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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 2 - 20/66 -

The judge, without promising any thing, sent his officers to bring off the whole, and having put the goods into his own warehouse, commanded my brother to quit the town immediately, and never to return, for he was afraid, if he had stayed in the city, he would have found some way to represent this injustice to the caliph. In the mean time, Alnaschar obeyed without murmuring, and left that town to go to another. By the way, he met with highwaymen, who stripped him naked; and when the ill news was brought to me, I carried him a suit, and brought him secretly into the town, where I took the like care of him as I did of his other brothers.

The Story of the Barber's Sixth Brother.

I have now only to relate the story of my sixth brother, called Schacabac, with the hare lips. At first he was industrious enough to improve the hundred dirhems of silver which fell to his share, and went on very well; but a reverse of fortune brought him to beg his bread, which he did with a great deal of dexterity. He studied chiefly to get into great men's houses by means of their servants and officers, that he might have access to their masters, and obtain their charity. One day as he passed by a magnificent house, whose high gate shewed a very spacious court, where there was a multitude of servants, he went to one of them, and asked him to whom that house belonged? "Good man," replied the servant, "whence do you come that you ask me such a question? Does not all that you behold point out to you that it is the palace of a Barmecide?" "My brother, who very well knew the liberality and generosity of the Barmecides, addressed himself to one of his porters (for he had more than one), and prayed him to give him alms. "Go in," said he, "nobody hinders you, and address yourself to the master of the house; he will send you back satisfied."

My brother, who expected no such civility, thanked the porters, and with their permission entered the palace, which was so large, that it took him a considerable time to reach the Barmecide's. apartment; at last he came to an arcade square building of an excellent architecture, and entered by parterres of flowers intersected by walks of several colours, extremely pleasant to the eye: the lower apartments round this square were most of them open, and were shut only with great curtains to keep out the sun, which were opened again when the heat was over to let in the fresh air.

Such an agreeable place would have struck my brother with admiration, even if his mind had been more at ease than it was. He went on till he came into a hall richly furnished and adorned with painting of gold and azure foliage, where he saw a venerable man with a long white beard, sitting at the upper end on a sofa, whence he concluded him to be the master of the house; and in fact it was the Barmecide himself, who said to my brother in a very civil manner, that he was welcome; and asked him what he wanted? "My lord," answered my brother, in a begging tone, "I am a poor man who stands in need of the help of such rich and generous persons as yourself." He could not have addressed himself to a fitter person than this lord, who had a thousand good qualities.

The Barmecide seemed to be astonished at my brother's answer, and putting both his hands to his stomach, as if he would rend his clothes for grief, "Is it possible," cried he, "that I am at Bagdad, and that such a man as you is so poor as you say? this is what must never be." My brother, fancying that he was going to give him some singular mark of his bounty, blessed him a thousand times, and wished him all happiness. "It shall not be said," replied the Barmecide, "that I will abandon you, nor will I have you leave me." "Sir," replied my brother, "I swear to you I have not eaten one bit to-day." "Is it true," demanded the Barmecide, "that you are fasting till now? Alas, poor man! he is ready to die for hunger. Ho, boy," cried he, with a loud voice, "bring a basin and water presently, that we may wash our hands." Though no boy appeared, and my brother saw neither water nor basin, the Barmecide fell to rubbing his hands as if one had poured water upon them, and bade my brother come and wash with him. Schacabac judged by this, that the Barmecide lord loved to be merry, and he himself understanding raillery, and knowing that the poor must be complaisant to the rich, if they would have any thing from them, came forward and did as he was required.

"Come on," said the Barmecide, "bring us something to eat, and do not let us wait." When he had spoken, though nothing appeared, he began to cut as if something had been brought him upon a plate, and putting his hand to his mouth began to chew, and said to my brother, "Come, friend, eat as freely as if you were at home; come, eat; you said you were like to die of hunger, but you eat as if you had no appetite." "Pardon me, my lord," said Schacabac, who perfectly imitated what he did, "you see I lose no time, and that I play my part well enough." "How like you this bread," said the Barmecide; "do not you find it very good?" "O! my lord," replied my brother, who saw neither bread nor meat, "I have never eaten anything so white and so fine." "Eat your belly-full," said the Barmecide; "I assure you the woman who bakes me this good bread cost me five hundred pieces of gold to purchase her."

