There was once a rich old man who was called the Bar-me-cide. He lived

in a beautiful palace in the midst of flowery gardens. He had

every-thing that heart could wish.

In the same land there was a poor man whose name was Schac-a-bac. His

clothing was rags, and his food was the scraps which other people had

thrown away. But he had a light heart, and was as happy as a king.

Once when Schac-a-b
c had not had anything to eat for a long time, he

thought that he would go and ask the Bar-me-cide to help him.

The servant at the door said, "Come in and talk with our master. He

will not send you away hungry."

Schacabac went in, and passed through many beautiful rooms, looking

for the Barmecide. At last he came to a grand hall where there were

soft carpets on the floor, and fine pictures on the walls, and

pleasant couches to lie down upon.

At the upper end of the room he saw a noble man with a long white

beard. It was the Barmecide; and poor Schacabac bowed low before him,

as was the custom in that country.

The Barmecide spoke very kindly, and asked what was wanted.

Schacabac told him about all his troubles, and said that it was now

two days since he had tasted bread.

"Is it possible?" said the Barmecide. "You must be almost dead with

hunger; and here I have plenty and to spare!"

Then he turned and called, "Ho, boy! Bring in the water to wash our

hands, and then order the cook to hurry the supper."

Schacabac had not expected to be treated so kindly. He began to thank

the rich man.

"Say not a word," said the Barmecide, "but let us get ready for the


Then the rich man began to rub his hands as though some one was

pouring water on them. "Come and wash with me," he said.

Schacabac saw no boy, nor basin, nor water. But he thought that he

ought to do as he was bidden; and so, like the Barmecide, he made a

pretense of washing.

"Come now," said the Barmecide, "let us have supper."

He sat down, as if to a table, and pre-tend-ed to be carving a roast.

Then he said, "Help yourself, my good friend. You said you were

hungry: so, now, don't be afraid of the food."

Schacabac thought that he un-der-stood the joke, and he made pretense

of taking food, and passing it to his mouth. Then he began to chew,

and said, "You see, sir, I lose no time."

"Boy," said the old man, "bring on the roast goose.--Now, my good

friend, try this choice piece from the breast. And here are sweet

sauce, honey, raisins, green peas, and dry figs. Help yourself, and

remember that other good things are coming."

Schacabac was almost dead with hunger, but he was too polite not to do

as he was bidden.

"Come," said the Barmecide, "have another piece of the roast lamb. Did

you ever eat anything so de-li-cious?"

"Never in my life," said Schacabac. "Your table is full of good


"Then eat heartily," said the Barmecide. "You cannot please me


After this came the des-sert. The Barmecide spoke of sweet-meats and

fruits; and Schacabac made believe that he was eating them.

"Now is there anything else that you would like?" asked the host.

"Ah, no!" said poor Schacabac. "I have indeed had great plenty."

"Let us drink, then," said the Barmecide. "Boy, bring on the wine!"

"Excuse me, my lord," said Schacabac, "I will drink no wine, for it is


The Barmecide seized him by the hand. "I have long wished to find a

man like you," he said. "But come, now we will sup in earnest."

He clapped his hands. Servants came, and he ordered supper. Soon they

sat down to a table loaded with the very dishes of which they had

pre-tend-ed to eat.

Poor Schacabac had never had so good a meal in all his life. When they

had fin-ished, and the table had been cleared away, the Barmecide


"I have found you to be a man of good un-der-stand-ing. Your wits are

quick, and you are ready always to make the best of everything. Come

and live with me, and manage my house."

And so Schacabac lived with the Barmecide many years, and never again

knew what it was to be hungry.