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ali baba
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♪1øø1~Ali Baba and Forty Robbers♪

1001 NIGHTS

The History of Ali Baba, and of the Forty Robbers Who Were Killed by One Slave - part one

"IN a certain town of Persia there lived two brothers, one of whom was named Cassim and the other Ali Baba. Their father at his death left them a very moderate fortune, which they divided equally.

"Cassim married a woman who very soon after her nuptials inherited a well-furnished shop, a warehouse filled with good merchandise, and some considerable property in land. Her husband thus found himself suddenly quite a prosperous man, and became one of the richest merchants in the whole town.

"Ali Baba, on the other hand, who had taken to wife a woman no better off for worldly goods than himself, lived in a very poor house, and had no other means of gaining his livelihood and supporting his wife and children than by going to cut wood in a neighbouring forest, and carrying it about the town to sell, on three asses, which were his only possession.

"Ali Baba went one day to the forest, and had very nearly finished cutting as much wood as his asses could carry, when he perceived a thick cloud of dust, which rose very high into the air, and appeared to come from a point to the right of the spot where he stood. It was advancing towards him. He was soon able to distinguish a numerous company of men on horseback, who were approaching at a quick pace.

"Although that part of the country had never been spoken of as being infested with robbers, Ali Baba nevertheless conjectured that these horsemen were thieves. Therefore without considering what might become of his asses, his first and only care was to save himself. He instantly climbed up into a large tree, the branches of which spread out so close and thick that only one small opening was left. He hid himself among the thick branches, with great hope of safety, as he could see everything that occurred without being observed. The tree itself also grew at the foot of a sort of isolated rock, considerably higher than the tree, and so steep that it could not be easily ascended.

"The men, who appeared stout, powerful, and well mounted, came up to this very rock and alighted at its foot. Ali Baba counted forty of them, and was very sure, from their appearance and mode of equipment, that they were robbers. They were, in fact, a band of robbers, who abstained from committing any depredations in the neighbourhood, but carried on their system of plunder at a considerable distance, and only had their place of rendezvous at that spot. Presently each horseman took the bridle off his horse, and hung over its head a bag filled with barley, which he had brought with him; and when all had fastened their horses to bushes and trees, they took off their travelling bags, which appeared so heavy that Ali Baba thought they must be filled with gold and silver.

"The robber who was nearest to him, and whom Ali Baba took for the captain of the band, came with his bag on his shoulder close to the rock, beside the very tree in which Ali Baba had concealed himself. After making his way among some bushes and shrubs that grew there, the robber very deliberately pronounced these words, 'OPEN, SESAME!' which Ali Baba distinctly heard. The captain of the band had no sooner spoken, than a door opened; and after making all his men pass before him, and go in through the door, the chief entered also, and the door closed.

"The robbers continued within the rock for a considerable time; and Ali Baba was compelled to remain in the tree, and wait with patience for their departure, as he was afraid to leave his place of refuge and endeavour to save himself by flight, lest some of the horsemen should come out and discover him.

"At length the door opened, and the forty robbers came out. The captain, contrary to his former proceeding, made his appearance first. After he had seen all his troops pass out before him, Ali Baba heard him pronounce these words: ‘SHUT, SESAME!' Each man then returned to his horse, put on its bridle, fastened his bag, and mounted. When the captain saw that they were all ready to proceed, he put himself at their head, and they departed on the road by which they had come.

"Ali Baba followed them with his eyes till he could see them no longer, and, in order to be more secure, delayed his descent till a considerable time after he had lost sight of them. As he recollected the words the captain of the robbers had used to open and shut the door, he had the curiosity to try if the same effect would be produced by his pronouncing them. He therefore made his way through the bushes till he came to the door, which they concealed. He went up to it, and called out: 'Open, sesame!' and the door instantly flew wide open.

"Ali Baba expected to find only a dark and gloomy cave, and was much astonished at seeing a large, spacious, well-lighted and vaulted room, dug out of the rock, and so high that he could not touch the roof with his hand. It received its light from an opening at the top of the rock. He observed in it a large quantity of provisions, numerous bales of rich merchandise, a store of silk, stuffs and brocades, and besides all this, great quantities of money, both silver and gold, partly piled up in heaps and partly stored in large leather bags, placed one on another. At the sight of all these things, it seemed to him that this cave must have been used for centuries, as a retreat for successive generations of robbers.

