In a town in Persia lived two brothers – Cassim and Ali Baba.
Cassim was rich, but Ali Baba was poor, and gained his living by
cutting wood, and bringing it upon three asses into the town to sell.
One day he saw some robbers in a forest ; he watched them from a
hiding-place, and counted forty of them ; they carried bags of
treasure, and hid it in a cave, which opened for them in the solid
rock on saying the words « Open Sesame ». When they came out
again, the captain said « Shut Sesame » and the door shut behind
them, and they rode off. The Ali Baba came down from his hiding-
place, and went to the rock and said « Open Sesame » and a door
opened and he entered and found all manner of treasure ; he carried
off a quantity of gold coin, and lading his asses with it, went home.
When he showed it to his wife, she wanted to measure it, to see how
much they possessed, and she went to Cassim's wife to borrow a
measure, and Cassim's wife lent it to her, patting some suet at the
bottom of the measure.
Alli Baba and his wife then measured the gold, and buried it in the
ground ; and when Cassim's wife received back the measure, she
found a piece of gold sticking to the suet. She told Cassim, who
persuaded his brother to tell him the secret of the cave, and went
next day to get treasure for himself. He entered the cave by saying
« Open Sesame » ; but when he was ready to depart, having
gathered many bags together, he could not think of the magic
words, and so obliged to remain in the cave till the robbers returned
who, enraged at having their secret discovered, killed him, and cut
his body into four quarters, hanging them inside the cave.
Cassim's wife, finding that her husband did not return, went to tell
Ali Baba, who at once set off to go to the cave, and on entering it
discovered his brother's remains, which he carried home on one of
his asses, loading the other two with bags of gold. Ali Baba then
buried the body and contrived, with the assistance of an intelligent
slave named Morgiana, to make everyone believe that Cassim had
died a natural death. Ali Baba then married the widow, and became
rich and prosperous.
Meanwhile the forty robbers visited their cave, and finding that
Cassim's body had been removed, determined not to rest until they
had discovered their enemy ; and one of them undertaking the
search, in which he was assisted by the Cobbler who had sewn
Cassim's body together, at last found Ali Baba's house, which he
marked with a piece of chalk, and returned to his fellows.
When Morgiana saw the mark, she chalked several other doors in
the same manner. The thieves then coming to attack the house,
and not being able to distinguish it from the others, had to return to
their cave ; and the robber, who they thought had misled them, was
put to death. Another robber then undertook the enterprise, and,
being guided by the Cobbler, marked the door with red chalk, but
Morgiana marked the neighbour's doors in the same manner, and
so defeated them a second time ; and the second robber was put
The Captain then went into the town himself, and having found and
carefully observed Ai Baba's house, returned to his men, and
ordered them to buy nineteen mules and thirty-eight leathern jars,
one full of oil and the rest empty. This they did, and the Captain
placing one of his men in each of the empty jars, loaded the asses,
and drove them into the town to Ali Baba's house. Ali Baba
received him hospitably ; and the Captain ordered his men, who
remained in their jars in the yard, to come out in the middle of the
night at a signal from him.
He then went to bed ; and Morgiana happening to need oil, went to
help herself out of the jars of the guest ; she found, instead of oil, a
man in every jar but one. Determined that they should not escape,
and heating a quantity of oil, she poured some into each jar, killing
the robber within. So when the captain gave the signal to his men,
none of them appeared, and going to the jars he found them all
dead ; so he went his way full of rage and despair, and returned to
the cave, and then formed a project of revenge. Next day he went
into the town, and hiring a warehouse, which he furnished with rich
goods, became acquainted with Ali Baba's son, who one day
invited him to his father's house. On hearing that the new guest
would eat no salt with his meat, Morgiana's suspicions were
aroused, and she recognised him as the captain of the robbers.
After dinner she undertook to perform a dance before the
company, and at the end of it pointed a dagger at the captain, and
then plunged it into his heart.
Ali Baba was very much shocked, until Morgiana explained the
reasons for her conduct ; he then gave her to his son in marriage,
and they lived in great prosperity and happiness ever after.