The Arabian Nights Entertainments HTML version

Story of the Barber's Fifth Brother
As long as our father lived Alnaschar was very idle. Instead of working for his
bread he was not ashamed to ask for it every evening, and to support himself
next day on what he had received the night before. When our father died, worn
out by age, he only left seven hundred silver drachmas to be divided amongst us,
which made one hundred for each son. Alnaschar, who had never possessed so
much money in his life, was quite puzzled to know what to do with it. After
reflecting upon the matter for some time he decided to lay it out on glasses,
bottles, and things of that sort, which he would buy from a wholesale merchant.
Having bought his stock he next proceeded to look out for a small shop in a good
position, where he sat down at the open door, his wares being piled up in an
uncovered basket in front of him, waiting for a customer among the passers-by.
In this attitude he remained seated, his eyes fixed on the basket, but his thoughts
far away. Unknown to himself he began to talk out loud, and a tailor, whose shop
was next door to his, heard quite plainly what he was saying.
"This basket," said Alnaschar to himself, "has cost me a hundred drachmas-- all
that I possess in the world. Now in selling the contents piece by piece I shall turn
two hundred, and these hundreds I shall again lay out in glass, which will
produce four hundred. By this means I shall in course of time make four
thousand drachmas, which will easily double themselves. When I have got ten
thousand I will give up the glass trade and become a jeweller, and devote all my
time to trading in pearls, diamonds, and other precious stones. At last, having all
the wealth that heart can desire, I will buy a beautiful country house, with horses
and slaves, and then I will lead a merry life and entertain my friends. At my feasts
I will send for musicians and dancers from the neighbouring town to amuse my
guests. In spite of my riches I shall not, however, give up trade till I have
amassed a capital of a hundred thousand drachmas, when, having become a
man of much consideration, I shall request the hand of the grand-vizir's daughter,
taking care to inform the worthy father that I have heard favourable reports of her
beauty and wit, and that I will pay down on our wedding day 3 thousand gold