Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Ali Baba saw forty men on forty horses. Each man wore a saber and a dagger in his belt. They looked very fierce. Ali Baba could see at once that they were thieves. The forty thieves stopped under Ali Baba's big tree. Their captain stepped up to a huge rock. He said, 'OPEN, SESAME!' And a door...

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Long ago, in a town not far from Bagdad, in the land of Persia, there lived a poor woodcutter called Ali Baba. One day, Ali Baba was working deep in the forest. Suddenly he heard the noise of many horses. He tied up his two mules behind some high rocks. Then he climbed into a tall tree to hide.

From up high in the tree, Ali Baba saw forty men on forty horses. Each man wore a saber and a dagger in his belt. They looked very fierce. Ali Baba could see at once that they were thieves.

The forty thieves stopped under Ali Baba's big tree. Their captain stepped up to a huge rock. He said: 

"OPEN, SESAME!" And a door flew open in the rock.

Each thief lifted two heavy saddle bags off his horse, and they all went inside. Then the door closed behind them.

Ali Baba could hardly believe what he had seen! He did not dare to climb down from his tree-the thieves might come out at any moment and find him. He waited a long time.

At last the door opened, and the forty thieves came out. Their captain said:

"SHUT, SESAME!" The door closed, and the forty thieves rode away.

When Ali Baba was sure that the thieves were gone, he came down from the tree. He walked up to the huge rock. He took a deep breath. Then he said:

"OPEN, SESAME!" And the door flew open. Ali Baba stepped inside, and the door closed. He found himself in a great hall. Light was coming in through some holes high up in the rock. 

Ali Baba looked around. He saw heaps of silver and heaps of gold shining in the dim light. Bales of silk and velvet cloth were piled high, and fine rugs lay on the rocky floor.

Ali Baba filled four bags with gold. When he was done, he said: 

"OPEN, SESAME!" And the door flew open. 

Ali Baba carried the heavy bags out of the cave. Then he turned to face the rock.

"SHUT, SESAME!" he said. And the door closed.

Ali Baba loaded the bags of gold on his mules. He put some wood on top, so no one could see his treasure. Then he went home to his wife and his children.

Ali Baba brought the bags to his wife and poured out the gold. He told her about the forty thieves, and about the treasure cave behind the door in the rock.

"The thieves must not know who took the gold," he told his wife. "We will bury it in the yard."

"Let me weigh it first," she said, "so we will know how much gold we have." She ran next door, to the house of Ali Baba's brother, the merchant Cassim. And she asked Cassin's wife to lend her a scale.

Cassin's wife was very curious. What were they weighting next door? She had to find out! She rubbed some fat inside the scale-perhaps something would stick to it. Sure enough, when Ali Baba's wife brought back the scale, two pieces of gold were stuck to the bottom.

In the evening, Cassim came home from his shop. "Look, Cassim," his wife said. "Your brother Ali Baba and his wife are not such poor people after all. They have so much gold, they don't count it-they weigh it!"

Now Cassim liked gold more than anything in the world. He thought, "I must have some of that gold!"

That night, Cassim could not sleep. He could not stop thinking of all that gold! As soon as the sun came up, he ran next door.

"Tell me, brother Ali Baba," said Cassim, "where did you get so much gold you had to weigh it on our scale?" And he showed his brother the two pieces of gold that had struck to the bottom of the scale.

So Ali Baba told his brother Cassim about the treasure cave, and he told him the worlds that opened and shut the door. He warned him about the forty thieves too.

Within the hour, Cassim took twenty saddle bags and ten fine mules, and he set out for the forest. When he came to the huge rock, he said: 

"OPEN, SESAME!" And the door flew open. 

Cassim carried his twenty saddle bags into the cave-and the door closed behind him.

Cassim rushed to the gold. He dug his hands deep into a heap of gold and scooped some up. "Gold! Gold!" he cried. "I'll be rich!"

He filled saddle bag after saddle bag. He stuffed his bags so quickly and so full that pieces of gold spilled out on the rocky floor. Then Cassim dragged his bags to the door. But what were the words that opened it?

"Open, door of gold!" cried Cassim. But no, that was not right. The words had something to do with a grain-but which grain?

"Open, barley!" he cried. But the door in the rock stayed shut. Cassim was trapped inside the treasure cave, with all that gold.

Later that morning, the thieves came back to the rock. When the door flew open, the captain saw Cassim, sitting on the bags of gold.

"Thief!" shouted the captain. "How did you learn our secret? You must die!" The captain drew his saber, and with one blow he killed Cassim.

The thieves left Cassim's body where it had fallen and rode away.

All that day, Cassim's wife waited. Evening came, and then night. And still, Cassim had not come back. Now Cassim's wife ran next door.

"Oh Ali Baba, dear brother-in-law," she cried.

"You alone know where Cassim has gone. Please go and bring him home!" 

Ali Baba took his two mules and went into the forest. In the dark, the huge rock looked forbidding. But Ali Baba called bravely:

"OPEN, SESAME!" And the door flew open.

There, at Ali Baba's feet, on top of the bags of gold, lay his brother Cassim.

"Poor Cassim," Ali Baba said sadly. He wrapped his dead brother in one of the lovely rugs. And he laid him on one of the mules. Then Ali Baba put small pieces of wood on top, so one could see what he was carrying home.

Cassim's wife wept bitterly when she saw her dead husband. She cried and tore her hair. Her young servant girl Morgiana tried to comfort her. 

Ali Baba said, "Be brave, dear sister-in-law. In spite of this great sadness, we must be very careful. The thieves who killed Cassim may come after us. Leave everything to me and Morgiana!"

Ali Baba knew that Morgiana was brave and clever. "The thieves must not find out that the man they killed was your master Cassim," he said to her. "They must think that he died at home, in his bed. You are a clever girl, Morgiana. You will know what to do!"

And Morgiana knew just what to do.

In the morning she ran to the druggist. "My master Cassim is very sick," she said. "Please, give me some strong medicine for him!"

The next day Morgiana came back to the druggist. Now she was weeping. She said, "My master Cassim is very, very sick. I am afraid he may die! Please give me the strongest medicine you have!"

The druggist told everyone how sick Cassim was. And so, on the third day, no one in town was surprised to hear that Cassim had died. All the townspeople came to the funeral.

Cassim's wife and her servant Morgiana went to live next door with Ali Baba's family. And Ali Baba's oldest so