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In the reign of the Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid, there lived at Bagdad a poor porter called Hindbad. One day, when the weather was excessively hot, he was employed to carry a heavy burden from one end of the town to the other. Having still a great way to go, he came into a street where a refreshing breeze blew on his face, and the pavement was sprinkled with rose water. As he could not desire a better place to rest, he took off his load, and sat upon it, near a large mansion.
He was much pleased that he stopped in this place; for the agreeable smell of wood of aloes, and of pastils, that came from the house, mixing with the scent of the rose-water, completely perfumed the air. Besides, he heard from within a concert of instrumental music, accompanied with the harmonious notes of nightingales. This charming melody, and the smell of savoury dishes, made the porter conclude there was a feast within. His business seldom leading him that way, he knew not to whom the mansion belonged; but to satisfy his curiosity he went to some of the servants, whom he saw standing at the gate in magnificent apparel, and asked the name of the proprietor. "How," replied one of them, "do you live in Bagdad, and know not that this is the house of Sinbad the sailor, that famous voyager, who has sailed round the world?" The porter, who had heard of this Sinbad's riches, lifted up his eyes to Heaven, and said, loud enough to be heard: "Almighty creator of all things, consider the difference between Sinbad and me! I am every day exposed to fatigues and calamities, and can scarcely get barley-bread for myself and my family, whilst happy Sinbad expends immense riches and leads a life of pleasure. What has he done to obtain a lot so agreeable? And what have I done to deserve one so wretched?"
Whilst the porter was thus indulging his melancholy, a servant came out of the house, and taking him by the arm, bade him follow him, for Sinbad, his master, wanted to speak to him.
The servants brought him into a great hall, where a number of people sat round a table, covered with all sorts of savoury dishes. At the upper end sat a venerable gentleman, with a long white beard, and behind him stood a number of officers and domestics, all ready to attend his pleasure. This personage was Sinbad. The porter, whose fear was increased at the sight of so many people, and of a banquet so sumptuous, saluted the company trembling. Sinbad bade him draw near, and seating him at his right hand, served him himself, and gave him a cup of excellent wine.
When the repast was over, Sinbad addressed his conversation to Hindbad, and inquired his name and employment. "My lord," answered he, "my name is Hindbad." "I am very glad to see you," replied Sinbad; "but I wish to hear from your own mouth what it was you lately said in the street." Sinbad had himself heard the porter complain through the window, and this it was that induced him to have him brought in.
At this request, Hindbad hung down his head in confusion, and replied: "My lord, I confess that my fatigue put me out of humour, and occasioned me to utter some indiscreet words, which I beg you to pardon." "Do not think I am so unjust," resumed Sinbad, "as to resent such a complaint, but I must rectify your error concerning myself. You think, no doubt, that I have acquired, without labour and trouble, the ease which I now enjoy. But do not mistake; I did not attain to this happy condition, without enduring for several years more trouble of body and mind than can well be imagined. Yes, gentlemen," he added, speaking to the whole company, "I can assure you my troubles were so extraordinary, that they were calculated to discourage the most covetous from undertaking such voyages as I did, to acquire riches. Perhaps you have never heard a distinct account of my wonderful adventures; and since I have this opportunity, I will give you a faithful account of them, not doubting but it will be acceptable."
"I inherited from my father considerable property, the greater part of which I squandered in my youth in dissipation; but I perceived my error, and reflected that riches were perishable, and quickly consumed by such ill managers as myself, I further considered, that by my irregular way of living I wretchedly misspent my time; which is, of all things, the most valuable. Struck with these reflections, I collected the remains of my fortune, and sold all my effects by public auction. I then entered into a contract with some merchants, who traded by sea. I took the advice of such as I thought most capable, and resolving to improve what money I had, I embarked with several merchants on board a ship which we had jointly fitted out.
"We set sail, and steered our course toward the Indies through the Persian Gulf, which is formed by the coasts of Arabia Felix on the right, and by those of Persia on the left. At first I was troubled with sea-sickness, but speedily recovered my health, and was not afterward subject to that complaint.
"In our voyage we touched at several islands, where we sold or exchanged our goods. One day, whilst under sail, we were becalmed near a small island, but little elevated above the level of the water, and resembling a green meadow. The captain ordered his sails to be furled, and permitted such persons as were so inclined to land; of which number I was one.
"But while we were enjoying ourselves in eating and drinking, and recovering ourselves from the fatigue of the sea, the island on a sudden trembled, and shook us terribly.
"The motion was perceived on board the ship, and we were called upon to re-embark speedily, or we should all be lost; for what we took for an island proved to be the back of a sea monster. The nimblest got into the sloop, others betook themselves to swimming; but for myself, I was still upon the back of the creature when he dived into the sea, and I had time only to catch hold of a piece of wood that we had brought out of the ship. Meanwhile, the captain, having received those on board who were in the sloop, and taken up some of those that swam, resolved to improve the favourable gale that had just risen, and hoisting his sails, pursued his voyage, so that it was impossible for me to recover the ship.
"Thus was I exposed to the mercy of the waves all the rest of the day and the following night. By this time I found my strength gone, and despaired of saving my life, when happily a wave threw me against an island. The bank was high and rugged; so that I could scarcely have got up, had it not been for some roots of trees, which chance placed within reach. Having gained the land, I lay down upon the ground half dead, until the sun appeared. Then, though I was very feeble, both from hard labour and want of food, I crept along to find some herbs fit to eat, and had the good luck not only to procure some, but likewise to discover a spring of excellent water, which contributed much to recover me. After this I advanced farther into the island, and at last reached a fine plain, where at a great distance I perceived some horses feeding. I went toward them, and as I approached heard the voice of a man, who immediately appeared, and asked me who I was. I related to him my adventure, after which, taking me by the hand, he led me into a cave, where there were several other people, no less amazed to see me than I was to see them.
"I partook of some provisions which they offered me. I then asked them what they did in such a desert place, to which they answered, that they were grooms belonging to the Maha-raja, sovereign of the island, and that every year, at the same season they brought thither the king's horses for pasturage. They added, that they were to return home on the morrow, and had I been one day later, I must have perished, because the inhabited part of the island was at a great distance, and it would have been impossible for me to have got thither without a guide.
"Next morning they returned to the capital of the island, took me with them, and presented me to the Maha-raja. He asked me who I was, and by what adventure I had come into his dominions. After I had satisfied him, he told me he was much concerned for my misfortune, and at the same time ordered that I should want nothing; which commands his officers were so generous as to see exactly fulfilled.
"Being a merchant, I frequented men of my own profession, and particularly inquired for those who were strangers, that perchance I might hear news from Bagdad, or find an opportunity to return. They put a thousand questions respecting my country; and I, being willing to inform myself as to their laws and customs, asked them concerning everything which I thought worth knowing.
"There belongs to this king an island named Cassel. They assured me that every night a noise of drums was heard there, whence the mariners fancied that it was the residence of Degial. I determined to visit this wonderful place, and in my way thither saw fishes of one hundred and two hundred cubits long, that occasion more fear than hurt, for they are so timorous, that they will fly upon the rattling of two sticks or boards. I saw likewise other fish about a cubit in length, that had heads like owls.
"As I was one day at the port after my return, a ship arrived, and as soon as she cast anchor, they began to unload her, and the merchants on board ordered their goods to be carried into the custom-house. As I cast my eye upon some bales, and looked to the name, I found my own, and perceived the bales to be the same that I had embarked at Bussorah. I also knew the captain; but being persuaded that he believed me to be drowned, I went, and asked him whose bales these were. He replied that they belonged to a merchant of Bagdad, called Sinbad, who came to sea with him; but had unfortunately perished on the voyage, and that he had resolved to trade with the bales, until he met with some of his family, to whom he might return the profit. 'I am that Sinbad,' said I, 'whom you thought to be dead, and those bales are mine.'
"When the captain heard me speak thus, 'Heavens!' he exclaimed, 'whom can we trust in these times? There is no faith left among men. I saw Sinbad perish with my own eyes, as did also the passengers on board, and yet you tell me you are that Sinbad. What impudence is this? You tell a horrible falsehood, in order to possess yourself of what does not belong to you.' 'Have patience,' replied I; 'do me the favour to hear what I have to say.' Then I told him how I had escaped, and by what adventure I met with the grooms of the Maha-raja, who had brought me to his court.
"The captain was at length persuaded that I was no cheat; for there came people from his ship who knew me, and expressed much joy at seeing me alive. At last he recollected me himself, and embracing me, 'Heaven be praised,' said he, 'for your happy escape. I cannot express the joy it affords me; there are your goods, take and do with them as you please.' I thanked him, acknowledged his probity, and offered him part of my goods as a present, which he generously refused.
