Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves

Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves : A Persian folk tale retold by Walter McVitty

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“I cannot be sure of the direction, for I was led there blindfolded," Mustapha replied.

“Perhaps if I were blindfolded once more, I might be able to lead you there by the sense of touch alone."

And so, bandaged afresh, he was able to find the way to Ali Baba’s house with little trouble—and was well pleased with his reward. The delighted robber placed a mark on the door with a piece of white chalk and, sending Mustapha back to his shop, hurried away to the forest to tell his leader of his success.

Shortly afterwards, when the servant Morgiana returned from the market, she saw the white mark on her master’s door. Suspecting this to have been placed there by some unknown enemy, she fetched some chalk and marked all the other doors in the street in exactly the same way.

When the robber returned to the city with his comrades, he was dismayed to find how easily he had been tricked.

“I must be dreaming," he cried. “I marked only one door and now I cannot tell which one it was."

The robber chief was so angry that, as soon as his men returned to the forest, he cut off the unfortunate messenger’s head. He now sent another thief into the city to find Mustapha, who was able to find the door of Ali Baba’s house once again. The robber marked this door with red chalk, but later, when the thieves came two by two into the city, they found that the clever Morgiana had made identical marks on the doors of all the houses in the street. Therefore, they returned to the forest and cut off the head of the second messenger.

The robber chief now decided to do the job himself. With Mustapha’s help, he soon found the house, but instead of marking it, he memorized its every detail so that he could find it again, even in the dark. Then he returned to the forest and told his comrades of his plan to murder all who lived in that house.

A few nights later, disguised as an oil merchant, he arrived at Ali Baba’s house with nineteen donkeys, each of which carried two large jars. Only one of these jars had oil in it. All the rest concealed the thieves, one to each. The robber chief asked Ali Baba if he would be kind enough to allow him to rest his animals for the night in his courtyard, as he was a stranger in the city and had nowhere to sleep.

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