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Main > Arabic folktales > Fairy tale "The Story of the Barber's Sixth Brother"

The Story of the Barber's Sixth Brother

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"What, you are dying of hunger?" exclaimed the Barmecide. "Here, slave; bring water, that we may wash our hands before meat!" No slave appeared, but my brother remarked that the Barmecide did not fail to rub his hands as if the water had been poured over them.

Then he said to my brother, "Why don't you wash your hands too?" and Schacabac, supposing that it was a joke on the part of the Barmecide (though he could see none himself), drew near, and imitated his motion.

When the Barmecide had done rubbing his hands, he raised his voice, and cried, "Set food before us at once, we are very hungry." No food was brought, but the Barmecide pretended to help himself from a dish, and carry a morsel to his mouth, saying as he did so, "Eat, my friend, eat, I entreat. Help yourself as freely as if you were at home! For a starving man, you seem to have a very small appetite."

"Excuse me, my lord," replied Schacabac, imitating his gestures as before, "I really am not losing time, and I do full justice to the repast."

"How do you like this bread?" asked the Barmecide. "I find it particularly good myself."

"Oh, my lord," answered my brother, who beheld neither meat nor bread, "never have I tasted anything so delicious."

"Eat as much as you want," said the Barmecide. "I bought the woman who makes it for five hundred pieces of gold, so that I might never be without it."

After ordering a variety of dishes (which never came) to be placed on the table, and discussing the merits of each one, the Barmecide declared that having dined so well, they would now proceed to take their wine. To this my brother at first objected, declaring that it was forbidden; but on the Barmecide insisting that it was out of the question that he should drink by himself, he consented to take a little. The Barmecide, however, pretended to fill their glasses so often, that my brother feigned that the wine had gone into his head, and struck the Barmecide such a blow on the head, that he fell to the ground. Indeed, he raised his hand to strike him a second time, when the Barmecide cried out that he was mad, upon which my brother controlled himself, and apologised and protested that it was all the fault of the wine he had drunk.

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