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Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves


Many years ago in Persia, there was a woodcutter by the name of Ali Baba. Once upon a time, he was leading his mules through a rocky valley to load some wood, when he saw a cloud of dust approaching. “Horsemen,” he gasped, well aware of the dangers of bandits in these parts. “I must hide!”

He hid his mules and climbed a large tree, well out of sight, and waited.

Soon, just as he had guessed, a band of heavily armed bandits arrived. There were forty of them to be precise, all wielding gleaming swords. They dismounted from their horses and tied them up. The ugliest and most dangerous looking of them all, obviously the captain, had a jagged scar on his left cheek. He walked up to the rock face on the side of the valley and cried, “Open sesame!” at the top of his voice.

A stone door opened in the rock! “Come on lads,” roared the captain, and all forty bandits went through the door. After the last man had gone through, he heard the captain shout “Shut Sesame” and the door closed.

Ali Baba was astonished. Soon the door opened again, and out walked the bandits, laughing, and carrying heavy bags over their shoulders.

Again came the command “Shut sesame!” and the door closed. The Bandits loaded their bags and rode off.

Ali Baba was desperate to discover what was beyond the door. He ran towards it and shouted, “OPEN SESAME!” The door opened. Ali baba stepped inside to discover a huge cavern full of riches. Piles of gold! Mountains of gemstones, jewellery, silk, and all manner of valuable items.

Quickly he loaded his bags with as much gold as his mules could carry, closed the door with a “SHUT SESAME,” and went home in the darkness as quickly as possible.

Ali Baba was so excited, he simply had to tell the two people he trusted the most; his wife Maryam and his brother Kassim. He told them all about the secret cavern and the magic words. His wife was thrilled at their riches, and Ali Baba shared his treasure with his brother. But there was a greedy glint in Kassim’s eyes. He wanted more!

Early the next morning, Kassim secretly snuck out of town with every horse he had. By carefully following Ali Baba’s directions, he soon found the rocky valley. He tied up his horses, went to the rock face and said, “Open Sesame.” The door opened and Kassim nearly collapsed with excitement. “I’m rich! I’m rich!” he cried, and began to gather up as much treasure as he could. Once he had filled enough bags to buy an entire kingdom, he went to the door again. But with all that excitement he had forgotten the magic command.

“Open Barley?” he tried. Nothing happened.

“Open ….wheat?” Again nothing.

“Open ...please?” Obviously that didn’t work. He tried every word he could think of...

chocolate, nuts, popcorn, bubblegum, porridge and eventually gave up.

Then he heard a rumbling outside. The bandits had come! He slapped his forehead as he heard the words, “OPEN SESAME!”

The door opened and the robber captain cried, “Thief! Thief! THIEF OF THIEVES! Men seize him. We will teach this man a lesson he will never forget.”

Well, Kassim didn’t have much time to remember any lessons, because soon he was dead, chopped up into little pieces. The robbers left the remains of Kassim outside the cavern, and they set off, evil laughs echoing through the valley.

When Kassim did not return that day, Ali Baba suspected that something was wrong. Under the cover of night, he sneaked into the cave and was devastated to find the remains of Kassim. “My poor, foolish brother!” he sobbed, “at the very least, I must give him a proper burial.” So he gathered the remains and brought them home.

In order to give Kassim a proper burial, his remains need to be prepared. I’ll spare you the awful details of what happened. It’s far too gruesome to recount. But for the purpose of this story, you need to know that together with the help of a skinny, bald old tailor, who was an expert in sewing, Ali Baba gave his brother an honourable burial. He then made the tailor swear not to tell a soul of what had happened.

In the meantime, the bandits had returned to the cave. “Where is that rascal that dared to rob our cave?” The captain shouted furiously. “He can not possibly be alive! What kind of strange magic is this!!! Find him!”

With that, the robbers galloped off in all directions to answer the mystery!

Needless to say, they did not find Kassim anywhere. He was dead! However, while searching for him in the market, the robber captain walked past the tailor’s stall. He looked at the goods on sale – cushion, carpets, curtains and more. “Very impressive needlework,” admired the captain.

“That’s nothing!” boasted the tailor, “Just last night you should see how I helped to repair poor, dead Kassim.”

