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Clement's Corner: Aladdin's Adventures Continued

...What good, he wondered, was all the opulence and wealth, if it meant that he and his beloved bride would be in constant peril from the evil magician, Mustapha and the more dangerous Grand Vizier? The genie, as important as he was, could not guarantee Sabrina’s and his safety as he only came when he was summoned by the magic lamp, which could not possibly be on hand at all times. A solution had to be found...

Owen R. Clement brings a sparkling addition to an age-old story.

Aladdin tightened his arm around Princess Sabrina, who lay nestled up against him, exhausted from her recent ordeal. He brushed his lips against her sleek black hair, which still smelt of the scented oils her handmaidens had applied after her bath and soothing massage.

He gazed up at the ornate ceiling and the golden silk drapes around the bed on which they lay. He then looked across the luxuriantly furnished room to the doorway leading out to the marble paved veranda. Taking care not to disturb his exhausted bride he gently freed his arm and, making sure she was still asleep, rose and moved outside.

Lifting his eyes from the huge landscaped courtyard lined with date palms he gazed out at the Moroccan desert in the distance. He saw spumes of golden sand drift from one dune to another. He could have been looking out to sea except for the burnished colours. He stood remembering back to a very different existence from where he had come. He sat down on a marble bench in the shade, his young brow creased in a troubled frown.

What good, he wondered, was all the opulence and wealth, if it meant that he and his beloved bride would be in constant peril from the evil magician, Mustapha and the more dangerous Grand Vizier? The genie, as important as he was, could not guarantee Sabrina’s and his safety as he only came when he was summoned by the magic lamp, which could not possibly be on hand at all times. A solution had to be found.

The first thing to be done, he realised, was to neutralise or destroy the power of both Mustapha and the Grand Vizier, but how? For that he would need either the king’s or the Grand Vizier’s advice. He did not want to worry the king who was now a feeble old man. The Grand Vizier, the most powerful man in court, was out of the question as, since Aladdin had robbed him of the chance of marrying Princess Sabrina, he had now become his implacable enemy.

The king, although impressed by Aladdin’s enormous wealth, as far as Aladdin knew, was not aware of his new son-in-law’s lowly beginnings where he did not have to encounter such dangerous people. How could a mere peasant’s son deal with men of such authority? Nevertheless Aladdin realised he alone would have to find a way. The only one on whom he could rely, as long as he remained in possession of the lamp, was the genie. The idea that his precious bride may once again be kidnapped and subjected to other unmentionable horrors made him resolve that, even if it did cost him his life, he would have to come up with a foolproof plan. He put his head in his hands. The weight of responsibility was overwhelming.

‘What is troubling you, my beloved?’ Princess Sabrina said, as she laid her hand gently on her husband’s shoulder before sitting beside him.

He looked at her and smiled, trying to indicate that all was well. She was not fooled. ‘We must have no secrets, dear one,’ she said, taking his face in her hands.

‘I’m a little tired, my love; the events of the last few days have taken its toll on both of us. Don’t you worry; we are both quite safe now. The genie will always come to my aid whenever I call.’

‘I don’t understand why Mustapha is so ready to hate and to harm others, do you?’

Aladdin looked out once more at the never-ending horizon of the rolling hills of yellow sand and said, ‘He’s filled with jealousy. Who knows how I would’ve behaved if he’d won your hand in marriage and not me? I do not fear him as much as I fear the Grand Vizier. He is a great man with immense power and wealth, and had his heart set on making you his bride until I came along. He’s the one I dread for both of us. He’ll not hesitate to dispose of me with the snap of his fingers if he could. And he knows that my power comes from the lamp that I use to call the genie. All he needs to do is get a hold of it. Once he does that, he’ll command the genie who is duty bound to serve anyone who strokes the lamp.

‘Do you mean if it wasn’t for the lamp, he and Mustapha would not be able to carry out their evil deeds? I am sure my father and his guards would be strong enough to protect us and prevent them from getting hold of it.’

Aladdin sat up, his eyes alert. ‘Dearest one, you are not only beautiful, you may have discovered the solution.’

He stood up, smoothed out his kaftan and pulled Sabrina to her feet. Leading her inside he ordered her ladies-in-waiting to take good care of her while he was away. He gave her a brief embrace and left.

He strode briskly to his quarters, took the magic lamp from inside a small ornately-carved sandalwood cupboard beside his divan and gave it a vigorous rub. Immediately, the genie appeared.

‘You called Master?’ the genie’s voice boomed.

‘Softly oh genie,’ Aladdin said, putting his finger to his lips.

The genie frowned wondering what his master had meant. He folded his massive arms and with his colossal legs apart, stood and waited patiently.

Aladdin tapped his fingers together as he thought. Eventually, having made up his mind, he pulled himself up to his full height, which barely reached the genie’s knee, and said, ‘I order you to answer me truthfully.’

Again the genie frowned as he tried to understand what his master required of him. He had never lied, why would his master think he would tell a lie now?

‘Do you wish to be free of the lamp?’ Aladdin asked.

It soon became obvious to Aladdin that this was a question the genie had never had to consider. He had been a slave to the lamp for hundreds of years; the thought had probably never entered his mind. His sole purpose had always been to carry out his master’s orders. This query was one he simply could not answer.

‘I am saying,’ said Aladdin in exasperation, ‘that if I ordered you to destroy the lamp so that no one could use it again to summon you, could you do it?’

