Story Of Sindbad The Sailor - Seven Voyages

Sindbad The Sailor 

My father was a great merchant. He gave well to the deserving poor. When he died he left me a considerable fortune consisting of money, lands, and villages. I got them into my possession when I came of age. I gathered around me several young men of my own age and indulged in eating, drinking, and other luxuries, spending my wealth indiscriminately. I led this princely life as though my money would never be spent away. But one day I found that I was quite mistaken. For most of my wealth was gone, and the dread of living to be a poor old man began to haunt me. My father used to say, "A living dog is better than a dead lion, and death is better than poverty." I now recollected his words. So I collected what little I possessed and converted it into cash. It came to three thousand Dirhams. With this money, I determined to travel. You know the proverb, "the deeper you dive, the better the pearls." I took my money to the market and bought merchandise, which I took on board a merchant ship. There were several other merchants in that ship, and the ship was sailing from Baghdad down the river to Basrah. Leaving Basrah we sailed across the sea. On the way, we touched several isles and ports. Wherever we stopped we sold or bartered our goods. Our trade was good. After sailing for several weeks on the sea without seeing land we, one day, saw a very beautiful isle. It was green like an emerald and caught the eye. The captain steered the ship to the coast of the isle and cast the anchor. Then the rope ladder was lowered and all of us went ashore. We all had food and cooking utensils. Some lit fires and started cooking, some washed their clothes, while some others walked about. I ate my food and went wandering, observing the strange vegetation.

While we were all thus occupied in our various ways, the isle suddenly shook from one end to the other, and we were violently thrown down. As we lay dazed we saw the captain appear on the ship and shout in a terrified voice, "Danger! Save yourselves! That is no isle but a gigantic whale! She was floating so long that sand-covered its back and trees grew on it! You have lit the fires and irritated her. Come away, or she will sink with you!" Hearing this the merchants abandoned their clothes, cooking utensils, and other things, and ran to the ship. The anchor was already lifted and the ship was moving off. Some managed to reach the ship, but the others could not. In the meantime, the whale sank into the water, and those who failed to catch the ship were left to the mercy of the sea. I was one of those who failed to catch the ship. But, by a stroke of luck, I found a large tub made of wood floating towards me. Some merchants had been using it to wash their clothes. This tub saved me from drowning. With a tremendous effort born of the supreme urge to be alive, I struggled hard and, in the end, managed to sit astride in the tub. Once I got into a convenient position I began to use my legs as oars and began to move forward. Three days and nights passed and I was almost out of my strength. When I was about to lose any hope left  I saw seagulls moving over my head and at a far distance there was the sight of mountains. I used all my energy and moved towards the coast and fainted there with a badly injured leg. After I regained consciousness I explored the land which was full of greenery and animals. There were fruit trees and streams of sweet water. Living upon the fruit and water I rested there for several days and regained my strength. The pains that rocked my body abated gradually. I prepared a pair of crutches with the aid of which I could move about among the trees. I spent my time eating fruit, musing, and marveling at the power of God. One day, while walking along the shore, I saw a thing in the distance that looked like an animal. With a good deal of interest, I approached and found it to be a tethered horse. This horse appeared to be quite different. It was of a marvelous breed. I had a strong desire to mount it, but as I approached it I saw a man who seemed to rise out of the earth. He ran to me crying, "Who are you? Where are you from? How could you dare come here?" "Master," I replied, "I got cast in the sea along with some others while voyaging. God saved my life and brought me to your country." 

"Come with me," the man said, taking my hand. He led me into an underground cave. There was a spacious hall in this cave. The man offered me a place of honor and gave me food. When I was satiated he asked for my story. I told it to him and he was filled with wonder. "I have told you my story," I said. "May I know yours?" "There are many of us," he told me, "all over this island. Our duty is to obtain horses for King Mirjan. On the night of the new moon horses of a high breed emerge out of the sea to graze on the land,  and we catch them. I shall take you to King Mirjan. It was very lucky that I saw you because you would have died for want of company in this desert place." At this moment the other horse catchers came there. I was placed upon a horse and we all went to King Mirjan's palace. The others went to see the King and acquaint him with me. 

Then I was introduced to him. He gave me a warm welcome and desired to hear my story out of my own mouth. So I told him my story. "You are destined to live long, my son!" King Mirjan said at the end. "That was why you could come out of such perils alive." He made me one of his confidants and appointed me inspector of ports and registrar of shipping. My duties permitted me enough leisure to see the King every day. He placed me higher than any of his other friends and loaded me with daily gifts. Gradually I came so close to him that he would not make a single decision without telling me. Though my life was so comfortable in every respect I never ceased to think of my own country, nor did I lose hope of going back there someday. "Do you know the route to Baghdad?" I asked many a sea captain. But, to my disappointment, not one knew. Several of them had not even heard of the place. So, as time passed, my anxiety to return home increased and I began to lose hope. One day, in the course of my duty, I stood by the shore watching for ships, when a huge ship arrived. The anchor was cast and the ladder lowered. I went on the ship, interviewed the captain, and examined the cargo.

I took an inventory as the sailors unloaded the merchandise. "Have you nothing more aboard?" I asked the captain, at the end. "I have master," he replied. "But it is not for sale. The owner of the cargo got drowned in the sea. As soon as the opportunity occurs I shall hand over the cargo to his relations at Baghdad." "O Captain," I asked, my heart beating fast, "What was the name of that man?" "Sindbad the Sailor," he replied. I examined his face more carefully and found that he was the very man who took the ship away while so many of us were left to drown in the sea. "I am Sindbad the Sailor," I shouted in my excitement and proceeded to tell him what all I had gone through after the ship left me. But the captain would not believe me. "What a cheat! What an impostor!" he exclaimed. "We all saw Sindbad go down in the sea, and you claim that you are Sindbad! You ought to be ashamed of yourself." "Listen, Captain!" I said. "I am not a cheat and lying is not my business." When I gave him such details about the disaster that he and I alone knew, he was convinced at last. He was so glad to see me alive. He called the other merchants in the ship, told them my tale, and introduced me to them. They marveled at my survival and praised the power of God.

The Captain delivered all my merchandise to me. I checked up my seal on each bale, set aside certain rich pieces as gifts for King Mirjan, and sold the rest in the market at a hundred times its original price. The King was very happy when he learned everything. He loved me very dearly, so he bestowed upon me innumerable gifts. These too I sold in the market and got the cash. Then I made preparations for the voyage and went to the King to bid him goodbye. I thanked him for the kindness which he had shown to me, but he was very sad that I was going away. As a parting gift, he gave me a variety of perfumes, sandalwood, camphor, and incense which were abundant on that island. I took them with me to the ship. By the grace of God, we had very favorable winds. After many days on the sea, our ship reached Basrah and then proceeded to Baghdad. I found all my family in good health. With the immense wealth which I brought back, I bought several houses, lands, and other properties worth more than those I had inherited from my father's death. Then I settled down to a life of joy and pleasure in which I gradually forgot the hardships of my first voyage.     

