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I soon lost in the pleasures of life the remembrance of the perils I had encountered in my two former voyages; and being in the flower of my age, I grew weary of living without business, and hardening myself against the thought of any danger I might incur, went from Bagdad to Bussorah with the richest commodities of the country. There I embarked again with some merchants. We made a long voyage, and touched at several ports, where we carried on a considerable trade. One day, being out in the main ocean, we were overtaken by a dreadful tempest, which drove us from our course. The tempest continued several days, and brought us before the port of an island, which the captain was very unwilling to enter; but we were obliged to cast anchor. When we had furled our sails, the captain told us, that this, and some other neighbouring islands, were inhabited by hairy savages, who would speedily attack us; and. though they were but dwarfs, yet our misfortune was such, that we must make no resistance, for they were more in number than the locusts; and if we happened to kill one of them, they would all fall upon us and destroy us.
This account of the captain, continued Sinbad put the whole company into great consternation and we soon found that what he had told us was but too true; an innumerable multitude of frightful savages, about two feet high, covered all over with red hair, came swimming towards us, and encompassed our ship. They spoke to us as they came near, but we understood not their language; they climbed up the sides of the ship with such agility as surprised us. We beheld all this with dread, but without daring to defend ourselves, or to divert them from their mischievous design. In short, they took down our sails, cut the cable, and hauling to the shore, made us all get out, and afterwards carried the ship into another island from whence they had come. All voyagers carefully avoided the island where they left us, it being very dangerous to stay there, for a reason you shall presently hear; but we were forced to bear our affliction with patience.
We went forward into the island, where we gathered some fruits and herbs to prolong our lives as long as we could; but we expected nothing but death. As we advanced, we perceived at a distance a vast pile of building, and made towards it. We found it to be a palace, elegantly built, and very lofty, with a gate of ebony of two leaves, which we forced open. We entered the court, where we saw before us a large apartment, with a porch, having on one side a heap of human bones, and on the other a vast number of roasting spits. We trembled at this spectacle, and being fatigued with travelling, fell to the ground, seized with deadly apprehension, and lay a long time motionless.
The sun set, and whilst we were in the lamentable condition I have described, the gate of the apartment opened with a loud crash, and there came out the horrible figure of a black man, as tall as a lofty palm-tree. He had but one eye, and that in the middle of his forehead, where it looked as red as a burning coal. His fore-teeth were very long and sharp, and stood out of his mouth, which was as deep as that of a horse. His upper lip hung down upon his breast. His ears resembled those of an elephant, and covered his shoulders; and his nails were as long and crooked as the talons of the greatest birds. At the sight of so frightful a giant, we became insensible, and lay like dead men.
At last we came to ourselves, and saw him sitting in the porch looking at us. When he had considered us well, he advanced towards us, and laying his hand upon me, took me up by the nape of my neck, and turned round as a butcher would do a sheep's head. After having examined me, and perceiving me to be so lean that I had nothing but skin and bone, he let me go. He took up all the rest one by one, and viewed them in the same manner. The captain being the fattest, he held him with one hand, as I would do a sparrow, and thrust a spit through him; he then kindled a great fire, roasted, and ate him in his apartment for his supper. Having finished his repast, he returned to his porch, where he lay and fell asleep, snoring louder than thunder. He slept thus till morning. As to ourselves, it was not possible for us to enjoy any rest, so that we passed the night in the most painful apprehension that can be imagined. When day appeared the giant awoke, got up, went out, and left us in the palace.
When we thought him at a distance, we broke the melancholy silence we had preserved the whole of the night, and filled the palace with our lamentations and groans. Though we were several in number, and had but one enemy, it never occurred to us to effect our deliverance by putting him to death. This enterprize however, though difficult of execution, was the only design we ought naturally to have formed.
We thought of several other expedients, but determined upon none; and submitting ourselves to what it should please God to order concerning us, we spent the day in traversing the island, supporting ourselves with fruits and herbs as we had done the day before. In the evening we sought for some place of shelter, but found none; so that we were forced, whether we would or not, to return to the palace.
The giant failed not to return, and supped once more upon one of our companions, after which he slept, and snored till day, and then went out and left us as before. Our situation appeared to us so dreadful, that several of my comrades designed to throw themselves into the sea, rather than die so painful a death; and endeavoured to persuade the others to follow their example. Upon which one of the company answered, "That we were forbidden to destroy ourselves: but even if that were not the case, it was much more reasonable to devise some method to rid ourselves of the monster who had destined us to so horrible a fate."
