Sagar's Adventures

 Sagar's Adventures

This story takes us back to the year 1815, and at that time there lived in Surat a wealthy merchant, named Kuber. From the west coast of Africa to east as far as Malaya and Java, Kuber's ships traded in spices, textiles, ivory, in fact everything that yielded a goodly profit. Kuber had only one son, called Sagar, and this good looking youth showed great promise in business, so Kuber felt that his son should travel and learn the finer arts of successful trading. With this thought in mind, Kuber called his son one morning, "My son," he said. "The time has come when you should know the foreign markets, with whom we do business. Take one of our ships and visit the ports on the African coast, and we shall see if you have good judgement in buying profitable goods. So Sagar, with a picked crew, sailed for Africa. The first few days were uneventful, then they encountered bad weather, which worsened as they neared the coast of Africa. On the sixteenth day land was sighted, and as several of the sails were badly ripped, Sagar decided to anchor in a sheltered inlet, to carry out repairs. With the idea of getting fresh water and fruit, Sagar, with some of the crew, rowed ashore. It appeared to be a desolate part of the coast, but after battling their way through the thick undergrowth, they heard shouting and screams in the distance.

Unmindful of any danger, Sagar and his men hurried through the bush to find out what was amiss. They soon came to a path, and headed towards them was an Arab cavalcade, led by a bearded ruffian on a fine horse. Behind the leader were about fifty slaves men and women, chained together, whom the Arab guards were lashing with their long whips to make the poor devils go faster. Sagar stood resolutely in the centre of the path and called upon the leader to halt. "Why are you ill treating these people?" he demanded. The leader glared at him. "I am Ibrahim, the great slave trader," he snorted. "This carrion will fetch a good price. But out my way, or by God, you will join them." "Not so fast," declared Sagar, who refused to be scared of this evil looking man. "If these men and woman are for sale, what is your price?" The Arab glared at Sagar, and then with a smirk, named a figure that sounded like an emperor's ransom. After considerable haggling, the Arab grudgingly lowered his demand, though he swore that one of his captives was a princess, worth all her weight in solid gold. "Stop your silly haggling," said Sagar in a contemptuous tone. "I will give you half of what you demand for all these slaves including your so called princess." To Sagar's surprise, the Arab agreed, and after Sagar had paid over most of the money his father had given him to purchase trading goods, the slaves were unshackled, and lost no time in disappearing into the jungle back to their homeland.

As Sagar gladly watched the slaves scurry away to freedom, two of the guards led forward a lovely young maiden, accompanied by an elderly woman. The princess was certainly beautiful, thought Sagar. She was rather tall and although her clothing was stained with so much travel, she bore herself proudly. "Thank you sire for rescuing us from bondage," she said in a beautifully modulated voice. "I am princess Zaynab, the daughter of King Al-Samandal of Japhet. My nurse and I were abducted by these villain's two years ago, but so far they have made no attempt to ransom me." Sagar suggested, "It will be best for me to take you back to my homeland, then arrangements can be made to contact your people in Japhet." When the ship reached Surat, and Sagar confessed to his father that virtually all the money had been spent to buy the freedom of slaves, Kuber became extremely angry and branded Sagar a fool. But later, when his father met the princess, he was soon captivated by her beauty and charm. Father and son discussed for many hours what to do about the Princess, and in the end, it was agreed that the princess should remain in Surat, whilst Sagar took one of his ships, loaded with merchandise, and sail to the Persian Gulf to find the Kingdom of Japhet. Preparations for the voyage were soon underway, and in the meantime Sagar and the Princess became greatly attached to each other. When the ship was ready to sail, Sagar was highly amused to discover that his father had renamed to ship 'The Princess' and the bow was adorned with a magnificently carved figure head of Princess Zaynab.

The port of Japhet proved easy to find, and when the ship was moored at the quayside, Sagar noticed that several bystanders were pointing at the figure head on the ship, and jabbering excitedly. Soon afterwards a number of armed soldiers boarded the ship, and when confronted by Sagar, they pinioned his arms, and heedless of his protests, marched him into the town. Hemmed, in by a jeering crowd, Sagar and his escort at last reached the palace and Sagar was hauled in front of the King. "O Commander of the Faithful by God," announced the officer of the guard. "Here is the infidel who commands the ship which has an effigy of our beloved princess." "Speak up," commanded the King, glaring at Sagar. "Tell us the whereabouts of Princess Zaynab, or by nightfall your bones will be crunched by the mangy curs that roam the markets." Sagar quickly regained his composure, and told the King how he had rescued the Princess from slave traders in Africa and that, now, the Princess was safe and well in Surat under the protection of his father. The King nodded with satisfaction. "If all you say is true, you have done well. I myself will sail to Surat," and he commanded Sagar to have his own ship ready to leave the following morning. At dawn the King accompanied by his sons and his chief minister and army commander, put to sea in his flagship, with Sagar's ship, "The Princess" leading the way.

Arriving at Surat the two ships were given a warm welcome, and Princess Zaynab was first to welcome his father, the King, after two long years of separation. When the King has listened to the Princess's story of her ordeal with the slave traders and her attachment to Sagar, he announced his willingness for the two to marry and live in Surat, but the wedding ceremony must take place in Japhet. Two weeks later, Sagar with his father Kuber, went on board with King's flag-ship and a happy wedding party set sail to Japhet. Unbeknown to everyone, the chief minister had always had designs on his own son marrying princess Zaynab, and the thought of her marrying the son of a foreign merchant filled him with an ungovernable rage. Late one night Sagar, unable to sleep, came on deck to enjoy the cool breeze. The chief minister had silently followed Sagar from his cabin, and making sure no one else was on deck, suddenly pounced on Sagar and threw him overboard. Fortunately a seaman in the stern saw what happened and gave the alarm 'man over-board'. A boat was soon lowered and as it was a bright moonlit night, the boatmen soon discovered Sagar swimming strongly towards the ship. As Sagar climbed wearily on board again, he was met by the King, who had already been told of his minister's murderous attempt, and angrily had ordered the hapless man to be bound in irons and cast into the sea. The remainder of the voyage went smoothly, and the great day came in Japhet when Sagar and the princess were married!  

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