"I took out what was most valuable in my bales, and presented them to the Maha-raja, who, knowing my misfortune, asked me how I came by such rarities. I acquainted him with the circumstance of their recovery. He was pleased at my good luck, accepted my present, and in return gave me one much more considerable. Upon this, I took leave of him, and went aboard the same ship, after I had exchanged my goods for the commodities of that country. I carried with me wood of aloes, sandal, camphire, nutmegs, cloves, pepper, and ginger. We passed by several islands, and at last arrived at Bussorah, from whence I came to this city, with the value of one hundred thousand sequins. My family and I received one another with sincere affection. I bought slaves and a landed estate, and built a magnificent house. Thus I settled myself, resolving to forget the miseries I had suffered, and to enjoy the pleasures of life."
Sinbad stopped here, and ordered the musicians to proceed with their concert, which the story had interrupted. The company continued enjoying themselves till the evening, when Sinbad sent for a purse of a hundred sequins, and giving it to the porter, said: "Take this, Hindbad, return to your home, and come back to-morrow to hear more of my adventures." The porter went away, astonished at the honour done, and the present made him. The account of this adventure proved very agreeable to his wife and children, who did not fail to return thanks to God for what providence had sent them by the hand of Sinbad.
Hindbad put on his best apparel next day, and returned to the bountiful traveller, who welcomed him heartily. When all the guests had arrived, dinner was served. When it was ended, Sinbad, addressing himself to the company, said, "Gentlemen, be pleased to listen to the adventures of my second voyage; they deserve your attention even more than those of the first." Upon this every one held his peace, and Sinbad proceeded.
"I designed, after my first voyage, to spend the rest of my days at Bagdad, but it was not long ere I grew weary of an indolent life. My inclination to trade revived. I bought goods proper for the commerce I intended, and put to sea a second time with merchants of known probity. We embarked on board a good ship, and after recommending ourselves to God, set sail. We traded from island to island, and exchanged commodities with great profit. One day we landed on an island covered with several sorts of fruit-trees, but we could see neither man nor animal. We went to take a little fresh air in the meadows, along the streams that watered them. Whilst some diverted themselves with gathering flowers, and others fruits, I took my wine and provisions, and sat down near a stream betwixt two high trees which formed a thick shade. I made a good meal, and afterward fell asleep. I cannot tell how long I slept, but when I awoke the ship was gone.
"I got up and looked around me, but could not see one of the merchants who landed with me. I perceived the ship under sail, but at such a distance, that I lost sight of her in a short time.
"In this sad condition, I was ready to die with grief. I cried out in agony, and threw myself upon the ground, where I lay some time in despair. I upbraided myself a hundred times for not being content with the produce of my first voyage, that might have sufficed me all my life. But all this was in vain, and my repentance came too late.
"At last I resigned myself to the will of God. Not knowing what to do, I climbed up to the top of a lofty tree, from whence I looked about on all sides, to see if I could discover anything that could give me hopes. When I gazed toward the sea I could see nothing but sky and water; but looking over the land I beheld something white; and coming down, I took what provision I had left, and went toward it, the distance being so great that I could not distinguish what it was.
"As I approached, I thought it to be a white dome, of a prodigious height and extent; and when I came up to it, I touched it, and found it to be very smooth. I went round to see if it was open on any side, but saw that it was not, and that there was no climbing up to the top, as it was so smooth. It was at least fifty paces round.
"By this time the sun was about to set, and all of a sudden the sky became as dark as if it had been covered with a thick cloud. I was much astonished at this sudden darkness, but much more when I found it occasioned by a bird of a monstrous size, that came flying toward me. I remembered that I had often heard mariners speak of a miraculous bird called the roc, and conceived that the great dome which I so much admired must be its egg. As I perceived the roc coming, I crept close to the egg, so that I had before me one of the bird's legs, which was as big as the trunk of a tree. I tied myself strongly to it with my turban, in hopes that next morning she would carry me with her out of this desert island. After having passed the night in this condition, the bird flew away as soon as it was daylight, and carried me so high, that I could not discern the earth; she afterward descended with so much rapidity that I lost my senses. But when I found myself on the ground, I speedily untied the knot, and had scarcely done so, when the roc, having taken up a serpent of a monstrous length in her bill, flew away.
"The spot where she left me was encompassed on all sides by mountains, that seemed to reach above the clouds, and so steep that there was no possibility of getting out of the valley. This was a new perplexity: so that when I compared this place with the desert island from which the roc had brought me I found that I had gained nothing by the change.
"As I walked through this valley, I perceived it was strewed with diamonds, some of which were of a surprising bigness. I took pleasure in looking upon them; but shortly saw at a distance such objects as greatly diminished my satisfaction, namely, a great number of serpents, so monstrous, that the least of them was capable of swallowing an elephant. They retired in the daytime to their dens, where they hid themselves from the roc, their enemy, and came out only in the night.
"I spent the day in walking about in the valley, resting myself at times in such places as I thought most convenient. When night came on, I went into a cave, where I thought I might repose in safety. I secured the entrance with a great stone to preserve me from the serpents; but not so far as to exclude the light. I supped on part of my provisions, but the serpents, which began hissing round me, put me into such extreme fear, that I could not sleep. When day appeared, the serpents retired, and I came out of the cave trembling. I can justly say, that I walked upon diamonds, without feeling any inclination to touch them. At last I sat down, and notwithstanding my apprehensions, not having closed my eyes during the night, fell asleep, after having eaten a little more of my provision. But I had scarcely shut my eyes, when something that fell by me with a great noise awaked me. This was a large piece of raw meat; and at the same time I saw several others fall down from the rocks in different places.
"I had always regarded as fabulous what I had heard sailors and others relate of the valley of diamonds, and of the stratagems employed by merchants to obtain jewels from thence; but now I found that they had stated nothing but truth. For the fact is, that the merchants come to the neighbourhood of this valley when the eagles have young ones; and, throwing great joints of meat into the valley, the diamonds upon whose points they fall stick to them; the eagles, which are stronger in this country than anywhere else, pounce with great force upon those pieces of meat, and carry them to their nests on the rocks to feed their young; the merchants at this time run to the nests, drive off the eagles by their shouts, and take away the diamonds that stick to the meat.
"Until I perceived the device I had concluded it to be impossible for me to leave this abyss, which I regarded as my grave; but now I changed my opinion, and began to think upon the means of my deliverance. I began to collect the largest diamonds I could find, and put them into the leather bag in which I used to carry my provisions. I afterward took the largest of the pieces of meat, tied it close round me with the cloth of my turban, and then laid myself upon the ground with my face downward, the bag of diamonds being made fast to my girdle.
"I had scarcely placed myself in this posture when the eagles came. Each of them seized a piece of meat, and one of the strongest having taken me up, with the piece of meat to which I was fastened, carried me to his nest on the top of the mountain. The merchants immediately began their shouting to frighten the eagles; and when they had obliged them to quit their prey, one of them came to the nest where I was. He was much alarmed when he saw me; but recovering himself, instead of inquiring how I came thither, began to quarrel with me, and asked, why I stole his goods. 'You will treat me,' replied I, 'with more civility when you know me better. Do not be uneasy, I have diamonds enough for you and myself, more than all the other merchants together. What ever they have, they owe to chance, but I selected for myself in the bottom of the valley those which you see in this bag.' I had scarcely done speaking, when the other merchants came crowding about us, much astonished to see me; but they were much more surprised when I told them my story.
"They conducted me to their encampment, and there having opened my bag, they were surprised at the largeness of my diamonds, and confessed that in all the courts which they had visited they had never seen any of such size and perfection. I prayed the merchant who owned the nest to which I had been carried (for every merchant had his own), to take as many for his share as he pleased. He contented himself with one, and that the least of them; and when I pressed him to take more, 'No,' said he, 'I am very well satisfied with this, which is valuable enough to save me the trouble of making any more voyages, and will raise as great a fortune as I desire.'
"I spent the night with the merchants, to whom I related my story a second time, for the satisfaction of those who had not heard it. I could not moderate my joy when I found myself delivered from the danger I have mentioned. I thought myself in a dream, and could scarcely believe myself out of danger.
"The merchants had thrown their pieces of meat into the valley for several days, and each of them being satisfied with the diamonds that had fallen to his lot, we left the place the next morning and travelled near high mountains, where there were serpents of a prodigious length, which we had the good fortune to escape. We took shipping at the first port we reached, and touched at the isle of Roha, where the trees grow that yield camphire. This tree is so large, and its branches so thick, that one hundred men may easily sit under its shade. The juice of which the camphire is made exudes from a hole bored in the upper part of the tree, is received in a vessel, where it thickens to a consistency, and becomes what we call camphire; after the juice is thus drawn out, the tree withers and dies.
