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The pleasures I enjoyed had again charms enough to make me forget all the troubles and calamities I had undergone, but could not cure me of my inclination to make new voyages. I therefore bought goods, departed with them for the best sea-port; and there, that I might not be obliged to depend upon a captain, but have a ship at my own command, I remained till one was built on purpose, at my own charge. When the ship was ready, I went on board with my goods; but not having enough to load her, I agreed to take with me several merchants of different nations with their merchandize.
We sailed with the first fair wind, and after a long navigation the first place we touched at was a desert island, where we found an egg of a roe, equal in size to that I formerly mentioned. There was a young roc it just ready to be hatched, and its bill had begun to appear.
The merchants whom I had taken on board, and who landed with me, broke the egg with hatchets, and made a hole in it, pulled out the young roc piecemeal, and roasted it. I had earnestly intreated them not to meddle with the egg, but they would not listen to me.
Scarcely had they finished their repast, when there appeared in the air at a considerable distance from us two great clouds. The captain whom I had hired to navigate my ship, knowing by experience what they meant, said they were the male and female roc that belonged to the young one, and pressed us to re-embark with all speed, to prevent the misfortune which he saw would otherwise befall us. We hastened on board, and set sail with all possible expedition.
In the mean time, the two roes approached with a frightful noise, which they redoubled when they saw the egg broken, and their young one gone. They flew back in the direction they had come, and disappeared for some time, while we made all the sail we could to endeavour to prevent that which unhappily befell us.
They soon returned, and we observed that each of them carried between its talons stones, or
rather rocks, of a monstrous size. When they came directly over my ship, they hovered, and one of them let fall a stone, but by the dexterity of the steersman it missed us, and falling into the sea, divided the water so that we could almost see the bottom. The other roe, to our misfortune, threw his messy burden so exactly upon the middle of the ship, as to split it into a thousand pieces. The mariners and passengers were all crushed to death, or sunk. I myself was of the number of the latter; but as I came up again, I fortunately caught hold of a piece of the wreck, and swimming sometimes with one hand, and sometimes with the other, but always holding fast my board, the wind and the tide favouring me, I came to an island, whose shore was very steep. I overcame that difficulty, however, and got ashore.
I sat down upon the grass, to recover myself from my fatigue, after which I went into the island to explore it. It seemed to be a delicious garden. I found trees everywhere, some of them bearing green, and others ripe fruits, and streams of fresh pure water running in pleasant meanders. I ate of the fruits, which I found excellent; and drank of the water, which was very light and good.
When night closed in, I lay down upon the grass in a convenient spot, but could not sleep an hour at a time, my mind being apprehensive of danger. I spent best part of the night in alarm, and reproached myself for my imprudence in not remaining at home, rather than undertaking this last voyage. These reflections carried me so far, that I began to form a design against my life; but daylight dispersed these melancholy thoughts. I got up, and walked among the trees, but not without some fears.
When I was a little advanced into the island, I saw an old man, who appeared very weak and infirm. He was sitting on the bank of a stream, and at first I took him to be one who had been shipwrecked like myself. I went towards him and saluted him, but he only slightly bowed his head. I asked him why he sat so still, but instead of answering me, he made a sign for me to take him upon my back, and carry him over the brook, signifying that it was to gather fruit.
I believed him really to stand in need of my assistance, took him upon my back, and having carried him over, bade him get down, and for that end stooped, that he might get off with ease; but instead of doing so (which I laugh at every time I think of it) the old man, who to me appeared quite decrepid, clasped his legs nimbly about my neck, when I perceived his skin to resemble that of a cow. He sat astride upon my shoulders, and held my throat so tight, that I thought he would have strangled me, the apprehension of which make me swoon and fall down.
Notwithstanding my fainting, the ill-natured old fellow kept fast about my neck, but opened his legs a little to give me time to recover my breath. When I had done so, he thrust one of his feet against my stomach, and struck me so rudely on the side with the other, that he forced me to rise up against my will. Having arisen, he made me walk under the trees, and forced me now and then to stop, to gather and eat fruit such as we found. He never left me all day, and when I lay down to rest at night, laid himself down with me, holding always fast about my neck. Every morning he pushed me to make me awake, and afterwards obliged me to get up and walk, and pressed me with his feet. You may judge then, gentlemen, what trouble I was in, to be loaded with such a burden of which I could not get rid.
