"The Arabian Nights Entertainments"
" 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. "
The Arabian Nights Entertainments
Selected and Edited by Andrew Lang
Illustrated By Rene Bull
H. J. Ford
W. Heath Robinson
The Little Hunchback
In the kingdom of Kashgar, which is, as everybody knows, situated on the frontiers of Great Tartary, there lived long ago
a tailor and his wife who loved each other very much. One day, when the tailor was hard at work, a little hunchback came and
sat at the entrance of the shop, and began to sing and play his tambourine. The tailor was amused with the antics of the
fellow, and thought he would take him home to divert his wife. The hunchback having agreed to his proposal, the tailor closed
his shop and they set off together.
When they reached the house they found the table ready laid for supper, and in a very few minutes all three were sitting
before a beautiful fish which the tailor's wife had cooked with her own hands. But unluckily, the hunchback happened to
swallow a large bone, and, in spite of all the tailor and his wife could do to help him, died of suffocation in an instant.
Besides being very sorry for the poor man, the tailor and his wife were very much frightened on their own account, for if the
police came to hear of it the worthy couple ran the risk of being thrown into prison for wilful murder. In order to prevent
this dreadful calamity they both set about inventing some plan which would throw suspicion on some one else, and at last they
made up their minds that they could do no better than select a Jewish doctor who lived close by as the author of the crime. So
the tailor picked up the hunchback by his head while his wife took his feet and carried him to the doctor's house. Then they
knocked at the door, which opened straight on to a steep staircase. A servant soon appeared, feeling her way down the dark
staircase and inquired what they wanted.
"Tell your master," said the tailor, "that we have brought a very sick man for him to cure; and," he added, holding out
some money, "give him this in advance, so that he may not feel he is wasting his time." The servant remounted the stairs to
give the message to the doctor, and the moment she was out of sight the tailor and his wife carried the body swiftly after
her, propped it up at the top of the staircase, and ran home as fast as their legs could carry them.
Now the doctor was so delighted at the news of a patient (for he was young, and had not many of them), that he was
transported with joy.
"Get a light," he called to the servant, "and follow me as fast as you can!" and rushing out of his room he ran towards
the staircase. There he nearly fell over the body of the hunchback, and without knowing what it was gave it such a kick that
it rolled right to the bottom, and very nearly dragged the doctor after it. "A light! a light!" he cried again, and when it
was brought and he saw what he had done he was almost beside himself with terror.
"Holy Moses!" he exclaimed, "why did I not wait for the light? I have killed the sick man whom they brought me; and if the
sacred Ass of Esdras does not come to my aid I am lost! It will not be long before I am led to jail as a murderer."
Agitated though he was, and with reason, the doctor did not forget to shut the house door, lest some passers-by might
chance to see what had happened. He then took up the corpse and carried it into his wife's room, nearly driving her crazy
"It is all over with us!" she wailed, "if we cannot find some means of getting the body out of the house. Once let the
sun rise and we can hide it no longer! How were you driven to commit such a terrible crime?"
"Never mind that," returned the doctor, "the thing is to find a way out of it."
For a long while the doctor and his wife continued to turn over in their minds a way of escape, but could not find any
that seemed good enough. At last the doctor gave it up altogether and resigned himself to bear the penalty of his misfortune.
But his wife, who had twice his brains, suddenly exclaimed, "I have thought of something! Let us carry the body on the
roof of the house and lower it down the chimney of our neighbour the Mussulman." Now this Mussulman was employed by the
Sultan, and furnished his table with oil and butter. Part of his house was occupied by a great storeroom, where rats and mice
held high revel.
The doctor jumped at his wife's plan, and they took up the hunchback, and passing cords under his armpits they let him
down into the purveyor's bed-room so gently that he really seemed to be leaning against the wall. When they felt he was
touching the ground they drew up the cords and left him.
Scarcely had they got back to their own house when the purveyor entered his room. He had spent the evening at a wedding
feast, and had a lantern in his hand. In the dim light it cast he was astonished to see a man standing in his chimney, but
being naturally courageous he seized a stick and made straight for the supposed thief. "Ah!" he cried, "so it is you, and not
the rats and mice, who steal my butter. I'll take care that you don't want to come back!"
So saying he struck him several hard blows. The corpse fell on the floor, but the man only redoubled his blows, till at
length it occurred to him it was odd that the thief should lie so still and make no resistance. Then, finding he was quite
dead, a cold fear took possession of him. "Wretch that I am," said he, "I have murdered a man. Ah, my revenge has gone too
far. Without tho help of Allah I am undone! Cursed be the goods which have led me to my ruin." And already he felt the rope
round his neck.
