Castle in the air / by Diana Wynne Jones, p. cm. Summary: Having long indulged himself in daydreams more exciting than his mundane life as a carpet merchant. Diana Wynne Jones - Castle In The Air Diana Wynne Jones - Wizard's Castle Omnibus · Read more · Diana Wynne Jones - Howl's Moving Castle. Read more . Abdullah was a young and not very prosperous carpet dealer. His father, who had been disappointed in him, had left him only enough money to open a modest .
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Read Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones for free with a 30 day free trial. It was a complete castle in the air, and Abdullah knew it was. Everyone told him. Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones (PDF). A fast-paced and bewildering second novel in the young adult, fantasy series: How's Moving. DIANA WYNNE JONES was born in August in London, where she had a chaotic cover image of Howl's Moving Castle cover image of Castle in the Air .
But that day Abdullah found he was not quite satisfied with this arrangement. It was a feeling he often had after a visit from his father's first wife's relations. It occurred to him that a good palace ought to have magnificent gardens. Abdullah loved gardens, though he knew very little about them. Most of his experience had come from the public parks of Zanzib-where the turf was somewhat trampled and the flowers few-in which he sometimes spent his lunch hour when he could afford to pay one-eyed Jamal to watch his booth.
Jamal kept the fried food stall next door and would, for a coin or so, tie his dog to the front of Abdullah's booth. Abdullah was well aware that this did not really qualify him to invent a proper garden, but since anything was better than thinking of two wives chosen for him by Fatima, he lost himself in waving fronds and scented walkways in the gardens of his princess.
Or nearly. Before Abdullah was fairly started, he was interrupted by a tall, dirty man with a dingy-looking carpet in his arms. For someone trying to sell a carpet in Zanzib, where buyers and sellers always spoke to one another in the most formal and flowery way, this man's manner was shockingly abrupt.
Abdullah was annoyed anyway because his dream garden was falling to pieces at this interruption from real life. He answered curtly. You wish to trade with this miserable merchant? This was an insult. One of the carpets on display in front of Abdullah's booth was a rare floral tufted one from Ingary-or Ochinstan, as that land was called in Zanzib-and 5 there were at least two inside, from Inhico and Farqtan, which the Sultan himself would not have disdained for one of the smaller rooms of his palace.
But of course, Abdullah could not say this. The manners of Zanzib did not let you praise yourself. Instead, he bowed a coldly shallow bow. He flapped one end of his dingy carpet toward Jamal, who was frying squid just then in clouds of blue, fishy smoke.
People were not supposed to mention this sort of thing. And a slight smell of squid might even improve that thing the stranger wanted to sell, he thought, eyeing the drab and threadbare rug in the man's arms. There he turned up the lamp which hung from the center pole but, upon sniffing, decided that he was not going to waste incense on this person.
The interior smelled quite strongly enough of yesterday's scents. Abdullah could do this, too. A carpet merchant learned these things. He was not impressed. He stuck his hands in his sleeves in a primly servile attitude and surveyed the merchandise. The carpet 6 was not large. Unrolled, it was even dingier than he had thoughtalthough the pattern was unusual, or it would have been if most of it had not been worn away.
What was left was dirty, and its edges were frayed. Times are hard, O captain of many camels. Is the price acceptable in any way? It is, of course, a magic carpet.
He bowed over his tucked- up hands. Does it welcome a man home to his tent? Does it bring peace to the hearth? Or maybe," he said, poking the frayed edge suggestively with one toe, "it is said never to wear out? A sneer made those lines deeper still. Abdullah found he disliked this person almost as much as he disliked his father's first wife's uncle's son. At this moment one of the regular upsets happened at the fried food stall next door.
Probably some street boys had tried to steal 7 some squid. At any rate, Jamal's dog burst out barking; various people, Jamal included, began yelling, and both sounds were nearly drowned by the clash of saucepans and the hissing of hot fat. Cheating was a way of life in Zanzib. Abdullah did not allow his attention to be distracted for one instant from the stranger and his carpet.
It was quite possible the man had bribed Jamal to cause a distraction. He had mentioned Jamal rather often, as if Jamal were on his mind. Abdullah kept his eyes sternly on the tall figure of the man and particularly on the dirty feet planted on the carpet.
But he spared a corner of one eye for the man's face, and he saw the man's lips move. His alert ears even caught the words too feet upward despite the din from next door. And he looked even more carefully when the carpet rose smoothly from the floor and hovered about level with Abdullah's knees, so that the stranger's tattered headgear was not quite brushing the roof of the booth.
