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THE STORY OF ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES
IN a town in Persia, there lived two brothers, one named Cassim, the other Ali Baba. Their father left them no great property; though as he had divided it equally between them, their fortune should have been equal; but it was otherwise.
Cassim married a widow, who, soon after their marriage, became heiress to a large estate, and a good shop and warehouse full of rich merchandize; so that all at once he became one of the richest merchants, and lived at his ease.
Ali Baba, on the other hand, who married a woman as poor as himself, lived in a very mean dwelling, and had no other means of maintaining his wife and children than his daily labour in cutting wood in a forest near the town, and bringing it upon three asses to town to sell.
One day, when Ali Baba was in the forest, and had just cut wood enough to load his asses, he saw at a distance a great cloud of dust, which seemed to approach towards him: he observed it very attentively, and distinguished a large body of horse coming briskly on; and though they did not fear robbers in that country, Ali Baba began to think that they might prove such, and, without considering what might become of his asses, he resolved to save himself. He climbed up a large tree, whose branches, at a little distance from the ground, divided in a circular form so close to one another that there was but little space between them. He placed himself in the middle, from whence he could see all that passed without being seen. This tree stood at the bottom of a single rock, which was very high, and so steep and craggy that nobody could climb it.
The troop, who were all well mounted and well armed, came to the foot of this rock, and there dismounted. Ali Baba counted forty of them, and by their looks never doubted that they were thieves; nor was he mistaken; for they were a troop of banditti, who, without doing any harm in the neighbourhood, robbed at a distance, and made that place their rendezvous. Every man unbridled his horse, and tied him to a shrub, and hung about his neck a bag of corn. Then each of them took his saddle-bags, which seemed to Ali Baba to be full of gold and silver by the weight. One, whom he took to be their captain, came with his saddle-bags on his back under the tree in which Ali Baba was hidden, and, making his way through some shrubs, pronounced these words, "Open, Sesame," so distinctly, that Ali Baba heard him. As soon as the captain of the robbers uttered these words, a door opened; and after he had made all his troop go in before him, he followed them, and the door shut again of itself.
The robbers stayed some time within the rock, and Ali Baba, who feared that some or all of them together might come out and catch him if he endeavoured to make his escape, was obliged to sit patiently in the tree. He was nevertheless tempted once or twice to get down and mount one of their horses, and, leading another, to drive his asses before him to the town with all the haste he could; but uncertainty made him choose the safest way.
At last the door opened again, and the forty robbers came out. As the captain went in last, so he came out first, and stood to see them all pass by; and then Ali Baba heard him make the door fast by pronouncing the words, "Shut, Sesame." Every man went and bridled his horse, fastened his saddlebags, and mounted again; and when the captain saw them all ready, he put himself at their head, and they returned the way they came.
Ali Baba did not immediately quit his tree; "for," said he to himself, "they may have forgotten something and come back again, and then I shall be caught." He followed them with his eyes as far as he could see them; and after that waited some time before he came down. Remembering the words the captain of the robbers had made use of to cause the door to open and shut, he had the curiosity to try whether his pronouncing them would have the same effect. Accordingly, he went among the shrubs, and perceiving the door concealed behind them, he stood before it, and said, "Open, Sesame." The door instantly flew open.
Ali Baba, who expected a dark dismal place, was very much surprised to see it well lighted and spacious, cut out by men's hands in the form of a vault, which received the light from an opening at the top of the rock. He saw all sorts of provisions, and rich bales of merchandize, of silk, stuff, brocade, and valuable carpeting, piled one upon another; and, above all, gold and silver in great heaps, and money in great leather purses. The sight of all these riches made him believe that the cave had been occupied for ages by robbers, who succeeded one another.
Ali Baba did not stand long to consider what to do, but went immediately into the cave, and as soon as he was in, the door shut. But this did not disturb him, because he knew the secret of opening it again. He disregarded the silver, but made the best use of his time in carrying out as much of the gold coin, which was in bags, as he thought his three asses could carry. When he had done, he fetched his asses, which had strayed, and, when he had loaded them with the bags, laid the wood on them in such a manner that the bags could not be seen. When he had done, he stood before the door, and pronouncing the words, "Shut, Sesame," the door closed after him; for it had shut of itself while he was within, and remained open while he was out. He then made the best of his way to the town.
When Ali Baba got home, he drove his asses into a little yard, and shut the gates very carefully, threw off the wood that covered the bags, carried them into his house, and ranged them in order before his wife, who sat on a sofa.
His wife handled the bags, and finding them full of money, suspected that her husband had been stealing, insomuch that when he had brought them all in, she could not help saying, "Ali Baba, have you been so unhappy as to-- "
"Be quiet, wife," interrupted Ali Baba; "do not frighten yourself: I am no robber, unless he can be one who steals from robbers. You will no longer have a bad opinion of me, when I tell you my good fortune." Then he emptied the bags, which raised such a great heap of gold as dazzled his wife's eyes; and when he had done, he told her the whole adventure from beginning to end; and, above all, recommended her to keep it secret.
The wife recovered, and, cured of her fears, rejoiced with her husband at their good luck, and wanted to count all the gold, piece by piece. "Wife," replied Ali Baba, "you do not know what you are undertaking when you try to count the money; you will never have done. I will go and dig a hole, and bury it; there is no time to be lost."
"You are in the right, husband," replied the wife; "but let us know, as nearly as possible, how much we have. I will go and borrow a small measure in the neighbourhood, and measure it, while you dig the hole."
"What you are going to do is to no purpose, wife," said Ali Baba; "if you take my advice, you had better let it alone; but be sure to keep the secret, and do what you please."
Away the wife ran to her brother-in-law Cassim, who lived close by, but was not then at home; and addressing herself to his wife, asked her to lend her a measure for a little while. Her sister-in-law asked her whether she would have a large or a small one. "A small one," said she. Cassim's wife bade her wait a little, and she would readily fetch one.
The sister-in-law did so, but as she knew very well Ali Baba's poverty, she was curious to know what sort of grain his wife wanted to measure, and bethought herself of artfully putting some suet at the bottom of the measure; then she brought it to her with the excuse that she was sorry that she had made her wait so long, but that she could not find it sooner.