But when he had got over the first shock he began to think of some way out of the difficulty, and seizing the hunchback in
his arms he carried him out into the street, and leaning him against the wall of a shop he stole back to his own house,
without once looking behind him.
A few minutes before the sun rose, a rich Christian merchant, who supplied the palace with all sorts of necessaries, left
his house, after a night of feasting, to go to the bath. Though he was very drunk, he was yet sober enough to know that the
dawn was at hand, and that all good Mussulmen would shortly be going to prayer. So he hastened his steps lest he should meet
some one on his way to the mosque, who, seeing his condition, would send him to prison as a drunkard. In his haste he jostled
against the hunchback, who fell heavily upon him, and the merchant, thinking he was being attacked by a thief, knocked him
down with one blow of his fist. He then called loudly for help, beating the fallen man all the while.
The chief policeman of the quarter came running up, and found a Christian ill-treating a Mussulman. "What are you doing?"
he asked indignantly.
"He tried to rob me," replied the merchant, "and very nearly choked me."
"Well, you have had your revenge," said the man, catching hold of his arm. "Come, be off with you!"
As he spoke he held out his hand to the hunchback to help him up, but the hunchback never moved. "Oho!" he went on,
looking closer, "so this is the way a Christian has the impudence to treat a Mussulman!" and seizing the merchant in a firm
grasp he took him to the inspector of police, who threw him into prison till the judge should be out of bed and ready to
attend to his case. All this brought the merchant to his senses, but the more he thought of it the less he could understand
how the hunchback could have died merely from the blows he had received.
The merchant was still pondering on this subject when he was summoned before the chief of police and questioned about his
crime, which he could not deny. As the hunchback was one of the Sultan's private jesters, the chief of police resolved to
defer sentence of death until he had consulted his master. He went to the palace to demand an audience, and told his story to
the Sultan, who only answered,
"There is no pardon for a Christian who kills a Mussulman. Do your duty."
So the chief of police ordered a gallows to be erected, and sent criers to proclaim in every street in the city that a
Christian was to be hanged that day for having killed a Mussulman.
When all was ready the merchant was brought from prison and led to the foot of the gallows. The executioner knotted the
cord firmly round the unfortunate man's neck and was just about to swing him into the air, when the Sultan's purveyor dashed
through the crowd, and cried, panting, to the hangman,
"Stop, stop, don't be in such a hurry. It was not he who did the murder, it was I."
The chief of police, who was present to see that everything was in order, put several questions to the purveyor, who told
him the whole story of the death of the hunchback, and how he had carried the body to the place where it had been found by the
"You are going," he said to the chief of police, "to kill an innocent man, for it is impossible that he should have
murdered a creature who was dead already. It is bad enough for me to have slain a Mussulman without having it on my
conscience that a Christian who is guiltless should suffer through my fault."
Now the purveyor's speech had been made in a loud voice, and was heard by all the crowd, and even if he had wished it, the
chief of police could not have escaped setting the merchant free.
"Loose the cords from the Christian's neck," he commanded, turning to the executioner, "and hang this man in his place,
seeing that by his own confession he is the murderer."
The hangman did as he was bid, and was tying the cord firmly, when he was stopped by the voice of the Jewish doctor
beseeching him to pause, for he had something very important to say. When he had fought his way through the crowd and reached
the chief of police,
"Worshipful sir," he began, "this Mussulman whom you desire to hang is unworthy of death; I alone am guilty. Last night a
man and a woman who were strangers to me knocked at my door, bringing with them a patient for me to cure. The servant opened
it, but having no light was hardly able to make out their faces, though she readily agreed to wake me and to hand me the fee
for my services. While she was telling me her story they seem to have carried the sick man to the top of the staircase and
then left him there. I jumped up in a hurry without waiting for a lantern, and in the darkness I fell against something,
which tumbled headlong down the stairs and never stopped till it reached the bottom. When I examined the body I found it was
quite dead, and the corpse was that of a hunchback Mussulman. Terrified at what we had done, my wife and I took the body on
the roof and let it down the chimney of our neighbour the purveyor, whom you were just about to hang. The purveyor, finding
him in his room, naturally thought he was a thief, and struck him such a blow that the man fell down and lay motionless on the
floor. Stooping to examine him, and finding him stone dead, the purveyor supposed that the man had died from the blow he had
received; but of course this was a mistake, as you will see from my account, and I only am the murderer; and although I am
innocent of any wish to commit a crime, I must suffer for it all the same, or else have the blood of two Musselmans on my
conscience. Therefore send away this man, I pray you, and let me take his place, as it is I who am guilty."
On hearing the declaration of the Jewish doctor, the chief of police commanded that he should be led to the gallows, and
the Sultan's purveyor go free. The cord was placed round the Jew's neck, and his feet had already ceased to touch the ground
when the voice of the tailor was heard beseeching the executioner to pause one moment and to listen to what he had to say.
