Ali Baba and The 40 Thieves

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

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Thinking it odd he went out to investigate, and was amazed to find all thirty-seven of his men dead! Though he was staggered, he decided there was nothing left now but to take revenge on Ali Baba's family himself, so calmly he went back to the feast. Ali Baba, of course, knew none of all this and continued to shower his guest with hospitality.

Presently, a girl dressed in a glittering dancer's costume gracefully made her appearance. She bowed to the guest of honor, and began to dance to the beat of a servant's drum. With her body erect and her chest out, slowly and rhythmically she advanced to the centre of the room. Across her forehead was a band of gold coins, round her neck a necklace of amber, about her waist a sash of brightest scarlet, and the tiny bells fastened to her slender wrists and ankles tinkled continuously.

Yes, it was Morgiana!

Even Ali Baba held his breath as he watched her beautiful, gazelle-like movements. Gradually the throb of the drum picked up speed, as Morgiana danced to left and right, flitting like a butterfly then gliding like a bird. After a while she paused momentarily, and lightly unsheathed the dagger in her sash. Now she began a sword dance, at times swaying gracefully to and fro with it, and at others brandishing it in a frenzy. Her eloquence was such as the princes of Ethiopia and the nobles of Greece have never seen.

All watched entranced as she danced up to the guest. The drum was beaten even more wildly, and at the height of its fury Morgiana fixed her pearly-black eyes piercingly on the merchant. Then, in a flash, she plunged her dagger up to the hilt into the brigand's sturdy chest.

"Morgiana, what have you done?"

"Look, Father!" She ripped off the oil merchant's disguise unmasking the robber, and revealed the cutlass hidden in his clothing. Ali Baba took her hands in his and fell to praising her cleverness and courage. "From this day on we will think of you as our guardian angel. All the riches in the cave are yours. Although your youth will gradually fade, your wisdom should grow. Use these things well and you'll be the glory of Persia and respected everywhere."

Then they all sat down again to their own feast of celebrating and rejoicing with their hearts full of happiness.

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