Abdullah looked for rods underneath. He searched for wires that might have been deftly hooked to the roof. He took hold of the lamp and tipped it about, so that its light played both over and under the carpet. The stranger stood with his arms folded and the sneer entrenched on his face while Abdullah performed these tests.
Am I standing in the air, or am I not? The noise was still deafening from next door. Abdullah was forced to admit that the carpet did appear to be up in the air without any means of support that he could find.
What have your other senses to add to the evidence of your eyes, O dragon of dubiety? Jamal's dog bit anyone who touched it except Jamal. The stranger sighed. The stranger stepped off and bowed Abdullah toward it. It sounded as if the constables of the City Watch had arrived at Jamal's stall now. They were clashing weapons and bawling to be told what had happened. And the carpet obeyed Abdullah. It rose two feet in a smooth surge which left Abdullah's stomach behind it.
He sat down rather hastily. The carpet was perfectly comfortable to sit on. It felt like a very tight hammock. Two hundred silver? He bounced to his feet, and the bargaining commenced. An hour later the stranger departed from the booth with gold pieces, leaving Abdullah the delighted owner of what seemed to be a genuine-if threadbare-magic carpet. He was still mistrustful.
He did not believe that anyone, even a desert wanderer with few needs, would part with a real flying carpet-albeit nearly worn out-for less than gold pieces.
It was too useful9 better than a camel, because it did not need to eat-and a good camel cost at least in gold. There had to be a catch. And there was one trick Abdullah had heard of. It was usually worked with horses or dogs. A man would come and sell a trusting farmer or hunter a truly superb animal for a surprisingly small price, saying that it was all that stood between himself and starvation. The delighted farmer or hunter would put the horse in a stall or the dog in a kennel for the night.
In the morning it would be gone, being trained to slip its halter or collar and return to its owner in the night. It seemed to Abdullah that a suitably obedient carpet could be trained to do the same. So, before he left his booth, he very carefully wrapped the magic carpet around one of the poles that supported the roof and bound it there, around and around, with a whole reel of twine, which he then tied to one of the iron stakes at the base of the wall.
The stall was quiet now, and tidy. Jamal was sitting on its counter, mournfully hugging his dog. Jamal wept with gratitude and embraced Abdullah.
His dog not only failed to bite Abdullah; it licked his hand. Abdullah smiled. Life was good. He went off whistling to find a good supper while the dog guarded his booth.
When the evening was staining the sky red behind the domes and minarets of Zanzib, Abdullah came back, still whistling, full of plans to sell the carpet to the Sultan himself for a very large price indeed. He found the carpet exactly where he had left it. Or would it be better to approach the Grand Vizier, he wondered while he was washing, and suggest that the Vizier might wish to make the Sultan a present of it? That way he could ask for even more money.
At the thought of how valuable that made the carpet, the story of 10 the horse trained to slip its halter began to nag at him again.
As he got into his nightshirt, Abdullah began to visualize the carpet wriggling free. It was old and pliable. It was probably very well trained. It could certainly slither out from behind the twine. Even if it did not, he knew the idea would keep him awake all night. In the end, he carefully cut the twine away and spread the carpet on top of the pile of his most valuable rugs, which he always used as a bed. Then he put on his nightcap-which was necessary, because the cold winds blew off the desert and filled the booth with drafts-spread his blanket over him, blew out his lamp, and slept.
Abdullah was convinced that this was a dream. Here was the garden he had been trying to imagine when the stranger so rudely interrupted him.
Here the moon was nearly full and riding high above, casting light as white as paint on a hundred small fragrant flowers in the grass around him. Round yellow lamps hung in the trees, dispelling the dense black shadows from the moon.
Abdullah thought this was a very pleasing idea. By the two lights, white and yellow, he could see an arcade of creepers supported on elegant pillars, beyond the lawn where he lay, and from somewhere behind that, hidden water was quietly trickling. It was so cool and so heavenlike that Abdullah got up and went in search of the hidden water, wandering down the arcade, where starry blooms brushed his face, all white and hushed in the moonlight, and bell-like flowers breathed out the headiest and gentlest of scents.
