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Payne: The Story of the Barber's Third Brother

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The name of my third brother was Fekic and he was blind. One day, chance and destiny led him to a great house and he knocked at the door, desiring speech of the owner, that he might beg of him somewhat. Quoth the master of the house, "Who is at the door?" But my brother was silent and heard him repeat, in a loud voice, "Who is there?" Still he made no answer and presently heard the master come to the door and open it and say, "What dost thou want?" "Charity," replied my brother, "for the love of God the Most High!" "Art thou blind?" asked the man; and my brother said, "Yes." Quoth the other, "Give me thy hand." So my brother put out his hand, thinking that he would give him something; but he took it and drawing him into the house, carried him up, from stair to stair, till they reached the housetop, my brother thinking the while that he would surely give him food or money. Then said he to my brother, "What dost thou want, O blind man?" "Charity, for the love of God!" repeated my brother. "God succour thee!" answered the master of the house. "O man," answered my brother, "why couldst thou not tell me this downstairs?" "O loser," answered he, "why didst thou not answer me, when I asked who was at the door?" Quoth my brother, "What wilt thou with me now?" And the other replied, "I have nothing to give thee." "Then take me down again," said my brother. But he answered, "The way lies before thee." So my brother rose and made his way down the stairs, till he came within twenty steps of the door, when his foot slipped and he rolled to the bottom and broke his head. Then he went out, knowing not whither to turn, and presently fell in with other two blind men, comrades of his, who enquired how he had fared that day. He told them what had passed and said to them, "O my brothers, I wish to take some of the money in my hands and provide my self with it." Now the master of the house had followed him and heard what they said, but neither my brother nor his fellows knew of this. So my brother went on to his lodging and sat down to await his comrades, and the owner of the house entered after him without his knowledge. When the other blind men arrived, my brother said to them, "Shut the door and search the house, lest any stranger have followed us." The intruder, hearing this, caught hold of a rope that hung from the ceiling and clung to it, whilst the blind men searched the whole place, but found nothing. So they came back and sitting down beside my brother, brought out their money, which they counted, and lo, it was twelve thousand dirhems. Each took what he wanted and the rest they buried in a corner of the room. Then they set on food and sat down to eat. Presently my brother heard a strange pair of jaws wagging at his side; so he said to his comrades, "There is a stranger amongst us;" and putting out his hand, caught hold of that of the intruder. Therewith they all fell on him and beat him, crying out, "O Muslims, a thief is come in to us, seeking to take our property!" So much people flocked to them, whereupon the owner of the house caught hold of the blind men and shutting his eyes, feigned to be blind like unto them, so that none doubted of it. Then he complained of them, even as they of him, crying out, "O Muslims, I appeal to God and the Sultan and the chief of the police! I have a grave matter to make known to the chief of the police." At this moment, up came the watch and seizing them all, dragged them before the chief of the police, who enquired what was the matter. Quoth the spy, "See here; thou shalt come at nought except by torture: so begin by beating me, and after me, beat this my captain." And he pointed to my brother. So they threw the man down and gave him four hundred strokes on the backside. The beating pained him, and he opened one eye; and as they redoubled their blows, he opened the other. When the chief of the police saw this, he said to him, "What is this, O accursed one?" "Give me the seal-ring of pardon!" replied he. "We are four who feign ourselves blind and impose upon people, that we may enter houses and gaze upon women and contrive for their corruption. In this way, we have gotten much money, even twelve thousand dirhems. So I said to my comrades, 'Give me my share, three thousand dirhems.' But they fell on me and beat me and took away my money, and I appeal to God and thee for protection; better thou have my share than they. So, an thou wouldst know the truth of my words, beat each of the others more than thou hast beaten me and he will surely open his eyes." The prefect bade begin with my brother: so they bound him to the whipping-post, and the prefect said, "O rascals, do ye abjure the gracious gifts of God and pretend to be blind?" "Allah! Allah!" cried my brother, "by Allah, there is not one amongst us who can see!" Then they beat him, till he fainted and the prefect said, "Leave him till he revives and then beat him again." And he caused each of the others to be beaten with more than three hundred blows, whilst the sham blind man stood by, saying to them, "Open your eyes, or you will be beaten anew." Then he said to the prefect, "Send some one with me to fetch the money, for these fellows will not open their eyes, lest they be put to shame before the folk." So the prefect sent to fetch the money and gave the impostor three thousand dirhems to his pretended share. The rest he took for himself and banished the three blind men from the city. But, O Commander of the Faithful, I went out and overtaking my brother, questioned him of his case; whereupon he told me what I have told thee. So I carried him back privily into the city and appointed him in secret wherewithal to eat and drink.' The Khalif laughed at my story and said, 'Give him a present and let him go.' By Allah,' rejoined I, 'I will take nothing till I have made known to the Commander of the Faithful what happened to my other brothers, for I am a man of few words.' Then I went on as follows...

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Payne, John (1842-1916). The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night. London. 1901. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version. Wollamshram Vol. V. Wollamshram Vol. VI. Wollamshram Vol. VII. Wollamshram Vol. VIII. Wollamshram Vol. IX. Please consult the Wollamshram edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version.


1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM


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