Stories of Arabian Nights -
One thousand one Arabian Nights
The Story of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp
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There once lived a poor tailor, who had a son
called Aladdin, a careless, idle boy who would do nothing but play all day long
in the streets with little idle boys like himself. This so grieved the father
that he died; yet, in spite of his mother's tears and prayers, Aladdin did not
mend his ways. One day, when he was playing in the streets as usual, a stranger
asked him his age, and if he were not the son of Mustapha the tailor.
"I am, sir," replied Aladdin; "but he died a long while ago."
On this the stranger, who was a famous African magician, fell on his neck and
kissed him, saying: "I am your uncle, and knew you from your likeness to my
brother. Go to your mother and tell her I am coming."
Aladdin ran home, and told his mother of his newly found uncle.
"Indeed, child," she said, "your father had a brother, but I always thought he
However, she prepared supper, and bade Aladdin seek his uncle, who came laden
with wine and fruit. He presently fell down and kissed the place where Mustapha
used to sit, bidding Aladdin's mother not to be surprised at not having seen him
before, as he had been forty years out of the country. He then turned to
Aladdin, and asked him his trade, at which the boy hung his head, while his
mother burst into tears. On learning that Aladdin was idle and would learn no
trade, he offered to take a shop for him and stock it with merchandise. next day
he bought Aladdin a fine suit of clothes, and took him all over the city,
showing him the sights, and brought him home at nightfall to his mother, who was
overjoyed to see her son so fine.
Next day the magician led Aladdin into some beautiful gardens a long way outside
the city gates. They sat down by a fountain, and the magician pulled a cake from
his girdle, which he divided between them. They then journeyed onwards till they
almost reached the mountains. Aladdin was so tired that he begged to go back,
but the magician beguiled him with pleasant stories, and led him on in spite of
At last they came to two mountains divided by a narrow valley.
"We will go no farther," said the false uncle. "I will show you something
wonderful; only do you gather up sticks while I kindle a fire."
When it was lit the magician threw on it a powder he had about him, at the same
time saying some magical words. The earth trembled a little and opened in front
of them, disclosing a square flat stone with a brass ring in the middle to raise
it by. Aladdin tried to run away, but the magician caught him and gave him a
blow that knocked him down.
"What have I done, uncle?" he said piteously; whereupon the magician said more
kindly: "Fear nothing, but obey me. Beneath this stone lies a treasure which is
to be yours, and no one else may touch it, so you must do exactly as I tell
At the word treasure, Aladdin forgot his fears, and grasped the ring as he was
told, saying the names of his father and grandfather. The stone came up quite
easily and some steps appeared.
"Go down," said the magician; "at the foot of those steps you will find an open
door leading into three large halls. Tuck up your gown and go through them
without touching anything, or you will die instantly. These halls lead into a
garden of fine fruit trees. Walk on till you come to a niche in a terrace where
stands a lighted lamp. Pour out the oil it contains and bring it to me."
He drew a ring from his finger and gave it to Aladdin, bidding him prosper.
Aladdin found everything as the magician had said, gathered some fruit off the
trees, and, having got the lamp, arrived at the mouth of the cave. The magician
cried out in a great hurry:
"Make haste and give me the lamp." This Aladdin refused to do until he was out
of the cave. The magician flew into a terrible passion, and throwing some more
powder on the fire, he said something, and the stone rolled back into its place.
The magician left Persia for ever, which plainly showed that he was no uncle of
Aladdin's, but a cunning magician who had read in his magic books of a wonderful
lamp, which would make him the most powerful man in the world. Though he alone
knew where to find it, he could only receive it from the hand of another. He had
picked out the foolish Aladdin for this purpose, intending to get the lamp and
kill him afterwards.
