| Fifty Famous Stories Retold|
|by James Baldwin|
|Includes fifty legendary tales depicting certain romantic episodes in the lives of well-known heroes and famous men, or in the history of a people. Children naturally take a deep interest in such stories. The reading of them will not only give pleasure but will lay the foundation for broader literary studies, as nearly all are the subjects of frequent allusions in poetry and prose. Ages 6-9 |
THE BARMECIDE FEAST
THERE was once a rich old man who was called the
Barmecide. He lived in a beautiful palace in the midst of flowery gardens.
He had everything that heart could wish.
In the same land there was a poor man whose name was
Schacabac. 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 Schacabac had not had anything to eat for a long
time, he thought that he would go and ask the
Barmecide 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
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
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
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 feast."
 Then the rich man began to rub his hands as though some one
was pouring water on them. "Come and wash with me," he
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
pretended 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
understood 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 front 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
 "Never in my life," said Schacabac. "Your table is full of
"Then eat heartily," said the Barmecide. "You cannot
please me better."
After this came the dessert. 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
"Ah, no!" said poor Schacabac. "I have indeed
had great plenty."
"Let us drink, then," said the Barmecide. "Boy, bring on
"Excuse me, my lord," said Schacabac, "I will drink no
wine, for it is forbidden."
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 pretended to eat.
Poor Schacabac had never had so good a meal in all his
life. When they had finished, and the table had been
cleared away, the Barmecide said,—
"I have found you to be a man of good
understanding. 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.
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