I had inherited considerable wealth
from my parents, and being young and foolish I at first squandered it recklessly upon every kind of pleasure, but presently, finding that riches speedily take to themselves wings if managed as badly as I was managing mine, and remembering also that to be old and poor is misery indeed, I began to bethink me of how I could make the best of what still remained to me. I sold all my household goods by public auction, and joined a company of merchants who traded by sea, embarking with them at Balsora in a ship which we had
fitted out between us.
We set sail and took our course towards
the East Indies by the Persian Gulf, having the coast of Persia upon our left hand and upon our right the shores of Arabia Felix. I was at first much troubled by the uneasy motion of the vessel, but speedily recovered
my health, and since that hour have been no more plagued by sea-sickness.
From time to time we landed at various
islands, where we sold or exchanged our merchandise, and one day, when the wind dropped suddenly, we found ourselves becalmed close to a small island like a green meadow, which only rose slightly above the surface of the water. Our sails were furled, and the captain gave
permission to all who wished to land for a while and amuse themselves.
I was among the number, but when after strolling about for some time we
lighted a fire and sat down to enjoy the repast which we had brought with
us, we were startled by a sudden and violent trembling of the island, while
at the same moment those left upon the ship set up an outcry bidding us
come on board for our lives, since what we had taken for an island was
nothing but the back of a sleeping whale. Those who were nearest to the
boat threw themselves into it, others sprang into the sea, but before I
could save myself the whale plunged suddenly into the depths
of the ocean, leaving me clinging to a piece of the wood which we had brought
to make our fire. Meanwhile a breeze had sprung up, and in the confusion
that ensued on board our vessel in hoisting the sails and taking up those
who were in the boat and clinging to its sides, no one missed me and I
was left at the mercy of the waves. All that day I floated up and down, now beaten this way, now that, and when night fell I despaired for
my life; but, weary and spent as
I was, I clung to my frail support, and great was my joy when the morning
light showed me that I had drifted against an island.
The cliffs were high and steep, but
luckily for me some tree-roots protruded in places, and by their aid I
climbed up at last, and stretched myself upon the turf at the top, where
more dead than alive, till the sun
was high in the heavens. By that time I was very hungry, but after some
searching I came upon some eatable herbs, and a spring of clear water,
refreshed I set out to explore the
island. Presently I reached a great plain where a grazing horse was
tethered, and as I stood looking at it I heard voices talking apparently
underground, and in a moment a man appeared who asked me how I came upon
the island. I told him my adventures, and heard in return that he was one
of the grooms of Mihrage, the king of the island, and that each year they
came to feed their master's horses in this plain. He took me to a cave
where his companions were assembled, and when I had eaten of the food they
set before me, they bade me think myself fortunate to have come upon them
when I did, since they were going back to their master on the morrow, and
without their aid I could certainly never have found my way to the inhabited
part of the island.
Early the next morning we accordingly
set out, and when we reached the capital I was graciously received by the
king, to whom I related my adventures, upon which he ordered that I should
be well cared for and provided with such things as I needed. Being a merchant
I sought out men of my own profession,
and particularly those who came from foreign countries, as I hoped in this
way to hear news from Bagdad, and find out some means of returning thither, for the capital was situated upon
the sea-shore, and visited by vessels from all parts of the world.
In the meantime I heard many curious things, and answered many questions
concerning my own country, for I talked willingly with all who came to
me. Also to while away the time of waiting I explored a little island named
Cassel, which belonged to King Mihrage, and which was supposed to be inhabited
by a spirit named Deggial. Indeed, the sailors assured me that often
at night the playing of timbals could be heard upon it. However,
I saw nothing strange upon my voyage, saving some fish that were full two
hundred cubits long, but were fortunately more in dread of us than even
we were of them, and fled from us if we did but strike upon a board to
frighten them. Other fishes there were only a cubit long which had heads
One day after my return, as I went
down to the quay, I saw a ship which had just cast anchor, and was discharging
her cargo, while the merchants to whom it belonged were busily directing the removal of it to their warehouses.
Drawing nearer I presently noticed that my own name was marked upon some
of the packages, and after having carefully examined them, I felt sure
that they were indeed those which I had put on board our ship at Balsora.
I then recognised the captain of the vessel, but as I was certain that
he believed me to be dead, I went up to him and asked who owned the packages
that I was looking at.
"There was on board my ship," he
replied, "a merchant of Bagdad named Sindbad. One day he and several
of my other passengers landed upon what we supposed to be an island, but
which was really an enormous whale floating asleep upon the waves. No sooner
did it feel upon its back the heat of the fire which had been kindled,
than it plunged into the depths of the sea. Several of the people who were upon
it perished in the waters, and among others this unlucky Sindbad.
This merchandise is his, but I have resolved to dispose of it for the benefit
of his family if I should ever chance to meet with them."
"Captain," said I, "I am that Sindbad
whom you believe to be dead, and these are my possessions!"
When the captain heard these words
he cried out in amazement, "Lackaday! and what is the world coming to?
In these days there is not an honest man to be met with. Did I not
with my own eyes see Sindbad drown, and now you have the audacity to tell
me that you are he! I should have taken you to be a just man, and
yet for the sake of obtaining that which does not belong to you, you are
ready to invent this horrible falsehood."
"Have patience, and do me the favour
to hear my story," said I.
"Speak then," replied the captain,
"I'm all attention."
So I told him of my escape and of
my fortunate meeting with the king's grooms, and how kindly I had been
received at the palace. Very soon I began to see that I had made some impression
upon him, and after the arrival of some of the other merchants, who showed
great joy at once more seeing me alive, he declared that he also recognised
Throwing himself upon my neck he
exclaimed, "Heaven be praised that you have escaped from so great a danger.
As to your goods, I pray you take them, and dispose of them as you please."
I thanked him, and praised his honesty, begging him to accept several bales
of merchandise in token of my gratitude, but he would take nothing.
Of the choicest of my goods I prepared a present for King Mihrage, who
was at first amazed, having known that I had lost my all. However,
when I had explained to him how my bales had been miraculously restored
to me, he graciously accepted my gifts, and in return gave me many valuable
things. I then took leave of him, and exchanging my merchandise for sandal
and aloes wood, camphor, nutmegs, cloves, pepper, and ginger, I embarked
upon the same vessel and traded so successfully upon
our homeward voyage that I arrived
in Balsora with about one hundred thousand sequins. My family received
me with as much joy as I felt upon seeing them once more. I bought
land and slaves, and built a great house in which I resolved to live happily,
and in the enjoyment of all the pleasures of life to forget my past sufferings.
Here Sindbad paused, and commanded
the musicians to play again, while the feasting continued until evening.
When the time came for the porter to depart, Sindbad gave him a purse containing
one hundred sequins, saying, "Take this, Hindbad, and go home, but to-morrow
come again and you shall hear more of my adventures."
The porter retired quite overcome
by so much generosity, and you may imagine that he was well received at
home, where his wife and children thanked their lucky stars that he had
found such a benefactor.
The next day Hindbad, dressed in
his best, returned to the voyager's house, and was received with open arms.
As soon as all the guests had arrived the banquet began as before, and
when they had feasted long and merrily, Sindbad addressed them thus:
"My friends, I beg that you will
give me your attention while I relate the adventures of my second voyage,
which you will find even more astonishing than the first."
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