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with the accustomed ceremonies. The undertaker also brought the coffin, which Ali Baba had taken care to order. In order that he might not observe anything particular, Morgiana took the coffin in at the door, and having paid and sent him away, she assisted Ali Baba to put the body into it. When he had nailed down the boards which covered it, she went to the mosque to give notice that everything was ready for the funeral. The people belonging to the mosque, whose office it is to wash the bodies of the dead, offered to come and perform their usual function; but she told them that all was done and ready.
Morgiana was scarcely returned when the imam and the other ministers of the mosque arrived. Four of the neighbors took the coffin on their shoulders, and carried it to the cemetery, following the imam, who repeated prayers as he went along. Morgiana, as slave to the deceased, went next, with her head uncovered, bathed in tears, and uttering the most piteous cries from time to time, beating her breast, and tearing her hair, and Ali Baba closed the procession.
As for the widow of Cassim, she remained at home to lament and weep with the women of the neighborhood, who, according to the usual custom, repaired to her house during the ceremony of the burial. In this manner the fatal end of Cassim was so well concealed that no one in the city had the least suspicion of the affair.
Three or four days after the interment of Cassim, Ali Baba removed the few goods he was possessed of, together with the money he had taken from the robbers' store, to the house of the widow of Cassim, in order to establish himself there, and thus announce his recent marriage with his sister-in-law; and as such marriages are by no means extraordinary in the Mussulman religion, no one showed any marks of surprise on the occasion.
Ali Baba had a son, who had lately ended an apprenticeship with a merchant of considerable repute, and who had always bestowed the highest commendations on his conduct; to this son he gave the shop of Cassim.
But let us now return to the forty thieves. They came back to their retreat in the forest after they had been some time absent, and their astonishment was indescribable when they found the body of Cassim gone, and it was greatly increased on
perceiving a visible diminution of their treasure. “We are discovered,” said the captain, “and lost beyond recovery if we are not very careful, and take immediate measures to remedy the evil; we shall by insensible degrees lose all these riches which our ancestors, as well as ourselves, have amassed with so much danger and fatigue. The thief whom we surprised, knew the secret of opening the door; but another must have the same knowledge. His body being removed, and our treasure diminished, are proofs of the fact. And as we have no reason to suppose that more than two people are acquainted with the secret, having destroyed one, we must not suffer the other to escape.
This proposal of the captain was thought so reasonable and proper by the whole troop, that they all approved it, and agreed that it would be advisable to relinquish every other enterprise and occupy themselves solely with this, which they should not abandon until they had succeeded in detecting the thief.
“I expected no otherwise, from your known courage,” resumed the captain; “but the first thing to be done is, that one of you should go to the city in the dress of a traveler and a stranger, and employ all his art to discover if the singular death we inflicted on the culprit whom we destroyed, is the common topic of conversation, who he was, and where he lived. But in order to inspire him with ardor who shall undertake this commission, and to prevent his bringing us a false report, which might occasion our total ruin, I propose that he should submit to the penalty of death in case of failure."
Without waiting for the rest to give their opinions, one of the robbers said: "I willingly submit my life for the execution of such a commission. If I should fail in the attempt, you will at least remember that neither courage nor good-will has been deficient in my offer to serve the whole troop."
This robber disguised himself in such a way that no one could have suspected him to be what he in reality was. He set off at night, and entered the city just as day was beginning to appear. He went towards the square, where he saw only one shop open, which was that of Baba Mustapha.
Baba Mustapha was seated on his stool, with his awl in his hand, ready to begin his work. The thief went up to him and wished him a good morning, and perceiving him to be advanced in years, "My good man,” said he, "you rise betimes to your work; it is not possible that you can see clearly at this early hour, so old as you are."
“Whoever you are," replied Baba Mustapha, "you do not know much of me. Notwithstanding my age, I have excellent eyes; not long since I sewed up a dead body in a place where there was not more light than we have now.”
“A dead body,” replied the robber with a feigned astonishment, to induce the other to proceed, “why sew up a dead body? I suppose you mean that you sewed the shroud in which he was buried.” “No, no,” said Baba Mustapha, “I know what I say; you want me to tell you more about it, but you shall not know another syllable."
The thief wanted no further proof to be fully persuaded that he was in a good train to discover what he was in search of. He drew out a piece of gold, and putting it into Baba Mustapha's hand, he said: “I have no desire to become acquainted with your secret, although, I can assure you, I should not divulge it, even if you had intrusted me with it. The only thing which I entreat of you is to have the goodness to direct me, or to come with me, and show me the house where you sewed up the dead body.”
“Should I even feel myself inclined to grant your request,” replied Baba Mustapha, “I assure you that I could not do it; and I will tell you the reason: they took me to a particular place, and there they bound my eyes, from whence I suffered myself to be led to the house; and when I had finished what I had to do, I was conducted back to the same place in the same manner. You see, therefore, how impossible it is that I should be of any service to you.” “But, at least,” resumed the robber, "you must remember nearly the way you went after your eyes were bound; pray come with me, I will put a bandage over your eyes at that place, and we will walk together along the same streets, and follow the same turnings, which you will probably recollect to have gone over before; and, as all trouble deserves a reward, here is another piece of gold.”
The two pieces of gold tempted Baba Mustapha; he drew his purse from his bosom, and putting them in it, "I cannot