Fiction > Harvard Classics > Stories from the Thousand and One Nights
   Stories from the Thousand and One Nights.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
The Story of ‘Ala-ed-Din and the Wonderful Lamp: Paras. 50–74
  The King was perplexed at this demand, the more when he observed her poor condition and that she was of the meanest of the people. Yet the present she had given him was exceedingly splendid, beyond his power to purchase. Then turning to the Wezir, he said: “What stratagem hast thou? Of a truth I pledged my word; yet it is evident to me that they are poor people, and not of high degree.” And the Wezir, since envy was devouring him, and he was beyond everything grieved at what had befallen his son, said within himself: “How shall one like this wed the daughter of the Sultan and my son lose this honour?” So he answered the Sultan: “O my lord, it is an easy thing to be rid of this stranger, for it is not fit that thy Felicity should give thy daughter to a man like this,—one knoweth not who he is.” The Sultan replied: “In what way shall we ward off this man from us, when I have pledged my word, and the word of Kings is sacred?” The Wezir answered: “O my lord, my advice is that thou demand of him forty bowls of pure gold full of jewels, such as this woman brought thee that day, and forty maids to carry the bowls, and forty black slaves.” And the Sultan said: “By Allah, O Wezir, thou hast said well, for he cannot compass this thing, and thus we shall be freed from him.” Then he said to the mother of ‘Ala-ed-Din: “Go, tell thy son that I hold to the promise which I made to him, provided he be able to furnish my daughter’s dowry, for which I require of him forty bowls of pure gold, each full of jewels, such as thou didst bring me, and forty maids to carry them, and forty black slaves to attend and escort them. If thy son can do this I will marry him to my daughter.”  50
  So the mother of ‘Ala-ed-Din returned to her house shaking her head and saying: “Whence shall my poor son procure these bowls of jewels? Suppose he return to the Treasury and gather these jewels and bowls from the trees, yet with all this,—and I do not think he can, but say that he acquire them,—whence will he get the maids and slaves?” And she ceased not to commune with herself until she arrived at her house, where “Ala-ed-Din was expecting her. And when she came in, she said: “O my son, did I not tell thee not to think that thou couldst attain to the Lady Bedr-el-Budur, and that such a thing was not possible for people like us?” And he said to her: “Explain to me what tidings there be.” And she said: “O my son, verily the Sultan received me with all honour, as is his wont, and it is evident to me that his intentions towards us are benevolent. But thy enemy is the accursed Wezir; for after I had spoken to the Sultan, according to thy tongue (as thou saidst, “Verily the time is come for which thou didst covenant’), and after I had said to him, ‘Verily it behoves thy Felicity to order the wedding of thy daughter the Lady Bedr-el-Budur to my son ‘Ala-ed-Din,’ he turned to the Wezir and spake to him; and he answered him secretly; and afterward the Sultan gave me his answer.” Then she told ‘Ala-ed-Din what the Sultan required, and said to him: “O my son, verily he requireth of thee an immediate reply, and methinks we have no answer for him.”  51
  When ‘Ala-ed-Din heard the words of his mother, he laughed and said: “O my mother, thou sayest that we have no answer for him, and considerest the affair exceeding hard; but compose thy mind, and arise, bring me something to eat, and after we have eaten, if the Compassionate please, thou shalt see my answer. And the Sultan like thee, thinketh he hath required an enormous thing, in order to keep me from the Lady Bedr-el-Budur; though really he hath asked a smaller thing than I expected. But do thou arise, and fetch me somewhat to eat, and trust me to provide the answer for thee.” So his mother arose and went forth to fetch what was needed from the market to prepare dinner. And ‘Ala-ed-Din went into his chamber, and took the Lamp and rubbed it, and immediately there appeared to him the Slave, who said: “O my master, ask what thou desirest.” And ‘Ala-ed-Din answered: “I have demanded the daughter of the Sultan in marriage, and the Sultan hath required of me forty bowls of pure gold, each weighing ten pounds, and they must be full of the jewels which are in the garden of the Treasury; and to carry them there must be forty maids, and to each maid a slave, forty slaves in all. So I desire of thee that thou bring me all these.” And the Jinni said: “I hear and obey, O my master,” and vanished for the space of an hour, when he brought forty maids, and with each maid a eunuch, and on each maid’s head a bowl of fine gold full of precious stones. And he set them before ‘Ala-ed-Din, saying: “Here is thy wish: tell me then if thou hast need of any affair or service beside this.” But ‘Ala-ed-Din answered: “I need nothing else; but if I require anything I will summon thee and inform thee thereof.” So the Slave vanished. And presently ‘Ala-ed-Din’s mother appeared and entered the house, and perceived the slaves and maids. And she marvelled, saying: “All this is from the Lamp. God preserve it for my son!” And as she was about to raise her veil, ‘Ala-ed-Din said to her: “O my mother, this is the moment for thee, before the Sultan goes in to his seraglio, to his family. Take thou to him that which he demanded, and go to him forthwith, that he may know that I am able to do what he required, and more also. Verily he is deceived by the Wezir, and they both think to foil me.” Thereupon ‘Ala-ed-Din arose and opened the door of the house, and the maids and the slaves came forth side by side, each maid with a eunuch beside her, till they filled the street. And ‘Ala-ed-Din’s mother went before them. And the people flocked to the street when they saw this mighty, wonderful sight, and stood diverting themselves and marvelling and observing the forms of the damsels and their beauty and loveliness; for they all wore dresses embroidered with gold and trimmed with jewels, none worth less than a thousand dinars. And the folks gazed upon the bowls, and saw that the lustre transcended the light of the sun. Over each was a piece of brocade embroidered with gold and studded with precious stones. And the people of the quarter stood wondering at this strange spectacle. But ‘Ala-ed-Din’s mother walked on, and the damsels and slaves marched behind her, in all order and precision, and the people stopped to examine the beauty of the damsels, and glorified God the great Creator; and so they arrived and entered with ‘Ala-ed-Din’s mother, the palace of the Sultan. And when the aghas and chamberlains and officers of the army saw them, wonder gat hold of them and they were amazed at this sight, the like of which they had never witnessed in all their born days, above all, such damsels, every one of whom would turn the head of an anchorite. And although the chamberlain and officers of the Sultan’s troops were all sons of grandees and nobles, yet they were astonished beyond measure at the costly dresses which the damsels wore, and the bowls upon their heads, which they could not gaze full upon by reason of their excessive flashing and dazzle.  52
  Then the guard went in and informed the Sultan, and he at once ordered that they should be brought before him in the Hall of Audience. So ‘Ala-ed-Din’s mother came in with them; and when they appeared before the Sultan, they all saluted him with due reverence and worship, and they invoked blessings on his glory and good-fortune. Then they took the bowls from their heads and set them before him, and removed their coverings, and then stood respectfully. The Sultan marvelled with great admiration, and was bewildered at the splendour of the jewels and their loveliness, which transcended praise; and his wits were turned when he looked at the golden bowls full of precious stones, which captivated the sight; and he was confounded at this marvel till he became as the dumb, and could not say a word from excess of wonder. And his mind was the more perplexed how all this could have come about in the space of hour. Then he gave commandment that the damsels with the bowls should enter the palace of the Lady Bedr-el-Budur; so they took up their loads and went in.  53
  After that, the mother of ‘Ala-ed-Din came and said to the Sultan: “O my lord, this is not a great thing wherewith to do honour to the Lady Bedr-El-Budur, for she merits the double of this [dower].” Then the Sultan turned to the Wezir and said: “What sayest thou, O Wezir? He who can procure such riches as these in so short a time, is he not worthy to be the Sultan’s son-in-law and the daughter of the Sultan his bride?” But the Wezir, although he marvelled at the vastness of these riches, more even than the Sultan, yet, being devoured by envy, which grew stronger and stronger when he saw how content the Sultan was with the dower and riches, and though he could not disguise the truth, answered: “It is not worthy of her.” And he was devising a plan for the Sultan, that he might not give his daughter the Lady Bedr-el-Budur to ‘Ala-ed-Din, and accordingly he went on: “O my lord, all the treasures of the universe are not equal to the little finger of thy daughter. Thy Highness hath overvalued these presents as against her.” When the Sultan heard these words of the Wezir, he perceived that they arose from excess of envy. So turning to “Ala-ed-Din’s mother, he said: “O woman, go to thy son, and tell him that I have accepted the dowry and I stand by my promise. My daughter is his bride and he my son-in-law; and bid him come hither, in order that I may know him. He shall have naught but honour and esteem from me. And this night shall begin the wedding; only, as I said, let him come to me without delay.”  54
  Then Ala-ed-Din’s mother returned home with the speed of the wind, and abated not the quickness of her pace, in order to congratulate her son. She flew with joy at thinking that her child was going to become the son-in-law of the Sultan. After she had gone, the Sultan dismissed the audience and entered the apartments of the Lady Bedr-el-Budur, and bade them bring the damsels and the bowls before her that she might look at them. And when they brought them and the Princess examined the jewels, she was amazed and said: “Methinks there is not found in the treasuries of the universe a single gem like these!” Then she gazed upon the damsels and marvelled at their beauty and grace. And she knew that all this was from her new bridegroom, who had sent it in her service. So she rejoiced, though she had been sorrowful and sad on account of her bridegroom the son of the Wezir. Yet she rejoiced with great joy when she looked upon the jewels and the beauty of the damsels; and she made merry, and her father was greatly delighted at her cheerfulness, because he saw that her sadness and grief had departed from her. Then he asked her, saying: “O my daughter, Lady Bedr-el-Budur, does this astonish thee? Methinks this bridegroom of thine is goodlier than the Wezir’s son; and presently, please God, O my daughter, thou shalt enjoy supreme delight with him.” Thus was it with the Sultan.  55
  As for ‘Ala-ed-Din, when his mother returned and entered the house, laughing in the excess of her joy, and he saw her so, he scented good news, and said: “To God be praise everlasting! My desire is now accomplished.” And his mother said: “Good news for thee, O my child! Cheer thy heart, and refresh thine eye for the fulfilment of thy wish. The Sultan hath accepted thy present, the riches and portion and dowry of the Lady Bedr-el-Budur; and she is thy bride, and this night, O my son, is the wedding and thy union with the Princess. To assure me of his promise the Sultan hath proclaimed thee before the world as his son-in-law, and saith that to-night is the consummation. Moreover, he said to me: ‘Let thy son come to me, that I may become acquainted with him and welcome him with all honour and regard.’ And here am I, my son; my task is over; happen what may, it is now thy own affair.”  56
  Then ‘Ala-ed-Din arose and kissed his mother’s hand and thanked her, and magnified her goodness to him, and went and entered his chamber and took the Lamp and rubbed it, and behold, the Slave appeared, saying, “At thy service! Ask what thou desirest.” So ‘Ala-ed-Din answered: “I desire thee to take me to a bath the equal of which existeth not in the universe; and bring me there a dress so royal and exceeding costly that Kings possess not its match.” And the Marid replied, “I hear and obey.” And he lifted him and took him into a bath such as Kings and Emperors never saw, all of marble and carnelian, with wonderful pictures which captivated the eye; and not a soul was there. In it was a hall studded over with splendid jewels, which when ‘Ala-ed-Din entered, there came to him one of the Jann in human shape, who washed and kneaded him to the top of his bent. After which ‘Ala-ed-Din went from the bath into the spacious hall, and found his old clothes gone and in their place a suit of royal robes. Then there was brought to him sherbet and coffee flavoured with ambergris. And he drank and arose, and a number of slaves appeared before him, and clad him in resplendent clothes, and he was dressed and perfumed and scented. Though ‘Ala-ed-Din was, in fact, a poor tailor’s son, none would have supposed it, but rather would say: “This is the greatest of the sons of the Kings. Extolled be he who changeth others but himself changeth not!” Then the Jinni came and lifted him and returned him to his house, and said: “O my master, hast thou further need?” And ‘Ala-ed-Din replied: “Yes, I want thee to bring me forty-eight memluks, twenty-four to go before me and twenty-four to follow me, with their chargers and habiliments and arms; and everything on them and their horses must be of the very costliest, such as is not in the treasuries of Kings. Then bring me a stallion fit for the Cæsars, and let his housings be of gold studded over with magnificent jewels; and bring me forty-eight thousand dinars, to each memluk a thousand. For I wish to go to the Sultan’s presence. So delay not, since without all these things of which I have told thee I cannot visit him. Bring me also twelve damsels; they must be of peerless beauty, and clad in the most sumptuous raiment, that they may accompany my mother to the palace of the Sultan. And let each damsel be attired like the King’s ladies.” And the Slave answered, “I hear and obey.” And vanishing awhile, he brought him in the twinkling of an eye, all that he had commanded; and he led a steed the fellow of which did not exist among the horses of the Arabs, and his housings were of gorgeous cloth of gold.  57
  ‘Ala-ed-Din sent for his mother at once, and delivered to her the twelve maidens, and gave her robes that she might be robed, when the damsels would escort her to the palace of the Sultan. And he sent one of the memluks which the Jinni had brought him to the Sultan, to ascertain whether he had come forth from his harem or not. So the memluk went quicker than lightning, and returned to him speedily, saying: “O my master, the Sultan expecteth thee.” Then ‘Ala-ed-Din arose and mounted and the memluks rode before him and behind him. And they were such as to make all men cry: “Extolled be the Lord who created them in such perfection of beauty and grace!” And they scattered gold among the people before their master ‘Ala-ed-Din, who excelled them in beauty and comeliness,—and make no mention of the sons of Kings! Extolled be the Bountiful, the Eternal! And all this came by virtue of the Wonderful Lamp, which whoso possessed, it brought him beauty and loveliness and wealth and wisdom. And the people were astonished at the generosity of Ala-ed-Din and his excessive bounty, and were distraught as they gazed upon his beauty and comeliness and grace and courtliness. And they extolled the Compassionate for this his noble creation; and all blessed him, though they knew he was the son of Such-an-one the tailor; and none was envious of him, but all pronounced him worthy of his luck.  58
