The Arabian Nights Entertainments, by Andrew Lang
Part 2 out of 6
We reached the palace without anyone having noticed our absence,
when, shortly after, a clashing of drums, and cymbals, and the blare
of trumpets burst upon our astonished ears. At the same time a thick
cloud of dust on the horizon told of the approach of a great army.
My heart sank when I perceived that the commander was the vizir
who had dethroned my father, and was come to seize the kingdom
of my uncle.
The capital was utterly unprepared to stand a siege, and seeing
that resistance was useless, at once opened its gates. My uncle
fought hard for his life, but was soon overpowered, and when he
fell I managed to escape through a secret passage, and took refuge
with an officer whom I knew I could trust.
Persecuted by ill-fortune, and stricken with grief, there seemed
to be only one means of safety left to me. I shaved my beard
and my eyebrows, and put on the dress of a calender, in which it
was easy for me to travel without being known. I avoided the towns
till I reached the kingdom of the famous and powerful Caliph,
Haroun-al-Raschid, when I had no further reason to fear my enemies.
It was my intention to come to Bagdad and to throw myself at the feet
of his Highness, who would, I felt certain, be touched by my sad story,
and would grant me, besides, his help and protection.
After a journey which lasted some months I arrived at length at the
gates of this city. It was sunset, and I paused for a little to look
about me, and to decide which way to turn my steps. I was still
debating on this subject when I was joined by this other calender,
who stopped to greet me. "You, like me, appear to be a stranger,"
I said. He replied that I was right, and before he could say more
the third calender came up. He, also, was newly arrived in Bagdad,
and being brothers in misfortune, we resolved to cast in our
lots together, and to share whatever fate might have in store.
By this time it had grown late, and we did not know where to spend
the night. But our lucky star having guided us to this door,
we took the liberty of knocking and of asking for shelter,
which was given to us at once with the best grace in the world.
This, madam, is my story.
"I am satisfied," replied Zobeida; "you can go when you like."
The calender, however, begged leave to stay and to hear the histories
of his two friends and of the three other persons of the company,
which he was allowed to do.
The Story of the Second Calendar, Son of a King
"Madam," said the young man, addressing Zobeida, "if you wish
to know how I lost my right eye, I shall have to tell you the story
of my whole life."
I was scarcely more than a baby, when the king my father,
finding me unusually quick and clever for my age, turned his
thoughts to my education. I was taught first to read and write,
and then to learn the Koran, which is the basis of our holy religion,
and the better to understand it, I read with my tutors the ablest
commentators on its teaching, and committed to memory all the
traditions respecting the Prophet, which have been gathered from
the mouth of those who were his friends. I also learnt history,
and was instructed in poetry, versification, geography, chronology,
and in all the outdoor exercises in which every prince should excel.
But what I liked best of all was writing Arabic characters,
and in this I soon surpassed my masters, and gained a reputation
in this branch of knowledge that reached as far as India itself.
Now the Sultan of the Indies, curious to see a young prince
with such strange tastes, sent an ambassador to my father,
laden with rich presents, and a warm invitation to visit his court.
My father, who was deeply anxious to secure the friendship of so
powerful a monarch, and held besides that a little travel would
greatly improve my manners and open my mind, accepted gladly,
and in a short time I had set out for India with the ambassador,
attended only by a small suite on account of the length of the journey,
and the badness of the roads. However, as was my duty, I took
with me ten camels, laden with rich presents for the Sultan.
We had been travelling for about a month, when one day we saw a cloud
of dust moving swiftly towards us; and as soon as it came near,
we found that the dust concealed a band of fifty robbers.
Our men barely numbered half, and as we were also hampered by
the camels, there was no use in fighting, so we tried to overawe
them by informing them who we were, and whither we were going.
The robbers, however, only laughed, and declared that was none
of their business, and, without more words, attacked us brutally.
I defended myself to the last, wounded though I was, but at length,
seeing that resistance was hopeless, and that the ambassador
and all our followers were made prisoners, I put spurs to my horse
and rode away as fast as I could, till the poor beast fell dead
from a wound in his side. I managed to jump off without any injury,
and looked about to see if I was pursued. But for the moment I
was safe, for, as I imagined, the robbers were all engaged in
quarrelling over their booty.
I found myself in a country that was quite new to me, and dared
not return to the main road lest I should again fall into the
hands of the robbers. Luckily my wound was only a slight one,
and after binding it up as well as I could, I walked on for the
rest of the day, till I reached a cave at the foot of a mountain,
where I passed the night in peace, making my supper off some fruits
I had gathered on the way.
I wandered about for a whole month without knowing where I was going,
till at length I found myself on the outskirts of a beautiful city,
watered by winding streams, which enjoyed an eternal spring.
My delight at the prospect of mixing once more with human beings was
somewhat damped at the thought of the miserable object I must seem.
My face and hands had been burned nearly black; my clothes were all
in rags, and my shoes were in such a state that I had been forced to
abandon them altogether.
I entered the town, and stopped at a tailor s shop to inquire
where I was. The man saw I was better than my condition,
and begged me to sit down, and in return I told him my whole story.
The tailor listened with attention, but his reply, instead of giving
me consolation, only increased my trouble.
"Beware," he said, "of telling any one what you have told me,
for the prince who governs the kingdom is your father's greatest enemy,
and he will be rejoiced to find you in his power."
I thanked the tailor for his counsel, and said I would do whatever
he advised; then, being very hungry, I gladly ate of the food he
put before me, and accepted his offer of a lodging in his house.
In a few days I had quite recovered from the hardships I had undergone,
and then the tailor, knowing that it was the custom for the princes
of our religion to learn a trade or profession so as to provide for
themselves in times of ill-fortune, inquired if there was anything
I could do for my living. I replied that I had been educated
as a grammarian and a poet, but that my great gift was writing.
"All that is of no use here," said the tailor. "Take my advice,
put on a short coat, and as you seem hardy and strong, go into
the woods and cut firewood, which you will sell in the streets.
By this means you will earn your living, and be able to wait till
better times come. The hatchet and the cord shall be my present."
This counsel was very distasteful to me, but I thought I could not
do otherwise than adopt it. So the next morning I set out with a
company of poor wood-cutters, to whom the tailor had introduced me.
Even on the first day I cut enough wood to sell for a tolerable sum,
and very soon I became more expert, and had made enough money
to repay the tailor all he had lent me.
I had been a wood-cutter for more than a year, when one day I
wandered further into the forest than I had ever done before,
and reached a delicious green glade, where I began to cut wood.
I was hacking at the root of a tree, when I beheld an iron ring fastened
to a trapdoor of the same metal. I soon cleared away the earth,
and pulling up the door, found a staircase, which I hastily made up
my mind to go down, carrying my hatchet with me by way of protection.
When I reached the bottom I discovered that I was in a huge palace,
as brilliantly lighted as any palace above ground that I had ever seen,
with a long gallery supported by pillars of jasper, ornamented with
capitals of gold. Down this gallery a lady came to meet me,
of such beauty that I forgot everything else, and thought only
To save her all the trouble possible, I hastened towards her,
and bowed low.
"Who are you? Who are you?" she said. "A man or a genius?"
"A man, madam," I replied; "I have nothing to do with genii."
"By what accident do you come here?" she asked again with a sigh.
"I have been in this place now for five and twenty years, and you are
the first man who has visited me."
Emboldened by her beauty and gentleness, I ventured to reply,
"Before, madam, I answer your question, allow me to say how grateful I
am for this meeting, which is not only a consolation to me in my own
heavy sorrow, but may perhaps enable me to render your lot happier,"
and then I told her who I was, and how I had come there.
"Alas, prince," she said, with a deeper sigh than before, "you have
guessed rightly in supposing me an unwilling prisoner in this
gorgeous place. I am the daughter of the king of the Ebony Isle,
of whose fame you surely must have heard. At my father's desire I was
married to a prince who was my own cousin; but on my very wedding day,
I was snatched up by a genius, and brought here in a faint.
