One dayas he was looking for wild figs in a grove some way from the townAladdin met a mysterious stranger. This smartly dressed dark-eyed man with a trim black beard and a splendid sapphire in his turbanasked Aladdin an unusual question:
"Come hereboy" he ordered. "How would you like to earn a silver penny?"
"A silver penny!" exclaimed Aladdin. "SirI'd do anything for that kind of payment."
"I'm not going to ask you to do much. Just go down that manhole. I'm much too big to squeeze through myself. If you do as I askyou'll have your reward." The stranger helped Aladdin lift the manhole coverfor it was very heavy. Slim and agile as he wasthe boy easily went down. His feet touched stone and he carefully made his way down some steps . . . and found himself in a large chamber. It seemed to sparklethough dimly lit by the flickering light of an old oil lamp. When Aladdin's eyes became used to the gloomhe saw a wonderful sight: trees dripping with glittering jewelspots of gold and caskets full of priceless gems. Thousands of precious objects lay scattered about. It was a treasure trove! Unable to believe his eyesAladdin was standing dazed when he heard a shout behind him.
"The lamp! Put out the flame and bring me the lamp!" Surprised and suspiciousfor why should the strangerout of all such a treasure want only an old lampAladdin wondered. Perhaps he was a wizard. He decided to be on his guard. Picking up the lamphe retraced his steps up to the entrance.
"Give me the lamp" urged the wizard impatiently. "Hand it over" he began to shoutthrusting out his arm to grab itbut Aladdin cautiously drew back.
"Let me out first . . ."
"Too bad for you" snapped the strangerslamming down the manhole covernever noticing thatas he did soa ring slid off his finger. A terrified Aladdin was left in pitch darknesswondering what the wizard would do next. Then he trod on the ring. Aimlessly putting it on his fingerhe twisted it round and round. Suddenly the room was flooded with a rosy light and a great genie with clasped hands appeared on a cloud.
"At your commandsire" said the genie.
Now astoundedeAladdin could only stammer:
"I want to go home!" In a flash he was back in his own homethough the door wa tightly shut.
"How did you get in?" called his mother from the kitchen stovethe minute she set eyes on him. Excitedlyher son told her of his adventures.
"Where's the silver coin?" his mother asked. Aladdin clapped a hand to his brow. For all he had brought home was the old oil lamp "Ohmother! I'm so sorry. This is all I've got."
"Welllet's hope it works. It's so dirty . . ." and the widow began to rub the lamp.
Suddenly out shot another geniein a cloud of smoke.
"You've set me freeafter centuries! I was a prisoner in the lampwaiting to be freed by someone rubbing it. NowI'm your obedient servant. Tell me your wishes." And the genie bowed respectfullyawaiting Aladdin's orders. The boy and his mother gaped wordlessly at this incredible apparitionthen the genie said with a hint of impatience in his voice.
"I'm here at your command. Tell me what you want. Anything you like!" Aladdin gulpedthen said:
"Bring us . . . bring . . ." His mother not having yet begun to cook the dinnerwent on to say: ". . . a lovely big meal."
From that day onthe widow and her son had everything they could wish for: foodclothes and a fine homefor the genie of the lamp granted them everything they asked him. Aladdin grew into a tall handsome young man and his mother felt that he ought to find himself a wifesooner or later.
One dayas he left the marketAladdin happened to see the Sultan's daughter Halima in her sedan chair being carried through the streets. He only caught a fleeting glimpse of the princessbut it was enough for him to want to marry her. Aladdin told his mother and she quickly said:
"I'll ask the Sultan for his daughter's hand. He'll never be able to refuse. Wait and see!"
And indeedthe Sultan was easily persuaded by a casket full of big diamonds to admit the widow to the palace. Howeverwhen he learned why she had comehe told the widow that her son must bring proof of his power and riches. This was mostly the Chamberlain's ideafor he himself was eager to marry the beautiful black-eyed Sultan's daughter.
"If Aladdin wants to marry Halima' said the Sultan"he must send me forty slaves tomorrow.Every slave must bring a box of precious stones. And forty Arab warriors must escort the treasure."
