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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments Complete - 170/272 -


business brings you here?"

After these words, Alla ad Deen's mother prostrated herself a second time; and when she arose, said, "Monarch of monarchs, before I tell your majesty the extraordinary and almost incredible business which brings me before your high throne, I beg of you to pardon the boldness or rather impudence of the demand I am going to make, which is so uncommon, that I tremble, and am ashamed to propose it to my sovereign." In order to give her the more freedom to explain herself, the sultan ordered all to quit the divan but the grand vizier, and then told her she might speak without restraint.

Alla ad Deen's mother, not content with this favour of the sultan's to save her the trouble and confusion of speaking before so many people, was notwithstanding for securing herself against his anger, which, from the proposal she was going to make, she was not a little apprehensive of; therefore resuming her discourse, she said, "I beg of your majesty, if you should think my demand the least injurious or offensive, to assure me first of your pardon and forgiveness." "Well," replied the sultan, "I will forgive you, be it what it may, and no hurt shall come to you: speak boldly."

When Alla ad Deen's mother had taken all these precautions, for fear of the sultan's anger, she told him faithfully how Alla ad Deen had seen the princess Buddir al Buddoor, the violent love that fatal sight had inspired him with, the declaration he had made to her of it when he came home, and what representations she had made "to dissuade him from a passion no less disrespectful," said she, "to your majesty, as sultan, than to the princess your daughter. But," continued she, "my son, instead of taking my advice and reflecting on his presumption, was so obstinate as to persevere, and to threaten me with some desperate act, if I refused to come and ask the princess in marriage of your majesty; and it was not without the greatest reluctance that I was led to accede to his request, for which I beg your majesty once more to pardon not only me, but also Alla ad Deen my son, for entertaining so rash a project as to aspire to so high an alliance."

The sultan hearkened to this discourse with mildness, and without shewing the least anger; but before he gave her any answer, asked her what she had brought tied up in the napkin. She took the china dish, which she had set down at the foot of the throne, before she prostrated herself before him; untied it, and presented it to the sultan.

The sultan's amazement and surprise were inexpressible, when he saw so many large, beautiful, and valuable jewels collected in the dish. He remained for some time motionless with admiration. At last, when he had recovered himself, he received the present from Alla ad Deen's mother's hand, crying out in a transport of joy, "How rich, how beautiful!" After he had admired and handled all the jewels, one after another, he turned to his grand vizier, and shewing him the dish, said, "Behold, admire, wonder, and confess that your eyes never beheld jewels so rich and beautiful before." The vizier was charmed. "Well," continued the sultan, "what sayst thou to such a present? Is it not worthy of the princess my daughter? And ought I not to bestow her on one who values her at so great price?"

These words put the grand vizier into extreme agitation. The sultan had some time before signified to him his intention of bestowing the princess on a son of his; therefore he was afraid, and not without grounds, that the sultan, dazzled by so rich and extraordinary a present, might change his mind. Therefore going to him, and whispering him in the ear, he said, "I cannot but own that the present is worthy of the princess; but I beg of your majesty to grant me three months before you come to a final resolution. I hope, before that time, my son, on whom you have had the goodness to look with a favourable eye, will be able to make a nobler present than Alla ad Deen, who is an entire stranger to Your majesty."

The sultan, though he was fully persuaded that it was not possible for the vizier to provide so considerable a present for his son to make the princess, yet as he had given him hopes, hearkened to him, and granted his request. Turning therefore to the old widow, he said to her, "Good woman, go home, and tell your son that I agree to the proposal you have made me; but I cannot marry the princess my daughter, till the paraphernalia I design for her be got ready, which cannot be finished these three months; but at the expiration of that time come again."

Alla ad Deen's mother returned home much more gratified than she had expected, since she had met with a favourable answer, instead of the refusal and confusion she had dreaded. From two circumstances Alla ad Deen, when he saw his mother returning, judged that she brought him good news; the one was, that she returned sooner than ordinary; and the other, the gaiety of her countenance. "Well, mother," said he, "may I entertain any hopes, or must I die with despair?" When she had pulled off her veil, and had seated herself on the sofa by him, she said to him, "Not to keep you long in suspense, son, I will begin by telling you, that instead of thinking of dying, you have every reason to be well satisfied." Then pursuing her discourse, she told him, that she had an audience before everybody else which made her come home so soon; the precautions she had taken lest she should have displeased the sultan, by making the proposal of marriage between him and the princess Buddir al Buddoor, and the condescending answer she had received from the sultan's own mouth; and that as far as she could judge, the present had wrought a powerful effect. "But when I least expected it," said she, "and he was going to give me an answer, and I fancied a favourable one, the grand vizier whispered him in the ear, and I was afraid might be some obstacle to his good intentions towards us, and so it happened, for the sultan desired me to come to audience again this day three months."