As one does in dreams, Abdullah fingered a great waxy lily here and detoured deliriously there into a dell of pale 12 roses. He had never before had a dream that was anything like so beautiful. The water, when he found it beyond some big fernlike bushes dripping dew, was a simple marble fountain in another lawn, lit by strings of lamps in the bushes, which made the rippling water into a marvel of gold and silver crescents.
Abdullah wandered toward it raptly. There was only one thing needed to complete his rapture, and as in all the best dreams, it was there. An extremely lovely girl came across the lawn to meet him, treading softly on the damp grass with bare feet.
The gauzy garments floating around her showed her to be slender, but not thin, just like the princess from Abdullah's daydream. When she was near Abdullah, he saw that her face was not quite a perfect oval as the face of his dream princess should have been, nor were her huge dark eyes at all misty.
In fact, they examined his face keenly, with evident interest. Abdullah hastily adjusted his dream, for she was certainly very beautiful. And when she spoke, her voice was all he could have desired, being light and merry as the water in the fountain and the voice of a very definite person, too. People always did ask strange things in dreams, Abdullah thought.
Does that mean you're a different kind of woman from me? I assure you that I am a man. You're quite the wrong shape. Men are twice as thick as you all over, and their stomachs come out in a fat bit that's called a belly. And they have 13 gray hair all over their faces and nothing but shiny skin on their heads.
You've got hair on your head like me and almost none on your face. He put his hand to his head and removed what turned out to be his nightcap. Her lovely face was puzzled. I don't understand. I've only seen my father! But I've seen quite a lot of him, so I do know. She laughed.
This is my night garden. My father had it made so that I wouldn't ruin my looks going out in the sun. As if that bothered her a little, she twirled away from him and went to sit on the edge of the fountain. Turning to look up at him, she said, "My father tells me I might be able to go out and see the town sometimes after I'm married-if my husband allows me to-but it won't be this town.
My father's arranging for me to marry a prince from Ochinstan. Until then I have to stay inside these walls, of course. He had many times wished someone would keep his father's first wife's sister, Fatima, that way. But now, in this dream, it seemed to him that this custom was entirely unreasonable and not fair to this lovely girl at all. Fancy not knowing what a normal young man looked like! But I believe the problem lies in the brutal nature of men.
If another man saw me before the Prince did, my father says he would instantly fall in love with me and carry me off, which would ruin all my father's plans, naturally. He says most men are great beasts. Are you a beast? This makes me quite sure that you can't really be a man. After considering a moment, she asked, "Could your family, perhaps, for reasons of their own, have brought you up to believe a falsehood?
He gazed down at her admiringly. The stone was cold. Splashes from the fountain soaked into his nightshirt, while the sweet smell of rose water from Flower-in-the-Night mingled most realistically with scents from the flowers in the garden. But since it was a dream, it 15 followed that his daydreams were true here, too. So Abdullah told her all about the palace he had lived in as a prince and how he was kidnapped by Kabul Aqba and escaped into the desert, where the carpet merchant found him.
Flower-in-the-Night listened with complete sympathy. How exhausting! He agreed that his father could have been in the pay of Kabul Aqba and then changed the subject. How are you going to know whether you love him or not? That should give you some standard to compare the Prince with. This would give him a proper excuse. Flower-in-the-Night considered this offer, swaying dubiously back and forth with her hands clasped around her knees.
Abdullah could almost see rows of fat, bald men with gray beards passing in front of her mind's eye. You're one of the nicest people I've ever met. He told himself it would be unfair to leave her in such a state of ignorance. At this, to his disappointment, Flower-in-the-Night got up to 16 leave. But now we know each other, you can stay at least two hours next time.
I shall," said Abdullah. She smiled and passed away like a dream, beyond the fountain and behind two frondy flowering shrubs. After that the garden, the moonlight, and the scents seemed rather tame. Abdullah could think of nothing better to do than wander back the way he had come. And there, on the moonlit bank, he found the carpet. He had forgotten about it completely. But since it was there in the dream, too, he lay down on it and fell asleep. He woke up some hours later with blinding daylight streaming in through the chinks in his booth.
The smell of the day before yesterday's incense hanging about in the air struck him as cheap and suffocating. In fact, the whole booth was fusty and frowsty and cheap. And he had an earache because his nightcap seemed to have fallen off in the night. But at least, he found while he hunted for the nightcap, the carpet had not made off in the night. It was still underneath him. This was the one good thing he could see in what suddenly struck him as a thoroughly dull and depressing life.
