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Excerpt from The book of the thousand nights and a night, translated from the Arabic by Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton ; reprinted from the original edition and edited by Leonard C. Smithers ; in twelve volumes (London : H. S. Nichols & Co., 1894)

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She spent the rest of the night in bitter tears, and early on the morrow hied in hottest hurry to Ali Baba and prayed that he would go forth in quest of his brother. So he strove to console her, and straightway set out with his asses for the forest. Presently, reaching the rock, he wondered to see stains of blood freshly shed, and not finding his brother or the ten mules, he forefelt a calamity from so evil a sign. He then went to the door and saying, "Open, Sesame!" he pushed in and saw the dead body of Kasim, two parts hanging to the right and the rest to the left of the entrance. Albeit he was affrighted beyond measure of affright, he wrapped the quarters in two cloths and laid them upon one of his asses, hiding them carefully with sticks and fuel that none might see them. Then he placed the bags of gold upon the two other animals and likewise covered them most carefully, and when all was made ready he closed the cave door with the magical words, and set him forth wending homeward with all ward and watchfulness. The asses with the load of ashrafis he made over to his wife, and bade her bury the bags with diligence, but he told her not the condition in which he had come upon his brother Kasim. Then he went with the other ass- to wit, the beast whereon was laid the corpse- to the widow's house and knocked gently at the door.

Now Kasim had a slave girl shrewd and sharp-witted, Morgiana hight. She as softly undid the bolt and admitted Ali Baba and the ass into the courtyard of the house, when he let down the body from the beast's back and said: "O Morgiana, haste thee and make thee ready to perform the rites for the burial of thy lord. I now go to tell the tidings to thy mistress, and I will quickly return to help thee in this matter." At that instant Kasim's widow, seeing her brother-in-law, exclaimed: "O Ali Baba, what news bringest thou of my spouse? Alas! I see grief tokens written upon thy countenance. Say quickly what hath happened." Then he recounted to her how it had fared with her husband and how he had been slain by the robbers and in what wise he had brought home the dead body. Ali Baba pursued: "O my lady, what was to happen hath happened, but it behooveth us to keep this matter secret, for that our lives depend upon privacy." She wept with sore weeping and made answer: "It hath fared with my husband according to the fiat of Fate, and now for thy safety's sake I give thee my word to keep the affair concealed." He replied: "Naught can avail when Allah hath decreed. Rest thee in patience until the days of thy widowhood be accomplisht, after which time I will take thee to wife, and thou shalt live in comfort and happiness. And fear not lest my first spouse vex thee or show aught of jealousy, for that she is kindly and tender of heart." The widow, lamenting her loss noisily, cried, "Be it as e'en thou please."

Then Ali Baba farewelled her, weeping and wailing for her husband, and joining Morgiana, took counsel with her how to manage the burial of his brother. So, after much consultation and many warnings, he left the slave girl and departed home driving his ass before him. As soon as Ali Baba had fared forth Morgiana went quickly to a druggist's shop, and that she might the better dissemble with him and not make known the matter, she asked of him a drug often administered to men when diseased with dangerous distemper. He gave it saying: "Who is there in thy house that lieth so in as to require this medicine?" and said she: "My master Kasim is sick well nigh unto death. For many days he hath nor spoken nor tasted aught of food, so that almost we despair of his life." Next day Morgiana went again and asked the druggist for more of medicine and essences such as are adhibited to the sick when at door of death, that the moribund may haply rally before the last breath. The man gave the potion and she, taking it, sighed aloud and wept, saying: "I fear me he may not have strength to drink this draught. Methinks all will be over with him ere I return to the house."

Meanwhile Ali Baba was anxiously awaiting to hear sounds of wailing and lamentation in Kasim's home, that he might at such signal hasten thither and take part in the ceremonies of the funeral. Early on the second day Morgiana went with veiled face to one Baba Mustafa, a tailor well shotten in years whose craft was to make shrouds and cerecloths, and as soon as she saw him open his shop she gave him a gold piece and said, "Do thou bind a bandage over thine eyes and come along with me." Mustafa made as though he would not go, whereat Morgiana placed a second gold coin in his palm and entreated him to accompany her. The tailor presently consented for greed of gain, so, tying a kerchief tightly over his eyes, she led him by the hand to the house wherein lay the dead body of her master. Then, taking off the bandage in the darkened room, she bade him sew together the quarters of the corpse, limb to its limb, and casting a cloth upon the body, said to the tailor: "Make haste and sew a shroud according to the size of this dead man, and I will give thee therefor yet another ducat." Baba Mustafa quickly made the cerecloth of fitting length and breadth, and Morgiana paid him the promised ashrafi, then, once more bandaging his eyes, led him back to the place whence she had brought him. After this she returned hurriedly home and with the help of Ali Baba washed the body in warm water and donning the shroud, laid the corpse upon a clean place ready for burial.

