[Go back to The First Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor]
I abode a while, as I told you yesterday, in the enjoyment of all the comforts and pleasures of life, until one day the longing seized me to travel again and see foreign countries and traffic and make profit by trade. So I took a great sum of money and buying goods and gear fit for travel, packed them into bales. Then I went down to the river-bank, where I found a handsome new ship about to sail, well manned and provided and equipped with sails of fine cloth. I took passage in her, with a number of other merchants, and we weighed anchor the same day. Fair weather attended us, and we sailed from place to place, buying and selling and bartering, till chance brought us to a lovely island, abounding in trees laden with ripe fruits and fragrant flowers and limpid streams and musical with the song of birds; but there was no dweller there, no, not a blower of the fire. The captain made fast with us to this island, and the merchants and sailors landed and walked about, enjoying the shade of the trees and the song of the birds, that chanted the praises of the One, the Victorious, and marvelling at the works of the Omnipotent King. I landed with the rest and sitting down by a spring of sweet water, that welled up among the trees, took out some victual I had with me and ate of that which God the Most High had allotted me. I sat thus, enjoying the pleasant freshness of the breeze and the fragrance of the flowers, till presently I grew drowsy for very pleasance and lying down, soon fell asleep. When I awoke, I found myself alone, for the ship had sailed with all who were therein, and left me behind, nor had one of the merchants or sailors bethought himself of me. I searched the island right and left, but found neither man nor genie, whereat I was beyond measure troubled and my gall was like to burst for excess of chagrin and anguish and concern, for that I was left quite alone, without aught of meat or drink or worldly gear, weary and heart-broken. So I gave myself up for lost and said, "Not always does the pitcher come off unbroken. I escaped the first time and happened on one who brought me to an inhabited place, but this time there is no hope of falling in with such a deliverer." Then I fell a-weeping and wailing and gave myself up to despair, blaming myself for having again adventured upon the perils and hardships of travel, whenas I was at my ease in my own house in my native city, taking my leisure with pleasant food and rich raiment, and lacking nothing, neither money nor goods, and this the more after all the toils and dangers I had undergone in my first voyage, wherein I had so narrowly escaped destruction. And I repented me of having left Baghdad and exclaimed, "Verily we are God's and to Him we return!" For indeed I was even as one mad, and I rose and walked about the island, unable for trouble to abide in any one place. Then I climbed a tall tree and looked in every direction, but saw nothing but sky and sea and trees and birds and islands and sands. However, after a while, I caught sight of some great white thing, afar off in the interior of the island; so I came down from the tree and making for that which I had seen, found it a huge white dome of vast height and compass. I walked all round it, but found no door thereto, nor could I muster strength or nimbleness to climb it, by reason of its exceeding smoothness and slipperiness. So I marked the spot where I stood and went round about the dome to measure its compass, which I found fifty good paces.
As I stood, casting about how to gain an entrance, the sun was suddenly hidden from me and the air became dark. Methought a cloud had come over the sun, but it was the season of summer and the day drew near to sun-down; so I marvelled at this and lifting my head, looked steadfastly at the sun, when I saw that what I had taken for a cloud was none other than an enormous bird, whose outspread wings, as it flew through the air, obscured the sun and veiled it from the island. At this sight my wonder redoubled and I bethought me of a story that I had heard aforetime of pilgrims and travellers, how in certain islands dwells a huge bird, called the roc, which feeds its young on elephants, and was assured that the dome aforesaid was none other than one of its eggs. As I looked and wondered at the marvellous works of God the Most High, the bird alighted on the egg and brooded over it with its wings covering it and its legs spread out behind it on the ground, and in this posture it fell asleep, glory be to Him who sleepeth not I When I saw this, I arose and unwinding the linen of my turban, twisted it into a rope, with which I girt my middle and bound myself fast to the roc's feet, saying in myself, "Peradventure, this bird may carry me to a land of cities and inhabitants, and that will be better than abiding in this island."