Second Voyage

I was again a wealthy man. I did not lack luxury or entertainment. But, my friend, I could not rest for long. I had tasted the salt air and the thrill of travel and adventure. Soon I was pulled by the will of God back to the seaport at Basra, where I found a newly-made ship with fine sails and the best equipment. The captain was gathering merchants for a voyage. I booked my place with him, and then went to the market to buy up goods for trade. We set sail the very next day and cruised from island to island in the fine weather. Wherever we landed we found a crowd of merchants and clients eager to do business with us. At last, we came to a peaceful island, with no sign of human inhabitants. It was a lovely place, with green trees, brightly colored birds, and cool running streams. I roamed around and found a pleasant spot to eat the lunch that I had brought with me. After I had enjoyed my food, I allowed my eyes to close and fell into a pleasant sleep. When I awoke, I felt uneasy. I hurried back to the beach where we had come ashore. My fellow travelers had left tracks in the sand. I found the skins of fruit that they had eaten, and the smokey remains of a fire that they had lit for cooking. But they themselves were gone. They had left me. I was marooned.

I began to walk about in order to examine the valley. I found that the rocks there were not ordinary rocks. They contained precious stones. In many places, I saw the precious stones in heaps, as large as a man's head. I hardly began to feast my eyes on this spectacle when something dreadful caught my eye. I saw black serpents, as large as the trunks of palmyra trees, crawling between the trees. I thought that a serpent-like that could easily swallow an elephant. It was getting lighter, and evidently, the serpents were going to their places of concealment in order to avoid being seen by the 'rukh' the enormous bird of prey. Only at night could they roam about freely in the valley. I walked all over the valley until nightfall, avoiding the places where snakes were likely to hide. Neither thirst nor hunger troubled me in my dread of these serpents which I tried to avoid as best I could.

Searching for a hiding place to spend the night in, I came upon a hole into which I could just crawl. I crept into it, closed the opening with a boulder, and went further in. Before I went much further I realized a terrible thing. What I crept into was not a cave but a hole in the coils of a serpent that was covering its eggs in order to hatch them. As soon as I knew this fact I got so frightened that I lost consciousness. As soon as I got back my senses I crept out, pushed the boulder aside and stepped into the valley, and found it already day. My legs felt like rags, and I could not stand up. I was weak with hunger, thirst, and want to rest. I was lucky to be alive at all. Fortunately, the serpent spared me. As I stood there and looked around, I heard a slap and saw a slab of meat fallen on a rock by my side. I gave a start and looked up to see where it came from, but I could not see the persons who threw the meat. And then I remembered what I heard in my childhood. Merchants who used to go hunting in the mountains for precious stones told me. Those persons would throw large slices of meat into the valley of diamonds. When they were lucky, the meat would fall on the precious stones which stuck to it. Then the rukh, would see the meat, swoop down into the valley and pick up the meat with whatever diamonds stuck to it, and take it to their nests on the mountain peaks.

Then the merchants would make frightful noises, drive away the rukh and collect the precious stones. I no sooner recollected this than I figured out a way of getting out of this accursed valley. I hastily searched for the biggest gems and filled all my pockets with them. Then I removed my turban and tied up the piece of meat to my stomach, after which I lay down, looking up. Soon a bird came down, caught up the piece of meat in its claws, and flew up, taking me along. The bird finally carried me to its nest. Then it tore up the piece of meat as well as my own flesh and began to feed its young. Fortunately for me, there were terrific noises around me, and the bird flew away. I stood up. My face and clothes were wet with my own blood. Soon a merchant ran to the place, saw me, and stopped in amazement. But he soon realized that I did not move, nor did I look dangerous. He took the courage, came nearer, and examined the piece of meat. It contained no precious stones. He lifted up his hands in horror and cried, "O God! I am robbed, swindled!" Then he clapped his hands. I tried to talk to him politely, but he, on the contrary, was very rude and angry with me. "Who are you?" he asked.

"You have come here to rob me of my property!" "Have no fear, good merchant," I said to him. "I am not a thief. I did not steal your wealth. Nor am I a spirit or specter. I am a man, a merchant too. How I happen to be here is a wondrous story. I shall tell it to you. But first, take these precious stones as a friendly gift from me. I picked them in the valley of diamonds where no man ever set foot!" As I said this I took a few of the larger gems and gave them to him. On seeing them, he began to praise me to the skies and said, "Sir, one of these precious stones can keep me in riches all my life. I never saw such gems even with the richest merchants. I am sure, even Kings do not have them." In the meantime, the other merchants also arrived and I told them my tale. When they heard it they were greatly surprised.

"Only God saved you out of that valley," they said, "from which no human being can ever hope to come out alive!" They noticed that I was extremely weak with hunger, carried me to their camp, and gave me food and drink. I was allowed to sleep there a full day and a full night. The next morning we descended the mountain and arrived at the coast. We got into the ship and sailed to the Isle of Camphor. The entire place was covered with very huge camphor trees. In their shade, it is extremely cool even in the hottest summer, and a hundred persons can comfortably lie down in the shade of a single tree. They cut notches in the trunk of these trees and the liquid that came out is collected in pots. Out of this liquid comes fragrant camphor. On this isle, I saw a terrible beast. It faintly resembled a rhino and was much bigger. It was taller than a camel.

I saw on its snout a horn several cubits long. It eats leaves and herbs like a buffalo. But when it is roused even an elephant cannot stand before it. It pierced an elephant and lifted it on its horn. Soon the elephant dies and its fat flows down into the eyes of the beast and blinds it. In this condition, a rukh sees them and carries both the creatures away. On this same isle, I saw a strange variety of buffalo too. We spent a few happy days on this isle. I sold a few of my precious stones and bought gold and silver. One ship could not carry all the gold and silver. Setting sail, we went to many islands, many countries, and many cities. We bought and sold wherever we halted. At last, we reached Basrah and sailing up the river, I finally arrived at Bagdhad with all my cargo, which I took home with me. All my relations and friends were very happy to see me back. Without forgetting a single person, I distributed gifts to all of them. With fine food, costly drinks, rich dresses and ornaments, and fine beds to sleep in, I began to lead a princely life, surrounded by my closest friends. Every day great people used to come to visit me and listen to my account of far off places. I would tell them what all they wanted to know. All those who heard of my strange escapades would congratulate me for coming back alive. Thus ended my second voyage.    

Third Voyage

I was so much surrounded by pleasures that I gradually forgot all my hardships, and I began to tire of the easy life I was leading. The urge to see new places and earn more profits took possession of me. There is no doubt that avarice is dangerous. I was to learn this truth soon enough. I bought some rich merchandise and took it to Basrah. There I saw a huge merchant vessel ready to set sail. I found several friendly merchants ready for a voyage. I could depend upon them in the hour of need. I joined them and got into the vessel. After due prayers we weighed anchor. At the very outset, we had good omens. Wherever we touched land we had profitable trade. We saw many strange things, and nothing happened to mar our happiness. It promised to be a fine voyage.

We were very far away from the land, when, one day, the captain of our vessel, who was gazing at the horizon, suddenly smacked his forehead with his palm, pulled at this beard, tore his shirt, and dashed his turban on the deck. Seeing him thus perturbed, we surrounded him and asked him, "What is the matter?" "Ah, my friends," the captain wailed. "We have been duped by the wind, which has brought us to a region on the ocean which we should have avoided at all costs. Because of our misfortune, we are sailing towards that island there. We are finished. For none has ever set foot on that frightful island and come back alive. It is the isle of monkeys, and we can consider ourselves dead!" Even as he spoke these words, a large army of strange creatures, resembling a cloud of locusts, swam across the sea and soon surrounded our vessel, while some others strayed ashore and shrieked fearfully. Those shrieks were enough to chill anyone's blood. 

