Excerpt from The book of the thousand nights and a night, translated from the Arabic by Captain Sir Ricard Francis Burton ; reprinted from the original edition and edited by Leonard C. Smithers ; in twelve volumes (London : H. S. Nichols & Co., 1894)

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Accordingly he fared along, aided by the tador Baba Mustafa, who had gained much gain of golden pieces in this matter, he hit upon the house of Ali Baba. And here he made no outward show or sign, but marked it on the tablet of his heart and impressed the picture upon the page of his memory. Then, returning to the jungle, he said to his men: "I have full cognizance of the place and have limned it clearly in my mind, so now there will be no difficulty in finding it. Go forth straightway and buy me and bring hither nineteen mules, together with one large leather jar of mustard oil and seven and thirty vessels of the same kind clean empty. Without me and the two locked up in gaol ye number thirty-seven souls, so I will stow you away armed and accoutered each within his jar and will load two upon each mule, and upon the nineteenth mule there shall be a man in an empty jar on one side and on the other the jar full of oil. I for my part, in guise of an oil merchant, will drive the mules into the town, arriving at the house by night, and will ask permission of its master to tarry there until morning. After this we shall seek occasion during the dark hours to rise up and fall upon him and slay him." Furthermore, the captain spake, saying: "When we have made an end of him we shall recover the gold and treasure whereof he robbed us and bring it back upon the mules."

This counsel pleased the robbers, who went forthwith and purchased mules and huge leather jars, and did as the captain had bidden them. And after a delay of three days, shortly before nightfall they arose, and oversmearing all the jars with oil of mustard, each hid him inside an empty vessel. The chief then disguised himself in trader's gear and placed the jars upon the nineteen mules; to wit, the thirty-seven vessels, in each of which lay a robber armed and accoutered, and the one that was full of oil. This done, he drove the beasts before him, and presently he reached Ali Baba's place at nightfall, when it chanced that the housemaster was strolling after supper to and fro in front of his home. The captain saluted him with the salaam and said: "I come from such-and-such a village with oil, and oftentimes have I been here a-selling oil, but now to my grief I have arrived too late and I am sore troubled and perplexed as to where I shall spend the night. An thou have pity on me, I pray thee grant that I tarry here in thy courtyard and ease the mules by taking down the jars and giving the beasts somewhat of fodder." Albeit Ali Baba had heard the captain's voice when perched upon the tree and had seen him enter the cave, yet by reason of the disguise he knew him not for the leader of the thieves, and granted his request with hearty welcome and gave him full license to halt there for the night. He then pointed out an empty shed wherein to tether the mules, and bade one of the slave boys go fetch grain and water. He also gave orders to the slave girl Morgiana, saying: "A guest hath come hither and tarrieth here tonight. Do thou busy thyself with all speed about his supper and make ready the guest bed for him."

Presently, when the captain had let down all the jars and had fed and watered his mules, Ali Baba received him with all courtesy and kindness, and summoning Morgiana, said in his presence: "See thou fail not in service of this our stranger, nor suffer him to lack for aught. Tomorrow early I would fare to the hammam and bathe, so do thou give my slave boy Abdullah a suit of clean white clothes which I may put on after washing. Moreover, make thee ready a somewhat of broth overnight, that I may drink it after my return home." Replied she, "I will have all in readiness as thou hast bidden." So Ali Baba retired to his rest, and the captain, having supped, repaired to the shed and saw that all the mules had their food and drink for the night, and finding utter privacy, whispered to his men who were in ambush: "This night at midnight, when ye hear my voice, do you quickly open with your sharp knives the leathern jars from top to bottom, and issue forth without delay." Then, passing through the kitchen, he reached the chamber wherein a bed had been dispread for him, Morgiana showing the way with a lamp. Quoth she, "An thou need aught beside, I pray thee command this thy slave, who is ever ready to obey thy say!" He made answer, "Naught else need I." Then, putting out the light, he lay down on the bed to sleep awhile ere the time came to rouse his men and finish off the work.

Meanwhile Morgiana did as her master had bidden her. She first took out a suit of clean white clothes and made it over to Abdullah, who had not yet gone to rest. Then she placed the pigskin upon the hearth to boil the broth and blew the fire till it burnt briskly. After a short delay she needs must see an the broth be boiling, but by that time all the lamps had gone out and she found that the oil was spent and that nowhere could she get a light. The slave boy Abdullah observed that she was troubled and perplexed hereat, and quoth he to her: "Why make so much ado? In yonder shed are many jars of oil. Go now and take as much so ever as thou listest." Morgiana gave thanks to him for his suggestion, and Abdullah, who was lying at his ease in the hall, went off to sleep so that he might wake betimes and serve Ali Baba in the bath. So the handmaiden rose, and with oil can in hand walked to the shed where stood the leathern jars all ranged in rows.

Now as she drew nigh unto one of the vessels, the thief who was hidden therein, hearing the tread of footsteps, bethought him that it was of his captain, whose summons he awaited, so he whispered, "Is it now time for us to sally forth?" Morgiana started back affrighted at the sound of human accents, but inasmuch as she was bold and ready of wit, she replied, "The time is not yet come," and said to herself: "These jars are not full of oil, and herein I perceive a manner of mystery. Haply the oil merchant hatcheth some treacherous plot against my lord, so Allah, the Compassionating, the Compassionate, protect us from his snares!" Wherefore she answered in a voice made like to the captain's, "Not yet, the time is not come." Then she went to the next jar and returned the same reply to him who was within, and soon to all the vessels, one by one. Then said she in herself: "Laud to the Lord! My master took this fellow in believing him to he an oil merchant, but lo! he hath admitted a band of robbers, who only await the signal to fall upon him and plunder the place and do him die."