I passed the night on wake, fearing to sleep, lest the bird should fly away with me at unawares; and as soon as the dawn broke and day appeared, the roc gave a great cry and spreading its wings, flew up with me into the air. It ceased not to soar, till I thought it had reached the limit of the skies, after which it descended, little by little, till it lighted on the top of a high hill. As soon as I found myself on the earth, I made haste to unbind myself; quaking for fear of the bird, though it took no heed of me nor was ware of me, and loosing the linen of my turban from its feet, made off. Presently, I saw it catch up something from the ground and rise into the air with it, and observing this narrowly, saw it to be a huge great serpent, with which it flew away out of sight. I marvelled at this and faring on, found myself on a crest overlooking a great valley, exceeding wide and deep and bounded by vast mountains, that soared high into the air: none could see their summits, for the excess of their height, nor could any avail to climb up thereto. When I saw this, I blamed myself for that which I had done and said, "Would God I had remained in the island! It was better than this desert place; for there I had at least fruits to eat and water to drink, and here are neither trees nor fruits nor streams. But there is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme! Verily, as often as I am quit of one peril, I fall into a worse and a more grievous."
However, I took courage and walking along the valley, found that its soil was of diamond, the stone wherewith they pierce jewels and precious stones and porcelain and onyx, for that it is a hard dense stone, whereon neither iron nor steel hath effect, neither can we cut off aught therefrom nor break it, save by means of the leadstone. Moreover, the valley swarmed with huge snakes and vipers, as big as palm-trees, that would have made but one gulp of an elephant; and they came out by night, hiding during the day, lest the rocs and eagles should pounce on them and tear them in pieces, as was their wont, why I know not. And I repented of what I had done and said, "By Allah, I have made haste to bring destruction upon myself!" As I went along, forgetttng my hunger and thirst in my concern for my life, the day began to wane and I looked about for a place where I might pass the night, being in fear of the serpents. Presently, I caught sight of a cave near at hand, with a narrow doorway; so I entered and rolled a great stone that I found within to the mouth of the cave and stopped it up, saying in myself; "I am safe here for the night; and as soon as it is day, I will go forth and see what destiny will do." Then I looked within the cave and saw at the further end a great serpent brooding on her eggs, at which my hair stood on end but I raised my eyes to heaven and committing my case to fate and destiny, abode all that night without sleep till daybreak, when I rolled back the stone from the mouth of the cave and went forth, staggering like a drunken man for stress of watching and fear and hunger.
As I walked along the valley, there fell down before me a great piece of meat; but I saw none, at which I marvelled greatly and presently bethought me of a story I had heard aforetime of merchants and pilgrims and travellers, how the mountains where are the diamonds are fenced about with great perils and terrors, nor can any win thither; but the merchants who traffic in diamonds have a device by which they get them, that is to say, they take a sheep and kill and skin it and cut it in quarters and cast them down from the mountain-tops into the valley, where, the meat being sticky with the fresh blood, some of the jewels cling to it. There they leave it till midday, when the eagles and vultures swoop down upon it and carry it up to the mountain-tops, whereupon the merchants come and shout at them and scare them from the meat. Then they come and taking the diamonds, go their ways with them and leave the meat to the birds and beasts; nor can any come at the diamonds, but on this wise. So, when I saw the carcase fall and bethought me of the story aforesaid, I filled my pockets and girdle and turban and the folds of my clothes with great plenty of the best of the diamonds; and as I was thus engaged, down fell another great quarter of meat before me. Then I unrolled the linen of my turban and setting the meat on my breast, bound myself thereto and lay down on my back, so that I was hidden by the meat, which was thus raised above the ground. Hardly had I done this, when an eagle swooped down upon the meat and driving its talons into it, flew up with it and me clinging thereto and alighted on the top of one of the mountains, where it fell to rending the carcase; but there arose a great noise of shouting and clattering of wood, at which the bird took fright and flew away.
