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positively assure you,” said he, “that I remember exactly the way they took me, but since you will have it so, come along, I will do my best to remember it."
To the great satisfaction of the robber, Baba Mustapha got up to go with him, and he conducted the robber to the spot where Morgiana had put the bandage over his eyes. “This is the place,” said he, "where my eyes were bound and I was turned the way you see me." The robber, who had his handkerchief ready, tied it over his eyes, and walked by his side, partly leading him and partly being conducted by him, till he stopped.
Baba Mustapha then said, "I think I did not go farther than this;" and he was in fact exactly before the house which formerly belonged to Cassim, and where Ali Baba now resided. The robber quickly made a mark on the door with some chalk, and when he had taken off the handkerchief, he asked him if he knew to whom the house belonged. Baba Mustapha replied that he did not know, and as the robber found he could gain no further intelligence from him, he thanked him and took the road to the forest.
Soon after the robber and Baba Mustapha had separated, Morgiana had occasion to go out on some errand, and when she returned she observed the mark which the robber had made on the door of Ali Baba's house. She stopped to consider it. “What can this mark signify?" thought she; “has any one a spite against my master, or has it been done only for diversion? Be the motive what it may, it will be well to use precautions.” She therefore took some chalk, and as several of the doors both above and below her master's were alike, she marked them in the same manner, and then went in without saying anything of what she had done either to her master or mistress.
The thief in the meantime continued on his road till he arrived at the forest, where he rejoined his companions at an early hour. He related the success of his journey, dwelling much on the good fortune that had befriended him in discovering so soon the very man who could give him the best information on the subject he went about. “Comrades,” said the captain, "we have no time to lose; let us secretly arm ourselves and enter the city, which we had best do separately; let us all assemble in the great square, and I will go and find out the house with our companion who has brought us this good news, by which I shall be able to judge what method will be most advantageous."
The robbers all applauded their captain's proposal, and they were very shortly equipped for their departure. They went in small parties of two or three together, and entered the city without occasioning any suspicion. The captain and he who had been there in the morning were the last to enter it; and the latter conducted the captain to the street in which he had marked the house of Ali Baba. When they reached the first house that had been marked by Morgiana, he pointed it out, saying that was the one. But as they continued walking on without stopping, that they might not raise suspicion, the captain perceived that the next door was marked in the same manner, and on the same part, which he observed to his guide, and inquired whether this was the house or that they had passed ? His guide was quite confused, and knew not what to answer; and his embarrassment increased when, on proceeding with the captain, he found that four or five doors successively had the same mark. He assured the captain, with an oath, that he had marked but one. "I cannot conceive," added he, "who can have imitated my mark with so much exactness; but I confess that I cannot now distinguish that which I had marked.”
The captain, who found that his design did not succeed, returned to the great square, where he told his men that they had lost their labor, and that now nothing remained but to return to their place of retreat.
When the troop had reassembled in the forest, the conductor was unanimously declared deserving of death; he presented his head with firmness to him who advanced to sever it from his body.
Another robber, who flattered himself with hopes of better success than he who had just been punished, now presented himself, and requested to be sent on the mission. It was granted him. He went to the city, corrupted Baba Mustapha by the same artifice that the first had used, and he led him to the house of Ali Baba with his eyes bound. .
The thief marked it with red in a place where it would be less discernible, thinking that would be a sure method of distinguishing it from those that were marked with white. But a short time after, Morgiana went out as on the preceding day, and on her return the red mark did not escape her piercing eye. She reasoned as before, and did not fail to make a similar red mark on the neighboring doors.
The thief returned to his companions in the forest and they repaired to the city in the same order, and with as much care as before. The captain and the robber went immediately to the street where Ali Baba resided; but the same difficulty occurred as on the former occasion. The captain was irritated, and the thief in as great a consternation as he who had preceded him in the same business.
Thus was the captain obliged to return again on that day with his comrades as little satisfied with his expedition as he had been on the preceding one. The robber who was the author of the disappointment underwent the punishment to which he had before voluntarily submitted himself.
The captain now undertook the business himself: he went to the city, and with the assistance of Baba Mustapha, he found the house of Ali Baba, but not choosing to amuse himself in making marks on it, which had hitherto proved so fallacious, he examined it so thoroughly that at last he was certain he could not mistake it.
The captain, satisfied of having obtained the object of his journey, returned to the forest to the robbers: “Comrades,” said he, addressing them, "nothing now can prevent our taking full revenge of the injury that has been done us. I know with certainty the house of the culprit who is to experience it; and on the road I have meditated a way in which we can revenge ourselves on him."
He then told them in what manner he intended to conduct the affair, and as they all gave their approbation, he charged them to divide into small parties, and go into the neighboring towns and villages, and to buy nineteen mules and thirty-eight large leather jars to carry oil, one of which must be full and all the others empty.
In the course of two or three days the thieves had completed their purchase; then having made one of his men enter each jar, armed as he thought necessary, he closed them so as to appear full of oil, leaving, however, that part open which had