[Go back to The Second Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor]
As I told you yesterday, I returned from my second voyage with great increase of wealth, God having requited me all that I had lost, and I abode awhile at Baghdad in the enjoyment of the utmost ease and prosperity, till I was once more seized with longing for travel and adventure and yearned after traffic and gain, for that the heart is naturally prone to evil. So I laid in great plenty of suitable goods and repairing to Bassora, found there a great ship ready to sail, with a numerous company of merchants and others, men of worth and piety and consideration. I took passage with them and we set sail, commending ourselves to the blessing of God the Most High and trusting in Him to bring our voyage to a safe and prosperous issue. We fared on from sea to sea and from island to island and city to city, in all delight and contentment, buying and selling and taking our pleasure, till, one day, as we sailed, midmost the surging sea, swollen with clashing billows, the master, who stood in the ship's side, examining the sea in all directions, cried out with a great cry and bade furl the sail and cast out the anchors. Then he buffeted his face and plucked out his beard and rent his clothes, saying, "Alas!" and " Woe worth the day! O merchants, we are all lost!" So we said to him, "O master, what is to do?" and he replied, "Know, o my brethren, (may God preserve you,) that the wind has gotten the better of us and driven us out of our course into mid-ocean, and fate, for our ill fortune, hath brought us to the Mountain of the Zughb, who are a folk like apes, never fell any among them and came off alive, and my heart misgives me that we are all dead men."
Hardly had he made an end of his speech when the ship was boarded by an innumerable multitude of the islanders, who are the most frightful of wild creatures like apes, foul of favour and little of stature, being but four spans high, yellow-eyed and black-a-viced and covered with black hair like felt; none knoweth their language nor what they are, and they shun the company of men. They swarmed like locusts about the vessel and the shore, and we feared to strike them or drive them away, because of their vast multitude, lest, if we slew one, the rest should fall on us and kill us, for numbers prevail over courage; so we let them do their will, albeit we feared they would plunder our goods and gear. They swarmed up the cables and gnawed them in sunder, and on like wise they did with all the ropes of the ship, so that it fell off from the wind and stranded upon the mountain. Then they laid hands on all the merchants and crew, and landing us on the island, made off with the ship and its cargo we knew not whither.
We abode on the island, eating of its herbs and fruits and drinking of its streams, till, one day, we espied in its midst what seemed an inhabited house. So we made for it and found it a strong castle, compassed about with lofty walls and having a gate of ebony, with two leaves, both of which stood open. We entered and found within a spacious courtyard, with many high doors opening upon it, and at the farther end a great stone bench and brasiers, with cooking gear hanging thereby and great plenty of bones thereabout; but we saw no one and marvelled thereat exceedingly. Then we sat down in the courtyard and presently falling asleep, slept from the forenoon till sundown, when we were awakened by a rumbling noise in the air. The earth shook under us and behold, there came down upon us from the top of the castle a huge creature, in the likeness of a man, black of colour and tall of stature, as he were a great palm tree, with eyes like coals of fire and tusks like boar's tusks and a vast big mouth like the mouth of a well. Moreover, he had lips like camel's lips, hanging down upon his breast, and ears like two djerms, falling over his shoulders, and the nails of his hands were like lion's claws.
When we saw this frightful monster, we fell down and became as dead men for excess of fear and terror. He sat awhile on the bench, then, coming to us, took me up in his hand and turned me over and felt me, as a butcher feels a sheep, and I but a little morsel in his hands ; but finding me lean and in poor case, for stress of toil and trouble and weariness, let me go and took up another, whom in like manner he turned over and felt and let go; nor did he cease to feel the rest of us, one after another, till he came to the master of the ship. Now he was a stout broad-shouldered fellow, fat and in good case; so he pleased the monster, who seized him, as a butcher seizes a beast, and throwing him down, set his foot on his neck and broke it; after which he fetched a long spit and thrusting it into his fundament, brought it forth of the crown of his head. Then, lighting a great fire, he set over it the spit with the dead man thereon, and turned it over the coals, till the flesh was roasted, when he took the spit off the fire and set it [upright in the ground] before him. Then he tore the body, limb from limb, as one joints a fowl, and rending the flesh with his nails, fell to eating of it and gnawing the bones, till there was nothing left but some bones, which he threw on one side. This done, he lay down on the bench and stretching himself out, fell asleep and snored like the death-rattle of a lamb or a cow, with its throat cut; nor did he wake till morning, when he rose and went out.