"Oh, my lord," he cried, turning to the chief of police, "how nearly have you caused the death of three innocent people!
But if you will only have the patience to listen to my tale, you shall know who is the real culprit. If some one has to
suffer, it must be me! Yesterday, at dusk, I was working in my shop with a light heart when the little hunchback, who was
more than half drunk, came and sat in the doorway. He sang me several songs, and then I invited him to finish the evening at
my house. He accepted my invitation, and we went away together. At supper I helped him to a slice of fish, but in eating it
a bone stuck in his throat, and in spite of all we could do he died in a few minutes. We felt deeply sorry for his death, but
fearing lest we should be held responsible, we carried the corpse to the house of the Jewish doctor. I knocked, and desired
the servant to beg her master to come down as fast as possible and see a sick man whom we had brought for him to cure; and in
order to hasten his movements I placed a piece of money in her hand as the doctor's fee. Directly she had disappeared I
dragged the body to the top of the stairs, and then hurried away with my wife back to our house. In descending the stairs the
doctor accidentally knocked over the corpse, and finding him dead believed that he himself was the murderer. But now you know
the truth set him free, and let me die in his stead."
The chief of police and the crowd of spectators were lost in astonishment at the strange events to which the death of the
hunchback had given rise.
"Loosen the Jewish doctor," said he to the hangman, "and string up the tailor instead, since he has made confession of his
crime. Really, one cannot deny that this is a very singular story, and it deserves to be written in letters of gold."
The executioner speedily untied the knots which confined the doctor, and was passing the cord round the neck of the
tailor, when the Sultan of Kashgar, who had missed his jester, happened to make inquiry of his officers as to what had become
"Sire," replied they, "the hunchback having drunk more than was good for him, escaped from the palace and was seen
wandering about the town, where this morning he was found dead. A man was arrested for having caused his death, and held in
custody till a gallows was erected. At the moment that he was about to suffer punishment, first one man arrived, and then
another, each accusing themselves of the murder, and this went on for a long time, and at the present instant the chief of
police is engaged in questioning a man who declares that he alone is the true assassin."
The Sultan of Kashgar no sooner heard these words than he ordered an usher to go to the chief of police and to bring all
the persons concerned in the hunchback's death, together with the corpse, that he wished to see once again. The usher
hastened on his errand, but was only just in time, for the tailor was positively swinging in the air, when his voice fell upon
the silence of the crowd, commanding the hangman to cut down the body. The hangman, recognising the usher as one of the
king's servants, cut down the tailor, and the usher, seeing the man was safe, sought the chief of police and gave him the
Sultan's message. Accordingly, the chief of police at once set out for the palace, taking with him the tailor, the doctor,
the purveyor, and the merchant, who bore the dead hunchback on their shoulders.
When the procession reached the palace the chief of police prostrated himself at the feet of the Sultan, and related all
that he knew of the matter. The Sultan was so much struck by the circumstances that he ordered his private historian to write
down an exact account of what had passed, so that in the years to come the miraculous escape of the four men who had thought
themselves murderers might never be forgotten.
The Sultan asked everybody concerned in the hunchback's affair to tell him their stories. Among others was a prating
barber, whose tale of one of his brothers follows.
Story of the Barber's Fifth Brother
As long as our father lived Alnaschar was very idle. Instead of working for his bread he was not ashamed to ask for it
every evening, and to support himself next day on what he had received the night before. When our father died, worn out by
age, he only left seven hundred silver drachmas to be divided amongst us, which made one hundred for each son. Alnaschar, who
had never possessed so much money in his life, was quite puzzled to know what to do with it. After reflecting upon the matter
for some time he decided to lay it out on glasses, bottles, and things of that sort, which he would buy from a wholesale
merchant. Having bought his stock he next proceeded to look out for a small shop in a good position, where he sat down at the
open door, his wares being piled up in an uncovered basket in front of him, waiting for a customer among the passers-by.
In this attitude he remained seated, his eyes fixed on the basket, but his thoughts far away. Unknown to himself he began
to talk out loud, and a tailor, whose shop was next door to his, heard quite plainly what he was saying.
"This basket," said Alnaschar to himself, "has cost me a hundred drachmas-- all that I possess in the world. Now in
selling the contents piece by piece I shall turn two hundred, and these hundreds I shall again lay out in glass, which will
produce four hundred. By this means I shall in course of time make four thousand drachmas, which will easily double
themselves. When I have got ten thousand I will give up the glass trade and become a jeweller, and devote all my time to
trading in pearls, diamonds, and other precious stones. At last, having all the wealth that heart can desire, I will buy a
beautiful country house, with horses and slaves, and then I will lead a merry life and entertain my friends. At my feasts I
will send for musicians and dancers from the neighbouring town to amuse my guests. In spite of my riches I shall not,
however, give up trade till I have amassed a capital of a hundred thousand drachmas, when, having become a man of much
consideration, I shall request the hand of the grand-vizir's daughter, taking care to inform the worthy father that I have
heard favourable reports of her beauty and wit, and that I will pay down on our wedding day 3 thousand gold pieces. Should the
vizir refuse my proposal, which after all is hardly to be expected, I will seize him by the beard and drag him to my house."
