The Arabian Nights Entertainments HTML version

The Story of the Barber's Sixth
There now remains for me to relate to you the story of my sixth brother, whose
name was Schacabac. Like the rest of us, he inherited a hundred silver
drachmas from our father, which he thought was a large fortune, but through ill-
luck, he soon lost it all, and was driven to beg. As he had a smooth tongue and
good manners, he really did very well in his new profession, and he devoted
himself specially to making friends with the servants in big houses, so as to gain
access to their masters.
One day he was passing a splendid mansion, with a crowd of servants lounging
in the courtyard. He thought that from the appearance of the house it might yield
him a rich harvest, so he entered and inquired to whom it belonged.
"My good man, where do you come from?" replied the servant. "Can't you see for
yourself that it can belong to nobody but a Barmecide?" for the Barmecides were
famed for their liberality and generosity. My brother, hearing this, asked the
porters, of whom there were several, if they would give him alms. They did not
refuse, but told him politely to go in, and speak to the master himself.
My brother thanked them for their courtesy and entered the building, which was
so large that it took him some time to reach the apartments of the Barmecide. At
last, in a room richly decorated with paintings, he saw an old man with a long
white beard, sitting on a sofa, who received him with such kindness that my
brother was emboldened to make his petition.
"My lord," he said, "you behold in me a poor man who only lives by the help of
persons as rich and as generous as you."
Before he could proceed further, he was stopped by the astonishment shown by
the Barmecide. "Is it possible," he cried, "that while I am in Bagdad, a man like
you should be starving? That is a state of things that must at once be put an end