"In this island is also found the rhinoceros, an animal less than the elephant, but larger than the buffalo. It has a horn upon its nose, about a cubit in length; this horn is solid, and cleft through the middle. The rhinoceros fights with the elephant, runs his horn into his belly, and carries him off upon his head; but the blood and the fat of the elephant running into his eyes, and making him blind, he falls to the ground; and then, strange to relate! the roc comes and carries them both away in her claws, for food for her young ones.
"In this island I exchanged some of my diamonds for merchandise. From hence we went to other ports, and at last, having touched at several trading towns of the continent, we landed at Bussorah, from whence I proceeded to Bagdad. There I immediately gave large presents to the poor, and lived honourably upon the vast riches I had gained with so much fatigue."
Thus Sinbad ended his relation, gave Hindbad another hundred sequins, and invited him to come the next day to hear the account of the third voyage.
"I soon lost the remembrance of the perils I had encountered in my two former voyages," said Sinbad, "and being in the flower of my age, I grew weary of living without business, and went from Bagdad to Bussorah with the richest commodities of the country. There I embarked again with some merchants. We made a long voyage and touched at several ports, where we carried on a considerable trade. One day, being out in the main ocean, we were overtaken by a dreadful tempest, which drove us from our course. The tempest continued several days, and brought us before the port of an island, which the captain was very unwilling to enter, but we were obliged to cast anchor. When we had furled our sails, the captain told us that this, and some other neighbouring islands, were inhabited by hairy savages, who would speedily attack us; and, though they were but dwarfs, yet we must make no resistance, for they were more in number than the locusts; and if we happened to kill one of them they would all fall upon us and destroy us.
"We soon found that what he had told us was but too true; an innumerable multitude of frightful savages, about two feet high, covered all over with red hair, came swimming towards us, and encompassed our ship. They spoke to us as they came near, but we understood not their language and they climbed up the sides of the ship with such agility as surprised us. They took down our sails, cut the cables, and hauling to the shore, made us all get out, and afterward carried the ship into another island, from whence they had come.
"We went forward into the island, where we gathered some fruits and herbs to prolong our lives as long as we could; but we expected nothing but death. As we advanced, we perceived at a distance a vast pile of buildings, and made toward it. We found it to be a palace, elegantly built, and very lofty, with a gate of ebony, which we forced open. We entered the court, where we saw before us a large apartment, with a porch, having on one side a heap of human bones, and on the other a vast number of roasting spits. We trembled at this spectacle, and being fatigued with travelling, fell to the ground, seized with deadly apprehension, and lay a long time motionless.
"The sun set, the gate of the apartment opened with a loud crash, and there came out the horrible figure of a black man, as tall as a lofty palm-tree. He had but one eye, and that in the middle of his forehead, where it looked as red as a burning coal. His fore-teeth were very long and sharp, and stood out of his mouth, which was as deep as that of a horse. His upper lip hung down upon his breast. His ears resembled those of an elephant, and covered his shoulders; and his nails were as long and crooked as the talons of the greatest birds. At the sight of so frightful a giant we became insensible, and lay like dead men.
"At last we came to ourselves, and saw him sitting in the porch looking at us. When he had considered us well, he advanced toward us, and laying his hand upon me, took me up by the nape of my neck, and turned me round as a butcher would do a sheep's head. After having examined me, and perceiving me to be so lean that I had nothing but skin and bone, he let me go. He took up all the rest one by one, and viewed them in the same manner. The captain being the fattest, he held him with one hand, as I would do a sparrow, and thrust a spit through him; he then kindled a great fire, roasted, and ate him in his apartment for his supper. Having finished his repast, he returned to his porch, where he lay and fell asleep, snoring louder than thunder. He slept thus till morning. As to ourselves, it was not possible for us to enjoy any rest, so that we passed the night in the most painful apprehension that can be imagined. When day appeared the giant awoke, got up, went out, and left us in the palace.
"When we thought him at a distance, we broke the melancholy silence we had preserved the whole of the night, and filled the palace with our lamentations and groans.
"We spent the day in traversing the island, supporting ourselves with fruits and herbs as we had done the day before. In the evening we sought for some place of shelter, but found none; so that we were forced, whether we would or not, to go back to the palace.
"The giant failed not to return, and supped once more upon one of our companions, after which he slept and snored till day, and then went out and left us as before. Our situation appeared to us so dreadful that several of my comrades designed to throw themselves into the sea, rather than die so painful a death, upon which one of the company answered that it would be much more reasonable to devise some method to rid ourselves of the monster.
"Having thought of a project for this purpose, I communicated it to my comrades, who approved it. 'Brethren,' said I, 'you know there is much timber floating upon the coast; if you will be advised by me, let us make several rafts capable of bearing us. In the meantime, we will carry out the design I proposed to you for our deliverance from the giant, and if it succeed, we may remain here patiently awaiting the arrival of some ship; but if it happen to miscarry, we will take to our rafts and put to sea.' My advice was approved, and we made rafts capable of carrying three persons on each.
"We returned to the palace toward the evening, and the giant arrived shortly after. We were forced to submit to seeing another of our comrades roasted, but at last we revenged ourselves on the brutish giant in the following manner. After he had finished his supper he lay down on his back and fell asleep. As soon as we heard him snore, according to his custom, nine of the boldest among us, and myself, took each of us a spit, and putting the points of them into the fire till they were burning hot, we thrust them into his eye all at once and blinded him. The pain made him break out into a frightful yell: he started up, and stretched out his hands, in order to sacrifice some of us to his rage: but we ran to such places as he could not reach; and after having sought for us in vain, he groped for the gate and went out, howling in agony.
"We quitted the palace after the giant and came to the shore, where we had left our rafts, and put them immediately to sea. We waited till day, in order to get upon them in case the giant should come toward us with any guide of his own species; but we hoped if he did not appear by sunrise, and gave over his howling, which we still heard, that he would prove to be dead; and if that happened, we resolved to stay in that island, and not to risk our lives upon the rafts. But day had scarcely appeared when we perceived our cruel enemy, accompanied with two others almost of the same size, leading him; and a great number more coming before him at a quick pace.
"We did not hesitate to take to our rafts, and put to sea with all the speed we could. The giants, who perceived this, took up great stones, and running to the shore, entered the water up to the middle, and threw so exactly that they sunk all the rafts but that I was upon; and all my companions, except the two with me, were drowned. We rowed with all our might, and escaped the giants, but when we got out to sea we were exposed to the mercy of the waves and winds, and spent that night and the following day under the most painful uncertainty as to our fate; but next morning we had the good fortune to be thrown upon an island, where we landed with much joy. We found excellent fruit, which afforded us great relief and recruited our strength.
"At night we went to sleep on the sea shore; but were awakened by the noise of a serpent of surprising length and thickness, whose scales made a rustling noise as he wound himself along. It swallowed up one of my comrades, notwithstanding his loud cries, and the efforts he made to extricate himself from it; dashing him several times against the ground, it crushed him, and we could hear it gnaw and tear the poor wretch's bones, though we had fled to a considerable distance.
"As we walked about, when day returned, we saw a tall tree, upon which we designed to pass the following night, for our security; and having satisfied our hunger with fruit, we mounted it before the dusk had fallen. Shortly after, the serpent came hissing to the foot of the tree; raised itself up against the trunk of it, and meeting with my comrade, who sat lower than I, swallowed him at once, and went off.
"I remained upon the tree till it was day, and then came down, more like a dead man than one alive, expecting the same fate as my two companions. This filled me with horror, and I advanced some steps to throw myself into the sea; but I withstood this dictate of despair, and submitted myself to the will of God.
"In the meantime I collected a great quantity of small wood, brambles, and dry thorns, and making them up into faggots, made a wide circle with them round the tree, and also tied some of them to the branches over my head. Having done this, when the evening came I shut myself up within this circle, feeling that I had neglected nothing which could preserve me from the cruel destiny with which I was threatened. The serpent failed not to come at the usual hour, and went round the tree, seeking for an opportunity to devour me, but was prevented by the rampart I had made; so that he lay till day, like a cat watching in vain for a mouse that has fortunately reached a place of safety. When day appeared he retired, but I dared not to leave my fort until the sun arose.
