Story of Aladdin beginning…
The sun had just set when Aladdin dismissed the jinni. At first light, he appeared again. “Master,” he said, “your palace is complete.” A nod was enough to take them there in an instant, and Aladdin admired every room in the palace, particularly the hall with twenty-four windows, and found there more opulence and beauty than he had dared imagine. “Only one thing remains,” said Aladdin, “and that is to roll out, from the gate of the sultan’s palace to the door of the princess’s quarters in this one, a carpet of the finest velvet.” The jinni disappeared, and Aladdin saw that what he had asked for was done.
The porters, who were used to a clear view of the land outside the palace, were amazed to find it cut short and to see a velvet carpet stretching from the sultan’s gate into the distance. Their surprise only grew when they made out Aladdin’s palace, and before long news of that wonder had spread through the court. The grand vizier was no less astonished than the others, but when he told the sultan, he tried to pass it off as the work of magic.
“But vizier,” said the sultan, “you know as well as I do that Aladdin has built a palace with the permission I gave him in your presence. After the glimpse we have had of his riches, should we be surprised that he has done it so quickly? He has shown us that with enough money, miracles can happen overnight. Your talk of magic is born of some jealousy, is it not?” He was due for a session with the council, and this stopped him from pursuing this thought any further.
When Aladdin came home, he found his mother awake, trying on one of her new outfits. He pressed her to go to the sultan’s palace with her new servants as the sultan’s council session was drawing to a close, and to say that she had come to keep the princess company until the evening when it would be time for her to move to her palace.
She set out with her women, and though they were dressed as queens, no heads were turned as they passed, for their faces were covered and cloaks hid their sumptuous outfits. Aladdin, for his part, mounted his horse, and, having left his father’s house for the last time, carrying only the wonderful lamp which had been so crucial to his happiness, he made for his palace with the same ceremony as before.
As soon as the palace guards saw Aladdin’s mother approach, orders were sent to the trumpeters, cymbalists, and fife-players already dotted around the grounds, and in a moment their music sent tidings of joy across the city. Merchants set about decking their shops with carpets, cushions, and foliage, and preparing illuminations for nightfall. Craftsmen abandoned their workshops as everyone scrambled to the main square, which was now wedged between the sultan’s palace and Aladdin’s. The crowd was bewildered to see a gorgeous palace were the day before there had been no sign of bricks or mortar.
Aladdin’s mother was greeted in grand style and ushered in to the princess’s quarters by the chief eunuch. The princess embraced her, sat her on the sofa, and, as her women finished dressing her in Aladdin’s jewels, had a princely breakfast served. The sultan, who had come to see his daughter before she left his palace for Aladdin’s, also gave her a royal welcome. Aladdin’s mother had addressed the sultan several times in public, but never before had he seen her uncovered, as she was now. Though she was aging, her features held the shape of her former beauty, and the sultan, who had only ever seen her in the simplest garb, was full of wonder to see her dressed as splendidly as the princess herself. He reflected that this too must be the work of Aladdin’s wisdom.
When night fell, the princess took leave of her father. They parted in tears and embraced each other tenderly many times, and at last, the princess left the palace, with Aladdin’s mother by her side and a hundred handmaidens in their wake. They were followed by the musicians, one hundred messengers, and as many eunuchs. Four hundred young pages walked in single file on either side, each bearing a torch which, combined with the palace illuminations, gave a lovely glow to the evening light.
The princess walked the carpet from her father’s palace to her husband’s, and Aladdin ran to greet her at the door.
“Your eyes are to blame for my boldness,” he said, “if I have displeased you.”
“Prince,” she replied, “now that I have seen you, I submit to my father’s will without resistance.”
Taking her by the hand, Aladdin led her into great hall lit by an infinity of candles, where the jinni had laid a sumptuous feast. Gold plates held the finest meats. The vases, bowls, and cups that crowded the table were also made of gold, and exquisitely wrought. The princess said to Aladdin: “I had not thought any place on earth could be more beautiful than my father’s palace, but the sight of this room alone proves I was mistaken.”
The princess, Aladdin, and his mother took their seats, and a chorus of women began to sing, accompanied by a consort of instruments. The princess, delighted, declared she had never heard anything like it in her father’s palace. She did not know that these musicians were sprites chosen by the jinni.
After supper, a troupe of dancers replaced the musicians. They performed a series of traditional dances and were followed by a man and a woman dancing alone with striking agility. It was near midnight when, true to the Chinese custom, Aladdin rose and offered the princess his hand so that they might dance out of their own wedding. Admiring eyes followed their every turn until they disappeared into the nuptial chamber.
In the morning, Aladdin’s servants came to help him dress, and chose an outfit no less fine than the one he wore to his wedding. Then he was brought one of his horses, which he rode to the sultan’s palace, surrounded by a flock of servants on all sides. The Sultan embraced him, and, seating him beside him on the throne, he gave the order for lunch to be served. “Majesty,” said Aladdin, “I beg you to relieve me of that honor today, and instead to give me the pleasure of hosting you in the princess’s palace, with your grand vizier and the gentlemen of the court.” The sultan agreed, and set off at once on foot, as the journey was not long, with Aladdin on his right, the grand vizier on his left, and the gentlemen in their wake.
The beauty of Aladdin’s palace astounded the sultan inside, he could not keep from exclaiming in every room. When he entered the hall with twenty-four windows, and saw the screens inlaid with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, and Aladdin remarked that they were just as richly made on the outside, the sultan could do no more than stand there as though stunned. After remaining some time in this state, he said: “This palace is one of the wonders of the world. Where else in the universe are walls built of gold and silver, and windows shielded by screens studded with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds? Never on earth was such a thing ever seen!”
