Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

that you have already taken; and I, instead, shall receive my portion for having informed against you."

Ali Baba, led rather by his natural goodness of heart than intimidated by the insolent menaces of a cruel brother, gave him all the information he desired, and even told him the words he must pronounce, both on entering the cave and on quitting it. Cassim left his brother; and, full of the hope of possessing himself of the whole treasure, he set off the next morning before break of day with ten mules charged with large hampers, which he proposed to fill. He took the road which Ali Baba had pointed out, and arrived at the rock and the tree, which from description he knew to be the same that had concealed his brother. He looked for the door and soon discovered it. Having pronounced

Open, Sesamè,” the door obeyed; he entered, and it immediately after closed. In examining the cave, he was in the utmost astonishment to find much more riches than the description of Ali Baba had led him to expect. Avaricious as he was, he could have passed the whole day in feasting his eyes with the sight of so much gold; but he reflected that he was come to take away and lade his ten mules with as much as he could collect; he therefore took up a number of sacks, and coming to the door, his mind filled with a multitude of ideas, he found that he had forgotten the important words, and instead of pronouncing “Sesame,” he said, “Open, Barley." He was struck with astonishment on perceiving that the door, instead of flying open, remained closed; he named various other kinds of grain; all but the right were called upon, and the door did not move.

In the imminent danger in which Cassim now beheld himself, fear took entire possession of his mind; the more he endeavored to recollect the word “Sesamè,” the more was his memory confused, and he remained as totally ignorant of it as if he had never heard the word mentioned. He paced with hasty steps backward and forward in the cave; the riches which surrounded him had no longer charms for his imagination.

The robbers returned to their cave towards noon; and when they were within a short distance of it, and saw the mules belonging to Cassim laden with hampers, standing about the rock, they were a good deal surprised at such a novelty. The captain with the others alighted, and with their sabers in their hands, went towards the door, pronounced the words, and it opened.

Cassim, who from the inside of the cave, heard the noise of horses, did not doubt that the robbers were arrived, and that his death was inevitable. Resolved, however, to attempt one effort to escape, he placed himself near the door, ready to run out as soon as it should open. The word “Sesame,” which he had in vain endeavored to recall to his remembrance, was scarcely pronounced, than it opened, and he rushed out with such violence, that he threw the captain on the ground. He did not, however, avoid the other thieves, who, having their sabers drawn, slew him on the spot.

The first care which occupied the robbers after this execution was to enter the cave; they found the sacks which Cassim had removed for the convenience of lading his mules; and they put them in their places again, without observing the deficiency of those which Ali Baba had previously carried away. Deliberating and consulting on this event, they could easily account for Cassim's not having been able to effect his escape: but they could not in any way imagine how he had been able to enter the cave. They conceived that he might have descended from the top of the cave, but the opening which admitted the light was so high, and the summit of the rock so inaccessible on the outside, besides that there were no traces of his having adopted this mode, that they all agreed it was beyond their conjecture. They could not suppose that he had entered by the door, unless he had been acquainted with the secret which caused it to open; but they felt quite secure that they alone were possessed of this secret, as they were ignorant of having been overheard by Ali Baba.

But as the manner in which this circumstance had happened was impenetrable, and their united riches were no longer in safety, they agreed to divide the carcass of Cassim into four quarters, and place them in the cave near the door - two quarters on one side, and two on the other to frighten away any one who might have the boldness to hazard a similar enterprise. This determination formed, they put it in execution; and leaving their place of retreat well secured, they mounted their horses and departed.

The wife of Cassim, in the meantime, was in the greatest uneasiness, when she observed night approach, and yet her husband did not return. She went in the utmost alarm to Ali Baba, and said to him, "Brother, I believe you are not ignorant that Cassim is gone to the forest, and for what purpose; he is not yet come back, and night is already advancing; I fear that some accident may have befallen him."

Ali Baba suspected his brother's intention after the conversation he had held with him, and for this reason he had desisted from visiting the forest on that day, that he might not offend him. However, without uttering any reproaches that could have given the slightest offense, either to her or her husband, had he been still living, he replied, that she need not yet feel any uneasiness concerning him, for that Cassim most probably thought it prudent not to return to the city until the night was considerably advanced. The wife of Cassim felt satisfied with this, returned to her house, and waited patiently till midnight. The night was spent in weeping, and at break of day she ran to Ali Baba, and announced the cause of her early visit, less by her words than her tears.

