Once upon a time … a widow had an only son whose name was Aladdin. They were very poor and lived from hand to mouth, though Aladdin did what he could to earn some pennies, by picking bananas in faraway places.
One day, as he was looking for wild figs in a grove some way from the town, Aladdin met a mysterious stranger. This smartly dressed dark-eyed man with a trim black beard and a splendid sapphire in his turban, asked Aladdin an unusual question.
"Come here, boy," he ordered. "How would you like to earn a silver penny?"
"A silver penny!" exclaimed Aladdin. "Sir, I'd do anything for that kind of payment."
The stranger helped Aladdin lift the manhole cover, for it was very heavy. Slim and agile as he was, the boy easily went down. His feet touched stone and he carefully made his way down some steps … and found himself in a large chamber.
It seemed to sparkle, though dimly lit by the flickering light of an old oil lamp. When Aladdin's eyes became used to the gloom, he saw a wonderful sight: trees dripping with glittering jewels, pots of gold and caskets full of priceless gems. Thousands of precious objects lay scattered about. It was a treasure trove! Unable to believe his eyes, Aladdin was standing dazed when he heard a shout behind him.
"The lamp! Put out the flame and bring me the lamp!" Surprised and suspicious, for why should the stranger, out of all such a treasure want only an old lamp, Aladdin wondered. Perhaps he was a wizard. He decided to be on his guard. Picking up the lamp, he retraced his steps up to the entrance.
"Give me the lamp," urged the wizard impatiently. "Hand it over," he began to shout, thrusting out his arm to grab it, but Aladdin cautiously drew back.
"Let me out first …"
"Too bad for you," snapped the stranger, slamming down the manhole cover ...