Those merchants that believed they could write well enough to aspire to this high dignity wrote one after another what they thought fit. After they had done, I advanced, and took the roll out of the gentleman's hand; but all the people, especially the merchants, cried out, 'He will tear it, or throw it into the sea,' till they saw how properly I held the roll, and made a sign that I would write in my turn; then they were of another opinion, and their fear turned into admiration. However, since they had never seen an ape that could write, nor could be persuaded that I was more ingenious than other apes, they tried to snatch the roll out of my hand; but the captain took my part once more. 'Let him alone,' said he; 'suffer him to write. If he only scribbles the paper, I promise you that I will punish him on the spot. If, on the contrary, he writes well, as I hope he will, because I never saw an ape so clever and ingenious and so quick of apprehension, I do declare that I will own him as my son; I had one that had not half the wit that he has.' Perceiving that nobody opposed my design, I took the pen and wrote six sorts of hands used among the Arabians, and each specimen contained an extemporary verse or poem in praise of the sultan. My writing did not only excel that of the merchants, but, I venture to say, they had not before seen any such fair writing in that country. When I had done, the officers took the roll, and carried it to the sultan.
The sultan took little notice of any of the other writings, but he carefully considered mine, which was so much to his liking that he said to the officers, 'Take the finest horse in my stable, with the richest harness, and a robe of the most sumptuous brocade to put upon that person who wrote the six hands, and bring him hither to me.' At this command the officers could not forbear laughing. The sultan grew angry at their boldness, and was ready to punish them, till they told him, 'Sir, we humbly beg your majesty's pardon; these hands were not written by a man, but by an ape.'
'What do you say?' said the sultan. 'Those admirable characters, are they not written by the hands of a man?'
'No, sir,' replied the officers; 'we do assure your majesty that it was an ape, who wrote them in our presence.'
The sultan was too much surprised at this not to desire a sight of me, and therefore said, 'Bring me speedily that wonderful ape.'
The officers returned to the vessel and showed the captain their order, who answered that the sultan's commands must be obeyed. Whereupon they clothed me with that rich brocade robe and carried me ashore, where they set me on horseback, whilst the sultan waited for me at his palace with a great number of courtiers, whom he gathered together to do me the more honour.
The cavalcade having begun, the harbour, the streets, the public places, windows, terraces, palaces, and houses were filled with an infinite number of people of all sorts, who flocked from all parts of the city to see me; for the rumour was spread in a moment that the sultan had chosen an ape to be his grand vizier; and after having served for a spectacle to the people, who could not forbear to express their surprise by redoubling their shouts and cries, I arrived at the palace of the sultan.
I found the prince on his throne in the midst of the grandees; I made my bow three times very low, and at last kneeled and kissed the ground before him, and afterwards sat down in the posture of an ape. The whole assembly admired me, and could not comprehend how it was possible that an ape should understand so well how to pay the sultan his due respect; and he himself was more astonished than any one. In short, the usual ceremony of the audience would have been complete could I have added speech to my behaviour: but apes never speak, and the advantage I had of having been a man did not allow me that privilege.
The sultan dismissed his courtiers, and none remained by him but the chief of the chamberlains, a young slave, and myself. He went from his chamber of audience into his own apartment, where he ordered dinner to be brought. As he sat at table he gave me a sign to come near and eat with them: to show my obedience I kissed the ground, stood up, sat down at table, and ate with discretion and moderation.
Before the table was uncovered, I espied a writing-desk, which I made a sign should be brought me: having got it, I wrote upon a large peach some verses after my way, which testified my acknowledgment to the sultan, which increased his astonishment. When the table was uncovered, they brought him a particular liquor, of which he caused them to give me a glass. I drank, and wrote upon it some new verses, which explained the state I was reduced to after many sufferings. The sultan read them likewise, and said, 'A man that was capable of doing so much would be above the greatest of men.'
The sultan caused them to bring in a chess-board, and asked me, by a sign, if I understood the game, and would play with him. I kissed the ground, and laying my hand upon my head, signified that I was ready to receive that honour. He won the first game, but I won the second and third; and perceiving he was somewhat displeased at it, I made a poem to pacify him; in which I told him that two potent armies had been fighting furiously all day, but that they made up a peace towards the evening, and passed the remaining part of the night very peaceably together upon the field of battle.
So many circumstances appearing to the sultan far beyond whatever any one had either seen or known of the cleverness or sense of apes, he determined not to be the only witness of those prodigies himself; but having a daughter, called the Lady of Beauty, on whom the chief of the chamberlains, then present, waited, 'Go,' said the sultan to him, 'and bid your lady come hither: I am desirous she should share my pleasure.'
The chamberlain went, and immediately brought the princess, who had her face uncovered; but she had no sooner come into the room than she put on her veil, and said to the sultan, 'Sir, your majesty must needs have forgotten yourself: I am very much surprised that your majesty has sent for me to appear among men.'
'Nay, daughter,' said the sultan, 'you do not know what you say: here is nobody but the little slave, the chamberlain your attendant and myself, who have the liberty to see your face; and yet you lower your veil, and blame me for having sent for you hither.'
'Sir,' said the princess, 'your majesty shall soon understand that I am not in the wrong. That ape you see before you, though he has the shape of an ape, is a young prince, son of a great king; he has been metamorphosed into an ape by enchantment. A genie, the son of the daughter of Eblis, has maliciously done him this wrong, after having cruelly taken away the life of the Princess of the Isle of Ebony, daughter to the King Epitimarus.'
The sultan, astonished at this discourse, turned towards me and asked no more by signs, but in plain words if it was true what his daughter said? Seeing I could not speak, I put my hand to my head to signify that what the princess spoke was true. Upon this the sultan said again to his daughter, 'How do you know that this prince has been transformed by enchantments into an ape?'
'Sir,' replied the Lady of Beauty, 'your majesty may remember that when I was past my infancy, I had an old lady to wait upon me; she was a most expert magician, and taught me seventy rules of magic, by virtue of which I can transport your capital city into the midst of the sea in the twinkling of an eye, or beyond Mount Caucasus. By this science I know all enchanted persons at first sight. I know who they are, and by whom they have been enchanted. Therefore do not be surprised if I should forthwith relieve this prince, in spite of the enchantments, from that which hinders him from appearing in your sight what he naturally is.'
'Daughter,' said the sultan, 'I did not believe you to have understood so much.'
'Sir,' replied the princess, 'these things are curious and worth knowing, but I think I ought not to boast of them.'
'Since it is so,' said the sultan, 'you can dispel the prince's enchantment.'
'Yes, sir,' said the princess, 'I can restore him to his first shape again.'
'Do it then,' said the sultan; 'you cannot do me a greater pleasure, for I will have him to be my vizier, and he shall marry you.'
'Sir,' said the princess, 'I am ready to obey you in all that you may be pleased to command me.'
The princess, the Lady of Beauty, went into her apartment, from whence she brought in a knife, which had some Hebrew words engraven on the blade; she made the sultan, the master of the chamberlains, the little slave, and myself, go down into a private court of the palace, and there left us under a gallery that went round it. She placed herself in the middle of the court, where she made a great circle, and within it she wrote several words in Arabic characters, some of them ancient, and others of those which they call the characters of Cleopatra.
When she had finished and prepared the circle as she thought fit, she placed herself in the centre of it, where she began spells, and repeated verses out of the Koran. The air grew insensibly dark, as if it had been night and the whole world about to be dissolved; we found ourselves struck with a panic, and this fear increased the more when we saw the genie, the son of the daughter of Eblis, appear on a sudden in the shape of a lion of a frightful size.
As soon as the princess perceived this monster, 'You dog,' said she, 'instead of creeping before me, dare you present yourself in this shape, thinking to frighten me?'