One day I found in my way several dry calebashes that had fallen from a tree. I took a large one, and after cleaning it, pressed into it some juice of grapes, which abounded in the island; having filled the calebash, I put it by in a convenient place, and going thither again some days after, I tasted it, and found the wine so good, that it soon made me forget my sorrow, gave me new vigour, and so exhilarated my spirits, that I began to sing and dance as I walked along.
The old man, perceiving the effect which this liquor had upon me, and that I carried him with more ease than before, made me a sign to give him some of it. I handed him the calebash, and the liquor pleasing his palate, he drank it all off. There being a considerable quantity of it, he became drunk immediately, and the fumes getting up into his head, he began to sing after his manner, and to dance with his breech upon my shoulders. His jolting made him vomit, and he loosened his legs from about me by degrees. Finding that he did not press me as before, I threw him upon the ground, where he lay without motion; I then took up a great stone, and crushed his head to pieces.
I was extremely glad to be thus freed for ever from this troublesome fellow. I now walked towards the beach, where I met the crew of a ship that had cast anchor, to take in water. They were surprised to see me, but more so at hearing the particulars of my adventures. "You fell," said they, "into the hands of the old man of the sea, and are the first who ever escaped strangling by his malicious tricks. He never quitted those he had once made himself master of, till he had destroyed them, and he has made this island notorious by the number of men he has slain; so that the merchants and mariners who landed upon it, durst not advance into the island but in numbers at a time."
After having informed me of these things, they carried me with them to the ship; the captain received me with great kindness, when they told him what had befallen me. He put out again to sea, and after some days' sail, we arrived at the harbour of a great city, the houses of which were built with hewn stone.
One of the merchants who had taken me into his friendship invited me to go along with him, and carried me to a place appointed for the accommodation of foreign merchants. He gave me a large bag, and having recommended me to some people of the town, who used to gather cocoa-nuts, desired them to take me with them. "Go," said he, "follow them, and act as you see them do, but do not separate from them, otherwise you may endanger your life." Having thus spoken, he gave me provisions for the journey, and I went with them.
We came to a thick forest of cocoa-trees, very lofty, with trunks so smooth that it was not possible to climb to the branches that bore the fruit. When we entered the forest we saw a great number of apes of several sizes, who fled as soon as they perceived us, and climbed up to the top of the trees with surprising swiftness.
The merchants with whom I was, gathered stones and threw them at the apes on the trees. I did the same, and the apes out of revenge threw cocoa-nuts at us so fast, and with such gestures, as sufficiently testified their anger and resentment. We gathered up the cocoa-nuts, and from time to time threw stones to provoke the apes; so that by this stratagem we filled our bags with cocoa-nuts, which it had been impossible otherwise to have done.
When we had gathered our number, we returned to the city, where the merchant, who had sent me to the forest, gave me the value of the cocoas I brought: "Go on," said he, "and do the like every day, until you have got money enough to carry you home." I thanked him for his advice, and gradually collected as many cocoa-nuts as produced me a considerable sum.
The vessel in which I had come sailed with some merchants, who loaded her with cocoa-nuts. I expected the arrival of another, which anchored soon after for the like loading. I embarked in her all the cocoa-nuts I had, and when she was ready to sail, took leave of the merchant who had been so kind to me; but he could not embark with me, because he had not finished his business at the port.
We sailed towards the islands, where pepper grows in great plenty. From thence we went to the isle of Comari, where the best species of wood of aloes grows, and whose inhabitants have made it an inviolable law to themselves to drink no wine, and suffer no place of debauch. I exchanged my cocoa in those two islands for pepper and wood of aloes, and went with other merchants a pearl-fishing. I hired divers, who brought me up some that were very large and pure. I embarked in a vessel that happily arrived at Bussorah; from thence I returned to Bagdad, where I made vast sums of my pepper, wood of aloes, and pearls. I gave the tenth of my gains in alms, as I had done upon my return from my other voyages, and endeavoured to dissipate my fatigues by amusements of different kinds.
When Sinbad had finished his story, he ordered one hundred sequins to be given to Hindbad, who retired with the other guests; but next morning the same company returned to dine with rich Sinbad; who, after having treated them as formerly, requested their attention, and gave the following account of his sixth voyage.
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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