Aladdin: The Marriage
—It hath reached me, O King of the Age, that Alaeddin after he had supped retired to his chamber and, locking the door, brought out the Lamp and rubbed it, whenas forthright appeared to him its Familiar who said, “Ask whatso thou wantest, for I am thy Slave and Slave to him who holdeth the Lamp in hand; I and all the Slaves of the Lamp.” He replied, “Hear me! I prayed the Sultan for his daughter to wife and he plighted her to me after three months; but he hath not kept his word; nay, he hath given her to the son of the Wazir and this very night the bridegroom will go in to her. Therefore I command thee (and thou be a trusty Servitor to the Lamp) when thou shalt see bride and bridegroom bedded together this night, ‡143 at once take them up and bear them hither abed; and this be what I want of thee.” The Marid replied, “Hearing and obeying; and if thou have other service but this, do thou demand of me all thou desirest.” Alaeddin rejoined, “At the present time I require naught save that I bade thee do.” Here upon the Slave disappeared and Alaeddin returned to pass the rest of the evening with his mother. But at the hour when he knew that the Servitor would be coming, he arose and refired to his chamber and after a little while, behold, the Marid came bringing to him the newly-wedded couple upon their bridal-bed. Alaeddin rejoiced to see them with exceeding joy; then he cried to the Slave, “Carry yonder gallows-bird hence and lay him at full length in the privy.” ‡144 His bidding was done straightway; but, before leaving him, the Slave blew upon the bridegroom a blast so cold that it shrivelled him and the plight of the Wazir's son became piteous. Then the Servitor returning to Alaeddin said to him, “An thou require aught else, inform me thereof;” and said the other, “Return a-morn that thou mayest restore them to their stead;” whereto, “I hear and obey,” Quoth the Marid and evanished.
Presently Alaeddin arose, hardly believing that the affair had been such a success for him; but whenas he looked upon the Lady Badr al-Budur lying under his own roof, albeit he had long burned with her love yet he preserved respect for her and said, “O Princess of fair ones, think not that I brought thee hither to minish thy honour. Heaven forfend! Nay ‘twas only to prevent the wrong man enjoying thee, for that thy sire the Sultan promised thee to me. So do thou rest in peace.”
—It hath reached me, O King of the Age, that when the Lady Badr al-Budur, daughter of the Sultan, saw herself in that mean and darksome lodging, and heard Alaeddin's words, she was seized with fear and trembling and waxed clean distraught; nor could she return aught of reply. Presently the youth arose and stripping off his outer dress placed a scymitar between them and lay upon the bed beside the Princess; ‡145 and he did no villain deed, for it sufficed him to prevent the consummation of her nuptials with the Wazir's son. On the other hand the Lady Badr al-Budur passed a night the evillest of all nights; nor in her born days had she seen a worse; and the same was the case with the Minister's son who lay in the chapel of ease and who dared not stir for the fear of the Jinni which overwhelmed him.
As soon as it was morning the Slave appeared before Alaeddin, without the Lamp being rubbed, and said to him, “O my lord, an thou require aught, command me therefor, that I may do it upon my head and mine eyes.” Said the other, “Go, take up and carry the bride and bridegroom to their own apartment;” so the Servitor did his bidding in an eye-glance and bore away the pair, and placed them in the palace as whilome they were and without their seeing any one; but both died of affright when they found themselves being transported from stead to stead. And the Marid had barely time to set them down and wend his ways ere the Sultan came on a visit of congratulation to his daughter; and, when the Wazir's son heard the doors thrown open, he sprang straightway from his couch and donned his dress for he knew that none save the King could enter at that hour. Yet it was exceedingly hard for him to leave his bed wherein he wished to warm himself a trifle after his cold night in the water closet which he had lately left.