Alla ad Deen thought himself the most happy of all men at hearing this news, and thanked his mother for the pains she had taken in the affair, the good success of which was of so great importance to his peace. Though from his impatience to obtain the object of his passion, three months seemed an age, yet he disposed himself to wait with patience, relying on the sultan's word, which he looked upon to be irrevocable. But all that time he not only counted the hours, days, and weeks, but every moment. When two of the three months were past, his mother one evening going to light the lamp, and finding no oil in the house, went out to buy some, and when she came into the city, found a general rejoicing. The shops, instead of being shut up, were open, dressed with foliage, silks, and carpeting, every one striving to show their zeal in the most distinguished manner according to his ability. The streets were crowded with officers in habits of ceremony, mounted on horses richly caparisoned, each attended by a great many footmen. Alla ad Deen's mother asked the oil-merchant what was the meaning of all this preparation of public festivity." Whence came you, good woman," said he, "that you don't know that the grand vizier's son is to marry the princess Buddir al Buddoor, the sultan's daughter, to-night? She will presently return from the baths; and these officers whom you see are to assist at the cavalcade to the palace, where the ceremony is to be solemnized."

This was news enough for Alla ad Deen's mother. She ran till she was quite out of breath home to her son, who little suspected any such event. "Child," cried she, "you are undone! You depend upon the sultan's fine promises, but they will come to nothing." Alla ad Deen was alarmed at these words. "Mother," replied he, "how do you know the sultan has been guilty of a breach of promise?" "This night," answered the mother, "the grand vizier's son is to marry the princess Buddir al Buddoor." She then related how she had heard it; so that from all circumstances, he had no reason to doubt the truth of what she said.

At this account, Alla ad Deen was thunder-struck. 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 on every emergence 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.

When Alla ad Deen had got into his chamber, he took the lamp, rubbed it in the same place as before, when immediately the genie appeared, and said to him, "What wouldst thou have? I am ready to obey thee as thy slave, and the slave of all those who have that lamp in their possession; I and the other slaves of the lamp." "Hear me," said Alla ad Deen; "thou hast hitherto brought me whatever I wanted as to provisions; but now I have business of the greatest importance for thee to execute. I have demanded the princess Buddir al Buddoor in marriage of the sultan her father; he promised her to me, only requiring three months delay; but instead of keeping that promise, has this night married her to the grand vizier's son. What I ask of you is, that as soon as the bride and bridegroom are retired, you bring them both hither in their bed." "Master," replied the genie, "I will obey you. Have you any other commands?" "None at present," answered Alla ad Deen; the genie then disappeared.

Alla ad Deen having left his chamber, supped with his mother, with the same tranquillity of mind as usual; and after supper talked of the princess's marriage as of an affair wherein he had not the least concern'; he then retired to his own chamber again, and left his mother to go to bed; but sat up waiting the execution of his orders to the genie.

In the meantime, everything was prepared with the greatest magnificence in the sultan's palace to celebrate the princess's nuptials; and the evening was spent with all the usual ceremonies and great rejoicings till midnight, when the grand vizier's son, on a signal given him by the chief of the princess's eunuchs, slipped away from the company, and was introduced by that officer into the princess's apartment, where the nuptial bed was prepared. He went to bed first, and in a little time after, the sultaness, accompanied by her own women, and those of the princess, brought the bride, who, according to the custom of new- married ladies, made great resistance. The sultaness herself helped to undress her, put her into bed by a kind of violence: and after having kissed her, and wished her good night, retired with the women to her own apartments.

No sooner was the door shut, than the genie, as the faithful slave of the lamp, and punctual in executing the command of those who possessed it, without giving the bridegroom the least time to caress his bride, to the great amazement of them both, took up


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