We did nothing to provoke those beasts, for they were so many in number that they could have easily destroyed the entire lot of us. Indeed, courage never counts against numbers. The monkeys came onto our ship and began to examine our cargo. I can say that I had never seen any creatures more revolting than those monkeys. Their bodies were covered with long hair. They had dark faces and green eyes. The tallest of them was not more than three spans high. Their facial expressions and cries were extremely frightening. They were grinding their teeth, chattering, and trying to talk to us, obviously. But we could not understand their language. We stood about utterly helpless to do anything. Then those beasts ran up the mast, bit through the sail ropes, and dropped the sails on deck. Then they got possession of the rudder and steered the ship to the shore. They took each one of us ashore, left us on the beach, got into the ship again, and sailed away, out of our sight. Now we were stranded on the island. But how could we stand there in the sand forever? So we started for the interior. Soon we came upon fruit trees and brooks. While plucking the fruit and eating them we saw a huge mansion in the distance. We walked up to this mansion. It was a square and tall structure. A strong wall surrounded it. The gate in this wall was wide open. Nobody was guarding the gate. So we went right in.

Inside, there was a spacious hall. Here we saw unusually large kitchen utensils and iron spits. On the floor, there were mounds of bones, some of which were dry while others were quite fresh. We could not stand the odor. but, as we were extremely weary, we lay down and went to sleep. Shortly after sunset, we were awakened by a noise like thunder, and we saw an enormous, dark person stepping down through the ceiling. He was as tall as a palm tree and uglier than the monkeys. His eyes were red, shining like hot coals. He had front teeth that curled like the tusks of a boar. His lower lip was hanging down and his ears come down over his shoulders. His nails were like a lion's claws. We were petrified with fear of this demon. He sat on a bench by the wall and inspected us one by one. Then he got up, approached me, picked me up by the skin on my neck, as though I were a kitten, turned me this way and that, and felt my head. Evidently, he was not satisfied with me.

I was always a thin person, and the hardships of the voyage made me much more skinny. He threw me down, picked up the one by my side, examined him too, threw him down, and picked up a third. After rejecting everyone else, he picked up our captain. Our captain was a man of a good build. So the demon killed him, and cooked him over the fire and ate him at leisure. He then lay down on the bench and began to snore loudly. We were paralyzed. We did not move until the demon woke up at dawn and went out. Then we wept over our miserable plight. We did not know what to do. There was nothing to prevent us from going out, so we left the building and began to search for a place where we could hide. But the island did not provide a single hiding place. Some of us felt that it was better to drown ourselves in the sea than be killed and eaten up by this demon. Some others said that if we were prepared to die we might as well die trying to kill the demon.

Since death appeared unavoidable we decided to kill the demon somehow. After killing the demon we had no means of leaving the isle. So we gathered the wood which was on the shore and began to build a raft. By sunset, we returned to the mansion. The demon arrived at the usual hour, killed one more of us, and ate him, after which he lay down on a bench and began to snore terrifically. Then we put two of the spit rods in the fire till they were glowing red. We carried the two rods to the demon and thrust the red hot ends in his eyes. The demon began to roar with pain. We had managed to blind the demon, but he was still alive. He searched all over the place to get hold of us, but we managed to keep out of his reach. Finally, we found the door and went out. That was the chance for us to escape.  We ran to the shore, got on to our raft, and pushed off into the sea. Just then we heard a great shout. We saw the blind demon walking towards the shore with the help of a she-demon who was much more ugly. They stood at the edge of the water and began to pelt us with large boulders. Some of the shots were so accurate that most of us fell into the sea and died. Only three of us made good our escape on the raft.  

But fate had allowed us to escape one peril only to face a far worse one. Once ashore, we discovered fresh water and fruit, but soon danger found us. A huge serpent dropped down from a tree and entwined itself around one of our men. We attacked the monster with knives and rocks, but its grip was too terrible. Then still more giant serpents slithered out of the bushes. In terror, we ran this way and that, but the woods were full of these abominable and viperish monsters. Darkness was falling, and I could not find my way back to the beach. I could not rest in the open, for fear of being crushed by a serpent. I decided to build a shelter and began to cut down branches from the trees. I used the wood to build a kind of cage around myself, and inside this, I managed to get some rest for the night. When morning came, I lifted the cage up and walked down along the path, still safe from serpents inside my wooden suit of armor. I only discarded my cage when I reached the beach. And then, looking out to sea I saw my salvation - the sail of another ship. How I jumped for joy, waved my arms, and called out - until at last they spotted me and set down a small boat. Two sailors rowed ashore and rescued me, thanks be to God. Onboard I told my story and all of my remarkable adventures to the captain. Finally, I returned to Basrah and that was the end of my third voyage. 

Fourth Voyage

While we are undergoing hardships we wonder how we can endure them and when they will come to an end. But, once we pass them and fall upon happy times, we find pleasure in looking back upon them and wonder why we worried so much about them. Despite my three voyages of extreme hardships and the fact that I was leading a very happy and luxurious life, I began to feel that it was better that I should be abroad gaining experience rather than sitting at home and idling away my time in pleasures. Also, I was taken up with the desire to trade and make money. Soon this urge was so strong in me that I could not spend another day at home. The wandering urge was upon me once again. Destiny seemed to push me out of my house. Leaving my home and properties, I journeyed to Basrah with cargo which cost me more than what I had ever paid in the past.

There I embarked on a big ship in which several other merchants of Basrah were sailing. The ship was a very fast-going vessel. It went from one country to another and from one island to another in no time. Wherever we touched shore we had brisk trade and handsome profit. But, one day, the captain of the ship dropped anchor in mid-ocean and cried, "This is the end!" Even as he uttered these words a fierce gale began to blow over the waters, causing breakers to rise sky high and hit the ship with the strength of a thousand elephants. In a matter of a few moments, the ship was torn into splinters and the waters swallowed up our precious cargo. What was worse, most of the merchants were swallowed up by the ocean along with their property. Fortunately, I and a few other merchants caught hold of some floating planks. The mighty waves tossed us about for several hours and then the wind hurled us onto an unknown shore. By then we were more dead than alive.

So we lay for the night in the sand where we landed and went to sleep. The next morning we felt somewhat better. So we made for the interior. After marching for some time, we saw a large building in front of us. While we were gaping at it, several dark persons rushed out of it and came towards us. I saw that they were wearing skins instead of clothes. Without uttering a word they herded us inside the building. There I saw a big hall with a high seat on which sat the King. He motioned to us to sit. In the twinkling of an eye the dark people set before us plates filled with strange meat curries. I could not bring myself even to touch them, but my comrades who were quite hungry pounced upon the food and began to gobble it up greedily. It was very fortunate for me that I did not eat that food, as later events showed. The more my friends ate that food the more hungry they appeared to become. For hours they went on consuming whatever was served in their plates. And the effect the food had upon them was quite uncanny. I saw my friends swell with the food inch by inch. Their stomachs kept growing and so did their appetites. I was shocked to see no sign of their hunger being satiated. While my friends ate, the dark men went on smearing their bodies with some sort of ointment. Evidently, this ointment helped their appetites to remain unsatiated. It also had another effect on them, they began to resemble animals in their manner of eating. It was a beastly sight.

Naturally, I could not touch the food before me, having observed the effect it was having on my friends. The dark men tried to anoint me too, but I resisted. I could easily see that these people were cannibals and that they were feeding my friends only to fatten them before killing them. I learned that the King required one roasted man a day, while the others ate raw men. Having understood these things, I began to fear for myself and my comrades, who were no longer normal human beings. They appeared to have lost their intelligence to the same extent that their stomachs were swollen. Soon they were no better than the cattle which were to be slaughtered and the dark people drove them to the meadows where they could graze! I became lean and dry with fear and hunger. The skin stretched tight over my bones. Those dark people lost all interest in me. They clean forgot me. So I easily managed to slip out of the building and began to walk across the island. On the way, I came upon my friends who were being driven like cattle by the dark people. Hiding behind the trees, I managed to keep out of their sight. I walked throughout the night. In my anxiety to escape from the cannibals, I did not think of sleep at all. I must have walked six days and six nights without pause before I reached a place where normal human beings lived. 

This place was a city on the opposite side of the island. The people surrounded me by speaking my language. It was a long time since I had heard my language and I told them what I had passed through. They congratulated me for my having come out alive from such ghastly experiences, and gave me food and drink. After an hour's rest, I was ready to go with them to their King. These good people paddled me across to another isle where the King was living. This island which was the capital was very thickly populated. I saw all sorts of commodities in the shops. The streets were clean and wide. I saw several persons passing along these streets, riding horses without saddles. So, in my very first interview with the King, I asked him, "Master, how is it that people in your land ride horses without saddles? Is it not much more comfortable to ride with a saddle?" "What are saddles?" the King asked me puzzled.

"In that case," I said to him, "permit me to prepare a saddle for you in a couple of days. You can see for yourself how comfortable and convenient it is to ride in." The King agreed. I engaged a capable carpenter and instructed him how to prepare a saddle of wood. I covered it with soft padding and decorated it with gold embroidery and colored tassels. Then I went to a blacksmith and got a bit and a pair of spurs prepared according to my instructions. I would not let him leave out the minutest of my instructions. Having got all the necessary things ready, I proceeded to the King's stable and selected the best horse. I arranged the saddle on its back and the bit in its mouth. I decorated the horse's neck with a collar with blue tufts. Then I took it before the King. The King got into the saddle and rode the horse. He realized the comfort of a saddle and bridle, praised my skill, and gave me a good deal of money and many gifts.

Then the minister approached me with the request that I should provide his own horse, too, with a saddle and a bridle. I did so. Soon all the important people in the city were buying saddles from me for their horses and paying me good money. In a very short time, I became one of the richest men in the land. The King was very friendly towards me. "Look, Sindbad," he said to me, one day, "You are my closest friend, and I cannot look upon you as a stranger even if I try. So I want you to do me a favor." "Master," I replied, "you have only to order me!" "Well then," he said, " I want you to marry a very beautiful lady of noble birth, great wealth, and accomplishments. I know that you will not leave me if you marry her and settle down here. Do not deny me this, Sindbad!" I did not know what to say to him. My mind was in confusion. I bowed my head in order to avoid looking at him. "Why are you silent?" he asked me. "Master," I replied, "I am your slave. Do what you please with me." At once, he sent for the bride, the Kadi, and the witnesses, and got me married without delay. My wife was not only a graceful woman but she was also quite wealthy, having many houses, lands, and other possessions. The King gave us a palace to live in and provided us with innumerable slaves. 

I was very happy for several months. My wife was such an amenable companion to me that I planned to take her with me to Baghdad when I got the chance to leave this country, secretly. It is quite true that man proposes but God disposes. Soon I was to learn that all my plans were nothing but dreams. One day, one of my neighbors lost his wife. I went to console him and said, "Grieve not, brother. All grief is futile. After a time you will not feel this sorrow. And may God grant it! the lady you will marry next may turn out to be even a better companion." He appeared to be greatly surprised at my words. "What are you talking about?" he said. "Don't you know that you are talking to one who is to die in a short time?" It was now my turn to be surprised. "Why do you say that?" I asked him.

"By the mercy of God, you enjoy good health! I hope you are not contemplating suicide!" "Ah, I can see that you don't know the customs of our country!" he said. "We bury a man or woman when his wife or her husband dies. No one is exempted, not even the King." "What a horrible custom!" I exclaimed. "I would never submit myself to such a custom under any circumstances." While we were talking, his relations came to express their sorrow for the death of his wife and his own impending death. Then followed preparations for the funeral. The dead lady was decked out with all ornaments to the burial ground in a coffin, her husband walking behind the hearse. His friends and relations walked behind him. Presently we reached a hill by the shore. On the hill, there was a deep well. A large stone slab covered its mouth. Now, this slab was pulled aside and the coffin was lowered into it. Then my friend was made to follow the coffin with the help of a rope. 

To this rope was tied a jug of water and seven loaves of bread. My friend did not put up the least struggle when they lowered him into the wall of death. The slab was pushed into place over the well and we came back home. I thought that I had never seen anything crueler in my whole life. As soon as I went to the palace I saw the King and said to him, "Master, I have been to many countries but never to one where a living husband is buried along with his dead wife. Kindly let me know if the ghastly custom applies to foreigners." "It does!" the King replied. "Any foreigner who is living here shall be buried alive if his wife happens to die." My stomach turned when I heard these words. My heart began to throb with the thought that my wife might have died in my absence, and I rushed home. To my relief, my wife was in full health, and I said to myself, "Don't worry, Sindbad. Your wife will outlive you and you will not be buried alive!" But this hope proved to be utterly false, because, after only a short time, my wife fell ill, was bedridden for a few days, and then left the world to join God. My sorrow and fright knew no bounds. Did I escape being eaten by cannibals only to be buried alive? If I had any lingering hopes of getting exempted from the custom, it was completely wiped out when the King came to me and condoled with me on my coming end! He promised that he would be present with all his courtiers when I was to be lowered into the well of death.

My wife was decorated with all her costly ornaments. As I walked behind her hearse, the King graciously walked by me. Soon we reached the hill by sea. The slab that covered the well was pushed aside. The dead body of my wife was lowered into the deep well. Then I told the King, "It is very unfair that you should force me to observe a custom of your country. I have a wife and children in my own country, waiting for my return." But none heeded me. The rope was passed under my arms. They tied a jug of water and seven loaves of bread on the same rope. Then I was lowered into the pit. "We will pull up the rope when you untie yourself!" they told me as I descended. But, having reached the bottom, I jerked the rope, indicating that I wanted to be pulled up again. Disgusted with my behavior, they dropped the rope after me, closed the well, and went away. The interior of the well where I found myself looked like an extensive cave. I smelt the stink of decaying bodies. There was some illumination from above, so the place was not entirely dark. I fell on the ground and shed tears for a long time. This is a fit punishment for me. Why could I not be happy at home?" I wailed. "I could have died when the ship was wrecked in mid-ocean! I could have died in the valley of diamonds! I could have become food for the cannibals! Why did I marry in this god-forsaken country and face such beastly death?"

Soon hunger and thirst began to torment me. I decided to keep myself alive as long as possible. So I began to consume my food and water in meager quantities. I cleaned a place for myself to lie down at night. Gradually my supply of food and water ran out and I was faced with the prospect of dying of thirst and hunger. While I was sleeping prepared to die, I was disturbed from my sleep by a queer sound. Straining my ears I could make out the noise of respiration. Then I heard the noise of some creature scurrying off. I boldly pursued the creature. I ran up and down the uneven ground, stumbled and fell, got up, and resumed my pursuit until I could see the light of a single star in front of me! I was greatly surprised. But as I proceeded further I found that the opening led into a narrow passage. Probably it was the work of a fox or wolf which made use of it in order to eat the dead.

I crawled through this passage and emerged into the open. The sky above was blazing with stars. I fell on my knees and offered a prayer of gratitude to God. Here I was safe. The people in the city did not come to this side of the hill. I went back to the cave of the dead, looted the ornaments on the dead bodies, made a bundle of them, came out again, and hid the bundle at the foot of the hill near the shore. I made several trips to the cave and collected immense quantities of gold, silver, and precious stones. Eating whatever I could get hold of, I lived in that deserted place for many days before I saw a ship. At the sight of the first ship on the horizon, I took off my turban, unfurled it, and ran to and fro on the beach while the cloth fluttered in the wind. Luckily for me, I was noticed by the people on the ship. The ship made for the shore and I was taken aboard with all my bundles. The captain of the ship approached me and said, "My friend, I have been sailing ships in these waters all my life, but I have never once seen a soul on this coast. How did you happen to be here?"

"Sir," I told him, "many of us merchants were sailing in a big ship when a terrible cyclone wrecked the ship and left us to the mercy of the sea. I was the only one who escaped alive on a large plank which saved not only me but also my cargo. Finally, I drifted here."  To please the captain I offered him one of the richest ornaments that I took from the cave of death, but the captain refused it, saying, "No! I can accept money from a passenger but not from one whom I have rescued from a shipwreck. Several times I have provided out of my own funds food, dress, and fare for those whom I have rescued. Men should behave like human beings towards other men!" The captain's humane outlook pleased me. We had a happy voyage. I spent most of my time recollecting my experiences. All the hardships which I had gone through now appeared to belong to a dream. But when I thought of the time I spent in the cave of death my blood would turn cold. In the course of time, we touched Basrah. After spending a few days there, I went up the river and arrived in Baghdad. My people were extremely happy to see me and the precious cargo I brought home.       

Fifth Voyage

 The four voyages I had made brought me immense wealth. Despite the hardships I had undergone, I came to believe, that these voyages were lucky for me in the matter of gaining both wealth and experience. So after leading a life of ease and luxury for some time, I prepared myself for my fifth voyage. I went to the market and bought such stuff as would fetch a great profit. With this cargo, I proceeded to Basrah, where I saw a brand new ship that was for sale. The ship pleased me so much that I settled its price and bought it. Then I selected an experienced captain and a crew of able sailors to man the ship. My slaves took my cargo aboard the ship. I brought these slaves from my home to accompany me on my voyage. Some merchants contracted to sail with me in my ship and paid the fare.

This time I was sailing in my own ship. Having had a good deal of experience on the seas, I thought I could give my captain good advice. We left Basrah in high spirits. The wind was favorable and the sea quite calm. Our ship touched many a port and we had profitable trade wherever we touched shore. Presently we reached an uninhabited isle. The anchor was lowered and the merchants went ashore in order to explore the isle. There they came upon an egg of rukh. Not knowing what it was they threw stones at it until the shell cracked and the leg of the chick inside came out. The foolish merchants dragged the chick out, cut it up, and divided it up among themselves. Then they returned to the ship. My heart jumped when I learned what the merchants had done. "You have done a frightful thing!" I told them. "Soon the chick's parents will return and find out what has happened. Then they will seek us out and destroy us! The only way left for us is to fly away as fast as we can." I ordered the sails to be raised and got the ship turned towards the sea. The merchants ordered the meat of the chick to be cooked, but before they sat down to eat it the sky was darkened by two dark clouds that flew across the sun. As the clouds approached us we could make out the rukhs. Their cries sounded like thunder. The birds flew high over our ship and we saw two huge boulders held in their claws. Each one of them was bigger than our ship.

I knew at once how the rukhs had decided to avenge the murder of their chick by our merchants. I saw one of the birds let go of a boulder straight onto our ship. But our captain saved the ship very artfully, by pulling the rudder aside. The boulder fell very close to our ship and it made such a deep hole in the water that the bottom of the ocean was visible to us for a brief moment. Oru ship tossed like a bit of cork on the wave caused by the boulder. And then the second boulder was dropped by the second bird. It fell down smashing one-half of the ship to matchwood. Those of us who were not crushed to death under the rock was thrown into the sea. I tried hard to save myself, by luck, caught hold of a piece of wood that saved me from sinking. I sat astride the piece of wood and used my legs like paddles until the wind and the waves took me to another isle. I lay down on the sand on the beach for an hour in order to regain my strength and calm myself.

Then I got up and started on a survey of the isle. Without any exaggeration, the isle was a paradise on earth. I saw ripe fruit on trees wherever I turned. Birds of all shapes and colors were to be seen on the trees and their music was very lovely. The ground was completely covered with flowers of many colors, like a beautiful carpet of wonderful design, from which emanated a sweet fragrance. Without wasting my time in idle thoughts, I ate the fruit of the trees, drank the crystal clean water of a brook, lay down on the soft carpet of flowers, and went to sleep. It was getting dark by the time I woke up. Though my surroundings were extremely pleasant. I was rather afraid of spending the night alone on that isle. That night I had a very restless sleep with fearful dreams. I felt better when at last dawn came. I got up and began wandering all over the place. Presently I reached the edge of a pond that was being fed by a waterfall.

I saw a very old man sitting at the water's edge, covered with a cloth of leaves which were knitted together. "An old sailor," I said to myself, "who got shipwrecked." I accosted the old man. He replied only with some signs. "O Venerable man," I said, "how do you happen to be here?" He shook his head sadly and suggested that I should carry him on my shoulders across the water so that he could eat fruit on the trees which stood beyond the water. I thought I should help the poor old fellow. I stooped and took him on my shoulders. He twisted his legs together around my neck and held my head with his hands. I carried him across the water and bent down, saying, "Carefully, now, old one!" But the old fellow made no attempt to get off my shoulders. On the other hand, he pressed his thighs more powerfully against my neck and sat more heavily on my shoulders. I was surprised at the behavior of the man. But I was still more surprised when I observed that the legs of the old fellow were full of hairs, like those of a buffalo. I was seized with a vague fear. I tried to throw the fellow down but he squeezed my neck more powerfully and I could not breathe. My eyes became dim. I made one more effort to get free of him and then fell down unconscious. When I came to my senses again the old devil was still clinging to my neck, but not so tightly as to restrict my breathing.

Seeing that I breathed more easily the old one gave me a vicious kick on my chest with his feet. With that, I stood up. Then he bent forward and stretched his hand, indicating that I should walk under the fruit trees. I obeyed him and he began to select good fruit from the trees and eat them. If I stopped without his permission or walked faster than he wanted, he gave me terrible kicks. Thus he made me walk exactly as he wished. I carried him the whole of that day, like a beast of burden. Even when I lay down to sleep at night, he did not come off my shoulders. As soon as it was day again he woke me up with a kick. I carried him one more day and night. He made me take him wherever he desired, by dint of kicking me mercilessly. I do not think that I ever went through such physical torture and humiliation in all my life. He was much more strong than any youth. Even donkeys get more consideration from their masters than I got from this old devil. And, what was worse, it looked as though, I could never get rid of him. "Why did I take pity upon this wretch?" I wondered to myself. "It would have been far better if I had died!" Several weeks elapsed. One day, while I was carrying the old devil, I saw some gourd creepers with very large fruit on them. I noticed a large, dry gourd and picked it up. I hollowed it, filled it with the juice of grapes, closed its opening with a cork, and left it in the sun.

After a few days, the grape juice fermented and became wine. When I got the chance of passing that way I picked up the gourd and drank some of the wine. I hoped that the wine would give me new strength and that the burden on my shoulders would feel less heavy. So I drank just enough to give me new strength and energy, but not so much as to make me giddy. Indeed I felt so light after taking the wine that I began to skip and dance and clap my hands with pleasure. The old devil must have noticed the effect the wine had on me. He signed to me that he should have a go at the gourd. But for my fear for him, I would not have obeyed him. He took the wine from me and tasted it a little first. Then he lifted the gourd and swallowed the entire lot, flinging the empty gourd far away into the trees. Soon he was tipsy. He began to dance on my shoulders. Then he began to weaken. His muscles appeared to lose their strength. He began to tilt one way and the other, unable to sit firmly on my shoulders. Seeing that the old fellow was no longer master of himself, I unlocked his legs from around my neck and threw him off with such a force that he fell away. He lay where he fell. He was too drunk to move. I searched for a large stone among the trees, and with it, I crushed his head. The evil one died and I was at last rid of him. I do not think God would be merciful to him.

When I saw the corpse I seemed to gain new strength and I rushed down to the seashore. There I saw, to my great joy, many sailors and also a ship at anchor. They had touched shore in order to provide themselves with fruit and drinking water. The moment they saw me they flocked around me and flooded me with questions. I narrated to them the strange experiences which I had undergone on this isle. When I told them how the old one possessed me and tormented me, they exclaimed, "It is a marvel that you escaped from the Old Man of the Sea. There is no knowing how many sailors got strangled between his thighs. By the grace of God, you are the only man to escape!" They took me to their ship and gave me decent clothes to wear. The captain also heard my story, congratulated me, and then set sail.

After many days at sea, we arrived at the port of a city. The captain informed me that it was a large city, where merchants of many countries came to trade. I was also informed that the city was known as the City of Apes because of the numberless apes that lived on the trees around the city. I decided to go into the city and find some employment by which I could maintain myself. So I started out with a merchant who had become a good friend of mine and went into the city. This man gave me a bag and advised me to fill it with pebbles. "You will find crowds of people coming out of the gates with bags similar to this," he said. "Join these crowds and do exactly what they do, and you will be able to earn decently." I followed his instructions and filled my bag with pebbles. At the city gate, I saw a crowd of people coming out. All of them had bags with them. My friend introduced me to them, and said, "This man is a very poor man and from a far-off country. God will bless you if you teach him how to earn his livelihood even as you do." Soon we came to a deep valley where there grew trees that were so tall that no man could climb them. I learned that these trees were coconut trees. I saw both coconuts and apes at the top of the trees. We halted under these trees. I saw the others set their bags on the ground and hit the apes with the pebbles. I too did the same. 

At this, the apes grew angry and began to pelt us with coconuts. We gathered them and filled our bags with them. When the bags were full, we took them on our shoulders and went into the city. Here my friend bought all the coconuts I brought and gave me their price. Thereafter, day after day, I went to the valley, got coconuts, and sold them, until I had put away enough to pay for my passage to the Sea of Pearls. On my voyage, I took a large number of coconuts. These I exchanged among the islands for pepper and cinnamon. These commodities brought me so much profit on the rest of my voyage, that, by the time I reached the Sea of Pearls, I was in a position to engage pearl divers for myself. Here luck favored me and I found good pearls in my oysters. These pearls brought me an immense fortune and I began to think of going home. I at once began preparations for my voyage home. I bought a large quantity of aloe wood in which those isles abound. I sold them at a profit on the way and finally reached Basrah and then Baghdad. My friends and relations were immensely happy to see me back safe. As I had returned richer than ever before, I gave away gifts and presents to those who deserved them and settled down to a life of peace and happiness. 

Sixth Voyage

One evening, I was sitting in the courtyard in front of my house and enjoying the cool breeze when I saw some merchants pass along the street. I could easily see that they were returning from abroad. They were seeing their motherland after a long time and their eyes shone with happiness. One who has not left his motherland can never experience that kind of happiness. I wanted to go on trade once again. I at once bought such things as were suitable for trade and took them to Basrah. There I found a large ship on the point of setting sail. Since there were many merchants sailing in it, I took my cargo aboard and joined them. We had a pleasant time seeing new places, bartering our goods and going from one city to another and one country to another. One day, while we were taking the air on the deck, our captain uttered a sharp cry, dashed his turban on the deck, slapped his face, and pulled his beard.

We ran to him and asked him what the matter was. "Know, my friends," he said, "that we have lost our way and are now upon an unknown sea. Let us pray to God since he alone can save us!" Then the captain climbed up the mast to trim the sails. Just at that moment, there was such a frightful wind that the rudder was smashed to pieces. The captain hastily climbed down the mast and said, "There is no power on earth to save us, friends, we are doomed!" There was panic amongst the passengers. They began to bid one another goodbye. In a few moments, the terrific wind flung the ship against a mountain and the ship was blown to bits. Most of the passengers sank, while the rest of us swam onto boulders projecting out of the sea. The mountain against which our ship was flung was on the edge of an isle and projected into the sea. Fragments of wrecked ships were strewn all over the beach where we arrived. The cargo which had belonged to those ships was lying about. Some of the bales were broken and precious commodities were scattered around. After walking for a while I came to a brook which, instead of joining the sea, flowed out of a mountain crevice and flowed towards the interior of the isle.

After flowing some distance it disappeared into a cave. The banks of this stream were thick underfoot with rubies and other colored precious stones, diamonds, and pieces of gold and silver. Also, its bed was littered with gems instead of pebbles, and the whole place blazed with the reflected light of so much riches that no living human being had ever set eyes on. Aloes of the best quality grew on either side of the stream. In this island there was another strange stream, a stream of raw liquid amber melted in the heat of the sun to the consistency of liquid tar flowed down to the sea, where the fishes greedily drank it and, after a while, vomited it upon the face of the water. There it changed color and turned into a hard substance called ambergris. Carried back to the beach, this substance scented the whole island. Even the liquid amber spread a perfume of musk about the shore. All this was utterly useless to man because none might touch upon that island and leave it alive since every ship which came near the island was dashed to pieces by the waves. And we, who reached the island alive, found ourselves the poorest persons on earth, doomed to starve to death amidst wealth which could have bought any number of sumptuous feasts. Such food as we had we scrupulously divided. But my companions were not accustomed to starvation. They consumed their share of food in a day or two and then began to die off one by one. 

I, on the contrary, ate my share of food very sparsely, and only once a day. Those who lived washed those who died and, wrapping them in shrouds made up of rich fabrics which strewed the shore, buried them in the sand. To add to our hardships, the moist air of the sea caused a sickness of which the survivors, all except me, died. After burying the last of my companions in a grave that was dug with my own hands, I was left alone on that island. In spite of the frugality of my eating my share of food was running short. "Why did I not die," I cried, "while there was someone to bury me? Now there is nobody to wash me and bury me when I die!" I dug a grave for myself. When I felt death approaching I wanted to crawl into it. I hoped that the wind would cover me up with sand. I cried bitterly for my foolishness in voyaging a sixth time, having narrowly escaped death five times. "How many times did I repent and begin again?" I said to myself. "Did I not have enough wealth in Baghdad to suffice for the most reckless expenditure throughout two lifetimes?" Presently I got rid of this dark mood and became practical. "Where does this stream go?" I asked myself. It must emerge out of the hill. Then where did it flow? Was it not better that I died attempting to find an answer to that question than that I starved myself to death, doing nothing?

This thought brought me some hope. I collected large branches of the aloes and bound them together with cords. On this, I placed some ship's planks and prepared a raft, slightly less broad than the stream itself. I loaded the raft with large sacks of rubies, emeralds, and other precious stones. I also collected some bales and ambergris. Then I went aboard with the remaining food and a couple of planks for oars. My raft sailed along with the current and entered the cave. It was absolutely dark inside the cave. My raft banged against the sides. My head came into contact with the rocky roof which I could not avoid because of the darkness. Soon I was heartily sick of my adventure and wished that I died on the open sands of the shores. But it was too late to turn back. For the stream was descending all the while and gaining speed every moment. My oars were of no use and I discarded them. I lay hugging my raft to avoid dashing my head against any projection above. Soon I fell into a death-like sleep.

I do not know whether it was sleep or a swoon, but I thought it lasted a hundred years. When I, at last, opened my eyes again there was air and sunshine around me. I realized that I was lying on an extensive lawn covered with soft grass. My raft was tied up on the bank of a stream, and there were several Ethiopians standing about watching me. Having seen me awake, they addressed me in their language which I did not understand, and I could not answer them. But one of them stepped forward and asked me in excellent Arabic, "who are you? Where did you come from? What was the purpose of your visit to our country? You see, we are peasants. While we were watering our fields we saw your raft floating down the current, and you sleeping on it. We brought the raft to the bank and laid you down. We did not want to wake you up and disturb your sound sleep. Please tell us how you happened to come here."

"Give me some food first," I said. "I shall tell you whatever you want to know." Those good people gave me food and my hunger was satiated. I got back my strength and told them my story. When they heard my account they began to talk among themselves in surprise. The man who acted as my interpreter also told me what those people said. It appeared they wanted to take me to their King and make me narrate my adventures to him. I gladly agreed to this suggestion. They took me to their King, while some of them carried my raft with all the wealth on it. The King received me very warmly. At his request I told him my story, not leaving out a single detail. He congratulated me for having come out alive from such dangers. And I opened up my treasures and showed him what profits my adventures had brought me. The King was amazed at the quantities of precious stones and ambergris that I had brought. It turned out that he was a good judge of diamonds. I made a gift of one gem from each variety, and in his turn he let me remain as his guest in his palace and treated me with great respect. This enabled me to enjoy not only the friendship of the King but also that of his courtiers. They asked me several details about Baghdad which was my native city, and also about the administration of that great city.

I gave them an impressive account of our ruler Khalifa Harun-al-Rashid. At last, the King said, "I can see that your Khalifa is a great man. I have a desire to cultivate his friendship. I am thinking of sending him valuable gifts. Will you carry them for me?" "With great pleasure," I answered. "I shall not only carry your gifts to him but also I shall tell him that you are a wise King whose friendship is worth cultivating." Then the King sent for the gifts which he wanted me to take to the Khalifa. Among them was a jug carved out of a Ruby. It was a finger thick and six inches high. It was filled with pearls as large as nuts. Another gift was a carpet made from the skin of an enormous serpent. It had the capacity to heal any sick man who lay down upon it. Another gift was a quantity of two hundred camphor balls. Other gifts included two elephant tusks of enormous size. Giving me a letter which was to be delivered to the Khalifa, the King said, "You must convey my apologies to your Khalifa for sending him such insignificant gifts. Tell him that I love him with all my heart. But, Sindbad," he added, "why don't you stay with me? I shall find someone else to carry these gifts to the Khalifa." "O King," I replied. "your generosity overwhelms me. But there is a ship ready to sail for Basrah, and I am anxious to see my country, my family, and my children once more. Let me go."

He had no intention of keeping me against my will. So he sent for the captain and the other merchants who were sailing in this ship, put me in their charge, paid my passage in advance, and loaded me with gifts. I have these gifts with me even now. I took leave of the King as well as the other officials of the court and went aboard the ship. I reached Basrah without any mishap and finally arrived in Baghdad. On leaving the ship I went to see the Khalifa, paid him my respects, and handed him the letter from the King of Ethiopia. The Khalifa read the letter, examined the gifts I had brought, and asked, "Is he really as rich as he appears to be?" "Sir," I replied, "he is not only rich but he is also just and able in administration. The people are so happy that I never noticed the slightest rupture between the people and the King. Indeed he is worthy of your friendship." Then the Khalifa presented me with a robe of honor and rich gifts. He commanded his scribes to write down my story and treasure it among his state papers. I hastened to my house and lived there surrounded by riches and respect, among my friends and relations, leading a life of ease and luxury.

Seventh And Final Voyage

I decided not to make any more voyages. I was getting old, and I began to develop a craving for the peace of my home and an aversion to prolonged stay in alien lands. I had had my share of dangers and hardships. I was the richest man in Baghdad, and the Khalifa often sent for me and made me recite my adventures to him. One day, Khalifa Harun-al-Rashid sent for me. As I was about to start narrating the adventures of my voyages, he said, "Sindbad, I have prepared a reply to the King of Ethiopia. I have also got ready some gifts for him. I want you to convey them to him. You know the place well and he will be glad to see you again. I want you to start today. Let us not keep him waiting for our reply." I felt my eyes cloud over and I was in confusion. But I did not want to anger the Khalifa by betraying my emotion, and I told him that I was ready for the voyage. 

The Khalifa handed me a thousand dinars for expenses, his reply, and the gifts which I had to convey to the King of Ethiopia. Among the gifts, there was a mattress of red velvet, two quilts of different colors, a hundred robes of silk, a vase of white carnelian, and a pair of Arab horses. It was with the utmost reluctance that I left Baghdad, went to Basrah, and took a ship. After sailing for a couple of months I arrived on the isle where the King of Ethiopia lived. I gave the King the letter from the Khalifa as well as the presents. He admired the Khalifa's friendliness and pressed me to stay with him for a long time. I stayed, however, only for a few days and then bade him goodbye. I went aboard a ship that was going to Basrah, taking with me some more presents from the King of Ethiopia. The wind was favorable and our voyage was quite pleasant. On the way, we touched Sun Island where the merchants traded. A week after we left this island we experienced heavy rain. We covered our cargo with canvas so that it did not get soaked, and prayed to God. The Captain, who had climbed up the mast and peered all around for a long time, at last, came down, and we noticed that his face was quite pale. He looked at us with lackluster eyes and began to tear his beard silently. We ran to him and asked him what the matter was. 

"Pray to God!" he said. "For he alone can save us! Or, have a good cry and bid one another goodbye. I may as well tell you, we've lost our way and come to a strange sea where no ship has ever sailed." Then he opened his chest, took out some snuff, sniffed it up to his nose, took out a small book, read a few pages, and turned to us saying, "Ah, my worst fears are confirmed. The land that we see on the horizon is dangerous. There are frightful monsters and serpents in it. As for this sea, there are whales in it that can swallow an entire ship. Now you know the worst. Farewell!" He hardly finished speaking when suddenly the whole boat was lifted up and dropped down again on the waves. We froze with terror. The ocean was churned into foam because of three whales which looked like mountains. These whales were chasing our ship. The biggest of them opened its mouth, which reminded me of a mountain valley, and caught hold of the ship. Before the monster swallowed up the ship, I managed to jump into the sea. The next moment the ship disappeared into the mouth of the monster. Then the three whales dived into the sea and swam away. I caught hold of a plank of wood, a piece of the ship which fell out when the largest whale grabbed the ship and clambered upon it. I was tossed about by the waves until I was thrown upon the shore of an island. On this island, I found many fruit trees and a swift-flowing river.

I thought of making use of this river for my travel since it was a river that saved me when I was stranded on the isle of precious stones. If this river did not take me to a place of safety it was bound to end all my troubles, making this my last voyage. I satisfied my hunger with the fruit, collected some branches of a tree, and made myself a float. I did not know at the time that my float was made of the branches of the sandalwood tree. I had no ropes to bind the branches together, so I selected some strong creepers and prepared a rope. I placed a heap of fruit upon my float and got upon it. The moment I pushed it into the water, the float began to fly like an arrow. My head reeled because of its speed and I fell forward unconscious on the heap of fruit. Presently I came to again and was horrified by a thunderous roar. I looked around and noticed that the river was flowing at a tremendous speed. 

In front of me, I noticed that the river seemed to end abruptly. Now I knew that there was a cataract where the river seemed to end, and the thunderous roar proceeded from the falling water. I was heading for that cataract. I was doomed. Unable to see myself fall headlong down the cataract and get crushed to a pulp on the rocks below, I shut my eyes and hugged the float. My mind was filled entirely with thoughts of God. My raft was now over the spot where the water fell. I even felt it tilt downwards. But the next moment it stopped dead. In an utter surprise, I opened my eyes, lifted my head, and noticed that I and my raft were caught in a net. I saw the people who had thrown the net standing on the bank of the river. They pulled on the net and got me out. I lay down on the bank, shivering with cold, more dead than alive. An old man with a white beard said some kind words to me and covered me with warm clothes. He massaged my body till I felt warm and strong again.

I could sit up but could not speak. The old man made me walk up to a bathing place, gave me a refreshing bath, and had my body anointed with fragrant oils. Then he took me to his house. The members of his family were very friendly towards me. They offered me a good seat and a hearty meal. Then my host showed me to a room which was set apart for me, left some slaves to do my biddings, and went away to look to his affairs. I was there for three days, but during that time neither my host nor his family tried to get any information from me. During these three days, I regained my normal health and energy. On the fourth day, my host came to me. "I hope you lack for nothing," he said. "God willed that I should be at that spot to save you in time. But who are you? Wherefrom have you come?" I thanked the gentleman for what he had done to me and told him my tale. I informed him that I was a merchant who had made several voyages. The old man listened to my story and finally said, "I advise you to sell your cargo, for it will fetch a good price here." His words surprised me greatly. I did not understand what he was talking about. For I had nothing with me except the clothes I had on. I had no cargo at all. But I did not wish to say so to my host. I told him that the matter could be seen into. "It is the simplest thing on earth," my host persisted. "Come with me to the market. We shall sell only if we get a good bid. Otherwise, the merchandise shall remain in my godown." 

"Do as you please sir," I said. "I am entirely in your hands. Use your best judgment. You need not even inform me what you propose to do." Then we proceeded to the marketplace. There, to my surprise, I saw my ferry being examined by merchants and brokers. I could hear them exclaim, "By God, the best variety of sandalwood! Never saw anything like it before!" Then only did I know what my cargo was, and I put on a proud and reserved expression. The old man gave the signal for the auction. Someone made a bid of one thousand dinars and the old man raised it to two thousand. It was then raised to three thousand. When the bidding reached a figure of ten thousand, the auctioneer turned to me and asked me if I would accept the amount. I told him that I would not. The old man turned to me and said, "Son, ten thousand is a fair price considering the present state of the market. If you are agreeable, I shall add another hundred and buy the stuff myself."  "Sir," I said, "If you want to buy it, I have nothing to say, It is yours!" The old man asked his slaves to take the float to his godown, and we returned home. There he handed over to me ten thousand and one hundred dinars. 

When we returned home, he said to me: "I am a very old man and have no son, but I have a daughter who is young and ready to marry. The Most High has smiled on you by saving you seven times from the sea. In all my long life I have not heard of another man who has survived more than three shipwrecks. Would you do me the honor of taking her to be your wife?” I was silent and made no answer, for his generosity was great. But he continued to press me and say that he wished for nothing greater than this, and so at last, I accepted. I was married to his daughter and her father arranged for a noble wedding feast. I found her perfect in beauty and character, and she was dressed in rich clothes, covered with precious ornaments and gems worth a mint of money. We lived happily together for some years until her father passed to another world. Peace be upon him. After I became the head of the household, I began to know the other city folk more closely, and I discovered that they had a secret. Once a month their forms altered and they changed into birds. I asked a man who was a friend to me: “Next time this happens, carry me upon your back so that I too may know what it feels like to fly?”

“This cannot be,” he replied, but I did not cease to ask him until at last, he agreed to do as I wished. I climbed on his back and he took me so high that I heard the angels glorifying God in the heavens. I was greatly thrilled and called out: “Praise be to God in his perfection!” No sooner as I said these words than a great fire came from heaven and the birds scattered this way and that. My carrier cursed my name and dropped me on top of a mountain. Here I met two young men carrying rods of gold. I saluted them and asked who they might be. “We are the servants of most High!” they replied. They gave me a rod of gold and walked by my side along a ridge on the edge of the mountain. We heard the cries of a man: “Save me, and God will save you from all your troubles!” he called out. The next moment a great serpent came into a view. The monster had already half-swallowed the man. His head and the top part of his body were still sticking out of his mouth and he was calling out to me. I rushed down and beat the serpent’s head with my goldenrod until it released its victim and fled. We continued along our way together until at last, we found a group of men-birds. One of these agreed to carry me back to the city. My wife met me, rejoicing in my safety, and told me to beware of flying with the bird-folk, for they were related to devils and did not know how to mention the name of the Almighty, which was why the fire had come down against us.

I did not wish to remain any longer in this city, and so we sold all our property for a fine sum of money and boarded a ship back to Basrah from where we traveled safely to Baghdad. When my friends and family heard of my return, they welcomed me and marveled with great joy for I had been away for an entire 27 years. Then I foreswore travel before the most High and I will journey no more for this seventh and last voyage had shown me enough of Earth and the skies. I thanked the Lord (may He be praised and glorified) for bringing me back to my family, friends, and home country.

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