In a town in Persia there lived a man called Ali Baba. He was a poor woodcutter, and he struggled each day to feed his wife and children. All he ever wanted was to own a shop in the town, sell goods to his neighbors, and have plenty for his family.
One day Ali Baba was cutting wood in the forest. He saw a troop of men on horseback approaching. Ali Baba thought these men were robbers, so he climbed a tree to hide.
Ali Baba counted 40 men. He wondered whether this could be the band of Forty Thieves he had heard so much about, the dread robbers that all of Persia feared.
Their leader dismounted and stepped around a bush toward a large rock wall. The powerful man faced the wall, and Ali Baba clearly heard him shout, "Open, sesame!"
A door opened in the rock wall!
The door revealed a secret opening to a cave. The leader of the thieves stepped in, and the other robbers followed him.
Ali Baba waited until the thieves filed out from the cave. The Captain closed the door, saying, "Shut, sesame!" Then the thieves rode away.
When he was sure they were gone, Ali Baba stepped toward the rock and shouted, "Open, sesame!" And the door opened for him just as miraculously as it had for the Captain of Thieves.
Ali Baba stepped through the threshold to find a large room, filled at every inch with all sorts of valuables, so brilliant with gold, silver, and jewels that Ali Baba had to squint.
He feared the robbers might soon return. He quickly gathered as much gold as he could carry. Ali Baba remembered in his haste to say, "Shut, sesame!" when he left the cave.
Ali Baba did not notice that a single gold coin dropped from his cloak to the base of the bush that covered the secret door. Fortunately for Ali Baba, the thieves did not notice the coin that day, or the next day, or for several days, until a few weeks later.
The Captain of Thieves caught sight of the coin glimmering in the sunlight one day. He was very angry.
"How could you drop this and risk revealing our hiding place!?!" the Captain shouted at his 39 robbers.
"But, Master," the thieves said, "we know the punishment for such mistakes is most severe. Surely none of us has done this."
"Then we have been found out," the Captain growled. He paced for several minutes with the thieves waiting anxiously for him to speak. Then he announced, "We must learn who is newly rich in the town. That man and all his family must die."
By now Ali Baba had opened the shop of which he'd always dreamed. He was a fair and generous shop owner. He was happy, his family had plenty, and every neighbor was his friend.
Ali Baba hired a helper named Morgiana. She was a very clever and beautiful young lady. She enjoyed her work at the shop. And Morgiana cared for Ali Baba and his family very much.
One day, a stranger came calling at the shop. He asked Morgiana many questions about the owner, Ali Baba. The odd stranger's questions worried Morgiana. She vowed to keep a watchful eye on the shop.
The stranger was really a thief in disguise. The thief returned to the robbers' cave to report back to the Captain. "His name is Ali Baba, Captain," said the thief. "He lives behind his new shop in town. He was a poor woodcutter only a few weeks ago."
"Go back there at nightfall," the Captain ordered. "Mark his house with this white chalk, and later, I will take 20 men to the marked house and finish him."
As he was told, the thief crept in the shadows to mark Ali Baba's home. Little did he know that clever Morgiana had spotted him. As the thief marked the door, she followed with white chalk, too, and marked all the doors.
When the Captain and his 20 thieves arrived later that night, they found every door was marked. They did not know which house to attack, so they crept away in shame.
On the next page, find out what the Captain of the Thieves tried next to get revenge on Ali Baba.