Ali Baba's wife went home, set the measure upon the heap of gold, and filled it and emptied it, at a small distance upon the sofa, till she had done: and she was very well satisfied to find that the number of measures amounted to so many as they did, and went to tell her husband, who had almost finished digging the hole. While Ali Baba was burying the gold, his wife, to show her punctuality to her sister-in-law, carried the measure back again, without noticing that a piece of gold stuck at the bottom. "Sister," said she, giving it back to her again, "you see that I have not kept your measure long: I am much obliged to you, and return it with thanks."
As soon as Ali Baba's wife's back was turned, Cassim's wife looked at the bottom of the measure, and was inexpressibly surprised to find a piece of gold sticking to it. Envy immediately possessed her heart. "What!" said she, "has Ali Baba gold so plentifully as to measure it? Where has that poor wretch got all this gold?" Cassim, her husband, was at his shop, which he left always in the evening. His wife waited for him, and thought the time an age; so great was her impatience to tell him the news, at which he would be so much surprised.
When Cassim came home, his wife said to him, "Cassim, you think yourself rich, but you are much mistaken; Ali Baba is infinitely richer than you; he does not count his money, but measures it." Cassim desired her to explain the riddle, which she did, telling him the stratagem by which she had made the discovery, and showing him the piece of money, which was so old a coin that they could not tell in what prince's reign it was coined.
Cassim, instead of being pleased at his brother's prosperity, could not sleep all that night for jealousy, but went to him in the morning before sunrise. Now Cassim, after he had married the rich widow, never treated Ali Baba as a brother, but forgot him. "Ali Baba," said he, "you are very reserved in your affairs; you pretend to be miserably poor, and yet you measure gold!"
"What, brother?" replied Ali Baba; "I do not know what you mean: explain yourself."
"Do not pretend ignorance," replied Cassim, showing him the piece of gold his wife had given him. "How many of these pieces have you? My wife found this at the bottom of the measure you borrowed yesterday."
By this Ali Baba perceived that Cassim and his wife, through his own wife's folly, knew what they had such good reason to keep secret; but what was done could not be recalled; therefore without showing the least surprise or vexation, he confessed all, and told his brother by what chance he had discovered this retreat of the thieves, and where it was; and offered him part of his treasure to keep the secret. "I expected as much," replied Cassim haughtily; "but I will know exactly where this treasure is, and the signs and tokens by which I may go to it myself when I have a mind; otherwise I will go and inform against you, and then you will not only get no more, but will lose all you have got, and I shall have my share for my information."
Ali Baba, more out of his natural good temper than frightened by the insulting threats of a barbarous brother, told him all he desired, and even the very words he was to make use of to go into the cave and to come out again.
Cassim, who wanted no more of Ali Baba, left him, resolving to be beforehand with him, and hoping to get all the treasure to himself. He rose early the next morning, a long time before sunrise, and set out with ten mules laden with great chests, which he designed to fill: intending to carry many more the next time, according to the riches he found; and followed the road which Ali Baba had told him. It was not long before he came to the rock, and found out the place by the tree. When he came to the door, he pronounced the words, "Open, Sesame," and it opened; and when he was in, shut again.
In examining the cave, he was astonished to find much more riches than he had supposed from Ali Baba's story. He was so covetous and fond of riches that he could have spent the whole day in feasting his eyes with so much treasure, if the thought that he came to carry some away with him had not hindered him. He laid as many bags of gold as he could carry away by the entrance, and, coming at last to open the door, his thoughts were so full of the great riches he should possess that he could not think of the necessary word; but instead of "Open, Sesame," said, "Open, Barley," and was very much amazed to find that the door did not open, but remained fast shut. He named several sorts of grain,--all but the right one,--and the door would not open.
Cassim had never expected such an accident, and was so frightened at the danger he was in that the more he endeavoured to remember the word "Sesame," the more his memory failed, and he had as much forgotten it as if he had never heard it in his life. He threw down the bags with which he had laden himself, and walked hastily up and down the cave, without the least attention to all the riches that were around him. In this miserable condition we will leave him, bewailing his fate, and undeserving of pity.
About noon the robbers returned to their cave, and from some distance saw Cassim's mules straggling about the rock with great chests on their backs. Alarmed at this unexpected sight, they galloped full speed to the cave. They drove away the mules, which Cassim had neglected to fasten, and which strayed away through the forest so far that they were soon out of sight. The robbers never gave themselves the trouble of pursuing the mules: they were more concerned to know to whom they belonged. And while some of them searched about the rock, the captain and the rest went straight to the door, with naked sabres in their hands, and on their pronouncing the words, it opened.
Cassim, who heard the noise of the horses' feet from the middle of the cave, never doubted the coming of the robbers, and his approaching death; but he was resolved to make one effort to escape. To this end he stood ready at the door, and no sooner heard the word "Sesame," which he had forgotten, and saw the door open, than he jumped briskly out, and threw the captain down, but could not escape the other robbers, who with their sabres soon deprived him of life.
The first care of the robbers after this was to go into the cave. They found all the bags which Cassim had brought to the door, and carried them all back again to their places, without perceiving what Ali Baba had taken away before. Then holding a council, and deliberating upon the matter, they guessed that Cassim, when he was in, could not get out again; but they could not imagine how he had got in. It came into, their heads that he might have got down by the top of the cave; but the opening by which it received light was so high, and the top of the rock so inaccessible without-besides that, nothing showed that he had done so-that they believed it hopeless for them to find out. That he came in at the door they could not feel sure, unless he had the secret of making it open. In short, none of them could imagine which way he entered; for they were all persuaded that nobody knew their secret, little imagining that Ali Baba had watched them. But, however it had happened, it was a matter of the greatest importance to them to secure their riches. They agreed, therefore, to cut Cassim's body into four quarters, and to hang two on one side, and two on the other, inside the door of the cave, to terrify any person who might attempt the same thing. They had no sooner taken this resolution than they executed it; and when they had nothing more to detain them, they left the place of their retreat well closed. They mounted their horses, and went to range the roads again, and to attack the caravans they might meet.
In the meantime Cassim's wife was very uneasy when night came, and her husband had not returned. She ran to Ali Baba in a terrible fright, and said, "I believe, brother-in-law, you know that Cassim, your brother, has gone to the forest, and why; it is now night, and he has not returned; I am afraid some misfortune has befallen him." Ali Baba, who never doubted that his brother, after what he had said, would go to the forest, told her, without any reflection upon her husband's unhandsome behaviour, that she need not alarm herself, for that certainly Cassim would not think it proper to come into the town till the night was pretty far advanced.
Cassim's wife, considering how much it behoved her husband to keep this thing secret, was the more easily persuaded to believe him. She went home again, and waited patiently till midnight. Then her fear redoubled, and she repented of her foolish curiosity, and cursed her desire to penetrate into the affairs of her brother and sister-in-law. She spent all that night in weeping; and as soon as it was light, went to them, showing by her tears the reason of her coming.
Ali Baba did not wait for his sister-in-law to ask him to go and see what had become of Cassim, but went immediately with his three asses, begging her first to moderate her grief. He went to the forest, and when he came near the rock, having seen neither his brother nor his mules on the way, he was very much surprised to see some blood spilt by the door. This he took for an ill omen, but when he had pronounced the words, and the door opened, he was much more startled at the dismal sight of his brother in quarters. He was not long in determining how he should pay the last dues to his brother, and without remembering how little brotherly friendship he had shown to him, went into the cave to find something to wrap the remains in, put them on one of his asses, and covered them over with wood. The other two asses he loaded with bags of gold, covering them with wood also as before. Then bidding the door shut, he came away; but was cautious enough to stop some time at the end of the forest, that he might not go into the town before nightfall. When he came home, he drove the two asses laden with gold into his little yard, and left the care of unloading them to his wife, while he led the other to his sister-in-law's.
Ali Baba knocked at the door, which was opened by Morgiana, an intelligent slave, clever in inventing plans for the most difficult undertakings: and Ali Baba knew she was. When he came into the court, he unloaded the ass, and taking Morgiana aside, said to her, "The first thing I ask of you is inviolable secrecy, which you will find is necessary both for your mistress' sake and mine. Your master's body is contained in these two bundles, and our business is to bury him as if he had died a natural death. Go and tell your mistress I want to speak to her, and mind what I say."
Morgiana went to her mistress, and Ali Baba followed. "Well, brother," said she, with great impatience, "what news do you bring me of my husband? I perceive no comfort in your face."
"Sister," answered Ali Baba, "I cannot tell you anything before you hear my story from the beginning to the end, without speaking a word; for it is of as great importance to you as to me to keep what has happened secret."
"Alas!" said she, "this tells me that my husband is dead ; but as I know the necessity of the secrecy you require of me, I must constrain myself: say on, I will hear you."
Then Ali Baba told his sister all about his journey, till he came to the finding of Cassim's body. "Now," said he, "sister, I have something to tell you which will distress you much more, because it is what you so little expect; but it cannot now be remedied. We must now think of acting so that my brother may appear to have died a natural death. I think you may leave the management of it to Morgiana, and I will contribute all that lies in my power."
What could Cassim's widow do better than accept this proposal? Ali Baba left the widow, and, recommending Morgiana to act her part well, then returned home with his ass.
Morgiana went out to an apothecary, and asked him for some lozenges which he prepared, and which were very efficacious in the most dangerous illnesses. The apothecary asked her who was ill at her master's. She replied, with a sigh, her good master Cassim himself: they knew not what his illness was, but he could neither eat nor speak. After these words, Morgiana carried the lozenges home with her, and the next morning went to the same apothecary's again, and, with tears in her eyes, asked for an essence which they used to give sick people only when at the last extremity. "Alas!" said she, taking it from the apothecary, "I am afraid that this remedy will have no better effect than the lozenges, and that I shall lose my good master."
On the other hand, as Ali Baba and his wife were often seen to go between Cassim's and their own house all that day, and to seem melancholy, nobody was surprised in the evening to hear the lamentable shrieks and cries of Cassim's wife and Morgiana, who told everyone that her master was dead.
Next morning, soon after daylight appeared, Morgiana, who knew a certain old cobbler who opened his stall early, before other people, went to him, and bidding him good-morning, put a piece of gold into his hand. "Well," said Baba Mustapha, which was his name, and who was a merry old fellow, looking at the gold, though it was hardly daylight, and seeing what it was, "this is good handling; what must I do for it? I am ready."
"Baba Mustapha," said Morgiana, "you must take with you your sewing tackle, and go with me; but I shall blindfold you when you come to a certain place."
Baba Mustapha seemed to hesitate a little at these words. "Oh, ho!" replied he, "you would have me do something against my conscience, or against my honour."
"Nay," said Morgiana, putting another piece of gold into his hand, "only come along with me, and fear nothing."
Baba Mustapha went with Morgiana, who, after she had bound his eyes with a handkerchief, at the place she told him of, took him to her deceased master's house, and never unbandaged his eyes till he came in. "Baba Mustapha," said she, "you must make haste and sew these pieces of my master together; and when you have done, I will give you another piece of gold."
After Baba Mustapha had done, she blindfolded him again, gave him the third piece of gold as she had promised, imposed secrecy on him, and led him back to the place where she first bound his eyes. Then she pulled off the bandage, and let him go home, but watched till he was quite out of sight, for fear he should have the curiosity to return and dodge her; and then went home.
Morgiana had scarcely got home before the iman and the other ministers of the mosque came. Four neighbours carried the coffin on their shoulders to the burying-ground, following the iman, who recited some prayers. Morgiana, as a slave of the deceased, followed, weeping, beating her breast, and tearing her hair; and Ali Baba came after with some neighbours.
Cassim's wife stayed at home mourning, uttering lamentable cries with the women of the neighbourhood, who came according to custom during the funeral, and, joining their lamentations with hers, filled the quarter far and near with sorrow.
In this manner Cassim's melancholy death was concealed and hushed up between Ali Baba, his wife, Cassim's widow, and Morgiana, so that nobody in the city had the least knowledge or suspicion of the reason of it.
Three or four days after the funeral, Ali Baba removed his few goods to his brother's widow's house; the money he had taken from the robbers he conveyed thither by night; and soon afterwards the marriage with his sister-in-law was published, and as these marriages are common in the Mussulman religion, nobody was surprised.
Cassim's shop, Ali Baba gave it to his own eldest son, who had been
out of his apprenticeship to a great merchant, promising him withal
that, if he
managed well, he would soon give him a fortune to marry upon.
THE STORY OF ALI BABA
LET us now return to the forty robbers.
They came again at the appointed time to visit their retreat in the forest; but how great was their surprise to find Cassim's body taken away, and some of their bags of gold!" We are certainly discovered," said the captain, "and shall be undone, if we do not take care; otherwise we shall gradually lose all the riches which our ancestors have been so many years amassing together with so much pains and danger. All that we can think of is that the thief whom we surprised had the secret of opening the door, and we came luckily as he was coming out; but his body being removed, and with it some of our money, plainly shows that he had an accomplice. As it is likely that there were but two who had got the secret, and one has been caught, we must look narrowly after the other. What say you to it, my lads?"
All the robbers thought the captain's proposal so reasonable that they unanimously approved of it, and agreed that they must lay all other enterprises aside, to follow this closely, and not give it up till they had succeeded.
"I expected no less," said the captain, "from your courage and bravery: but, first of all, one of you who is bold, artful, and enterprising, must go into the town dressed like a traveller and stranger, and do all he can to see if he can hear any talk of the strange death of the man whom we killed, as he deserved, and to find out who he was, and where he lived. This is a matter of the first importance for us to know, that we may do nothing which we may have reason to repent of, by revealing ourselves in a country where we have lived so long unknown, and where we have so much reason to remain: but to warn the man who shall take upon himself this commission, and to prevent our being deceived by his giving us a false report, which might be the cause of our ruin, I ask you all, whether you do not think it fit that if he does he shall suffer death?"
Without waiting for his companions, one of the robbers started up, and said, "I submit to this law, and think it an honour to expose my life by taking such a commission upon me; but remember, at least, if I do not succeed, that I wanted neither courage nor good-will to serve the troop."
After this robber had received great commendation from the captain and his comrades, he disguised himself so that nobody would take him for what he was; and taking leave of the troop that night, went into the town just at daybreak; and walked up and down till he came to Baba Mustapha's stall, which was always open before any of the shops of the town.
Baba Mustapha was sitting on his seat with an awl in his hand, just going to work. The robber saluted him, and perceiving that he was very old, he said, "Honest man, you begin to work very early: is it possible that any one of your age can see so well? I question whether you can see to stitch."
"Certainly," replied Baba Mustapha, "you must be a stranger, and not know me; for, old as I am, I have extraordinarily good eyes; and you will not doubt it when I tell you that I sewed the pieces of a dead man together in a place where I had not so much light as I have now."
The robber was overjoyed to think that he had addressed himself, at his first coming into the town, to a man who gave him the information he wanted, without being asked. "A dead man!" replied he with amazement. "What could you sew up a dead man for? You mean you sewed up his winding sheet."
"No, no," answered Baba Mustapha, "I know what I say; you want to have me speak out, but you shall know no more."
The robber needed no great insight to be persuaded that he had discovered what he came about. He pulled out a piece of gold, and putting it into Baba Mustapha's hand, said "I do not want to know your secret, though I can assure you I would not divulge it, if you trusted me. The only thing which I request of you is to do me the favour to point out the house where you stitched up the dead man."
"If I wanted to do you that favour," replied Baba Mustapha, holding the money in his hand, ready to return it, "I assure you I cannot; on my word, I was taken to a certain place, where they first blindfolded me, and then led me to the house, and brought me back again after the same manner; therefore you see the impossibility of doing what you desire."
"Well," replied the robber, "you may remember a little of the way that you were led blindfold. Come, let me bind your eyes at the same place. We will walk together by the same way and turnings; perhaps you may remember some part; and as everybody ought to be paid for their trouble, there is another piece of gold for you: gratify me in what I ask you." So saying, he put another piece of gold into his hand.
The two pieces of gold were a great temptation to Baba Mustapha. He looked at them a long time in his hand, without saying a word, thinking what he should do; but at last he pulled out his purse, and put them in. "I cannot assure you," said he to the robber, "that I remember the way exactly; but, since you desire it, I will try what I can do." At these words Baba Mustapha rose up, to the great satisfaction of the robber, and without shutting up his shop, where he had nothing valuable to lose, he led the robber to the place where Morgiana had bound his eyes. "It was here," said Baba Mustapha, "that I was blindfolded; and I turned as you see me." The robber, who had his handkerchief ready, tied it over his eyes, and walked by him till he stopped, partly leading him, and partly guided by him. "I think," said Baba Mustapha, "I went no further," and he had now stopped directly opposite Cassim's house, where Ali Baba lived then; upon which the thief, before he pulled off the handkerchief, marked the door with a piece of chalk, which he had ready in his hand; and when he had pulled it off, he asked him if he knew whose house that was: to which Baba Mustapha replied, that as he did not live in the neighbourhood, he could not tell.
The robber, finding he could discover no more from Baba Mustapha, thanked him for the trouble he had taken, and left him to go back to his stall, while he returned to the forest, persuaded that he would be very well received.
A little while after the robber and Baba Mustapha parted, Morgiana went out of Ali Baba's house for something, and coming home again, she saw the mark the robber had made, and stopped to observe it. "What is the meaning of this?" said she to herself: "either somebody intends my master no good, or else some boy has been playing the rogue: with whatever intention it was done, it is good to guard against the worst." Accordingly she went and fetched a piece of chalk, and marked two or three doors on each side in the same manner, without saying a word to her master or mistress.
In the meantime the thief rejoined his troop again in the forest, and told then the success he had had, dwelling upon his good fortune in meeting so soon with the only person who could tell him what he wanted to know. All the robbers listened to him with the utmost satisfaction. Then the captain, after commending his diligence, addressed himself to them all and said, "Comrades, we have no time to lose: let us all set off well armed, without its appearing who we are; and that we may not give any suspicion, let one or two go privately into the town together, and appoint the rendezvous in the great square; and in the meantime our comrade, who brought us the good news, and myself will go and find out the house."
This speech and plan was approved by all, and they were soon ready. They filed off in small groups of two or three, at the proper distance from each other; and all got into the town without being in the least suspected. The captain and he that came in the morning as spy came in last of all. He led the captain into the street where he had marked Ali Baba's house, and when they came to one of the houses which Morgiana had marked, he pointed it out. But going a little further, to avoid being noticed, the captain observed that the next door was chalked after the same manner, and in the same place; and showing it to his guide, asked him which house it was, that, or the first. The guide was so bewildered, that he knew not what answer to make; much less, when he and the captain saw five or six houses marked in the same manner. He assured the captain that he had marked but one, and could not tell who had chalked the rest; and owned, in his confusion, that he could not distinguish it.
The captain, finding that their design proved abortive, went at once to the place of rendezvous, and told the first of his troop that he met that they had lost their labour, and must return to their cave. He himself set them the example, and they all returned as they came.
When the troop was all together, the captain told them the reason of their returning; and presently the conductor was declared by all to be worthy of death. He condemned himself, acknowledging that he ought to have taken better precautions, and knelt down to receive the stroke from him that was appointed to cut off his head.
But as it was for the safety of the troop that an injury should not go unpunished, another of the gang, who promised that he would succeed better, presented himself; and his offer being accepted, he went and corrupted Baba Mustapha, as the other had done, and being shown the house, marked it, in a place more remote from sight, with red chalk.
Not long after, Morgiana, whose eyes nothing could escape, went out. She saw the red chalk, and, arguing after the same manner with herself, marked the neighbours' houses in the same place and manner.
The robber, on his return to his company, prided himself very much upon the precaution he had taken, which he looked upon as an infallible way of distinguishing Ali Baba's house from those of his neighbours, and the captain and all of them thought it must succeed. They conveyed themselves into the town in the same manner as before, and when the robber and his captain came to the street, they found the same difficulty, at which the captain was enraged, and the robber in as great confusion as his predecessor.
Thus the captain and his troop were forced to retire a second time, still more dissatisfied; and the robber, as the author of the mistake, underwent the same punishment, to which he willingly submitted.
The captain, having lost two brave fellows of his troop, was afraid of diminishing it too much by pursuing this plan to get information about Ali Baba's house. He found, by their example, that their heads were not so good as their hands on such occasions, and therefore resolved to take upon himself this important commission.
Accordingly, he went and addressed himself to Baba Mustapha who did him the same service as he had done to the former men. He did not amuse himself with setting any particular mark on the house, but examined and observed it so carefully, by passing and repassing, that it was impossible for him to mistake it.
The captain, very well satisfied with his journey, and informed of what he wanted to know, returned to the forest; and when he came into the cave, where the troops awaited him, he said: "Now, comrades, nothing can prevent our full revenge. I am certain of the house, and on my way hither I have thought how to act, and if any one knows a better plan, let him communicate it." Then he ordered them to go into the towns and villages round about, and buy nineteen mules, and thirty-eight large leather jars, one full, and the others all empty.
In two or three days' time the robbers purchased the mules and jars, and as the mouths of the jars were rather too narrow for his purpose, the captain caused them to be widened; and after having put one of his men into each, with the weapons which he thought suitable, and leaving open the seam which had been undone so as to leave them room to breathe, he rubbed the jars on the outside with oil from the full vessel.
Things being thus prepared, when the nineteen mules were loaded with thirty-seven robbers in jars and the jar of oil, the captain as their driver set out with them, and reached the town by the dusk of the evening, as he intended. He led them through the streets till he came to Ali Baba's, at whose door he had intended to knock. Ali Baba was sitting there, after supper, to take a little fresh air. The robber captain stopped his mules, and said, "I have brought some oil here a great way to sell at to-morrow's market, and it is now so late that I do not know where to lodge. If I should not be troublesome to you, do me the favour to let me pass the night here, and I shall be very much obliged to you."
Though Ali Baba had seen the captain of the robbers in the forest, and had heard him speak, it was impossible for him to know him in the disguise of an oil-merchant. He told him he would be welcome, and immediately opened his gates for the mules to go into the yard. At the same time he called to a slave, and ordered him, when the mules were unloaded, not only to put them into the stable, but to give them corn and hay, and then went to Morgiana, to bid her get a good hot supper for his guest, and make him a good bed.
To make his guest as welcome as possible, when he saw the captain had unloaded his mules, that they were put into the stables as he had ordered, and that he was looking for a place to pass the night out of doors, he brought him into the hall, telling him he could not suffer him to remain in the court. The captain excused himself, on pretence of not being troublesome, but really to have room to execute his design; and it was not until after the most pressing importunity that he yielded. Ali Baba, not content with showing hospitality to the man who had a design on his life, continued talking with him till supper was ended, and repeated his offer of service.
The captain rose up at the same time, and went with him to the door, and, while Ali Baba went into the kitchen to speak to Morgiana, he went into the yard, under pretence of looking at his mules. Ali Baba, after charging Morgiana afresh to take great care of his guest, said to her, "To-morrow morning I intend to go to the baths before dawn. Take care that my bathing linen is ready, and give it to Abdalla," (which was the slave's name), "and make me some good broth by the time I come back." After this he went to bed.
In the meantime, the captain of the robbers went from the stable to give his people orders what to do, and beginning at the first jar, and so on to the last, said to each man, "As soon as I throw some stones out of my window, do not fail to cut open the jar with the knife you have about you, pointed and sharpened for the purpose, and come out, and I will be with you at once." After this he returned into the kitchen, and Morgiana, taking a light, conducted him to his chamber, where, after she had asked him if he wanted anything, she left him; and he, to avoid any suspicion put the light out soon after, and laid himself down in his clothes, that he might be the more ready to get up again.
Morgiana, remembering Ali Baba's orders, got his bathing linen ready, and ordered Abdalla, who was not then gone to bed, to set on the pot for the broth; but while she scummed the pot the lamp went out, and there was no more oil in the house, nor any candles. What to do she did not know, for the broth must be made.
Abdalla, seeing her very uneasy, said, "Do not fret and tease yourself, but go into the yard and take some oil out of one of the jars."
