Click on the cover image above to read some pages of this book!
In these three tales from the first major translation into English of The Arabian Nights in more than 100 years, the endless inventiveness of the vizier's daughter Scheherazade is revealed, as she spins stories of greed, lust, riches and wonder to delay her death at the hands of a brutal king.
In a city of Persia, on the borders of your majesty's realms, there
were two brothers, one called Qasim and the other Ali Baba. These two
had been left very little in the way of possessions by their father,
who had divided the inheritance equally between the two of them. They
should have enjoyed an equal fortune, but fate was to dispose
otherwise. Qasim married a woman who, shortly after their marriage,
inherited a well-stocked shop and a warehouse ﬁlled with ﬁne goods,
together with properties and estates, which all of a sudden made him so
well oﬀ that he became one of the wealthiest merchants in the city. By
contrast, Ali Baba had married a woman as poor as himself; he lived in
great poverty and the only work he could do to help provide for himself
and his children was to go out as a woodcutter in a neighbouring
forest. He would then load what he had cut on to his three donkeys –
these being all that he possessed – and sell it in the city.
One day, while he was in the forest and had ﬁnished chopping just
enough wood to load on to his donkeys, he noticed a great cloud of dust
rising up in the air and advancing straight in his direction. Looking
closely, he could make out a large crowd of horsemen coming swiftly
towards him. Although there was no talk of thieves in the region,
nonetheless it struck him that that was just what these could be.
Thinking only of his own safety and not of what could happen to his
donkeys, he climbed up into a large tree, where the branches a little
way up were so densely intertwined as to allow very little space
between them. He positioned himself right in the middle, all the more
conﬁdent that he could see without being seen, as the tree stood at the
foot of an isolated rock much higher than the tree and so steep that it
could not be climbed from any direction.
The large and powerful-looking horsemen, well mounted and armed,
came close to the rock and dismounted. Ali Baba counted forty of them
and, from their equipment and appearance, he had no doubt they were
thieves. He was not mistaken, for this was what they were, and although
they had caused no harm in the neighbourhood, they had assembled there
before going further aﬁeld to carry out their acts of brigandage. What
he saw them do next conﬁrmed his suspicions.
Each horseman unbridled his horse, tethered it and then hung over
its neck a sack of barley which had been on its back. Each then carried
oﬀ his own bag and most of these seemed so heavy that Ali Baba reckoned
they must be full of gold and coins.
The most prominent of the thieves, who seemed to be their captain,
carried his bag like the rest and approached the rock close to Ali
Baba's tree. After he had made his way through some bushes, this man
was clearly heard to utter the following words: 'Open, Sesame.' No
sooner had he said this than a door opened, and after he had let all
his men go in before him, he too went in and the door closed.
The thieves remained for a long time inside the rock. Ali Baba was
afraid that if he left his tree in order to escape, one or all of them
would come out, and so he was forced to stay where he was and to wait
patiently. He was tempted to climb down and seize two of the horses,
mounting one and leading the other by the bridle, in the hope of
reaching the city driving his three donkeys in front of him. But, as he
could not be sure what would happen, he took the safest course and
remained where he was.
At last the door opened again and out came the forty thieves. The
captain, who had gone in last, now emerged ﬁrst; after he had watched
the others ﬁle past him, Ali Baba heard him close the door by
pronouncing these words: 'Shut, Sesame.' Each thief returned to his
horse and remounted, after bridling it and fastening his bag on to it.
When the captain ﬁnally saw they were all ready to depart, he took the
lead and rode oﬀ with them along the way they had come.
Ali Baba did not climb down straight away, saying to himself: 'They
may have forgotten something which would make them return, and were
that to happen, I would be caught.' He looked after them until they
went out of sight, but he still did not get down for a long time
afterwards until he felt completely safe. He had remembered the words
used by the captain to make the door open and shut, and he was curious
to see if they would produce the same eﬀect for him. Pushing through
the shrubs, he spotted the door which was hidden behind them, and going
up to it, he said: 'Open, Sesame.' Immediately, the door opened
ISBN: 9780141194684 ISBN-10: 0141194685 Series: Popular Penguins Audience:
Number Of Pages: 164 Published: 28th June 2010 Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd Country of Publication: GB Dimensions (cm): 18.0 x 11.2
Weight (kg): 0.12
Edition Number: 1