  Thus was the crowd dazzled by ‘Ala-ed-Din and his bounty and generosity, as he was going to the palace, scattering gold. And they blessed him, great and small, till he reached the palace, with the memluks before and behind him distributing largesse to the people. Now the Sultan had assembled the grandees of the state, and informed them that he had given his word for the marriage of his daughter to ‘Ala-ed-Din. And he bade them await his coming, and then go forth, one and all, and receive him. And he sent for the emirs and the wezirs and chamberlains and gentlemen of the guard and officers of the army, and they were all in waiting for ‘Ala-ed-Din at the gate of the palace. Now when ‘Ala-ed-Din arrived he would have dismounted at the gate, but one of the emirs whom the Sultan had appointed for the office approached and said: “O my master, the order is that thou enter and remain mounted on thy charger till thou comest to the gate of the Hall of Audience.” And they all marched before him and escorted him to the gate of the Divan, when some of them approached and held his stirrup, and others supported him on each side or took him by the hand, and the emirs and officers of state went before him and led him into the Hall of Audience close to the royal throne. Then the Sultan descended at once from his throne, and clasped him to his breast, and forbidding him to kiss the ground, kissed him and seated him beside him on his right. And ‘Ala-ed-Din did as was proper towards Kings, in giving salutations and benedictions, saying: “O our lord the Sultan, verily the generosity of thy Felicity caused thee to vouchsafe me the Lady Bedr-el-Budur thy daughter, although I am not worthy of so great an honour, since I am of the meanest of thy slaves. And I beg God to prolong thy life perpetually. But in truth, O King, my tongue is powerless to thank thee for the greatness of the surpassing favours with which thou hast overwhelmed me. And I beg of thy Felicity that thou give me a piece of land where I may build a palace suitable for the Lady Bedr-el-Budur.” And the Sultan was bewildered as he gazed upon ‘Ala-ed-Din in his princely robes, and looked upon him and considered his beauty and comeliness, and saw the memluks arrayed for his service and their handsome apparel. And his wonder increased when ‘Ala-ed-Din’s mother approached in her costly attire, sumptuous as though she had been a Queen; and when he perceived the twelve damsels attending her standing before her in all respect and worship. Further, the Sultan considered the eloquence of ‘Ala-ed-Din, and the refinement of his language, and was astounded at it, he and all those who were with him at the levee. And fire was kindled in the heart of the Wezir for envy of ‘Ala-ed-Din, till he almost died. Then the Sultan, after hearing ‘Ala-ed-Din’s benedictions, and perceiving the loftiness of his bearing and his deference and eloquence, pressed him to his bosom and kissed him, saying: “Alas for me, my son, that I have not enjoyed thy company till this day!”  59
  When the Sultan saw ‘Ala-ed-Din in this respect he rejoiced with great joy, and immediately ordered the music and band to play. And he arose and took ‘Ala-ed-Din and led him into the palace, where supper was made ready and the servants had laid the tables. So the Sultan sat down and seated ‘Ala-ed-Din on his right; and the wezirs also sat, and the grandees of the state and lords of the realm, all of them in their degree; and the band played, and they made very merry in the palace. And the Sultan waxed friendly with ‘Ala-ed-Din and conversed with him, and he answered with all courtliness and eloquence, as though he had been brought up in the palaces of Kings and had been their familiar. And the longer the conversation lasted between them the greater became the Sultan’s joy and satisfaction, as he listened to his graceful replies and the charm of his eloquence.  60
  After they had eaten and drunk and removed the tables, the Sultan commanded to bring the Kadis and witnesses, and they came and tied the knot and wrote the contract of marriage between ‘Ala-ed-Din and the Lady Bedr-el-Budur. After this ‘Ala-ed-Din arose and would have gone out, but the Sultan stopped him, saying: “Whither, O my son? The festivities are beginning and the wedding is ready, and the knot is tied and the contract written.” But he answered: “O my lord the King, it is my intention to build a palace for the Lady Bedr-el-Budur befitting her rank and station; and it is impossible that I should enter in to her before this is done. But, please God, the building shall be finished in the briefest space by the energy of thy servant and the countenance of thy Felicity. And for me, much as I long for union now with the Lady Bedr-el-Budur, yet it behoveth me to serve her and to do so first.” So the Sultan said to him: “O my son, choose the land which thou deemest fit for thy project; take it altogether into thy hands; but the best place would be here in front of my palace on the open plain; then if thou so fanciest build the palace there.” “This,” said ‘Ala-ed-Din, “is the height of my desire, to be near thy Felicity.”  61