Here Jamal, who was still grateful for the silver pieces, shouted outside that he had breakfast ready for both of them. Abdullah gladly flung back the curtains of the booth.
Cocks crowed in the distance. The sky was glowing blue, and shafts of strong sunlight sliced through the blue dust and old incense inside the booth. Even in that strong light, Abdullah failed to discover his nightcap. And he was more depressed than ever. Jamal tenderly fed a piece of sugar pastry to his dog.
I think someone paid those wretched boys to steal. They were so thorough. And on top of 17 that, the Watch fined me. Did I say? I think I have enemies, my friend. If my dog chooses to hate the whole human race except myself, it must be free to do so. It was simply not there. He tried thinking carefully back to the last time he truly remembered wearing it.
That was when he had lain down to sleep the previous night, when he was thinking of taking the carpet to the Grand Vizier. After that came the dream. He had found he was wearing the nightcap then. He remembered taking it off to show Flower-in-the-Night what a lovely name! From then on, as far as he could recall, he had carried the nightcap in his hand until the moment when he had sat down beside her on the edge of the fountain.
After that, when he recounted the history of his kidnapping by Kabul Aqba, he had a clear memory of waving both hands freely as he talked, and he knew that the nightcap had not been in either one.
Things did disappear like that in dreams, he knew, but the evidence pointed, all the same, to his having dropped it as he sat down. Was it possible he had left it lying on the grass beside the fountain? In which caseAbdullah stood stock-still in the center of the booth, staring into the rays of sunlight, which, oddly enough, no longer seemed full of squalid motes of dust and old incense.
Instead, they were pure golden slices of heaven itself. Somehow his depression was clean gone. Even breathing was easier. That had been in the dream, too. In which case"It follows that you transported me to some rich man's garden while I slept," he said to it.
Very likely. I was thinking of gardens. You are even more valuable than I realized! After the usual opening courtesies, in which Abdullah called the artist prince of the pencil and enchanter with chalks and the artist retorted by calling Abdullah cream of customers and duke of discernment, Abdullah said, "I want drawings of every size, shape, and kind of man that you have ever seen.
Draw me kings and paupers, merchants and workmen, fat and thin, young and old, handsome and ugly, and also plain average.
If some of these are kinds of men that you have never seen, I require you to invent them, O paragon of the paintbrush. And if your invention fails, which I hardly think is likely, O aristocrat of artists, then all you need do is turn your eyes outward, gaze, and copy! He was moved almost to tears at the thought that this everyday sight was something Flower-in-the-Night had never seen.
The artist drew his hand dubiously down his straggly beard. But could the jewel of judgment perhaps inform this humble draftsman what these many portraits of men are needed for? In fact, he was simply curious about this most unusual order.
He had no wish to make his meeting with Flower-in-the-Night public. It was clear to him that her father must be a very rich man who would certainly object to a young carpet merchant's showing her other men besides this Prince of Ochinstan. First, I have laid by me many portraits which I do for my own pleasure, and to charge you for those is not honest since I would have drawn them anyway.
Second, the task you set is ten times more interesting than my usual work, which is to do portraits of young women or their bridegrooms, or of horses and camels, all of whom I have to make handsome, regardless of reality; or else to paint rows of sticky children whose parents wish them to seem like angels-again regardless of reality. And my third reason is that I think you are mad, my most noble of customers, and to exploit you would be unlucky. This was a great nuisance to Abdullah.
For the rest of that day he was constantly being interrupted by persons arriving with long and flowery speeches about this portrait of their grandmother which 21 only poverty would induce them to part with; or this portrait of the Sultan's racing camel which happened to fall off the back of a cart; or this locket containing a picture of their sister.
It took Abdullah much time to get rid of these people-and on several occasions he did actually buy a painting or drawing if the subject was a man. That, of course, kept people coming.
My offer extends only until sunset today," he told the gathering crowd at last. But only then. He was wondering by now if he was right to think that his visit to the garden had been any more than a dream.
For the carpet would not move. Abdullah had naturally tested it after breakfast by asking it to rise up two feet again, just to prove that it still would. And it simply lay on the floor. He tested it again when he came back from the artist's booth, and still it just lay there.
Would you feel better if I let you lie free on the floor, my friend? Is that it? It might have been any old hearthrug. Abdullah thought again, in between the times when people were pestering him to buy portraits. He went back to his suspicions of the stranger who had sold him this carpet and to the enormous noise that just happened to break out in Jamal's stall at the precise moment when the stranger ordered the carpet to rise.