For a long while I did nothing but weep, and would not suffer
the genius to come near me; but time teaches us submission,
and I have now got accustomed to his presence, and if clothes and
jewels could content me, I have them in plenty. Every tenth day,
for five and twenty years, I have received a visit from him,
but in case I should need his help at any other time, I have only
to touch a talisman that stands at the entrance of my chamber.
It wants still five days to his next visit, and I hope that during
that time you will do me the honour to be my guest."
I was too much dazzled by her beauty to dream of refusing her offer,
and accordingly the princess had me conducted to the bath,
and a rich dress befitting my rank was provided for me.
Then a feast of the most delicate dishes was served in a room
hung with embroidered Indian fabrics.
Next day, when we were at dinner, I could maintain my patience
no longer, and implored the princess to break her bonds, and return
with me to the world which was lighted by the sun.
"What you ask is impossible," she answered; "but stay here with
me instead, and we can be happy, and all you will have to do
is to betake yourself to the forest every tenth day, when I am
expecting my master the genius. He is very jealous, as you know,
and will not suffer a man to come near me."
"Princess," I replied, "I see it is only fear of the genius that
makes you act like this. For myself, I dread him so little that I
mean to break his talisman in pieces! Awful though you think him,
he shall feel the weight of my arm, and I herewith take a solemn
vow to stamp out the whole race."
The princess, who realized the consequences of such audacity,
entreated me not to touch the talisman. "If you do, it will be the
ruin of both of us," said she; "I know genii much better than you."
But the wine I had drunk had confused my brain; I gave one kick
to the talisman, and it fell into a thousand pieces.
Hardly had my foot touched the talisman when the air became as dark
as night, a fearful noise was heard, and the palace shook to its
very foundations. In an instant I was sobered, and understood
what I had done. "Princess!" I cried, "what is happening?"
"Alas!" she exclaimed, forgetting all her own terrors in anxiety
for me, "fly, or you are lost."
I followed her advice and dashed up the staircase, leaving my
hatchet behind me. But I was too late. The palace opened and the
genius appeared, who, turning angrily to the princess, asked indignantly,
"What is the matter, that you have sent for me like this?"
"A pain in my heart," she replied hastily, "obliged me to seek
the aid of this little bottle. Feeling faint, I slipped and fell
against the talisman, which broke. That is really all."
"You are an impudent liar!" cried the genius. "How did this hatchet
and those shoes get here?"
"I never saw them before," she answered, "and you came in such
a hurry that you may have picked them up on the road without
knowing it." To this the genius only replied by insults and blows.
I could hear the shrieks and groans of the princess, and having
by this time taken off my rich garments and put on those in which I
had arrived the previous day, I lifted the trap, found myself
once more in the forest, and returned to my friend the tailor,
with a light load of wood and a heart full of shame and sorrow.
The tailor, who had been uneasy at my long absence, was, delighted to
see me; but I kept silence about my adventure, and as soon as
possible retired to my room to lament in secret over my folly.
While I was thus indulging my grief my host entered, and said,
"There is an old man downstairs who has brought your hatchet
and slippers, which he picked up on the road, and now restores
to you, as he found out from one of your comrades where you lived.
You had better come down and speak to him yourself." At this
speech I changed colour, and my legs trembled under me. The tailor
noticed my confusion, and was just going to inquire the reason
when the door of the room opened, and the old man appeared,
carrying with him my hatchet and shoes.
"I am a genius," he said, "the son of the daughter of Eblis,
prince of the genii. Is not this hatchet yours, and these shoes?"
Without waiting for an answer--which, indeed, I could hardly
have given him, so great was my fright--he seized hold of me,
and darted up into the air with the quickness of lightning,
and then, with equal swiftness, dropped down towards the earth.
When he touched the ground, he rapped it with his foot; it opened,
and we found ourselves in the enchanted palace, in the presence
of the beautiful princess of the Ebony Isle. But how different she
looked from what she was when I had last seen her, for she was lying
stretched on the ground covered with blood, and weeping bitterly.
"Traitress!" cried the genius, "is not this man your lover?"
She lifted up her eyes slowly, and looked sadly at me. "I never
saw him before," she answered slowly. "I do not know who he is."
"What!" exclaimed the genius, "you owe all your sufferings to him,
and yet you dare to say he is a stranger to you!"
"But if he really is a stranger to me," she replied, "why should I
tell a lie and cause his death?"
"Very well," said the genius, drawing his sword, "take this,
and cut off his head."
"Alas," answered the princess, "I am too weak even to hold the sabre.
And supposing that I had the strength, why should I put an innocent
man to death?"
"You condemn yourself by your refusal," said the genius; then turning
to me, he added, "and you, do you not know her?"
"How should I?" I replied, resolved to imitate the princess
in her fidelity. "How should I, when I never saw her before?"
"Cut her head off," then, "if she is a stranger to you, and I shall
believe you are speaking the truth, and will set you at liberty."
"Certainly," I answered, taking the sabre in my hands, and making
a sign to the princess to fear nothing, as it was my own life that I
was about to sacrifice, and not hers. But the look of gratitude
she gave me shook my courage, and I flung the sabre to the earth.
"I should not deserve to live," I said to the genius, "if I were
such a coward as to slay a lady who is not only unknown to me,
but who is at this moment half dead herself. Do with me as you will--
I am in your power--but I refuse to obey your cruel command."
"I see," said the genius, "that you have both made up your minds
to brave me, but I will give you a sample of what you may expect."
So saying, with one sweep of his sabre he cut off a hand of the princess,
who was just able to lift the other to wave me an eternal farewell.
Then I lost consciousness for several minutes.
When I came to myself I implored the genius to keep me no longer
in this state of suspense, but to lose no time in putting an end to
my sufferings. The genius, however, paid no attention to my prayers,
but said sternly, "That is the way in which a genius treats the woman
who has betrayed him. If I chose, I could kill you also; but I
will be merciful, and content myself with changing you into a dog,
an ass, a lion, or a bird--whichever you prefer."
I caught eagerly at these words, as giving me a faint hope
of softening his wrath. "O genius!" I cried, "as you wish
to spare my life, be generous, and spare it altogether.
Grant my prayer, and pardon my crime, as the best man in the whole
world forgave his neighbour who was eaten up with envy of him."
Contrary to my hopes, the genius seemed interested in my words,
and said he would like to hear the story of the two neighbours;
and as I think, madam, it may please you, I will tell it to you also.
The Story of the Envious Man and of Him Who Was Envied
In a town of moderate size, two men lived in neighbouring houses;
but they had not been there very long before one man took such a
hatred of the other, and envied him so bitterly, that the poor man
determined to find another home, hoping that when they no longer
met every day his enemy would forget all about him. So he sold
his house and the little furniture it contained, and moved into
the capital of the country, which was luckily at no great distance.
About half a mile from this city he bought a nice little place,
with a large garden and a fair-sized court, in the centre of which
stood an old well.
In order to live a quieter life, the good man put on the robe
of a dervish, and divided his house into a quantity of small cells,
where he soon established a number of other dervishes.
The fame of his virtue gradually spread abroad, and many people,
including several of the highest quality, came to visit him and ask
Of course it was not long before his reputation reached the ears of
the man who envied him, and this wicked wretch resolved never to rest
till he had in some way worked ill to the dervish whom he hated.
So he left his house and his business to look after themselves,
and betook himself to the new dervish monastery, where he was
welcomed by the founder with all the warmth imaginable. The excuse
he gave for his appearance was that he had come to consult the
chief of the dervishes on a private matter of great importance.
"What I have to say must not be overheard," he whispered;
"command, I beg of you, that your dervishes retire into their cells,
as night is approaching, and meet me in the court."
The dervish did as he was asked without delay, and directly they
were alone together the envious man began to tell a long story,
edging, as they walked to and fro, always nearer to the well, and when
they were quite close, he seized the dervish and dropped him in.
He then ran off triumphantly, without having been seen by anyone,
and congratulating himself that the object of his hatred was dead,
and would trouble him no more.