"I felt so much fatigued by the labour to which it had put me, and suffered so much from the serpent's poisonous breath, that death seemed more eligible to me than the horrors of such a state. I came down from the tree, and was going to throw myself into the sea, when God took compassion on me and I perceived a ship at a considerable distance. I called as loud as I could, and taking the linen from my turban, displayed it, that they might observe me. This had the desired effect; the crew perceived me, and the captain sent his boat for me. As soon as I came on board, the merchants and seamen flocked about me, to know how I came into that desert island; and after I had related to them all that had befallen me, the oldest among them said that they had often heard of the giants that dwelt in that island, that they were cannibals; and as to the serpents, they added, that there were abundance of them that hid themselves by day, and came abroad by night. After having testified their joy at my escaping so many dangers, they brought me the best of their provisions; and the captain, seeing that I was in rags, was so generous as to give me one of his own suits. We continued at sea for some time, touched at several islands, and at last landed at that of Salabat, where sandal wood is obtained, which is of great use in medicine. We entered the port, and came to anchor. The merchants began to unload their goods, in order to sell or exchange them. In the meantime, the captain came to me and said: 'Brother, I have here some goods that belonged to a merchant, who sailed some time on board this ship, and he being dead, I design to dispose of them for the benefit of his heirs.' The bales he spoke of lay on the deck, and showing them to me, he said: 'There are the goods; I hope you will take care to sell them, and you shall have factorage.' I thanked him for thus affording me an opportunity of employing myself, because I hated to be idle.
"The clerk of the ship took an account of all the bales, with the names of the merchants to whom they belonged, and when he asked the captain in whose name he should enter those he had given me the charge of, 'Enter them,' said the captain, 'in the name of Sinbad.' I could not hear myself named without some emotion; and looking steadfastly on the captain, I knew him to be the person who, in my second voyage, had left me in the island where I fell asleep.
"I was not surprised that he, believing me to be dead, did not recognise me. 'Captain,' said I, 'was the merchant's name, to whom those bales belonged, Sinbad?' 'Yes,' replied he, 'that was his name; he came from Bagdad, and embarked on board my ship at Bussorah.' 'You believe him, then, to be dead?' said I. 'Certainly,' answered he. 'No, captain,' resumed I; 'look at me, and you may know that I am Sinbad.'
"The captain, having considered me attentively, recognised me. 'God be praised,' said he, embracing me, 'I rejoice that fortune has rectified my fault. There are your goods, which I always took care to preserve.' I took them from him, and made him the acknowledgments to which he was entitled.
"From the isle of Salabat, we went to another, where I furnished myself with cloves, cinnamon, and other spices. As we sailed from this island, we saw a tortoise twenty cubits in length and breadth. We observed also an amphibious animal like a cow, which gave milk; its skin is so hard, that they usually make bucklers of it.
"In short, after a long voyage I arrived at Bussorah, and from thence returned to Bagdad, with so much wealth that I knew not its extent. I gave a great deal to the poor, and bought another considerable estate in addition to what I had already."
Thus Sinbad finished the history of his third voyage; gave another hundred sequins to Hindbad, and invited him to dinner again the next day to hear the story of his fourth series of adventures.
"The pleasures which I enjoyed after my third voyage had not charms sufficient to divert me from another. My passion for trade, and my love of novelty, again prevailed. I therefore settled my affairs, and having provided a stock of goods fit for the traffic I designed to engage in, I set out on my journey. I took the route of Persia, travelled over several provinces, and then arrived at a port, where I embarked. We hoisted our sails, and touched at several ports of the continent, and then put out to sea; when we were overtaken by such a sudden gust of wind, as obliged the captain to lower his yards, and take all other necessary precautions to prevent the danger that threatened us. But all was in vain; our endeavours had no effect, the sails were split in a thousand pieces, and the ship was stranded; several of the merchants and seamen were drowned, and the cargo was lost.
"I had the good fortune, with several of the merchants and mariners, to get upon some planks, and we were carried by the current to an island which lay before us. There we found fruit and spring water, which preserved our lives. We stayed all night near the place where we had been cast ashore and next morning, as soon as the sun was up, advancing into the island, saw some houses, which we approached. As soon as we drew near, we were encompassed by a great number of negroes, who seized us and carried us to their respective habitations.
"I, and five of my comrades, were carried to one place; here they made us sit down, and gave us a certain herb, which they made signs to us to eat. My comrades, not taking notice that the blacks ate none of it themselves, thought only of satisfying their hunger, and ate with greediness. But I, suspecting some trick, would not so much as taste it, which happened well for me; for in a little time after, I perceived my companions had lost their senses, and that when they spoke to me, they knew not what they said.
"The negroes fed us afterward with rice, prepared with oil of cocoa-nuts; and my comrades, who had lost their reason, ate of it greedily. I also partook of it, but very sparingly. They gave us that herb at first on purpose to deprive us of our senses, that we might not be aware of the sad destiny prepared for us; and they supplied us with rice to fatten us; for, being cannibals, their design was to eat us as soon as we grew fat. This accordingly happened, for they devoured my comrades, who were not sensible of their condition; but my senses being entire, you may easily guess that instead of growing fat I grew leaner every day. The fear of death under which I laboured caused me to fall into a languishing distemper, which proved my safety; for the negroes, having eaten my companions, seeing me to be withered, and sick, deferred my death.
"Meanwhile I had much liberty, so that scarcely any notice was taken of what I did, and this gave me an opportunity one day to get at a distance from the houses and to make my escape. An old man, who saw me and suspected my design, called to me as loud as he could to return; but I redoubled my speed, and quickly got out of sight. At that time there was none but the old man about the houses, the rest being abroad, and not to return till night, which was usual with them. Therefore, being sure that they could not arrive in time enough to pursue me, I went on till night, when I stopped to rest a little, and to eat some of the provisions I had secured; but I speedily set forward again, and travelled seven days, avoiding those places which seemed to be inhabited, and lived for the most part upon cocoa-nuts, which served me both for meat and drink. On the eighth day I came near the sea, and saw some white people like myself, gathering pepper, of which there was great plenty in that place. This I took to be a good omen, and went to them without any scruple. They came to meet me as soon as they saw me, and asked me in Arabic who I was, and whence I came. I was overjoyed to hear them speak in my own language, and satisfied their curiosity by giving them an account of my shipwreck, and how I fell into the hands of the negroes. 'Those negroes,' replied they, 'eat men, and by what miracle did you escape their cruelty?' I related to them the circumstances I have just mentioned, at which they were wonderfully surprised.
"I stayed with them till they had gathered their quantity of pepper, and then sailed with them to the island from whence they had come. They presented me to their king, who was a good prince. He had the patience to hear the relation of my adventures; and he afterward gave me clothes, and commanded care to be taken of me.
"The island was very well peopled, plentiful in everything, and the capital a place of great trade. This agreeable retreat was very comfortable to me, after my misfortunes, and the kindness of this generous prince completed my satisfaction. In a word, there was not a person more in favour with him than myself; and consequently every man in court and city sought to oblige me; so that in a very little time I was looked upon rather as a native than a stranger.
"I observed one thing which to me appeared very extraordinary. All the people, the king himself not excepted, rode their horses without bridle or stirrups. This made me one day take the liberty to ask the king how it came to pass. His Majesty answered, that I talked to him of things which nobody knew the use of in his dominions.
"I went immediately to a workman, and gave him a model for making the stock of a saddle. When that was done, I covered it myself with velvet and leather, and embroidered it with gold. I afterward went to a smith, who made me a bit, according to the pattern I showed him, and also some stirrups. When I had all things completed, I presented them to the king, and put them upon one of his horses. His Majesty mounted immediately, and was so pleased with them, that he testified his satisfaction by large presents.
"As I paid my court very constantly to the king, he said to me one day: 'Sinbad, I love thee and I have one thing to demand of thee, which thou must grant.' 'Sir,' answered I, 'there is nothing but I will do, as a mark of my obedience to your Majesty.' 'I have a mind thou shouldst marry,' replied he, 'that so thou mayest stay in my dominions, and think no more of thy own country.' I durst not resist the prince's will, and he gave me one of the ladies of his court, noble, beautiful, and rich. The ceremonies of marriage being over, I went and dwelt with my wife, and for some time we lived together in perfect harmony. I was not, however, satisfied with my banishment, therefore designed to make my escape the first opportunity, and to return to Bagdad.
"At this time the wife of one of my neighbours fell sick, and died. I went to see and comfort him in his affliction, and finding him absorbed in sorrow, I said to him as soon as I saw him: 'God preserve you and grant you a long life.' 'Alas!' replied he, 'how do you think I should obtain the favour you wish me? I have not above an hour to live.' 'Pray,' said I, 'do not entertain such a melancholy thought; I hope I shall enjoy your company many years.' 'I wish you,' he replied, 'a long life; but my days are at an end, for I must be buried this day with my wife. This is a law which our ancestors established in this island, and it is always observed. The living husband is interred with the dead wife, and the living wife with the dead husband. Nothing can save me; every one must submit to this law.'
