Part 7 A Wedding Interrupted

Wedding Interrupted|Story of Aladdin

Story of Aladdin Beginning…

Meanwhile, at the palace, the celebrations went on well into the night. At last, the grand vizier’s son was led into his bride’s chamber by the chief eunuch and went to bed first. Before long the sultana, surrounded by her handmaidens, brought in her daughter. The daughter made a great show of resisting, as is the custom with new brides. The sultana helped her undress, and, after kissing her daughter good night, she withdrew with all her women. The last one to leave closed the door.

No sooner was the door shut than the jinni, before the couple had even had time to embrace, transported them, still in their bed, in an instant to Aladdin’s bedroom. “Take this man,” said Aladdin to the jinni, “lock him in the outhouse, and come back tomorrow at daybreak.” The jinni removed the grand vizier’s son from the bed in his nightshirt and left him out in the cold, after casting a spell over him to keep him still.

For all his passion, Aladdin did not say much when he found himself alone with the princess. “Have no fear,” he said. “You are safe here. If I have been forced to these extreme measures, it was not to offend you, but to prevent an unworthy rival from possessing you, since your father had promised you to me.” The princess, who knew nothing of the matter, barely took in these words and was in no state to reply. The shock of her strange adventure had left her speechless. Aladdin did not stop there: he undressed and took the place of the grand vizier’s son in bed, his back turned to the princess, having placed a sword between them to indicate that he deserved its punishment should he dare to offend her honor.

Delighted to have deprived his rival of the happiness he had flattered himself would be his, Aladdin slept soundly, while the princess passed the most miserable night of her life. Should one remember the state in which the jinni had left the grand vizier’s son, one might suppose that he was hardly more restful.

In the morning, Aladdin did not need to rub the lamp to call the jinni. At the appointed hour it appeared, fetched the bridegroom, laid him down by the princess, and returned the bed to the palace. It should be noted that neither the princess nor the grand vizier’s son saw the jinni a glimpse of its hideous form might have killed them. Nor did they hear any of what was said between it and Aladdin. All they perceived was the jolt of hurtling from one place to the next, and this was quite enough to terrify them. The jinni had just returned the nuptial bed to its place when the sultan entered to wish his daughter a good morning. The grand vizier’s son, until now still frozen after his long night, jumped up and ran to his dressing room as he heard the door open.

The sultan approached the princess’s bed, kissed her between the eyes according to custom, and asked after her night. As he stood back and looked at her more closely, he was astonished to see only a deep melancholy in her eyes, and no other sign that might have set his mind at ease. His daughter would not say a word. As he imagined that she did so out of shyness, he withdrew. Yet he could not help but think there was something strange in her silence and made straight for the sultana’s apartments. “Your Majesty must not be alarmed,” she told him. “All brides are shy the day after their wedding. Give her two or three days, then she will receive her father properly. I will go to her now, and would be very much surprised if she gives me the same welcome.”

The sultana dressed and went to her daughter, and found her not only speechless but with a look of such dejection that she was alarmed. “Why is it, child, that you hang so limply in my arms? Is it right to treat your mother and father like this? What is the matter?”

At last Princess, Badr al-Budur broke the silence with a great sigh.

“Ah, dear Mother,” she cried, “forgive me if I have failed to honor you as I must! My mind is haunted by the strange happenings of last night, and my body has not recovered from its shock. I struggle even to recognize myself.”

Then she related in the most vivid terms how, the moment she and her groom had laid their heads on the pillow, the bed had been snatched away and transported at once to a dark and dirty room, where she found herself alone without her husband, and where a young man, after saying a few words that fright stopped her from catching, lay down beside her in her husband’s place, having put a saber between them, and that in the morning her husband had reappeared and the bed returned to its place in an instant.

“All this had only just happened,” she went on, “when my father the sultan entered the room. Such was my stupor and alarm that I could not say a single word. No doubt he is offended by the way I repaid the honor of his visit, but I hope he will forgive me when he learns of my miserable adventure.”

The sultana listened calmly to the princess’s tale and believed none of it. “You did well to hold your tongue around your father,” she said. “Be careful not to mention any of this to others: they would think you mad. Now get up, and shake these dreams from your mind. It would not do for such a fantasy to get in the way of your wedding celebrations. Can you not hear the fanfare already, the trumpets, the cymbals, and the drums? Their music will drive these fancies from your spirit.”

The festivities went on all day in the palace. The sultana stood by her daughter and did all she could to buoy her up, yet it was plain to see that her mind was elsewhere. The grand vizier’s son was no less preoccupied after his awful night, but ambition drove him to dissemble, and no one doubted that he was a happy husband.

Aladdin had no intention of letting the couple rest, and as soon as night had fallen he turned to the lamp again. “Jinni,” he said, “the vizier’s son and the princess will sleep together tonight. Go, and when they are in bed, bring them to me as you did yesterday.”

The jinni served Aladdin as faithfully as he had the night before, the grand vizier’s son was just as cold and uncomfortable as he had been the first time, and the princess was just as mortified to find herself in bed with Aladdin, with only a saber between them. At first light, the jinni reappeared and restored them to the palace chamber.

The sultan, anxious to know how she had spent the night, paid his daughter an early visit. The grand vizier’s son, even more, appalled by this last misadventure than by the first, threw himself into his dressing room as soon as he heard the sultan approach. The sultan greeted his daughter, and, after his usual embrace, said: “Well, my child, is your temper as foul today as it was yesterday? Will you tell me how you slept?” But again she refused to say a word. Only after he threatened to cut off her head did she speak.

“My dear father and sultan,” she pleaded, on the edge of tears, “I hope that you will change anger for compassion once you have heard my account of last night and the night before.”

She told him the true story of those two dreadful nights, in such a poignant manner that love and tenderness lanced through him as she spoke. “If you have the slightest doubt about the truth of my tale, ask the husband you have given me if it was not so.”

The sultan sat brooding over the anguish such a strange adventure must have brought the princess. “My daughter,” he said, “you are very wrong not to have spoken up yesterday about this bizarre affair, which concerns me as much as it does you. I did not marry you to make you miserable, but rather to give you all the happiness one could have expected from a husband who seemed to suit you well. Now shake these awful visions from your spirit. I will see to it that the nights ahead are not so restless as the ones that have passed.”

Back in his quarters, the sultan told the grand vizier to find his son. The grand vizier pressed him to set the story straight.

“I cannot hide the truth from you, Father,” said the son. “All the princess has said is so. But she cannot have told you about the cruel treatment that was reserved for me. Since my wedding day, I have spent two of the most brutal nights it is possible to imagine. I lack the words to describe the particular hell I endured, not to mention the horror of being whisked away by unseen hands no less than four times, without the first idea of how such a thing was possible. You shall form your own judgment of the state I was in when I tell you that I spent two nights standing naked in my nightshirt in some narrow outhouse, unable to move or change position, though there seemed to be nothing stopping me. Though none of these trials has diminished the love I bear the princess, I would rather die than persist in this union, if the ordeal I have suffered is the price. And so I beg of you, Father, that you obtain from the sultan the annulment of our marriage.”

Despite the grand vizier’s dreams of marrying his son to the princess, he did not think it appropriate, given his son’s resolve, to ask him to draw out his patience another few days. He left him and hurried back to the sultan, to whom he confessed that by his son’s own account the story was all too true. Before the sultan could talk of breaking off the marriage, which he seemed only too inclined to do, the vizier begged him to allow his son to withdraw from the palace and return home, lest the princess’s love for him should expose her to any further anguish.

Read Next Part 8 Prince Aladdin

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