"Ali Baba did not hesitate long as to the plan he should pursue. He went into the cave, and as soon as he was there the door shut; but as he knew the secret by which to open it, this circumstance gave him no sort of uneasiness. He paid no attention to the silver, but made directly for the gold coin, and particularly that portion which was in the bags. He took up in several journeys as much as he could carry, and when he had got together what he thought sufficient for loading his three asses, he went and collected them together, as they had strayed to some distance. He then brought them as close as he could to the rock, and loaded them; and in order to conceal the sacks, he so covered the whole over with wood, that no one could perceive that his beasts had any other load. When he had finished his task he went up to the door, and pronounced the words: ‘Shut, sesame !' The portal instantly closed; for although it shut of itself every time he went in, it remained open on his coming out till he commanded it to close.

"Ali Baba now took the road to the town; and when he got to his own house he drove his asses into a small courtyard, and shut the gate with great care. He threw down the faggots of brushwood that covered the bags, and carried the latter into his house, where he laid them down in a row before his wife.

"His wife felt the sacks to find out what might be their contents; and when she found them to be full of money, she suspected her husband of having stolen them; and when he laid them all before her, she could not help saying: 'Ali Baba, is it possible that you should--?' He immediately interrupted her. 'Peace, my dear wife,' exclaimed he, 'do not alarm yourself: I am not a thief, unless it be robbery to deprive thieves of their plunder. You will change your opinion of me when I have told you my good fortune.' Hereupon he emptied the sacks, the contents of which formed a great heap of gold, that quite dazzled his wife's eyes; and when he had done, he related his whole adventure, and in conclusion he entreated her to keep it secret.

"Recovering from her alarm, his wife began to rejoice with Ali Baba on the good fortune which had befallen them, and was about to count over the money that lay before her piece by piece, 'What are you going to do? ' said he. 'You are very foolish, O wife; you would never have done counting this mass. I will immediately dig a pit to bury it in-we have no time to lose.' 'But it is only right,' replied the wife, ‘that we should know nearly what quantity there may be. I will go and borrow a small measure from some one of our neighbours, and whilst you are digging the pit I will ascertain how much we have.' 'What you want to do, wife,' replied Ali Baba, 'is of no use. However, you shall have your own way; only remember not to betray the secret.'

"Persisting in her design, the wife of All Baba set off, and went to her brother-in-law, Cassim, who lived at a short distance from her house. Cassim was from home; so she addressed herself to his wife, whom she begged to lend her a measure for a few minutes. Cassim's wife inquired if she wanted a large or a small one, to which Ali Baba's wife replied that a small one would suit her. 'That I will lend you with pleasure,' said the sister-in-law; 'wait a moment, and I will bring it you.' She went to bring a measure ; but, knowing the poverty of Ali Baba, she was curious to know what sort of grain his wife wanted to measure; she bethought herself, therefore, of putting some tallow under the measure, in such a way that it could not be observed.

"The wife of Ali Baba returned home, and placing the measure on the heap of gold, filled and emptied it at a little distance on the sofa, till she had measured the whole mass. Her husband having by this time dug the pit for its reception, she informed him how many measures there were, and both rejoiced at the magnitude of the treasure. While Ali Baba was burying the gold, his wife carried back the measure to her sister-in-law, without observing that a piece of gold had stuck to the bottom of it. 'Here, sister, said she, on returning it, ‘you see I have not kept your measure long; I am much obliged to you for lending it me.'

"So soon as the wife of Ali Baba had taken her departure, Cassim's wife looked at the bottom of the measure, and was inexpressibly astonished to see a piece of gold sticking to it. Envy instantly took possession of her breast. 'What!' said she to herself, 'has Ali Baba such an abundance of gold that he measures, instead of counting it? Where can that miserable wretch have got it?' Her husband Cassim was from home: he had gone as usual to his shop, from whence he would not return till evening. The time of his absence appeared an age to her, for she was burning with impatience to acquaint him with a circumstance which, she concluded, would surprise him as much as it had astonished her.



"On Cassim's return home, his wife said to him: 'Cassim, you think you are rich, but you are deceived; Ali Baba has infinitely more wealth than you can boast: he does not count his money as you do, he measures it.' Cassim demanded an explanation of this enigma, and his wife unraveled it by acquainting him with the expedient she had used to make this discovery, and showing him the piece of money she had found adhering to the bottom of the ...
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