[Go back to The Sixth Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor]
After my return from my sixth voyage, in which I made abundant profit, I abode some time in all possible ease and delight, feasting and making merry day and night, till I began once more to long to sail the seas and see foreign countries and company with merchants and hear new things. So I packed up a quantity of precious stuffs into bales and repaired with them to Bassora, where I found a ship ready for sea, and in her a company of considerable merchants. I shipped with them and we set forth on our venture, in health and safety, and sailed with a fair wind, till we came to a city called Medinet-es-Sin; but, [awhile after we had left this place,] as we fared on in all cheer and confidence, devising of traffic and travel, there sprang up a violent head wind and a tempest of rain fell on us and drenched us and our goods. So we covered the bales with drugget and canvas, lest they should be spoiled by the rain, and betook ourselves to prayer and supplication to God the Most High, for deliverance from the peril that was upon us. But the captain arose and girding his middle, tucked up his skirts and climbed to the mast-head, whence he looked out right and left and fell a-buffeting his face and plucking out his beard. So we asked him what was to do, and he replied, saying, "Seek ye deliverance of God the Most High from this our strait and bemoan yourselves and take leave of each other; for know that the wind hath gotten the mastery of us and hath driven us into the uttermost of the seas of the world." Then he came down from the mast-head and opening his chest pulled out a bag of cotton, from which he took a powder like ashes. This he wetted with water and after waiting awhile, smelt it; then he took out of the chest a little book, in which he read awhile and said to us, "Know that in this book is a marvellous saying, denoting that whoso cometh hither shall surely perish, without hope of escape; for that this part of the world is called the Clime of Kings, in which is the sepulchre of our lord Solomon, son of David, (on whom be peace!) and therein are serpents of vast bulk and fearsome aspect: and what ship soever cometh to these parts, there riseth to her a great fish out of the sea and swalloweth her up with all on board."
Great was our wonder at the captain's speech, but hardly had he made an end of speaking, when the ship was suddenly lifted out of the water and let fall again and we heard a terrible great cry like the hurtling thunder, whereat we were smitten with terror and became as dead men, giving ourselves up for lost. Then there came up to us a huge fish, as big as a great mountain, at whose sight we became wild for terror and made ready for death, marvelling at its vast size and gruesome aspect; when lo, a second fish made its appearance, bigger than the first. So we bemoaned ourselves and bade each other farewell ; but, at that moment, up came a third fish bigger than the two first, whereupon we lost the power of thought and reason and were stupefied for the excess of our fear. Then the three fish began circling about the ship and the biggest opened its mouth to swallow it, and we looked into its mouth and behold, it was wider than the gate of a city. So we besought God the Most High and called for succour upon His Apostle (on whom be blessing and peace!) when, suddenly, a violent squall of wind arose and smote the ship, which rose out of the water and settled upon a great reef, where it broke up and fell asunder and all on board were plunged into the sea. As for me, I tore off all my clothes but my shirt and swam, till I fell in with a plank, to which I clung and bestrode it, in the most piteous plight for fear and distress and hunger and thirst, whilst the winds and the waters sported with me, and the waves carried me up and down.
Then I reproached myself for my folly in quitting my hardly earned repose to follow new ventures and said to myself, "O Sindbad, every time [thou undertakest a voyage,] thou sufferest hardships and weariness; yet wilt thou not renounce sea-travel; or, an thou say, 'I renounce,' thou liest in thy renouncement. Endure then [with patience] that which thou sufferest, for indeed thou deservest all that betideth thee. Verily, all this is decreed to me of God the Most High, to turn me from my covetousness, whence arises all that I endure, for I have wealth galore." Then I returned to my senses and said, "Verily, this time I repent to God the Most High, with a sincere repentance, of my lust for gain and venture and will never again name travel with my tongue nor in my thought." And I ceased not to humble myself to God the Most High and weep and bewail myself, recalling my former state of happiness and cheer, and thus I abode two days, at the end of which time I came to a great island, abounding in trees and streams.
I landed and ate of the fruits of the island and drank of its waters, till I was refreshed and restored and my strength returned to me. Then I walked about till I came to a great river of sweet water, running with a strong current; whereupon I called to mind the raft I had made aforetime and said to myself, "Needs must I make me another raft [and commit myself to the current;] haply I may win out of this strait. If I escape I have my desire and I vow to God the Most High to foreswear travel; and if I perish, I shall be at peace from toil and misery."
So I gathered together great store of pieces of wood from the trees, (which were all of the finest sandal-wood, though I knew it not,) and made shift to twist grasses and creepers into a kind of rope, with which I bound the wood together and so contrived a raft. Then I embarked thereon and committed myself to the current, saying, "If I be saved, it is of God's grace;" and it bore me on three days, whilst I lay on the raft, eating not and drinking, when I was athirst, of the water of the stream, till I was giddy and weak as a new-fledged bird, for stress of fear and hunger and fatigue.