“WHAAAT?” roared the captain. The tailor slapped his hand over his mouth in shock, but it was too late. The captain seized the skinny old tailor and shook him around like a rag doll. The tailor was terrified and soon told the captain all about Ali Baba and Kassim. The captain ground his teeth, dumped the tailor to the side, and set off to gather his gang and get his revenge.

That evening, there was a knock at Ali Baba’s door. He opened it. There before him was a merchant. He was rather big for a merchant. He had a beard that looked more like a bundle of black wool. Under his unusually large nose, he had an extremely bushy moustache, and his eyes were concealed by a very primitive set of black glasses. On his left cheek, was a jagged scar!

“Greetings,” he said, in his unnaturally high voice. “I am a travelling merchant seeking shelter for the night. I have forty donkeys that need feeding, and forty jars of oil that need storing.”

Indeed, behind him was a train of forty donkeys, each of which was carrying an extremely large jar. The merchant opened the biggest jar to reveal the oil inside. Ali Baba was a kind man and invited the merchant in. Ali Baba’s wife Maryam showed him in, while Ali led the donkeys to the stable and unloaded the jars.

Unloading the jars was hard work, and Ali groaned as he lowered them down. If his groaning hadn’t been so loud, he might have heard the jars groaning every time he put one down!

Eventually, he returned to the house, where Maryam was entertaining the ‘merchant’ with a fabulous feast. Maryam went to the kitchen to prepare the main meal.

“Where are you going with your donkeys?” asked Ali Baba.

“I’m am going to Baghdad to deliver my oil,” said the merchant, his squeaky voice suddenly becoming rough and gravelly. He quickly reached for his cup and swallowed a huge mouthful of tea.

“Delicious,” he said, in his now squeaky voice, as he wiped the drops of tea from his beard. His beard seemed to move as he did so.

“How strange,” thought Ali Baba.

In the kitchen, Maryam was bustling about. “Oh bother,” she said, “I’ve run out of oil.”

But then she remembered, “the merchant has 40 huge jars of oil. I’m sure he won’t mind if I just take a little!”

She stepped outside among the 40 jars. She was just about to open a jar, when she heard a noise, from inside the jar!

“Oh, my legs are killing me!” came a voice. “Is it time yet!”

“No!” came a voice from another jar, “Wait for the signal.”

Maryam knew at once what was happening. “We’ve been tricked!” she thought, “The biggest jar was full of oil. The other jars must contain the thirty-nine thieves. The fortieth thief must be the merchant himself!”

She ran back into the kitchen, picked up a large frying pan, and went into the dining room. Standing behind the merchant, she raised the pan, and to Ali Baba’s horror, bonked it down on the merchant’s head, who collapsed unconscious on the floor.

“What has come over you!” shouted Ali Baba, “He’s just a simple merchant!”

“Merchant, shmerchant!” cried Maryam, and tore off the fake nose and glasses and the false beard, revealing the ugly scarred face of the Robber Captain!

She then ran to call the town guards. They came thundering in and tied up the captain. The other thirty-nine thieves were still in the jars, waiting for the captain’s signal! Before they knew it, they too were bundled up by the guards and marched to prison.

The forty thieves were gone! All because of Maryam’s quick thinking she and Ali Baba were safe. Not only that, they were rich. The robber’s treasure was theirs. Whatever their need, all would be solved by the words, “Open Sesame!”


QUIZ TIME!

  1. How did Ali Baba discover the secret cave of treasures?

  • A. He followed a map

  • B. He overheard the bandits

  • C. He saw the door magically open

  • D. He stumbled upon it while woodcutting

  1. What happened to Kassim when he went to the cave?

  • A. He found a magic lamp

  • B. He was captured by the bandits

  • C. He got lost in the cave

  • D. He escaped with gold

  1. How did Maryam figure out the merchant was actually the robber captain?

  • A. She saw him talking to the bandits

  • B. She heard strange noises from the jars

  • C. She recognized his voice and scar

  • D. She noticed his unusual glasses

  1. What was the signal the captain was waiting for from inside the jars?

  • A. A knock

  • B. A whistle

  • C. A yawn

  • D. A shout

  1. How did Ali Baba and Maryam become rich?

  • A. By winning a lottery

  • B. By selling their house

  • C. By discovering the cave of treasures

  • D. By inheriting money

Answers:

  1. C. He saw the door magically open

  2. B. He was captured by the bandits

  3. C. She recognized his voice and scar

  4. C. A yawn

  5. C. By discovering the cave of treasures

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