For two days Aladdin remained in the dark, crying and lamenting. At last he
clasped his hands in prayer, and in so doing rubbed the ring, which the magician
had forgotten to take from him. Immediately an enormous and frightful genie rose
out of the earth, saying:
"What wouldst thou with me? I am the Slave of the Ring, and will obey thee in
Aladdin fearlessly replied: "Deliver me from this place!" whereupon the earth
opened, and he found himself outside. As soon as his eyes could bear the light
he went home, but fainted on the threshold. When he came to himself he told his
mother what had passed, and showed her the lamp and the fruits he had gathered
in the garden, which were in reality precious stones. He then asked for some
"Alas! child," she said, "I have nothing in the house, but I have spun a little
cotton and will go and sell it."
Aladdin bade her keep her cotton, for he would sell the lamp instead. As it was
very dirty she began to rub it, that it might fetch a higher price. Instantly a
hideous genie appeared, and asked what she would have. She fainted away, but
Aladdin, snatching the lamp, said boldly:
"Fetch me something to eat!"
The genie returned with a silver bowl, twelve silver plates containing rich
meats, two silver cups, and two bottles of wine. Aladdin's mother, when she came
to her-self, said:
"Whence comes this splendid feast?"
"Ask not, but eat," replied Aladdin.
So they sat at breakfast till it was dinner-time, and Aladdin told his mother
about the lamp. She begged him to sell it, and have nothing to do with devils.
"No," said Aladdin, "since chance has made us aware of its virtues, we will use
it and the ring likewise, which I shall always wear on my finger." When they had
eaten all the genie had brought, Aladdin sold one of the silver plates, and so
on till none were left. He then had recourse to the genie, who gave him another
set of plates, and thus they lived for many years.
One day Aladdin heard an order from the Sultan proclaimed that everyone was to
stay at home and close his shutters while the princess, his daughter, went to
and from the bath. Aladdin was seized by a desire to see her face, which was
very difficult, as she always went veiled. He hid himself behind the door of the
bath, and peeped through a chink. The princess lifted her veil as she went in,
and looked so beautiful that Aladdin fell in love with her at first sight. He
went home so changed that his mother was frightened. He told her he loved the
princess so deeply that he could not live without her, and meant to ask her in
marriage of her father. His mother, on hearing this, burst out laughing, but
Aladdin at last prevailed upon her to go before the Sultan and carry his
request. She fetched a napkin and laid in it the magic fruits from the enchanted
garden, which sparkled and shone like the most beautiful jewels. She took these
with her to please the Sultan, and set out, trusting in the lamp. The grand-vizir
and the lords of council had just gone in as she entered the hall and placed
herself in front of the Sultan. He, however, took no notice of her. She went
every day for a week, and stood in the same place.
When the council broke up on the sixth day the Sultan said to his vizir: "I see
a certain woman in the audience-chamber every day carrying something in a
napkin. Call her next time, that I may find out what she wants."
Next day, at a sign from the vizir, she went up to the foot of the throne, and
remained kneeling till the Sultan said to her: "Rise, good woman, and tell me
what you want."
She hesitated, so the Sultan sent away all but the vizir, and bade her speak
freely, promising to forgive her beforehand for anything she might say. She then
told him of her son's violent love for the princess.
"I prayed him to forget her," she said, "but in vain; he threatened to do some
desperate deed if I refused to go and ask your Majesty for the hand of the
princess. Now I pray you to forgive not me alone, but my son Aladdin."
The Sultan asked her kindly what she had in the napkin, whereupon she unfolded
the jewels and presented them.
He was thunderstruck, and turning to the vizir said: "What sayest thou? Ought I
not to bestow the princess on one who values her at such a price?"
The vizir, who wanted her for his own son, begged the Sultan to withhold her for
three months, in the course of which he hoped his son would contrive to make him
a richer present. The Sultan granted this, and told Aladdin's mother that,
though he consented to the marriage, she must not appear before him again for
Aladdin waited patiently for nearly three months, but after two had elapsed his
mother, going into the city to buy oil, found everyone rejoicing, and asked what
was going on.
"Do you not know," was the answer, "that the son of the grand-vizir is to marry
the Sultan's daughter to-night?"
Breathless, she ran and told Aladdin, who was overwhelmed at first, but
presently bethought him of the lamp. He rubbed it, and the genie appeared,
saying: "What is thy will?"
