“‘the Magic Carpet rose gracefully into the air, sailed effortless around the Carpet Shop, and came lightly down to earth again’” (Langley, 84).
So let’s start with the seventh chapter.
Prince Tintac Pin Foo is out in the Arabian Desert, thinking he’s outwitted Prince Rubdub. Also, the “baking, bleaching, brutally blistering” desert doesn’t get a good rap on its introduction (75). Although, it gets a nice alliteration. But as general environments, deserts are pretty neat (or at least I think so).
What I like about them is that they’re defined by lack of rainfall and evaporation, not heat. That’s why it can snow in the Gobi Desert, and how technically Antarctica is a desert (even though it’s classified as a polar climate). Also, coastal deserts are awesome1.
Plus, when deserts bloom – wow! So they strike me as having an appearance of bland or barrenness but have really pretty potential in them. (Writing that now, it makes me think of Disney’s Aladdin, what with him being a diamond in the rough). Of course, I’ve never traveled for a long time in a desert, so maybe I shouldn’t comment on what it makes me think of based on environmental facts…
Back to the story. Tintac has sand up his nose, and I agree that that’d put me in a foul mood too. But he thinks he’s oh-so-clever for having his spies tell Rubdub’s spies that the only shop that sells magic carpets is in the Sahara Desert, instead of the Arabian Desert. Imagine his surprise when – bam! There’s Prince Rubdub Ben Thud in his litter in the oasis where the only magic shop is.
At first I thought maybe Rubdub just had a terrible sense of direction and had gotten lost, like a certain One Piece character.
But no, Rubdub actually saw through Tintac’s ruse. Naturally, Tintac is mightily ticked off, while his rival is in good spirits:
“‘Come, come! Not in front of the servants!’” Rubdub jollied him gaily.
“‘How did you get here?’” Ping Foo breathed hoarsely.
“‘In a litter!’” giggled Rubdub. “‘My, my, Ping Foo, I was hard put to keep a straight face when you told my spies that this Carpet Shop was in the Sahara Desert! And when you thought I believed you, a very hearty laugh was had by all! A very hearty laugh!’” (76-7).
I have to say, I was impressed with Rubdub’s show of intelligence. I didn’t expect it of him. Of course, there’s the possibility that Small Slave recognized the ruse. Although, I honestly wouldn’t put it past Rubdub to doubt anything Tintac told him. He’s hasn’t trusted him since they met. So, yeah, I putting this display of smarts on Rubdub’s shoulders. Good job using your mind.
After a little more bickering, they go into the shop and guess who’s there? Apparently, “Aladdin’s Wicked Uncle Abanazar” (78). That really threw me. I wasn’t expecting him to show up, since usually, you know, by this point he should be dead. Beheaded by Aladdin after Badroulbadour drugged him. (Couples that scheme together stay together?)
The narrator kindly gives a little summary of how Abanazar ended up in the middle of the Arabian Desert, pointing out that, “You recall, gentle reader, that he had been banished to Persia for his bad behavior in Peking? Well, the Persians had banished him, too; and here he was, rather gone to seed” (78).
The instant I read that, I wanted to know this story’s version of Aladdin. It’s obviously a derivative of Galland. Was Abanazar really his uncle? What kind of trouble did he cause in Peking to be banished? I want a story about what happened before Abu Ali was born.
Unrelated but the name of the shop sounds like an old car wash: Wishwash Ben Ragbab Carpet Company!
There’s some trouble right off, since there’s only one Magic Carpet and both Princes want it. This begs the question of whether Sulkpot knew. If he knew there was only one in the world, why did he send both princes out to get a magic carpet? Unless he didn’t know either. He probably didn’t.
But then there’s even more trouble when neither Prince has enough money to buy the Carpet. Each has 500 gold coins, which is nowhere near enough for a 999 and 1/2 gold coin Carpet.
Based on the chapter description “Which Reveals the Awful Villainy of the Wicked Princes” (75), I predicted they would pool their money and one of them would backstab the other.
And I was right — up to a point. They did pool their money, but when they both hop on the Carpet and Tintac orders it to fly them to Sulkpot’s home, nothing happens. Well, after some yelling, “[t]here was a faint twitch at one corner of the Carpet” (83). But it’s not flying.
Getting angry, they demand that Abanazar explain himself. He point blank says it’s “‘[b]ecause there’s too much weight on it’” (83). Ouch. I had a hunch Rubdub’s weight might be causing the problem.
The idea of someone being too heavy for a magic carpet to fly reminded me of Aladdin and the King of Thieves when Aladdin, Iago, Abu, and Carpet are in the lair of the Forty Thieves. Aladdin’s about to face the Challenge, Abu and Iago are in a cage, and Carpet’s grounded.
It’s reasonable to assume there’d be a weight limit on a flying carpet. Mostly because they’re still carpets. Unless you weave one out of steel or something, I’m not sure what the regular carrying capacity of carpets are. Although I’d wager that magic carpets can take more weight than regular carpets. Being magic and all that.
But I am glad, at least, that Rubdub shows affront on being called out on his weight and “‘demand[s] an immediate apology!’” (83).
There’s more bickering between the Princes and some shin-kicking.
By the end of the chapter I mostly just felt sorry for the Carpet. Also, if it’s the only one left, I wonder if it’s lonely? And if it would maybe like to be in politer, nicer company? (I would.)
1 the second source cites a mix of cold and coastal deserts
Langley, Noel. The Land of Green Ginger. Jeffrey, NH: David R. Godine Publisher, 1975. Print.