"While he was giving me an account of this barbarous custom, the very relation of which chilled my blood, his kindred, friends, and neighbours came in a body to assist at the funeral. They dressed the corpse of the woman in her richest apparel, and all her jewels, as if it had been her wedding day; then they placed her in an open coffin, and began their march to the place of burial, the husband walking at the head of the company. They proceeded to a high mountain, and when they had reached the place of their destination, they took up a large stone, which covered the mouth of a deep pit, and let down the corpse with all its apparel and jewels. Then the husband embracing his kindred and friends, suffered himself, without resistance, to be put into another open coffin with a pot of water, and seven small loaves, and was let down in the same manner. The ceremony being over, the aperture was again covered with the stone, and the company returned.
"It is needless for me to tell you that I was a melancholy spectator of this funeral, while the rest were scarcely moved, the custom was to them so familiar. I could not forbear communicating to the king my sentiment respecting the practice: 'Sir,' I said, 'I cannot but feel astonished at the strange usage observed in this country, of burying the living with the dead. I have been a great traveller, and seen many countries, but never heard of so cruel a law.' 'What do you mean, Sinbad?' replied the king: 'it is a common law. I shall be interred with the queen, my wife, if she die first.' 'But, sir,' said I, 'may I presume to ask your Majesty, if strangers be obliged to observe this law?' 'Without doubt,' returned the king; 'they are not exempted, if they be married in this island.'
"I returned home much depressed by this answer; for the fear of my wife's dying first and that I should be interred alive with her, occasioned me very uneasy reflections. But there was no remedy; I must have patience, and submit to the will of God. I trembled, however, at every little indisposition of my wife, and, alas! in a little time my fears were realised, for she fell sick and died.
"The king and all his court expressed their wish to honour the funeral with their presence, and the most considerable people of the city did the same. When all was ready for the ceremony, the corpse was put into a coffin with all her jewels and her most magnificent apparel. The procession began, and as second actor in this doleful tragedy, I went next the corpse, with my eyes full of tears, bewailing my deplorable fate. Before we reached the mountain, I made an attempt to affect the minds of the spectators: I addressed myself to the king first, and then to all those that were round me; bowing before them to the earth, and kissing the border of their garments, I prayed them to have compassion upon me. 'Consider,' said I, 'that I am a stranger, and ought not to be subject to this rigorous law, and that I have another wife and children in my own country.' Although I spoke in the most pathetic manner, no one was moved by my address; on the contrary, they ridiculed my dread of death as cowardly, made haste to let my wife's corpse into the pit, and lowered me down the next moment in an open coffin with a vessel full of water and seven loaves.
"As I approached the bottom, I discovered by the aid of the little light that came from above the nature of this subterranean place; it seemed an endless cavern, and might be about fifty fathoms deep.
"Instead of losing my courage and calling death to my assistance in that miserable condition, however, I felt still an inclination to live, and to do all I could to prolong my days. I went groping about, for the bread and water that was in my coffin, and took some of it. Though the darkness of the cave was so great that I could not distinguish day and night, yet I always found my coffin again, and the cave seemed to be more spacious than it had appeared to be at first. I lived for some days upon my bread and water, which being all spent, I at last prepared for death.
"I was offering up my last devotions when I heard something tread, and breathing or panting as it walked. I advanced toward that side from whence I heard the noise, and on my approach the creature puffed and blew harder, as if running away from me. I followed the noise, and the thing seemed to stop sometimes, but always fled and blew as I approached. I pursued it for a considerable time, till at last I perceived a light, resembling a star; I went on, sometimes lost sight of it, but always found it again, and at last discovered that it came through a hole in the rock, large enough to admit a man.
"Upon this, I stopped some time to rest, being much fatigued with the rapidity of my progress: afterward coming up to the hole, I got through, and found myself upon the seashore. I leave you to guess the excess of my joy: it was such that I could scarcely persuade myself that the whole was not a dream.
"But when I was recovered from my surprise, and convinced of the reality of my escape, I perceived what I had followed to be a creature which came out of the sea, and was accustomed to enter the cavern when the tides were high.
"I examined the mountain, and found it to be situated betwixt the sea and the town, but without any passage to or communication with the latter; the rocks on the sea side being high and perpendicularly steep. I prostrated myself on the shore to thank God for this mercy, and afterward entered the cave again to fetch bread and water, which I ate by daylight with a better appetite than I had done since my interment in the dark cavern.
"I returned thither a second time, and groped among the coffins for all the diamonds, rubies, pearls, gold bracelets, and rich stuffs I could find; these I brought to the shore, and tying them up neatly into bales, I laid them together upon the beach, waiting till some ship might appear.
"After two or three days, I perceived a ship just come out of the harbour, making for the place where I was. I made a sign with the linen of my turban, and called to the crew as loud as I could. They heard me, and sent a boat to bring me on board, when they asked by what misfortune I came thither; I told them that I had suffered shipwreck two days before, and made shift to get ashore with the goods they saw. It was fortunate for me that these people did not consider the place where I was, nor inquire into the probability of what I told them; but without hesitation took me on board. When I came to the ship, the captain was so well pleased to have saved me, and so much taken up with his own affairs, that he also took the story of my pretended shipwreck upon trust, and generously refused some jewels which I offered him.
"We passed by several islands, and among others that called the isle of Bells, about ten days' sail from Serendib, and six from that of Kela, where we landed. This island produces lead mines, Indian canes, and excellent camphire.
"The King of the isle of Kela is very rich and powerful, and the isle of Bells, which is about two days' journey in extent, is also subject to him. The inhabitants are so barbarous that they still eat human flesh. After we had finished our traffic in that island, we put to sea again, and touched at several other ports; at last I arrived happily at Bagdad with infinite riches. Out of gratitude to God for His mercies, I contributed liberally toward the support of several mosques, and the subsistence of the poor, and gave myself up to the society of my kindred and friends, enjoying myself with them in festivities and amusements."
Here Sinbad finished the relation of his fourth voyage. He made a new present of one hundred sequins to Hindbad, whom he requested to return with the rest next day at the same hour to dine with him, and hear the story of his fifth voyage. Hindbad and the other guests took their leave and retired. Next morning when they all met, they sat down at table, and when dinner was over, Sinbad began the relation of his fifth voyage as follows:
"All the troubles and calamities I had undergone," said he, "could not cure me of my inclination to make new voyages. I therefore bought goods, departed with them for the best seaport; and that I might not be obliged to depend upon a captain, but have a ship at my own command, I remained there till one was built on purpose. When the ship was ready, I went on board with my goods: but not having enough to load her, I agreed to take with me several merchants of different nations with their merchandise.
"We sailed with the first fair wind, and after a long navigation, the first place we touched at was a desert island, where we found an egg of a roc, equal in size to that I formerly mentioned. There was a young roc in it just ready to be hatched, and its bill had begun to appear. The merchants whom I had taken on board, and who landed with me, broke the egg with hatchets, pulled out the young roc, piecemeal, and roasted it. I had earnestly entreated them not to meddle with the egg, but they would not listen to me.
"Scarcely had they finished their repast, when there appeared in the air at a considerable distance from us two great clouds. The captain whom I had hired to navigate my ship, said they were the male and female roc that belonged to the young one and pressed us to re-embark with all speed, to prevent the misfortune which he saw would otherwise befall us. We hastened on board, and set sail with all possible expedition.
"In the meantime, the two rocs approached with a frightful noise, which they redoubled when they saw the egg broken, and their young one gone. They flew back in the direction they had come, and disappeared for some time, while we made all the sail we could to endeavour to prevent that which unhappily befell us.
"They soon returned, and we observed that each of them carried between its talons rocks of a monstrous size. When they came directly over my ship, they hovered, and one of them let fall a stone, but by the dexterity of the steersman it missed us. The other roc, to our misfortune, threw his burden so exactly upon the middle of the ship, as to split it into a thousand pieces. The mariners and passengers were all crushed to death, or sank. I myself was of the number of the latter; but as I came up again, I fortunately caught hold of a piece of the wreck, and swimming sometimes with one hand, and sometimes with the other, I came to an island, and got safely ashore.
"I sat down upon the grass, to recover myself from my fatigue, after which I went into the island to explore it. I found trees everywhere, some of them bearing green, and others ripe fruits, and streams of fresh pure water. I ate of the fruits, which I found excellent; and drank of the water, which was very good.
"When I was a little advanced into the island, I saw an old man, who appeared very weak and infirm. He was sitting on the bank of a stream, and at first I took him to be one who had been shipwrecked like myself. I went toward him and saluted him, but he only slightly bowed his head. I asked him why he sat so still, but instead of answering me, he made a sign for me to take him upon my back, and carry him over the brook, signifying that it was to gather fruit.
"I believed him really to stand in need of my assistance, took him upon my back, and having carried him over, bade him get down, and for that end stooped, that he might get off with ease; but instead of doing so (which I laugh at every time I think of it) the old man, who to me appeared quite decrepit, clasped his legs nimbly about my neck. He sat astride upon my shoulders, and held my throat so tight, that I thought he would have strangled me, the apprehension of which made me swoon and fall down.