'And thou,' replied the lion, 'art thou not afraid to break the treaty which was solemnly made and confirmed between us by oath, not to wrong or to do one another any hurt?'
'Oh! thou cursed creature!' replied the princess, 'I can justly reproach thee with doing so.'
The lion answered fiercely, 'Thou shalt quickly have thy reward for the trouble thou hast given me to return.' With that he opened his terrible throat, and ran at her to devour her, but she, being on her guard, leaped backward, got time to pull out one of her hairs and, by pronouncing three or four words, changed it into a sharp sword, wherewith she cut the lion through the middle in two pieces.
The two parts of the lion vanished, and the head only was left, which changed itself into a large scorpion. Immediately the princess turned herself into a serpent, and fought the scorpion, who finding himself worsted, took the shape of an eagle, and flew away; but the serpent at the same time took also the shape of an eagle that was black and much stronger, and pursued him, so that we lost sight of them both.
Some time after they had disappeared, the ground opened before us, and out of it came forth a cat, black and white, with her hair standing upright, and mewing in a frightful manner; a black wolf followed her close, and gave her no time to rest. The cat, being thus hard beset, changed herself into a worm, and being nigh to a pomegranate that had accidentally fallen from a tree that grew on the side of a canal which was deep but not broad, the worm pierced the pomegranate in an instant, and hid itself. The pomegranate swelled immediately, and became as big as a gourd, which, mounting up to the roof of the gallery, rolled there for some space backwards and forwards, fell down again into the court, and broke into several pieces.
The wolf, which had in the meanwhile transformed itself into a cock, fell to picking up the seeds of the pomegranate one after another, but finding no more, he came towards us with his wings spread, making a great noise, as if he would ask us whether there were any more seeds. There was one lying on the brink of the canal, which the cock perceived as he went back, and ran speedily thither, but just as he was going to pick it up, the seed rolled into the river, and turned into a little fish.
The cock jumped into the river and was turned into a pike that pursued the small fish; they continued both under water for over two hours, and we knew not what had become of them. All of a sudden we heard terrible cries, which made us tremble, and a little while after we saw the genie and princess all in flames. They threw flashes of fire out of their mouths at each other, till they came to close quarters; then the two fires increased, with a thick burning smoke, which mounted so high that we had reason to fear it would set the palace on fire. But we very soon had a more urgent reason for fear, for the genie, having got loose from the princess, came to the gallery where we stood, and blew flames of fire upon us. We should all have perished if the princess, running to our assistance, had not by her cries forced him to retire, and defend himself against her; yet, notwithstanding all her exertions, she could not hinder the sultan's beard from being burnt, and his face spoiled, nor the chief of the chamberlains from being stifled and burnt on the spot. The sultan and I expected nothing but death, when we heard a cry of 'Victory, victory!' and on a sudden the princess appeared in her natural shape, but the genie was reduced to a heap of ashes.
The princess came near to us that she might not lose time, called for a cupful of water, which the young slave, who had received no damage, brought her. She took it, and after pronouncing some words over it, threw it upon me, saying, 'If thou art become an ape by enchantment, change thy shape, and take that of a man, which thou hadst before.' These words were hardly uttered when I became a man as I was before.
I was preparing to give thanks to the princess, but she prevented me by addressing herself to her father, thus: 'Sir, I have gained the victory over the genie, as your majesty may see; but it is a victory that costs me dear. I have but a few minutes to live, and you will not have the satisfaction of making the match you intended; the fire has pierced me during the terrible combat, and I find it is consuming me by degrees. This would not have happened had I perceived the last of the pomegranate seeds, and swallowed it as I did the others, when I was changed into a cock; the genie had fled thither as to his last entrenchment, and upon that the success of the combat depended, without danger to me. This slip obliged me to have recourse to fire, and to fight with those mighty arms as I did between heaven and earth, in your presence; for, in spite of all his redoubtable art and experience, I made the genie know that I understood more than he. I have conquered and reduced him to ashes, but I cannot escape death, which is approaching.'
The sultan suffered the princess, the Lady Or Beauty, to go on with the recital of her combat, and when she had done he spoke to her in a tone that sufficiently testified his grief: 'My daughter,' said he, 'you see in what condition your father is; alas! I wonder that I am yet alive!' He could speak no more, for his tears, sighs and sobs made him speechless; his daughter and I wept with him.
In the meantime, while we were vieing with each other in grief the princess cried, 'I burn! I burn!' She found that the fire which consumed her had at last seized upon her whole body, which made her still cry 'I burn,' until death had made an end of her intolerable pains. The effect of that fire was so extraordinary that in a few moments she was wholly reduced to ashes, like the genie.
How grieved I was at so dismal a spectacle! I had rather all my life have continued an ape or a dog than to have seen my benefactress thus miserably perish. The sultan, being afflicted beyond all that can be imagined, cried out piteously, and beat himself on his head, until being quite overcome with grief, he fainted away, which made me fear for his life. In the meantime the officers came running at the sultan's cries, and with very much ado brought him to himself again. There was no need for him and me to give them a long narrative of this adventure, in order to convince them of their great loss. The two heaps of ashes, into which the princess and the genie had been reduced, were sufficient demonstration. The sultan was hardly able to stand, but had to be supported till he could get to his apartment.
When the news of the tragical event had spread through the palace and the city, all the people bewailed the misfortune of the princess, the Lady of Beauty, and were much affected by the sultan's affliction. Every one was in deep mourning for seven days, and many ceremonies were performed. The ashes of the genie were thrown into the air, but those of the princess were gathered into a precious urn to be kept, and the urn was set in a stately tomb which was built for that purpose on the same place where the ashes had lain.
The grief which the sultan felt for the loss of his daughter threw him into a fit of illness, which confined him to his chamber for a whole month. He had not fully recovered strength when he sent for me: 'Prince,' said he, 'hearken to the orders that I now give you; it will cost you your life if you do not put them into execution.' I assured him of exact obedience, upon which he went on thus: 'I have constantly lived in perfect felicity, and was never crossed by any accident: but by your arrival all the happiness I possessed is vanished; my daughter is dead, her attendant is no more, and it is through a miracle that I am yet alive. You are the cause of all those misfortunes, for which it is impossible that I should be comforted; therefore depart from hence in peace, without farther delay, for I myself must perish if you stay any longer: I am persuaded that your presence brings mischief along, with it. This is all I have to say to you. Depart, and beware of ever appearing again in my dominions; no consideration whatsoever shall hinder me from making you repent of it.' I was going to speak, but he stopped my mouth with words full of anger; and so I was obliged to leave his palace, rejected, banished, an outcast from the world, and not knowing what would become of me. And so I became a hermit.
THE FIRST VOYAGE OF SINBAD THE SAILOR.
My father left me a considerable estate, the best part of which I spent in riotous living during my youth; 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 had wretchedly misspent my time which is the most valuable thing in the world. Struck with those reflections, I collected the remains of my furniture, and sold all my patrimony by public auction to the highest bidder. Then I entered into a contract with some merchants, who traded by sea: I took the advice of such as I thought most capable to give it me; and resolving to improve what money I had, I went to Balsora and embarked with several merchants on board a ship which we jointly fitted out.
We set sail, and steered our course towards the East 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, and, according to common opinion, is seventy leagues across at the broadest part. The eastern sea, as well as that of the Indies, is very spacious: it is bounded on one side by the coasts of Abyssinia, and is 4,500 leagues in length to the isles of Vakvak. At first I was troubled with sea-sickness, but speedily recovered my health, and was not afterwards troubled with that disease.
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 little island, almost even with the surface of the water, which resembled a green meadow. The captain ordered his sails to be furled, and permitted such persons as had a mind to do so to land upon the island, amongst whom I was one.
But while we were diverting ourselves with eating and drinking, and recovering ourselves from the fatigue of the sea, the island on a sudden trembled, and shook us terribly.
