Ali Baba and The 40 Thieves

Ali Baba and The 40 Thieves : from the Thousand and One Nights

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This was so there would be no danger of their suffocating. Finally the jars were loaded two at a time onto horses, and with himself posing as an oil merchant, the robber chief set out on foot leading the train. As they arrived at the house the sun was setting, and the chief addressed Ali Baba coming from his prayers.

"Master, I am a stranger in your town with nowhere to stay. I beg lodging of you for the night". Good-heartedly Ali Baba replied: "Welcome in the name of Allah! Come, lead your horses into the yard, then eat and drink your fill before resting yourself from your journey." When he had been shown in, the long, long Arabian-style feast began. Morgiana meanwhile was busy preparing the food and washing dishes in the kitchen. All at once her lamp started to flicker as the oil in it got low.

"What'll I do? That's all we had left." Then she remembered that their visitor that night was an oil merchant."Ah, that's right. I'll just borrow a bit from one of his jars and return it tomorrow morning." Morgiana took the empty oil jug to the courtyard and was about to uncover one of the large vessels standing there, when to her amazement a man spoke from inside it."Chief, is it time now?" The young girl was terrified, but quick-wittedly answered in a deep voice, "No, not yet!"

Fortunately there was only a thin crescent moon that night. Where the jars stood beside an earthen wall it was pitch-black. Stealthily Morgiana went around to each jar and discovered that only one contained any oil - all the others had men hidden inside! After going back to the kitchen and lighting the lamp, she racked her brains thinking what to do."If I make a fuss, that assassin pretending to be a merchant will escape. Ah, I've got it!" Silently she carried all the oil into the kitchen, and heated it in a huge cauldron till it boiled. Next she put some into a bucket, carried it outside, and then one after the other poured the boiling oil into each of the big jars. The thieves were all scalded to death before they could even cry out.

Midnight came around, and at an opportune time the bandit chief left the room and threw some stones out into the yard from a corridor window. But even though he heard them hit against the jars time after time, not one of his men emerged.

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