But in this he was mistaken! The old well had long been inhabited
(unknown to mere human beings) by a set of fairies and genii,
who caught the dervish as he fell, so that he received no hurt.
The dervish himself could see nothing, but he took for granted that
something strange had happened, or he must certainly have been dashed
against the side of the well and been killed. He lay quite still,
and in a moment he heard a voice saying, "Can you guess whom this man
is that we have saved from death?"
"No," replied several other voices.
And the first speaker answered, "I will tell you. This man,
from pure goodness of heart, forsook the town where he lived and
came to dwell here, in the hope of curing one of his neighbours
of the envy he felt towards him. But his character soon won him
the esteem of all, and the envious man's hatred grew, till he
came here with the deliberate intention of causing his death.
And this he would have done, without our help, the very day before
the Sultan has arranged to visit this holy dervish, and to entreat
his prayers for the princess, his daughter."
"But what is the matter with the princess that she needs
the dervish's prayers?" asked another voice.
"She has fallen into the power of the genius Maimoum, the son of Dimdim,"
replied the first voice. "But it would be quite simple for this
holy chief of the dervishes to cure her if he only knew! In his
convent there is a black cat which has a tiny white tip to its tail.
Now to cure the princess the dervish must pull out seven of these
white hairs, burn three, and with their smoke perfume the head
of the princess. This will deliver her so completely that Maimoum,
the son of Dimdim, will never dare to approach her again."
The fairies and genii ceased talking, but the dervish did not forget
a word of all they had said; and when morning came he perceived
a place in the side of the well which was broken, and where he
could easily climb out.
The dervishes, who could not imagine what had become of him,
were enchanted at his reappearance. He told them of the attempt on
his life made by his guest of the previous day, and then retired into
his cell. He was soon joined here by the black cat of which the voice
had spoken, who came as usual to say good-morning to his master.
He took him on his knee and seized the opportunity to pull seven
white hairs out of his tail, and put them on one side till they
The sun had not long risen before the Sultan, who was anxious
to leave nothing undone that might deliver the princess,
arrived with a large suite at the gate of the monastery,
and was received by the dervishes with profound respect.
The Sultan lost no time in declaring the object of his visit,
and leading the chief of the dervishes aside, he said to him,
"Noble scheik, you have guessed perhaps what I have come to ask you?"
"Yes, sire," answered the dervish; "if I am not mistaken, it is
the illness of the princess which has procured me this honour."
"You are right," returned the Sultan, "and you will give me fresh
life if you can by your prayers deliver my daughter from the strange
malady that has taken possession of her."
"Let your highness command her to come here, and I will see what I
The Sultan, full of hope, sent orders at once that the princess
was to set out as soon as possible, accompanied by her usual staff
of attendants. When she arrived, she was so thickly veiled that
the dervish could not see her face, but he desired a brazier to be
held over her head, and laid the seven hairs on the burning coals.
The instant they were consumed, terrific cries were heard,
but no one could tell from whom they proceeded. Only the dervish
guessed that they were uttered by Maimoum the son of Dimdim,
who felt the princess escaping him.
All this time she had seemed unconscious of what she was doing,
but now she raised her hand to her veil and uncovered her face.
"Where am I?" she said in a bewildered manner; "and how did I
The Sultan was so delighted to hear these words that he not only
embraced his daughter, but kissed the hand of the dervish.
Then, turning to his attendants who stood round, he said to them,
"What reward shall I give to the man who has restored me my daughter?"
They all replied with one accord that he deserved the hand
of the princess.
"That is my own opinion," said he, "and from this moment I declare
him to be my son-in-law."
Shortly after these events, the grand-vizir died, and his post
was given to the dervish. But he did not hold it for long, for the
Sultan fell a victim to an attack of illness, and as he had no sons,
the soldiers and priests declared the dervish heir to the throne,
to the great joy of all the people.
One day, when the dervish, who had now become Sultan, was making
a royal progress with his court, he perceived the envious man standing
in the crowd. He made a sign to one of his vizirs, and whispered in
his ear, "Fetch me that man who is standing out there, but take great
care not to frighten him." The vizir obeyed, and when the envious man
was brought before the Sultan, the monarch said to him, "My friend,
I am delighted to see you again." Then turning to an officer,
he added, "Give him a thousand pieces of gold out of my treasury,
and twenty waggon-loads of merchandise out of my private stores,
and let an escort of soldiers accompany him home." He then took
leave of the envious man, and went on his way.
Now when I had ended my story, I proceeded to show the genius
how to apply it to himself. "O genius," I said, "you see that this
Sultan was not content with merely forgiving the envious man
for the attempt on his life; he heaped rewards and riches upon him."
But the genius had made up his mind, and could not be softened.
"Do not imagine that you are going to escape so easily," he said.
"All I can do is to give you bare life; you will have to learn what
happens to people who interfere with me."
As he spoke he seized me violently by the arm; the roof of the palace
opened to make way for us, and we mounted up so high into the air
that the earth looked like a little cloud. Then, as before,
he came down with the swiftness of lightning, and we touched
the ground on a mountain top.
Then he stooped and gathered a handful of earth, and murmured some
words over it, after which he threw the earth in my face, saying as
he did so, "Quit the form of a man, and assume that of a monkey."
This done, he vanished, and I was in the likeness of an ape,
and in a country I had never seen before.
However there was no use in stopping where I was, so I came down
the mountain and found myself in a flat plain which was bounded
by the sea. I travelled towards it, and was pleased to see a
vessel moored about half a mile from shore. There were no waves,
so I broke off the branch of a tree, and dragging it down to the
waters edge, sat across it, while, using two sticks for oars,
I rowed myself towards the ship.
The deck was full of people, who watched my progress with interest,
but when I seized a rope and swung myself on board, I found that I
had only escaped death at the hands of the genius to perish
by those of the sailors, lest I should bring ill-luck to the
vessel and the merchants. "Throw him into the sea!" cried one.
"Knock him on the head with a hammer," exclaimed another. "Let me
shoot him with an arrow," said a third; and certainly somebody
would have had his way if I had not flung myself at the captain's
feet and grasped tight hold of his dress. He appeared touched
by my action and patted my head, and declared that he would take
me under his protection, and that no one should do me any harm.
At the end of about fifty days we cast anchor before a large town,
and the ship was immediately surrounded by a multitude of small
boats filled with people, who had come either to meet their friends
or from simple curiosity. Among others, one boat contained several
officials, who asked to see the merchants on board, and informed
them that they had been sent by the Sultan in token of welcome,
and to beg them each to write a few lines on a roll of paper.
"In order to explain this strange request," continued the officers,
"it is necessary that you should know that the grand-vizir,
lately dead, was celebrated for his beautiful handwriting,
and the Sultan is anxious to find a similar talent in his successor.
Hitherto the search has been a failure, but his Highness has not yet
given up hope."
One after another the merchants set down a few lines upon the roll,
and when they had all finished, I came forward, and snatched
the paper from the man who held it. At first they all thought I
was going to throw it into the sea, but they were quieted when they
saw I held it with great care, and great was their surprise when I
made signs that I too wished to write something.
"Let him do it if he wants to," said the captain. "If he only makes
a mess of the paper, you may be sure I will punish him for it.
But if, as I hope, he really can write, for he is the cleverest
monkey I ever saw, I will adopt him as my son. The one I lost had
not nearly so much sense!"
No more was said, and I took the pen and wrote the six sorts
of writing in use among the Arabs, and each sort contained
an original verse or couplet, in praise of the Sultan. And not
only did my handwriting completely eclipse that of the merchants,
but it is hardly too much to say that none so beautiful had ever
before been seen in that country. When I had ended the officials
took the roll and returned to the Sultan.
As soon as the monarch saw my writing he did not so much as look
at the samples of the merchants, but desired his officials to take
the finest and most richly caparisoned horse in his stables,
together with the most magnificent dress they could procure,
and to put it on the person who had written those lines, and bring
him to court.