At the end of this time, I came to a high mountain, under which ran the river; which when I saw, I was afraid, by reason of the straitness I had suffered in my former underground journey, and I would fain have stayed the raft and landed in that place; but the current over-powered me and drew it into the subterranean passage; whereupon I gave myself up for lost and said, "There is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme!" However, after a little, the raft shot out of the tunnel into the open air and I saw beneath me a wide valley, into which the river fell with a noise like thunder and a swiftness as of the wind. The torrent bore me along the valley, holding on to the raft, for fear of falling, whilst the waves tossed me right and left, nor could I avail to stop the raft nor turn it to the shore, till I came to a great and goodly city, wherein was much people.
When the townsfolk saw me on the raft, falling down with the current, they threw out a net and ropes upon the raft and grappling to it, drew it ashore with me, whereupon I fell down amidst them, as I were a dead man for stress of fear and hunger and lack of sleep. After a while, there came up to me an old man of reverend aspect, well stricken in years, who welcomed me and threw over me abundance of handsome clothes, wherewith I covered my nakedness. Then he carried me to the bath and brought me cordial drinks and delicious perfumes. When I came out, he bore me to his house, where his people made much of me, and stablishing me in a pleasant place, set rich food before me, of which I ate my fill and returned thanks to God the Most High for my deliverance. Then his pages brought me hot water, and I washed my hands, and his handmaids brought me silken napkins, with which I dried them and wiped my mouth. Moreover, he assigned me an apartment in his house and charged his pages and women to wait upon me and do my will. So they were assiduous in my service, and I abode with him in the guest-chamber three days, taking my ease of good eating and drinking and sweet scents, till I recovered from my fatigues and life and strength returned to me.
On the fourth day, my host came in to me and said, "Thou cheerest us with thy company, O my son, and praised be God for thy safety! But wilt thou now come down with me to the bazaar and sell thy goods? Belike with their price thou mayst buy thee wherewithal to traffic." When I heard this, I was silent awhile for amazement and said in myself, "What mean these words and what goods have I?" Then said he, "O my son, be not troubled nor careful, but come with me, and if any offer thee what contenteth thee for thy goods, take it; but, if not, I will lay them up for thee in my storehouses, against a fitting occasion." So I bethought me and said to myself, "Let us do his bidding and see what are these goods of which he speaks." And I said to him, "O my old uncle, I hear and obey; I may not gainsay thee in aught, for God's blessing is on that which thou dost."
So he carried me to the market, where I found that he had taken the raft in pieces and delivered the sandal-wood of which it was made to the broker, to cry for sale. Then the merchants came and bid for the wood, till its price reached a thousand dinars, when they left bidding and my host said to me, "O my son, this is the current price of thy goods: wilt thou sell them for this or shall I lay them up for thee in my storehouses, till the price rise?" "O my lord," answered I, "I leave it to thee: do as thou wilt." Then said he, "Wilt thou sell the wood to me for a hundred dinars over and above what the merchants have bidden for it?" And I replied, "I will well." So he bade his servants transport it to his store-houses and carrying me back to his house, counted out to me the purchase money; after which he laid it in bags and setting them in a privy place, locked them up with an iron padlock and gave me the key.
Some days after this, my host said to me, "O my son, I have somewhat to propose to thee, wherein I trust thou wilt do my bidding." Quoth I, "What is it?" And he said, "I am a very old man and have no child but one daughter, who is young and comely and endowed with abounding wealth and beauty. Now I have a mind to marry her to thee, that thou mayst abide with her in this our country, and I will make thee master of all that I possess, for I am an old man and thou shalt stand in my stead." I was silent and made him no answer, whereupon, "O my son," continued he, "do my desire in this, for I wish but thy good; and if thou wilt but do as I say, thou shalt be as my son and all that is under my hand shall be thine. If thou have a mind to traffic and travel to thy native land, none shall hinder thee; so do as thou wilt." "By Allah, O my uncle," replied I, "thou art become to me even as my father, and I am a stranger and have undergone many hardships; nor, for stress of that which I have suffered, is aught of judgment or knowledge left to me. It is for thee, therefore, to decide." With this, he sent for the Cadi and the witnesses and married me to his daughter in great state. When I went in to her, I found her a perfect beauty, well shapen and graceful, clad in rich raiment and covered with a profusion of trinkets and necklaces and other ornaments of gold and silver and precious stones, worth millions of money. She pleased me and we loved one another; and I abode with her in all delight and solace of life, till her father was taken to the mercy of God the Most High. So we washed him and buried him, and I laid hands on all his property. Moreover, the merchants instated me in his office, for he was their chief and none of them bought aught but with his knowledge and by his leave.