—It hath reached me, O King of the Age, that the Sultan went in to his daughter Badr al-Budur and kissing her between the eyes gave her good morning and asked her of her bridegroom and whether she was pleased and satisfied with him. But she returned no reply whatever and looked at him with the eye of anger and, although he repeated his words again and again, she held her peace nor bespake him with a single syllable. So the King quitted her and, going to the Queen, informed her of what had taken place between him and his daughter; and the mother, unwilling to leave the Sultan angered with their child, said to him, “O King of the Age, this be the custom of most newly-married couples at least during their first days of marriage, for that they are bashful and somewhat coy. So deign thou excuse her and after a little while she will again become herself and speak with the folk as before, whereas now her shame, O King of the Age, keepeth her silent. However 'tis my wish to fare forth and see her.”
Thereupon the Queen arose and donned her dress; then, going to her daughter, wished her good morning and kissed her between the eyes. Yet would the Princess make no answer at all, whereat Quoth the Queen to herself, “Doubtless some strange matter hath occurred to trouble her with such trouble as this.” So she asked her saying “O my daughter, what hath caused this thy case? Let me know what hath betided thee that, when I come and give thee good morning, thou hast not a word to say to me?” Thereat the Lady Badr al-Budur raised her head and said, “Pardon me O my mother, ‘twas my duty to meet thee with all respect and worship, seeing that thou hast honoured me by this visit. However, I pray thee to hear the cause of this my condition and see how the night I have just spent hath been to me the evillest of the nights. Hardly had we lain down, O my mother, than one whose form I wot not uplifted our bed and transported it to a darksome place, fulsome and mean.” Then the Princess related to the Queen-mother all that had befallen her that night; how they had taken away her bridegroom, leaving her lone and lonesome, and how after a while came another youth who lay beside her, in lieu of her bridegroom, after placing his scymitar between her and himself; “and in the morning” (she continued) “he who carried us off returned and bore us straight back to our own stead. But at once when he arrived hither he left us and suddenly my sire the Sultan entered at the hour and moment of our coming and I had nor heart nor tongue to speak him withal, for the stress of the terror and trembling which came upon me. Haply such lack of duty may have proved sore to him, so I hope, O my mother, that thou wilt acquaint him with the cause of this my condition and that he will pardon me for not answering him and blame me not, but rather accept my excuses.”
—It hath reached me, O King of the Age, that when the Queen heard these words of Princess Badr al-Budur, she said to her, “O my child, compose thy thoughts. An thou tell such tale before any, haply shall he say, ‘Verily, the Sultan's daughter hath lost her wits.’ And thou hast done right well in not choosing to recount thine adventure to thy father; and beware and again I say beware, O my daughter, lest thou inform him thereof.” The Princess replied, “O my mother, I have spoken to thee like one sound in senses nor have I lost my wits: this be what befel me and, if thou believe it not because coming from me, ask my bridegroom.” To which the Queen replied, “Rise up straightway, O my daughter, and banish from thy thoughts such fancies as these; and robe thyself and come forth to glance at the bridal feasts and festivities they are making in the city for the sake of thee and thy nuptials; and listen to the drumming and the singing and look at the decorations all intended to honour thy marriage, O my daughter.”
So saying, the Queen at once summoned the tirewomen who dressed and prepared the Lady Badr al-Budur; and presently she went in to the Sultan and assured him that their daughter had suffered during all her wedding-night from swevens and nightmare and said to him, “Be not severe with her for not answering thee.” Then the Queen sent privily for the Wazir's son and asked of the matter, saying, “Tell me, are these words of the Lady Badr al-Budur soothfast or not?” But he, in his fear of losing his bride out of hand, answered, “O my lady, I have no knowledge of that whereof thou speakest.” Accordingly the mother made sure that her daughter had seen visions and dreams. The marriage-feasts lasted throughout that day with Almahs ‡148 and singers and the smiting of all manner instruments of mirth and merriment, while the Queen and the Wazir and his son strave right strenuously to enhance the festivities that the Princess might enjoy herself; and that day they left nothing of what exciteth to pleasure unrepresented in her presence, to the end that she might forget what was in her thoughts and derive increase of joyance. Yet did naught of this take any effect upon her; nay, she sat in silence, sad of thought, sore perplexed at what had befallen her during the last night. It is true that the Wazir's son had suffered even more because he had passed his sleeping hours lying in the water-closet: he, however, had falsed the story and had cast out remembrance of the night in the first place for his fear of losing his bride and with her the honour of a connection which brought him such excess of consideration and for which men envied him so much; and, secondly, on account of the wondrous loveliness of the Lady Badr al-Budur and her marvellous beauty.
