The Arabian Nights Entertainments
Story of Ali Colia, Merchant of
In the reign of Haroun-al-Raschid, there lived in Bagdad a merchant named Ali
Cogia, who, having neither wife nor child, contented himself with the modest
profits produced by his trade. He had spent some years quite happily in the
house his father had left him, when three nights running he dreamed that an old
man had appeared to him, and reproached him for having neglected the duty of a
good Mussulman, in delaying so long his pilgrimage to Mecca.
Ali Cogia was much troubled by this dream, as he was unwilling to give up his
shop, and lose all his customers. He had shut his eyes for some time to the
necessity of performing this pilgrimage, and tried to atone to his conscience by
an extra number of good works, but the dream seemed to him a direct warning,
and he resolved to put the journey off no longer.
The first thing he did was to sell his furniture and the wares he had in his shop,
only reserving to himself such goods as he might trade with on the road. The
shop itself he sold also, and easily found a tenant for his private house. The only
matter he could not settle satisfactorily was the safe custody of a thousand
pieces of gold which he wished to leave behind him.
After some thought, Ali Cogia hit upon a plan which seemed a safe one. He took
a large vase, and placing the money in the bottom of it, filled up the rest with
olives. After corking the vase tightly down, he carried it to one of his friends, a
merchant like himself, and said to him:
"My brother, you have probably heard that I am staffing with a caravan in a few
days for Mecca. I have come to ask whether you would do me the favour to keep
this vase of olives for me till I come back?"
The merchant replied readily, "Look, this is the key of my shop: take it, and put
the vase wherever you like. I promise that you shall find it in the same place on