  Therefore ‘Ala-ed-Din took leave of the Sultan and went forth riding with his memluks before and behind him. And all the world blessed him and said, “By Allah, he is worthy!” till he reached his house. There he alighted from his horse and entered his chamber and rubbed the Lamp, and, behold, the Slave appeared before him and said: “Ask what thou wilt, O my master.” So ‘Ala-ed-Din said: “I require thee to do me an important service, which is to build me with all speed a palace in front of the Sultan’s Serai; and let it be marvellous in its construction, such as Kings have not seen, and perfect in its fittings of stately furniture fit for princes; and so forth.” And the Slave replied, “I hear and obey,” and vanished. But before the break of dawn he came to ‘Ala-ed-Din and said: “O my master, the palace is finished to the utmost of thy desire, and if thou wish to see it, arise at once and look at it.” So ‘Ala-ed-Din arose, and the Slave bore him in the twinkling of an eye to the palace. And when he saw it, he was astounded at its construction, for all its stones were of jasper and alabaster and porphyry and mosaics. Then the Slave took him into a treasury full of all sorts of gold and silver and precious stones, not to be numbered or estimated or appraised or valued. And again, he took him into another room, where he saw all the table equipments, plates and dishes, ewers and basins, of gold and silver, and likewise flagons and goblets; and he led him to the kitchen, where he saw the scullions with all their requisites and cooking utensils, all of gold and silver; and next to a chamber full of chests packed with royal raiment, such as captivated the reason, brocades from India and China, and embroideries. Again he led him to numerous rooms all full of what defieth description; and then to the stables, where he found horses the like of which were not found among the Kings in all the world; and from there he took him to the saddle-room, which was full of costly harness and saddles, studded with pearls and fine stones and the like. And all this was done in a single night. ‘Ala-ed-Din was astounded and distraught at the vastness of these riches, which the mightiest sovereign on earth could not compass. And the palace was full of servants and maidens whose loveliness would tempt a saint. But the most wonderful of all the things to be seen in the palace was a pavilion or kiosk with twenty-four bays, all of emeralds and diamonds and other jewels; and one bay was not finished by ‘Ala-ed-Din’s wish, in order that the Sultan might be unequal to completing it.  62
  When ‘Ala-ed-Din had surveyed the palace in every part, he rejoiced and was greatly delighted. Then turning to the Slave, he said: “I desire one thing of thee, which is still lacking, and of which I forgot to tell thee.” And the Slave said: “Ask on, O my master, whatsoever thou wishest.” So he said: “I desire of thee a carpet of splendid brocade, and let it be all worked with gold, and such that when spread it shall reach from my palace to that of the Sultan, so that the Lady Bedr-el-Budur when she cometh hither may walk upon it and not tread upon the bare ground.” So the Slave went away for a while, and on his return said: “O my master, what thou didst ask of me is done.” And he took and shewed him a carpet which captivated the reason, and it stretched from palace to palace. Then the Slave carried ‘Ala-ed-Din back to his house.  63
  At this moment it was already dawn, and the Sultan arose from sleep and opened the window of his chamber and looked out, and in front of his palace he perceived a building; so he began to rub his eyes, and opened them wide to observe it. And he saw a great palace, bewildering the wits; and he gazed upon the carpet laid down from his own palace to that other. And in like manner the doorkeepers and all the royal household were perplexed in their minds at this thing. Just then the Wezir came in, and as he came he perceived the new palace and the carpet, and he too marvelled. And when the Sultan entered, the two began talking of this strange spectacle, and wondering at the sight of this thing, which dazzled the sight and delighted the heart, saying: “Of a truth, the like of this palace could not, we imagine, be built by Kings.” And the Sultan turned to the Wezir and said: “Dost thou see now that ‘Ala-ed-Din is worthy to mate my daughter the Lady Bedr-el-Budur, after seeing and considering this royal edifice and these riches which the mind of man could not conceive?” But the Wezir, on account of his envy of ‘Ala-ed-Din, answered: “O King of the Age, verily this building and this edifice and these riches could not exist save by means of magic, for no man alive, be he the chiefest in authority or the greatest in wealth, could complete this edifice in a single night.” Then answered the Sultan: “It is a wonder to me how thou art always imputing evil to ‘Ala-ed-Din; meseems, however, that it proceedeth from thy envy of him; for thou wast present thyself when I gave him this land, when he asked me for a site to build a palace on for my daughter, and I granted him this piece of land for his palace before thine eyes. But shall he who bringeth such a dowry of jewels for my daughter as Kings possess not even a few thereof, shall he be unequal to building a palace like this?”  64
  When the Wezir heard the Sultan’s words, and perceived that he loved ‘Ala-ed-Din greatly, his jealousy increased; only, as he could not do anything to avert it, he watched and could not answer the Sultan a word. But as to ‘Ala-ed-Din, when he saw that it was morning, and the time had come for him to go to the palace, because his wedding fête was going on, and the emirs and wezirs and grandees of state had collected about the Sultan in order to be present at the wedding, he arose and rubbed the Lamp and the Slave appeared to him and said: “O my master, ask what thou desirest, for I am here at thy service.” So ‘Ala-ed-Din answered: “I intend to go now to the Sultan’s palace, as this is my wedding-day, and I need ten thousand dinars which I wish thee to bring me.” Then the Slave vanished for the twinkling of an eye and returned with the ten thousand dinars. Then ‘Ala-ed-Din arose and mounted, and there rode with him his memluks, before and behind. And he proceeded to the palace, scattering gold to the crowd as he went, so that they were filled with