‘Your wish is my command, master.’ For once he did not bellow. Not being able to take the lamp away from Aladdin, he merely held out his hand for it.

‘You have not answered my question,’ Aladdin said looking deeply into the genie’s eyes. He only saw confusion and distress.

‘I must do as you command, Master.’

Aladdin sighed. ‘Before I give you the lamp to be destroyed, I have two tasks for you.’

The genie’s expression changed, these instructions he could understand.

‘Your wish is my command.’ His voice boomed again.

‘Yes, Yes, I know all that,’ said Aladdin, now clearly frustrated. ‘Hear it before you go.’

The genie waited.

‘From now on, you must make the Grand Vizier and Mustapha obey me and do whatever I order them to do.’

The genie had never been given such an abstract command before, but having being ordered, he said, ‘It shall be done, Master,’ and vanished.

Aladdin returned the lamp to its hiding place and joined Sabrina in the palace dining area for their afternoon meal. As usual he sat on one side of the king and Sabrina on the other. The first thing the king did was to praise Allah for the safe return of the princess.

Aladdin turned to the king, ‘Your Majesty, I would like to summon the Grand Vizier to join these celebrations.’

‘Would that be wise my boy?’ The king responded his eyes wide and looking genuinely concerned. He was fully aware of the man’s enmity to Aladdin.

‘Yes, Sire. I beg of you to trust me in this.’

‘You have amazed me in the past; I have no doubt that you will do so again. Let it be so.’ He waved his hand to his Chief Minister to command the Grand Vizier to join them at once.

‘It shall be done your majesty,’ he said and left the hall.

The Grand Vizier arrived with his entourage looking agitated and annoyed at being summoned as if he was a lowly person.

‘The prince Aladdin wishes to speak with you.’ The king said waving his jewelled hand to the young man beside him.

‘Yes, your highness,’ the man said, looking at Aladdin showing no sign of antipathy.

‘Please join us. I have missed your wise counselling of late.’ Aladdin smiled.

‘I am always at your service,’ the Grand Vizier said as he bowed. Aladdin was surprised to see him so amicable.

Asking the person next to him to move over and make room for his once arch enemy. Much to everyone’s surprise, not the least the king’s, the Grand Vizier dismissed his followers and came and settled himself down on the cushion beside Aladdin.

The sumptuous meal of richly spiced rice dishes, fresh and dried fruits, delicious sweetmeats and a variety of nuts, was enjoyed by all.

When they had filled their bellies Aladdin turned to the Grand Vizier. ‘You know Mustapha, do you not?’

‘I do, my prince.’

‘I want you to summon him to join us.’

The Grand Vizier looked at the king when he spoke. ‘I do not believe that is wise, your majesty, the man has proven himself most unworthy of your grace of late.’ To Aladdin he said, ‘Are you absolutely sure my prince?’

Aladdin stiffened in annoyance to test the Grand Vizier.

The Grand Vizier immediately reacted by saying, ‘I do not question your order, your highness, I am only concerned for yours and the princess’s welfare.’

Aladdin patted the man’s arm. ‘Have no fear. All will be well.’

There was a murmuring in the crowd, wondering why the evil magician would be allowed to be entertained by those whom he had wronged so dreadfully. Aladdin looked at the king to gauge his mood. The king’s face was stern but composed. Aladdin then instructed Sabrina’s ladies-in-waiting to escort his young wife to her quarters. He also bade the other women to go to theirs.

The king, Aladdin, the Grand Vizier and the king’s ministers moved to the throne room where they arranged themselves in order of rank. Some clearly not fully believing that the magician would arrive.

‘Enter,’ Aladdin called out when he was informed that Mustapha was now outside waiting to be admitted.

Mustapha made obeisance briefly to the king and approached Aladdin without any sign of malevolence and bowed once more.

‘You, Mustapha,’ Aladdin said, ‘have been alone too long, it is about time you had a wife. I charge you, Grand Vizier,’ he turned to him when he spoke, ‘to seek out a suitable and willing lady for our illustrious guest.’

For the next few days the Grand Vizier consulted with the most senior and influential women of the court to select one who would not only please Mustapha but who would also be happy to marry one of such power and magnetism. And so it was arranged.

Some days later Aladdin’s enemy was married to one of the court’s most beautiful and accomplished women.

Late that night Aladdin walked to the edge of the garden, found a secluded place, pulled out the magic lamp which he had taken from its hiding place and rubbed it vigorously.

The genie appeared and was about to greet his master in his usual stentorian manner when Aladdin raised both his palms out to quieten his slave.

‘My good and loyal friend, you have served me and your other masters well and truly for hundreds of years, I now order you to be free of the lamp forever,’ he said as he handed the lamp to the genie.

One moment the huge imposing genie was there, the next he had gone.

Princess Sabrina, who had snuck away unobserved from her ladies-in-waiting, all deeply asleep from the effects from a large meal at the wedding feast, had secretly been watching her husband. When she saw the genie vanish with the lamp she moved up beside him. ‘You are very brave my prince,’ she said.

He stood up, dusted his hands and chuckled, ‘Not as brave as I would like to be, dearest. You see, I made Mustapha hand over the magic ring he had used in order to abduct you. I don’t know if it’ll work for me. Just the same, I hope I never have to find out.’

© clement 2010


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