When I shall have married his daughter I will give her ten of the best eunuchs that can be found for her service. Then I
shall put on my most gorgeous robes, and mounted on a horse with a saddle of fine gold, and its trappings blazing with
diamonds, followed by a train of slaves, I shall present myself at the house of the grand-vizir, the people casting down their
eyes and bowing low as I pass along. At the foot of the grand-vizir's staircase I shall dismount, and while my servants stand
in a row to right and left I shall ascend the stairs, at the head of which the grand-vizir will be waiting to receive me. He
will then embrace me as his son-in-law, and giving me his seat will place himself below me. This being done (as I have every
reason to expect), two of my servants will enter, each bearing a purse containing a thousand pieces of gold. One of these I
shall present to him saying, "Here are the thousand gold pieces that I offered for your daughter's hand, and here," I shall
continue, holding out the second purse, "are another thousand to show you that I am a man who is better than his word." After
hearing of such generosity the world will talk of nothing else.
I shall return home with the same pomp as I set out, and my wife will send an officer to compliment me on my visit to her
father, and I shall confer on the officer the honour of a rich dress and a handsome gift. Should she send one to me I shall
refuse it and dismiss the bearer. I shall never allow my wife to leave her rooms on any pretext whatever without my
permission, and my visits to her will be marked by all the ceremony calculated to inspire respect. No establishment will be
better ordered than mine, and I shall take care always to be dressed in a manner suitable to my position. In the evening, when
we retire to our apartments, I shall sit in the place of honour, where I shall assume a grand demeanour and speak little,
gazing straight before me, and when my wife, lovely as the full moon, stands humbly in front of my chair I shall pretend not
to see her. Then her women will say to me, "Respected lord and master, your wife and slave is before you waiting to be
noticed. She is mortified that you never deign to look her way; she is tired of standing so long. Beg her, we pray you, to be
seated." Of course I shall give no signs of even hearing this speech, which will vex them mightily. They will throw
themselves at my feet with lamentations, and at length I will raise my head and throw a careless glance at her, then I shall
go back to my former attitude. The women will think that I am displeased at my wife's dress and will lead her away to put on a
finer one, and I on my side shall replace the one I am wearing with another yet more splendid. They will then return to the
charge, but this time it will take much longer before they persuade me even to look at my wife. It is as well to begin on my
wedding-day as I mean to go on for the rest of our lives.
The next day she will complain to her mother of the way she has been treated, which will fill my heart with joy. Her
mother will come to seek me, and, kissing my hands with respect, will say, "My lord" (for she could not dare to risk my anger
by using the familiar title of "son-in-law"), "My lord, do not, I implore you, refuse to look upon my daughter or to approach
her. She only lives to please you, and loves you with all her soul." But I shall pay no more heed to my mother-in-law's words
than I did to those of the women. Again she will beseech me to listen to her entreaties, throwing herself this time at my
feet, but all to no purpose. Then, putting a glass of wine into my wife's hand, she will say to her, "There, present that to
him yourself, he cannot have the cruelty to reject anything offered by so beautiful a hand," and my wife will take it and
offer it to me tremblingly with tears in her eyes, but I shall look in the other direction. This will cause her to weep still
more, and she will hold out the glass crying, "Adorable husband, never shall I cease my prayers till you have done me the
favour to drink." Sick of her importunities, these words will goad me to fury. I shall dart an angry look at her and give
her a sharp blow on the cheek, at the same time giving her a kick so violent that she will stagger across the room and fall on
to the sofa.
"My brother," pursued the barber, "was so much absorbed in his dreams that he actually did give a kick with his foot,
which unluckily hit the basket of glass. It fell into the street and was instantly broken into a thousand pieces."
His neighbour the tailor, who had been listening to his visions, broke into a loud fit of laughter as he saw this sight.
"Wretched man!" he cried, "you ought to die of shame at behaving so to a young wife who has done nothing to you. You must
be a brute for her tears and prayers not to touch your heart. If I were the grand-vizir I would order you a hundred blows from
a bullock whip, and would have you led round the town accompanied by a herald who should proclaim your crimes."
