Michael Clarke.

Stories from The Arabian nights online

. (page 22 of 23)
Online LibraryMichael ClarkeStories from The Arabian nights → online text (page 22 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


which my brother continued to lay apart.

At the end of five months, Alcouz, wishing to buy a lot of
sheep, and to pay for them in this money, opened his chest, but
instead of finding money, he was surprised to see nothing in the
place where he had left it but a parcel of leaves clipped round.
He beat his head, and cried aloud, which at once brought the
neighbors about him, who were as much surprised as he when he
told them the story. Just at that moment happening to see the
old man in the street, he ran out and laid hands on him. " Mus-
sulmans," cried he, as loud as he could, " help! hear what a
cheat this wicked fellow is," and at the same time he told a



260

great crowd of people, who came about him, what he had already
told his neighbors. When he had done, the old man said to him
very quietly, " You had better let me go for fear I may do
something worse to you, which I should be sorry to do."
" How ? " said my brother, " what have you to say against me ?
I am an honest man in my business, and fear neither you nor
anybody. " " You will have me speak out, then ? ' ' replied the
old man, and turning to the crowd, he said to them, " Good
people, this fellow, instead of selling mutton as he ought to do,
sells human flesh. Go into his shop and see for yourselves if
what I say is not true."

The mob ran like madmen into the shop, where they saw, to
all appearance, a man hung up dead, as the old man had said;
for he was a magician, and deceived the eyes of all the people,
as he did my brother when he made him take leaves instead of
money. At this sight, one of the crowd gave Alcouz a violent
blow with his fist, and said to him, "Wicked villain! dost thou
make us eat man's flesh instead of mutton ? " At the same time
the old man gave him another blow, which beat out one of his
eyes. Everybody that could get near struck him, and not con-
tent with that, they carried him before a judge. The judge
would believe nothing of the story of the money changed into
leaves, but called my brother a cheat, and ordered him to receive
five hundred blows. He afterwards made him tell where his
money was, took it all from him, and banished him forever from
the city.

But this was not the end of my brother's misfortunes. In the
city to which he went after his banishment, he happened one
day to be standing near the gate of a house, when two servants
came and collared him, saying, " Heaven be praised that you
have come of your own accord to give yourself up ! You have
alarmed us so much these last three nights that we could not
sleep." My brother was much surprised. " Good people,"
said he, ' ' I know not what you mean ; you certainly take me for
somebody else." " No, no," replied they, " we know that you



26 1

and your comrades are robbers. Let us see if you have not the
knife about you which you had in your hand when you ran after
us last night." Having thus spoken, they searched him, and
found that he had a knife. " Ho! ho! " cried they, laying hold
of him, " do you dare now to say that you are not a robber ? "
" Why," said my brother, " may not a man carry a knife about
him without being a robber ? If you will listen to my story,
instead of having so bad an opinion of me, you will be touched
with pity at my misfortunes. ' '

The two servants, however, not only refused to listen to him,
but took him before the judge, who asked him why he dared to
go into people's houses, and pursue them with a drawn knife.
" Sir," replied the unfortunate Alcouz, " I am the most innocent
man in the world ; be pleased to hear me patiently. " " Sir, ' '
exclaimed one of the servants, " will you listen to a robber, who
enters people's houses to rob and murder them ? If you will not
believe us, only look upon his back. ' '

While he said so, he uncovered my brother's back, and showed
to the judge the marks of the stripes he had formerly received.
The judge, without any further inquiry or information, com-
manded his officers to immediately give him a hundred lashes
over the shoulders, and had him afterwards carried through the
town on a camel, with one crying before him, " Thus are men
punished who enter people's houses by force." After having
so treated him, they banished him from the town, and forbade
him ever to return. Being informed of this misfortune, I went
and brought him to Bagdad privately, and gave him all the
assistance I could.

The caliph was pleased to pity the unfortunate Alcouz, and
ordered something to be given to the barber for him. But with-
out allowing the servants time to carry out the caliph's order,
the barber continued his discourse, and said to him, " My
sovereign lord and master, since your Majesty has been pleased
to listen to me so far, I beg you to also hear the adventures of
mv other two brothers."