Having thought of a project for this purpose, I communicated it to my comrades, who approved it. "Brethren," said I, "you know there is much timber floating upon the coast; if you will be advised by me, let us make several rafts capable of bearing us, and when they are done, leave them there till we find it convenient to use them. In the mean time, we will carry into execution the design I proposed to you for our deliverance from the giant, and if it succeed, we may remain here patiently awaiting the arrival of some ship to carry us out of this fatal island; but if it happen to miscarry, we will take to our rafts, and put to sea. I admit that by exposing ourselves to the fury of the waves, we run a risk of losing our lives; but is it not better to be buried in the sea than in the entrails of this monster, who has already devoured two of our number?" My advice was approved, and we made rafts capable of carrying three persons on each.
We returned to the palace towards the evening, and the giant arrived shortly after. We were forced to submit to seeing another of our comrades roasted. But at last we revenged ourselves on the brutish giant in the following manner. After he had finished his cursed supper, he lay down on his back, and fell asleep. As soon as we heard him snore, according to his custom, nine of the boldest among us, and myself, took each of us a spit, and putting the points of them into the fire till they were burning hot, we thrust them into his eye all at once, and blinded him. The pain made him break out into a frightful yell: he started up, and stretched out his hands, in order to sacrifice some of us to his rage: but we ran to such places as he could not reach; and after having sought for us in vain, he groped for the gate, and went out, howling in agony.
We quitted the palace after the giant, and came to the shore, where we had left our rafts, and put them immediately to sea. We waited till day, in order to get upon them, in case the giant should come towards us with any guide of his own species, but we hoped if he did not appear by sun-rising, and gave over his howling, which we still heard, that he would prove to be dead; and if that happened to be the case, we resolved to stay in that island, and not to risk our lives upon the rafts: but day had scarcely appeared, when we perceived our cruel enemy, accompanied with two others almost of the same size, leading him; and a great number more coming before him at a quick pace.
We did not hesitate to take to our rafts, and put to sea with all the speed we could. The giants, who perceived this, took up great stones, and running to the shore, entered the water up to the middle, and threw so exactly, that they sunk all the rafts but that I was upon; and all my companions, except the two with me, were drowned. We rowed with all our might, and got out of the reach of the giants. But when we got out to sea, we were exposed to the mercy of the waves and winds, and tossed about, sometimes on one side, and sometimes on another, and spent that night and the following day under the most painful uncertainty as to our fate; but next morning we had the good fortune to be thrown upon an island, where we landed with much joy. We found excellent fruit, which afforded us great relief, and recruited our strength.
At night we went to sleep on the sea-shore but were awakened by the noise of a serpent of surprising length and thickness, whose scales made a rustling noise as he wound himself along. It swallowed up one of my comrades, notwithstanding his loud cries, and the efforts he made to extricate himself from it; dashing him several times against the ground, it crushed him, and we could hear it gnaw and tear the poor wretch's bones, though we had fled to a considerable distance. The following day, to our great terror, we saw the serpent again, when I exclaimed, "O heaven, to what dangers are we exposed! We rejoiced yesterday at having escaped from the cruelty of a giant and the rage of the waves, now are we fallen into another danger equally dreadful."
As we walked about, we saw a large tall tree upon which we designed to pass the following night, for our security; and having satisfied our hunger with fruit, we mounted it according. Shortly after, the serpent came hissing to the foot of the tree; raised himself up against the trunk of it, and meeting with my comrade, who sat lower than I, swallowed him at once, and went off.
I remained upon the tree till it was day, and then came down, more like a dead man than one alive, expecting the same fate with my two companions. This filled me with horror, and I advanced some steps to throw myself into the sea; but the natural love of life prompting us to prolong it as long as we can, I withstood this dictate of despair, and submitted myself to the will of God, who disposes of our lives at his pleasure.
In the mean time I collected together a great quantity of small wood, brambles, and dry thorns, . and making them up into faggots, made a wide circle with them round the tree, and also tied some of them to the branches over my head. Having done this, when the evening came, I shut myself up within this circle, with the melancholy satisfaction, that I had neglected nothing which could preserve me from the cruel destiny with which I was threatened. The serpent failed not to come at the usual hour, and went round the tree, seeking for an opportunity to devour me, but was prevented by the rampart I had made; so that he lay till day, like a cat watching in vain for a mouse that has fortunately reached a place of safety. When day appeared, he retired, but I dared not to leave my fort until the sun arose.