Aladdin replied: "The Sultan, as thou knowest, has broken his promise to me, and
the vizir's son is to have the princess. My command is that to-night you bring
hither the bride and bridegroom."
"Master, I obey," said the genie.
Aladdin then went to his chamber, where, sure enough at midnight the genie
transported the bed containing the vizir's son and the princess.
"Take this new-married man," he said, "and put him outside in the cold, and
return at daybreak."
Whereupon the genie took the vizir's son out of bed, leaving Aladdin with the
"Fear nothing," Aladdin said to her; "you are my wife, promised to me by your
unjust father, and no harm shall come to you."
The princess was too frightened to speak, and passed the most miserable night of
her life, while Aladdin lay down beside her and slept soundly. At the appointed
hour the genie fetched in the shivering bridegroom, laid him in his place, and
transported the bed back to the palace.
Presently the Sultan came to wish his daughter good-morning. The unhappy vizir's
son jumped up and hid himself, while the princess would not say a word, and was
The Sultan sent her mother to her, who said: "How comes it, child, that you will
not speak to your father? What has happened?"
The princess sighed deeply, and at last told her mother how, during the night,
the bed had been carried into some strange house, and what had passed there. Her
mother did not believe her in the least, but bade her rise and consider it an
The following night exactly the same thing happened, and next morning, on the
princess's refusing to speak, the Sultan threatened to cut off her head. She
then confessed all, bidding him ask the vizir's son if it were not so. The
Sultan told the vizir to ask his son, who owned the truth, adding that, dearly
as he loved the princess, he had rather die than go through another such fearful
night, and wished to be separated from her. His wish was granted, and there was
an end of feasting and rejoicing.
When the three months were over, Aladdin sent his mother to remind the Sultan of
his promise. She stood in the same place as before, and the Sultan, who had
forgotten Aladdin, at once remembered him, and sent for her. On seeing her
poverty the Sultan felt less inclined than ever to keep his word, and asked the
vizir's advice, who counselled him to set so high a value on the princess that
no man living could come up to it.
The Sultan then turned to Aladdin's mother, saying: "Good woman, a Sultan must
remember his promises, and I will remember mine, but your son must first send me
forty basins of gold brimful of jewels, carried by forty black slaves, led by as
many white ones, splendidly dressed. Tell him that I await his answer." The
mother of Aladdin bowed low and went home, thinking all was lost.
She gave Aladdin the message, adding: "He may wait long enough for your answer!"
"Not so long, mother, as you think," her son replied "I would do a great deal
more than that for the princess."
He summoned the genie, and in a few moments the eighty slaves arrived, and
filled up the small house and garden.
Aladdin made them set out to the palace, two and two, followed by his mother.
They were so richly dressed, with such splendid jewels in their girdles, that
everyone crowded to see them and the basins of gold they carried on their heads.
They entered the palace, and, after kneeling before the Sultan, stood in a
half-circle round the throne with their arms crossed, while Aladdin's mother
presented them to the Sultan.
He hesitated no longer, but said: "Good woman, return and tell your son that I
wait for him with open arms."
She lost no time in telling Aladdin, bidding him make haste. But Aladdin first
called the genie.
"I want a scented bath," he said, "a richly embroidered habit, a horse
surpassing the Sultan's, and twenty slaves to attend me. Besides this, six
slaves, beautifully dressed, to wait on my mother; and lastly, ten thousand
pieces of gold in ten purses."
No sooner said than done. Aladdin mounted his horse and passed through the
streets, the slaves strewing gold as they went. Those who had played with him in
his childhood knew him not, he had grown so handsome.
When the Sultan saw him he came down from his throne, embraced him, and led him
into a hall where a feast was spread, intending to marry him to the princess
that very day.
But Aladdin refused, saying, "I must build a palace fit for her," and took his
Once home he said to the genie: "Build me a palace of the finest marble, set
with jasper, agate, and other precious stones. In the middle you shall build me
a large hall with a dome, its four walls of massy gold and silver, each side
having six windows, whose lattices, all except one, which is to be left
unfinished, must be set with diamonds and rubies. There must be stables and
horses and grooms and slaves; go and see about it!"