They perceived the trembling of the island on board the ship, and called us to re-embark speedily, or we should all be lost, for what we took for an island was only the back of a whale. The nimblest got into the sloop, others betook themselves to swimming; but for my part I was still upon the back of the whale when he dived into the sea, and had time only to catch hold of a piece of wood that we had brought out of the ship to make a fire. Meanwhile, the captain, having received those on board who were in the sloop, and taken up some of those that swam, resolved to use the favourable gale that had just risen, and hoisting his sails, pursued his voyage, so that it was impossible for me to regain the ship.
Thus was I exposed to the mercy of the waves, and struggled for my life all the rest of the day and the following night. Next morning 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 fortune seemed to have preserved in this place for my safety. Being got up, I lay down upon the ground half dead until the sun appeared; then, though I was very feeble, both by reason of my hard labour and want of food, I crept along to look for some herbs fit to eat, and had the good luck not only to find some, but likewise a spring of excellent water, which contributed much to restore me. After this I advanced farther into the island, and came at last into a fine plain, where I perceived a horse feeding at a great distance. I went towards him, between hope and fear, not knowing whether I was going to lose my life or save it. Presently I heard the voice of a man from under ground, who immediately appeared to me, and asked who I was. I gave him an account of 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 ate some victuals which they offered me, and then asked them what they did in such a desert place. They answered that they were grooms belonging to King Mihrage, sovereign of the island, and that every year they brought thither the king's horses. They added that they were to get home to-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 with their horses to the capital of the island, took me with them, and presented me to King Mihrage. He asked me who I was, and by what adventure I came into his dominions? And, 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 for nothing, which his officers were so generous and careful as to see exactly fulfilled.
Being a merchant, I frequented the society of men of my own profession, and particularly inquired for those who were strangers, if perhaps I might hear any news from Bagdad, or find an opportunity to return thither, for King Mihrage's capital was situated on the edge of the sea, and had a fine harbour, where ships arrived daily from the different quarters of the world. I frequented also the society of the learned Indians, and took delight in hearing them discourse; but withal I took care to make my court regularly to the king, and conversed with the governors and petty kings, his tributaries, that were about him. They asked me a thousand questions about my country, and I, being willing to inform myself as to their laws and customs, asked them everything which I thought worth knowing.
There belonged 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 had a great mind to see this wonderful place, and on my way thither saw fishes of one hundred and two hundred cubits long, that occasion more fear than hurt, for they are so timid that they will fly at the rattling of two sticks or boards. I saw likewise other fishes, 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 warehouse. As I cast my eye upon some bales, and looked at the name, I found my own, and perceived the bales to be the same that I had embarked at Balsora. I also knew the captain; but being persuaded that he believed me to be drowned, I went and asked him whose bales they were. He replied: 'They belonged to a merchant of Bagdad, called Sinbad, who came to sea with us; but one day, being near an island, as we thought, he went ashore with several other passengers upon this supposed island, which was only a monstrous whale that lay asleep upon the surface of the water; but as soon as he felt the heat of the fire they had kindled on his back to dress some victuals he began to move, and dived under water: most of the persons who were upon him perished, and among them unfortunate Sinbad. Those bales belonged to him, and I am resolved to trade with them until I meet with some of his family, to whom I may return the profit.'
'Captain,' said I, 'I am that Sinbad whom you thought to be dead, and those bales are mine.'
When the captain heard me speak thus, 'O heaven,' said he, 'whom can we ever trust now-a-days? There is no faith left among men. I saw Sinbad perish with my own eyes, and the passengers on board saw it as well as I, and yet you tell me you are that Sinbad. What impudence is this! To look at you, one would take you to be a man of honesty, and yet you tell a horrible falsehood, in order to possess yourself of what does not belong to you.'
'Have patience, captain,' replied I; 'do me the favour to hear what I have to say.'
'Very well,' said he, 'speak; I am ready to hear you.' Then I told him how I escaped, and by what adventure I met with the grooms of King Mihrage, who brought me to his court.
He was soon persuaded that I was no cheat, for there came people from his ship who knew me, paid me great compliments, and expressed much joy to see me alive. At last he knew me himself, and embracing me, 'Heaven be praised,' said he, 'for your happy escape; I cannot enough express my joy for it: there are your goods; take and do with them what you will.' I thanked him, acknowledged his honesty, and in return 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 it to King Mihrage, who, knowing my misfortune, asked me how I came by such rarities. I acquainted him with the whole story. He was mightily pleased at my good luck, accepted my present, and gave me one much more considerable in return. 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, camphor, nutmegs, cloves, pepper, and ginger. We passed by several islands, and at last arrived at Balsora, from whence I came to this city, with the value of one hundred thousand sequins. My family and I received one another with transports of sincere friendship. I bought slaves and fine lands, and built me a great house. And thus I settled myself, resolving to forget the miseries I had suffered, and to enjoy the pleasures of life.
THE SECOND VOYAGE OF SINBAD THE SAILOR
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 a quiet life. My inclination to trade revived. I bought goods suited to 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 so unpeopled, that we could see neither man nor beast upon it. We went to take a little fresh air in the meadows, and along the streams that watered them. Whilst some diverted themselves with gathering flowers, and others with gathering fruits, I took my wine and provisions, and sat down by a stream betwixt two great trees, which formed a curious shape. I made a very good meal, and afterwards fell asleep. I cannot tell how long I slept, but when I awoke the ship was gone.
I was very much surprised to find the ship gone. I got up and looked about everywhere, and could not see one of the merchants who landed with me. At last I perceived the ship under sail, but at such a distance that I lost sight of her in a very little time.
I leave you to guess at my melancholy reflections in this sad condition. I was ready to die with grief: I cried out sadly, beat my head and breast, and threw myself down upon the ground, where I lay some time in a terrible agony. I upbraided myself a hundred times for not being content with the produce of my first voyage, that might well have served me all my life. But all this was in vain, and my repentance out of season.
At last I resigned myself to the will of God; and not knowing what to do, I climbed up to the top of a great tree, from whence I looked about on all sides to see if there was anything that could give me hope. When I looked towards the sea, I could see nothing but sky and water, but looking towards the land I saw something white; and, coming down from the tree, I took up what provision I had left and went towards it, the distance being so great that I could not distinguish what it was.
When I came nearer, I thought it to be a white bowl of a prodigious height and bigness; 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 it was not, and that there was no climbing up to the top of it, it was so smooth. It was at least fifty paces round.
By this time the sun was ready 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 was occasioned by a bird, of a monstrous size, that came flying toward me. I remembered a fowl, called roc, that I had often heard mariners speak of, and conceived that the great bowl, which I so much admired, must needs be its egg. In short, the bird lighted, and sat over the egg to hatch it. As I perceived her coming, I crept close to the egg, so that I had before me one of the legs of the bird, which was as big as the trunk of a tree. I tied myself strongly to it with the cloth that went round my turban, in hopes that when the roc flew away next morning she would carry me with her out of this desert island. And after having passed the night in this condition, the bird really flew away next morning, as soon as it was day, and carried me so high that I could not see the earth. Then she descended all of a sudden, with so much rapidity that I lost my senses; but when the roc was settled, and I found myself upon the ground, I speedily untied the knot, and had scarcely done so when the bird, having taken up a serpent of a monstrous length in her bill, flew away.
The place where she left me was a very deep valley, encompassed on all sides with mountains, so high that they seemed to reach above the clouds, and so full of steep rocks 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 brought me, I found that I had gained nothing by the change.
As I walked through this valley I perceived it was strewn with diamonds, some of which were of surprising bigness. I took a great deal of pleasure in looking at them; but speedily I saw at a distance such objects as very much diminished my satisfaction, and which I could not look upon without terror; they were a great number of serpents, so big and so long that the least of them was capable of swallowing an elephant. They retired in the day-time to their dens, where they hid themselves from the roc, their enemy, and did not come out but in the night-time.
