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time I saw Murillo's picture of the melon-eaters in Munich,” said Uncle Jack.
“Because I felt then as you do now, I think. You will have to do as I did.”
“What was that?”
“It's an imaginary feast. The story is from the Arabian Nights — here it is:"
It is related that one Shacabac had become so poor that he had to beg his bread. In this occupation he did very well. His chief aim was to procure admission, by bribing the officers and domestics, into the houses of the great and, by having access to their persons, to excite their compassion.
By this means he one day gained admission to a magnificent building, in which, reclining on an expensive divan in a room richly furnished, he found the master, a Barmecide, who, in the most obliging manner, thus addressed him:—
“Welcome to my house. What dost thou wish, my friend?”
SHACABAC: I am in great want. I suffer from hunger, and have nothing to eat.
The Barmecide was much astonished at this answer. “What!” he cried. “What! Nothing to eat! Am I in the city, and thou in it hungry? It is a thing I can not endure. Thou shalt be happy as heart can wish. Thou must stay and partake of my salt. Whatever I have is thine.”
Shac.: O my master! I have not patience to wait, for I am in a state of extreme hunger. I have eaten nothing this day.
BARMECIDE: What! is it true that even at this late hour thou hast not broken thy fast? Alas! poor man, he will die with hunger. — Halloo, there, boy! bring us instantly a basin of water, that we may wash our hands.
Although no boy appeared, and Shacabac observed neither basin nor water, the Barmecide nevertheless began to rub his hands, as if some one held the water for him; and while he was doing this he urged Shacabac to do the same. Shacabac by this supposed that the Barmecide was fond of fun; and, as he liked a jest himself, he approached, and pretended to wash his hands, and afterwards to wipe them with a napkin held by the attendant.
BARM.: Now bring us something to eat, and take care not to keep us waiting. Set the table here. Now lay the dishes on it. — Come, friend, sit down at the table here. Eat, and be not ashamed; for thou art hungry, and I know how thou art suffering from the violence of thy hunger.
Saying these words, although nothing had been brought to eat, he began as if he had taken something on his plate, and pretended to put it in his mouth and chew it, adding, “Eat, I beg of thee; for a hungry man, thou seemest to have but a poor appetite. What thinkest thou of this bread?”
Shac.: (to himself) Verily this is a man that loveth to jest with others. (To the Barmecide) O my master, never in my life have I seen bread more beautifully white than this, or of a sweeter taste. Where didst thou procure it?
BARM.: This was made by a slave of mine whom I purchased for five hundred pieces of gold. (Calling aloud) Boy! bring to us the dish the like of which is not found among the viands of kings. — Eat, O my guest! for thou art hungry, — violently so, — and in great need of food.
Shac.: (twisting his mouth about as if eating heartily) Verily this is a dish worthy the table of the great Solomon.
BARM.: Eat on, my friend. — Boy! place before us the lamb fattened with almonds. — Now,