Ali Baba did not wait for his sister's entreaties, to go and seek for Cassim. He immediately set off with his three asses, and went to the forest. As he drew near the rock, he was astonished on observing that blood had been shed near the door. He reached the door, and on pronouncing the words, it opened. He was struck with horror when he distinguished the body of his brother cut into four quarters. He found materials in the cave to wrap up the body; and making two packets of the four quarters, he placed them on one of his asses, covering them with sticks, to conceal them. The other two asses he quickly loaded with sacks of gold, putting wood over them as on the preceding occasion; and having finished all he had to do, and commanded the door to close, he took the road to the city. When he got home, he left the two asses that were laden with gold, desiring his wife to take care to unload them; and having in a few words acquainted her with what had happened to Cassim, he led the other ass to his sister-in-law.

Ali Baba knocked at the door, which was opened to him by Morgiana: this Morgiana was a female slave, crafty, cunning, and fruitful in inventions to forward the success of the most difficult enterprise, in which character Ali Baba knew her well. When he had entered the court, he took off the wood and the two packages from the ass, and taking the slave aside, “Morgiana,” said he, “the first thing I have to request of you is inviolable secrecy. These two packets contain the body of your master, and we must endeavor to bury him as if he had died a natural death. Let me speak to your mistress, and be attentive to what I shall say to her."

Morgiana went to acquaint her mistress, and Ali Baba followed her. He then related to her all that had happened during his journey, until his arrival with the body of Cassim: “Sister," added he, “here is a new cause of affliction for you, the more distressing, as it was unexpected; although the evil is without remedy, if, nevertheless, anything can afford you consolation, I offer to join the small property Heaven has granted me, to yours, by marrying you; I can assure you my wife and you will live comfortably together. If this proposal meets your approbation, we must contrive to bury my brother as if he had died a natural death; and this is a trust which I think you may safely repose in Morgiana.”

The widow of Cassim reflected that she could not do better than consent to this offer. She did not therefore refuse his proposal, but, on the contrary, regarded it as a reasonable motive for consolation. She wiped away her tears, which had begun to flow abundantly, and thereby sufficiently testified to Ali Baba that she accepted his offer.

Ali Baba left the widow of Cassim in this disposition of mind, and having strongly recommended Morgiana to acquit herself properly in the part she was to perform, he returned home.

Morgiana went out with Ali Baba, and repaired to an apothecary whom she asked for a particular kind of lozenge of great efficacy in dangerous disorders. The apothecary gave her as much as the money she offered would pay for, asking who was ill in her master's family. “Ah!” exclaimed she, with a deep sigh, “it is my worthy master, Cassim himself; he can neither speak nor eat.”

On the following day, she again went to the same apothecary, and with tears in her eyes inquired for an essence, which it was customary only to administer when the patient was reduced to the last extremity, and when few hopes were entertained of life.

On the other hand, as Ali Baba and his wife were seen going backwards and forwards to the house of Cassim, in the course of the day, no one was surprised towards evening on hearing the piercing cries of his widow and Morgiana, which announced the death of Cassim. At a very early hour the next morning, when day began to appear, Morgiana, knowing that a good old cobbler lived near, who was one of the first to open his shop, went out in search of him. Coming up to him, she wished him a good day, and put a piece of gold into his hand.

Baba Mustapha, known to all the world by this name, was naturally of a gay turn, and had always something laughable to say. Examining the piece of money, as it was yet scarcely daylight, and seeing it was gold, “A good hansel,” said he, “what's to be done? I am ready to do what I am bid.” 'Baba Mustapha,” said Morgiana to him, “take all you want for sewing, and come directly with me; but on this condition, that you let me put a bandage over your eyes, when we have got to a certain place.”

Baba Mustapha agreed to this, and suffered himself to be led by the slave, who, when she had reached the place she had mentioned, bound a handkerchief over his eyes, and conducted him to the house of her deceased master; nor did she remove the bandage until he was in the chamber where the body was deposited, each quarter in its proper place. Then taking it off, “Baba Mustapha,” said she, “I have brought you here, that you might sew these pieces together. Lose no time, and when you have done I will give you another piece of gold."

When Baba Mustapha had finished his job, Morgiana bound his eyes again before he left the chamber, and having given him the money, according to her promise, she conducted him to the place where she had first put on the handkerchief; and having again taken it off, she left him to return to his house, following him, however, with her eyes until he was out of sight, lest he should have the curiosity to return and watch her movements.

Morgiana had heated some water to wash the body of Cassim; and Ali Baba, who entered just as she returned, washed it, perfumed it with incense, and wrapped it in the burying-clothes,

« PreviousContinue »