THE BARBER'S FIFTH BROTHER 207
partnership with the abominable creatures he had just put to death.
'I was once,' replied she, 'the wife of an honest merchant, and that old woman, whose wickedness I did not know, used occasionally to visit me. " Madam," she said to me one day, " we have a grand wedding at our house to-day. If you would do us the honour to be present, I am sure you would enjoy yourself." I allowed myself to be persuaded, put on my richest dress, and took a purse with a hundred pieces of gold. Once inside the doors I was kept by force by that dreadful black, and it is now three years that I have been here, to my great grief.'
' That horrible black must have amassed great wealth, remarked my brother.
' Such wealth,' returned she, ' that if you succeed in carrying it all away it will make you rich for ever. Come and let us see how much there is.'
She led Alnaschar into a chamber filled with coffers packed with gold, which he gazed at with an admiration he was powerless to conceal. ' Go,' she said, ' and bring men to carry them away.'
My brother did not wait to be told twice, and hurried out into the streets, where he soon collected ten men, They all came back to the house, but what was his surprise to find the door open, and the room with the chests of gold quite empty. The lady had been cleverer than himself, and had made the best use of her time. However, he tried to console himself by removing all the beautiful furniture, which more than made up for the five hundred gold pieces he had lost.
Unluckily, on leaving the house, he forgot to lock the door, and the neighbours, finding the place empty, informed the police, who next morning arrested Alnaschar as a thief. My brother tried to bribe them to let him off, but far from listening to him they tied his hands, and forced him to walk between them to the presence of the