The palace was finished by next day, and the genie carried him there and showed
him all his orders faithfully carried out, even to the laying of a velvet carpet
from Aladdin's palace to the Sultan's. Aladdin's mother then dressed herself
carefully, and walked to the palace with her slaves, while he followed her on
horseback. The Sultan sent musicians with trumpets and cymbals to meet them, so
that the air resounded with music and cheers. She was taken to the princess, who
saluted her and treated her with great honour. At night the princess said
good-bye to her father, and set out on the carpet for Aladdin's palace, with his
mother at her side, and followed by the hundred slaves. She was charmed at the
sight of Aladdin, who ran to receive her.
"Princess," he said, "blame your beauty for my boldness if I have displeased
She told him that, having seen him, she willingly obeyed her father in this
matter. After the wedding had taken place Aladdin led her into the hall, where a
feast was spread, and she supped with him, after which they danced till
Next day Aladdin invited the Sultan to see the palace. On entering the hall with
the four-and-twenty windows, with their rubies, diamonds, and emeralds, he
"It is a world's wonder! There is only one thing that surprises me. Was it by
accident that one window was left unfinished?"
"No, sir, by design," returned Aladdin. "I wished your Majesty to have the glory
of finishing this palace."
The Sultan was pleased, and sent for the best jewelers in the city. He showed
them the unfinished window, and bade them fit it up like the others.
"Sir," replied their spokesman, "we cannot find jewels enough."
The Sultan had his own fetched, which they soon used, but to no purpose, for in
a month's time the work was not half done. Aladdin, knowing that their task was
vain, bade them undo their work and carry the jewels back, and the genie
finished the window at his command. The Sultan was surprised to receive his
jewels again and visited Aladdin, who showed him the window finished. The Sultan
embraced him, the envious vizir meanwhile hinting that it was the work of
Aladdin had won the hearts of the people by his gentle bearing. He was made
captain of the Sultan's armies, and won several battles for him, but remained
modest and courteous as before, and lived thus in peace and content for several
But far away in Africa the magician remembered Aladdin, and by his magic arts
discovered that Aladdin, instead of perishing miserably in the cave, had
escaped, and had married a princess, with whom he was living in great honour and
wealth. He knew that the poor tailor's son could only have accomplished this by
means of the lamp, and travelled night and day till he reached the capital of
China, bent on Aladdin's ruin. As he passed through the town he heard people
talking everywhere about a marvellous palace.
"Forgive my ignorance," he asked, "what is this palace you speak of?"
"Have you not heard of Prince Aladdin's palace," was the reply, "the greatest
wonder of the world? I will direct you if you have a mind to see it."
The magician thanked him who spoke, and having seen the palace knew that it had
been raised by the genie of the lamp, and became half mad with rage. He
determined to get hold of the lamp, and again plunge Aladdin into the deepest
Unluckily, Aladdin had gone a-hunting for eight days, which gave the magician
plenty of time. He bought a dozen copper lamps, put them into a basket, and went
to the palace, crying: "New lamps for old!" followed by a jeering crowd.
The princess, sitting in the hall of four-and-twenty windows, sent a slave to
find out what the noise was about, who came back laughing, so that the princess
"Madam," replied the slave, "who can help laughing to see an old fool offering
to exchange fine new lamps for old ones?"
Another slave, hearing this, said: "There is an old one on the cornice there
which he can have."
Now this was the magic lamp, which Aladdin had left there, as he could not take
it out hunting with him. The princess, not knowing its value, laughingly bade
the slave take it and make the exchange.
She went and said to the magician: "Give me a new lamp for this."
He snatched it and bade the slave take her choice, amid the jeers of the crowd.
Little he cared, but left off crying his lamps, and went out of the city gates
to a lonely place, where he remained till nightfall, when he pulled out the lamp
and rubbed it. The genie appeared, and at the magician's command carried him,
together with the palace and the princess in it, to a lonely place in Africa.