I spent the day in walking about the valley, resting myself at times in such places as I thought most suitable. When night came on I went into a cave, where I thought I might be in safety. I stopped the mouth of it, which was low and straight, with a great stone, to preserve me from the serpents, but not so exactly fitted as to hinder light from coming in. I supped on part of my provisions, but the serpents, which began to appear, hissing about in the meantime, put me into such extreme fear that you may easily imagine I did not sleep. When day appeared the serpents retired, and I came out of the cave trembling. I can justly say that I walked a long time upon diamonds without feeling an inclination to touch any of them. At last I sat down, and notwithstanding my uneasiness, not having shut my eyes during the night, I fell asleep, after having eaten a little more of my provisions; but I had scarcely shut my eyes when something that fell by me with great noise awakened me. This was a great piece of fresh meat, and at the same time I saw several others fall down from the rocks in different places.
I had always looked upon it as a fable when I heard mariners and others discourse of the valley of diamonds, and of the stratagems made use of by some merchants to get jewels from thence; but now I found it to be true. For, in reality, those 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 upon the top of the rocks to feed their young with, at which time the merchants, running to their nests, frighten the eagles by their noise, and take away the diamonds that stick to the meat. And this stratagem they make use of to get the diamonds out of the valley, which is surrounded with such precipices that nobody can enter it.
I believed till then that it was not possible for me to get out of this abyss, which I looked upon as my grave; but now I changed my mind, for the falling in of those pieces of meat put me in hopes of a way of saving my life.
I began to gather together the largest diamonds that I could see, and put them into the leathern bag in which I used to carry my provisions. I afterwards took the largest piece of meat I could find, 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 tied fast to my girdle, so that it could not possibly drop off.
I had scarcely laid me down before the eagles came. Each of them seized a piece of meat, and one of the strongest having taken me up, with a piece of meat on my back, carried me to his nest on the top of the mountain. The merchants fell straightway to 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 very much afraid when he saw me, but recovering himself, instead of inquiring how I came thither, he 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 trouble yourself; I have diamonds enough for you and myself too, more than all the other merchants together. If they have any, it is by chance; but I chose myself in the bottom of the valley all those which you see in this bag'; and having spoken those words, I showed them to him. I had scarcely done speaking, when the other merchants came trooping about us, much astonished to see me; but they were much more surprised when I told them my story. Yet they did not so much admire my stratagem to save myself as my courage to attempt it.
They took me to the place where they were staying all together, and there having opened my bag, they were surprised at the largeness of my diamonds, and confessed that in all the courts where they had been they had never seen any that came near them. I prayed the merchant to whom the nest belonged (for every merchant had his own), to take as many for his share as he pleased. He contented himself with one, and that too the least of them; and when I pressed him to take more, without fear of doing me any injury, 'No,' said he, 'I am very well satisfied with this, which is valuable enough to save me the trouble of making any more voyages to raise as great a fortune as I desire.'
I spent the night with those merchants, to whom I told 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 I was in a dream, and could scarcely believe myself to be 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 next morning all together, and travelled near high mountains, where there were serpents of a prodigious length, which we had the good fortune to escape. We took ship at the nearest port and came to the Isle of Roha, where the trees grow that yield camphor. This tree is so large, and its branches so thick, that a hundred men may easily sit under its shade. The juice of which the camphor is made runs out from a hole bored in the upper part of the tree, is received in a vessel, where it grows thick, and becomes what we call camphor; and the juice thus drawn out the tree withers and dies.
There is in this island the rhinoceros, a creature less than the elephant, but greater than the buffalo; it has a horn upon its nose about a cubit long; this horn is solid, and cleft in the middle from one end to the other, and there are upon it white lines, representing the figure of a man. The rhinoceros fights with the elephant, runs his horn into him, and carries him off upon his head; but the blood 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 to be food for her young ones.
Here I exchanged some of my diamonds for good merchandise. From thence we went to other isles, and at last, having touched at several trading towns of the main land, we landed at Balsora, from whence I went to Bagdad. There I immediately gave great alms to the poor, and lived honourably upon the vast riches I had gained with so much fatigue.
THE THIRD VOYAGE OF SINBAD THE SAILOR.
The pleasures of the life which I then led soon made me forget the risks I had run in my two former voyages; but, being then in the flower of my age I grew weary of living without business; and hardening myself against the thought of any danger I might incur, I went from Bagdad, with the richest commodities of the country, to Balsora: there I embarked again with the merchants. We made a long voyage, and touched at several ports, where we drove a considerable trade. One day, being out in the main ocean, we were attacked by a horrible tempest, which made us lose our course. The tempest continued several days, and brought us before the port of an island, where the captain was very unwilling to enter; but we were obliged to cast anchor there. 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 our misfortune was that 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.
This discourse of the captain put the whole company into a great consternation; and we found very soon, to our cost, that what he had told us was but too true; an innumerable multitude of frightful savages, covered all over with red hair, and about two feet high, came swimming towards us, and in a little time encompassed our ship. They spoke to us as they came near, but we understood not their language; they climbed up the sides of the ship with an agility that surprised us. We beheld all this with mortal fear, without daring to offer to defend ourselves, or to speak one word to divert them from their mischievous design. In short, they took down our sails, cut the cable, and, hauling to the shore, made us all get out, and afterwards carried the ship into another island, from whence they had come. All travellers carefully avoided that island where they left us, it being very dangerous to stay there, for a reason you shall hear anon; but we were forced to bear our affliction with patience.
We went forward into the island, where we found some fruits and herbs to prolong our lives as long as we could; but we expected nothing but death. As we went on we perceived at a distance a great pile of building, and made towards it. We found it to be a palace, well built, and very lofty, with a gate of ebony with double doors, which we thrust open. We entered the court, where we saw before us a vast apartment with a porch, having on one side a heap of men's bones, and on the other a vast number of roasting spits. We trembled at this spectacle, and, being weary with travelling, our legs failed under us: we fell to the ground, seized with deadly fear, and lay a long time motionless.
The sun had set, and whilst we were in the lamentable condition just mentioned, the gate of the apartment opened with a great noise, and there came out the horrible figure of a black man, as high as a tall 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 lost all our senses, and lay like men dead.
At last we came to ourselves, and saw him sitting in the porch, looking at us. When he had considered us well, he advanced towards us, and laying his hand upon me, he took me up by the nape of my neck, and turned me round as a butcher would do a sheep's head. After having viewed me well, 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; and the captain being the fattest, he held him with one hand, as I might a sparrow, and thrusting a spit through him, kindled a great fire, roasted, and ate him in his apartment for his supper. This being done, he returned to his porch, where he lay and fell asleep, snoring louder than thunder. He slept thus till morning. For our parts, it was not possible for us to enjoy any rest; so that we passed the night in the most cruel fear that can be imagined. Day being come, 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 kept all night, and every one grieving more than another, we made the palace resound with our complaints and groans. Though there were a great many of us, and we had but one enemy, we had not at first the presence of mind to think of delivering ourselves from him by his death.
We thought of several other things, but determined nothing; so that, submitting to what it should please God to order concerning us, we spent the day in running about the island for fruit and herbs to sustain our lives. When evening came, we sought for a place to lie down in, but found none; so that we were forced, whether we would or not, to return to the palace.
The giant failed not to come back, 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 formerly. Our condition was so very terrible that several of my comrades designed to throw themselves into the sea, rather than die so strange a death. Those who were of this mind argued with the rest to follow their example; upon which one of the company answered that we were forbidden to destroy ourselves; but even if it were lawful, it was more reasonable to think of a way to rid ourselves of the barbarous tyrant who designed so cruel a death for us.