As soon as we were certified that he was gone, we began to talk with one another, bemoaning ourselves and saying, "Would God we had been drowned in the sea or that the apes had eaten us! That were better than to be roasted over the coals; by Allah, this is a foul death! But what God wills cometh to pass and there is no power and no virtue save in Him, the Most High, the Supreme! We shall assuredly perish miserably and none will know of us; for there is no escape for us from this place." Then we arose and roamed about the island, so haply we might find a means of flight or a place to hide us in, for indeed death was a light matter to us, so we were not roasted and eaten. However, we could find no hiding-place and the evening overtook us; so, of the excess of our terror, we returned to the Castle and sat down.
Presently, the earth shook under us and the black came up to us and turning us over, felt us, one after another, till be found one to his liking, whom he took and served as he had done the captain, killing and roasting and eating him; after which he laid down on the bench and slept and snored all night, like a beast with its throat cut, till daybreak, when he arose and went out as before. Then we drew together and said to one another, "By Allah, we were better cast ourselves into the sea and be drowned than be roasted and eaten, for this is a vile death!" "Rather let us cast about to kill him," quoth one of us, "and be at peace from him and rid the Muslims of his barbarity and tyranny." Then said I, "O my brothers, if there is nothing for it but to kill him, let us carry some of this wood and planks down to the sea-shore and make a boat, so, if we succeed in killing him, we may either embark in it and let the waters carry us whither God will, or else abide here till some ship pass, when we will take passage therein. If we win not to kill him, we will embark in the boat and put out to sea; and if we be drowned, we shall at least escape being slaughtered and roasted; whilst if we escape, we escape, and if we be drowned, we die martyrs." "By Allah," said they all, "this is a good counsel;" and we agreed upon this, and set about carrying it out. So we haled the pieces of wood [that lay about] down to the beach and making a boat, moored it to the strand, after which we stowed therein somewhat of victual and returned to the castle.
No sooner was it dark than the earth shook under us and in came the black upon us, as he were a raging dog. He came up to us and feeling us, one by one, took one of us and killed and roasted and ate him, after which he lay down on the bench and snored like thunder. As soon as we were assured that he slept, we arose and taking two iron spits of those set up there, heated them in the fiercest of the fire, till they were red-hot, when we gripped fast hold of them and going up to the giant, as he lay snoring on the bench, thrust them into his eyes and pressed upon them, all of us, with our might, so that his eyes were put out and he became blind. Thereupon he gave a great cry, that our hearts trembled thereat, and springing up from the bench, fell a-groping after us, blind-fold. We fled from him right and left and he saw us not, for he was altogether blind; but we were in deadly fear of him and gave ourselves up for lost, despairing of escape. Then he made for the door, feeling for it with his hands, and went out, roaring aloud, so that the earth shook under us, for the noise of his roaring, and we quaked for fear.
We followed him out of the castle and betook ourselves to the place where we had moored our boat, saying to one another, "If this accursed wretch abide absent till the going down of the sun and come not to the castle, we shall know that he is dead; and if he come back, we will embark in the boat and paddle till we escape, committing our affair to God." But, as we spoke, up came the black, with other two as they were ghouls, fouler and more frightful than he, with eyes like red-hot coals; which when we saw, we embarked in haste in the boat and casting off the moorings, pushed out to sea. As soon as the giants caught sight of us, they cried out at us and running down to the sea-shore, fell a-pelting us with rocks, whereof some reached us, and other some fell into the sea. We paddled with all our might till we were beyond their reach, but the most part of us were slain by the stone-throwing, and the winds and waves sported with us and carried us into the midst of the surging sea, swollen with clashing billows. We knew not whither we we went and my fellows died one after another, till there remained but myself and two others on board the boat; for, as often as one died, we threw him into the sea. We were sore exhausted for stress of hunger, but we heartened one another and paddled with our might, till the winds cast us upon an island, as we were dead men for fear and hunger and weariness.