Next morning the Sultan looked out of the window towards Aladdin's palace and
rubbed his eyes, for it was gone. He sent for the vizir, and asked what had
become of the palace. The vizir looked out too, and was lost in astonishment. He
again put it down to enchantment, and this time the Sultan believed him, and
sent thirty men on horseback to fetch Aladdin in chains. They met him riding
home, bound him, and forced him to go with them on foot. The people, however,
who loved him, followed, armed, to see that he came to no harm. He was carried
before the Sultan, who ordered the executioner to cut off his head. The
executioner made Aladdin kneel down, bandaged his eyes, and raised his scimitar
At that instant the vizir, who saw that the crowd had forced their way into the
courtyard and were scaling the walls to rescue Aladdin, called to the
executioner to stay his hand. The people, indeed, looked so threatening that the
Sultan gave way and ordered Aladdin to be unbound, and pardoned him in the sight
of the crowd.
Aladdin now begged to know what he had done.
"False wretch!" said the Sultan, "come hither," and showed him from the window
the place where his palace had stood.
Aladdin was so amazed that he could not say a word.
"Where is my palace and my daughter?" demanded the Sultan. "For the first I am
not so deeply concerned, but my daughter I must have, and you must find her or
lose your head."
Aladdin begged for forty days in which to find her, promising if he failed to
return and suffer death at the Sultan's pleasure. His prayer was granted, and he
went forth sadly from the Sultan's presence. For three days he wandered about
like a madman, asking everyone what had become of his palace, but they only
laughed and pitied him. He came to the banks of a river, and knelt down to say
his prayers before throwing himself in. In so doing he rubbed the magic ring he
The genie he had seen in the cave appeared, and asked his will.
"Save my life, genie," said Aladdin, "and bring my palace back."
"That is not in my power," said the genie; "I am only the slave of the ring; you
must ask the slave of the lamp."
"Even so," said Aladdin "but thou canst take me to the palace, and set me down
under my dear wife's window." He at once found himself in Africa, under the
window of the princess, and fell asleep out of sheer weariness.
He was awakened by the singing of the birds, and his heart was lighter. He saw
plainly that all his misfortunes were owing to the loss of the lamp, and vainly
wondered who had robbed him of it.
That morning the princess rose earlier than she had done since she had been
carried into Africa by the magician, whose company she was forced to endure once
a day. She, however, treated him so harshly that he dared not live there
altogether. As she was dressing, one of her women looked out and saw Aladdin.
The princess ran and opened the window, and at the noise she made Aladdin looked
up. She called to him to come to her, and great was the joy of these lovers at
seeing each other again.
After he had kissed her Aladdin said: "I beg of you, Princess, in God's name,
before we speak of anything else, for your own sake and mine, tell me what has
become of an old lamp I left on the cornice in the hall of four-and-twenty
windows, when I went a-hunting."
"Alas!" she said "I am the innocent cause of our sorrows," and told him of the
exchange of the lamp.
"Now I know," cried Aladdin, "that we have to thank the African magician for
this! Where is the lamp?"
"He carries it about with him," said the princess, "I know, for he pulled it out
of his breast to show me. He wishes me to break my faith with you and marry him,
saying that you were beheaded by my father's command. He is for ever speaking
ill of you, but I only reply by my tears. If I persist, I doubt not that he will
Aladdin comforted her, and left her for a while. He changed clothes with the
first person he met in the town, and having bought a certain powder returned to
the princess, who let him in by a little side door.
"Put on your most beautiful dress," he said to her, "and receive the magician
with smiles, leading him to believe that you have forgotten me. Invite him to
sup with you, and say you wish to taste the wine of his country. He will go for
some, and while he is gone I will tell you what to do."
She listened carefully to Aladdin, and when he left her arrayed herself gaily
for the first time since she left China. She put on a girdle and head-dress of
diamonds, and seeing in a glass that she looked more beautiful than ever,
received the magician, saying to his great amazement: "I have made up my mind
that Aladdin is dead, and that all my tears will not bring him back to me, so I
am resolved to mourn no more, and have therefore invited you to sup with me; but
I am tired of the wines of China, and would fain taste those of Africa."