The sultan wished to study the beauty of the twenty-four windows. Counting them, he found that only twenty-three were of the same caliber and that the twenty-fourth had remained unfinished.
“Vizier,” he said, for the vizier had taken it upon himself to remain by his side, “it is strange that such a fine room should have this imperfection.”
“It seems,” replied the vizier, “that Aladdin was pressed for time, and was unable to match this window to the others.”
Aladdin, who had slipped away from the sultan to give a few orders, now returned.
“My son,” said the sultan, “this must be the most admirable room in the world. Only one thing surprises me. Was it by accident or negligence that one window was left unfinished?”
“It was by design,” said Aladdin. “I told the workers to leave it so, as I wished Your Majesty to have the glory of completing this room, and with it the palace.”
The sultan accepted with pleasure and sent for the best goldsmiths and jewelers in the capital.
Aladdin led the sultan into the dining hall. There they were met by the princess, who greeted her father with a happy smile. Two tables heaved under a feast arranged in gold platters. The sultan took his place at the first, along with the princess, Aladdin, and the grand vizier. All the lords of the court sat at the second. The sultan confessed that he had never tasted such delicious fare, and said the same as the wine. Even more impressive were the side tables heavy with vials, bowls, and cups of solid gold, all studded with gems. No less charming were the singers ranged around the room, whose voices mingled in harmony with the music of trumpets, cymbals, and drums that came to them from outside.
As the sultan rose from the table, news came that the jewelers and goldsmiths had arrived. Returning to the hall with twenty-four windows, he pointed out the imperfect one to the craftsmen. “I have called you here to mend this window, and to match it to the perfection of the others. Inspect it, and set to work without delay.”
The jewelers and goldsmiths studied the twenty-three remaining windows with great care. When they had consulted each other and discussed what each might contribute to the task, they went back to the sultan. The first jeweler spoke.
“Majesty,” he said, “we are all ready to put our skills at your service, but we lack the materials for the task you require: our gemstones are neither precious enough nor in sufficient quantity, to match this screen to the others.”
“I have all the gems you need,” said the sultan. “Come to my palace and take your pick.”
The sultan sent for his precious stones, and the jewelers took a great many of them, especially those Aladdin had brought. They set to work with them but made little progress, and had to return many times for more. In a month they had not finished half the work. They had used up all the sultan’s gemstones and even had to draw on the grand vizier’s collection, yet all they had to show for it was a half-completed screen.
Aladdin, knowing that their task was in vain, told them not only to put down their tools but to undo all their work and carry the jewels back. The work it had taken weeks to do was undone in a few hours. Alone again, Aladdin pulled out the lamp and commanded the jinni to finish the window.
The craftsmen arrived at the palace and were ushered into the sultan’s quarters. The first jeweler, presenting the stones they brought back, spoke for them all: “Your Majesty knows how long we have labored on our task. We were well advanced when Aladdin ordered us to stop and to undo our previous work and return the gemstones we had borrowed.”
The sultan sent for his horse at once and went back to see Aladdin. “I have come in person,” said the sultan, “to ask your reasons for leaving such a rare and gorgeous room unfinished.” Aladdin concealed the true reason, which was that the sultan was not rich enough in gemstones to finish the screen. Still, in order to impress on him that the palace surpassed not only the sultan’s own, but any other on earth, Aladdin answered: “It is true that Your Majesty saw this room unfinished, but I beg you to tell me now if it lacks anything.”
The sultan made for the unfinished window, and, finding it just like the others, he doubted his own eyes. He inspected the windows on either side, then all the others, and when he was convinced that the screen which had cost him so many weeks of labor had been perfected in so short a time, he embraced Aladdin and kissed him between the eyes. The sultan returned to his palace along the way he had come. There he found the grand vizier waiting for him. Still, in wonder at the miracle he had just seen, he recounted it in terms that left the minister in little doubt that things were not as they seemed, and that Aladdin’s palace was the work of magic, as he had suggested to the sultan almost as soon as the palace appeared. He tried to repeat himself. “Vizier,” interrupted the sultan, “you have made this point before. I see you have not yet recovered from the failure of my daughter’s marriage to your son.”
The grand vizier, not wishing to confront the sultan, let him think as he pleased. Every morning, on waking, the sultan would look out of the window that gave a view of Aladdin’s palace, and returned several times a day to admire it.
Aladdin, meanwhile, did not stay indoors for long. He made sure to be seen by the townspeople at least once a week, either by varying the mosques he attended for prayer, or by calling in on the grand vizier, or by paying the lords of the court, whom he often entertained in his palace, the honor of returning their visit. Every time he went out, he had two servants follow his horse and cast handfuls of gold coins into the crowds as they passed. Not a soul came knocking at his door in need who did not leave satisfied.
As Aladdin went hunting at least once a week, sometimes in the fringes of the city and sometimes farther afield, he extended his charity to the country lanes and villages. His freehanded manner won him the hearts of the people, and it became common to hear them swear on his head. To these qualities, he added a sincere devotion to the welfare of his kingdom, which he displayed when a revolt broke out near the border. On hearing that the sultan had raised an army to suppress it, he begged him to let him take its lead. He prevailed, and marched the sultan’s men against the rising, and proved so deft in his campaign that news of the rebels’ defeat soon followed that of his departure for the battlefield. He returned a hero but remained as gentle and gracious as ever.
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