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been unsewed to admit air for them to breathe; and the better to carry on the deception, he rubbed the outside of the jars with oil, which he took from the full one.
Things being thus disposed, the mules were laden with the thirty-seven robbers, each concealed in a jar, and the jar that was filled with oil; when the captain, as conductor, took the road to the city at the hour that had been agreed, and arrived about an hour after sunset, as he proposed. He went straight to the house of Ali Baba, intending to request admission for the night for himself and his mules; he found Ali Baba at the door, enjoying the fresh air after supper. He stopped his mules, and addressing himself to Ali Baba, “Sir," said he, “I have brought the oil which you see from a great distance to sell it to-morrow at the market, and at this late hour I do not know where to go to pass the night; if it would not occasion you much inconvenience, do me the favor to take me in for the night; you will confer a great obligation on me."
Although Ali Baba had seen the man in the forest, yet he had no idea that this was the captain of the forty robbers disguised as an oil merchant. “You are welcome," said he, and immediately made room for him and his mules to go in. At the same time Ali Baba called a slave and ordered him, when the mules were unladen, to put them in the stable and to give them some hay and corn. He also took the trouble of going into the kitchen to desire Morgiana to get a supper quickly for a guest who was just arrived, and to prepare him a chamber and bed.
After Morgiana had served supper for her master and his guest, the latter got up at the same time with Ali Baba and accompanied him to the door, and while Ali Baba went into the kitchen to speak to Morgiana, he went into the court, with the pretext of going to the stable to see after his mules, but really to give final instructions to his men. “When I shall throw some pebbles from the chamber where I am to be lodged,” said he, “do not fail to rip open the jar with the knife you are furnished with, and come out; I shall be with you immediately after.” This being done he returned, and when he got to the kitchen door, Morgiana took a light and conducted him to the chamber she had prepared for him.
After having thus conducted him to his room, Morgiana returned to the kitchen to prepare some broth for her master, which he had ordered to be ready for him after he had taken a bath in the morning. Whilst engaged in skimming the broth the lamp went out, and as there was no more oil in the house, she thought she would take a little out of one of the jars; but no sooner had she reached it than the thief who was concealed within, thinking it to be his captain, said in a low voice, “Is it time?” Any other slave but Morgiana would have been thrown off her guard by such an astounding circumstance, but she collected her thoughts, and with great presence of mind, assuming the manner of the captain, answered, “Not yet, but presently." She went to each jar with a like result till she came to the last, which contained the oil. She filled her oil can from this jar, and returned to the kitchen, and after lighting her lamp she took a large kettle and filled it with oil from the jar. This done she put it on the fire until the oil boiled. She then took the kettle and poured into each jar sufficient boiling oil to scald the robber to death. She then blew out her lamp, determined to wait quietly and see what would follow.
Morgiana had waited scarcely a quarter of an hour when the captain of the robbers awoke. He got up, and opening the window, gave the signal by throwing the pebbles on the jars. He listened, but hearing nothing, he became uneasy, and threw some pebbles down a second, and even a third time. He then descended into the court in the utmost alarm, and approaching the first jar, he smelt a strong scent of hot and burning oil issuing from the jar, by which he suspected his enterprise against Ali Baba had failed. He proceeded to the next jar, and to all in succession, and discovered that all his men had shared the same fate. Mortified at having thus missed his aim, he jumped over the garden gate, and going from one garden to another, he made his escape.
When Morgiana perceived that all was still and silent, and that the captain of the thieves did not return, she concluded he had decamped; and overjoyed at having so well succeeded in securing the safety of the whole family she at length retired to bed.
In the morning, Morgiana detailed the events of the preceding night, adding, as she concluded, “I am convinced that this
is the conclusion of a scheme of which I observed the beginning two or three days ago, but which I did not think it necessary to trouble you with an account of.” She then described the marks made upon the door, and the manner in which she had rendered them useless, adding: “If you connect this with what has happened, you will find that the whole is a machination contrived by the thieves of the forest, whose troop, I know not how, seems to be diminished by two. But be that as it may, it is now reduced to three at most. This proves that they are determined on your death, and you will do right to be on your guard against them, so long as you are certain that even one remains. On my part, I will do all in my power towards your preservation, which indeed I consider my duty."
When Morgiana ceased speaking, Ali Baba, penetrated with gratitude for the great obligation he owed her, replied, “I will recompense you as you deserve before I die. I owe my life to you, and to give you an immediate proof of my feelings on the occasion, I from this moment give you your liberty, and will soon reward you in a more ample manner.”