affection for him, and his dignity was enhanced thereby. And when he arrived at the palace, and the emirs and aghas and guards who were drawn up in waiting saw him, they hastened immediately to the Sultan and apprised him. Then the Sultan arose and met him and embraced and kissed him, and holding him by the hand led him into the palace and sat down and seated him at his side on the right; while the whole town was decorated, and the musical instruments resounded in the palace, and the singers sang. Then the Sultan commanded that the banquet should be served, and the eunuchs and memluks hastened to lay the tables, which were such as befit Kings. And ‘Ala-ed-Din and the Sultan and the grandees of the realm and the chief officers of state sat down and ate and drank till they were satisfied. And there were great rejoicings in the palace and the city; and all the nobles were delighted, and the people in all the kingdom rejoiced; and the rulers of provinces and chiefs of departments from distant regions came to see the wedding of ‘Ala-ed-Din and the festivities. And the Sultan wondered in his mind at ‘Ala-ed-Din’s mother—how she used to come to him in shabby clothes when her son possessed such vast wealth. And the people who came to the Sultan’s palace to witness the fêtes of ‘Ala-ed-Din, when they saw his new palace and the beauty of the building, marvelled greatly how a splendid palace like that could be finished in a single night. And they fell to blessing ‘Ala-ed-Din, and saying: “God give him enjoyment! By Allah, verily he deserveth it! God bless his days!”  65
  When ‘Ala-ed-Din had finished the banquet he arose and took leave of the Sultan, and mounting, he and his memluks proceeded to his palace, to prepare for the reception of his bride the Lady Bedr-el-Budur. And all the people cheered him with one shout as he went: “God give thee enjoyment! God increase thy glory! God prolong thy life!” And a vast concourse accompanied him as far as his home, while he scattered gold amongst them. When he was come to his palace, he dismounted and entered it and seated himself on the divan, and the memluks stood attentive before him; and presently they brought him sherbets. After which he gave command to his memluks and maidens, eunuchs and all his household, to prepare for the reception of the Lady Bedr-el-Budur his bride. Now when it was afternoon and the air had become cool and the heat of the sun had abated, the Sultan ordered the troops and emirs of the state and wezirs to descend into the Meydan or riding-ground; so they all went down, and the Sultan with them. And ‘Ala-ed-Din arose, and mounted with his memluks, and went down also to the Meydan. And he displayed his horsemanship, playing with the Jerid 1 in the Meydan, so that none could stand against him. He was riding a stallion the like of which did not exist among the horses of the purest Arabs. And his bride the Lady Bedr-el-Budur watched him from a window of her apartments, and seeing his grace and horsemanship, she fell violently in love with him, and almost flew with joy. When they had jousted round the Meydan and had each shewn what horsemanship he possessed, and ‘Ala-ed-Din the best of them all, the Sultan proceeded to his palace, and ‘Ala-ed-Din returned to his own.  66
  And when it was evening, the nobles and wezirs came and took ‘Ala-ed-Din and conducted him in procession to the bath called Imperial, which he entered, and was bathed and perfumed, and coming forth put on a dress more gorgeous than before. Then he mounted, and the guards and emirs rode before him, and escorted him in stately progress, while four of the wezirs surrounded him with drawn swords. And all the people, natives and strangers alike, and all the troops, marched before him in procession, bearing candles and drums and pipes and instruments of joy and revel, till they arrived at his palace, where he dismounted, and entering, seated himself. And the wezirs and emirs who were with him sat also; and the memluks brought sherbets and sweet drinks, and served all the crowd who had come with him in procession—a multitude past numbering. And ‘Ala-ed-Din ordered his memluks to go forth from the palace gate and scatter gold among the crowd. When the Sultan returned from the Meydan and entered his palace, he forthwith ordered them to form a procession for his daughter the Lady Bedr-el-Budur, to escort her to her bridegroom’s palace. Thereupon the guards and officers of state who had taken part in ‘Ala-ed-Din’s progress, mounted, and the handmaids and eunuchs brought forth tapers and escorted the Lady Bedr-el-Budur in a stately procession till they brought her to her bridegroom’s palace. ‘Ala-ed-Din’s mother walked beside her; and in front were the wives of the wezirs and the emirs and grandees and chief officers; and along with her were the eight-and-forty damsels which ‘Ala-ed-Din had given her, each carrying in her hand a tall taper of camphor and ambergris set in a candlestick of gold inlaid with jewels. And they all went forth with her from the seraglio, men and women, and marched before her till they came to her groom’s palace, when they took her to her apartments, and changed her dress and displayed her. And when the displaying was over they led her to the chamber of her bridegroom ‘Ala-ed-Din, and he went in to her.  67