Then I loosed myself from the meat, with clothes daubed with blood therefrom, and stood up; whereupon up came the merchant, who had cried out at the eagle, and seeing me standing there, bespoke me not, but was affrighted at me and shook with fear. However, he went up to the carcase and turning it over, found no diamonds sticking to it, whereat he gave a great cry and exclaimed, "Alas, my disappointment! There is no power and no virtue but in God, with whom we seek refuge from Satan the accursed!" And he bemoaned himself and beat hand upon hand, saying, "Alas, the pity of it! How cometh this?" Then I went up to him and he said to me, "Who art thou and how camest thou hither?" "Fear not," answered I. "I am a man and a good one and a merchant. My story is a rare one and the manner of my coming hither is a marvel. So be of good cheer; thou shalt have of me what will gladden thy heart, for I have with me great plenty of diamonds, each better than aught thou couldst get otherwise, and I will give thee thereof what shall suffice thee; so fear nothing." So saying, I gave him abundance of diamonds and he rejoiced therein and thanked and blessed me. Then we talked together till the other merchants, each of whom had thrown down his piece of meat, hearing me in discourse with their fellow, came up and saluted me. I told them my story and how I came thither, and they gave me joy of my safety, saying, "By Allah, a new life hath been decreed to thee, for none ever won to yonder valley and came off thence alive before thee; but praised be God for thy safety!"
I passed the night in their company in a safe and pleasant place, beyond measure rejoiced at my deliverance from the Valley of Serpents and my arrival in an inhabited land; and on the morrow we set out and journeyed along the crest of the mountains, seeing many serpents in the valley, till we came to a wide and fair island, wherein was a grove of great camphor-trees, under each of which a hundred men might shelter. When the folk have a mind to get camphor, they pierce the upper part of the Stem with a long gimlet, whereupon the liquid camphor, which is the sap of the tree, runs out, as it were milk, and they catch it in vessels, where it hardens like gum; but, after this, the tree withers and becomes dry firewood. Moreover, there is in this island a kind of wild beast, called a rhinoceros, that feeds upon grass and leaves of trees, as do oxen and buffaloes with us; but it is a huge beast, bigger of body than the camel, and has a great and thick horn, half a score cubits long, amiddleward its head, wherein, when cleft in twain, is the likeness of a man. Travellers say that this beast will carry off a great elephant on its horn and graze about the island and the sea-coast therewith and take no heed of it, till the elephant dies and its fat melting in the sun, runs down into the rhinoceros's eyes and blinds him, so that he lies down on the shore. Then comes the roc and carries off both elephant and rhinoceros, to feed its young withal. Moreover, I saw in this island many kinds of oxen and buffaloes, whose like are not found in our country.
Here I sold some of my diamonds for gold and silver money and bartered others for the produce of the country, and loading them upon beasts of burden, fared on with the merchants from valley to valley and town to town, buying and selling and viewing foreign countries and the works and creatures of God, till we came to Bassora, where we abode a few days, after which I continued my journey to Baghdad and arrived at home with great store of diamonds and money and goods. I foregathered with my friends and relations and gave alms and largesse and made presents to all my friends and companions. Then I betook myself to eating and drinking and making merry with my fellows, and forgot all my sufferings. And all who heard of my return came and questioned me of my adventures and of foreign countries, and I related to them all that had befallen me, whereat they wondered exceedingly and gave me joy of my safe return. This, then, is the end of the story of my second voyage; and to-morrow, God willing, I will tell you what befell me in my third voyage.'
The company marvelled at his story and ate the evening meal with him; after which he ordered an hundred dinars to be given to the porter, who thanked him and blessed him and went his way, wondering at what he had heard. Next morning, as soon as it was day, he rose and praying the morning-prayer, repaired to the house of Sindbad the Sailor, even as he had bidden him, and gave him good-morrow. The merchant welcomed him and made him sit with him, till the rest of the company arrived; and when they had well eaten and drunken and were merry and in good case, their host began as follows, saying, 'Hearken, O my brothers, to the story of my third voyage, which is more wonderful than those you have already heard. Know that...
[Go to The Third Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor]
Payne, John (1842-1916). The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night. London. 1901. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version. Wollamshram Vol. V. Wollamshram Vol. VI. Wollamshram Vol. VII. Wollamshram Vol. VIII. Wollamshram Vol. IX. Please consult the Wollamshram edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version.
1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM