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king such wonderful stories that his interest in them would make him forget his cruel intention of putting her and all other women to death. She filled his mind so full of visions of enchanted gardens, of caves with countless riches, of gigantic birds, and of palaces that spring up over night, that before he realized it, almost three years, or a thousand and one nights, had passed, and he found himself in love with her. Thus by her courage and cleverness she saved her own life and the lives of thousands of other women.
The stories which she told on those thousand and one nights are called the tales of “The Arabian Nights.” The scene of these adventures is laid in the far East, in Arabia, Persia, and Egypt. But poets and story-tellers live in the imagination, which is a much larger world than that found in the geography, and into this larger region our heroes often take us.
Of the many tales which the princess told, some short and some taking many nights to tell, only three are here given.
The legend of Robin Hood is not so old as the “Arabian Nights” stories. Mention is made of Robin Hood, for the first time, in an old book written about one hundred years before the discovery of America. He is the hero of many old ballads and tales. He is the prince of outlaws, courteous and generous, often taking from the rich to give to the poor. The tales of Robin Hood give a vivid picture of the jovial life of this outlaw and his merry men in the greenwood.
These legends have come down to us from times different from our own, with ideas of right and wrong different from those we hold. We read them today for the same reason for which they were told in the days of old, for amusement and entertainment.
Passing from legendary tales of adventure to those of more recent times, when the story-teller himself writes down his herotales and has them printed in a book so that people the world over may read them, we come to the wonderful adventures told in “Gulliver's Travels,” the work of Jonathan Swift, a great
English writer. It was first published about fifty years before the Declaration of Independence. This book, considered Swift's greatest work, was written to ridicule some of the customs of the English people, most of which are not of interest to many people today. As a story, however, “Gulliver's Travels” will always charm. Of the four voyages made by Gulliver, one only is given here, the Voyage to Lilliput. His adventures among these wonderful little people are told with a delightful humor that is perhaps the most enjoyable feature of the tale.
Last we come to the wonderful adventures of Robinson Crusoe. The author, Daniel Defoe, was born in London in 1661. He wrote many books and pamphlets, but the story which has made his name known throughout the world, “Robinson Crusoe,” was not written until he was nearly sixty years of age.
It is difficult to say what suggested this tale to Defoe. It has been thought by some, that Defoe pictured the life of Alexander Selkirk, a sailor who was abandoned by the captain of his ship on the island of Juan Fernandez, and after four years of loneliness was rescued by a passing vessel.
But, as we read “Robinson Crusoe,” we do not think that the author is telling of another man's adventures, nor do we think that he imagined the island, the raft, the cave, and the footprint. It is all told in such a simple, straightforward way, that we think this is Defoe's own experience—he was the sailor cast upon the island, he built the hut, he sowed and reaped the grain, he made the pottery, rescued Friday, and at last returned to England.
Defoe did not intend to write a story for children, but the stirring adventures and deeds of Robinson Crusoe soon became known to boys and girls, and for nearly two centuries he has delighted their hearts, while his courage, his patience, and his perseverance have won the admiration of their elders.
The story, as written by Defoe, is of considerable length, and for the purpose of this Reader has been very much shortened. However, the main adventures of Crusoe’s life have been retained. BOOK ONE
STORIES FROM THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
ALADDIN, OR THE WONDERFUL LAMP
Aladdin was the son of Mustapha, a poor tailor in one of the rich provinces of China. When the boy was old enough to learn a trade his father took him into his own workshop. But
Aladdin, being but an idle fellow, loved play more than work, 5 and spent his days in playing in the public streets with other boys as idle as himself.