  Now his mother was with the bride, and when he came to unveil her, his mother began to observe the beauty of the bride and her loveliness. And she looked at the chamber she was in, all sparkling with gold and jewels; and there were lustres of gold all set with emeralds and rubies. And she said within herself: “I used to think the Sultan’s palace magnificent, but this chamber is unique. Methinks not one of the greatest of Emperors and Kings ever attained to its like, and I do not believe that all the world could make a chamber like this.” And the Lady Bedr-el-Budur also began to look and wonder at this palace and its splendour. Then the tables were laid, and they all ate and drank and made merry; after which eighty handmaidens came before them, each with an instrument of joy and revel in her hand; and they stretched their fingers and touched the strings and evolved harmonious modulations till they rent the hearts of the hearers. And the Lady Bedr-el-Budur wondered the more, and said within herself: “Never in my life have I heard songs like these,” till she left off eating and gave herself up to listening. And ‘Ala-ed-Din poured out wine for her and gave it her with his own hand. And content and great rejoicing fell upon them, and it was a glorious night, such as Alexander, Lord of the two Horns, never spent in his time. And when they had done eating and drinking and the tables were taken away, ‘Ala-ed-Din arose and went in to his bride.  68
  And when it was morning ‘Ala-ed-Din arose, and the treasurer brought him a splendid costly suit of the richest of the robes of Kings. And he dressed, and they brought him coffee with ambergris, and he drank; and then ordered the horses to be saddled, and mounted, and his memluks rode before and behind him. And he proceeded to the palace of the Sultan, and as soon as he had arrived and entered, the servants went and informed the Sultan of his arrival; who, when he heard of it, arose straightway to meet him, and embraced and kissed him as though he were his son, and seated him on his right. And the wezirs and emirs and officers of state and nobles of the realm blessed him, and the Sultan blessed and congratulated him. And he ordered breakfast to be brought and they all breakfasted. And when they had eaten and drunk their fill, and the servants had removed the tables from before them, ‘Ala-ed-Din turned to the Sultan and said: “O my lord, will thy Felicity deign to honour me this day to dinner with the Lady Bedr-el-Budur, thy well-beloved daughter, accompanied by all the wezirs and nobles of thy realm?” And the Sultan, being charmed with him, answered: “Thou art too hospitable, O my son.” And forthwith he ordered the wezirs and officers of state and grandees of the realm, and arose and took horses, and they likewise, and ‘Ala-ed-Din rode with them till they came to the new palace. And when the Sultan had entered and considered the building and its construction and masonry, which was of jasper and carnelian, his reason was confounded and distraught at this splendour and wealth and magnificence. And turning to the Wezir, he asked: “What sayest thou, O Wezir? Hast thou seen in all thy time a thing like this, or is there to be found among the Kings of the world such wealth and gold and jewels as we see here in this palace?” And the Wezir replied: “O my lord the King, this is a thing that is not within the reach of any King of the sons of Adam, and all the people of the world could not have built a palace like this, nor could masons construct such a work, except, as I said to thy Felicity, by the power of magic.” But the Sultan knew that the Wezir could never speak without envy of ‘Ala-ed-Din, and wished to prove to the Sultan that all this was not done by strength of man, but wholly by force of magic. So the Sultan answered him: “Enough, O Wezir; thou hast no more to say; and I know the reason of thy speaking thus.”  69
  Then ‘Ala-ed-Din walked before the Sultan till they came to the upper kiosk, where he looked at the ceiling and windows and lattices all set with emeralds and rubies and other precious stones, and he was astonished and astounded and his wits were confounded, and he was distraught in his mind. Then the Sultan began to wander about the kiosk and look at things which captivated the reason. And he perceived the bay which ‘Ala-ed-Din had purposely left unfinished. And when the Sultan had examined it and saw that it was not complete, he cried: “Woe to thee, O bay, that thou art not perfect!” And turning to the Wezir, he said: “Knowest thou the cause of the unfinished state of this bay and its lattices?” And he replied: “O my lord, I think this window is left unfinished on account of thy Felicity hastening the wedding of ‘Ala-ed-Din, so that he had not time to finish it.” At that moment ‘Ala-ed-Din had gone to his bride, the Lady Bedr-el-Budur, to apprise her of the visit of her father the Sultan. But when he returned, the latter asked him: “O my son ‘Ala-ed-Din, what is the reason that this bay of the kiosk is not complete?” And ‘Ala-ed-Din replied: “O King of the Age, in consequence of the hurry of the wedding I could not get workmen to finish it.” Then said the Sultan: “It is a fancy of mine to complete it myself.” “God continue thy glory, O King,” answered ‘Ala-ed-Din. “So shall thy memory be perpetuated in thy daughter’s palace.” Then the Sultan ordered them to bring the jewellers and goldsmiths, and commanded that they should be furnished from the treasury with all they wanted of gold and jewels and minerals; and when they were assembled he bade them complete what was lacking in the lattice of the kiosk.  70