Aladdin's mother went sadly home. The genie of the magic lamp had already worked wondersbut nothing like this. Aladdin howeverwhen he heard the newswas not at all dismayed. He picked up the lamprubbed it harder than ever and told the genie what he required. The genie simply clapped his hands three times. Forty slaves magically appearedcarrying the gemstonestogether with their escort of forty Arab warriors. When he saw all thls the next daythe Sultan was taken aback. He never imagined such wealth could exist. Just as he was about to accept Aladdin as his daughter's bridegroomthe envious Chamberlain broke in with a question.
"Where wlll they live?" he asked. The Sultan pondered for a momentthen allowlng greed to get the better of hlmhe told Aladdin to build a greatsplendid palace for Halima. Aladdin went straight home andin what was once a wildernessthe genie built him a palace. The last obstacle had been overcome. The wedding tbok place with great celebrations and the Sultan was especially happy at finding such a rich and powerful son-in-law.
News of Aladdin's sudden fortune and wealth spread like wildfireuntil.... one daya strange merchant stopped beneath the palace window.
"Old lamps for new" he called to the princessstanding on the balcony. NowAladdin had always kept his secret to himself. Only his mother knew it and she had never told a soul. Halimaalashad been kept in the dark. And sonowwanting to give Alladin a surprise as well as make a good bargainshe fetched the old oil lamp she had seen Aladdin tuck awayand gave it to the merchant in exchange for a new one. The merchant quickly began to rub it . . . and the genie was now at the service of the wizard who had got his magic lamp back.
In a second he whisked away all Aladdin's possessions and magically sent the palace and the princess to an unknown land. Aladdin and the Sultan were at their wits' end. Nobody knew what had happened. Only Aladdin knew it had something to do with the magic lamp. But as he wept over the lost genie of the lamphe remembered the genie of the ring from the wizard's finger. Slipping the ring on his fingerAladdin twisted it round and round.
"Take me to the place where the wizard has hidden my wife" he ordered the genie. In a flashhe found himself inside his own palaceand peeping from behind a curtainhe saw the wizard and the princessnow his servant.
"Psst! Psst!" hissed Aladdin.
"Aladdin! It's you . . .!"
"Ssh. Don't let him hear you. Take this powder and put it into his tea. Trust me." The powder quickly took effect and the wizard fell into a deep sleep. Aladdin hunted for the lamp high and lowbut it was nowere to be seen. But it had to be there. Howotherwisehad the wizard moved the palace? As Aladdin gazed at his sleeping enemyhe thought of peering underneath the pillow. "The lamp! At last" sighed Aladdinhastily rubbing it.
"Welcome backMaster!" exclaimed the genie. "Why did you leave me at another's service for so long?"
"Welcome" replied Aladdin. "I'm glad to see you again. I've certainly missed you! It's just as well I have you by me again."
"At your command" smiled the genie.
"Firstput this wicked wizard in chains and take him far away where he'll never be found again." The genie grinned with pleasurenodded his headand the wizard vanished. Halima clutched Aladdin in fear:
"What's going on? Who is that genie?"
"Don't worryeverything is all right" Aladdin reassured heras he told his wife the whole story of how he had met the wizard and found the magic lamp that had enabled him to marry her. Everything went back to normal and the happy pair hugged each other tenderly.
"Can we return to our own kingdom?" the princess asked timidlythinking of her fatherso far away. Aladdin glanced at her with a smile.
"The magic that brought you here will take you backbut with me at your sideforever."
The Sultan was almost ill with worry. His daughter had disappeared along with the palaceand then his son-in-law had vanished too. Nobody knew where they werenot even the wise men hastily called to the palace to divine what had happened. The jealous Chamberlain kept on repeating:
"I told you Aladdin's fortune couldn't last."
Everyone had lost all hope of ever seeing the missing pair againwhen far awayAladdin rubbed the magic lamp and said to the genie
"Take my wifemyself and the palace back to our own landas fast as you can."
"In a flashSire" replied the genie. At the snap of a fingerthe palace rose into the air and sped over the Sultan's kingdomabove the heads of his astonished subjects. It gently floated down to earth and landed on its old site. Aladdin and Halima rushed to embrace the Sultan.
To this very dayin that distant countryyou can still admire the traces of an ancient palace which folk call the palace that came from the skies.