Alaeddin also went forth that day and looked at the merry-makings which extended throughout the city as well as the palace and he fell a-laughing, especially when he heard the folk prating of the high honour which had accrued to the son of the Wazir and the prosperity of his fortunes in having become son-in-law to the Sultan and the high consideration shown by the wedding fêtes. And he said in his mind, “Indeed ye wot not, O ye miserables, what befel him last night that ye envy him!” But after darkness fell and it was time for sleep, Alaeddin arose and, retiring to his chamber, rubbed the Lamp, whereupon the Slave incontinently appeared.
—It hath reached me, O King of the Age, that when the Slave appeared in presence of Alaeddin, he was bidden to bring him the Sultan's daughter together with her bridegroom as on the past night ere the Wazir's son could abate her maidenhead. So the Marid without stay or delay evanished for a little while until the appointed time, when he returned carrying the bed whereon lay the Lady Badr al-Budur and the Wazir's son; and he did with the bridegroom as he had done before, to wit, he took him up and lay him at full length in the jakes and there left him dried up for excess of fear and trembling. Then Alaeddin arose, and placing the scymitar between himself and the Princess, lay down beside her; and when day broke the Slave restored the pair to their own place, leaving Alaeddin filled with delight at the state of the Minister's son. Now when the Sultan woke up amorn he resolved to visit his daughter and see if she would treat him as on the past day; so shaking off his sleep he sprang up and arrayed himself in his raiment and, going to the apartment of the Princess bade open the door. Thereat the son of the Wazir arose forthright and came down from his bed and began donning his dress whilst his ribs were wrung with cold; for when the King entered the Slave had but just brought him back. The Sultan, raising the arras, ‡149 drew near his daughter as she lay abed and gave her good morning; then kissing her between the eyes, he asked her of her case. But he saw her looking sour and sad and she answered him not at all, only glowering at him as one in anger and her plight was pitiable. Hereat the Sultan waxed wroth with her for that she would not reply and he suspected that something evil had befallen her, ‡150 whereupon he bared his blade and cried to her, brand in hand, saying, “What be this hath betided thee? Either acquaint me with what happened or this very moment I will take thy life! Is such conduct the token of honour and respect I expect of thee, that I address thee and thou answerest me not a word?” When the Lady Badar al- Badur saw her sire in high dudgeon and the naked glaive in his grip, she was freed from her fear of the past, so she raised her head and said to him, “O my beloved father, be not wroth with me nor be hasty in thy hot passion for I am excusable in what thou shalt see of my case. So do thou lend an ear to what occurred to me and well I wot that after hearing my account of what befel to me during these two last nights, thou wilt pardon me and thy Highness will be softened to pitying me even as I claim of thee affection for thy child.” Then the Princess informed her father of all that had betided her adding, “O my sire, an thou believe me not, ask my bridegroom and he will recount to thy Highness the whole adventure, nor did I know either what they would do with him when they bore him away from my side or where they would place him.”