Having thought of a project for that end, I communicated the same to my comrades, who approved it. 'Brethren,' said I, 'you know there is a great deal of timber floating upon the coast; if you will be advised by me, let us make several rafts that may carry us, and when they are done, leave them there till we think fit to make use of them. In the meantime we will execute the design to deliver ourselves from the giant, and if it succeed, we may stay here with patience till some ship pass by to carry us out of this fatal island; but if it happen to miscarry, we will speedily get to our rafts, and put to sea. I confess, that by exposing ourselves to the fury of the waves, we run a risk of losing our lives; but if we do, is it not better to be buried in the sea than in the entrails of this monster, who has already devoured two of us?' My advice was relished, and we made rafts capable of carrying three persons each.
We returned to the palace towards evening, and the giant arrived a little while after. We were forced to see another of our comrades roasted. But at last we revenged ourselves on the brutish giant thus. After he had made an end of his cursed 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 occasioned him to make a frightful cry, and to get up and stretch out his hands in order to sacrifice some of us to his rage, but we ran to places where he could not find us; and after having sought for us in vain, he groped for the gate, and went out, howling dreadfully.
We went out of the palace after the giant, and came to the shore, where we had left our rafts, and put them immediately into the sea. We waited till day in order to get upon them, in case the giant came towards us with any guide of his own species; but we hoped that if he did not appear by sunrise, and gave over his howling, which we still heard, he would die; and if that happened to be the case, we resolved to stay in the island, and not to risk our lives upon the rafts. But day had scarcely appeared when we perceived our cruel enemy, accompanied by two others almost of the same size leading him, and a great number more coming before him with a very quick pace.
When we saw this, we made no delay, but got immediately upon our rafts, and rowed off from the shore. The giants, who perceived this, took up great stones, and running to the shore entered the water up to their waists, and threw so exactly that they sank 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 got out of the reach of the giants; but when we got out to sea, we were exposed to the mercy of the waves and winds, and tossed about, sometimes on one side, and sometimes on another, and spent that night and the following day under a cruel uncertainty as to our fate; but next morning we had the good luck to be thrown upon an island, where we landed with much joy. We found excellent fruit there, that gave us great relief, so that we pretty well recovered our strength.
In the evening we fell asleep on the bank of the sea, but were awaked by the noise of a serpent as long as a palm tree, whose scales made a rustling as he crept along. He swallowed up one of my comrades, notwithstanding his loud cries and the efforts he made to rid himself from the serpent, which shook him several times against the ground, and crushed him; and we could hear him gnaw and tear the poor wretch's bones, when we had fled a great distance from him. Next day we saw the serpent again, to our great terror, and I cried out, 'O heaven, to what dangers are we exposed! We rejoiced yesterday at having escaped from the cruelty of a giant and the rage of the waves, and now are we fallen into another danger altogether as terrible.'
As we walked about we saw a large tall tree, upon which we designed to pass the following night, for our security; and having satisfied our hunger with fruit, we mounted it accordingly. A little while after, the serpent came hissing to the root 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 staid 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, so that I was going to throw myself into the sea; but nature prompting us to a desire to live as long as we can, I withstood this temptation to despair, and submitted myself to the will of God, who disposes of our lives at His pleasure.
In the meantime I gathered together a great quantity of small wood, brambles, and dry thorns, and making them up into faggots made a great circle with them round the tree, and also tied some of them to the branches over my head. Having done thus, when the evening came I shut myself up within this circle, with this melancholy piece of satisfaction, 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 retreated to a place of safety. When day appeared he retired, but I dared not to leave my fort until the sun arose.
I was fatigued with the toil he had put me to, and suffered so much from his poisonous breath that, death seeming preferable to me than the horror of such a condition. I came down from the tree, and not thinking on the resignation I had made to the will of God the preceding day, I ran towards the sea, with a design to throw myself into it headlong.
God took compassion on my desperate state, for just as I was going to throw myself into the sea, 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; all the crew perceived me, and the captain sent his boat for me. As soon as I came aboard, the merchants and seamen flocked about me to know how I came to that desert island; and after I had told them of all that befell me, the oldest among them said they had several times heard of the giants that dwelt in that island, that they were cannibals and ate men raw as well as roasted; and as to the serpents, he added, there were abundance in the isle 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 what they had to eat; and the captain, seeing that I was all in rags, was so generous as to give me one of his own suits.
We were at sea for some time, touched at several islands, and at last landed at that of Salabat, where there grows sanders, a wood of great use in physic. 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 a parcel of goods that belonged to a merchant who sailed some time on board this ship; and he being dead, I intend to dispose of them for the benefit of his heirs, when I know them.' 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 a commission.' I thanked him that he gave me an opportunity to employ 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 gave me the charge of, 'Enter them,' said the captain, 'in the name of Sinbad the sailor.' 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 by a brook, and set sail without me, and without sending to look for me. But I could not remember him at first, he was so much altered since I saw him.
And as for him, who believed me to be dead, I could not wonder at his not knowing me. 'But, captain,' said I, 'was the merchant's name to whom those goods belonged Sinbad?'
'Yes,' replied he, 'that was his name; he came from Bagdad, and embarked on board my ship at Balsora. One day, when we landed at an island to take in water and other refreshments, I know not by what mistake I set sail without observing that he did not re-embark with us; neither I nor the merchants perceived it till four hours after. We had the wind in our stern and so fresh a gale that it was not then possible for us to tack about for him.'
'You believe him then to be dead?' said I.
'Certainly,' answered he.
'No, captain,' said I; 'look upon me, and you may know that I am Sinbad, whom you left in that desert island. I fell asleep by a brook, and when I awoke I found all the company gone.'
The captain, having considered me attentively, knew me at last embraced me, and said, 'God be praised that fortune has supplied my defect. There are your goods, which I always took care to preserve and to make the best of at every port where I touched. I restore them to you, with the profit I have made on them.' I took them from him, and at the same time acknowledged how much I owed to him.
From the Isle of Salabat we went to another, where I furnished myself with cloves, cinnamon, and other spices. As we sailed from that island we saw a tortoise that was twenty cubits in length and breadth. We observed also a fish which looked like a cow, and gave milk, and its skin is so hard that they usually make bucklers of it. I saw another which had the shape and colour of a camel. In short, after a long voyage, I arrived at Balsora, and from thence returned to this city of Bagdad, with so much riches that I knew not what I had. I gave a great deal to the poor, and bought another great estate in addition to what I had already.
THE FOURTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD THE SAILOR.
The pleasures I took after my third voyage had not charms enough to divert me from another. I was again prevailed upon by my passion for traffic and curiosity to see new things. I therefore settled my affairs, and having provided a stock of goods fit for the places where I designed to trade, I set out on my journey. I took the way of Persia, of which I travelled over several provinces, and then arrived at a port, where I embarked. We set sail, and having touched at several ports of the mainland and some of the eastern islands, we put out to sea, and were overtaken by a sudden gust of wind that obliged the captain to furl his sails, and to 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 torn into a thousand pieces, and the ship was stranded; so that a great many of the merchants and seamen were drowned, and the cargo lost.
I had the good fortune, with several of the merchants and mariners, to get a plank, 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 the sea cast us ashore, without consulting what we should do, our misfortune had dispirited us so much.
Next morning, as soon as the sun was up, we walked from the shore, and advancing into the island, saw some houses, to which we went; and as soon as we came thither we were encompassed by a great number of black men, who seized us, shared us among them, and carried us to their respective habitations.
I and five of my comrades were carried to one place; they made us sit down immediately, and gave us a certain herb, which they made signs to us to eat. My comrades, not taking notice that the black men ate none of it themselves, consulted only the satisfying of their own hunger, and fell to eating with greediness: but I, suspecting some trick, would not so much as taste it, which happened well for me; for in a little time I perceived my companions had lost their senses, and that when they spoke to me they knew not what they said.