He recalled that he had seen the man's lips move both times but had not heard all that was said. The villain! And this word I must have spoken in my sleep. Then, standing on the carpet, he cried out, "Aardvark! Fly, please! Doggedly Abdullah went on to B, and when that did no good, he went on again, through the whole dictionary. With the constant interruptions from portrait sellers, this took him some time. Nevertheless, he reached zymurgy in the early evening without the carpet's having so much as twitched.
It was that or believe that Flower-in-the-Night was only a dream after all. Even if she was real, his chances of getting the carpet to take him to her seemed slimmer by the minute.
He stood there uttering every strange sound and every foreign word he could think of, and still the carpet made no move of any kind. Abdullah was interrupted again an hour before sundown by a large crowd gathering outside, carrying bundles and big flat packages. The artist had to push his way through the crowd with his portfolio of drawings. The following hour was hectic in the extreme. Abdullah inspected paintings, rejected portraits of aunts and mothers, and beat down huge prices asked for bad drawings of nephews.
In the course of that hour he acquired, beside the hundred excellent drawings from the artist, eighty-nine further pictures, lockets, drawings, and even a piece of a wall with a face daubed on it.
He also parted with almost all the money he had left over after buying the magic carpet-if it was magic. It was dark by the time he finally convinced the man who claimed that the oil painting of his fourth wife's mother was enough like a man to qualify that this was not the case and pushed him out of the booth. He was by then too tired and wrought up to eat. He would have gone straight to bed had not Jamal-who had been doing a roaring trade selling snacks to the waiting crowd-arrived with tender meat on a skewer.
But mad or not, you must eat. At last he was able to pile his pictures onto the carpet and lie down among them. It took him a long time to get to sleep. He woke to the dreamy fragrance of night flowers and a hand gently prodding him. Flower-in-the-Night was leaning over him. Abdullah saw she was far lovelier than he had been remembering her. Abdullah thought triumphantly. I think this ought to give you at least a general idea. Then Abdullah showed her the pictures, holding them under a lamp first and then leaning them up against the bank.
He began to feel like a pavement artist. Flower-in-the-Night inspected each man as Abdullah showed him, absolutely impartially and with great concentration.
Then she picked up a lamp and inspected the artist's drawings all over again. This pleased Abdullah. The artist was a true professional. He had drawn men exactly as Abdullah asked, from a heroic and kingly person evidently taken from a statue, to the hunchback who cleaned shoes in the Bazaar, and had even included a self-portrait halfway through. My father is not at all typical, and neither are you, of course. Abdullah noticed, rather nervously, that the ones she had singled out were the handsomest.
He watched her leaning over them with a small frown on her forehead and a curly tendril of dark hair 24 straying over the frown, looking thoroughly intent.
He began to wonder what he had started. Flower-in-the-Night collected the pictures together and stacked them neatly in a pile beside the bank. Some of these look far too proud of themselves, and some look selfish and cruel.
You are unassuming and kind. I intend to ask my father to marry me to you, instead of to the Prince in Ochinstan. Would you mind? The law allows a man to have as many wives as he can afford, but-" The frown came back to Flower-in-the-Night's forehead.
She sat on the bank and thought. He knew he had indeed started something. Flower-in-the-Night was discovering that her father had kept her ignorant of a number of important facts. Why did you say that my marrying you might not work? You mentioned yesterday that you are a prince as well. Though he told himself that he had had every reason to believe he was dreaming when he told her, this did not make him feel any better.
But I also told you I was lost and far from my kingdom," he said. I sell carpets in the Bazaar of Zanzib. Your father is clearly a very rich man. This will not strike him as a fitting alliance. I love you.
Do you not love me? He looked back into hers, into what seemed an eternity of big dark eyes. He found himself saying, "Yes. Several more moonlit eternities went by. Then there is nothing he can say.
This ought to be easy, because I do happen to own a magic carpet. There it is, up on the bank. It brought me here. Unfortunately it needs to be activated by a magic word which I seem only able to say in my sleep. Abdullah watched, admiring the grace with which she bent toward it. The command word will probably be a fairly common word pronounced in an old way. My reading suggests these carpets were meant to be used quickly in an emergency, so the word will not be anything too out of the way.
Why do you not tell me carefully everything you know about it? Between us we ought to be able to work it out. He admired her even more. He told her, as far as he knew them, every fact about the carpet, including the uproar at Jamal's stall which had prevented him hearing the command word.
That is such an odd thing to do that I feel sure we should think about it later. But let us first think about what the carpet does. You say it came down when you ordered it to. Did the stranger speak then? Truly he had found a pearl among women, Abdullah thought. After that I see two possibilities: He was dizzy with admiration for her logic. But it was too late. The carpet whipped up into the air and then away sideways with such speed and suddenness that Abdullah was first thrown over on his back, with all the breath knocked out of him, and then found himself hanging half off over its frayed edge at what seemed a terrifying height in the air.
The wind of its movement took his breath away as soon as he did manage to breathe. All he could do was to claw frantically for a better grip on the fringe at one end. And before he could work his way back on top of it, let alone speak, the carpet plunged downward-leaving Abdullah's newly gained breath high in the air above-barged its way through the curtains of the booth-half smothering Abdullah in the process-and landed smoothly-and very finally-on the floor inside.
Abdullah lay on his face, gasping, with dizzy memories of turrets whirling past him against a starry sky. Everything had happened so quickly that at first all he could think of was that the 27 distance between his booth and the night garden must be quite surprisingly short. Then, as his breath did at last come back, he wanted to kick himself.
What a stupid thing to have done! He could at least have waited until Flower-in-the-Night had had time to step on the carpet, too.
Now Flower-in-the-Night's own logic told him that there was no way to get back to her but to fall asleep again and, once more, hope he chanced to say the command word in his sleep. But as he had already done it twice, he was fairly sure that he would.
He was even more certain that Flower-in-the-Night would work this out for herself and wait in the garden for him. She was intelligence itself-a pearl among women. She would expect him back in an hour or so. After an hour of alternately blaming himself and praising Flower-in-the-Night, Abdullah did manage to fall asleep. But alas, when he woke he was still facedown on the carpet in the middle of his own booth.
Jamal's dog was barking outside, which was what had woken him up. This was all he needed. His father's first wife's relatives usually only came near him once a month, and they had paid that visit to him two days ago.
Hakim inserted his plump body between the hangings. Anyone could come in here and surprise you as you slept. Strangle me with a carpet? No, I cannot approve the safety of your arrangements. He was thoroughly miserable.
His soul cried out for Flower-in-the-Night, and he could not get to her. He had no patience with anything else. He went to the back of his booth to wash.
But it was clear that Hakim was not going away without delivering his message. When Abdullah turned around from washing, Hakim was still standing there. If you care to present yourself at the emporium in proper apparel, this box will be handed over to you. Nor did he see why he had to go himself to collect it when Hakim could just as easily have brought it with him.
He was about to refuse when it occurred to him that if he succeeded in uttering the correct word in his sleep tonight which he was confident he would, having done it twice before , then he and Flower-in-the-Night would in all probability be eloping together.
A man should go to his wedding correctly clothed and washed and shaved. So since he would be going to baths and barber anyway, he might as well drop in and collect the silly prophecy on his way back. The thought of his coming elopement so overjoyed him 30 that he smiled at Hakim and bowed with extreme politeness. He was obviously both displeased and suspicious.
Abdullah could not have cared less. As soon as Hakim was out of sight, he joyfully gave Jamal half his remaining money to guard his booth for the day. In return, he was forced to accept from the increasingly grateful Jamal a breakfast consisting of every delicacy on Jamal's stall. Excitement had taken away Abdullah's appetite.
There was so much food that in order not to hurt Jamal's feelings, Abdullah gave most of it secretly to Jamal's dog; this he did warily, because the dog was a snapper as well as a biter. The dog, however, seemed to share its master's gratitude.
It thumped its tail politely, ate everything Abdullah offered, and then tried to lick Abdullah's face. Abdullah dodged that piece of politeness. The dog's breath was laden with the scent of elderly squid. He patted it gingerly on its gnarled head, thanked Jamal, and hurried off into the Bazaar. There he invested his remaining cash in the hire of a handcart. This cart he loaded carefully with his best and most unusual carpets-his floral Ochinstan, the glowing mat from Inhico, the golden Farqtans, the glorious patterned ones from the deep desert, and the matched pair from distant Thayack-and wheeled them along to the big booths in the center of the Bazaar where the richest merchants traded.
For all his excitement, Abdullah was being practical. Flower-in-the-Night's father was clearly very rich. None but the wealthiest of men could afford the dowry for marrying a prince. It was therefore clear to Abdullah that he and Flower-in-the-Night would have to go very far away, or her father could make things very unpleasant for them.
But it was also clear to Abdullah that Flower-in-the-Night was used to having the best of everything. She would not be happy roughing it. So Abdullah had to have money. He bowed before the merchant in the richest of the rich booths and, having called him treasure among traders and most majestic of merchants, offered him the floral Ochinstan carpet for a truly tremendous sum.
In order to make room for these, I am forced to dispose of the least valuable of my carpets. And it occurred to me that a seller of celestial weavings like yourself might consider helping the son of his old friend by taking off my hands this miserable flowery thing, at a bargain price.
But for you I will reduce my price by two coppers. But by the early evening Abdullah had sold all his best carpets for nearly twice as much as he had paid for them. He reckoned that he now had enough ready money to keep Flower-in-the-Night in reasonable luxury for three months or so. After that he hoped that either something else would turn up or that the sweetness of her nature would reconcile her to poverty.
He went to the baths. He went to the barbeir. He called at the scent maker and had himself perfumed with oils. Then he went back to his booth and dressed in his best clothes. These clothes, like the clothes of most merchants, had various cunning insets, pieces of embroidery and ornamental twists of braid that were not ornaments at all, but cleverly concealed purses for money. Abdullah distributed his newly earned gold among these hiding places and was ready at last.
He went, not very willingly, along to his father's old emporium. He told himself that it would pass the time between now and his elopement. It was a curious feeling place where he had spent cedarwood and the spices familiar that if he shut to go up the shallow cedar steps and enter the so much of his childhood. The smell of it, the and the hairy, oily scent of carpets, was so his eyes, he could imagine he 32 was ten years old again, playing behind a roll of carpet while his father bargained with a customer.
But with his eyes open, Abdullah had no such illusion. His father's first wife's sister had a regrettable fondness for bright purple.
The walls, the trellis screens, the chairs for customers, the cashier's table, and even the cashbox had all been painted Fatima's favorite color. Fatima came to meet him in a dress of the same color. How prompt you are and how smart you look! It was so rare to see Assif smiling that Abdullah thought for a moment that Assif had ricked his neck and was grimacing with pain. Then Hakim sniggered, which made Abdullah realize what Assif had just said.
To his annoyance, he found he was blushing furiously. He was forced to bow politely in order to hide his face. That, of course, made Abdullah's blush worse. Abdullah ceased to blush. He saw he had been summoned here to be criticized. He was sure of it when Assif added reproachfully, "Our feelings are somewhat hurt, son of my father's niece's husband, that you did not seem to think we could oblige you by taking a few carpets off your hands.
My aim was to make a profit, and I could hardly mulct you, whom my father loved. We do not like this. Abdullah said, "There is nothing wrong with my mind. I know just what I am doing. And my aim is to cease giving you any chance to criticize me, probably by tomorrow. Meanwhile, Hakim told me to come here because you have found the prophecy that was made at my birth. Is this correct, or was it merely an excuse?
Oddly enough, instead of being angry with Abdullah in return, all three of his father's first wife's relations began hurrying excitedly around the emporium. He must see it! She gave the box to Assif, who thrust it into Abdullah's hands.
Abdullah put the box down on the purple cashier's table and sprang the catch. The lid went back, bringing a musty smell from inside, which was perfectly plain and empty apart from a folded yellowish paper. Read it! Abdullah could not see what the fuss was about, but he unfolded the paper. It had a few lines of writing on it, brown and faded and definitely his father's.
He turned toward the hanging lamp with it. Now that Hakim had shut the main doors, the general purpleness of the emporium made it hard to see in there. There's no light in here.
Bring him into the room at the back. The overhead shutters are open there. Abdullah was so busy trying to read the pale and scribbly writing of his father that he let them push him until he was positioned under the big overhead louvers in the living room behind the emporium.
That was better. Now he knew why his father had been so disappointed in him. The writing said: These are the words of the wise fortune teller: Two years after your death, whiile he is still a very young man, he will be raised above all others in this land.
As fate decrees it, so I have spoken. My son's fortune is a great disapppointment to me. Let Fate send me other sons to follow in my trade, or I have wasted forty gold pieces on this prophecy. Somebody giggled. Abdullah looked up from the paper, a little bemused.
There seemed to be a lot of scent in the air. The giggle came again, two of it, from in front of him. Abdullah's eyes snapped forward. He felt them bulge. Two extremely fat young women stood in front of him.
