came to place her petition before the Sultan; perchance to-morrow or the next day.

Aladdin was overjoyed at this; and, though his exceeding love for the Princess probed him sore, yet he resolved to possess his soul in patience against the fulfilment of his desire. But what he momently expected was hourly delayed, and, from that time forth, the daily postponement of his request added fuel to the flame of love in his heart; for, on the following morning, his mother set forth again for the Palace and returned again in the evening but one day nearer to the putting of her petition. And every day thereafter she stood in the audience with the bowl of jewels under her arm and heard the petitions, but dared not for very timidity address the Sultan. And in this way she continued for a whole month, while Aladdin was nursing his impatient soul and waiting on the issue.

Now the Sultan, being observant, had noticed the woman present herself constantly at the levée; and, at length, one day, after the audience had dispersed and the Sultan had[91] retired with his Grand Vizier, he said to him, “Hearken, O Vizier! for many days have I seen an old woman at the levée, and on each occasion she has carried a bundle under her arm. Knowest thou aught of her?” And the Vizier, who had little esteem for women, replied, “Doubtless a woman like other women, O our Lord! Maybe she cometh with a deadly grievance against her husband, whom she desires to be beheaded; and, when thou grantest her desire, she will plead for his life, supplicating thee with tears; for such was ever their way.” But the Sultan was curious about the woman and her silent persistence, and was not satisfied to dismiss the matter so easily. So he commanded the Vizier to see to it that, should the woman present herself again, she be instantly brought before him.

And so it came about. Aladdin’s mother, though weary with her many attendances, still persevered in her quest, feeling that, for the sake of her son, she would endure all delay so that the issue might come at last. And it came according to the Sultan’s command to the Grand Vizier; for one day the Sultan saw her waiting in the audience chamber and ordered the Vizier to bring her forward that he might consider her affair.

Now, at last, she was face to face with the Sultan, making obeisance to him and kissing the ground at his feet. “I have seen thee here, O woman, for many days,” said the Sultan; “and thou hast not approached me. If thou hast a wish that I can grant, lay it before me.” At this she kissed the ground again, and prayed fervently for the prolongation of his life. Then she said, “O King of all the Ages, I have a request; but, peace be on thee, it is a strange one! Wherefore I claim thy clemency before I state it.”

These words whetted the Sultan’s curiosity, and, as he was a man of great gentleness, he spoke her softly in reply, and not only assured her of his clemency but ordered all others present to withdraw, saving only the Grand Vizier, so that he might hear her petition in secret.

“Now, woman,” said the Sultan, turning to her, “make thy petition, and the peace and protection of God be on thee.” “Thy forgiveness, also, O King,” she said. “God forgive thee if there is aught to forgive,” he replied. And at this Aladdin’s mother unfolded the tale of her son’s exceeding love for Bedr-el-Budur, the Sultan’s daughter: how life had become intolerable to him because of this, and how his only thought was to win the Lady Bedr-el-Budur for his wife, or die—either of grief, or by the Sultan’s anger. Wherefore, his life being in the balance in any case, she had come as a last resort to beg the Sultan to bestow his daughter on her son. And she concluded by beseeching the Sultan not to punish either her or her son for this unparalleled hardihood.

The Sultan looked at the Grand Vizier, whose face was of stone—for the Lady Bedr-el-Budur had already been promised to his son: a matter well understood between them. “What sayest thou?” said the Sultan, regarding him with merriment in his eyes. But the Grand Vizier only cast a contemptuous look at Aladdin’s mother, and answered him: “O King of the Age! Thou knowest how to deal with this petition.” At this the Sultan laughed outright, and, turning a kindly face to the humble suppliant, observed her minutely. “What is that bundle thou hast under thine arm?” he said at last, remembering that she had brought it with her on every occasion.

Aladdin’s mother, greatly relieved to see the Sultan laughing, unfolded the wrappings of the bowl and handed it to him. As soon as he took it in his hand, and saw the size and splendid sparkle of the jewels, the Sultan laughed no longer, but gazed at them, speechless with wonder and admiration. Then at length, he handed the bowl to the Grand Vizier, saying, “Upon my oath, this is a marvellous thing! Tell me, O Vizier, have I in my treasury a single jewel that will compare with even the smallest of these?”

The Grand Vizier also was taken aback by their dazzling loveliness and beauty. He would have lied, saying they were glass or crystal, but the stones themselves flashed back the purposed lie in his teeth. All he could reply was, “Never, O my lord the King, have I beheld the like of these; nor is there one in thy treasury that could equal the beauty of the smallest of them.” And, saying this, the Vizier turned very pale, for neither he nor his son could approach the Sultan with such a gift. And it was as he had feared, and as Aladdin had prophesied: the Sultan required to know nothing further than what was before him in the bowl, for it was evident that the giver of these rare jewels must take precedence of all others, since, if they were sold in the market, their price would buy a dozen Grand Viziers and their sons, to say nothing of princes and nobles with their palaces and all. Indeed, as the Vizier readily saw, the worth of the precious stones might equal the worth of the Sultan’s kingdom, and this caused his knees to quake, for he quickly concluded within his mind that there was more behind this thing than what the eye beheld: perchance the old woman’s story was but the curtain that concealed a richer treasury than Cathay had ever heard of.

“O Vizier,” said the Sultan in dry and chilling tones, “it seemeth that in this land there are men greater than the greatest. What sayest thou? The man who sends me this kingly gift cannot conceal his greatness and worthiness behind the thin, loose yarn spun by his messenger here. That he is worthy of my daughter is clearly proved, O Vizier; and I, the Sultan, King of the Age, having power over all men, do withdraw my former promise to thee to bestow her on thy son. Bedr-el-Budur, the one beautiful jewel in the treasury of my heart, is my gift in return to the man who has sent me these priceless jewels.”

The Grand Vizier bit his lips and pondered awhile. Then he spoke. “Peace be on thee, O King of all the Earth. But is not thy promise worth most of all? Thou didst pledge me thy daughter for my son, and with that pledge I went, thinking that the whole earth and all therein were not its value. Wherefore, O King, I pray that thou wilt allow this matter time. If thou wilt pledge this foster mother of a prince that thou wilt comply with her request in three months time, then it seems to me that, by so doing, thou wilt cement the good feeling and loosen the griefs of all parties concerned. And in the meantime—yea, I have good reason for saying it—there will come before thee, O King of the Age, a gift compared to which this thou hast seen is but dross.”

The Sultan weighed the Grand Vizier’s words in his mind, and concluded that it would be best for all concerned to accept the gift from Aladdin’s mother and to grant her son’s wish, but at the same time to felicitate the Grand Vizier by imposing a three months’ stay of the nuptials. Accordingly, he said to the woman, “Tell thy son that he[95] hath my royal assent, and that I will give him my daughter in marriage; but, as every woman knows, these things cannot be hastened, for there are garments and necessaries to be prepared; wherefore thy son (on whom be peace) must abide in patience for, let us say, three months. At the end of that time he may approach me for the fulfilment of my promise.”

Satisfied with this, Aladdin’s mother thanked and blessed the Sultan, and, buoyed up with a burden of delight, almost flew back to her house. There Aladdin was awaiting for her, and, when he saw her hastening, and noticed that she had returned without the bowl of jewels, his heart rose high to meet her. “Hath the Sultan considered thy request?” he cried, as she came in panting. “Hath he accepted the jewels? Tell me that only, and I know the rest without a movement of thy tongue.”

And his mother, whose haste and condition had already answered all his questions, answered them still further with “Yea, yea, yea!” Then she related to him the details of the interview, laying stress upon the fact that, although the Sultan had been moved at the sight of the jewels to make immediate arrangements for the marriage, a private word from the Grand Vizier had led him to delay the ceremony for three months. “Take heed, my son!” she concluded. “The Grand Vizier hath a motive for this counsel of delay. He is thine enemy. I saw it in his face. Beware of him!”