The accident, so fatal to all his profits, had restored my brother to his senses, and seeing that the mischief had been
caused by his own insufferable pride, he rent his clothes and tore his hair, and lamented himself so loudly that the
passers-by stopped to listen. It was a Friday, so these were more numerous than usual. Some pitied Alnaschar, others only
laughed at him, but the vanity which had gone to his head had disappeared with his basket of glass, and he was loudly
bewailing his folly when a lady, evidently a person of consideration, rode by on a mule. She stopped and inquired what was
the matter, and why the man wept. They told her that he was a poor man who had laid out all his money on this basket of
glass, which was now broken. On hearing the cause of these loud wails the lady turned to her attendant and said to him, "Give
him whatever you have got with you." The man obeyed, and placed in my brother's hands a purse containing five hundred pieces
of gold. Alnaschar almost died of joy on receiving it. He blessed the lady a thousand times, and, shutting up his shop where
he had no longer anything to do, he returned home.
He was still absorbed in contemplating his good fortune, when a knock came to his door, and on opening it he found an old
woman standing outside.
"My son," she said, "I have a favour to ask of you. It is the hour of prayer and I have not yet washed myself. Let me, I
beg you, enter your house, and give me water."
My brother, although the old woman was a stranger to him, did not hesitate to do as she wished. He gave her a vessel of
water and then went back to his place and his thoughts, and with his mind busy over his last adventure, he put his gold into a
long and narrow purse, which he could easily carry in his belt. During this time the old woman was busy over her prayers, and
when she had finished she came and prostrated herself twice before my brother, and then rising called down endless blessings
on his head. Observing her shabby clothes, my brother thought that her gratitude was in reality a hint that he should give
her some money to buy some new ones, so he held out two pieces of gold. The old woman started back in surprise as if she had
received an insult. "Good heavens!" she exclaimed, "what is the meaning of this? Is it possible that you take me, my lord,
for one of those miserable creatures who force their way into houses to beg for alms? Take back your money. I am thankful to
say I do not need it, for I belong to a beautiful lady who is very rich and gives me everything I want."
My brother was not clever enough to detect that the old woman had merely refused the two pieces of money he had offered
her in order to get more, but he inquired if she could procure him the pleasure of seeing this lady.
"Willingly," she replied; "and she will be charmed to marry you, and to make you the master of all her wealth. So pick up
your money and follow me."
Delighted at the thought that he had found so easily both a fortune and a beautiful wife, my brother asked no more
questions, but concealing his purse, with the money the lady had given him, in the folds of his dress, he set out joyfully
with his guide.
They walked for some distance till the old woman stopped at a large house, where she knocked. The door was opened by a
young Greek slave, and the old woman led my brother across a well-paved court into a well-furnished hall. Here she left him
to inform her mistress of his presence, and as the day was hot he flung himself on a pile of cushions and took off his heavy
turban. In a few minutes there entered a lady, and my brother perceived at the first glance that she was even more beautiful
and more richly dressed than he had expected. He rose from his seat, but the lady signed to him to sit down again and placed
herself beside him. After the usual compliments had passed between them she said, "We are not comfortable here, let us go into
another room," and passing into a smaller chamber, apparently communicating with no other, she continued to talk to him for
some time. Then rising hastily she left him, saying, "Stay where you are, I will come back in a moment."
He waited as he was told, but instead of the lady there entered a huge black slave with a sword in his hand. Approaching
my brother with an angry countenance he exclaimed, "What business have you here?" His voice and manner were so terrific that
Alnaschar had not strength to reply, and allowed his gold to be taken from him, and even sabre cuts to be inflicted on him
without making any resistance. As soon as he was let go, he sank on the ground powerless to move, though he still had
possession of his senses. Thinking he was dead, the black ordered the Greek slave to bring him some salt, and between them
they rubbed it into his wounds, thus giving him acute agony, though he had the presence of mind to give no sign of life. They
then left him, and their place was taken by the old woman, who dragged him to a trapdoor and threw him down into a vault
filled with the bodies of murdered men.
At first the violence of his fall caused him to lose consciousness, but luckily the salt which had been rubbed into his
wounds had by its smarting preserved his life, and little by little he regained his strength. At the end of two days he
lifted the trapdoor during the night and hid himself in the courtyard till daybreak, when he saw the old woman leave the house
in search of more prey. Luckily she did not observe him, and when she was out of sight he stole from this nest of assassins
and took refuge in my house.
I dressed his wounds and tended him carefully, and when a month had passed he was as well as ever. His one thought was
how to be revenged on that wicked old hag, and for this purpose he had a purse made large enough to contain five hundred gold
pieces, but filled it instead with bits of glass. This he tied round him with his sash, and, disguising himself as an old
woman, he took a sabre, which he hid under his dress.
One morning as he was hobbling through the streets he met his old enemy prowling to see if she could find anyone to decoy.