262



STORY OF THE BARBER'S THIRD BROTHER.

My third brother was called Alnaschar. He was very lazy* as
long as our father lived. Instead of working he used to beg, and
lived upon what he got. The old man, our father, at his death
left five hundred pieces of silver, which we divided equally among
us. Alnaschar, who never before possessed so much money, was
much puzzled to know what to do with it. He at last resolved
to lay it out in glassware, which he might sell at a profit. This
he accordingly did, and with his basket of glassware he sat in a
public place to sell it, . leaning his back against a wall.

Seated thus with his eyes fixed on the basket, he began to think
of his plans for the future. " This basket," said he to himself,
" cost me a hundred pieces of silver, which was all I had in the
world. I shall make two hundred by retailing my glass, and of
these two hundred, which I will again lay out in glassware, I
shall make four hundred, and going on thus, I shall at last make
four thousand pieces of silver. Of four thousand I shall easily
make eight thousand, and when I come to ten thousand, I will
leave off selling glass, and turn jeweler. I will trade in diamonds,
pearls, and all sorts of precious stones. Then when I am as rich
as I can wish, I will buy a fine house, a great estate, slaves, and
horses. I will then ask the grand vizier's daughter in marriage.
I will dress myself like a prince, and mounted upon a fine horse,
with a saddle of gold, and trappings of cloth of gold, finely em-
broidered with diamonds and pearls, I will ride through the city,
attended by slaves, before and behind. I will go to the vizier's
palace in view of all the people, who will show me the greatest
respect. When I alight at the foot of the vizier's staircase, I
will ascend through my own slaves, ranged in files on the right
and left, and the grand vizier will receive me as his son-in-law,
and give me his right hand, and set me above him, to do me the
more honor. ' '

My brother's mind was so full of these thoughts that he quite
forgot where he was, and in moving his foot he tossed over the



263

basket, so that the glass was all thrown down and broken into a
thousand pieces. Then he came to himself, and seeing what
had happened, he beat his face, tore his clothes, and cried so
loud that the people stopped to inquire what was the matter.
A lady of rank, passing by upon a mule with rich trappings, was
moved to pity at his grief. She immediately turned to her purse
bearer who attended her, and said to him, " Give the poor man
what you have about you. ' ' The slave obeyed, and put into my
brother's hand a purse with five hundred pieces of gold. Alna-
schar was ready to die with joy when he received it. He gave a
thousand blessings to the lady, and, departing, went to his house.

While thinking over his good luck, he heard somebody knock
at the door. Before he opened, he asked who it was, and, know-
ing by the voice that it was a woman, he let her in. ' ' My son, ' '
said she, " I have a favor to beg of you; the hour of prayer is
come; let me pray in your house." My brother granted her
request. When she had finished her prayers, she came to my
brother and bowed twice to the ground, so low that she touched
it with her forehead. Being poorly clad, my brother thought
she asked alms, and he offered her two pieces of gold. The old
woman stepped back in surprise, as if my brother had insulted
her. "Is it possible, sir," said she, " that you take me for a
beggar ? I don't need your money. I live with a young lady
of this city, who is beautiful and very rich, and she lets me want
for nothing. ' ' My brother was not sharp enough to see the craft
of the old woman, who refused the two pieces of gold only that
she might catch more. He asked her if she could procure him
the honor of seeing that lady. " With all my heart," she re-
plied; " take up your money, and follow me."

My brother, rejoicing at the prospect of seeing a rich and
beautiful lady, whom he hoped to make his wife, took his five
hundred pieces of gold, and followed the old woman. She
walked on to the gate of a great house, where she knocked.
A young Greek slave opened the gate. The old woman brought
my brother into a handsome hall, where she left him. The



264

young lady soon entered. Her beauty and rich dress surprised
him. He rose as soon as he saw her. The lady, with smiling
countenance, invited him to sit down again, and shortly after-
wards conducted him into an inner chamber, where she talked
with him for some time. She then left him, saying that she
would be with him in a moment. He waited for her, but instead
of the lady, a great black slave came in with a sword in his hand,
and looking at my brother, said to him fiercely, " What is your
business here ? ' ' Alnaschar was so frightened that he had not
the power to answer. The slave then stripped him, carried off
his gold, and gave him several wounds with his sword.

My unhappy brother fell to the ground, where he lay without
motion, though he still had the use of his senses. The black
and the Greek slave having left the room, the old woman, who
had enticed my brother into the snare, came and dragged him
by the feet to a trapdoor, and threw him into a place under-
ground, among the bodies of several other people who had been
murdered. He recovered strength by degrees, so as to be able
to walk, and, after two days, opened the trapdoor in the night,
and made his escape. He then came to me for help and told
me of his adventures.

In a month's time he was perfectly cured of his wounds by
medicines that I gave him, and he resolved to have revenge upon
the old woman. With this object he took a bag large enough to
contain five hundred pieces of gold, and filled it with pieces of
glass. He then dressed himself like an old woman, and took a
sword under his cloak. He soon met the old woman walking
through the town. Going up to her, and speaking in a woman's
voice, he said, ' ' Can you lend me a pair of scales ? I am newly
come from Persia, have brought five hundred pieces of gold with
me, and wish to know if they are the right weight. " " Good
woman," answered the old hag, " You could not have applied
to a fitter person. Follow me; I will conduct you to my son,
who changes money, and he will weigh them to save you the
trouble." My brother followed her to the house to which



265

she had brought him before, and the Greek slave opened the
door.

The old woman took my brother to the hall, where she re-
quested him to wait till she called her son. The pretended son
came, and proved to be the villainous black slave. " Come, old
woman, ' ' said he to my brother, ' ' rise and follow me. ' ' Having
spoken thus, he went before to conduct my brother to the place,
where the trapdoor was, which led to the underground passage.
Alnaschar got up, followed him, and, drawing his sword, gave him
such a blow in the back of the neck that he killed him with the
one stroke. Then he threw his dead body into the place under-
ground. The wicked old woman came running in at the noise,
and my brother, seizing her, said, "Wretch, do you not know
me ? " " Alas, sir," answered she, trembling, " who are you ?
I do not remember that I ever saw you." " I am," replied he,
" the person to whose house you came the other day to say your
prayers. Wicked woman, do you not remember ? ' ' Then she
fell on her knees to beg his pardon, but he slew her with his
sword.

He now went to look for the lady, and found her in the
inner room, "Madam," said he, "how could you live with
such wicked people ? ' ' Then she told my brother this story :

" I was wife to an honest merchant, and the old woman,
whose wickedness I did not then know, used sometimes to come
and see me. ' Madam,' said she to me one day, ' we have a
wedding at our house, which you will be pleased to see, if you
will give us the honor of your company. ' I put on my best
dress, took with me a hundred pieces of gold, and followed the
old woman. She brought me to this house, where the black has
since kept me by force, and I have been three years here to my
great sorrow." " By the trade which that wicked black fol-
lowed," replied my brother, " he must have gathered together a
vast deal of riches." " There is so much," said she, " that you
will be wealthy forever if you can carry them off; follow me, and
you shall see them." Alnaschar followed her to a chamber,



266

where she showed him several chests full of gold, which he beheld
with admiration. ' ' Go, ' ' said she, ' ' and fetch people to help
you carry them all off."

My brother went out, got ten men, and brought them with
him, but on his return he was surprised to find the gate open,
and the lady and the chests gone, for she, being more active
than he, had conveyed them all off and disappeared. However,
he resolved not to go away empty-handed, and so he carried
off all the furniture of the house, which was a great deal more
than enough to make up for the five hundred pieces of gold he
had been robbed of. But when he went out of the house, he
forgot to shut the gate. The neighbors, who saw him and the
men come and go, went and informed the cadi, for they looked
upon his conduct as suspicious. Early next morning, when my
brother came out of his house, twenty of the cadi's men seized
him. " Come along with us," said they, " our master desires
to speak with you. ' '

When brought before him, the cadi asked my brother where
he got the things which he carried home the day before. My
brother then told him the whole story, from beginning to end,
about the old woman coming into his house to say her prayers,
why he had killed the black, the slave, and the old woman, and
about the escape of the lady, and he begged the judge to leave
him part of the furniture for the five hundred pieces of gold of
which he had been robbed.

The judge, without promising anything, sent his officers to
bring off the whole, and, having put the goods into his own
house, commanded my brother to quit the town immediately,
and never to return, for he was afraid that if he staid in the city
he would complain to the caliph.

Alnaschar at once obeyed. He left that town to go to another,
but on the way he met robbers, who stripped him naked and cut
off his ears. When the news reached me, I carried him handsome
clothes, and brought him secretly into the town, where I took
care of him as I did of my other brothers.



267



STORY OF THE BARBER'S FOURTH BROTHER.

I have now only to tell the story of my fourth brother, called
Schacabac. At first he was industrious enough to make profit
with the hundred pieces of silver which fell to his share, but a
reverse of fortune brought him to poverty. One day, as he
passed by a magnificent house where there was a multitude of
servants, he went to one of them, and asked him to whom the
house belonged. " Good man," replied the servant, " are you
a stranger that you ask such a question ? Does not all that you
see show you that it is the palace of a Barmecide ? ' ' My
brother, who very well knew the liberality and generosity of the
Barmecide family, then begged one of the servants for alms.
" Go in," said the servant, " nobody hinders you. Speak to
the master of the house ; he will give you what you need. ' '

My brother thanked the servant, and entered the palace. He
went on till he came into a hall richly furnished, and adorned
with beautiful paintings. Here he saw a venerable man with a
long white beard, sitting at the upper end on a sofa. He sup-
posed him to be the master of the house, which in fact he was.
It was the Barmecide himself, and he said to my brother, in a
very civil manner, that he was welcome, and asked him what he
wanted. " My lord," answered my brother, " I am a poor
man, and I am in need of help. I have not eaten one bit to-
day." " Is it true," exclaimed the Barmecide, " that you are
fasting till now ? Alas, poor man, you must be ready to die for
hunger. Ho, boy! " cried he with a loud voice, " bring a basin
and water, that we may wash our hands. ' ' Though no boy ap-
peared, and my brother saw neither water nor basin, the Barme-
cide fe.ll to rubbing his hands as if water had been poured upon
them, and he bade my brother come and wash with him. Schac-
abac, thinking from this that the Barmecide lord liked a joke,
came forward and did as he was required. He rubbed his hands
as if washing them.

" Come on," said the Barmecide to the servants, " bring us



268

something to eat, and do not let us wait." The servants im-
mediately began to come and go as though they were bringing
various kinds of food to the table, and the Barmecide, taking
my brother to the imaginary table and sitting down with him,
began to move his hands and lips as if eating. Then he said to
my brother, " Come, friend, eat as freely as if you were at
home. You said you were like to die of hunger, but you seem
to have no appetite. " " Pardon me, my lord, ' ' said Schacabac,
who imitated what the Barmecide did, " you see I lose no time."
"How like you this bread?" said the Barmecide; "do you
not find it very good ? " " My lord," replied my brother, who
saw neither bread nor meat, " I have never eaten bread so white
and so fine." " Eat your fill," said the Barmecide. " I assure
you the slave who bakes this bread cost me five hundred pieces
of gold." The Barmecide then cried, " Boy, bring us another
dish ; ' ' and though no boy appeared, the master said, ' ' Come,
my good friend, taste this new dish, and tell me if ever you ate
better mutton and barley broth." "It is good," replied my
brother, " and therefore you see I eat heartily." " You oblige
me highly," said the Barmecide. " I beg you, then, to eat it
all up, since you like it so well."

A little while afterwards he called for a goose and sweet sauce.
He then called for several other good things, of which my brother
pretended to eat, but what he boasted of most were chickens
stuffed with nuts, which he ordered to be brought up. " I knew
you would like this dish," said the Barmecide. " There is
nothing in the world finer," replied my brother, "it is most
delicious." " Come, bring the hash. I fancy you will like
that as well as you did the chickens. Well, how do you rel-
ish it?"

