This section is from the book "Stories From The Thousand And One Nights", by Edward William Lane and Stanley Lanepoole. Also available from Amazon: Stories From Thousand And One Nights: The Arabian Nights' Entertainments.
In former days there lived in a town of Persia two brothers, one named Kasim, and the other 'Ali Baba. Their father divided a small inheritance equally between them. Kasim married a rich wife, and became a wealthy merchant. *Ali Baba married a woman as poor as himself, and lived by cutting wood and bringing it upon three asses into the town to sell.
One day, when 'Ali Baba was in the forest, and had just cut wood enough to load his asses, he saw at a distance a great cloud of dust approaching him. He observed it with attention, and distinguished soon after a body of horsemen, whom he suspected to be robbers. He determined to leave his asses in order to save himself; so climbed up a large tree, planted on a high rock, the branches of which were thick enough to conceal him, and yet enabled him to see all that passed without being discovered.
The troop, to the number of forty, well mounted and armed, came to the foot of the rock on which the tree stood, and there dismounted. Every man unbridled his horse, tied him to some shrub, and hung about his neck a bag of corn which they carried behind them. Then each took off his saddle-bag, which from its weight seemed to 'Ali Baba to be full of gold and silver. One, whom he took to be their captain, came under the tree in which he was concealed, and making his way through some shrubs, pronounced the words:
"Open, Simsim!"* A door opened in the rock; and after he had made all his troop enter before him, he followed them, when the door shut again of itself. The robbers stayed some time within the rock, during which 'Ali Baba, fearful of being caught, remained in the tree.
'This talismanic word, though it is the Arabic name of sesame (Stsamum oriental*, a plant producing oil-grain much used in the East), must have some other meaning. A German folk-tale, " Simeliberg," beginning in some* thing of the same way with the magical opening ot a rock, has the phrase ** Open Simsi" which the Grimms explain as an old German word for "mountain" (Hartland, Inst. Folklore Congress, 1891). There is nothing to prove that 'AH Baba is not a European folk-tale turned into Arabic by Galland's Syrian munshi.
At last the door opened again, and as the captain went in last, so he came out first, and stood to see them all pass by him; when 'Ali Baba heard him make the door close by pronouncing the words: "Shut, Simsim!" Every man at once went and bridled his horse, fastened his wallet, and mounted again; and when the captain saw them all ready, he put himself at their head, and returned the way they had come.
'Ali Baba followed them with his eyes as far as he could see them, and afterward waited a long time before he descended. Remembering the words the captain of the robbers used to cause the door to open and shut, he wished to try if his pronouncing them would have the same effect Accordingly he went among the shrubs, and, perceiving the door concealed behind them, stood before it, and said, "Open, Simsim I" Whereupon the door instantly flew wide open.
Now 'Ali Baba expected a dark, dismal cavern, but was surprised to see a well-lighted and spacious chamber, lighted from an opening at the top of the rock, and filled with all sorts of provisions, rich bales of silk, embroideries, and valuable tissues, piled upon one another, gold and silver ingots in great heaps, and money in bags. The sight of all these riches made h:\n suppose that this cave must have been occupied for ages by robbers, who had succeeded one another.
'Ali Baba went boldly into the cave, and collected as much of the gold coin, which was in bags, as his three asses could carry. When he had loaded them with the bags, he laid wood over them so that they could not be seen. Then he stood before the door, and pronouncing the words, "Shut, Simcim!" the door closed of itself; and he made the best of his way to the town.
When he got home, he drove his asses into a little yard, 1 shut the gates carefully, threw off the wood that covered the panniers, carried the bags into his house, and ranged them in order before his wife. He then emptied the bags, which raised such a heap of gold as dazzled his wife's eyes, and then he told her the whole adventure from beginning to end, and, above all, recommended her to keep it secret.
The wife rejoiced greatly at their good fortune, and would count all the gold piece by piece. "Wifey," replied *Ali Baba, "you do not know what you undertake, when you pretend to count the money; you will never have done. I will dig a hole, and bury it. There is no time to be lost." "You are in the right, husband," replied she, "but let ue know, as nigh as possible, how much we have. I will borrow a. small measure, and measure it, while you dig the hole".
So the wife ran to her brother-in-law Kasim, who lived hard by, and addressing herself to his wife, desired her to lend her a measure for a little while. The sister-in-law did so, but as she knew 'Ali Baba's poverty, she was curious to know what sort of grain his wife wanted to measure, and artfully put some suet at the bottom of the measure.
'Ali Baba's wife went home, set the measure upon the heap of gold, filled it, and emptied it often upon the divan, till she had done, when she was very well satisfied to find the number of measures amounted to so many as they did, and went to tell her husband, who had almost finished digging the hole. While 'Ali Baba was burying the gold, his wife carried the measure back again to her sister-in-law, but without taking notice that a piece of gold had stuck to the bottom. "Sister," said she, giving it to her again, "you see that I have not kept your measure long. I am obliged to you for it, and return it with thanks".
As soon as she was gone, Kasim's wife looked at the bottom of the measure, and was amazed to find a piece of gold sticking to it. Envy immediately possessed her breast.
"What!" said she, "has 'Ali Baba gold so plentiful as to measure it ? Whence has he all this wealth ?"