He went up to her and, imitating the voice of a woman, he said, "Do you happen to have a pair of scales you could lend me? I
have just come from Persia and have brought with me five hundred gold pieces, and I am anxious to see if they are the proper
"Good woman," replied the old hag, "you could not have asked anyone better. My son is a money-changer, and if you will
follow me he will weigh them for you himself. Only we must be quick or he will have gone to his shop." So saying she led the
way to the same house as before, and the door was opened by the same Greek slave.
Again my brother was left in the hall, and the pretended son appeared under the form of the black slave. "Miserable
crone," he said to my brother, "get up and come with me," and turned to lead the way to the place of murder. Alnaschar rose
too, and drawing the sabre from under his dress dealt the black such a blow on his neck that his head was severed from his
body. My brother picked up the head with one hand, and seizing the body with the other dragged it to the vault, when he threw
it in and sent the head after it. The Greek slave, supposing that all had passed as usual, shortly arrived with the basin of
salt, but when she beheld Alnaschar with the sabre in his hand she let the basin fall and turned to fly. My brother, however,
was too quick for her, and in another instant her head was rolling from her shoulders. The noise brought the old woman running
to see what was the matter, and he seized her before she had time to escape. "Wretch!" he cried, "do you know me?"
"Who are you, my lord?" she replied trembling all over. "I have never seen you before."
"I am he whose house you entered to offer your hypocritical prayers. Don't you remember now?"
She flung herself on her knees to implore mercy, but he cut her in four pieces.
There remained only the lady, who was quite ignorant of all that was taking place around her. He sought her through the
house, and when at last he found her, she nearly fainted with terror at the sight of him. She begged hard for life, which he
was generous enough to give her, but he bade her to tell him how she had got into partnership with the abominable creatures he
had just put to death.
"I was once," replied she, "the wife of an honest merchant, and that old woman, whose wickedness I did not know, used
occasionally to visit me. "Madam," she said to me one day, "we have a grand wedding at our house to-day. If you would do us
the honour to be present, I am sure you would enjoy yourself." I allowed myself to be persuaded, put on my richest dress, and
took a purse with a hundred pieces of gold. Once inside the doors I was kept by force by that dreadful black, and it is now
three years that I have been here, to my great grief."
"That horrible black must have amassed great wealth, remarked my brother.
"Such wealth," returned she, "that if you succeed in carrying it all away it will make you rich for ever. Come and let us
see how much there is."
She led Alnaschar into a chamber filled with coffers packed with gold, which he gazed at with an admiration he was
powerless to conceal. "Go," she said, "and bring men to carry them away."
My brother did not wait to be told twice, and hurried out into the streets, where he soon collected ten men. They all
came back to the house, but what was his surprise to find the door open, and the room with the chests of gold quite empty.
The lady had been cleverer than himself, and had made the best use of her time. However, he tried to console himself by
removing all the beautiful furniture, which more than made up for the five hundred gold pieces he had lost.
Unluckily, on leaving the house, he forgot to lock the door, and the neighbours, finding the place empty, informed the
police, who next morning arrested Alnaschar as a thief. My brother tried to bribe them to let him off, but far from listening
to him they tied his hands, and forced him to walk between them to the presence of the judge. When they had explained to the
official the cause of complaint, he asked Alnaschar where he had obtained all the furniture that he had taken to his house the
"Sir," replied Alnaschar, "I am ready to tell you the whole story, but give, I pray you, your word, that I shall run no
risk of punishment."
"That I promise," said the judge. So my brother began at the beginning and related all his adventures, and how he had
avenged himself on those who had betrayed him. As to the furniture, he entreated the judge at least to allow him to keep part
to make up for the five hundred pieces of gold which had been stolen from him.
The judge, however, would say nothing about this, and lost no time in sending men to fetch away all that Alnaschar had
taken from the house. When everything had been moved and placed under his roof he ordered my brother to leave the town and
never more to enter it on peril of his life, fearing that if he returned he might seek justice from the Caliph. Alnaschar
obeyed, and was on his way to a neighbouring city when he fell in with a band of robbers, who stripped him of his clothes and
left him naked by the roadside. Hearing of his plight, I hurried after him to console him for his misfortunes, and to dress
him in my best robe. I then brought him back disguised, under cover of night, to my house, where I have since given him all
the care I bestow on my other brothers.
The Story of the Barber's Sixth Brother
There now remains for me to relate to you the story of my sixth brother, whose name was Schacabac. Like the rest of us,
he inherited a hundred silver drachmas from our father, which he thought was a large fortune, but through ill-luck, he soon
lost it all, and was driven to beg. As he had a smooth tongue and good manners, he really did very well in his new
profession, and he devoted himself specially to making friends with the servants in big houses, so as to gain access to their
One day he was passing a splendid mansion, with a crowd of servants lounging in the courtyard. He thought that from the
appearance of the house it might yield him a rich harvest, so he entered and inquired to whom it belonged.