" Oh, it is wonderful," replied Schacabac, " for here we taste
all at once cloves, nutmeg, ginger, pepper, and the most agreea-
ble herbs, and all these are so well mixed that one does not pre-
vent our tasting the other." "How pleasant! Honor this
hash," said the Barmecide, "by eating heartily of it. Ho!



269

boy ! bring us more hash. " ' ' No, my lord, please, ' ' replied my
brother, " for indeed I can eat no more."

" Come, take it away, then," said the Barmecide, " and bring
the fruit. ' ' He stayed a moment, as it were to give time for his
servants to carry it away and bring the fruit, after which he ad-
dressed my brother: " Taste these almonds, they are good and
fresh-gathered. ' ' Both of them made as if peeling the almonds
and eating them. Then the Barmecide invited my brother to
eat something else. " Look," said he, " there are all sorts of
fruits, cakes, dry sweetmeats, and preserves. Take what you
like." Then stretching out his hand, as if he had reached my
brother something, he still bade him eat, and said to him, " I
think you do not eat as if you were as hungry as you complained
of being 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," said the Barmecide, " we must drink
some wine now, after we have eaten so well." " I will drink
through respect for you, if you insist upon it, ' ' said Schacabac,
" but as I am not accustomed to drink wine, I am afraid I shall
act contrary to the respect that is due to you; therefore I pray
you to excuse me from drinking wine. I will be content with
water. " No, no," said the Barmecide, " you shall drink wine,"
and at the same time he commanded the servants to bring some.
Then he made as if he poured out wine, and drank first himself,
and 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
color was good. He then bowed to the Barmecide, to signify
that he took the liberty to drink his health, and he appeared to
drink with all 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 wish to have stronger," answered
the Barmecide, " you need only speak, for 1 have several sorts
in my cellar. Try how you like this, ' ' making as if he poured



270

out another glass for himself and one for my brother. This he
did several times. At last Schacabac, pretending to be intoxi-
cated, and acting the part of 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 Barme-
cide, 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 me into
your house, and give me a treat. You should have been satisfied
with making me eat, and not have made me drink wine, for I
told you beforehand that it might cause me to fail in my respect
for you. I am very sorry for it, and beg your pardon. ' '

Scarcely had he finished these words, when the Barmecide,
instead of being angry, began to laugh heartily. ' ' I have been
long, ' ' said he, ' ' looking for a man like you. I forgive the blow,
and I wish that in future we may be friends, and that you regard
my house as your home. You have had the politeness to fall in
with my humor, and the patience to keep the jest up to the last.
We will now eat in good earnest. ' ' He then commanded his
servants to cover the table, which was speedily done, and my
brother was treated in reality with all those dishes which he had
eaten of before only in fancy. When the table was cleared a
number of handsome slaves, richly dressed, came and sang
agreeable songs and played on musical instruments.

The Barmecide found my brother to be a man of so much
good humor and understanding that in a few days he entrusted
him with the care of his household. He performed his duty well
in that employment for twenty years, at the end of which time
the Barmecide died. As he had no children, all his property
went to the caliph, and my brother lost his place. He then
joined a company of pilgrims going to Mecca, but unfortunately
the company was attacked and plundered by robbers. My
brother was taken as a slave by one of them, who flogged him
for several days to make him pay money for his freedom. " I
am your slave, ' ' said my brother, ' ' you may dispose of me as you



271

please, but I declare that I am very poor, and not able to buy
myself." The robber, vexed at not getting the money he ex-
pected, slit my brother's" lips, and after he had treated him in
this cruel manner, he carried him on a camel to the top of a
mountain, where he left him. The mountain was on the road
to Bagdad, and the passengers who saw him there informed me
where he was. I went there speedily, gave him what help he
stood in need of, and brought him back to the city.

The caliph was so pleased with the barber and his stories that
he appointed him his own barber, gave him a large salary, and
handsome apartments near his own palace, where he lived hap-
pily the remainder of his life.




to desk from which borrowed.

on the last date stamped below.



l4Nov'4$



22May'50$?



!ODec'52JK



DC 14 58






1354



LD2 l-100m-9,'48(B399sl61476



U.C.BERKELEY LIBRARIES


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 22

Online LibraryMichael ClarkeStories from The Arabian nights → online text (page 22 of 23)