We landed and walked about the island, which abounded in trees and streams and birds, eating of the fruits and rejoicing in our escape from the black and our deliverance from the perils of the sea; and thus we did till nightfall, when we lay down and fell asleep for excess of weariness. After a while we were aroused by a hissing noise, like the wind, and awaking, saw an enormous serpent making for us, which seized one of my companions and swallowed him at one gulp, down to his shoulders; then it gave another gulp and swallowed the rest of him, and we heard his ribs crack in its belly. Then it went its way, and we abode in sore amazement and grief for our comrade and mortal terror for ourselves, saying, "By Allah, this is a marvellous thing! Each kind of death [that besets us] is more terrible than the last. We were rejoicing in our escape from the black and our deliverance from the perils of the sea; but now we have fallen into that which is worse. There is no power and no virtue but in God! By Allah, we have escaped from the black and from drowning; but how shall we escape from this il-omened serpent?"
Then we walked about the island, eating of its fruits and drinking of its streams, till dusk, when we climbed up into a high tree and went to sleep there, I being on the topmost branch. As soon as it was dark night, up came the serpent, looking right and left, and making for the tree on which we were, climbed up to my comrade and swallowed him down to his shoulders. Then it coiled about the tree with him, whilst I heard his bones crack in its belly, and it swallowed him whole, after which it slid down from the tree. When the day broke, I came down, as I were a dead man for excess of fear and anguish, and thought to cast myself into the sea and be at peace from the world; but could not bring myself to this, for life is dear. So I took five broad and long pieces of wood and bound one crosswise to the soles of my feet and another over my head and the others in like fashion on my right and left sides and over my breast and made them fast with ropes, which I twisted of the grass of the island. Then I lay down on the ground on my back, so that I was completely fenced in by the pieces of wood which enclosed me like a bier.
As soon as it was dark, up came the serpent, as usual, and made towards me, but could not get at me to swallow me, for the wood that fenced me in. So it crawled round me on every side, whilst I looked on, like one dead for excess of terror; and every now and then it would go away and come back; but as often as it tried to come at me, it was hindered by the pieces of wood with which I had bound myself on every side. It ceased not to beset me thus from sundown till sunrise, when it made off, in the utmost rage and disappointment. Then I unbound myself, well-nigh dead for fear and sleeplessness, and went down to the sea-shore, whence I saw a ship afar off in the midst of the waves. So I tore off a great branch of a tree and made signs with it, shouting out the while; which when the ship's company saw, they said to each other, "We must stand in and see what this is; belike it is a man." So they steered for the island and presently heard my cries, whereupon they put out a boat and taking me on board, questioned me of my case. I told them all my adventures, at which they marvelled exceedingly and covered my nakedness with some of their clothes. Moreover, they set before me food and cold fresh water, and I ate and drank my fill and was mightily refreshed, and God gave me new life after I had looked for nothing but death. So I praised the Most High and thanked Him for His exceeding mercies, and my heart revived in me, till meseemed as if all I had suffered were but a dream.
We sailed on with a favouring wind till we came to an island called Es Selahiteh, when the captain cast anchor mid the merchants and sailors landed with their goods, to sell and buy. Then the captain turned to me and said, "Hark ye, thou art a stranger and poor and tellest us that thou hast undergone great hardships; wherefore I have a mind to advantage thee with somewhat that may further thee in thy native land, so thou wilt still pray for me." "So be it," answered I; "thou shalt have my prayers." Quoth he, "Know then that there was with us a man, a traveller whom we lost, and we know not if he be alive or dead, for we have had no news of him; so I purpose to commit his goods to thy charge, that thou mayest sell them in the island. A part of the proceeds we will give thee for thy pains, and the rest we will keep till we return to Baghdad, where we will enquire for his family and deliver it to them. Dost thou agree to this?" I thanked him for his kindness and accepted his offer with gratitude, whereupon he bade the sailors and porters carry the bales in question ashore and deliver them to me. Quoth the ship's clerk to him, "O master, what bales are these and what merchant's name shall I write upon them?" "Write on them the name of Sindbad," answered the captain, "him who was with us in the ship and whom we lost at such an island; for we mean this stranger to sell them, and we will give him a part of the price for his pains and keep the rest, till we return to Baghdad, where, if we find him we will pay it to him, and if not, we will make it over to his family." And the clerk said, "It is well and justly thought."