The black men fed us afterwards with rice, prepared with oil of cocoanuts, and my comrades, who had lost their reason, ate of it greedily. I ate of it also, but very sparingly. The black men 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 gave us rice on purpose to fatten us, for, being cannibals, their design was to eat us as soon as we grew fat. They did accordingly eat my comrades, who were not aware of their condition; but my senses being entire, you may easily guess that instead of growing fat, as the rest did, I grew leaner every day. The fear of death under which I laboured turned all my food into poison. I fell into a languishing illness which proved my safety, for the black men having killed and eaten up my companions, seeing me to be withered, lean, and sick, deferred my death till another time.
Meanwhile, I had a great deal of liberty, so that there was scarcely any notice 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 instead of obeying him, I redoubled my pace, and quickly got out of sight. At that time there was none but the old man about the houses, the rest being away, and not to come home till night, which was pretty usual with them; therefore, being sure that they could not come in time to pursue me, I went on till night, when I stopped to rest a little, and to eat some of the provisions I had taken care to bring; but I speedily set forward again, and travelled seven days, avoiding those places which seemed to be inhabited, and living for the most part upon cocoanuts, which served me for both meat and drink. On the eighth day I came near the sea, and all of a sudden saw 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.
The people who gathered pepper 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 black men. 'Those black men,' replied they, 'are cannibals, and by what miracle did you escape their cruelty?' I told them the same story I now tell you, 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 came. They presented me to their king, who was a good prince. He had the patience to hear the relation of my adventures, which surprised him, and he afterwards gave me clothes, and commanded care to be taken of me.
The island was very well peopled, plentiful in everything, and the capital was a place of great trade. This agreeable retreat was very comfortable to me after my misfortune, and the kindness of this generous prince towards me completed my satisfaction. In a word, there was not a person more in favour with him than myself; and, in consequence, 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 that 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 afterwards went to a locksmith, who made me a bridle according to the pattern I showed him, and then he made me 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 to me. I could not avoid making several others for his ministers and the principal officers of his household, who all of them made me presents that enriched me in a little time. I also made some for the people of best quality in the city, which gained me great reputation and regard.
As I paid court very constantly to the king, he said to me one day, 'Sinbad, I love thee; and all my subjects who know thee treat thee according to my example. 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, whose power over me is absolute.'
'I have a mind thou shouldst marry,' replied he, 'that so thou mayst stay in my dominion, and think no more of thy own country.'
I dared not resist the prince's will, and so he gave me one of the ladies of his court, a noble, beautiful, and rich lady. The ceremonies of marriage being over, I went and dwelt with the lady, and for some time we lived together in perfect harmony. I was not, however, very well satisfied with my condition, and therefore designed to make my escape on the first occasion, and to return to Bagdad, which my present settlement, how advantageous soever, could not make me forget.
While I was thinking on this, the wife of one of my neighbours, with whom I had contracted a very close friendship, fell sick and died. I went to see and comfort him in his affliction, and finding him swallowed up with 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 that favour you wish me? I have not above an hour to live.'
'Pray,' said I, 'do not entertain such a melancholy thought; I hope it will not be so, but that I shall enjoy your company for many years.'
'I wish you,' said he, 'a long life; but for me 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 always observed inviolably. 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 entertaining me with an account of this barbarous custom, the very hearing of which frightened me cruelly, his kindred, friends and neighbours came in a body to assist at the funerals. They put on the corpse the woman's richest apparel, as if it had been her wedding-day, and dressed her with all her jewels; then they put her into an open coffin, and lifting it up, began their march to the place of burial. The husband walked at the head of the company, and followed the corpse. They went up to a high mountain, and when they came thither, took up a great stone, which covered the mouth of a very deep pit, and let down the corpse, with all its apparel and jewels. Then the husband, embracing his kindred and friends, suffered himself to be put into another open coffin without resistance, with a pot of water, and seven little loaves, and was let down in the same manner as they let down his wife. The mountain was pretty long, and reached to the sea. The ceremony being over, they covered the hole again with the stone, and returned.
It is needless to say that I was the only melancholy spectator of this funeral, whereas the rest were scarcely moved at it, the practice was so customary to them. I could not forbear speaking my thoughts on this matter to the king. 'Sir,' said I, 'I cannot but wonder at the strange custom 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?' said 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,' replied the king, smiling at my question; 'they are not exempted, if they are married in this island.'
I went home very melancholy at this answer, for the fear of my wife dying first, and my being interred alive with her, occasioned me very mortifying 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; but alas! in a little time my fears came upon me all at once, for she fell ill, and died in a few days.
You may judge of my sorrow; to be interred alive seemed to me as deplorable an end as to be devoured by cannibals. But I must submit; the king and all his court would honour the funeral with their presence, and the most considerable people of the city would do the like. When all was ready for the ceremony, the corpse was put into a coffin, with all her jewels and magnificent apparel. The cavalcade began, and, as second actor in this doleful tragedy, I went next to the corpse, with my eyes full of tears, bewailing my deplorable fate. Before I came to the mountain, I addressed myself to the king, in the first place, and then to all those who were round me, and bowing before them to the earth to kiss 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 child in my own country.' It was to no purpose for me to speak thus, no soul was moved at it; on the contrary, they made haste to let down my wife's corpse into the pit, and put me down the next moment in an open coffin, with a vessel full of water and seven loaves. In short, the fatal ceremony being performed, they covered up the mouth of the pit, notwithstanding the excess of my grief and my lamentable cries.
As I came near the bottom, I discovered, by help of the little light that came from above, the nature of this subterranean place; it was a vast long cave, and might be about fifty fathoms deep. I immediately smelt an insufferable stench proceeding from the multitude of corpses which I saw on the right and left; nay, I fancied that I heard some of them sigh out their last. However, when I got down, I immediately left my coffin, and, getting at a distance from the corpses, lay down upon the ground, where I stayed a long time, bathed in tears. Then reflecting on my sad lot, 'It is true,' said I, 'that God disposes all things according to the decrees of His providence; but, poor Sinbad, art not thou thyself the cause of thy being brought to die so strange a death? Would to God thou hadst perished in some of those tempests which thou hast escaped! Then thy death had not been so lingering and terrible in all its circumstances. But thou hast drawn all this upon thyself by thy cursed avarice. Ah! unfortunate wretch, shouldst thou not rather have stayed at home, and quietly enjoyed the fruits of thy labour?'
Such were the vain complaints with which I made the cave echo, beating my head and breast out of rage and despair, and abandoning myself to the most afflicting thoughts. Nevertheless, I must tell you that, instead of calling death to my assistance in that miserable condition, I felt still an inclination to live, and to do all I could to prolong my days. I went groping about, with my nose stopped, 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 and fuller of corpses than it appeared to me at first. I lived for some days upon my bread and water, which being all used up at last I prepared for death.
As I was thinking of death, I heard something walking, and blowing or panting as it walked. I advanced towards that side from whence I heard the noise, and upon my approach the thing puffed and blew harder, as if it had been running away from me. I followed the noise, and the thing seemed to stop sometimes, but always fled and blew as I approached. I followed it so long and so far that at last I perceived a light resembling a star; I went on towards that light, and 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 for a man to get out at.
Upon this I stopped some time to rest myself, being much fatigued with pursuing this discovery so fast. Afterwards coming up to the hole I went out at it, and found myself upon the shore of the sea. I leave you to guess the excess of my joy; it was such that I could scarce persuade myself of its being real.
But when I had recovered from my surprise, and was convinced of the truth of the matter, I found that the thing which I had followed and heard puff and blow was a creature which came out of the sea, and was accustomed to enter at that hole to feed upon the dead carcasses.