Then passed she on to the furthest jar and, finding it brimming with oil, filled her can. and returning to the kitchen, trimmed the lamp and lit the wicks. Then, bringing forth a large caldron, she set it upon the fire, and filling it with oil from out the jar, heaped wood upon the hearth and fanned it to a fierce flame, the readier to boil its contents. When this was done, she bailed it out in potfuls and poured it seething hot into the leathern vessels, one by one, while the thieves, unable to escape, were scalded to death and every jar contained a corpse. Thus did this slave girl by her subtle wit make a clean end of all, noiselessly and unknown even to the dwellers in the house. Now when she had satisfied herself that each and every of the men had been slain, she went back to the kitchen and, shutting to the door, sat brewing Ali Baba's broth.

Scarce had an hour passed before the captain woke from sleep and, opening wide his window, saw that all was dark and silent. So he clapped his hands as a signal for his men to come forth, but not a sound was heard in return. After a while he clapped again and called aloud, but got no answer, and when he cried out a third time without reply, he was perplexed and went out to the shed wherein stood the jars. He thought to himself: "Perchance all are fallen asleep, whenas the time for action is now at hand, so I must e'en awaken them without stay or delay." Then, approaching the nearest jar, he was startled by a smell of oil and seething flesh, and touching it outside, he felt it reeking hot. Then, going to the others one by one, he found all in like condition. Hereat he knew for a surety the fate which had betided his band and, fearing for his own safety, he clomb onto the wall, and thence dropping into a garden, made his escape in high dudgeon and sore disappointment. Morgiana awaited awhile to see the Captain return from the shed but he came not, whereat she knew that he had scaled the wall and had taken to flight, for that the street door was double-locked. And the thieves being all disposed of on this wise, Morgiana laid her down to sleep in perfect solace and ease of mind.

When two hours of darkness yet remained, Ali Baba awoke and went to the hammam, knowing naught of the night adventure, for the gallant slave girl had not aroused him, nor indeed had she deemed such action expedient, because had she sought an opportunity of reporting to him her plan, she might haply have lost her chance and spoiled the project. The sun was high over the horizon when Ali Baba walked back from the baths, and he marveled exceedingly to see the jars still standing under the shed, and said: "How cometh it that he, the oil merchant, my guest, hath not carried to the market his mules and jars of oil?" She answered: "Allah Almighty vouchsafe to thee sixscore years and ten of safety! I will tell thee in privacy of this merchant." So Ali Baba went apart with his slave girl, who, taking him without the house, first locked the court door, then, showing him a jar, she said, "Prithee look into this and see if within there be oil or aught else."

Thereupon, peering inside it, he perceived a man, at which sight he cried aloud and fain would have fled in his fright. Quoth Morgiana: "Fear him not. This man hath no longer the force to work thee harm, he lieth dead and stone-dead." Hearing such words of comfort and reassurance, Ali Baba asked: "O Morgiana, what evils have we escaped, and by what means hath this wretch become the quarry of Fate?" She answered: "Alhamdolillah- praise be to Almighty Allah!- I will inform thee fully of the case. But hush thee, speak not aloud, lest haply the neighbors learn the secret and it end in our confusion. Look now into all the jars, one by one from first to last." So Ali Baba examined them severally and found in each a man fully armed and accoutered, and all lay scalded to death. Hereat, speechless for sheer amazement, he stared at the jars, but presently, recovering himself, he asked, "And where is he, the oil merchant?" Answered she: "Of him also I will inform thee. The villain was no trader, but a traitorous assassin whose honeyed words would have ensnared thee to thy doom. And now I will tell thee what he was and what hath happened, but meanwhile thou art fresh from the hammam and thou shouldst first drink somewhat of this broth for thy stomach's and thy health's sake." So Ali Baba went within and Morgiana served up the mess, after which quoth her master: "I fain would hear this wondrous story. Prithee tell it to me, and set my heart at ease." Hereat the handmaid fell to relating whatso had betided in these words:

"O my master, when thou badest me boil the broth and retiredst to rest, thy slave in obedience to thy command took out a suit of clean white clothes and gave it to the boy Abdullah, then kindled the fire and set on the broth. As soon as it was ready I had need to light a lamp so that I might see to skim it, but all the oil was spent, and, learning this, I told my want to the slave boy Abdullah, who advised me to draw somewhat from the jars which stood under the shed. Accordingly I took a can and went to the first vessel, when suddenly I heard a voice within whisper with all caution, 'Is it now time for us to sally forth?' I was amazed thereat, and judged that the pretended merchant had laid some plot to slay thee, so I replied, 'The time is not yet come.' Then I went to the second jar and heard another voice, to which I made the like answer, and so on with all of them. I now was certified that these men awaited only some signal from their chief, whom thou didst take to guest within thy walls supposing him to he a merchant in oil, and that after thou receivedst him hospitably the miscreant had brought these men to murther thee and to plunder thy good and spoil thy house.

"But I gave him no opportunity to will his wish. The last jar I found full of oil, and taking somewhat therefrom, I lit the lamp. Then, putting a large caldron upon the fire, I filled it up with oil which I brought from the jar and made a fierce blaze under it, and when the contents were seething hot, I took out sundry cansful with intent to scald them all to death, and going to each jar in due order, I poured within them, one by one, boiling oil. On this wise having destroyed them utterly, I returned to the kitchen, and having extinguished the lamps, stood by the window watching what might happen, and how that false merchant would act next. Not long after I had taken my station, the robber captain awoke and ofttimes signaled to his thieves. Then, getting no reply, he came downstairs and went out to the jars, and finding that all his men were slain, he fled through the darkness, I know not whither. So when he had clean disappeared I was assured that, the door being double-locked, he had scaled the wall and dropped into the garden and made his escape. Then with my heart at rest I slept."

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