Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves

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

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Ali Baba told her of the terrible fate which had overtaken his brother and said to her, “While I go to break the sad news to his widow, you must think of some way in which we can bury these six pieces so that people will think that Cassim died a natural death. Otherwise, everyone will learn our secret and then the robbers will come and murder us all.”

“I will try,” she promised.

The next day Morgiana went to the workplace of an old cobbler and said, “Look, Mustapha, here is a gold coin. For this, I want you to bring your needle and thread and come with me. But first, I must bandage your eyes, for you must not know where you are going.”

This she did and led him through the streets and down into the cellar of Ali Baba’s house, where she removed the blindfold. Giving him another gold coin, she said, “I wish you to sew the pieces of this body together. If you work quickly and well, you shall have another gold coin.”

When he had finished, Morgiana led Mustapha back to his shop and paid him as arranged. “Remember, you must tell nobody what you have done or where you have been,” she warned him.

Cassim was then buried properly, all in one piece, and nobody suspected how he had really met his death.

When the forty thieves returned to their cave and discovered that Cassim’s body had been taken away, they knew that someone else had also found their cave. “We must find that person and kill him,” said their leader.

He sent the bravest and smartest of the thieves into the city to find out if anybody knew of a man whose body had been cut into six parts and buried. When this messenger arrived in the city, only one shop, the cobbler’s, was open.

“Goodness me, old man,” said the thief to Mustapha, “how do you manage to sew so neatly, in such dim light?”

“I may be old,” replied Mustapha, “but Allah has blessed me with good eyesight. And just as well, too, because a short while ago I had to sew up a body which had been cut into six parts. When I had finished, nobody would have guessed that poor man had not died in one piece.”

The robber could hardly believe his luck. “I will give you five gold coins if you will show me where you performed such a marvel,” he pleaded.

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