The officials began to laugh when they heard the Sultan's command,
but as soon as they could speak they said, "Deign, your highness,
to excuse our mirth, but those lines were not written by a man
but by a monkey."
"A monkey!" exclaimed the Sultan.
"Yes, sire," answered the officials. "They were written by a monkey
in our presence."
"Then bring me the monkey," he replied, "as fast as you can."
The Sultan's officials returned to the ship and showed the royal
order to the captain.
"He is the master," said the good man, and desired that I should
be sent for.
Then they put on me the gorgeous robe and rowed me to land, where I
was placed on the horse and led to the palace. Here the Sultan
was awaiting me in great state surrounded by his court.
All the way along the streets I had been the object of curiosity
to a vast crowd, which had filled every doorway and every window,
and it was amidst their shouts and cheers that I was ushered into
the presence of the Sultan.
I approached the throne on which he was seated and made him three
low bows, then prostrated myself at his feet to the surprise of everyone,
who could not understand how it was possible that a monkey should
be able to distinguish a Sultan from other people, and to pay him
the respect due to his rank. However, excepting the usual speech,
I omitted none of the common forms attending a royal audience.
When it was over the Sultan dismissed all the court, keeping with him
only the chief of the eunuchs and a little slave. He then passed
into another room and ordered food to be brought, making signs
to me to sit at table with him and eat. I rose from my seat,
kissed the ground, and took my place at the table, eating, as you
may suppose, with care and in moderation.
Before the dishes were removed I made signs that writing materials,
which stood in one corner of the room, should be laid in front of me.
I then took a peach and wrote on it some verses in praise of the Sultan,
who was speechless with astonishment; but when I did the same
thing on a glass from which I had drunk he murmured to himself,
"Why, a man who could do as much would be cleverer than any other man,
and this is only a monkey!"
Supper being over chessmen were brought, and the Sultan signed to me
to know if I would play with him. I kissed the ground and laid my hand
on my head to show that I was ready to show myself worthy of the honour.
He beat me the first game, but I won the second and third, and seeing
that this did not quite please I dashed off a verse by way of consolation.
The Sultan was so enchanted with all the talents of which I had given
proof that he wished me to exhibit some of them to other people.
So turning to the chief of the eunuchs he said, "Go and beg my daughter,
Queen of Beauty, to come here. I will show her something she has
never seen before."
The chief of the eunuchs bowed and left the room, ushering in a few
moments later the princess, Queen of Beauty. Her face was uncovered,
but the moment she set foot in the room she threw her veil over
her head. "Sire," she said to her father, "what can you be thinking
of to summon me like this into the presence of a man?"
"I do not understand you," replied the Sultan. "There is nobody
here but the eunuch, who is your own servant, the little slave,
and myself, yet you cover yourself with your veil and reproach me
for having sent for you, as if I had committed a crime."
"Sire," answered the princess, "I am right and you are wrong.
This monkey is really no monkey at all, but a young prince who has
been turned into a monkey by the wicked spells of a genius, son of
the daughter of Eblis."
As will be imagined, these words took the Sultan by surprise, and he
looked at me to see how I should take the statement of the princess.
As I was unable to speak, I placed my hand on my head to show that it
"But how do you know this, my daughter?" asked he.
"Sire," replied Queen of Beauty, "the old lady who took care of me
in my childhood was an accomplished magician, and she taught me
seventy rules of her art, by means of which I could, in the twinkling
of an eye, transplant your capital into the middle of the ocean.
Her art likewise teaches me to recognise at first sight all persons
who are enchanted, and tells me by whom the spell was wrought."
"My daughter," said the Sultan, "I really had no idea you were
"Sire," replied the princess, "there are many out-of-the-way things
it is as well to know, but one should never boast of them."
"Well," asked the Sultan, "can you tell me what must be done
to disenchant the young prince?"
"Certainly; and I can do it."
"Then restore him to his former shape," cried the Sultan.
"You could give me no greater pleasure, for I wish to make him
my grand-vizir, and to give him to you for your husband."
"As your Highness pleases," replied the princess.
Queen of Beauty rose and went to her chamber, from which she
fetched a knife with some Hebrew words engraven on the blade.
She then desired the Sultan, the chief of the eunuchs, the little
slave, and myself to descend into a secret court of the palace,
and placed us beneath a gallery which ran all round, she herself
standing in the centre of the court. Here she traced a large
circle and in it wrote several words in Arab characters.
When the circle and the writing were finished she stood in the middle
of it and repeated some verses from the Koran. Slowly the air
grew dark, and we felt as if the earth was about to crumble away,
and our fright was by no means diminished at seeing the genius,
son of the daughter of Eblis, suddenly appear under the form of a
"Dog," cried the princess when she first caught sight of him,
"you think to strike terror into me by daring to present yourself
before me in this hideous shape."
"And you," retorted the lion, "have not feared to break our treaty
that engaged solemnly we should never interfere with each other."
"Accursed genius!" exclaimed the princess, "it is you by whom
that treaty was first broken."
"I will teach you how to give me so much trouble," said the lion,
and opening his huge mouth he advanced to swallow her. But the
princess expected something of the sort and was on her guard.
She bounded on one side, and seizing one of the hairs of his mane
repeated two or three words over it. In an instant it became a sword,
and with a sharp blow she cut the lion's body into two pieces.
These pieces vanished no one knew where, and only the lion's
head remained, which was at once changed into a scorpion.
Quick as thought the princess assumed the form of a serpent
and gave battle to the scorpion, who, finding he was getting
the worst of it, turned himself into an eagle and took flight.
But in a moment the serpent had become an eagle more powerful still,
who soared up in the air and after him, and then we lost sight of
We all remained where we were quaking with anxiety, when the ground
opened in front of us and a black and white cat leapt out, its hair
standing on end, and miauing frightfully. At its heels was a wolf,
who had almost seized it, when the cat changed itself into a worm,
and, piercing the skin of a pomegranate which had tumbled from a tree,
hid itself in the fruit. The pomegranate swelled till it grew as
large as a pumpkin, and raised itself on to the roof of the gallery,
from which it fell into the court and was broken into bits.
While this was taking place the wolf, who had transformed himself
into a cock, began to swallow the seed of the pomegranate as fast
as he could. When all were gone he flew towards us, flapping his
wings as if to ask if we saw any more, when suddenly his eye fell
on one which lay on the bank of the little canal that flowed
through the court; he hastened towards it, but before he could touch
it the seed rolled into the canal and became a fish. The cock
flung himself in after the fish and took the shape of a pike,
and for two hours they chased each other up and down under the water,
uttering horrible cries, but we could see nothing. At length they
rose from the water in their proper forms, but darting such flames
of fire from their mouths that we dreaded lest the palace should
catch fire. Soon, however, we had much greater cause for alarm,
as the genius, having shaken off the princess, flew towards us.
Our fate would have been sealed if the princess, seeing our danger,
had not attracted the attention of the genius to herself. As it was,
the Sultan's beard was singed and his face scorched, the chief
of the eunuchs was burned to a cinder, while a spark deprived me
of the sight of one eye. Both I and the Sultan had given up all
hope of a rescue, when there was a shout of "Victory, victory!"
from the princess, and the genius lay at her feet a great heap
Exhausted though she was, the princess at once ordered the little slave,
who alone was uninjured, to bring her a cup of water, which she
took in her hand. First repeating some magic words over it,
she dashed it into my face saying, "If you are only a monkey
by enchantment, resume the form of the man you were before."
In an instant I stood before her the same man I had formerly been,
though having lost the sight of one eye.
I was about to fall on my knees and thank the princess but she did
not give me time. Turning to the Sultan, her father, she said,
"Sire, I have gained the battle, but it has cost me dear. The fire
has penetrated to my heart, and I have only a few moments to live.
This would not have happened if I had only noticed the last
pomegranate seed and eaten it like the rest. It was the last
struggle of the genius, and up to that time I was quite safe.
But having let this chance slip I was forced to resort to fire,
and in spite of all his experience I showed the genius that I
knew more than he did. He is dead and in ashes, but my own
death is approaching fast." "My daughter," cried the Sultan,
"how sad is my condition! I am only surprised I am alive at all!
The eunuch is consumed by the flames, and the prince whom you have
delivered has lost the sight of one eye." He could say no more,
for sobs choked his voice, and we all wept together.
Suddenly the princess shrieked, "I burn, I burn!" and death came
to free her from her torments.
I have no words, madam, to tell you of my feelings at this
terrible sight. I would rather have remained a monkey all my
life than let my benefactress perish in this shocking manner.
As for the Sultan, he was quite inconsolable, and his subjects,
who had dearly loved the princess, shared his grief. For seven
days the whole nation mourned, and then the ashes of the princess
were buried with great pomp, and a superb tomb was raised over her.
As soon as the Sultan recovered from the severe illness which
had seized him after the death of the princess he sent for me
and plainly, though politely, informed me that my presence would
always remind him of his loss, and he begged that I would instantly
quit his kingdom, and on pain of death never return to it. I was,
of course, bound to obey, and not knowing what was to become of me
I shaved my beard and eyebrows and put on the dress of a calender.
After wandering aimlessly through several countries, I resolved to come
to Bagdad and request an audience of the Commander of the Faithful.
And that, madam, is my story.
The other Calender then told his story.
Story of the Third Calendar, Son of a King
My story, said the Third Calender, is quite different from those
of my two friends. It was fate that deprived them of the sight
of their right eyes, but mine was lost by my own folly.
My name is Agib, and I am the son of a king called Cassib,
who reigned over a large kingdom, which had for its capital
one of the finest seaport towns in the world.
When I succeeded to my father's throne my first care was to visit
the provinces on the mainland, and then to sail to the numerous
islands which lay off the shore, in order to gain the hearts
of my subjects. These voyages gave me such a taste for sailing
that I soon determined to explore more distant seas, and commanded
a fleet of large ships to be got ready without delay. When they
were properly fitted out I embarked on my expedition.
For forty days wind and weather were all in our favour, but the
next night a terrific storm arose, which blew us hither and thither
for ten days, till the pilot confessed that he had quite lost
his bearings. Accordingly a sailor was sent up to the masthead to try
to catch a sight of land, and reported that nothing was to be seen
but the sea and sky, except a huge mass of blackness that lay astern.
On hearing this the pilot grew white, and, beating his breast,
he cried, "Oh, sir, we are lost, lost!" till the ship's crew trembled
at they knew not what. When he had recovered himself a little,
and was able to explain the cause of his terror, he replied,
in answer to my question, that we had drifted far out of our course,
and that the following day about noon we should come near that mass
of darkness, which, said he, is nothing but the famous Black Mountain.
This mountain is composed of adamant, which attracts to itself
all the iron and nails in your ship; and as we are helplessly
drawn nearer, the force of attraction will become so great that the
iron and nails will fall out of the ships and cling to the mountain,
and the ships will sink to the bottom with all that are in them.
This it is that causes the side of the mountain towards the sea to
appear of such a dense blackness.
As may be supposed--continued the pilot--the mountain sides
are very rugged, but on the summit stands a brass dome supported
on pillars, and bearing on top the figure of a brass horse,
with a rider on his back. This rider wears a breastplate of lead,
on which strange signs and figures are engraved, and it is said
that as long as this statue remains on the dome, vessels will
never cease to perish at the foot of the mountain.
So saying, the pilot began to weep afresh, and the crew, fearing their
last hour had come, made their wills, each one in favour of his fellow.
At noon next day, as the pilot had foretold, we were so near to the
Black Mountain that we saw all the nails and iron fly out of the ships
and dash themselves against the mountain with a horrible noise.
A moment after the vessels fell asunder and sank, the crews with them.
I alone managed to grasp a floating plank, and was driven ashore
by the wind, without even a scratch. What was my joy on finding
myself at the bottom of some steps which led straight up the mountain,
for there was not another inch to the right or the left where a man
could set his foot. And, indeed, even the steps themselves were
so narrow and so steep that, if the lightest breeze had arisen,
I should certainly have been blown into the sea.
When I reached the top I found the brass dome and the statue exactly
as the pilot had described, but was too wearied with all I had
gone through to do more than glance at them, and, flinging myself
under the dome, was asleep in an instant. In my dreams an old man
appeared to me and said, "Hearken, Agib! As soon as thou art awake
dig up the ground underfoot, and thou shalt find a bow of brass and
three arrows of lead. Shoot the arrows at the statue, and the rider
shall tumble into the sea, but the horse will fall down by thy side,
and thou shalt bury him in the place from which thou tookest the bow
and arrows. This being done the sea will rise and cover the mountain,
and on it thou wilt perceive the figure of a metal man seated
in a boat, having an oar in each hand. Step on board and let
him conduct thee; but if thou wouldest behold thy kingdom again,
see that thou takest not the name of Allah into thy mouth."
Having uttered these words the vision left me, and I woke,
much comforted. I sprang up and drew the bow and arrows out of
the ground, and with the third shot the horseman fell with a great
crash into the sea, which instantly began to rise, so rapidly, that I
had hardly time to bury the horse before the boat approached me.
I stepped silently in and sat down, and the metal man pushed off,
and rowed without stopping for nine days, after which land appeared
on the horizon. I was so overcome with joy at this sight that I
forgot all the old man had told me, and cried out, "Allah be praised!
Allah be praised!"
The words were scarcely out of my mouth when the boat and man
sank from beneath me, and left me floating on the surface.
All that day and the next night I swam and floated alternately,
making as well as I could for the land which was nearest to me.
At last my strength began to fail, and I gave myself up for lost,
when the wind suddenly rose, and a huge wave cast me on a flat shore.
Then, placing myself in safety, I hastily spread my clothes out to dry
in the sun, and flung myself on the warm ground to rest.
Next morning I dressed myself and began to look about me.
There seemed to be no one but myself on the island, which was covered
with fruit trees and watered with streams, but seemed a long distance
from the mainland which I hoped to reach. Before, however, I had
time to feel cast down, I saw a ship making directly for the island,
and not knowing whether it would contain friends or foes, I hid
myself in the thick branches of a tree.
The sailors ran the ship into a creek, where ten slaves landed,
carrying spades and pickaxes. In the middle of the island they stopped,
and after digging some time, lifted up what seemed to be a trapdoor.
They then returned to the vessel two or three times for furniture
and provisions, and finally were accompanied by an old man,
leading a handsome boy of fourteen or fifteen years of age.
They all disappeared down the trapdoor, and after remaining below
for a few minutes came up again, but without the boy, and let
down the trapdoor, covering it with earth as before. This done,
they entered the ship and set sail.
As soon as they were out of sight, I came down from my tree,
and went to the place where the boy had been buried. I dug up
the earth till I reached a large stone with a ring in the centre.
This, when removed, disclosed a flight of stone steps which led
to a large room richly furnished and lighted by tapers. On a pile
of cushions, covered with tapestry, sat the boy. He looked up,
startled and frightened at the sight of a stranger in such a place,
and to soothe his fears, I at once spoke: "Be not alarmed, sir,
whoever you may be. I am a king, and the son of a king, and will
do you no hurt. On the contrary, perhaps I have been sent here
to deliver you out of this tomb, where you have been buried alive."
Hearing my words, the young man recovered himself, and when I had ended,
he said, "The reasons, Prince, that have caused me to be buried
in this place are so strange that they cannot but surprise you.
My father is a rich merchant, owning much land and many ships,
and has great dealings in precious stones, but he never ceased
mourning that he had no child to inherit his wealth.
"At length one day he dreamed that the following year a son would
be born to him, and when this actually happened, he consulted
all the wise men in the kingdom as to the future of the infant.
One and all they said the same thing. I was to live happily
till I was fifteen, when a terrible danger awaited me, which I
should hardly escape. If, however, I should succeed in doing so,
I should live to a great old age. And, they added, when the statue
of the brass horse on the top of the mountain of adamant is thrown
into the sea by Agib, the son of Cassib, then beware, for fifty days
later your son shall fall by his hand!
"This prophecy struck the heart of my father with such woe, that he
never got over it, but that did not prevent him from attending
carefully to my education till I attained, a short time ago,
my fifteenth birthday. It was only yesterday that the news
reached him that ten days previously the statue of brass had been
thrown into the sea, and he at once set about hiding me in this
underground chamber, which was built for the purpose, promising to
fetch me out when the forty days have passed. For myself, I have
no fears, as Prince Agib is not likely to come here to look for me."
I listened to his story with an inward laugh as to the absurdity of my
ever wishing to cause the death of this harmless boy, whom I hastened
to assure of my friendship and even of my protection; begging him,
in return, to convey me in his father's ship to my own country.
I need hardly say that I took special care not to inform him that I
was the Agib whom he dreaded.
The day passed in conversation on various subjects, and I found him
a youth of ready wit and of some learning. I took on myself the
duties of a servant, held the basin and water for him when he washed,
prepared the dinner and set it on the table. He soon grew to love me,
and for thirty-nine days we spent as pleasant an existence as could
be expected underground.
The morning of the fortieth dawned, and the young man when he woke
gave thanks in an outburst of joy that the danger was passed.
"My father may be here at any moment," said he, "so make me, I pray you,
a bath of hot water, that I may bathe, and change my clothes,
and be ready to receive him."
So I fetched the water as he asked, and washed and rubbed him,
after which he lay down again and slept a little. When he opened
his eyes for the second time, he begged me to bring him a melon
and some sugar, that he might eat and refresh himself.
I soon chose a fine melon out of those which remained, but could
find no knife to cut it with. "Look in the cornice over my head,"
said he, "and I think you will see one." It was so high above me,
that I had some difficulty in reaching it, and catching my foot in the
covering of the bed, I slipped, and fell right upon the young man,
the knife going straight into his heart.
At this awful sight I shrieked aloud in my grief and pain.
I threw myself on the ground and rent my clothes and tore my hair
with sorrow. Then, fearing to be punished as his murderer by the
unhappy father, I raised the great stone which blocked the staircase,
and quitting the underground chamber, made everything fast as before.
Scarcely had I finished when, looking out to sea, I saw the vessel
heading for the island, and, feeling that it would be useless
for me to protest my innocence, I again concealed myself among
the branches of a tree that grew near by.
The old man and his slaves pushed off in a boat directly the ship
touched land, and walked quickly towards the entrance to the
underground chamber; but when they were near enough to see that
the earth had been disturbed, they paused and changed colour.
In silence they all went down and called to the youth by name;
then for a moment I heard no more. Suddenly a fearful scream
rent the air, and the next instant the slaves came up the steps,
carrying with them the body of the old man, who had fainted from sorrow!
Laying him down at the foot of the tree in which I had taken shelter,
they did their best to recover him, but it took a long while.
When at last he revived, they left him to dig a grave, and then laying
the young man's body in it, they threw in the earth.
This ended, the slaves brought up all the furniture that remained below,
and put it on the vessel, and breaking some boughs to weave
a litter, they laid the old man on it, and carried him to the ship,
which spread its sails and stood out to sea.
So once more I was quite alone, and for a whole month I walked daily
over the island, seeking for some chance of escape. At length
one day it struck me that my prison had grown much larger, and that
the mainland seemed to be nearer. My heart beat at this thought,
which was almost too good to be true. I watched a little longer:
there was no doubt about it, and soon there was only a tiny stream
for me to cross.
Even when I was safe on the other side I had a long distance to go
on the mud and sand before I reached dry ground, and very tired I was,
when far in front of me I caught sight of a castle of red copper,
which, at first sight, I took to be a fire. I made all the haste
I could, and after some miles of hard walking stood before it,
and gazed at it in astonishment, for it seemed to me the most wonderful
building I had ever beheld. While I was still staring at it,
there came towards me a tall old man, accompanied by ten young men,
all handsome, and all blind of the right eye.
Now in its way, the spectacle of ten men walking together, all blind
of the right eye, is as uncommon as that of a copper castle, and I was
turning over in my mind what could be the meaning of this strange fact,
when they greeted me warmly, and inquired what had brought me there.
I replied that my story was somewhat long, but that if they would
take the trouble to sit down, I should be happy to tell it them.
When I had finished, the young men begged that I would go
with them to the castle, and I joyfully accepted their offer.
We passed through what seemed to me an endless number of rooms,
and came at length into a large hall, furnished with ten small
blue sofas for the ten young men, which served as beds as well
as chairs, and with another sofa in the middle for the old man.
As none of the sofas could hold more than one person, they bade me
place myself on the carpet, and to ask no questions about anything I
After a little while the old man rose and brought in supper, which I
ate heartily, for I was very hungry. Then one of the young men begged
me to repeat my story, which had struck them all with astonishment,
and when I had ended, the old man was bidden to "do his duty,"
as it was late, and they wished to go to bed. At these words
he rose, and went to a closet, from which he brought out ten basins,
all covered with blue stuff. He set one before each of the young men,
together with a lighted taper.
When the covers were taken off the basins, I saw they were filled
with ashes, coal-dust, and lamp-black. The young men mixed these
all together, and smeared the whole over their heads and faces.
They then wept and beat their breasts, crying, "This is the fruit
of idleness, and of our wicked lives."
This ceremony lasted nearly the whole night, and when it stopped
they washed themselves carefully, and put on fresh clothes,
and lay down to sleep.
All this while I had refrained from questions, though my curiosity
almost seemed to burn a hole in me, but the following day, when we went
out to walk, I said to them, "Gentlemen, I must disobey your wishes,
for I can keep silence no more. You do not appear to lack wit,
yet you do such actions as none but madmen could be capable of.
Whatever befalls me I cannot forbear asking, `Why you daub your
faces with black, and how it is you are all blind of one eye?'"
But they only answered that such questions were none of my business,
and that I should do well to hold my peace.
During that day we spoke of other things, but when night came,
and the same ceremony was repeated, I implored them most earnestly
to let me know the meaning of it all.
"It is for your own sake," replied one of the young men, "that we have
not granted your request, and to preserve you from our unfortunate fate.
If, however, you wish to share our destiny we will delay no longer."
I answered that whatever might be the consequence I wished to have
my curiosity satisfied, and that I would take the result on my
own head. He then assured me that, even when I had lost my eye,
I should be unable to remain with them, as their number was complete,
and could not be added to. But to this I replied that, though I
should be grieved to part company with such honest gentlemen,
I would not be turned from my resolution on that account.
On hearing my determination my ten hosts then took a sheep and
killed it, and handed me a knife, which they said I should by-and-by
find useful. "We must sew you into this sheep-skin," said they,
"and then leave you. A fowl of monstrous size, called a roc,
will appear in the air, taking you to be a sheep. He will snatch
you up and carry you into the sky, but be not alarmed, for he
will bring you safely down and lay you on the top of a mountain.
When you are on the ground cut the skin with the knife and throw
it off. As soon as the roc sees you he will fly away from fear,
but you must walk on till you come to a castle covered with
plates of gold, studded with jewels. Enter boldly at the gate,
which always stands open, but do not ask us to tell you what we
saw or what befel us there, for that you will learn for yourself.
This only we may say, that it cost us each our right eye, and has
imposed upon us our nightly penance."
After the young gentlemen had been at the trouble of sewing
the sheep-skin on me they left me, and retired to the hall.
In a few minutes the roc appeared, and bore me off to the
top of the mountain in his huge claws as lightly as if I
had been a feather, for this great white bird is so strong
that he has been known to carry even an elephant to his nest in the hills.
The moment my feet touched the ground I took out my knife and cut
the threads that bound me, and the sight of me in my proper clothes
so alarmed the roc that he spread his wings and flew away.
Then I set out to seek the castle.
I found it after wandering about for half a day, and never could I
have imagined anything so glorious. The gate led into a square court,
into which opened a hundred doors, ninety-nine of them being
of rare woods and one of gold. Through each of these doors
I caught glimpses of splendid gardens or of rich storehouses.
Entering one of the doors which was standing open I found myself
in a vast hall where forty young ladies, magnificently dressed,
and of perfect beauty, were reclining. As soon as they saw
me they rose and uttered words of welcome, and even forced me
to take possession of a seat that was higher than their own,
though my proper place was at their feet. Not content with this,
one brought me splendid garments, while another filled a basin
with scented water and poured it over my hands, and the rest
busied themselves with preparing refreshments. After I had eaten
and drunk of the most delicate food and rarest wines, the ladies
crowded round me and begged me to tell them all my adventures.
By the time I had finished night had fallen, and the ladies lighted
up the castle with such a prodigious quantity of tapers that even day
could hardly have been brighter. We then sat down to a supper of dried
fruits and sweetmeats, after which some sang and others danced.
I was so well amused that I did not notice how the time was passing,
but at length one of the ladies approached and informed me it
was midnight, and that, as I must be tired, she would conduct
me to the room that had been prepared for me. Then, bidding me
good-night, I was left to sleep.
I spent the next thirty-nine days in much the same way as the first,
but at the close of that time the ladies appeared (as was their custom)
in my room one morning to inquire how I had slept, and instead
of looking cheerful and smiling they were in floods of tears.
"Prince," said they, "we must leave you, and never was it so hard
to part from any of our friends. Most likely we shall never see
you again, but if you have sufficient self-command perhaps we may yet
look forward to a meeting."
"Ladies," I replied, "what is the meaning of these strange words--
I pray you to tell me?"
"Know then," answered one of them, "that we are all princesses--
each a king's daughter. We live in this castle together, in the way
that you have seen, but at the end of every year secret duties
call us away for the space of forty days. The time has now come;
but before we depart, we will leave you our keys, so that you
may not lack entertainment during our absence. But one thing
we would ask of you. The Golden Door, alone, forbear to open,
as you value your own peace, and the happiness of your life.
That door once unlocked, we must bid you farewell for ever."
Weeping, I assured them of my prudence, and after embracing
me tenderly, they went their ways.
Every day I opened two or three fresh doors, each of which
contained behind it so many curious things that I had no chance
of feeling dull, much as I regretted the absence of the ladies.
Sometimes it was an orchard, whose fruit far exceeded in bigness
any that grew in my father's garden. Sometimes it was a court
planted with roses, jessamine, dafeodils, hyacinths and anemones,
and a thousand other flowers of which I did not know the names.
Or again, it would be an aviary, fitted with all kinds of singing birds,
or a treasury heaped up with precious stones; but whatever I might see,
all was perfect of its own sort.
Thirty-nine days passed away more rapidly than I could have
conceived possible, and the following morning the princesses were
to return to the castle. But alas! I had explored every corner,
save only the room that was shut in by the Golden Door, and I
had no longer anything to amuse myself with. I stood before the
forbidden place for some time, gazing at its beauty; then a happy
inspiration struck me, that because I unlocked the door it was not
necessary that I should enter the chamber. It would be enough
for me to stand outside and view whatever hidden wonders might be therein.
Thus arguing against my own conscience, I turned the key, when a smell
rushed out that, pleasant though it was, overcame me completely,
and I fell fainting across the threshold. Instead of being warned
by this accident, directly I came to myself I went for a few
moments into the air to shake of the effects of the perfume,
and then entered boldly. I found myself in a large, vaulted room,
lighted by tapers, scented with aloes and ambergris, standing in golden
candle-sticks, whilst gold and silver lamps hung from the ceiling.
Though objects of rare workmanship lay heaped around me, I paid them
scant attention, so much was I struck by a great black horse which stood
in one corner, the handsomest and best-shaped animal I had ever seen.
His saddle and bridle were of massive gold, curiously wrought;
one side of his trough was filled with clean barley and sesame,
and the other with rose water. I led the animal into the open air,
and then jumped on his back, shaking the reins as I did so, but as he
never stirred, I touched him lightly with a switch I had picked up
in his stable. No sooner did he feel the stroke, than he spread
his wings (which I had not perceived before), and flew up with me
straight into the sky. When he had reached a prodigious height,
he next darted back to earth, and alighted on the terrace belonging
to a castle, shaking me violently out of the saddle as he did so,
and giving me such a blow with his tail, that he knocked out my
Half-stunned as I was with all that had happened to me, I rose
to my feet, thinking as I did so of what had befallen the ten
young men, and watching the horse which was soaring into the clouds.
I left the terrace and wandered on till I came to a hall,
which I knew to have been the one from which the roc had taken me,
by the ten blue sofas against the wall.
The ten young men were not present when I first entered, but came
in soon after, accompanied by the old man. They greeted me kindly,
and bewailed my misfortune, though, indeed, they had expected
nothing less. "All that has happened to you," they said, "we also
have undergone, and we should be enjoying the same happiness still,
had we not opened the Golden Door while the princesses were absent.
You have been no wiser than we, and have suffered the same punishment.
We would gladly receive you among us, to perform such penance
as we do, but we have already told you that this is impossible.
Depart, therefore, from hence and go to the Court of Bagdad,
where you shall meet with him that can decide your destiny."
They told me the way I was to travel, and I left them.
On the road I caused my beard and eyebrows to be shaved, and put
on a Calender's habit. I have had a long journey, but arrived this
evening in the city, where I met my brother Calenders at the gate,
being strangers like myself. We wondered much at one another,
to see we were all blind of the same eye, but we had no leisure
to discourse at length of our common calamities. We had only so much
time as to come hither to implore those favours which you have been
generously pleased to grant us.
He finished, and it was Zobeida's turn to speak: "Go wherever
you please," she said, addressing all three. "I pardon you all,
but you must depart immediately out of this house."
The Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor
IN the times of the Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid there lived in Bagdad
a poor porter named Hindbad, who on a very hot day was sent
to carry a heavy load from one end of the city to the other.
Before he had accomplished half the distance he was so tired that,
finding himself in a quiet street where the pavement was sprinkled
with rose water, and a cool breeze was blowing, he set his burden
upon the ground, and sat down to rest in the shade of a grand house.
Very soon he decided that he could not have chosen a pleasanter place;
a delicious perfume of aloes wood and pastilles came from the open
windows and mingled with the scent of the rose water which steamed
up from the hot pavement. Within the palace he heard some music,
as of many instruments cunningly played, and the melodious warble
of nightingales and other birds, and by this, and the appetising smell
of many dainty dishes of which he presently became aware, he judged
that feasting and merry making were going on. He wondered who lived
in this magnificent house which he had never seen before, the street
in which it stood being one which he seldom had occasion to pass.
To satisfy his curiosity he went up to some splendidly dressed servants
who stood at the door, and asked one of them the name of the master
of the mansion.
"What," replied he, "do you live in Bagdad, and not know that here
lives the noble Sindbad the Sailor, that famous traveller who sailed
over every sea upon which the sun shines?"
The porter, who had often heard people speak of the immense wealth
of Sindbad, could not help feeling envious of one whose lot seemed
to be as happy as his own was miserable. Casting his eyes up
to the sky he exclaimed aloud,
"Consider, Mighty Creator of all things, the differences between
Sindbad's life and mine. Every day I suffer a thousand hardships
and misfortunes, and have hard work to get even enough bad barley
bread to keep myself and my family alive, while the lucky Sindbad
spends money right and left and lives upon the fat of the land!
What has he done that you should give him this pleasant life--
what have I done to deserve so hard a fate?"
So saying he stamped upon the ground like one beside himself with misery
and despair. Just at this moment a servant came out of the palace,
and taking him by the arm said, "Come with me, the noble Sindbad,
my master, wishes to speak to you."
Hindbad was not a little surprised at this summons, and feared that his
unguarded words might have drawn upon him the displeasure of Sindbad,
so he tried to excuse himself upon the pretext that he could not
leave the burden which had been entrusted to him in the street.
However the lackey promised him that it should be taken care of,
and urged him to obey the call so pressingly that at last the porter
was obliged to yield.