"My good man, where do you come from?" replied the servant. "Can't you see for yourself that it can belong to nobody but
a Barmecide?" for the Barmecides were famed for their liberality and generosity. My brother, hearing this, asked the porters,
of whom there were several, if they would give him alms. They did not refuse, but told him politely to go in, and speak to
the master himself.
My brother thanked them for their courtesy and entered the building, which was so large that it took him some time to
reach the apartments of the Barmecide. At last, in a room richly decorated with paintings, he saw an old man with a long
white beard, sitting on a sofa, who received him with such kindness that my brother was emboldened to make his petition.
"My lord," he said, "you behold in me a poor man who only lives by the help of persons as rich and as generous as you."
Before he could proceed further, he was stopped by the astonishment shown by the Barmecide. "Is it possible," he cried,
"that while I am in Bagdad, a man like you should be starving? That is a state of things that must at once be put an end to!
Never shall it be said that I have abandoned you, and I am sure that you, on your part, will never abandon me."
"My lord," answered my brother, "I swear that I have not broken my fast this whole day."
"What, you are dying of hunger?" exclaimed the Barmecide. "Here, slave; bring water, that we may wash our hands before
meat!" No slave appeared, but my brother remarked that the Barmecide did not fail to rub his hands as if the water had been
poured over them.
Then he said to my brother, "Why don't you wash your hands too?" and Schacabac, supposing that it was a joke on the part
of the Barmecide (though he could see none himself), drew near, and imitated his motion.
When the Barmecide had done rubbing his hands, he raised his voice, and cried, "Set food before us at once, we are very
hungry." No food was brought, but the Barmecide pretended to help himself from a dish, and carry a morsel to his mouth, saying
as he did so, "Eat, my friend, eat, I entreat. Help yourself as freely as if you were at home! For a starving man, you seem
to have a very small appetite."
"Excuse me, my lord," replied Schacabac, imitating his gestures as before, "I really am not losing time, and I do full
justice to the repast."
"How do you like this bread?" asked the Barmecide. "I find it particularly good myself."
"Oh, my lord," answered my brother, who beheld neither meat nor bread, "never have I tasted anything so delicious."
"Eat as much as you want," said the Barmecide. "I bought the woman who makes it for five hundred pieces of gold, so that
I might never be without it."
After ordering a variety of dishes (which never came) to be placed on the table, and discussing the merits of each one,
the Barmecide declared that having dined so well, they would now proceed to take their wine. To this my brother at first
objected, declaring that it was forbidden; but on the Barmecide insisting that it was out of the question that he should drink
by himself, he consented to take a little. The Barmecide, however, pretended to fill their glasses so often, that my brother
feigned that the wine had gone into his head, and struck the Barmecide such a blow on the head, that he fell to the ground.
Indeed, he raised his hand to strike him a second time, when the Barmecide cried out that he was mad, upon which my brother
controlled himself, and apologised and protested that it was all the fault of the wine he had drunk. At this the Barmecide,
instead of being angry, began to laugh, and embraced him heartily. "I have long been seeking," he exclaimed, "a man of your
description, and henceforth my house shall be yours. You have had the good grace to fall in with my humour, and to pretend to
eat and to drink when nothing was there. Now you shall be rewarded by a really good supper."
Then he clapped his hands, and all the dishes were brought that they had tasted in imagination before and during the
repast, slaves sang and played on various instruments. All the while Schacabac was treated by the Barmecide as a familiar
friend, and dressed in a garment out of his own wardrobe.
Twenty years passed by, and my brother was still living with the Barmecide, looking after his house, and managing his
affairs. At the end of that time his generous benefactor died without heirs, so all his possessions went to the prince. They
even despoiled my brother of those that rightly belonged to him, and he, now as poor as he had ever been in his life, decided
to cast in his lot with a caravan of pilgrims who were on their way to Mecca. Unluckily, the caravan was attacked and
pillaged by the Bedouins, and the pilgrims were taken prisoners. My brother became the slave of a man who beat him daily,
hoping to drive him to offer a ransom, although, as Schacabac pointed out, it was quite useless trouble, as his relations were
as poor as himself. At length the Bedouin grew tired of tormenting, and sent him on a camel to the top of a high barren
mountain, where he left him to take his chance. A passing caravan, on its way to Bagdad, told me where he was to be found,
and I hurried to his rescue, and brought him in a deplorable condition back to the town.
"This,"--continued the barber,--"is the tale I related to the Caliph, who, when I had finished, burst into fits of
"Well were you called `the Silent,'" said he; "no name was ever better deserved. But for reasons of my own, which it is
not necessary to mention, I desire you to leave the town, and never to come back."
"I had of course no choice but to obey, and travelled about for several years until I heard of the death of the Caliph,
when I hastily returned to Bagdad, only to find that all my brothers were dead. It was at this time that I rendered to the
young cripple the important service of which you have heard, and for which, as you know, he showed such profound ingratitude,
that he preferred rather to leave Bagdad than to run the risk of seeing me. I sought him long from place to place, but it was
only to-day, when I expected it least, that I came across him, as much irritated with me as ever"-- So saying the tailor went
on to relate the story of the lame man and the barber, which has already been told.
"When the barber," he continued, "had finished his tale, we came to the conclusion that the young man had been right, when
he had accused him of being a great chatter-box. However, we wished to keep him with us, and share our feast, and we remained
at table till the hour of afternoon prayer. Then the company broke up, and I went back to work in my shop.
"It was during this interval that the little hunchback, half drunk already, presented himself before me, singing and
playing on his drum. I took him home, to amuse mg wife, and she invited him to supper. While eating some fish, a bone got into
his throat, and in spite of all we could do, he died shortly. It was all so sudden that we lost our heads, and in order to
divert suspicion from ourselves, we carried the body to the house of a Jewish physician. He placed it in the chamber of the
purveyor, and the purveyor propped it up in the street, where it was thought to have been killed by the merchant.
"This, Sire, is the story which I was obliged to tell to satisfy your highness. It is now for you to say if we deserve
mercy or punishment; life or death?"
The Sultan of Kashgar listened with an air of pleasure which filled the tailor and his friends with hope. "I must
confess," he exclaimed, "that I am much more interested in the stories of the barber and his brothers, and of the lame man,
than in that of my own jester. But before I allow you all four to return to your own homes, and have the corpse of the
hunchback properly buried, I should like to see this barber who has earned your pardon. And as he is in this town, let an
usher go with you at once in search of him."
The usher and the tailor soon returned, bringing with them an old man who must have been at least ninety years of age. "O
Silent One," said the Sultan, "I am told that you know many strange stories. Will you tell some of them to me?"
"Never mind my stories for the present," replied the barber, "but will your Highness graciously be pleased to explain why
this Jew, this Christian, and this Mussulman, as well as this dead body, are all here?"
"What business is that of yours?" asked the Sultan with a smile; but seeing that the barber had some reasons for his
question, he commanded that the tale of the hunch-back should be told him.
"It is certainly most surprising," cried he, when he had heard it all, "but I should like to examine the body." He then
knelt down, and took the head on his knees, looking at it attentively. Suddenly he burst into such loud laughter that he fell
right backwards, and when he had recovered himself enough to speak, he turned to the Sultan. "The man is no more dead than I
am," he said; "watch me." As he spoke he drew a small case of medicines from his pocket and rubbed the neck of the hunchback
with some ointment made of balsam. Next he opened the dead man's mouth, and by the help of a pair of pincers drew the bone
from his throat. At this the hunch-back sneezed, stretched himself and opened his eyes.
The Sultan and all those who saw this operation did not know which to admire most, the constitution of the hunchback who
had apparently been dead for a whole night and most of one day, or the skill of the barber, whom everyone now began to look
upon as a great man. His Highness desired that the history of the hunchback should be written down, and placed in the archives
beside that of the barber, so that they might be associated in people's minds to the end of time. And he did not stop there;
for in order to wipe out the memory of what they had undergone, he commanded that the tailor, the doctor, the purveyor and the
merchant, should each be clothed in his presence with a robe from his own wardrobe before they returned home. As for the
barber, he bestowed on him a large pension, and kept him near his own person.
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 merchandise; 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 ofdust,
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 Au 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 saddle- bags, 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
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 merchandise, 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
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 place, 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
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
masters 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 contain
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 I
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
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
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
As for Cassim's shop, Ali Baba gave it to his own eldest son, who
had been some time 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.
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
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
"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
"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
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
When the troop was all together, the captain told them the reason
for 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
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
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
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
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, "Tomorrow 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
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 All 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
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, All 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
oiljar, filled the kettle, and set it on a great wood fire to boil.
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
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
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
merchandise 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 comer, was, according to custom, extreme1y 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
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
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
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 ragolits 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
"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
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 silvergilt
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 hail. When she came to the door, she made a low 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 coming 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.
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The illustrations are by Rene Bull (1872 - 1942) illustrations 1912) and Maxfield Parish (1870 - 1966) illustrations 1909) and W. Heath Robinson (1872 - 1944) illustrations 1899) also H. J. Ford (1860- 1941) illustrations 1898)