His mother was much surprised to see the great tray, twelve dishes, six loaves, the two flagons and cups, and to smell the savoury odour which exhaled from the dishes. "Child," said she, "to whom are we obliged for this great plenty and liberality; has the sultan been made acquainted with our poverty, and had compassion on us?" "It is no matter, mother," said Aladdin; "let us sit down and eat, for you have almost as much need of breakfast as myself; when we have done, I will tell you." Accordingly, both mother and son sat down, and ate with the better relish as the table was so well furnished. But all the time Aladdin's mother could not forbear looking at and admiring the dishes, though she could not judge whether they were silver or any other metal, and the novelty more than the value attracted her attention.
"I did not fail to lend the most attentive ear to their discourse, and heard her address herself thus to her gallant: 'I do not deserve,' she said, 'to be reproached by you for want of diligence. You well know the reason; but if all the proofs of affection I have already given you be not sufficient to convince you of my sincerity, I am ready to give you others more decisive: you need but command me, you know my power; I will, if you desire it, before sunrise convert this great city, and this superb palace, into frightful ruins, inhabited only by wolves, owls, and ravens. If you would have me transport all the stones of those walls so solidly built, beyond Mount Caucasus, the bounds of the habitable world, speak but the word, and all shall be changed.'
Sinbad stopped here, and ordered the musicians to proceed with their concert, which the story had interrupted. The company continued enjoying themselves till the evening, when Sinbad sent for a purse of a hundred sequins, and giving it to the porter, said: "Take this, Hindbad, return to your home, and come back to-morrow to hear more of my adventures." The porter went away, astonished at the honour done, and the present made him. The account of this adventure proved very agreeable to his wife and children, who did not fail to return thanks to God for what providence had sent them by the hand of Sinbad.
"The island was very well peopled, plentiful in everything, and the capital a place of great trade. This agreeable retreat was very comfortable to me, after my misfortunes, and the kindness of this generous prince completed my satisfaction. In a word, there was not a person more in favour with him than myself; and consequently every man in court and city sought to oblige me; so that in a very little time I was looked upon rather as a native than a stranger.
The fisherman, when he heard these words of the genie, recovered his courage and said to him: "Thou proud spirit, what is it you say? It is above eighteen hundred years since the prophet Solomon died, and we are now at the end of time. Tell me your history, and how you came to be shut up in this vessel."
To return to the enchantress: As soon as she had effected this wonderful change, she returned with all expedition to the Palace of Tears, that she might receive her reward. "My dear lord," cried she, as she entered, "I have done all that you required of me, then pray rise and give me your hand." "Come near," said the sultan, still counterfeiting the pronunciation of the black. She did so. "You are not near enough," he continued; "approach nearer." She obeyed. He then rose up, and seizing her by the arm so suddenly that she had not time to discover him, he with a blow of his cimeter cut her in two, so that one half fell one way and the other another. This done, he left the body on the spot, and going out of the Palace of Tears, went to seek the young king of the Black Isles, who waited for him with great impatience. When he found him, "Prince," said he, embracing him, "rejoice; you have now nothing to fear; your cruel enemy is dead."
And she proceeded to burn perfume and repeat spells until the sea foamed and was agitated.
He came again the next day, as he had promised, and took Aladdin with him to a merchant, who sold all sorts of clothes for different ages and ranks ready made, and a variety of fine stuffs. He asked to see some that suited Aladdin in size; and Aladdin, charmed with the liberality of his new uncle, made choice of one, and the magician immediately paid for it.
"What!" cried the mother, "was your lamp then the occasion of that cursed genie's addressing himself rather to me than to you? Ah! my son, take it out of my sight, and put it where you please. I will never touch it. I had rather you would sell it, than run the hazard of being frightened to death again by touching it: and if you would take my advice, you would part also with the ring, and not have anything to do with genies, who, as our prophet has told us, are only devils."
"Three or four days after my departure, we were attacked by corsairs, who easily seized upon our ship, because it was no vessel of force. Some of the crew offered resistance, which cost them their lives. But for myself and the rest, who were not so imprudent, the corsairs saved us on purpose to make slaves of us.
Aladdin did not confine himself in his palace; but took care to show himself once or twice a week in the town, by going sometimes to one mosque, and sometimes to another, to prayers; or to visit the grand vizier, who affected to pay his court to him on certain days; or to do the principal lords of the court the honour to return their visits after he had regaled them at his palace. Every time he went out, he caused two slaves, who walked by the side of his horse, to throw handfuls of money among the people as he passed through the streets and squares, which were generally on these occasions crowded. Besides, no one came to his palace gates to ask alms but returned satisfied with his liberality. In short, he so divided his time, that not a week passed but he went either once or twice a-hunting, sometimes in the environs of the city, sometimes farther off; at which time the villages through which he passed felt the effects of his generosity, which gained him the love and blessings of the people; and it was common for them to swear by his head. With all these good qualities he showed a zeal for the public good which could not be sufficiently applauded. He gave sufficient proofs of both in a revolt on the borders of the kingdom; for he no sooner understood that the sultan was levying an army to disperse the rebels than he begged the command of it, which he found not difficult to obtain. As soon as he was empowered, he marched with so much expedition, that the sultan heard of the defeat of the rebels before he had received an account of his son-in-law's arrival in the army.
"Certainly," replied Baba Mustapha, "you must be a stranger, and do not know me; for old as I am, I have extraordinarily good eyes; and you will not doubt it when I tell you that I sewed a dead body together in a place where I had not so much light as I have now." The robber was overjoyed to think that he had addressed himself, at his first coming into the town, to a man who in all probability could give him the intelligence he wanted. "A dead body!" replied he with affected amazement. "What could you sew up a dead body for? You mean you sewed up his winding-sheet." "No, no," answered Baba Mustapha, "I perceive your meaning; you want to have me speak out, but you shall know no more." The robber wanted no farther assurance to be persuaded that he had discovered what he sought. He pulled out a piece of gold, and putting it into Baba Mustapha's hand, said to him: "I do not want to learn your secret, though I can assure you I would not divulge it, if you trusted me with it; the only thing which I desire of you is, to do me the favour to shew me the house where you stitched up the dead body."
At this account, Aladdin was thunderstruck. Any other man would have sunk under the shock; but a sudden hope of disappointing his rival soon roused his spirits, and he bethought himself of the lamp, which had in every emergency been so useful to him; and without venting his rage in empty words against the sultan, the vizier, or his son, he only said: "Perhaps, mother, the vizier's son may not be so happy to-night as he promises himself: while I go into my chamber a moment, do you get supper ready." She accordingly went about it, but guessed that her son was going to make use of the lamp, to prevent, if possible, the consummation of the marriage.