Ali Baba and the Forty Robbers[Thieves]
The Original Story as quoted in the Classic"The Arabian Nights"
</pre>CASSIM, ALI BABA'S BROTHER, DISCOVERED AND KILLED BY THE ROBBERS
There once lived in a town of Persia two brothers, one named Cassim and
the other Ali Baba. Their father divided his small property equally
between them. Cassim married a very rich wife, and became a wealthy
merchant. Ali Baba married a woman as poor as himself, and lived by
cutting wood and bringing it upon three asses into the town to sell.
One day, when Ali Baba had cut just enough wood in the forest to load
his asses, he noticed far off a great cloud of dust. As it drew nearer,
he saw that it was made by a body of horsemen, whom he suspected to be
robbers. Leaving the asses, he climbed a large tree which grew on a high
rock, and had branches thick enough to hide him completely while he saw
what passed beneath. The troop, forty in number, all well mounted and
armed, came to the foot of the rock on which the tree stood, and there
dismounted. Each man unbridled his horse, tied him to a shrub, and hung
about his neck a bag of corn. Then each of them took off his saddle-bag,
which from its weight seemed to Ali Baba full of gold and silver. One,
whom he took to be their captain, came under the tree in which Ali Baba
was concealed; and, making his way through some shrubs, spoke the words:
"Open, Sesame."[*] As soon as the captain of the robbers said this, a
door opened in the rock, and after he had made all his troop enter
before him, he followed them, when the door shut again of itself.
[* Sesame (pronounced _sessamy_), a small grain.]
The robbers stayed some time within, and Ali Baba, fearful of being
caught, remained in the tree. At last the door opened again, and the
captain came out first, and stood to see all the troop pass by him. Then
Ali Baba heard him make the door close by saying: "Shut, Sesame." Every
man at once bridled his horse, fastened his wallet, and mounted again.
When the captain saw them all ready, he put himself at their head, and
they returned the way they had come.
Ali Baba watched them out of sight, and then waited some time before
coming down. Wishing to see whether the captain's words would have the
same effect if he should speak them, he found the door hidden in the
shrubs, stood before it, and said: "Open, Sesame." Instantly the door
flew wide open.
Instead of a dark, dismal cavern, Ali Baba was surprised to see a large
chamber, well lighted from the top, and in it all sorts of provisions,
rich bales of silk, brocade and carpeting, gold and silver ingots in
great heaps, and money in bags.
Ali Baba went boldly into the cave, and collected as much of the gold
coin, which was in bags, as he thought his asses could carry. When he
had loaded them with the bags, he laid wood over them so that they could
not be seen, and, passing out of the door for the last time, stood
before it and said: "Shut, Sesame." The door closed of itself, and he
made the best of his way to town.
When he reached home, he carefully closed the gate of his little yard,
threw off the wood, and carried the bags into the house. They were
emptied before his wife, and the great heap of gold dazzled her eyes.
Then he told her the whole adventure, and warned her, above all things,
to keep it secret.
Ali Baba would not let her take the time to count it out as she wished,
but said: "I will dig a hole and bury it."
"But let us know as nearly as may be," she said, "how much we have. I
will borrow a small measure, and measure it, while you dig a hole."
Away she ran to the wife of Cassim, who lived near by, and asked for a
measure. The sister-in-law, knowing Ali Baba's poverty, was curious to
learn what sort of grain his wife wished to measure out, and artfully
managed to put some suet in the bottom of the measure before she handed
it over. Ali Baba's wife wanted to show how careful she was in small
matters, and, after she had measured the gold, hurried back, even while
her husband was burying it, with the borrowed measure, never noticing
that a coin had stuck to its bottom.
"What," said Cassim's wife, as soon as her sister-in-law had left her,
"has Ali Baba gold in such plenty that he measures it? Whence has he all
this wealth?" And envy possessed her breast.
When Cassim came home, she said to him: "Cassim, you think yourself
rich, but Ali Baba is much richer. He does not count his money; he
measures it." Then she explained to him how she had found it out, and
they looked together at the piece of money, which was so old that they
could not tell in what prince's reign it was coined.
Cassim, since marrying the rich widow, had never treated Ali Baba as a
brother, but neglected him. Now, instead of being pleased, he was filled
with a base envy. Early in the morning, after a sleepless night, he went
to him and said: "Ali Baba, you pretend to be wretchedly poor, and yet
you measure gold. My wife found this at the bottom of the measure you
Ali Baba saw that there was no use of trying to conceal his good
fortune, and told the whole story, offering his brother part of the
treasure to keep the secret.
"I expect as much," replied Cassim haughtily; "but I must know just
where this treasure is and how to visit it myself when I choose.
Otherwise I will inform against you, and you will lose even what you
Ali Baba told him all he wished to know, even to the words he must speak
at the door of the cave.
Cassim rose before the sun the next morning, and set out for the forest
with ten mules bearing great chests which he meant to fill. With little
trouble he found the rock and the door, and, standing before it, spoke
the words: "Open, Sesame." The door opened at once, and when he was
within closed upon him. Here indeed were the riches of which his brother
had told. He quickly brought as many bags of gold as he could carry to
the door of the cavern; but his thoughts were so full of his new wealth,
that he could not think of the word that should let him out. Instead of
"Sesame," he said "Open, Barley," and was much amazed to find that the
door remained fast shut. He named several sorts of grain, but still the
door would not open.
Cassim had never expected such a disaster, and was so frightened that
the more he tried to recall the word "Sesame," the more confused his
mind became. It was as if he had never heard the word at all. He threw
down the bags in his hands, and walked wildly up and down, without a
thought of the riches lying round about him.
At noon the robbers visited their cave. From afar they saw Cassim's
mules straggling about the rock, and galloped full speed to the cave.
Driving the mules out of sight, they went at once, with their naked
sabres in their hands, to the door, which opened as soon as the captain
had spoken the proper words before it.
Cassim had heard the noise of the horses' feet, and guessed that the
robbers had come. He resolved to make one effort for his life. As soon
as the door opened, he rushed out and threw the leader down, but could
not pass the other robbers, who with their scimitars soon put him to
The first care of the robbers was to examine the cave. They found all
the bags Cassim had brought to the door, but did not miss what Ali Baba
had taken. As for Cassim himself, they guessed rightly that, once
within, he could not get out again; but how he had managed to learn
their secret words that let him in, they could not tell. One thing was
certain,--there he was; and to warn all others who might know their
secret and follow in Cassim's footsteps, they agreed to cut his body
into four quarters--to hang two on one side and two on the other, within
the door of the cave. This they did at once, and leaving the place of
their hoards well closed, mounted their horses and set out to attack the
caravans they might meet.