"Notwithstanding my fainting, the ill-natured old fellow kept fast about my neck, but opened his legs a little to give me time to recover my breath. When I had done so, he thrust one of his feet against my stomach, and struck me so rudely on the side with the other that he forced me to rise up against my will. Having arisen, he made me walk under the trees, and forced me now and then to stop, to gather and eat fruit. He never left me all day, and when I lay down to rest at night, laid himself down with me, holding always fast about my neck. Every morning he pushed me to make me awake, and afterward obliged me to get up and walk, and pressed me with his feet.
"One day I found in my way several dry calabashes that had fallen from a tree. I took a large one, and after cleaning it, pressed into it some juice of grapes, which abounded in the island; having filled the calabash, I put it by in a convenient place, and going thither again some days after, I tasted it, and found the wine so good, that it soon made me forget my sorrow, gave me new vigour, and so exhilarated my spirits, that I began to sing and dance as I walked along.
"The old man, perceiving the effect which this liquor had upon me, and that I carried him with more ease than before, made me a sign to give him some of it. I handed him the calabash, and the liquor pleasing his palate, he drank it all off. There being a considerable quantity of it, he became intoxicated, and the fumes getting up into his head, he began to sing after his manner, and to dance, thus loosening his legs from about me by degrees. Finding that he did not press me as before, I threw him upon the ground, where he lay without motion; I then took up a great stone, and crushed him.
"I was extremely glad to be thus freed forever from this troublesome fellow. I now walked toward the beach, where I met the crew of a ship that had cast anchor, to take in water. They were surprised to see me, but more so at hearing the particulars of my adventures. 'You fell,' said they, 'into the hands of the Old Man of the Sea, and are the first who ever escaped strangling by his malicious tricks. He never quits those he has once made himself master of till he has destroyed them, and he has made this island notorious by the number of men he has slain.'
"After having informed me of these things, they carried me with them to the ship, and the captain received me with great kindness, when they told him what had befallen me. He put out again to sea, and after some days' sail, we arrived at the harbour of a great city.
"One of the merchants who had taken me into his friendship invited me to go along with him, and carried me to a place appointed for the accommodation of foreign merchants. He gave me a large bag, and having recommended me to some people of the town, who used to gather cocoa-nuts, desired them to take me with them. 'Go,' said he, 'follow them, and act as you see them do, but do not separate from them, otherwise you may endanger your life.' Having thus spoken, he gave me provisions for the journey, and I went with them.
"We came to a thick forest of cocoa-trees, very lofty, with trunks so smooth that it was not possible to climb to the branches that bore the fruit. When we entered the forest we saw a great number of apes of several sizes, who fled as soon as they perceived us, and climbed up to the top of the trees with surprising swiftness.
"The merchants with whom I was, gathered stones and threw them at the apes on the trees. I did the same, and the apes out of revenge threw cocoa-nuts at us so fast, and with such gestures, as sufficiently testified their anger and resentment. We gathered up the cocoa-nuts, and from time to time threw stones to provoke the apes; so that by this stratagem we filled our bags with cocoa-nuts, which it had been impossible otherwise to have done.
"When we had gathered our number, we returned to the city, where the merchant who had sent me to the forest gave me the value of the cocoas I brought: 'Go on,' said he, 'and do the like every day, until you have got money enough to carry you home.' I thanked him for his advice, and gradually collected as many cocoa-nuts as produced me a considerable sum.
"The vessel in which I had come sailed with some merchants who loaded her with cocoa-nuts. I embarked in her all the nuts I had, and when she was ready to sail took leave of the merchant who had been so kind to me.
"We sailed toward the islands, where pepper grows in great plenty. From thence we went to the isle of Comari, where the best species of wood of aloes grows. I exchanged my cocoa in those two islands for pepper and wood of aloes, and went with other merchants a pearl-fishing. I hired divers, who brought me up some that were very large and pure. I embarked in a vessel that happily arrived at Bussorah; from thence I returned to Bagdad, where I made vast sums from my pepper, wood of aloes, and pearls. I gave the tenth of my gains in alms, as I had done upon my return from my other voyages, and endeavoured to dissipate my fatigues by amusements of different kinds."
When Sinbad had finished his story, he ordered one hundred sequins to be given to Hindbad, who retired with the other guests; but next morning the same company returned to dine; when Sinbad requested their attention, and gave the following account of his sixth voyage:
"You long without doubt to know," said he, "how, after having been shipwrecked five times, and escaped so many dangers, I could resolve again to tempt fortune, and expose myself to new hardships. I am, myself, astonished at my conduct when I reflect upon it, and must certainly have been actuated by my destiny. But be that as it may, after a year's rest I prepared for a sixth voyage, notwithstanding the entreaties of my kindred, who did all in their power to dissuade me.
"Instead of taking my way by the Persian Gulf, I travelled once more through several provinces of Persia and the Indies, and arrived at a seaport, where I embarked in a ship, the captain of which was bound on a long voyage. It was long indeed, for the captain and pilot lost their course. They, however, at last discovered where they were, but we had no reason to rejoice at the circumstance. Suddenly we saw the captain quit his post, uttering loud lamentations. He threw off his turban, pulled his beard, and beat his head like a madman. We asked him the reason, and he answered, that he was in the most dangerous place in all the ocean. 'A rapid current carries the ship along with it,' said he, 'and we shall all perish in less than a quarter of an hour. Pray to God to deliver us from this peril; we cannot escape, if He do not take pity on us.' At these words he ordered the sails to be lowered; but all the ropes broke, and the ship was carried by the current to the foot of an inaccessible mountain, where she struck and went to pieces, yet in such a manner that we saved our lives, our provisions, and the best of our goods.
"This being over, the captain said to us: 'God has done what pleased Him. Each of us may dig his grave, and bid the world adieu; for we are all in so fatal a place, that none shipwrecked here ever returned to their homes.' His discourse afflicted us sensibly, and we embraced each other, bewailing our deplorable lot.
"The mountain at the foot of which we were wrecked formed part of the coast of a very large island. It was covered with wrecks, with human bones, and with a vast quantity of goods and riches. In all other places, rivers run from their channels into the sea, but here a river of fresh water runs out of the sea into a dark cavern, whose entrance is very high and spacious. What is most remarkable in this place is, that the stones of the mountain are of crystal, rubies, or other precious stones. Here is also a sort of fountain of pitch or bitumen, that runs into the sea, which the fish swallow, and turn into ambergris: and this the waves throw up on the beach in great quantities. Trees also grow here, most of which are wood of aloes, equal in goodness to those of Comari.
"To finish the description of this place, which may well be called a gulf, since nothing ever returns from it, it is not possible for ships to get off when once they approach within a certain distance. If they be driven thither by a wind from the sea, the wind and the current impel them; and if they come into it when a land-wind blows, the height of the mountain stops the wind, and occasions a calm, so that the force of the current carries them ashore: and what completes the misfortune is, that there is no possibility of ascending the mountain, or of escaping by sea.
"We continued upon the shore in a state of despair, and expected death every day. At first we divided our provisions as equally as we could, and thus every one lived a longer or shorter time, according to his temperance, and the use he made of his provisions.
"I survived all my companions, yet when I buried the last, I had so little provision remaining that I thought I could not long endure and I dug a grave, resolving to lie down in it because there was no one left to inter me.
"But it pleased God once more to take compassion on me, and put it in my mind to go to the bank of the river which ran into the great cavern. Considering its probable course with great attention, I said to myself: 'This river, which runs thus under ground, must somewhere have an issue. If I make a raft, and leave myself to the current, it will convey me to some inhabited country, or I shall perish. If I be drowned, I lose nothing, but only change one kind of death for another.'
"I immediately went to work upon large pieces of timber and cables, for I had choice of them, and tied them together so strongly that I soon made a very solid raft. When I had finished, I loaded it with rubies, emeralds, ambergris, rock-crystal, and bales of rich stuffs. Having balanced my cargo exactly, and fastened it well to the raft, I went on board with two oars that I had made, and leaving it to the course of the river, resigned myself to the will of God.
"As soon as I entered the cavern I lost all light, and the stream carried me I knew not whither. Thus I floated some days in perfect darkness, and once found the arch so low, that it very nearly touched my head, which made me cautious afterward to avoid the like danger. All this while I ate nothing but what was just necessary to support nature; yet, notwithstanding my frugality, all my provisions were spent. Then a pleasing stupor seized upon me. I cannot tell how long it continued; but when I revived, I was surprised to find myself in an extensive plain on the brink of a river, where my raft was tied, amidst a great number of negroes. I got up as soon as I saw them, and saluted them. They spoke to me, but I did not understand their language. I was so transported with joy, that I knew not whether I was asleep or awake; but being persuaded that I was not asleep, I recited aloud the following words in Arabic: 'Call upon the Almighty, He will help thee; thou needest not perplex thyself about anything else: shut thy eyes, and while thou art asleep, God will change thy bad fortune into good.'
