"Sir," replied the grand vizier, who knew no more than the sultan what she wanted, but did not wish to seem uninformed, "your majesty knows that women often make complaints on trifles; perhaps she may come to complain that somebody has sold her some bad flour, or some such trifling matter." The sultan was not satisfied with this answer, but replied: "If this woman comes to our next audience, do not fail to call her, that I may hear what she has to say." The grand vizier made answer by lowering his hand, and then lifting it up above his head, signifying his willingness to lose it if he failed.
The next point was to ascertain where the lamp was; whether Aladdin carried it about with him, or where he kept it; and this he was to discover by an operation of geomancy. As soon as he entered his lodging, he took his square box of sand, which he always carried with him when he travelled, and after he had performed some operations, he found that the lamp was in Aladdin's palace, and so great was his joy at the discovery that he could hardly contain himself. "Well," said he, "I shall have the lamp, and I defy Aladdin to prevent my carrying it off, thus making him sink to his original meanness, from which he has taken so high a flight."
The grand vizier went immediately to his son, communicated what the sultan had told him, and enjoined him to conceal nothing, but to relate the whole truth. "I will disguise nothing from you, father," replied the son, "for indeed all that the princess has stated is true. Yet I must tell you, that all these experiences do not in the least lessen those sentiments of love and gratitude I entertain for her; but I must confess, that notwithstanding all the honour that attends marrying my sovereign's daughter, I would much rather die than continue in so exalted an alliance, if I must undergo much longer what I have already endured. I do not doubt but that the princess entertains the same sentiments, and that she will readily agree to a separation which is so necessary both for her repose and mine. Therefore, father, I beg, by the same tenderness which led you to procure me so great an honour, to obtain the sultan's consent that our marriage may be declared null and void."
When the repast was over, Sinbad addressed his conversation to Hindbad, and inquired his name and employment. "My lord," answered he, "my name is Hindbad." "I am very glad to see you," replied Sinbad; "but I wish to hear from your own mouth what it was you lately said in the street." Sinbad had himself heard the porter complain through the window, and this it was that induced him to have him brought in.
When two of the three months were passed, 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 were open, dressed with foliage, silks, and carpeting, every one striving to shew their zeal in the most distinguished manner according to their ability. The streets were crowded with officers in habits of ceremony, mounted on horses richly caparisoned, each attended by a great many footmen. Aladdin's mother asked the oil-merchant what was the meaning of all this preparation of public festivity? "Whence come you, good woman," said he, "that you do not know that the grand vizier's son is to marry the Princess Badroulboudour, 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 solemnised."
Khaujeh Houssain returned the compliment, by assuring Ali Baba, that though his son might not have acquired the experience of older men, he had good sense equal to the knowledge of many others. After a little more conversation on different subjects, he offered again to take his leave; when Ali Baba, stopping him, said: "Where are you going, sir, in so much haste? I beg you would do me the honour to sup with me, though what I have to give you is not worth your acceptance; but such as it is, I hope you will accept it as heartily as I give it." "Sir," replied Khaujeh Houssain, "I am thoroughly persuaded of your good will; and if I ask the favour of you not to take it ill that I do not accept your obliging invitation, I beg of you to believe that it does not proceed from any slight or intention to affront, but from a reason which you would approve if you knew it.