They met his bulging eyes and giggled again, coyly. Both were dressed to kill in shiny satin and ballooning gauze-pink on the right, yellow on the left one-and hung with more necklaces and bracelets than seemed probable. In addition, the pink one, who was fattest, had a pearl dangling on her forehead, just below her carefully frizzed hair. The yellow one, who was only just not fattest, wore a sort of amber tiara and had even frizzier hair. Both wore a very large amount of makeup, which was, in both cases, a severe error.
Didn't you hear me say I was going to look out for a couple of wives for you? After a fairly long pause, in which he swallowed hard and did his best to control his feelings, Abdullah said politely, "Tell me, O relatives of my father's first wife, have you known of the prophecy which was made at my birth for a long time? Then we took steps to ensure that we shared in your good fortune. These two brides of yours are closely related to all three of us.
You will naturally not neglect us as you rise. So, dear boy, it only remains for me to introduce you to the magistrate, who, as you see, stands ready to marry you. Now he raised his eyes and met the cynical look of the Justice of the Bazaar, who was just stepping 36 out from behind a screen with his Register of Marriages in his hands.
Abdullah wondered how much he was being paid. Abdullah bowed politely to the Justice. After they've come all this way, expecting to be married, and got all dressed up! How could you, nephew! The feelings of the two brides were hurt anyway. Each girl uttered a wail. Each put her veiled face in her hands and sobbed heavily. Abdullah discovered that the sight of females crying-particularly such large ones, who wobbled with it everywhere-made him feel terrible.
He knew he was an oaf and a beast. He was ashamed. The situation was not the girls' fault. They had been used by Assif, Fatima, and Hakim, just as Abdullah had been.
But the chief reason he felt so beastly-and it made him truly ashamed-was that he just wanted them to stop, to shut up and stop wobbling. Otherwise he did not care two hoots for their feelings. If he compared them with Flower-in-the-Night, he knew they revolted him.
The idea of marrying them stuck in his craw. He felt sick. But just because they were whimpering and sniffing and flubbering in front of him, he found himself considering that three wives were perhaps not so many, after all.
The two of them would make companions for Flower-in-the-Night when they were all far from Zanzib and home. He would have to explain the situation to them and load them onto the magic carpetThat brought Abdullah back to reason.
With a bump. With the sort of bump a magic carpet might make if loaded with two such 37 weighty females-always supposing it could even get off the ground with them on it in the first place. They were so very fat. As for thinking they would make companions for Flower-in-theNight-phooey! She was intelligent, educated, and kind, as well as being beautiful and thin. These two had yet to show him that they had a brain cell between them. They wanted to be married, and their crying was a way of bullying him into it.
And they giggled. He had never heard Flower-in-the-Night giggle. Here Abdullah was somewhat amazed to discover that he, really and truly, did love Flower-in-the-Night just as ardently as he had been telling himself he did-or more, because he now saw he respected her. He knew he would die without her. And if he agreed to marry these two fat nieces, he would be without her.
She would call him greedy, like the Prince in Ochinstan. It would have saved this misunderstanding. I cannot marry yet. I have made a vow. To be legal, all vows must be registered with a magistrate. Abdullah thought rapidly. I was but a small child at the time. Though I did not understand then, I see now it was because of the prophecy. My father, being a prudent man, did not wish to see his forty gold coins wasted. He made me vow that I would never marry until Fate had placed me above all others in this land.
So you see"-Abdullah put his hands in the sleeves of his best suit and bowed regretfully to the two fat brides-"I cannot yet marry you, twin plums of candied sugar, but the time will come.
He was sweating. He turned to Assif, Hakim, and Fatima and-rather coldly-made his formal goodbyes. Abdullah left with him, almost clinging to the Justice's official sash in his hurry to get away from the emporium and the two fat brides. Or she might love him still but have decided not to fly away with him. It took him a while to get to sleep. Learn how your comment data is processed. Skip to content. Castle in the Air Author: Diana Wynne Jones Publisher: March 5, Language: English ISBN Summary Reviews Download.
Summary of the Book Jones once again exercises her talent for humor in a lively fantasy adventure. Some tips if you cannot access the file hosting sites above because they are blocked: Try using proxy services. Search for "proxy" in Google. Use add-ons for your browser. Search for "chrome addons proxy" or "firefox add ons proxy.
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