Morgiana thanked Abdalla for his advice, and he went to bed, when she took the oil-pot and went into the yard, and as she came near the first jar, the robber within said softly, "Is it time?"
Though the robber spoke low, Morgiana was struck with the voice, the more because the captain, when he unloaded the mules opened this and all the other jars, to give air to his men, who were cramped and ill at ease.
Any other slave but Morgiana, surprised to find a man in a jar, instead of the oil she wanted, would have made such a noise as to have given an alarm, which would have been attended with evil consequences; whereas Morgiana, apprehending immediately the importance of keeping the secret, and the danger Ali Baba, his family, and she herself were in, and the necessity of taking quiet action at once, collected herself without showing the least alarm, and answered, "Not yet, but presently." She went in this manner to all the jars, giving the same answer, till she came to the jar of oil.
By this means Morgiana found out that her master, Ali Baba, who thought that he had entertained an oil-merchant, had admitted thirty-eight robbers. into his house, with this pretended merchant as their captain. She made what haste she could to fill her oil-pot, and returned into her kitchen where as soon as she had lighted the lamp, she took a great kettle, and went again to the oil jar, filled the kettle, and set it on a great wood fire to boil. As soon as it boiled, she went and poured enough into every jar to stifle and destroy the robber within.
When this action, worthy of the courage of Morgiana, was executed without any noise, as she had intended, she returned to the kitchen with an empty kettle, and shut the door; and having put out the great fire she had made to boil the oil, and leaving just enough to make the broth, put out also the lamp, and remained silent; resolving not to go to bed till she had observed what was to follow through a window of the kitchen, which opened into the yard, so far as the darkness of the night permitted.
She had not waited a quarter of an hour before the captain of the robbers got up, and opened the window; and finding no light, and hearing no noise, or any one stirring in the house, he gave the signal by throwing little stones, several of which hit the jars, as he doubted not by the sound they made. Then he listened, and not hearing or perceiving any thing whereby he could judge that his companions stirred, he began to grow very uneasy, and threw stones again a second and third time, and could not comprehend the reason why none of them answered his signal. Much alarmed, he went softly down into the yard, and going to the first jar, asked the robber, whom he thought alive, if he was asleep. Then he smelt the hot boiled oil, which sent forth a steam out of the jar, and knew thereby that his plot to murder Ali Baba and plunder his house was discovered. Examining all the jars one after another, he found that all his gang were dead; and by the oil he missed out of the last jar, he guessed at the means and manner of their death. Enraged to despair at having failed in his design, he forced the lock of a door that led from the yard to the garden, and, climbing over the walls of several gardens, at last made his escape.
When Morgiana heard no noise, and found, after waiting some time, that the captain did not return, she guessed that he chose to make his escape by the garden rather than by the street-door, which was double-locked. Satisfied and pleased to have succeeded so well, and to have saved the house, she went to bed and fell asleep.
Ali Baba rose before dawn, and, followed by his slave, went to the baths, entirely ignorant of the amazing event that had happened at home: for Morgiana did not think it right to wake him before for fear of losing her opportunity; and afterwards she thought it needless to disturb him.
When he returned from the baths, and the sun had risen, he was very much surprised to see the oil-jars, and that the merchant had not gone with the mules. He. asked Morgiana, who opened the door, and had let all things stand as they were, that he might see them, the reason of it. "My good master," answered she, "you will be better informed of what you wish to know, when you have seen what I have to show you, if you will take the trouble to follow me."
As soon as Morgiana had shut the door, Ali Baba followed her; and when she brought him into the yard, she bade him look into the first jar, and see if there was any oil. Ali Baba did so, and seeing a man, started back frightened, and cried out. "Do not be afraid," said Morgiana; "the man you see there can do neither you nor anybody else any harm. He is dead."
"Ah, Morgiana" said Ali Baba, "what is this you show me? Explain the meaning."
"I will," replied Morgiana; "do not excite the curiosity of your neighbours; for it is of great importance to keep this affair secret. Look in all the other jars."
Ali Baba examined all the other jars, one after another; and when he came to that which had the oil in it, he found it much sunk, and stood for some time motionless, sometimes looking at the jars, and sometimes at Morgiana, without saying a word, so great was his surprise. At last, when he had recovered himself, he said, "And what has become of the merchant?"
"Merchant!" answered she: "he is as much one as I am. I will tell you who he is, and what has become of him; but you had better hear the story in your own room; for it is time for your health that you had your broth after your bathing."
While Ali Baba went to his room, Morgiana went into the kitchen to fetch the broth, and carry it to him; but before he would drink it, he first bade her satisfy his curiosity, and tell him the whole story, and she obeyed him.
"This," said Morgiana, when she had finished, "is the account you asked for; and I am convinced it is the sequel of an observation which I had made two or three days before, but did not think it necessary to acquaint you with; for when I came in one morning, early, I found our street-door marked with white chalk, and the next morning with red; and both times, without knowing what was the meaning of those chalks, I marked two or three neighbours' doors on each side in the same manner. If you reflect on this, and on what has since happened, you will find it to be a plot of the robbers of the forest, of whose gang there are two missing, and now they are reduced to three. All this shows that they had sworn your destruction, and it is right that you should stand upon your guard, while there is one of them alive: for my part, I shall not neglect anything necessary to your preservation, as I am in duty bound."
When Morgiana left off speaking, Ali Baba was so impressed with a sense of the great service she had done him, that he said to her, "I will not die without rewarding you as you deserve. I owe my life to you, and I give you your liberty from this moment, till I can complete your recompense as I intend. I am persuaded, with you, that the forty robbers have laid all manner of snares for me. All that we have to do is to bury the bodies of these pests of mankind immediately, and with all the secrecy imaginable, that nobody may suspect what is become of them. But that Abdalla and I will undertake."
Ali Baba's garden was very long, and shaded at the further end by a great number of large trees. Under these trees he and the slave went and dug a trench, long and wide enough to hold all the robbers, and as the earth was light, they were not long doing it. Afterwards they lifted the robbers out of the jars, took away their weapons, carried them to the end of the garden, laid them in the trench, and levelled the ground again. When this was done, Ali Baba hid the jars and weapons; and as for the mules, as he had no occasion for them, he sent them at different times to be sold in the market by his slave.
While Ali Baba took these measures to prevent the public from knowing how he came by his riches in so short a time, the captain of the forty robbers returned to the forest, in the most inconceivable mortification. He entered the cave, not having been able, all the way from the town, to come to any resolution as to what to do to Ali Baba.
The loneliness of the dark place seemed frightful to him. "Where are you, my brave lads?" cried he, "old companions of my watchings, inroads, and labour! What can I do without you? Did I collect you to lose you by so base a fate, one so unworthy of your courage? Had you died with your sabres in your hands, like brave men, my regret had been less! When shall I get such a gallant troop again? And if I could, can I undertake it without exposing so much gold and treasure to him who has already enriched himself out of it? I cannot, I ought not to think of it, before I have taken away his life. I will undertake that myself which I could not accomplish with powerful assistance; and when I have taken care to secure this treasure from being pillaged, I will provide for it new masters and successors after me, who shall preserve and augment it to all posterity." This resolution being taken, he became easy in his mind, and, full of hope, he slept all that night very quietly.
When he woke early the next morning as he had proposed he dressed himself in accordance with the project he had in his head, went down to the town, and took a lodging in a khan. And as he expected that what had happened at Ali Baba's might make a great noise in the town, he asked his host, casually, what news there was in the city. Upon which. the innkeeper told him a great many things which did not concern him in the least. He judged by this that the reason why Ali Baba kept the affair so secret was lest people should find out where the treasure lay, and the means of getting at it. And this urged him the more to neglect nothing which might rid himself of so dangerous a person.
The next thing that the captain had to do was to provide himself with a horse, and to convey a great many sorts of rich stuffs and fine linen to his lodging, which he did by a great many journeys to the forest, with all the precautions imaginable to conceal the place whence he brought them. In order to dispose of the merchandize when he had amassed it together, he took a furnished shop, which happened to be opposite to Cassim's, which Ali Baba's son had not long occupied.
He took upon him the name of Cogia Houssain, and, as a new corner, was, according to custom, extremely civil and complaisant to all the merchants his neighbours. And as Ali Baba's son was young and handsome, and a man of good sense, and was often obliged to converse with Cogia Houssain, he soon introduced them to him. He strove to cultivate his friendship, more particularly when, two or three days after he was settled, he recognised Ali Baba, who came to see his son, and stopped to talk with him as he was accustomed to do; and when he was gone the robber captain learnt from his son who he was. He increased his attentions, made him some small presents, often asked him to dine and sup with him, and treated him very handsomely.
Ali Baba's son did not care to lie under such obligations to Cogia Houssain without making a like return; but he was so much straitened for want of room in his house that he could not entertain him so well as he wished. He therefore told his father Ali Baba that it did not look well for him to receive such favours from Cogia Houssain without inviting him again.
Ali Baba, with great pleasure, took the matter upon himself. "Son," said he, "to-morrow (Friday), which is a day that the shops of such great merchants as Cogia Houssain and yourself are shut, get him to take a walk with you after dinner, and as you come back, pass by my door, and call in. It will look better to have it happen accidentally than if you gave him a formal invitation. I will go and order Morgiana to provide a supper."
The next day, after dinner, Ali Baba's son and Cogia Houssain met by appointment, and took their walk, and, as they returned, Ali Baba's son led Cogia Houssain through the street where his father lived; and when they came to the house, he stopped and knocked at the door.
"This sir," said he, "is my father's house; when I told him of your friendship, he charged me to gain him the honour of your acquaintance."
Though it was the sole aim of Cogia Houssain to introduce himself into Ali Baba's house, that he might kill him without hazarding his own life or making any noise, he excused himself, and offered to take leave. But a slave having opened the door, Ali Baba's son took him kindly by the hand, and in a manner forced him in.
Ali Baba received Cogia Houssain with a smiling countenance, and in the most obliging manner he could wish. He thanked him for all the favours he had done his son; adding that the obligation was the greater, as his son was a young man not very well acquainted with the world, and that he might learn much from him.
Cogia Houssain returned the compliment by assuring Ali Baba that, though his son might not have acquired the experience of older men, he had good sense equal to the experience of many others. After a little more conversation on different subjects, he offered again to take his leave; when Ali Baba, stopping him, said, "Where are you going, sir, in such haste? I beg you will do me the honour to sup with me, though what I have to give you is not worth your acceptance; but such as it is, I hope you will accept it as heartily as I give it."
"Sir," replied Cogia Houssain, "I am thoroughly persuaded of your good-will; and if I ask you not to take it ill that I do
not accept your kind invitation, I beg you to believe that it does not proceed from any slight or intention to affront, but from a certain reason which you would approve of if you knew it."
"And what may that reason be, sir," replied Ali Baba, "if I may be so bold as to ask you?"
"It is," answered Cogia Houssain, "that I can eat no food that has any salt in it."
"If that is the only reason," said Ali Baba, "it ought not to deprive me of the honour of your company at supper; for, in the first place, there is no salt ever put into my bread, and, as for the meat we shall have to-night, I promise you there shall be none. I will go and take care of that. Therefore you must do me the favour to stay; I will come back immediately."
Ali Baba went into the kitchen, and ordered Morgiana to put no salt to the meat that was to be cooked that night; and to make quickly two or three ragoûts besides what he had ordered, but to be sure to put no salt in them.
Morgiana, who was always ready to obey her master, could not help, this time, seeming somewhat dissatisfied at his new order. "Who is this difficult man," said she, "who eats no salt with his meat? Your supper will be spoiled, if I keep it back so long."
"Do not be angry, Morgiana," replied Ali Baba, "he is an honest man; therefore do as I bid you."
Morgiana obeyed, though with no little reluctance; and was curious to see this man who ate no salt. So when she had done what she had to do in the kitchen, and Abdalla had laid the cloth, she helped to carry up the dishes; and looking at Cogia Houssain she knew him at first sight to be the captain of the robbers, notwithstanding his disguise; and examining him very carefully, she perceived that he had a dagger hidden under his garment. "I am not in the least amazed," said she to herself, "that this wicked wretch, who is my master's. greatest enemy, would eat no salt with him, since he intends to assassinate him; but I will prevent him."