I examined the mountain, and perceived it to be situated betwixt the sea and the town, but without any passage or way to communicate with the latter, the rocks on the side of the sea were so rugged and steep. I fell down upon the shore to thank God for this mercy, and afterwards entered the cave again to fetch bread and water, which I did by daylight, with a better appetite than I had done since my interment in the dark hole.
I returned thither again, and groped about among the biers 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 with the cords that let down the coffins, I laid them together upon the bank to wait till some ship passed by, without fear of rain, for it was not then the season.
After two or three days I perceived a ship that had but just come out of the harbour and passed near the place where I was. I made a sign with the linen of my turban, and called to them as loud as I could. They heard me, and sent a boat to bring me on board, when the mariners asked by what misfortune I came thither. I told them that I had suffered shipwreck two days ago, and made shift to get ashore with the goods they saw. It was happy for me that those people did not consider the place where I was, nor inquire into the probability of what I told them; but without any more ado took me on board with my goods. 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 with a regular wind by several islands, among others the one called the Isle of Bells, about ten days' sail from Serendib, and six from that of Kela, where we landed. This island produces lead from its mines, Indian canes, and excellent camphor.
The king of the Isle of Kela is very rich and potent, 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 commerce in that island we put to sea again, and touched at several other ports. At last I arrived happily at Bagdad with infinite riches, of which it is needless to trouble you with the detail. Out of thankfulness to God for His mercies, I gave great alms for the support of several mosques, and for the subsistence of the poor, and employed myself wholly in enjoying the society of my kindred and friends, and in making merry with them.
THE FIFTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD THE SAILOR.
The pleasures I enjoyed again had charm enough to make me forget all the troubles and calamities I had undergone, without curing me of my inclination to make new voyages. Therefore I bought goods, ordered them to be packed up and loaded, and set out with them for the best seaport; and there, that I might not be obliged to depend upon a captain, but have a ship at my own command, I waited till one was built on purpose at my own expense. When the ship was ready, I went on board with my goods; but not having enough to load her, I took on board with me several merchants of different nations, with their merchandise.
We sailed with the first fair wind, and after a long voyage, 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 the bill of it began to appear.
The merchants whom I had taken on board my ship, and who landed with me, broke the egg with hatchets, and made a hole in it, from whence they pulled out the young roc piece by piece, and roasted it. I had earnestly persuaded them not to meddle with the egg, but they would not listen to me.
Scarcely had they made an end of their feast, when there appeared in the air, at a considerable distance from us, two great clouds. The captain whom I hired to manage my ship, knowing by experience what it meant, cried that it was the cock and hen 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 made haste to do so, and set sail with all possible diligence.
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. But having a mind to avenge themselves, they flew back towards the place from whence they came, and disappeared for some time, while we made all the sail we could to prevent that which unhappily befell us.
They returned, and we observed that each of them carried between their talons stones, or rather 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, who turned the ship with the rudder, it missed us, and falling by the side of the ship into the sea, divided the water so that we could see almost to the bottom. The other roc, to our misfortune, threw the stone so exactly upon the middle of the ship that it split into a thousand pieces. The mariners and passengers were all killed by the stone, or sunk. I myself had the last fate; 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, but always holding fast to my board, the wind and the tide favouring me, I came to an island, where the beach was very steep. I overcame that difficulty however, and got ashore.
I sat down upon the grass, to recover myself a little from my fatigue, after which I got up, and went into the island to view it. It seemed to be a delicious garden. I found trees everywhere, some of them bearing green and others ripe fruits, and streams of fresh pure water, with pleasant windings and turnings. I ate of the fruits, which I found excellent, and drank of the water, which was very pleasant.
Night being come, I lay down upon the grass in a convenient place enough, but I could not sleep for an hour at a time, my mind was so disturbed with the fear of being alone in so desert a place. Thus I spent the best part of the night in fretting, and reproached myself for my imprudence in not staying at home, rather than undertaking this last voyage. These reflections carried me so far, that I began to form a design against my own life, but daylight dispersed these melancholy thoughts, and I got up, and walked among the trees, but not without apprehensions of danger.
When I was a little advanced into the island, I saw an old man who appeared very weak and feeble. He sat upon the bank of a stream, and at first I took him to be one who had been shipwrecked like myself. I went towards him and saluted him, but he only bowed his head a little. I asked him what he did there, but instead of answering 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 help, so 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 that (which I laugh at every time I think of it), the old man, who to me had appeared very decrepit, clasped his legs nimbly about my neck, and then I perceived his skin to resemble that of a cow. He sat astride upon my shoulders, and held my throat so tight that I thought he would have strangled me, the fright of which made me faint away 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 got up, he made me walk under the trees, and forced me now and then to stop, to gather and eat fruit such as we found. He never left me all day, and when I lay down to rest by night, he laid himself down with me, always holding fast about my neck. Every morning he pushed me to make me wake, and afterwards obliged me to get up and walk, and pressed me with his feet. You may judge then what trouble I was in, to be loaded with such a burden as I could by no means rid myself of.
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 set it in a convenient place; and coming hither again some days after, I took up my calabash, and setting it to my mouth found the wine to be so good that it presently made me not only forget my sorrow, but grow vigorous, and so light-hearted that I began to sing and dance as I walked along.
The old man, perceiving the effect which this drink had upon me, and that I carried him with more ease than I did before, made a sign for me to give him some of it. I gave him the calabash, and the liquor pleasing his palate, he drank it all off. He became drunk immediately, and the fumes getting up into his head he began to sing after his manner, and to dance upon my shoulders. His jolting about made him sick, and he loosened his legs from about me by degrees; so finding that he did not press me as before, I threw him upon the ground, where he lay without motion, and then I took up a great stone, with which I crushed his head to pieces.
I was extremely rejoiced to be freed thus for ever from this cursed old fellow, and walked along the shore of the sea, where I met the crew of a ship that had cast anchor to take in water to refresh themselves. They were extremely surprised to see me, and to hear the particulars of my adventures. 'You fell,' said they, 'into the hands of the old man of the sea, and are the first that has ever escaped strangling by him. He never left those he had once made himself master of till he destroyed them, and he has made this island famous for the number of men he has slain; so that the merchants and mariners who landed upon it dared not advance into the island but in numbers together.'
After having informed me of these things they carried me with them to the ship; the captain received me with great satisfaction 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, where the houses were built of good stone.
One of the merchants of the ship, who had taken me into his friendship, asked me to go along with him, and took me to a place appointed as a retreat for foreign merchants. He gave me a great bag, and having recommended me to some people of the town, who were used to gather cocoa-nuts, he desired them to take me with them to do the like: 'Go,' said he, 'follow them, and do as you see them do, and do not separate from them, otherwise you endanger your life.' Having thus spoken, he gave me provisions for the journey, and I went with them.
We came to a great forest of trees, extremely straight and tall, their trunks so smooth that it was not possible for any man to climb up to the branches that bore the fruit. All the trees were cocoa-nut trees, and when we entered the forest we saw a great number of apes of all sizes, that 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 top of the trees. I did the same, and the apes, out of revenge, threw cocoa-nuts at us as 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 for us to do otherwise.
When we had gathered our number, we returned to the city, where the merchant who sent me to the forest gave me the value of the cocoa- nuts I had brought; 'Go on,' said he, 'and do the like every day, until you have money enough to carry you home.' I thanked him for his good advice, and gathered together as many cocoa-nuts as amounted to a considerable sum.
The vessel in which I came sailed with merchants who loaded her with cocoa-nuts. I expected the arrival of another, whose merchants landed speedily for the like loading. I embarked on board the same all the cocoa-nuts that belonged to me, and when she was ready to sail I went and took leave of the merchant who had been so kind to me; but he could not embark with me because he had not finished his business.