When I heard my name, I bethought me that these must be my goods; so I waited till all the merchants had landed and were gathered together, talking and chaffering; then, taking courage, I went up to the captain and said to him, "O my lord, knowest thou what manner of man was this Sindbad, whose goods thou hast committed to me to sell?" "I know nothing of him," answered the captain, "save that he was a man from the city of Baghdad, Sindbad by name, and that we missed him after touching at such an island and have heard nothing of him since then." At this I gave a great cry and said, "O captain, whom God keep, know that I am that Sindbad and that I was not drowned, but that, landing with the rest of the merchants on the island in question, I sat down in a pleasant place by myself and ate somewhat of food I had with me and enjoyed the freshness of the air, till I became drowsy and fell fast asleep; and when I awoke, I found the ship had sailed without me. These, then, are my goods, and all the merchants that fetch jewels from the Valley of Diamonds know me and will bear me witness of the truth of my story; for I related to them how you forgot me and left me behind and told them all that had befallen me."
When the merchants and crew heard my words, they gathered about me and some of them believed me and others disbelieved; but presently one of the merchants, hearing me mention the Valley of Diamonds, came up and said to them, "Hark ye, good people! When I related to you the most wonderful thing of all that befell me in my travels and told you how, being with other merchants, trying for diamonds in the Valley of Serpents and casting down each our quarter of meat, as of wont, there came up a man hanging to mine,--ye believed me not and gave me the lie. Now this is the very man, by token that he gave me diamonds of great value, whose like are not to be found, requiting me more than would have come up sticking to my quarter of meat; and I carried him with me to Bassora, where he took leave of us and went on to his native city, whilst we returned to our own land. This is he, and God hath sent him hither that the truth of my story may be made manifest to you. Moreover these are his goods, for, when he first foregathered with us, he told us of them, and that his name was Sindbad and how he came to be left on the island; and the truth of his words is manifest." With this the captain came up to me and considered me straitiy awhile, after which he said to me "What was the mark on thy bales?" "Thus and thus," answered I and reminded him of somewhat that had passed between him and me, when I shipped with him from Bassora. Thereupon he was convinced that I was indeed Sindbad and embraced me and gave me joy of my safety, saying, "By Allah, my lord, thy case is indeed wonderful and thy story extraordinary, but praised be God who hath brought thee and me together again, and hath restored thee thy goods and thy gear!" Then I disposed of my goods to the best of my skill, and profited largely on them, whereat I rejoiced exceedingly and congratulated myself on my safety and the recovery of my goods.
After this we continued our voyage from island to island, trading everywhere till we came to the land of Hind, where we bought cloves and ginger and all manner of spices; and thence we fared on to the land of Sind, where also we bought and sold. In the course of this voyage in the Indian seas, I saw wonders without number, amongst others a fish like a cow and others like asses; and I saw also a bird that comes out of a sea-shell and lays eggs and hatches them on the surface of the water, never coming up from the sea to the land. Then we set sail again with a fair wind and after a prosperous voyage, arrived in safety, by the blessing of God the Most High, at Bassora, where I abode a few days and after returned to Baghdad, having gained in this voyage what was beyond count and reckoning. I gave alms and largesse and clad the widow and the orphan, by way of thanksgiving for my happy return, and fell to feasting and making merry with my companions and friends and forgot all that had befallen me and all the perils and hardships I had suffered. This, then is the history of my third voyage, and to-morrow, if it be the will of God, you shall hear that of my fourth voyage, which is still more wonderful than those you have already heard.'
Then he bade give the porter an hundred dinars as of wont and called for food. So they spread the tables and the company supped and went their ways, marvelling at what they had heard. The porter passed the night in his own house and as soon as the day broke and the morning appeared with its light and shone, he rose and praying the morning prayer, betook himself to Sindbad the Sailor, who received him with an open and cheerful favour and made him sit with him till the rest of his friends arrived, when he caused set on food and they ate and drank and made merry. Then Sindbad the Sailor bespoke them and related to them the story of his fourth voyage, saying, 'Know, O my brethren, that...
[Go to The Fourth 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