The Barmecide, after having boasted so much of his bread, which my brother ate only in idea, cried, "Boy, bring us another dish:" and though no boy appeared, "Come, my good friend," continued he, "taste this new dish; and tell me if ever you ate better mutton and barley-broth than this." "It is admirably good," replied my brother, "and therefore you see I eat heartily." "You oblige me highly," resumed the Barmecide; "I conjure you then, by the satisfaction I have to see you eat so heartily, that you eat all up, since you like it so well." A little while after he called for a goose and sweet sauce, made up of vinegar, honey, dry raisins, grey peas, and dry figs, which were brought just in the same manner as the others had. "The goose is very fat," said the Barmecide, "eat only a leg and a wing; we must save our stomachs, for we have abundance of other dishes to come." He actually called for several others, of which my brother, who was ready to die of hunger, pretended to eat; but what he boasted of more than all the rest was a lamb fed with pistachio nuts, which he ordered to be brought up in the same manner. "Here is a dish," said the Barmecide "that you will see at nobody's table but my own; I would have you eat your belly-full of it." Having spoken thus, he stretched out his hand as if he had had a piece of lamb in it, and putting it to my brother's mouth, "There," said he, "swallow that, and you will judge whether I had not reason to boast of this dish." My brother thrust out his head, opened his mouth, and made as if he took the piece of lamb, and eat it with extreme pleasure. "I knew you would like it," said the Barmecide. "There is nothing in the world finer," replied my brother; "your table is most delicious." "Come, bring the ragout; I fancy you will like that as well as you did the lamb: Well, how do you relish it?" "O! it is wonderful," replied Schacabac; "for here we taste all at once, amber, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, pepper, and the most odoriferous herbs, and all these delicacies are so well mixed, that one does not prevent our tasting the other." "How pleasant! Honour this ragout," said the Barmecide, "by eating heartily of it. Ho, boy, bring us another ragout." "No, my lord, if it please you," replied my brother, "for indeed I can eat no more."

"Come, take away then," said the Barmecide, "and bring the fruit." He stayed a moment as it were to give time for his servants to carry away; after which, he addressed my brother, "Taste these almonds, they are good and fresh gathered." Both of them made as if they had peeled the almonds, and eaten them; after this, the Barmecide invited my brother to eat something else. "Look," said he, "there are all sorts of fruits, cakes, dry sweetmeats, and conserves, take what you like;" then stretching out his hand, as if he had reached my brother something, "Look," he continued, "there is a lozenge, very good for digestion." Schacabac made as if he ate it, and said, "My lord, there is no want of musk here." "These lozenges," replied the Barmecide, "are made at my own house, where nothing is wanting to make every article good." He still bade my brother eat, and said to him, "Methinks you do not eat as if you had been so hungry as you complained you were when you came in." "My lord," replied Schacabac, whose jaws ached with moving and having nothing to eat, "I assure you I am so full that I cannot eat one bit more."

"Well, then, friend," resumed the Barmecide, "we must drink now, after we have eaten so well." "You may drink wine, my lord," replied my brother, "but I will drink none if you please, because I am forbidden." "You are too scrupulous," rejoined the Barmecide; "do as I do." "I will drink then out of complaisance," said Schacabac, "for I see you will have nothing wanting to make your treat complete; but since I am not accustomed to drink wine, I am afraid I shall commit some error in point of good breeding, and contrary to the respect that is due to you; therefore I pray you, once more, to excuse me from drinking any wine; I will be content with water." "No, no," said the Barmecide, "you shall drink wine," and at the same time he commanded some to be brought, in the same manner as the meat and fruit had been served before. He made as if he poured out wine, and drank first himself, and then pouring out for my brother, presented him the glass, saying, "Drink my health, and let us know if you think this wine good." My brother made as if he took the glass, and looked as if the colour was good, and put it to his nose to try the flavour: he then made a low salute to the Barmecide, to signify that he took the liberty to drink his health, and lastly he appeared to drink with all the signs of a man that drinks with pleasure: "My lord," said he, "this is very excellent wine, but I think it is not strong enough." "If you would have stronger," answered the Barmecide, "you need only speak, for I have several sorts in my cellar. Try how you like this." Upon which he made as if he poured out another glass for himself, and one for my brother; and did this so often, that Schacabac, feigning to be intoxicated with the wine, and acting a drunken man, lifted up his hand, and gave the Barmecide such a box on the ear as made him fall down. He was going to give him another blow, but the Barmecide holding up his hand to ward it off, cried, "Are you mad?" Then my brother, making as if he had come to himself again, said, "My lord, you have been so good as to admit your slave into your house, and give him a treat; you should have been satisfied with making me eat, and not have obliged me to drink wine; for I told you beforehand, that it might occasion me to fail in my respect for you. I am very sorry for it, and beg you a thousand pardons."

Scarcely had he finished these words, when the Barmecide, instead of being in a passion, fell a laughing with all his might. "I have been long," said he, "seeking a man of your character."

The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 2 - 20/66

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