This done, Morgiana went to the mosque and gave notice to an imam that a funeral was awaiting the mourners in a certain household, and prayed that he would come to read the prayers for the dead, and the imam went back with her. Then four neighbors took up the bier and bore it on their shoulders and fared forth with the imam and others who were wont to give assistance at such obsequies. After the funeral prayers were ended four other men carried off the coffin, and Morgiana walked before it bare of head, striking her breast and weeping and wailing with exceeding loud lament, whilst Ali Baba and the neighbors came behind. In such order they entered the cemetery and buried him, then, leaving him to Munkar and Nakir- the Questioners of the Dead- all wended their ways. Presently the women of the quarter, according to the custom of the city, gathered together in the house of mourning and sat an hour with Kasim's widow comforting and condoling, presently leaving her somewhat resigned and cheered. Ali Baba stayed forty days at home in ceremonial lamentation for the loss of his brother, so none within the town save himself and his wife (Kasim's widow) and Morgiana knew aught the secret. And when the forty days of mourning were ended Ali Baba removed to his own quarters all the property belonging to the deceased and openly married the widow. Then he appointed his nephew, his brother's eldest son, who had lived a long time with a wealthy merchant and was perfect of knowledge in all matters of trade, such as selling and buying, to take charge of the defunct's shop and to carry on the business.

It so chanced one day when the robbers, as was their wont, came to the treasure cave that they marveled exceedingly to find nor sign nor trace of Kasim's body, whilst they observed that much of gold had been carried off. Quoth the captain: "Now it behooveth us to make inquiry in this matter, else shall we suffer much of loss, and this our treasure, which we and our forefathers have amassed during the course of many years, will little by little be wasted and spoiled." Hereto all assented and with single mind agreed that he whom they had slain had knowledge of the magical words whereby the door was made to open; moreover, that someone besides him had cognizance of the spell and had carried off the body, and also much of gold. Wherefore they needs must make diligent research and find out who the man ever might be. They then took counsel and determined that one amongst them, who should be sagacious and deft of wit, must don the dress of some merchant from foreign parts, then, repairing to the city, he must go about from quarter to quarter and from street to street and learn if any townsman had lately died, and if so where he wont to dwell, that with this clue they might be enabled to find the wight they sought. Hereat said one of the robbers: "Grant me leave that I fare and find out such tidings in the town and bring thee word anon, and if I fail of my purpose I hold my life in forfeit."

Accordingly that bandit, after disguising himself by dress, pushed at night into the town, and next morning early he repaired to the market square and saw that none of the shops had yet been opened save only that of Baba Mustafa, the tailor, who, thread and needle in hand, sat upon his working stool. The thief bade him good day and said: "'Tis yet dark. How canst thou see to sew?" Said the tailor: "I perceive thou art a stranger. Despite my years, my eyesight is so keen that only yesterday I sewed together a dead body whilst sitting in a room quite darkened." Quoth the bandit thereupon to himself, "I shall get somewhat of my want from this snip," and to secure a further clue he asked: "Meseemeth thou wouldst jest with me, and thou meanest that a cerecloth for a corpse was stitched by thee and that thy business is to sew shrouds." Answered the tailor: "It mattereth not to thee. Question me no more questions."

Thereupon the robber placed an ashrafi in his hand and continued: "I desire not to discover aught thou hidest, albeit my breast, like every honest man's, is the grave of secrets, and this only would I learn of thee- in what house didst thou do that job? Canst thou direct me thither, or thyself conduct me thereto?" The tailor took the gold with greed and cried: "I have not seen with my own eyes the way to that house. A certain bondswoman led me to a place which I know right well, and there she bandaged my eyes and guided me to some tenement and lastly carried me into a darkened room where lay the dead body dismembered. Then she unbound the kerchief and bade me sew together first the corpse and then the shroud, which having done, she again blindfolded me and led me back to the stead whence she had brought me and left me there. Thou seest then I am not able to tell thee where thou shalt find the house." Quoth the robber: "Albeit thou knowest not the dwelling whereof thou speakest, still canst thou take me to the place where thou wast blindfolded. Then I will bind a kerchief over thine eyes and lead thee as thou wast led. On this wise perchance thou mayest hit upon the site. An thou wilt do this favor by me, see, here another golden ducat is thine." Thereupon the bandit slipped a second ashrafi into the tailor's palm, and Baba Mustafa thrust it with the first into his pocket. Then, leaving his shop as it was, he walked to the place where Morgiana had tied the kerchief around his eyes, and with him went the robber, who, after binding on the bandage, led him by the hand.