The magician flew to his cellar, and the princess put the powder Aladdin had
given her in her cup. When he returned she asked him to drink her health in the
wine of Africa, handing him her cup in exchange for his as a sign she was
reconciled to him.
Before drinking the magician made her a speech in praise of her beauty, but the
princess cut him short saying:
"Let me drink first, and you shall say what you will afterwards." She set her
cup to her lips and kept it there, while the magician drained his to the dregs
and fell back lifeless.
The princess then opened the door to Aladdin, and flung her arms round his neck,
but Aladdin put her away, bidding her to leave him, as he had more to do. He
then went to the dead magician, took the lamp out of his vest, and bade the
genie carry the palace and all in it back to China. This was done, and the
princess in her chamber only felt two little shocks, and little thought she was
at home again.
The Sultan, who was sitting in his closet, mourning for his lost daughter,
happened to look up, and rubbed his eyes, for there stood the palace as before!
He hastened thither, and Aladdin received him in the hall of the four-and-twenty
windows, with the princess at his side. Aladdin told him what had happened, and
showed him the dead body of the magician, that he might believe. A ten days'
feast was proclaimed, and it seemed as if Aladdin might now live the rest of his
life in peace; but it was not to be.
The African magician had a younger brother, who was, if possible, more wicked
and more cunning than himself. He travelled to China to avenge his brother's
death, and went to visit a pious woman called Fatima, thinking she might be of
use to him. He entered her cell and clapped a dagger to her breast, telling her
to rise and do his bidding on pain of death. He changed clothes with her,
coloured his face like hers, put on her veil and murdered her, that she might
tell no tales. Then he went towards the palace of Aladdin, and all the people
thinking he was the holy woman, gathered round him, kissing his hands and
begging his blessing. When he got to the palace there was such a noise going on
round him that the princess bade her slave look out of the window and ask what
was the matter. The slave said it was the holy woman, curing people by her touch
of their ailments, whereupon the princess, who had long desired to see Fatima,
sent for her. On coming to the princess the magician offered up a prayer for her
health and prosperity. When he had done the princess made him sit by her, and
begged him to stay with her always. The false Fatima, who wished for nothing
better, consented, but kept his veil down for fear of discovery. The princess
showed him the hall, and asked him what he thought of it.
"It is truly beautiful," said the false Fatima. "In my mind it wants but one
"And what is that?" said the princess.
"If only a roc's egg," replied he, "were hung up from the middle of this dome,
it would be the wonder of the world."
After this the princess could think of nothing but a roc's egg, and when Aladdin
returned from hunting he found her in a very ill humour. He begged to know what
was amiss, and she told him that all her pleasure in the hall was spoilt for the
want of a roc's egg hanging from the dome.
"It that is all," replied Aladdin, "you shall soon be happy."
He left her and rubbed the lamp, and when the genie appeared commanded him to
bring a roc's egg. The genie gave such a loud and terrible shriek that the hall
"Wretch!" he cried, "is it not enough that I have done everything for you, but
you must command me to bring my master and hang him up in the midst of this
dome? You and your wife and your palace deserve to be burnt to ashes; but this
request does not come from you, but from the brother of the African magician
whom you destroyed. He is now in your palace disguised as the holy woman--whom
he murdered. He it was who put that wish into your wife's head. Take care of
yourself, for he means to kill you." So saying the genie disappeared.
Aladdin went back to the princess, saying his head ached, and requesting that
the holy Fatima should be fetched to lay her hands on it. But when the magician
came near, Aladdin, seizing his dagger, pierced him to the heart.
"What have you done?" cried the princess. "You have killed the holy woman!"
"Not so," replied Aladdin, "but a wicked magician," and told her of how she had
After this Aladdin and his wife lived in peace. He succeeded the Sultan when he
died, and reigned for many years, leaving behind him a long line of kings.
Index of stories of Arabian nights