  Meanwhile the Lady Bedr-el-Budur came to meet her father the Sultan, and as she drew near he noticed her face was smiling; so he embraced and kissed her, and led her into the kiosk, where all entered together. It was the time of the noon meal, and one table was prepared for the Sultan and the Lady Bedr-el-Budur and ‘Ala-ed-Din, and a second for the Wezirs and lords of state and grandees of the realm and officers of the army and chamberlains and gentlemen of the guard.  71
  Then the Sultan seated himself between his daughter and his son-in-law. And when he stretched forth his hand to the food and tasted it, he was filled with surprise at the viands and the admirable and savoury cookery. And before him stood eighty damsels, each of whom might say to the full moon: “Get up, that I may seat myself in thy stead!” And they all held instruments of joy and revel in their hands, and tuned them, and stretched out their fingers and touched the strings, and drew forth melodious strains, which would expand the heart of the sorrowful. And the Sultan was delighted. The moment was agreeable, and he was happy, and said: “Verily this thing transcendeth the power of Emperors and Kings.” So they fell to eating and drinking, and the cup went round among them till they were satisfied; then fruits and sweetmeats and the like were brought and served in another apartment, whither they repaired and took their fill of these delights. Then the Sultan arose to look at the work of the jewellers and goldsmiths, and see if it resembled that of the palace. So he ascended to them and inspected their work and how they had progressed; but he perceived a strong contrast, and that they were unable to produce such work as the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din. They told him that they had brought all the jewels they could find in the [ordinary] treasury, but it was not enough. Upon this he ordered the Great Treasury to be opened, and gave them what they wanted; and [said that] if that were still insufficient, they might take the present which ‘Ala-ed-Din had given him. So the jewellers took all the precious stones which the Sultan allowed, and they worked with them and again found that they had not enough, and were unable to complete half what remained unfinished of the lattices of the kiosk. Thereupon the Sultan commanded them to seize all the jewels which they might find among the wezirs and grandees of the state. So the jewellers took them all and continued their task, and even so there was not enough.  72
  When morning came, ‘Ala-ed-Din ascended to see how the jewellers had worked, and perceived that they had not completed half the deficient bay. So he immediately ordered them to take down all that they had done and return the jewels to their owners. So they undid it all, and sent to the Sultan what was his, and to the wezirs what was theirs. Then the jewellers went to the Sultan and told him that ‘Ala-ed-Din had ordered them thus. And he asked them: “What did he say? What was his reason, and why was he not pleased that the bay should be finished, and why did he demolish what ye had done?” They answered: “O our lord, we have no knowledge at all, but he bade us demolish all we had done.” Thereupon the Sultan called for his horses and mounted and went to ‘Ala-ed-Din’s palace.  73
  Now ‘Ala-ed-Din, after dismissing the goldsmiths and jewellers retired into his closet, and rubbed the Lamp, when the Slave instantly appeared, saying: “Ask whatsoever thou desirest, for thy Slave is in thy hands.” And ‘Ala-ed-Din said: “I wish thee to finish the bay that was left incomplete.” “On the head and also the eye,” answered the Slave, and vanished, but shortly returned saying: “O my lord, that which thou didst command me to do is finished.” So ‘Ala-ed-Din mounted to the kiosk and saw all the bays were perfect. And whilst he was inspecting them, lo, a eunuch came and said. “O my master, the Sultan cometh to thee, and entereth the palace gate.” So ‘Ala-ed-Din went down at once to meet him. When the Sultan saw him he cried: “O my son, wherefore hast thou done thus, and wouldest not let the jewellers finish the lattice of the kiosk, so that an unfinished spot remaineth in thy palace?” And ‘Ala-ed-Din replied: “O King of the Age, I left it imperfect only for a purpose; for I was not unequal to finishing it, nor could I wish thy Felicity to honour me at a palace wherein anything was imperfect. But that thou myself know that I am not incapable of perfecting it, I beg of thy Felicity to inspect the bays of the kiosk, and see if there be aught unfinished there.” So the King ascended to the apartments and entered the kiosk and began to look over it to the right and the left, but he found nothing whatever incomplete, but found all the bays perfect. And seeing this he was astonished, and embraced ‘Ala-ed-Din and fell to kissing him, saying: “O my son, what strange doing is this! In a single night thou canst accomplish a work which the jewellers would fail to do in months! By Allah, I do not think thou hast a fellow or peer in the world.” And ‘Ala-ed-Din replied: “God prolong thy life and continue thy length of days forever! Thy servant is not worthy of such praise.” But the King said, “O my son, verily thou art worthy of all praise, since thou hast accomplished a thing which all the workmen in the universe could not do.” Then the Sultan descended and went to the apartments of his daughter the Lady Bedr-el-Budur to rest with her; and he saw that she was very happy at the state and magnificence that surrounded her, and after resting awhile he returned to his palace.  74
Note 1. Javelin of palm. [back]


Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.