When Morgiana had sent up the supper by Abdalla, while they were eating, she made the necessary preparations for executing one of the boldest acts which could be thought of, and had just done, when Abdalla came again for the dessert. This she carried up, and as soon as Abdalla had taken the meat away, she set it upon the table; after that, she set a little table. and three glasses by Ali Baba, and going out, took Abdalla along with her to supper, and to give Ali Baba the more freedom for conversation with his guest.
Then the pretended Cogia Houssain, or rather captain of the robbers, thought he had a favourable opportunity to kill Ali Baba. "I will," said he to himself, "make the father and son both drunk; and then the son, whose life I intend to spare, will not be able to prevent my stabbing his father to the heart; and while the slaves are at supper, or asleep in the kitchen, I can make my escape over the gardens as before."
Instead of going to supper, Morgiana, who penetrated into the intention of the sham Cogia Houssain, dressed herself neatly with a suitable head-dress like a dancer, girded her waist with a silver-gilt girdle, to which there hung a poniard with a hilt and guard of the same metal, and put a handsome mask on her face. When she had thus disguised herself, she said to Abdalla, "Take your tabor, and let us go and amuse our master and his son's guest, as we do sometimes when he is alone."
Abdalla took his tabor and played before Morgiana all the way into the hall. When she came to the door, she made a tow. curtsy, with a deliberate air, by way of asking leave to show what she could do. Abdalla, seeing that his master wanted to say something, left off playing. "Come in, Morgiana," said Ali Baba, "and let Cogia Houssain see what you can, do, that he may tell us what he thinks of you. But, sir," said he, turning towards Cogia Houssain, "do not think that I put myself to any expense to give you this entertainment, since these are my slave and my cook and housekeeper; and I hope you will not find it disagreeable."
Cogia Houssain, who did not expect this diversion after supper, began to fear that he should not have the opportunity that he thought he had found; but he hoped, if he missed it now, to have one another time, by keeping up a friendly correspondence with the father and son; therefore, though he could have wished Ali Baba to let it alone, he pretended to be much obliged to him for it, and had the good manners to express pleasure at what he saw pleased his host.
As soon as Abdalla saw that Ali Baba and Cogia Houssain had done talking, he began to play an air on the tabor, to which Morgiana, who was an excellent dancer, danced in such a manner as would have created admiration in any company.
After she had danced several dances with the same grace and strength, she drew the poniard, and holding it in her hand, danced a dance in which she outdid herself by the many different figures and light movements, and the surprising leaps and wonderful exertions with which she accompanied it. Sometimes she presented the poniard to one person's breast, sometimes to another's, and oftentimes seemed to strike her own. At last, as if she were out of breath, she snatched the tabor from Abdalla with her left hand, and, holding the dagger in her right, presented the other side of the tabor, after the manner of those who get a livelihood by dancing, for the liberality of the spectators.
Ali Baba put a piece of gold into the tabor, as did also his son; and Cogia Houssain, seeing that she was corning to him, pulled out his purse to make her a present; but while he was putting his hand into it, Morgiana, with a courage and resolution worthy of herself, plunged the poniard into his heart.
Ali Baba and his son, frightened at this action, cried out aloud. "Unhappy wretch!" exclaimed Ali Baba, "what have you done to ruin me and my family?"
"It was to preserve you, not to ruin you," answered Morgiana; "for see here," said she (opening Cogia Houssain's garment, and showing the dagger), "what an enemy you had entertained! Look well at him, and you will find him to be both the pretended oil-merchant, and the captain of the gang of forty robbers. Remember, too, that he would eat no salt with you; and what more would you have to persuade you of his wicked design? I suspected him as soon as you told me you had such a guest. You now find that my suspicion was not groundless."
Ali Baba, who immediately felt the new obligation he was under to Morgiana for saving his life a second time, embraced her.
"Morgiana," said he, "I gave you your liberty, and then promised you that my gratitude should not stop there, but that I would soon complete it. The time is come for me to give you a proof of this, by making you my daughter-in-law." Then addressing himself to his son, he said to him: "I believe you, son, to be so dutiful, that you will not refuse Morgiana for your wife. You see that Cogia Houssain sought your friendship with a treacherous design to take away my life; and, if he had succeeded, there is no doubt but that he would also have sacrificed you to his revenge. Consider that by marrying Morgiana you marry the support of my family and your own."
The son, far from showing any dislike, readily consented to the marriage; not only because he would not disobey his father, but because he loved Morgiana for herself.
After this, they thought of burying the captain of the robbers with his comrades, and did it so privately that nobody knew anything of it till a great many years afterwards.
After a few days, Ali Baba celebrated the marriage of his son and Morgiana with great solemnity and a sumptuous feast, and the usual dancing and shows; and he had the satisfaction of seeing that his friends and neighbours, who were not unacquainted with Morgiana's good qualities, commended his generosity and goodness of heart.
Ali Baba forbore, for a long time after this marriage, to go again to the robbers' cave, for fear of finding them there and being surprised by them. He kept away after the death of the thirty-seven robbers and their captain, supposing that the other two robbers, of whom he could get no account, might be alive.
But at the year's end, when he found that they had not made any attempt to disturb him, he had the curiosity to make another journey, taking the necessary precautions for his safety. He mounted his horse and when he came to the cave, and saw no footsteps of men or horses, he looked upon it as a good sign. He alighted off his horse, and tied him to a tree; and on his presenting himself before the door, and pronouncing the words, "Open, Sesame," the door opened. He went in, and, by the condition that he found things in, he judged that nobody had been there since the false Cogia Houssain, when he fetched the goods for his shop, and that the gang of forty robbers was completely destroyed; and he never doubted that he was the only person in the world who had the secret of opening the cave, and that all the treasure was solely at his disposal. With as much gold as his horse would carry, he returned to town.
Afterwards Ali Baba took his son to the cave and told him the secret, which they handed down to their posterity; and using their good fortune with moderation, lived in great honour and splendour, and filled the highest offices of the city.