His father died while he was yet very young; but he still continued his foolish ways, and his mother was forced to spin
cotton night and day in order to keep herself and him. 10 When he was about fifteen years old, he was one day playing
in the streets with some of his companions. A stranger who was going by stopped and looked at him. This stranger was a famous African magician, who, having need of the help of some ignorant
person, no sooner beheld Aladdin than he knew by his whole air, 15 manner, and appearance that he was a person of small prudence,
and very fit to be made a tool of. The magician then artfully inquired of some persons standing near, the name and character of Aladdin, and the answers proved to him that he had judged
rightly of the boy. 20 The stranger, now pressing in among the crowd of lads,
clapped his hand on Aladdin's shoulder, and said, "My good lad, art thou not the son of Mustapha, the tailor?”.
“Yes, sir,” said Aladdin ; “but my father has been dead this long time.”
“Alas !” cried he, “what unhappy news! I am thy father's brother, child. I have been many years abroad; and now that 5 I have come home in the hope of seeing him, you tell me he is
dead !” And all the while tears ran down the stranger's cheek and his bosom heaved with sighs. Then, pulling out a purse, lie gave Aladdin two pieces of gold: “Take this, my boy,” said he,
“to your mother. Tell her that I will come and see her to-night, 10 and sup with her.”
Pleased with the money, Aladdin ran home to his mother. “Mother,” said he, “have I an uncle?” His mother told him he had not, whereupon Aladdin pulled out his gold and told her
that a man who said he was his father's brother was coming to 15 sup with her that very evening. Full of bewilderment, the good
woman set out for the market, where she bought provisions, and was busy preparing the supper when the magician knocked at the door. He entered, followed by a porter bringing all kinds
of delicious fruits and sweetmeats for the dessert. 20 As soon as they sat down to supper he gave Aladdin's mother
an account of his travels, saying that for forty years he had been from home, in order to see the wonders of distant countries. Then, turning toward Aladdin, he asked his name. "I am
called 'Aladdin,” said he. “Well, Aladdin,” replied the magician, 25 "what business do you follow ?”
At this question Aladdin hung down his head, and was not a little abashed when his mother made answer, “Aladdin is an idle fellow; his father strove all he could to teach him his trade, but
could not succeed; and since his death, in spite of all I can say 30 to him, he does nothing but idle away his time in the streets, so
that I despair of his ever coming to any good.” With these words the poor woman burst into tears, and the magician, turning to Aladdin, said: “This is not well, nephew; you must think of
helping yourself and getting your livelihood, and I will help you 35 as far as I may; what think you, shall I take a shop and furnislı it for you?” Aladdin was overjoyed at the idea, for he thought there was very little labor in keeping a shop, and he told his uncle this would suit him better than anything else.
“I will take you with me to-morrow," said the magician, 5 "clothe you as handsomely as the best merchants in the city, and then we will open a shop.”
Aladdin's mother. thanked him very heartily and begged Aladdin to behave so as to prove himself worthy of the good
fortune promised by his kind uncle. 10 Next day the stranger called for Aladdin as he had promised,
and led him to a merchant's, where ready-made clothes, suited for all sorts of people, were sold. Then he caused Aladdin to try on the handsomest suits, and choosing the one Aladdin
preferred, he paid the merchant for it at once. The pretended 15 uncle then took Aladdin to visit the bazaars and the khans where
the foreign merchants were, and the most splendid mosques, and gave him a merry feast in the evening.
The next morning Aladdin got up and dressed himself very early, so impatient was he to see his uncle. Presently he saw 20 him coming, and ran to meet him. The magician greeted him
very kindly: “Come, my good boy,” he said with a smile; “I will today show you some very fine things.” .
He then led him through some beautiful gardens with great houses standing in the midst of them. Aladdin did nothing but 25 exclaim at their beauty, and so his uncle, by degrees, led him on farther and farther into the country.
“We shall now," said he to Aladdin, "go no farther, and I shall here show you some extraordinary wonders that no one
besides yourself will ever have seen. I am now going to strike a 30 light, and do you, in the meantime, collect all the dry sticks and leaves that you can find, in order to make a fire.”
There were so many pieces of dry sticks scattered about this place that Aladdin collected more than enough, by the time
the magician had lighted his match. He then set them on 35 fire, and as soon as they were in a blaze he threw a certain