Aladdin was greatly relieved by her news. He felt like one jerked out of the grave; and, where the Sultan was favourable to his suit, he was in no mood to fear a Grand Vizier. “Nay, nay,” he said, “the jewels have the eye of the Sultan more than the Grand Vizier hath his ear. Fear[96] nothing, O my mother! The Sultan’s word is good, and I rest content to wait; though I know not how such a long time as three months can be got into the calendar.”

Two of these long, weary months went by, and Aladdin nursed his soul in patience. Then a thing happened which gave him seriously to think. On a day in the first week of the third month his mother went forth into the market place about sunset to buy oil, and she saw that all the shops were closed, and the people were adorning their windows with bright garlands as if for some festivity. She wondered greatly at this, thinking the Sultan had either changed his birthday or that another child had been born to him. Yet she had gleaned nothing of any great event from the gossip of her neighbours. Having, after much difficulty, found an oil shop open, she bought her oil, and questioned the man. “Uncle,” she said; “what is abroad in the city that the people close their shops and place candles and garlands in their windows?” “Thou art evidently a stranger,” replied the man. “Nay, I am of this city,” said she. “Then must thou cleanse thine ears,” he retorted. “Hast thou not heard that the Grand Vizier’s son is to take to himself this evening the beautiful Bedr-el-Budur? Surely, woman, thou hast been sleeping all day on thine ears, for the news went abroad early this morning. The Vizier’s son is at the Hamman, and these soldiers and officials you see in the streets are waiting to escort him to the palace. And, look you, you are fortunate to get oil to-day, for all those who purvey oil to the Grand Vizier and his household have closed their shops as a mark of respect.”

On hearing this, Aladdin’s mother was so distressed that her knees shook, and she walked away without replying—even[97] forgetting to pay for the oil. But the man speedily called her back and reminded her that, though the Grand Vizier had never given him an order, she had, and the price of the oil was such and such. In confusion of face she paid him and then hurried away, the oilman looking after her and wondering what manner of woman was this. Had he known all, he might have wondered more, or ceased to wonder.

Meanwhile, Aladdin’s mother went home in a state of great consternation. Though her feet hastened, her heart lagged behind her, for she knew not how to tell her son the terrible news. She was afraid that after his joy at the Sultan’s promise, and his patient waiting, this blow would send him from his mind. Then she contrived it in her thoughts that it was best to provoke her son’s anger against the Sultan, rather than his grief at the loss of Bedr-el-Budur. Accordingly, as soon as she entered the house and found him sitting thinking, as was his wont of late, she said, “O my son, who can put trust in a King? When I went to buy oil, I found that the Sultan had proclaimed a holiday, and all the shops were closed except one. Tush! There is no faith in Sultans!”

“How now, O my mother?” answered Aladdin. “Treason hath a loud voice. With the Sultan and the Grand Vizier, hush! What ails thee? Thy hand is a-tremble.” And she answered him: “O my son, there is no faith nor trust but in God. Said I not to thee that the Grand Vizier was thine enemy? Out on him and the Sultan, for their word is but hot wind, and there is no faith in the promise of a King.” “I see by thy face and by thy speech,” said Aladdin, “that thou hast some bad news. What is it, O my mother?”

Then his mother told how that the Sultan had violated his covenant, and how the marriage of the Lady Bedr-el-Budur to the Grand Vizier’s son was to take place that very evening. For this she heaped abuse upon the Grand Vizier, saying that it was only the worst of men that could so lead the Sultan to break his promise. When she had told all, and Aladdin understood how the matter lay, he arose, more in anger than in grief, and cried out against the Grand Vizier and cursed all the parties concerned in the affair. But presently he remembered that, when all seemed lost, he still had the Lamp, and that was something in time of trouble and difficulty. So he suddenly restrained his speech and fell to thinking what manner of death the Vizier’s son should die. His mother, seeing him in better spirits, questioned him. “What now, O my son?” she said. “Is thy bitterness of feeling gone? What gift wilt thou send the wedded pair? Peradventure another bowl of jewels?” She spoke mockingly for she wanted him to spend his wrath and save his reason. “Nay, O my mother,” replied Aladdin lightly; “they are not wedded yet; and, on my head and eye, verily it is not every knot that holds.”