—It hath reached me, O King of the Age, that when the Sultan heard his daughter's words, he was saddened and his eyes brimmed with tears, then he sheathed his sabre and kissed her saying, “O my daughter wherefore ‡151 didst thou not tell me what happened on the past night that I might have guarded thee from this torture and terror which visited thee a second time? But now 'tis no matter. Rise and cast out all such care and to-night I will set a watch to ward thee nor shall any mishap again make thee miserable.” Then the Sultan returned to his palace and straightway bade summon the Grand Wazir and asked him, as he stood before him in his service, “O Wazir how dost thou look upon this matter? Haply thy son hath informed thee of what occurred to him and to my daughter.” The Minister replied, “O King of the Age, I have not seen my son or yesterday or to-day.” Hereat the Sultan told him all that had afflicted the Princess, adding, “ 'tis my desire that thou at once seek tidings of thy son concerning the facts of the case: peradventure of her fear my daughter may not be fully aware of what really befel her; withal I hold all her words to be truthful.” So the Grand Wazir arose and, going forth, bade summon his son and asked him anent all his lord had told him whether it be true or untrue. The youth replied, “O my father the Wazir, Heaven forbid that the Lady Badr al-Budur speak falsely: indeed all she said was sooth and these two nights proved to us the evillest of our nights instead of being nights of pleasure and marriage-joys. But what befel me was the greater evil because, instead of sleeping abed with my bride, I lay in the wardrobe, a black hole, frightful, noisome of stench, truly damnable; and my ribs were bursten with cold.” In fine the young man told his father the whole tale, adding as he ended it, “O dear father mine, I implore thee to speak with the Sultan that he may set me free from this marriage. Yes, indeed 'tis a high honour for me to be the Sultan's son-in-law and especially the love of the Princess hath gotten hold of my vitals; but I have no strength left to endure a single night like unto these two last.”
—It hath reached me, O King of the Age, that the Wazir, hearing the words of his son, was saddened and sorrowful exceedingly, for it was his design to advance and promote his child by making him son-in-law to the Sultan. So he became thoughtful and perplexed about the affair and the device whereby to manage it, and it was sore grievous for him to break off the marriage, it having been a rare enjoyment to him that he had fallen upon such high good fortune. Accordingly he said, “Take patience, O my son, until we see what may happen this night, when we will set watchmen to ward you; nor do thou give up the exalted distinction which hath fallen to none save to thyself.” Then the Wazir left him and, returning to the sovran, reported that all told to him by the Lady Badr al-Budur was a true tale; whereupon Quoth the Sultan, “Since the affair is on this wise, we require no delay,” and he at once ordered all the rejoicings to cease and the marriage to be broken off. This caused the folk and the citizen to marvel at the matter, especially when they saw the Grand Wazir and his son leaving the palace in pitiable plight for grief and stress of passion; and the people fell to asking, “What hath happened and what is the cause of the wedding being made null and void?”
Nor did any know aught of the truth save Alaeddin the lover who claimed the Princess's hand, and he laughed in his sleeve. But even after the marriage was dissolved, the Sultan forgot nor even recalled to mind his promise made to Alaeddin's mother; and the same was the case with the Grand Wazir, while neither had any inkling of whence befel them that which had befallen. So Alaeddin patiently awaited the lapse of the three months after which the Sultan had pledged himself to give him to wife his daughter; but, as soon as ever the term came, he sent his mother to the Sultan for the purpose of requiring him to keep his covenant. So she went to the palace and when the King appeared in the Divan and saw the old woman standing before him, he remembered his promise to her concerning the marriage after a term of three months, and he turned to the Minister and said “O Wazir, this be the ancient dame who presented me with the jewels and to whom we pledged our word that when the three months had elapsed we would summon her to our presence before all others.” So the Minister went forth and fetched her and when she went in to the Sultan's presence she saluted him and prayed for his glory and permanence of prosperity. Hereat the King asked her if she needed aught, and she answered, “O King of the Age, the three months' term thou assignedst to me is finished, and this is thy time to marry my son Alaeddin with thy daughter, the Lady Badr al-Budur.” The Sultan was distraught at this demand, especially when he saw the old woman's pauper condition, one of the meanest of her kind; and yet the offering she had brought to him was of the most magnificent, far beyond his power to pay the price. Accordingly, he turned to the Grand Wazir and said, “What device is there with thee? In very sooth I did pass my word, yet meseemeth that they be pauper folk and not persons of high condition.”