When I became acquainted with the townsfolk, I found that at the beginning of each month they underwent a transformation, in that their faces changed and they became like unto birds and put forth wings, wherewith they flew away out of sight and none abode in the city save the women and children; and I said in myself; "When the first day of the month comes, I will ask one of them to carry me with them, whither they go." So, when the time came, I went in to one of the townsfolk and begged him to carry me with him, that I might divert myself with the rest and return with them. "This may not be," answered he; but I importuned him, till he consented. Then I went out with him, without telling any of my family or servants or friends, and he took me on his back and flew up with me so high into the air, that I heard the angels glorying God in the pavilion of the heavens, whereat I wondered and exclaimed, "Praised be God! Extolled be His perfection!"
Hardly had I made an end of speaking, when there came out a fire from heaven and all but consumed the company; whereupon they all fled from it and descended and casting me down on a high mountain, went away, exceeding wroth with me, and left me there alone. When I found myself in this plight, I repented of what I had done and reproached myself for having undertaken that for which I was unable, saying, "There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme! No sooner am I delivered from one affliction than I fall into a worse." Presently, as I sat, knowing not whither I should go, there came up two young men, as they were moons, each staying his steps with a rod of red gold. So I went up to them and saluted them. They returned my greeting and I conjured them by Allah to tell me who and what they were. Quoth they, "We are devout servants of the Most High God, abiding in this mountain," and giving me a rod of gold after the likeness of those they had with them, went their ways and left me.
I walked on along the mountain-top, leaning on the staff and pondering the case of the two youths, till I saw a serpent come forth from under the mountain, with a man in her jaws, whom she had swallowed even to the navel, and he was crying out and saying, "Whoso delivereth me from this serpent, God will deliver him from every strait!" So I went up to the serpent and smote her on the head with the staff, whereupon she cast the man forth of her mouth. Then I smote her a second time, and she turned and fled; whereupon he came up to me and said, "Since my deliverance from yonder serpent hath been at thy hands, I will never leave thee, and thou shalt be my comrade on this mountain." "With all my heart," answered I, and we fared on along the mountain, till we fell in with a company of folk, and I looked and saw amongst them the very man who had cast me down there. So I went up to him and spoke him fair, excusing myself to him and saying, "O my friend, it is not thus that brethren should deal with brethren." Quoth he, "It was thou who [well-nigh] destroyed us by glorifying God on my hack." "Excuse me," answered I; "for I had no knowledge of this; but if thou wilt take me with thee, I swear not to say a word." So he relented and consented to carry me with him, on condition that, so long I abode on his back, I should abstain from pronouncing the name of God or glorifying Him. Then I gave the wand of gold to him whom I had delivered from the serpent and bade him farewell, and my friend took me on his back and flew with me as before, till he brought me to the city and set me down in my own house.
My wife came to meet me and gave me joy of my safety, saying, "Henceforth beware of going forth with yonder folk, neither consort with them, for they are brethren of the devils, and know not the name of God the Most High, neither worship Him." " And how did thy father with them?" asked I. "My father," answered she, "was not of them, neither did he as they; and now he is dead, methinks thou wouldst do well to sell all we have and with the price buy merchandise and return to thine own country and people, and I with thee; for I care not to tarry here, since my father and mother are dead." So I sold all my late father-in-law's property, piecemeal, and looked for one who should be journeying thence [to Bassora,] that I might join myself to him.
Presently, I heard of a company of the townsfolk who had a mind to make the voyage, but could not find a ship; so they bought wood and built them a great ship, in which I took passage with them and paid them the hire. Then we embarked, my wife and I, with all our moveables, leaving our lands and houses and so forth, and set sail, with a favouring wind, for Bassora, where we arrived in due course, after a prosperous voyage. I made no stay there, but freighted another vessel and set out forthright for Baghdad, where I arrived in safety and repairing to my house, foregathered with my kinsfolk and household and laid up my goods in my storehouses. When my friends and family heard of my return, they came to welcome me and give me joy of my safety; and I related to them all that had befallen me, whereat they marvelled exceedingly, having given up hope of me, for that I had been absent from them seven-and-twenty years in this my seventh voyage.
Then I foreswore travel and vowed to God the Most High to venture no more by land or sea, for that this last voyage had surfeited me of travel and adventure; and I thanked God and praised and glorified Him for having restored me to my country and home and friends. Consider, therefore, O Sindbad, O landsman,' continued the host, addressing himself to the porter, 'what sufferings I have undergone and what perils and hardships I have endured [before coming to my present state of prosperity].' 'For God's sake, O my lord,' answered the porter, 'pardon me the wrong I did thee.' And they ceased not from friendship and loving fellowship, [abiding] in all cheer and delight and solace of life, till there came to them that which destroyeth delights and sundereth companies, that which layeth waste the palaces and peopleth the tombs, to wit, the Cup of Death, and glory be to the Living One who dieth not!
[Go to The City of Brass]
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