I felt so much fatigued by the labour to which it had put me, and suffered so much from his poisonous breath, that death seemed more eligible to me than the horrors of such a state. I came down from the tree, and, not thinking of the resignation I had the preceding day resolved to exercise, I ran towards the sea, with a design to throw myself into it.
God took compassion on my hopeless state; for just as I was going to throw myself into the sea, I perceived a ship at a considerable distance. I called as loud as I could, and taking the linen from my turban, displayed it, that they might observe me. This had the desired effect; the crew perceived me, and the captain sent his boat for me. As soon as I came on board, the merchants and seamen flocked about me, to know how I came into that desert island; and after I had related to them all that had befallen me, the oldest among them said to me, they had several times heard of the giants that dwelt in that island, that they were cannibals, and ate men raw as well as roasted; and as to the serpents, they added, that there were abundance in the island that hid themselves by day, and came abroad by night. After having testified their joy at my escaping so many dangers, they brought me the best of their provisions; and the captain, seeing that I was in rags, was so generous as to give me one of his own suits. We continued at sea for some time, touched at several islands, and at last landed at that of Salabat, where sandal wood is obtained, which is of great use in medicine. We entered the port, and came to anchor. The merchants began to unload their goods, in order to sell or exchange them. In the mean time, the captain came to me, and said, "Brother, I have here some goods that belonged to a merchant, who sailed some time on board this ship, and he being dead, I design to dispose of them for the benefit of his heirs, when I find who they are." The bales he spoke of lay on the deck, and shewing them to me, he said, "There are the goods; I hope you will take care to sell them, and you shall have factorage." I thanked him for thus affording me an opportunity of employing myself, because I hated to be idle.
The clerk of the ship took an account of all the bales, with the names of the merchants to whom they belonged. And when he asked the captain in whose name he should enter those he had given me the charge of; "Enter them," said the captain, "in the name of Sinbad." I could not hear myself named without some emotion; and looking stedfastly on the captain, I knew him to be the person who, in my second voyage, had left me in the island where I fell asleep, and sailed without me, or sending to see for me. But I could not recollect him at first, he was so much altered since I had seen him.
I was not surprised that he, believing me to be dead, did not recognize me. "Captain," said I, "was the merchant's name, to whom those bales belonged, Sinbad?" "Yes," replied he, "that was his name; he came from Bagdad, and embarked on board my ship at Bussorah. One day, when we landed at an island to take in water and other refreshments, I knew not by what mistake, I sailed without observing that he did not re-embark with us; neither I nor the merchants perceived it till four hours after. We had the wind in our stern, and so fresh a gale, that it was not then possible for us to tack about for him." "You believe him then to be dead?" said I. "Certainly," answered he. "No, captain," I resumed; "look at me, and you may know that I am Sinbad, whom you left in that desert island."
The captain, continued Sinbad, having considered me attentively, recognized me. "God be praised," said he, embracing me; "I rejoice that fortune has rectified my fault. There are your goods, which I always took care to preserve." I took them from him, and made him the acknowledgments to which he was entitled.
From the isle of Salabat, we went to another, where I furnished myself with cloves, cinnamon, and other spices. As we sailed from this island, we saw a tortoise twenty cubits in length and breadth. We observed also an amphibious animal like a cow, which gave milk; its skin is so hard, that they usually make bucklers of it. I saw another, which had the shape and colour of a camel.
In short, after a long voyage, I arrived at Bussorah, and from thence returned to Bagdad, with so much wealth that I knew not its extent. I gave a great deal to the poor, and bought another considerable estate in addition to what I had already.
Thus Sinbad finished the history of his third voyage; gave another hundred sequins to Hindbad, invited him to dinner again the next day, to hear the story of his fourth voyage. Hindbad and the company retired; and on the following day, when they returned, Sinbad after dinner continued the relation of his adventures.
[Go to The Fourth Voyage]
Scott, Jonathan (1754-1829). The Arabian Nights Entertainments. London: Pickering and Chatto, 1890. 4 Volumes. Project Gutenberg.
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