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.
One day 'Ali Baba's son and Khoja Hoseyn met by appointment, took their walk, and as they returned, 'Ali Baba's son led Khoja Hoseyn through the street where his father lived, and when they came to the house, stopped and knocked at the door. " This," said he, " is my father's house, who, from the account I have given him of your friendship, charged me to procure him the honour of your acquaintance; and I desire you to add this pleasure to those for which I am already indebted to you".
Though it was the sole aim of Khoja Hoseyn to introduce himself into 'Ali Baba's house, that he might kill him, yet he excused himself, and offered to take his leave; but a slave having opened the door, 'Ali Baba's son took him by the hand and led him in. 'All Baba received Khoja Hoseyn with a smiling countenance, and in the most obliging manner he could wish. He thanked him for all the favours he had done his son; adding withal, the obligation was the greater as he was a young man, not much acquainted with the world, and that he might contribute to his information. After a little more conversation, he offered again to take his leave, when 'Ali Baba, stopping him, said: 11 Where are you going in so much haste? I beg you would do me the honour to sup with me; though my entertainment may not be worthy your acceptance, such as it is, I heartily offer it." "0 my master," replied Khoja Hoseyn, "I am thoroughly persuaded of your good-will; but the truth is, I can eat no victuals that have any salt in them; therefore judge how I should feel at your table." " If that is the only reason," said 'Ali Baba, "it ought not to deprive me of the honour of your company; for there is no salt ever put into my bread, and as to the meat we shall have to-night, I promise you there shall be none in that. Therefore do me the favour to stay".
Then 'Ali Baba went into the kitchen, and ordered Mar* janeh to put no salt to the meat that was to be dressed that right; and to make quickly two or three dishes besides what he had ordered, but to be sure to put no salt in them. Now Marjaneh, who was always ready to obey her master, could not help being surprised at this order. " Who is this strange man," said she, "who cats no salt with his meat? Your supper will be spoiled if I keep it back so long." " Do not be angry, Marj aneh," replied 'Ali Baba. * He is an honest man; therefore do as I bid you".
Marjaneh obeyed, though with no little reluctance, and had a curiosity to see this man who ate no salt. To this end, when she had finished what she had to do in the kitchen, she helped 'Abd-Allah to carry up the dishes; and, look-1 ing at Khoja Hoseyn, knew him at first sight, notwithstanding his disguise, to be the captain of the robbers, and examining him very carefully, perceived that he had a dagger under his garment. " I am not in the least amazed," said she to herself, "that this wicked man, who is my master's greatest enemy, would eat no salt with him, since he intends to assassinate him; but I will prevent him." When 'Abd-Allah had put the service of fruit with the wine before 'Ali Baba, Marjaneh retired1, dressed herself neatly, with a suitable head-dress, like a dancer, girded her waist with a silver-gilt girdle, to which were hung a poniard with a hilt and guard of the same metal, and put a handsome veil on her face. When she had thus attired herself, she said to 'Abd-Allah: "Take your tabor, and let us go and divert our master and his son's friend, as we do sometimes when he is alone".
'Abd-Allah took his tabor and played all the way into the hall before Marjaneh, who, when she came to the door, made a low obeisance by way of asking leave to exhibit her skill. " Come in, Marjaneh," said 'Ali Baba, " and let Khoja Hoseyn see what you can do, that he may tell us what he thinks of your performance".
After she had danced several dances with much grace, she drew the poniard and, holding it in her hand, began a dance, in which she outdid herself, by the many different figures, light movements, and the surprising leaps and wonderful exertions with which she accompanied it. Sometimes she presented the poniard to one breast, sometimes to another, and oftentimes seemed to strike her own. At last, she snatched the tabor from 'Abd-Allah with her left hand, and holding the dagger in her right, presented the other side of the tabor, after the manner of those who get a livelihood by dancing, and solicit the liberality of the spectators.
'Ali Baba put a piece of gold into the tabor, as did also his son; and Khoja Hoseyn, seeing that she was coming to him, had pulled his purse out of his bosom to make her a present; but while he was putting his hand into it, Marjaneh plunged the poniard into his heart.
'Ali Baba and his son, shocked at this action, cried out aloud. " Ill-omened woman!" exclaimed 'Ali Baba, " what have you done to ruin me and my family?" "It was to preserve, not to ruin you," answered Marjaneh; "for see here," continued she, opening the pretended Khoja Hoseyn's garment, and shewing the dagger, " what an enemy you had entertained! Look well at him, and you will find him to be both the pretended oil-merchant and the captain of the gang of forty robbers. Remember, too, that he would eat no salt with you; and what would you have more to persuade you of his wicked design? Before I saw him, I suspected him as soon as you told me you had such a guest. I knew 1 him, and you now find that my suspicion was not groundless".
Then 'Ali Baba, seeing that Marjaneh had saved his life a second time, embraced her. " O Marjaneh/' said he, " I gave you your liberty, and then promised you that my gratitude should not stop there, but that I would soon give you higher proofs of its sincerity; which I now do by making you my daughter-in-law." Then addressing himself to his son, he said: " I believe you, son, to be so dutiful a child, that you will not refuse Marjaneh for your wife. You see that Khoja Hoseyn sought your friendship with a treacherous design to take away my life: and if he had succeeded, there is no doubt but he would have sacrificed you also to his revenge. Consider that by marrying Marjaneh you marry the preserver of our family," A few days afterwards, 'Ali Baba celebrated the nuptials of his son and Marjaneh with great solemnity, a sumptuous feast, and the usual dancing and spectacles; and had the satisfaction to see that his friends and neighbours, whom he invited, had no knowledge of the true motives of the marriage; but that those who were not unacquainted with Marjaneh's good qualities commended his generosity and goodness of heart. 'Ali Baba did not visit the robber's cave for a whole year, as he supposed the other two, whom he could get no account of, might be alive. At the year's end, when he found they had not made any attempt to disturb him, he resolved to make another journey. He mounted his horse, and when he came to the cave he alighted, tied his horse to a tree, then approaching the entrance, pronounced the words, " Open, Simsim!99 whereupon the door opened. He entered the cavern, and by the condition he found things in, judged that nobody had been there since the captain had fetched the goods for his shop. From this time he believed he was the only person in the world who had the secret of opening the cave, and that all the treasure was at his sole disposal. He put as much gold into his saddle-bags as his horses would carry, and returned to the town. Some years later he carried his son to the cave and taught him the secret, which he handed down to his posterity, who, using their good fortune with moderation, lived in great honour and splendour till they were visited by the terminator of delights and the separator of companions.