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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 3 - 70/74 -
the reason that none of them should answer his signal. Much alarmed, he went softly down into the yard, and going to the first jar, whilst asking the robber whom he thought alive if he was in readiness, smelt the hot boiled oil, which sent forth a steam out of the jar. Hence he suspected that his plot to murder Ali Baba and plunder his house was discovered. Examining all the jars one after another, he found that all his gang were dead; and by the oil he missed out of the last jar guessed the means and manner of their death. Enraged to despair at having failed in his design, he forced the lock of a door that led from the yard to the garden, and climbing over the walls, made his escape.
When Morgiana heard no noise, and found, after waiting some time, that the captain did not return, she concluded that he had chosen rather to make his escape by the garden than the street-door, which was double locked. Satisfied and pleased to have succeeded so well, in saving her master and family, she went to bed.
Ali Baba rose before day, and, followed by his slave, went to the baths, entirely ignorant of the important event which had happened at home; for Morgiana had not thought it safe to wake him before, for fear of losing her opportunity; and after her successful exploit she thought it needless to disturb him.
When he returned from the baths, the sun was risen; he was very much surprised to see the oil-jars, and that the merchant was not gone with the mules. He asked Morgiana, who opened the door, and had let all things stand as they were, that he might see them, the reason of it? "My good master," answered she, "God preserve you and all your family; you will be better informed of what you wish to know when you have seen what I have to shew you, if you will but give yourself the trouble to follow me."
As soon as Morgiana had shut the door, Ali Baba followed her; when she requested him to look into the first jar and see if there was any oil. Ali Baba did so, and seeing a man, started back in alarm, and cried out. "Do not be afraid," said Morgiana, "the man you see there can neither do you nor any body else any harm. He is dead." "Ah, Morgiana!" said Ali Baba, "what is it you shew me? Explain yourself." "I will," replied Morgiana; "moderate your astonishment, and do not excite the curiosity of your neighbours; for it is of great importance to keep this affair secret. Look into all the other jars."
Ali Baba examined all the other jars, one after another: and when he came to that which had the oil in, found it prodigiously sunk, and stood for some time motionless, sometimes looking at the jars, and sometimes at Morgiana, without saying a word, so great was his surprise: at last, when he had recovered himself, he said, "And what is become of the merchant?"
"Merchant!" answered she, "he is as much one as I am; I will tell you who he is, and what is become of him; but you had better hear the story in your own chamber; for it is time for your health that you had your broth after your bathing."
While Ali Baba retired to his chamber, Morgiana went into the kitchen to fetch the broth, but before he would drink it, he first entreated her to satisfy his impatience, and tell him what had happened, with all the circumstances; and she obeyed him.
"Last night, sir," said she, "when you were gone to bed, I got your bathing- linens ready, and gave them to Abdoollah; afterwards I set on the pot for the broth, but as I was preparing the materials, the lamp, for want of oil, went out; and as there was not a drop more in the house, I looked for a candle, but could not find one: Abdoollah seeing me vexed, put me in mind of the jars of oil which stood in the yard. I took the oil-pot, went directly to the jar which stood nearest to me; and when I came to it, heard a voice within, saying, ‘Is it time?' Without being dismayed, and comprehending immediately the malicious intention of the pretended oil-merchant, I answered, ‘Not yet, but presently.' I then went to the next, when another voice asked me the same question, and I returned the same answer; and so on, till I came to the last, which I found full of oil; with which I filled my pot.
"When I considered that there were thirty seven robbers in the yard, who only waited for a signal to be given by the captain, whom you took to be an oil-merchant, and entertained so handsomely, I thought there was no time to be lost; I carried my pot of oil into the kitchen, lighted the lamp, afterwards took the biggest kettle I had, went and filled it full of oil, set it on the fire to boil, and then poured as much into each jar as was sufficient to prevent them from executing the pernicious design they had meditated: after this I retired into the kitchen, and put out the lamp; but before I went to bed, waited at the window to know what measures the pretended merchant would take.
"After I had watched some time for the signal, he threw some stones out of the window against the jars, but neither hearing nor perceiving any body stirring, after throwing three times, he came down, when I saw him go to every jar, after which, through the darkness of the night, I lost sight of him. I waited some time longer, and finding that he did not return, doubted not but that, seeing he had missed his aim, he had made his escape over the walls of the garden. Persuaded that the house was now safe, I went to bed.
"This," said Morgiana, "is the account you asked of me; and I am convinced it is the consequence of what I observed some days ago, but did not think fit to acquaint you with: for when I came in one morning early, I found our street door marked with white chalk, and the next morning with red; upon which, both times, without knowing what was the intention of those chalks, I marked two or three neighbours' doors on each side in the same manner. If you reflect on this, and what has since happened, you will find it to be a plot of the robbers of the forest, of whose gang there are two wanting, and now they are reduced to three: all this shews that they had sworn your destruction, and it is proper you should be upon your guard, while there is one of them alive: for my part I shall neglect nothing necessary to your preservation, as I am in duty bound."
When Morgiana had left off speaking, Ali Baba was so sensible of the great service she had done him, that he said to her, "I will not die without rewarding you as you deserve: I owe my life to you, and for the first token of my acknowledgment, give you your liberty from this moment, till I can complete your recompense as I intend. I am persuaded with you, that the forty robbers have laid snares for my destruction. God, by your means, has delivered me from them as yet, and I hope will continue to preserve me from their wicked designs, and by averting the danger which threatened me, will deliver the world from their persecution and their cursed race. All that we have to do is to bury the bodies of these pests of mankind immediately, and with all the secrecy imaginable, that nobody may suspect what is become of them. But that labour Abdoollah and I will undertake."
Ali Baba's garden was very long, and shaded at the farther end by a great number of large trees. Under these he and the slave dug a trench, long and wide enough to hold all the robbers, and as the earth was light, they were not long in doing it. Afterwards they lifted the bodies out of the jars, took away their weapons, carried them to the end of the garden, laid them in the trench, and levelled the ground again. When this was done, Ali Baba hid the jars and weapons; and as he had no occasion for the mules, he sent them at different times to be sold in the market by his slave.
While Ali Baba took these measures to prevent the public from knowing how he came by his riches in so short a time, the captain of the forty robbers returned to the forest with inconceivable mortification; and in his agitation, or rather confusion, at his ill success, so contrary to what he had promised himself, entered the cave, not being able, all the way from the town, to come to any resolution how to revenge himself of Ali Baba.
The loneliness of the gloomy cavern became frightful to him. "Where are you, my brave lads," cried he, "old companions of my watchings, inroads, and labour? What can I do without you? Did I collect you only to lose you by so base a fate, and so unworthy of your courage! Had you died with your sabres in your hands, like brave men, my regret had been less! When shall I enlist so gallant a troop again? And if I could, can I undertake it without exposing so much gold and treasure to him who hath already enriched himself out of it? I cannot, I ought not to think of it, before I have taken away his life. I will undertake that alone which I could not accomplish with your powerful assistance; and when I have taken measures to secure this treasure from being pillaged, I will provide for it new masters and successors after me, who shall preserve and augment it to all posterity." This resolution being taken, he was not at a loss how to execute his purpose; but easy in his mind, and full of hopes, slept all that night very quietly.
When he awoke early next morning, he dressed himself, agreeably to the project he had formed, went to the town, and took a lodging in a khan. As he expected what had happened at Ali Baba's might make a great noise, he asked his host what news there was in the city? Upon which the inn-keeper told him a great many circumstances, which did not concern him in the least. He judged by this, that the reason why Ali Baba kept his affairs so secret, was for fear people should know where the treasure lay; and because he knew his life would be sought on account of it. This urged him the more to neglect nothing to rid himself of so cautious an enemy.
The captain now assumed the character of a merchant, and conveyed gradually a great many sorts of rich stuffs and fine linen to his lodging from the cavern, but with all the necessary precautions imaginable to conceal the place whence he brought them. In order to dispose of the merchandizes, when he had amassed them together, he took a warehouse, which happened to be opposite to Cassim's, which Ali Baba's son had occupied since the death of his uncle.
He took the name of Khaujeh Houssain, and as a new-comer, was, according to custom, extremely civil and complaisant to all the merchants his neighbours. Ali Baba's son was from his vicinity one of the first to converse with Khaujeh Houssain, who strove to cultivate his friendship more particularly, when, two or three days after he was settled, he recognized Ali Baba, who came to see his son, and stopped to talk with him as he was accustomed to do. When he was gone, the impostor learnt from his son who he was. He increased his assiduities, caressed him in the most engaging manner, made him some small presents, and often asked him to dine and sup with him; when he treated him very handsomely.
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