In a far city in China there once lived a lad named Aladdin. Aladdin’s mother was a widow, and the boy had never had a father’s care. He did as he pleased, and played in the streets all day, and was so idle that he was of no use to anyone.
One day, as Aladdin was playing with a band of companions, a tall man, richly dressed, stopped to watch them. Suddenly he called to Aladdin, “Come here, boy; I wish to speak to you.”
The lad came, wondering.
“Are you not the son of Mustapha the tailor?” asked the stranger.
Aladdin said that he was.
“I knew it,” cried the stranger. “I knew it from your likeness to your dear father.” He then embraced the boy tenderly. “I, dear lad, am your uncle,” said he. “I have spent many years in strange countries, and have made a fortune. I came back here in search of you, for I heard your father was dead, and I wish to take his place and be a father to you.”
Aladdin was very much surprised. He had never known he had an uncle. And indeed he had not. The stranger was a magician who had need of a stout and active lad to help in a certain adventure. He had noticed Aladdin playing in the streets and had found out the lad’s name and the name of his father, so as to pass himself off as Aladdin’s uncle.
Aladdin was eager to believe the story the stranger told, for he thought it would be a fine thing to have a rich uncle to help him along in the world.
“Lead me to your mother’s house, Aladdin,” said the magician. “I wish to talk with her, and to weep with her over the memory of my dear brother.”
Aladdin took the stranger’s hand and led him away through one street after another, each meaner and dirtier than the other. At last he stopped before a miserable looking hovel.
“This is where I live,” said the boy.
“Here!” cried the magician. “Oh, what a miserable place for my brother’s child to live. But I will soon change all this. You must move into a handsome house, and you must have some better clothes than those you have on. I will make your fortune for you.”
Aladdin was more delighted than ever when he heard this. He made haste to open the door and lead the magician to his mother, and to repeat to her the story he had been told.
The widow was even more surprised than her son over the magician’s story, but she was quite as eager to believe it as he. It would indeed be a fine thing if the stranger would lift them out of their poverty. She begged him to sit down and share their evening meal, but this he would not do. He said he had business with some merchants, and went away, after promising to come back the next day.
On the morrow, as he had promised, the magician returned, and he took Aladdin out with him, and bought him fine clothes, and sweetmeats to eat, and he talked so much of all he meant to do for his dear nephew that the boy’s head was quite turned.