Ali Baba now proceeded to bury the dead robbers; his garden was of a considerable length, and terminated by some large trees. He went without delay with one of his slaves to dig a grave under these trees, of sufficient length and breadth to contain the bodies he had to inter. The ground was soft, and easy to remove, so they were not long in completing their work. They took the bodies out of the jars, and then carried them to the bottom of the garden, and placed them in the grave, and after having covered them with the earth they had previously removed, they spread about what remained, to make the surface of the ground appear even as it was before. Ali Baba carefully concealed the oil jars; and as for the mules, he sent them to the market at different times, where he disposed of them by means of this slave.
Whilst Ali Baba was taking these precautions to prevent its being publicly known by what means he had become rich in so short a space of time, the captain of the forty thieves had returned to the forest, mortified beyond measure at having met with such bad success. He determined, however, yet to compass the destruction of Ali Baba.
The next morning he awoke at an early hour, and put on a dress suitable to a design he had formed, and repaired to the city, where he took a lodging in a khan. As he supposed that what had happened in the house of Ali Baba might have become generally known, he asked the host if there were any news stirring; in reply to which the host talked on a variety of subjects, but none relating to what he wished to be informed of. By this he concluded that Ali Baba had kept the transaction profoundly secret.
The captain provided himself with a horse, which he made use of to convey to his lodging several kinds of rich stuffs and fine linens, bringing them from the forest at various times, with all the necessary precautions for keeping the place from whence he brought them still concealed. In order to dispose of this merchandise, when he had collected together as much as he thought proper, he sought for a shop. Having found one that would suit him, he hired it of the proprietor, furnished it with goods, and established himself in it. The shop that was exactly opposite to his was that which had belonged to Cassim, and was now occupied by the son of Ali Baba.
The captain of the robbers, who had assumed the name of Cogia Houssain, did not fail in the proper civilities to the merchants his neighbors. But the son of Ali Baba being young and of a pleasing address, and the captain having more frequent occasion to converse with him than the others, he very soon formed an intimacy with him. This acquaintance he soon resolved to cultivate with greater assiduity and care, when three or four days after he was settled in his shop, he recognized Ali Baba, who came to see his son, as he was in the constant habit of doing; and on inquiring of the son after his departure, discovered that he was his father.
The intimacy between the son of Ali Baba and Cogia Houssain continued to ripen; and one evening, whilst they were taking a walk they called at Ali Baba's house; who, desiring to be hospitable to a friend of his son, invited them to stay and partake of supper with him. “I am much obliged by your invitation,” said Cogia, “but I beg you to excuse me, as I have a particular reason for declining the honor you propose to me.”
“What might this reason be, sir,” resumed Ali Baba, "might I take the liberty of asking you?” “I do not refuse to tell it," said Cogia Houssain. “It is this; I never eat of any dish that has salt in it; judge then of the figure I should make at your table.” “If this be your only reason,” replied Ali Baba, "it need not deprive me of the honor of your company at supper. In the first place, the bread which is eaten in my house does not contain any salt; and as for the meat and other dishes, I promise you there shall be none in those which are served before you.” Ali Baba went into the kitchen, and desired Morgiana not to put any salt to the meat she was going to serve for supper.
Morgiana could not avoid expressing some discontent at this order, and making some inquiries of Ali Baba. “Who,” said she, “is this difficult man, that cannot eat salt? I feel a curiosity to see him.” She assisted in carrying the dishes in for supper, and on looking at Cogia Houssain, she instantly recollected him to be the captain of the robbers, notwithstanding his disguise; and examining him with great attention, she perceived that he had a dagger concealed under his dress. “I am no longer surprised,” said she to herself, “that this villain will not eat salt with my master; he is his bitterest enemy, and means to murder him; but I will still prevent him from accomplishing his purpose.”
When Morgiana had finished serving the dishes, she availed herself of the time while they were at supper, and made the necessary preparations for the execution of an enterprise of the boldest and most intrepid nature; and she had just completed them, when Ali Baba desired her to take away the supper and place fruit and wine on the table; having done which she retired. Instead, however, of going to supper, Morgiana, who had penetrated into the views of the pretended Cogia Houssain, did not allow him time to put his wicked intentions in execution. She dressed herself like a dancer, put on a head-dress suitable to that character, and wore a girdle round her waist of silver gilt, to which she fastened a dagger, made of the same metal. Her face was covered by a very handsome mask. When she had thus disguised herself, she said to Abdalla, one of Ali Baba's slaves, “Take your tabor, and let us go and entertain our master's guest, who is the friend of his son, as we do sometimes by our performances.”