"One of the blacks, who understood Arabic, hearing me speak thus, came toward me and said: 'Brother, be not surprised to see us; we are inhabitants of this country, and came hither to-day to water our fields. We observed something floating upon the water, and, perceiving your raft, one of us swam into the river and brought it hither, where we fastened it, as you see, until you should awake. Pray tell us your history, for it must be extraordinary; how did you venture yourself into this river, and whence did you come?' I begged of them first to give me something to eat, and then I would satisfy their curiosity. They gave me several sorts of food, and when I had satisfied my hunger, I related all that had befallen me, which they listened to with attentive surprise. As soon as I had finished, they told me, by the person who spoke Arabic and interpreted to them what I said, that it was one of the most wonderful stories they had ever heard, and that I must go along with them, and tell it to their king myself; it being too extraordinary to be related by any other than the person to whom the events had happened.
"They immediately sent for a horse, which was brought in a little time; and having helped me to mount, some of them walked before to shew the way, while the rest took my raft and cargo and followed.
"We marched till we came to the capital of Serendib, for it was in that island I had landed. The blacks presented me to their king; I approached his throne, and saluted him as I used to do the Kings of the Indies; that is to say, I prostrated myself at his feet. The prince ordered me to rise, received me with an obliging air, and made me sit down near him.
"I related to the king all that I have told you, and his majesty was so surprised and pleased, that he commanded my adventures to be written in letters of gold, and laid up in the archives of his kingdom. At last my raft was brought in, and the bales opened in his presence: he admired the quantity of wood of aloes and ambergris; but, above all, the rubies and emeralds, for he had none in his treasury that equalled them.
"Observing that he looked on my jewels with pleasure, I fell prostrate at his feet, and took the liberty to say to him: 'Sir, not only my person is at your majesty's service, but the cargo of the raft, and I would beg of you to dispose of it as your own.' He answered me with a smile: 'Sinbad, I will take care not to covet anything of yours, or to take anything from you that God has given you; far from lessening your wealth, I design to augment it, and will not let you quit my dominions without marks of my liberality.' He then charged one of his officers to take care of me, and ordered people to serve me at his own expense. The officer was very faithful in the execution of his commission, and caused all the goods to be carried to the lodgings provided for me.
"I went every day at a set hour to make my court to the king, and spent the rest of my time in viewing the city, and what was most worthy of notice.
"The capital of Serendib stands at the end of a fine valley, in the middle of the island, encompassed by mountains the highest in the world. Rubies and several sorts of minerals abound, and the rocks are for the most part composed of a metalline stone made use of to cut and polish other precious stones. All kinds of rare plants and trees grow there, especially cedars and cocoa-nut. There is also a pearl-fishing in the mouth of its principal river; and in some of its valleys are found diamonds. I made, by way of devotion, a pilgrimage to the place where Adam was confined after his banishment from Paradise, and had the curiosity to go to the top of the mountain.
"When I returned to the city, I prayed the king to allow me to return to my own country, and he granted me permission in the most honourable manner. He would needs force a rich present upon me; and when I went to take my leave of him, he gave me one much more considerable, and at the same time charged me with a letter for the Commander of the Faithful, our sovereign, saying to me: 'I pray you give this present from me, and this letter, to the Caliph, and assure him of my friendship.' I took the present and letter and promised his majesty punctually to execute the commission with which he was pleased to honour me.
"The letter from the King of Serendib was written on the skin of a certain animal of great value, because of its being so scarce, and of a yellowish colour. The characters of this letter were of azure, and the contents as follows:
"'The King of the Indies, before whom march one hundred elephants, who lives in a palace that shines with one hundred thousand rubies, and who has in his treasury twenty thousand crowns enriched with diamonds, to Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid:—
"'Though the present we send you be inconsiderable, receive it, however, as a brother, in consideration of the hearty friendship which we bear for you, and of which we are willing to give you proof. We desire the same part in your friendship, considering that we believe it to be our merit, being of the same dignity with yourself. We conjure you this in quality of a brother. Adieu.'
"The present consisted, first, of one single ruby made into a cup, about half a foot high, an inch thick, and filled with round pearls of half a drachm each. 2. The skin of a serpent, whose scales were as large as an ordinary piece of gold, and had the virtue to preserve from sickness those who lay upon it. 3. Fifty thousand drachms of the best wood of aloes, with thirty grains of camphire as big as pistachios. And, 4. A female slave of ravishing beauty, whose apparel was all covered over with jewels.
"The ship set sail, and after a very successful navigation we landed at Bussorah, and from thence I went to Bagdad, where the first thing I did was to acquit myself of my commission.
"I took the king of Serendib's letter and went to present myself at the gate of the Commander of the Faithful, followed by the beautiful slave, and such of my own family as carried the gifts. I stated the reason of my coming, and was immediately conducted to the throne of the caliph. I made my reverence, and, after a short speech, gave him the letter and present. When he had read what the king of Serendib wrote to him, he asked me if the prince were really so rich and potent as he represented himself in his letter. I prostrated myself a second time, and rising again, said: 'Commander of the Faithful, I can assure your majesty he doth not exceed the truth. Nothing is more worthy of admiration than the magnificence of his palace. When the prince appears in public he has a throne fixed on the back of an elephant, and marches betwixt two ranks of his ministers, favourites, and other people of his court; before him, upon the same elephant, an officer carries a golden lance in his hand; and behind the throne there is another, who stands upright, with a column of gold, on the top of which is an emerald half a foot long and an inch thick; before him march a guard of one thousand men, clad in cloth of gold and silk, and mounted on elephants richly caparisoned.
"While the king is on his march, the officer who is before him on the same elephant cries from time to time, with a loud voice: 'Behold the great monarch, the potent and redoubtable Sultan of the Indies, whose palace is covered with one hundred thousand rubies, and who possesses twenty thousand crowns of diamonds. Behold the monarch greater than Solomon, and the powerful Maha-raja.' After he has pronounced those words, the officer behind the throne cries in his turn: 'This monarch, so great and so powerful, must die, must die, must die.' And the officer before replies: 'Praise be to him who liveth for ever.'
"Furthermore, the King of Serendib is so just that there are no judges in his dominions. His people have no need of them. They understand and observe justice rigidly of themselves.'
"The caliph was much pleased with my account. 'The wisdom of that king,' said he, 'appears in his letter, and after what you tell me, I must confess, that his wisdom is worthy of his people, and his people deserve so wise a prince.' Having spoken thus, he dismissed me, and sent me home with a rich present."
Sinbad left off, and his company retired, Hindbad having first received one hundred sequins; and next day they returned to hear the relation of his seventh and last voyage.
"Being returned from my sixth voyage," said Sinbad, "I absolutely laid aside all thoughts of travelling; for, besides that my age now required rest, I was resolved no more to expose myself to such risks as I had encountered; so that I thought of nothing but to pass the rest of my days in tranquillity. One day, however, as I was treating my friends, one of my servants came and told me that an officer of the caliph's inquired for me. I rose from table, and went to him. 'The caliph,' said he, 'has sent me to tell you that he must speak with you.' I followed the officer to the palace, where, being presented to the caliph, I saluted him by prostrating myself at his feet. 'Sinbad,' said he to me, 'I stand in need of your service; you must carry my answer and present to the King of Serendib. It is but just I should return his civility.'
"This command of the caliph was to me like a clap of thunder. 'Commander of the Faithful,' I replied, 'I am ready to do whatever your majesty shall think fit to command; but I beseech you most humbly to consider what I have undergone. I have also made a vow never to go out of Bagdad.' Hence I took occasion to give him a full and particular account of all my adventures, which he had the patience to hear out.
"As soon as I had finished, 'I confess,' said he, 'that the things you tell me are very extraordinary, yet you must for my sake undertake this voyage which I propose to you. You will only have to go to the isle of Serendib, and deliver the commission which I give you, for you know it would not comport with my dignity to be indebted to the king of that island.' Perceiving that the caliph insisted upon my compliance, I submitted, and told him that I was willing to obey. He was very well pleased, and ordered me one thousand sequins for the expenses of my journey.
"I prepared for my departure in a few days, and as soon as the caliph's letter and present were delivered to me, I went to Bussorah, where I embarked, and had a very happy voyage. Having arrived at the isle of Serendib, I acquainted the king's ministers with my commission, and prayed them to get me speedy audience. They did so, and I was conducted to the palace, where I saluted the king by prostration, according to custom. That prince knew me immediately, and testified very great joy at seeing me, 'Sinbad,' said he, 'you are welcome; I have many times thought of you since you departed; I bless the day on which we see one another once more.' I made my compliments to him, and after having thanked him for his kindness, delivered the caliph's letter and present, which he received with all imaginable satisfaction.
"The caliph's present was a complete suit of cloth of gold, valued at one thousand sequins; fifty robes of rich stuff, a hundred of white cloth, the finest of Cairo, Suez, and Alexandria; a vessel of agate broader than deep, an inch thick, and half a foot wide, the bottom of which represented in bas-relief a man with one knee on the ground, who held a bow and an arrow, ready to discharge at a lion. He sent him also a rich tablet, which, according to tradition, belonged to the great Solomon. The caliph's letter was as follows:
"'Greeting, in the name of the sovereign guide of the right way, from the dependant on God, Haroun-al-Raschid, whom God hath set in the place of vicegerent to his prophet, after his ancestors of happy memory, to the potent and esteemed Raja of Serendib:—
'We received your letter with joy, and send you this from our imperial residence, the garden of superior wits. We hope when you look upon it, you will perceive our good intention and be pleased with it. Adieu.'
"The King of Serendib was highly gratified that the caliph answered his friendship. A little time after this audience, I solicited leave to depart, and had much difficulty to obtain it. I procured it, however, at last, and the king, when he dismissed me, made me a very considerable present. I embarked immediately to return to Bagdad, but had not the good fortune to arrive there so speedily as I had hoped. God ordered it otherwise.
"Three or four days after my departure, we were attacked by corsairs, who easily seized upon our ship, because it was no vessel of force. Some of the crew offered resistance, which cost them their lives. But for myself and the rest, who were not so imprudent, the corsairs saved us on purpose to make slaves of us.
"We were all stripped, and instead of our own clothes, they gave us sorry rags, and carried us into a remote island, where they sold us.
"I fell into the hands of a rich merchant, who, as soon as he bought me, carried me to his house, treated me well, and clad me handsomely for a slave. Some days after, not knowing who I was, he asked me if I understood any trade. I answered, that I was no mechanic, but a merchant, and that the corsairs who sold me, had robbed me of all I possessed. 'But tell me,' replied he, 'can you shoot with a bow?' I answered, that the bow was one of my exercises in my youth. He gave me a bow and arrows, and, taking me behind him upon an elephant, carried me to a thick forest some leagues from the town. We penetrated a great way into the wood, and he bade me alight; then, shewing me a great tree, 'Climb up that,' said he, 'and shoot at the elephants as you see them pass by, for there is a prodigious number of them in this forest, and if any of them fall, come and give me notice.' Having spoken this, he left me victuals, and returned to the town, and I continued upon the tree all night.
"I saw no elephant during the night, but next morning, as soon as the sun was up, I perceived a great number. I shot several arrows among them, and at last one of the elephants fell, when the rest retired immediately, and left me at liberty to go and acquaint my patron with my booty. When I had informed him, he gave me a good meal, commended my dexterity, and caressed me highly. We went afterwards together to the forest, where we dug a hole for the elephant; my patron designing to return when it had fallen to pieces and take its teeth to trade with.
"I continued this employment for two months, and killed an elephant every day, getting sometimes upon one tree, and sometimes upon another. One morning, as I looked for the elephants, I perceived with extreme amazement that, instead of passing by me across the forest as usual, they stopped, and came to me with a horrible noise, in such number that the plain was covered, and shook under them. They encompassed the tree in which I was concealed, with their trunks extended, and all fixed their eyes upon me. At this alarming spectacle I continued immovable, and was so much terrified, that my bow and arrows fell out of my hand.
"My fears were not without cause; for after the elephants had stared upon me some time, one of the largest of them put his trunk round the foot of the tree, plucked it up, and threw it on the ground. I fell with the tree; and the elephant, taking me up with his trunk, laid me on his back, where I sat more like one dead than alive, with my quiver on my shoulder. He put himself afterward at the head of the rest, who followed him in troops, carried me a considerable way, then laid me down on the ground, and retired with all his companions. After having lain some time, and seeing the elephants gone, I got up, and found I was upon a long and broad hill, almost covered with the bones and teeth of elephants. I confess to you, that this object furnished me with abundance of reflections. I admired the instinct of those animals; I doubted not but that was their burying-place, and that they carried me thither on purpose to tell me that I should forbear to persecute them, since I did it only for their teeth. I did not stay on the hill, but turned toward the city, and, after having travelled a day and a night, I came to my patron.
"As soon as he saw me, 'Ah, poor Sinbad,' exclaimed he, 'I was in great trouble to know what was become of you. I have been at the forest, where I found a tree newly pulled up, and a bow and arrows on the ground, and I despaired of ever seeing you more. Pray tell me what befell you, and by what good chance you are still alive.' I satisfied his curiosity, and going both of us next morning to the hill, he found to his great joy that what I had told him was true. We loaded the elephant which had carried us with as many teeth as he could bear; and when we were returned, 'Brother,' said my patron, 'for I will treat you no more as my slave, after having made such a discovery as will enrich me, God bless you with all happiness and prosperity. I declare before Him, that I give you your liberty. I concealed from you what I am now going to tell you.
"'The elephants of our forest have every year killed a great many slaves, whom we sent to seek ivory. God has delivered you from their fury, and has bestowed that favour upon you only. It is a sign that He loves you, and has some use for your service in the world. You have procured me incredible wealth. Formerly we could not procure ivory but by exposing the lives of our slaves, and now our whole city is enriched by your means. I could engage all our inhabitants to contribute toward making your fortune, but I will have the glory of doing it myself.'
"To this obliging declaration I replied: 'Patron, God preserve you. Your giving me my liberty is enough to discharge what you owe me, and I desire no other reward for the service I had the good fortune to do to you, and your city, but leave to return to my own country.' 'Very well,' said he, 'the monsoon will in a little time bring ships for ivory. I will then send you home, and give you wherewith to bear your charges.' I thanked him again for my liberty and his good intentions toward me. I stayed with him expecting the monsoon; and during that time, we made so many journeys to the hill that we filled all our warehouses with ivory. The other merchants, who traded in it, did the same, for it could not be long concealed from them.
"The ships arrived at last, and my patron, himself having made choice of the ship wherein I was to embark, loaded half of it with ivory on my account, laid in provisions in abundance for my passage, and besides obliged me to accept a present of some curiosities of the country of great value. After I had returned him a thousand thanks for all his favours, I went aboard. We set sail, and as the adventure which procured me this liberty was very extraordinary, I had it continually in my thoughts.
"We stopped at some islands to take in fresh provisions. Our vessel being come to a port on the main land in the Indies, we touched there, and not being willing to venture by sea to Bussorah, I landed my proportion of the ivory, resolving to proceed on my journey by land. I made vast sums by my ivory, bought several rarities for presents, and when my equipage was ready, set out in company with a large caravan of merchants. I was a long time on the way, and suffered much, but endured all with patience, when I considered that I had nothing to fear from the seas, from pirates, from serpents, or from the other perils to which I had been exposed.
"All these fatigues ended at last, and I arrived safe at Bagdad. I went immediately to wait upon the caliph, and gave him an account of my embassy. That prince said he had been uneasy as I was so long in returning, but that he always hoped God would preserve me. When I told him the adventure of the elephants, he seemed much surprised, and would never have given any credit to it had he not known my veracity. He deemed this story, and the other relations I had given him, to be so curious, that he ordered one of his secretaries to write them in characters of gold, and lay them up in his treasury. I retired well satisfied with the honours I received, and the presents which he gave me; and ever since I have devoted myself wholly to my family, kindred and friends."
Sinbad here finished the relation of his seventh and last voyage, and then, addressing himself to Hindbad, "Well, friend," said he, "did you ever hear of any person that suffered so much as I have done, or of any mortal that has gone through so many vicissitudes? Is it not reasonable that, after all this, I should enjoy a quiet and pleasant life?" As he said this, Hindbad drew near to him, and kissing his hand, said, "I must acknowledge sir, that you have gone through many imminent dangers; my troubles are not comparable to yours; if they afflict me for a time, I comfort myself with the thoughts of the profit I get by them. You not only deserve a quiet life, but are worthy of all the riches you enjoy, because you make of them such a good and generous use. May you therefore continue to live in happiness till the day of your death!" Sinbad then gave him one hundred sequins more, received him into the number of his friends and desired him to quit his porter's employment, and come and dine every day with him, that he might have ample reason to remember Sinbad the voyager and his adventures.
The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Arabian Nights, by Unknown
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Title: The Arabian Nights
Their Best-known Tales
Editor: Kate Douglas Wiggin
Nora A. Smith
Release Date: March 27, 2007 [EBook #20916]