The secret agent, the king, the Armenian barber and the Armenian shoemaker
The king’s secret agent reported to the him, “I can’t find out anything from the Armenians.”
“Why not?” asked the king.
They communicate without speaking,” said the secret agent. “When they speak out loud, they only talk about the weather or business and mislead us with false statements. But when they remain silent, they communicate secretly and we can’t understand what they say. They understand each other by giving a quick glance.”
“I think you are exaggerating. This may be true of a few but not all the Armenians,” said the king.
“I am speaking of all of them,” the informant said. “They all communicate without words in a mysterious way.”
“Let me see for myself,” said the king. “Pick out two Armenians randomly. Choose a barber and a shoemaker.”
The informant went to Hagop the barber. He said, “Hagop sir, the king requests your presence tomorrow at his royal palace.” The barber thought to himself, “Why does the king want to see me, a lowly barber?” He promised to see the king the next day. A shoemaker named Bedros also agreed to see the king.
The next day, the two Armenians arrived separately at the palace. Hagop was shown into the king’s throne room first. The king carefully observed him. Hagop greeted the king and then looked down at the floor. When Bedros entered, he quickly glanced at Hagop and understood he was Armenian. Hagop looked at Bedros as he walked toward the king to say hello.
The king whispered to his informant, “Let’s see if they communicate in non verbal ways such as a raised eyebrow, grimace, biting of the lips, scratching of the ear, raising a finger, a side glance.”
“Sire,” they have already spoken.” said the informant.
“What have they said?” asked the king.
” My guess is they recognize they are both Armenian and that they have been called to the palace to talk. The cleaver barber has enough education and experience to inform the shoemaker that whatever they say will be held against them and their countrymen. The shoemaker most probably replied that they should mislead us with useless platitudes about the weather and their trades.
The king said, “What should I say?”
“Ask them why they have come,’ said the secret agent.
“Why have you come?” said the king.
“The weather is so bad that our customers stay at home. Business is down,” said the barber.
The king looked at the secret agent and nodded in approval. He was convinced that the Armenians could communicate without words.
The Armenians saw the king look at the secret agent and nod. They decided to remain more secretive than ever.