We set sail towards the islands where pepper grows in great plenty. From thence we went to the Isle of Comari, where the best sort of wood of aloes grows, and whose inhabitants have made it an inviolable law to drink no wine themselves, nor to suffer any kind of improper conduct. I exchanged my cocoa-nuts in those two islands for pepper and wood of aloes, and went with other merchants pearl- fishing. I hired divers, who fetched me up those that were very large and pure. Then I embarked joyfully in a vessel that happily arrived at Balsora; from thence I returned to Bagdad, where I made vast sums by my pepper, wood of aloes, and pearls. I gave the tenth of my gains in alms, as I had done upon my return from other voyages, and endeavoured to ease myself from my fatigue by diversions of all sorts.
THE SIXTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD THE SAILOR.
After being shipwrecked five times, and escaping so many dangers, could I resolve again to try my fortune, and expose myself to new hardships? I am astonished at it myself when I think of it, and must certainly have been induced to it by my stars. But be that as it will, after a year's rest I prepared for a sixth voyage, notwithstanding the entreaties of my kindred and friends, who did all that was possible to prevent 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 sea-port, where I embarked on board a ship, the captain of which was resolved on a long voyage.
It was very long indeed, but at the same time so unfortunate that the captain and pilot lost their course, and knew not where they were. They found it at last, but we had no reason to rejoice at it. We were all seized with extraordinary fear when we saw the captain quit his post, and cry out. 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 sea. 'A rapid current carries the ship along with it,' he said, 'and we shall all of us perish in less than a quarter of an hour. Pray to God to deliver us from this danger; we cannot escape it if He does not take pity on us.' At these words he ordered the sails to be changed; but all the ropes broke and the ship, without its being possible to help it, was carried by the current to the foot of an inaccessible mountain, where she ran ashore, and was broken to pieces, yet so 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; we may every man dig our grave here, and bid the world adieu, for we are all in so fatal a place that none shipwrecked here have ever returned to their homes again.' His discourse afflicted us sorely, and we embraced each other with tears in our eyes, bewailing our deplorable lot.
The mountain at the foot of which we were cast was the coast of a very long and large island. This coast was covered all over with wrecks, and from the vast number of men's bones we saw everywhere, and which filled us with horror, we concluded that abundance of people had died there. It is also impossible to tell what a quantity of goods and riches we found cast ashore there. All these objects served only to augment our grief. Whereas in all other places rivers run from their channels into the sea, here a great river of fresh water runs out of the sea into a dark cave, whose entrance is very high and large. 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 fishes swallow, and then vomit up again, turned into ambergris; and this the waves throw up on the beach in great quantities. Here also grow trees, 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 away again when once they come near it. If they are driven thither by a wind from the sea, the wind and the current ruin them; and if they come into it when a land-wind blows, which might seem to favour their getting out again, the height of the mountain stops the wind, and occasions a calm, so that the force of the current runs them ashore, where they are broken to pieces, as ours was; and that which completes the misfortune is that there is no possibility to get to the top of the mountain, or to get out any manner of way.
We continued upon the shore, like men out of their senses, and expected death every day. At first we divided our provisions as equally as we could, and thus everyone lived a longer or shorter time, according to their temperance, and the use they made of their provisions.
Those who died first were interred by the rest; and, for my part, I paid the last duty to all my companions. Nor are you to wonder at this; for besides that I husbanded the provision that fell to my share better than they, I had provision of my own, which I did not share with my comrades; yet when I buried the last, I had so little remaining that I thought I could not hold out long: so I dug a grave, resolving to lie down in it, because there was none left to inter me. I must confess to you at the same time that while I was thus employed I could not but reflect upon myself as the cause of my own ruin, and repented that I had ever undertaken this last voyage; nor did I stop at reflections only, but had well nigh hastened my own death, and began to tear my hands with my teeth.
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 cave; where, considering the river with great attention, I said to myself, 'This river, which runs thus under ground, must come out somewhere or other. If I make a raft, and leave myself to the current, it will bring me to some inhabited country, or drown me. If I be drowned I lose nothing, but only change one kind of death for another; and if I get out of this fatal place, I shall not only avoid the sad fate of my comrades, but perhaps find some new occasion of enriching myself. Who knows but fortune waits, upon my getting off this dangerous shelf, to compensate my shipwreck with interest?'
I immediately went to work on a raft. I made it of large pieces of timber and cables, for I had choice of them, and tied them together so strongly that I had made a very solid little raft. When I had finished it I loaded it with some bales of rubies, emeralds, ambergris, rock-crystal, and rich stuffs. Having balanced all my cargo exactly and fastened it well to the raft, I went on board it with two little oars that I had made, and, leaving it to the course of the river, I resigned myself to the will of God.
As soon as I came into the cave I lost all light, and the stream carried me I knew not whither. Thus I floated for some days in perfect darkness, and once found the arch so low that it well nigh broke my head, which made me very cautious afterwards to avoid the like danger. All this while I ate nothing but what was just necessary to support nature; yet, notwithstanding this frugality, all my provisions were spent. Then a pleasing sleep fell upon me. I cannot tell how long it continued; but when I awoke, I was surprised to find myself in the middle of a vast country, at the bank 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 the following words in Arabic aloud: '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 towards 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, by digging little canals from this river, which comes out of the neighbouring mountain. We saw something floating upon the water, went speedily to find out what it was, 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 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 gave them a true account of all that had befallen me, which they listened to with wonder. As soon as I had finished my discourse, they told me, by the person who spoke Arabic and interpreted to them what I said, that it was one of the most surprising stories they ever heard, and that I must go along with them, and tell it to their king myself; the story was too extraordinary to be told by any other than the person to whom it happened. I told them I was ready to do whatever they pleased.
They immediately sent for a horse, which was brought in a little time; and having made me get upon him, some of them walked before me to show me the way, and the rest took my raft and cargo, and followed me.
We marched thus altogether, till we came to the city of Serendib, for it was in that island I 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, and kissed the earth. The prince ordered me to rise up, received me with an obliging air, and made me come up, and sit down near him. He first asked me my name, and I answered, 'They call me Sinbad the sailor, because of the many voyages I have undertaken, and I am a citizen of Baghdad.'
'But,' replied he, 'how came you into my dominions, and from whence came you last?'
I concealed nothing from the king; I told him all that I have now told you, and his majesty was so surprised and charmed with it, that he commanded my adventure 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 came near them.
Observing that he looked on my jewels with pleasure, and viewed the most remarkable among them one after another, 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, nor 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 go out of my dominions without marks of my liberality.'
All the answer I returned was prayers for the prosperity of this prince, and commendations of his generosity and bounty. He charged one of his officers to take care of me, and ordered people to serve me at his own charge. The officer was very faithful in the execution of his orders, and caused all the goods to be carried to the lodgings provided for me. I went every day at a set hour to pay court to the king, and spent the rest of my time in seeing the city, and what was most worthy of notice.
The Isle of Serendib is situated just under the equinoctial line, so that the days and nights there are always of twelve hours each, and the island is eighty parasangs in length, and as many in breadth.
The capital city stands at the end of a fine valley formed by a mountain in the middle of the island, which is the highest in the world. 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 it.
When I came back to the city, I prayed the king to allow me to return to my country, which he granted me in the most obliging and 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 valuable, 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 Caliph Haroun Alraschid, and assure him of my friendship.' I took the present and letter in a very respectful manner, and promised his majesty punctually to execute the commission with which he was pleased to honour me. Before I embarked, this prince sent for the captain and the merchants who were to go with me, and ordered them to treat me with all possible respect.
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 writing was azure, and the contents as follows:—
'The king of the Indies, before whom march a hundred elephants, who lives in a palace that shines with a hundred thousand rubies, and who has in his treasury twenty thousand crowns enriched with diamonds, to Caliph Haroun Alraschid: