In a distant land, three men stood in the midst of the marketplace of a walled city. The men were map-makers hired by the Emperor to make a map of the city and surrounding area. The men were hunched over a map, surrounded with the tools of their trade; brass measuring devices and all manner of mechanical equipment.
A crowd gathered around them to listen to their conversation. Each one of the map-makers was voicing his very strong opinions about what should or shouldn’t be included on the map and how far things were in relation to other things. The more the men talked, the more engrossed the crowd became. On-lookers started forming their own opinions based on the map-maker’s conversation and from getting occasional glimpses of the map. Some of the onlookers started having their own heated arguments with each other about the map.
A young woman named Mina had been a part of the crowd. She had become mesmerized by the debate. Mina finally pulled herself away. Watching all of that posturing and arguing had left her feeling sluggish and in a daze. A splash of azure blue caught her eye. Mina took a second look. The color came from a carpet seller’s stall. She wandered over, still in a bit of a daze.
The carpet merchant spoke to her. “Good morning, young lady. Are you looking to buy a carpet today?”
“No, I don’t think so. I was drawn to the lovely blue color in one of the rugs,” said Mina.
“Ah. I understand. I see you come from the direction of the crowd around the map-makers. What did you think of the conversation?” said the man.
“I don’t know what to think,” said Mina. “Everyone is so sure they are right, but they can’t all be right, can they?”
“I do not concern myself with such matters. I simply sell carpets. Show me which carpet caught your eye,” said the rug merchant.
“This one,” said Mina, pointing to a carpet sticking out of the middle of a big stack.
The rug seller pulled the azure carpet from the stack and gave it a good shake to get the dust off.
“Is this the one?” he asked.
“Yes, said Mina. “Oh, it’s so beautiful. Such a wonderful color and I love the little animals dancing around the edges.”
“You have a good eye, said the merchant. “This one is not only beautiful, it is able to fly.”
Mina knew that market sellers exaggerated the claims of their merchandise, but to go so far as to say it could fly…did the merchant think she was a fool? She decided to call his bluff. She placed the small blue rug on the ground and sat down on the carpet and looked up at the rug seller.
“Now what do I do?” she said with a smile on her face.
“Say the magic words,” he responded with a smile on his face.
“What are the magic words?” said Mina.
“Anything you wish them to be; it doesn’t really matter,” answered the carpet seller.
“Rye bread toast with poppy seeds!” Mina shouted.
The carpet lifted off the ground a few inches.
“I don’t believe it. It really works!” exclaimed Mina.
“Of course it works,” said the merchant. “Why wouldn’t it?”
“Now what do I do?” asked Mina.
“Just think about where you want to go, and the carpet will take you there!” called the merchant. As he spoke, the carpet was lifting higher into the air and he had to speak louder as Mina got farther away. He was still shouting directions as Mina floated too high to hear anymore.
The carpet rose high above the market place and ascended above the tallest buildings before coming to rest. From this vantage Mina could see the entire city before her. It looked just like the map. She could also see the fields, rivers, forests, and deserts that went beyond the city walls. Mina saw that, although the map makers had mapped the city perfectly in every detail, they had gotten everything outside the walls of the city completely wrong. The farther away from the city, the more distorted the map became.
Mina looked down to where the map makers were arguing. She considered flying down to tell them what things really looked like. Or maybe she should tell them about the carpet seller and the magic carpets so they could find out the truth for themselves.
Just then, a cool breeze brushed her cheek. She looked up from the map-makers to the distance horizons and saw the beauty of the landscape spread out on all sides. She lost all interest in the map-makers and their foolish arguing. Adventure was calling to her. Mina set in her mind the most wonderful place she could imagine, and flew away.