This section is from the book "Stories From The Thousand And One Nights", by Edward William Lane and Stanley Lanepoole. Also available from Amazon: Stories From Thousand And One Nights: The Arabian Nights' Entertainments.
I HAVE heard, O King of the Age, that there dwelt in a city of China a poor tailor who had a son named 'Ala-ed-Din. Now this boy had been a scatter-brained scapegrace from his birth. And when he had come to his tenth year his father wished to teach him a handicraft; and being too poor to afford to spend money on him for learning an art or craft or business, he took him into his own shop to learn his trade of tailoring. But 'Ala-ed-Din, being a careless boy, and always given to playing with the urchins of the street, would not stay in the shop a single day, but used to watch till his father went out on business or to meet a customer, and then would run off to the gardens along with his fellow-ragamuffins. Such was his case. He would neither obey his parents nor learn a trade; till his father, for very sorrow and grief over his son's misdoing, fell sick and died. But 'Ala-ed-Din went on in the same way. And when his mother perceived that her husband was dead, and that her son was an idler of no use whatever, she sold the shop and all its contents, and took to spinning cotton to support herself and her good-for-nothing son. Meanwhile, 'Ala-ed-Din, freed from the control of his father, grew more idle and disreputable, and would not stay at home except for meals, while his poor unfortunate mother subsisted by the spinning of her hands; and so it was, until he had come to his fifteenth year.
One day, as 'Ala-ed-Din was sitting in the street playing with the gutter-boys, a Moorish Darwish came along, and stood looking at them, and began to scrutinise *Ala-ed-Din and closely examine his appearance, apart from his companions. Now this Darwish was from the interior of Bar-bary, and was a sorcerer who could heap mountain upon mountain by his spells, and who knew astrology. And when he had narrowly scrutinised 'Ala-ed-Din, he said within himself: "Verily this is the youth I need, and in quest of whom I left my native land." And he took one of the boys aside and asked him concerning 'Ala-ed-Din, whose son he was, and wanted to know all about him. After which, he went up to 'Ala-ed-Din, and took him aside, and said: "Boy, art thou not the son of such a one, the tailor ?" And he answered: "Yes, O my master; but as to my father, he has long been dead." When the Moorish sorcerer heard this, he fell upon 'Ala-ed-Din, and embraced him and kissed him and wept till the tears ran down his cheeks. And when *Ala-ed Din saw the state of the Moor, wonder seized upon him, and he asked him and said: "Why dost thou weep, O my master? and how knowest thou my father?" And the Moor replied in a low and broken voice: "My boy, how dost thou ask me this question after thou hast told me that thy father, my brother is dead? For thy father was my brother, and I have journeyed from my country, and I rejoiced greatly in the hope of seeing him again, after my long exile, and cheering him; and now thou hast told me he is dead. But our blood hideth not from me that thou art my brother's son, and I recognised thee amongst all the boys, although thy father was not yet married when I parted from him. And now, O my son, 'Ala-ed-Din, I have missed the obesquies, and been deprived of the delight of meeting thy father, my brother, whom I had looked to see again, after my long absence, before I die. Separation caused me this grief, and created man hath no remedy or subterfuge against the decrees of God the most High." And he took 'Ala-ed-Din and said to him: "O my son, there remaineth no comfort to me but in thee; thou standest in thy father's place, since thou art his successor, and ' whoso leaveth issue doth not die/ O my son." And the sorcerer stretched forth his hand and took ten gold pieces, and gave them to 'Ala-ed-Din, saying to him: "O my son, where is thy house, and where is thy mother, my brother's widow?" So 'Ala-ed-Din shewed him the way to their house, and the sorcerer said to him: "O my son, take this money, and give it to thy mother, and salute her from me, and tell her that thy uncle hath returned from his exile, and, God willing, will visit her to-morrow to greet her and to see the house where my brother lived and the place where he is buried." So 'Ala-ed-Din kissed the hand of the Moor, and went, running in his joy, to his mother's, and entered, contrary to his custom, for he was not wont to come home save at meal times. And when he was come in he cried out in his joy: "O my mother, I bring thee good news of my uncle, who hath returned from his exile, and saluteth thee." And she said: "O my son, dost thou mock me? Who is this uncle of thine, and how hast thou an uncle at all?" And 'Ala-ed-Din answered: "O my mother, how canst thou say that I have no uncles or kinsmen living, when this man is my uncle on my father's side, and he hath embraced and kissed me and wept over me, and told me to make this known to thee!" And she said: "O my son, I know indeed that thou didst have an uncle, but he is dead, and I know not any other that thou hast".
On the morrow the Moorish sorcerer went out to seek 'Ala-ed-Din, for his heart could not bear parting from him; and as he wandered in the streets of the city, he met him disporting himself as usual along with the other vagabonds, and, approaching, he took him by the hand and embraced and kissed him, and took from his purse ten gold pieces, and said: "Haste thee to thy mother and give her these gold pieces, and tell her, 'My uncle would fain sup with us; so take these pieces and make ready for us a good supper/ But nest of all, shew me again the way to your home." And 'Ala-ed-Din replied: "On the head and eye, O my uncle".
And he went before him and shewed him the way home. So the Moor left him and went his way; while 'Ala-ed-Din went home and told his mother, and gave her the gold pieces, and said his uncle would fain take supper with them. So she arose forthwith and went to the market and bought what she needed, and returning home she set about making ready for the supper. And she borrowed from her neighbours what she needed of dishes and the rest, and when the time came for supper she said to her son: "Supper is ready, but perhaps thy uncle doth not know the way to the house j g& therefore, and meet him on the road." And he answered, "I hear and obey." And whilst they were talking, a knock came at the door, and when 'Ala-ed-Din opened, behold, there was the Moorish wizard, with a eunuch carrying wine and fruit. And 'Ala-ed-Din brought them in, and the eunuch departed; but the Moor entered and saluted the mother, and began weeping and asking her questions, as, "Where is the place where my brother sat?" And when she shewed him her husband's seat, he went to it and prostrated himself and kissed the ground, and cried: "Ah, how small is my satisfaction and how cruel my fate, since I have lost thee, O my brother, O apple of my eye!" And he went on in this manner, weeping and wailing, until 'Ala-ed-Din's mother was assured that it was true, for verily he had swooned from the violence of his grief. And she raised him up from the ground and said: "What benefit is there in killing thyself?" And she comforted him, and seated him. And after he was seated and before the supper-tray was served, the Moor began talking with her, and said: "O wife of my brother, let it not amaze thee that in all thy life thou hast neither seen me nor heard of me in the days of my departed brother; for it is forty years since I left this city and banished myself from my birthplace and wandered throughout the countries of India and China and Arabia, and came to Egypt and abode in its glorious capital, which is one of the wonders of the world, until at length I journeyed to the interior of the West and abode there for the space of thirty years. One day, O wife of my brother, I was sitting thinking of my native land and my birthplace and my blessed brother, and my longing to see him grew stronger, and I wept and wailed over my separation and distance from him. And at last my yearning made me»determine to journey to this country, which is the pillow of my head and my birthplace, for to see my brother. For I said to myself: 'O man, how long wilt thou abandon thy country and thy native place, when thou hast but one brother and no more? So rise and journey and see him ere thou die; for who can tell the calamities of this world and the chances of life? And it would be a sore grief to die without seeing thy brother.