Baba Mustafa, who was clever and keen-witted, presently striking the street whereby he had fared with the handmaid, walked on counting step by step, then, halting suddenly, he said, "Thus far I came with her," and the twain stopped in front of Kasim's house, wherein now dwelt his brother Ali Baba. The robber then made marks with white chalk upon the door, to the end that he might readily find it at some future time, and removing the bandage from the tailor's eyes, said: "O Baba Mustafa, I thank thee for this favor, and Almighty Allah guerdon thee for thy goodness. Tell me now, I pray thee, who dwelleth in yonder house?" Quoth he: "In very sooth I wot not, for I have little knowledge concerning this quarter of the city." And the bandit, understanding that he could find no further clue from the tailor, dismissed him to his shop with abundant thanks, and hastened back to the tryst place in the jungle where the band awaited his coming.

Not long after, it so fortuned that Morgiana, going out upon some errand, marveled exceedingly at seeing the chalk marks showing white in the door. She stood awhile deep in thought, and presently divined that some enemy had made the signs that he might recognize the house and play some sleight upon her lord. She therefore chalked the doors of all her neighbors in like manner and kept the matter secret, never entrusting it or to master or to mistress. Meanwhile the robber told his comrades his tale of adventure and how he had found the clue, so the captain and with him all the band went one after other by different ways till they entered the city, and he who had placed the mark on Ali Baba's door accompanied the chief to point out the place. He conducted him straightway to the house and shewing the sign exclaimed, "Here dwelleth he of whom we are in search!" But when the captain looked around him, he saw that all the dwellings bore chalk marks after like fashion, and he wondered, saying: "By what manner of means knowest thou which house of all these houses that bear similar signs is that whereof thou spokest?" Hereat the robber guide was confounded beyond measure of confusion, and could make no answer. Then with an oath he cried: "I did assuredly set a sign upon a door, but I know not whence came all the marks upon the other entrances, nor can I say for a surety which it was I chalked." Thereupon the captain returned to the marketplace and said to his men: "We have toiled and labored in vain, nor have we found the house we went forth to seek. Return we now to the forest, our rendezvous. I also will fare thither."

Then all trooped off and assembled together within the treasure cave, and when the robbers had all met, the captain judged him worthy of punishment who had spoken falsely and had led them through the city to no purpose. So he imprisoned him in presence of them all, and then said he: "To him amongst you will I show special favor who shall go to town and bring me intelligence whereby we may lay hands upon the plunderer of our property." Hereat another of the company came forward and said, "I am ready to go and inquire into the case, and 'tis I who will bring thee to thy wish." The captain, after giving him presents and promises, dispatched him upon his errand, and by the decree of Destiny, which none may gainsay, this second robber went first to the house of Baba Mustafa the tailor, as had done the thief who had foregone him. In like manner he also persuaded the snip with gifts of golden coin that he be led hood-winked, and thus too he was guided to Ali Baba's door. Here, noting the work of his predecessor, he affixed to the jamb a mark with red chalk, the better to distinguish it from the others, whereon still showed the white. Then hied he back in stealth to his company.

But Morgiana on her part also descried the red sign on the entrance, and with subtle forethought marked all the others after the same fashion, nor told she any what she had done. Meanwhile the bandit rejoined his band and vauntingly said: "O our captain, I have found the house and thereon put a mark whereby I shall distinguish it clearly from all its neighbors." But, as aforetime, when the troop repaired thither, they saw each and every house marked with signs of red chalk. So they returned disappointed and the captain, waxing displeased exceedingly and distraught, clapped also this spy into gaol. Then said the chief to himself: "Two men have failed in their endeavor and have met their rightful meed of punishment, and I trow that none other of my band will essay to follow up their research. So I myself will go and find the house of this wight."

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