He followed the servant into a vast room, where a great company
was seated round a table covered with all sorts of delicacies.
In the place of honour sat a tall, grave man whose long white
beard gave him a venerable air. Behind his chair stood a crowd
of attendants eager to minister to his wants. This was the famous
Sindbad himself. The porter, more than ever alarmed at the sight
of so much magnificence, tremblingly saluted the noble company.
Sindbad, making a sign to him to approach, caused him to be seated
at his right hand, and himself heaped choice morsels upon his plate,
and poured out for him a draught of excellent wine, and presently,
when the banquet drew to a close, spoke to him familiarly, asking his
name and occupation.
"My lord," replied the porter, "I am called Hindbad."
"I am glad to see you here," continued Sindbad. "And I will answer
for the rest of the company that they are equally pleased, but I wish
you to tell me what it was that you said just now in the street."
For Sindbad, passing by the open window before the feast began,
had heard his complaint and therefore had sent for him.
At this question Hindbad was covered with confusion, and hanging down
his head, replied, "My lord, I confess that, overcome by weariness and
ill-humour, I uttered indiscreet words, which I pray you to pardon me."
"Oh!" replied Sindbad, "do not imagine that I am so unjust as to blame
you. On the contrary, I understand your situation and can pity you.
Only you appear to be mistaken about me, and I wish to set you right.
You doubtless imagine that I have acquired all the wealth and luxury
that you see me enjoy without difficulty or danger, but this is far
indeed from being the case. I have only reached this happy state
after having for years suffered every possible kind of toil and danger.
"Yes, my noble friends," he continued, addressing the company,
"l assure you that my adventures have been strange enough to deter even
the most avaricious men from seeking wealth by traversing the seas.
Since you have, perhaps, heard but confused accounts of my seven voyages,
and the dangers and wonders that I have met with by sea and land,
I will now give you a full and true account of them, which I think
you will be well pleased to hear."
As Sindbad was relating his adventures chiefly on account of
the porter, he ordered, before beginning his tale, that the burden
which had been left in the street should be carried by some of his
own servants to the place for which Hindbad had set out at first,
while he remained to listen to the story.
I had inherited considerable wealth from my parents, and being
young and foolish I at first squandered it recklessly upon every
kind of pleasure, but presently, finding that riches speedily take
to themselves wings if managed as badly as I was managing mine,
and remembering also that to be old and poor is misery indeed,
I began to bethink me of how I could make the best of what still
remained to me. I sold all my household goods by public auction,
and joined a company of merchants who traded by sea, embarking with
them at Balsora in a ship which we had fitted out between us.
We set sail and took our course towards the East Indies by the
Persian Gulf, having the coast of Persia upon our left hand and upon
our right the shores of Arabia Felix. I was at first much troubled
by the uneasy motion of the vessel, but speedily recovered my health,
and since that hour have been no more plagued by sea-sickness.
From time to time we landed at various islands, where we sold or
exchanged our merchandise, and one day, when the wind dropped suddenly,
we found ourselves becalmed close to a small island like a green meadow,
which only rose slightly above the surface of the water. Our sails
were furled, and the captain gave permission to all who wished
to land for a while and amuse themselves. I was among the number,
but when after strolling about for some time we lighted a fire
and sat down to enjoy the repast which we had brought with us,
we were startled by a sudden and violent trembling of the island,
while at the same moment those left upon the ship set up an outcry
bidding us come on board for our lives, since what we had taken
for an island was nothing but the back of a sleeping whale.
Those who were nearest to the boat threw themselves into it,
others sprang into the sea, but before I could save myself the whale
plunged suddenly into the depths of the ocean, leaving me clinging
to a piece of the wood which we had brought to make our fire.
Meanwhile a breeze had sprung up, and in the confusion that ensued
on board our vessel in hoisting the sails and taking up those who were
in the boat and clinging to its sides, no one missed me and I was
left at the mercy of the waves. All that day I floated up and down,
now beaten this way, now that, and when night fell I despaired for
my life; but, weary and spent as I was, I clung to my frail support,
and great was my joy when the morning light showed me that I had
drifted against an island.
The cliffs were high and steep, but luckily for me some tree-roots
protruded in places, and by their aid I climbed up at last,
and stretched myself upon the turf at the top, where I lay,
more dead than alive, till the sun was high in the heavens.
By that time I was very hungry, but after some searching I came
upon some eatable herbs, and a spring of clear water, and much
refreshed I set out to explore the island. Presently I reached
a great plain where a grazing horse was tethered, and as I stood
looking at it I heard voices talking apparently underground, and in
a moment a man appeared who asked me how I came upon the island.
I told him my adventures, and heard in return that he was one
of the grooms of Mihrage, the king of the island, and that each
year they came to feed their master's horses in this plain.
He took me to a cave where his companions were assembled, and when I
had eaten of the food they set before me, they bade me think myself
fortunate to have come upon them when I did, since they were going
back to their master on the morrow, and without their aid I could
certainly never have found my way to the inhabited part of the island.
Early the next morning we accordingly set out, and when we reached
the capital I was graciously received by the king, to whom I related
my adventures, upon which he ordered that I should be well cared
for and provided with such things as I needed. Being a merchant
I sought out men of my own profession, and particularly those
who came from foreign countries, as I hoped in this way to hear
news from Bagdad, and find out some means of returning thither,
for the capital was situated upon the sea-shore, and visited
by vessels from all parts of the world. In the meantime I heard
many curious things, and answered many questions concerning my
own country, for I talked willingly with all who came to me.
Also to while away the time of waiting I explored a little island
named Cassel, which belonged to King Mihrage, and which was supposed
to be inhabited by a spirit named Deggial. Indeed, the sailors
assured me that often at night the playing of timbals could be
heard upon it. However, I saw nothing strange upon my voyage,
saving some fish that were full two hundred cubits long, but were
fortunately more in dread of us than even we were of them, and fled
from us if we did but strike upon a board to frighten them.
Other fishes there were only a cubit long which had heads like owls.
One day after my return, as I went down to the quay, I saw a ship
which had just cast anchor, and was discharging her cargo,
while the merchants to whom it belonged were busily directing
the removal of it to their warehouses. Drawing nearer I presently
noticed that my own name was marked upon some of the packages,
and after having carefully examined them, I felt sure that they
were indeed those which I had put on board our ship at Balsora.
I then recognised the captain of the vessel, but as I was certain
that he believed me to be dead, I went up to him and asked who owned
the packages that I was looking at.
"There was on board my ship," he replied, "a merchant of Bagdad
named Sindbad. One day he and several of my other passengers
landed upon what we supposed to be an island, but which was
really an enormous whale floating asleep upon the waves.
No sooner did it feel upon its back the heat of the fire which
had been kindled, than it plunged into the depths of the sea.
Several of the people who were upon it perished in the waters,
and among others this unlucky Sindbad. This merchandise is his,
but I have resolved to dispose of it for the benefit of his family
if I should ever chance to meet with them."
"Captain," said I, "I am that Sindbad whom you believe to be dead,
and these are my possessions!"
When the captain heard these words he cried out in amazement,
"Lackaday! and what is the world coming to? In these days there
is not an honest man to be met with. Did I not with my own
eyes see Sindbad drown, and now you have the audacity to tell
me that you are he! I should have taken you to be a just man,
and yet for the sake of obtaining that which does not belong to you,
you are ready to invent this horrible falsehood."
"Have patience, and do me the favour to hear my story," said I.
"Speak then," replied the captain, "I'm all attention."
So I told him of my escape and of my fortunate meeting with the
king's grooms, and how kindly I had been received at the palace.
Very soon I began to see that I had made some impression upon him,
and after the arrival of some of the other merchants, who showed
great joy at once more seeing me alive, he declared that he also
Throwing himself upon my neck he exclaimed, "Heaven be praised
that you have escaped from so great a danger. As to your goods,
I pray you take them, and dispose of them as you please."
I thanked him, and praised his honesty, begging him to accept
several bales of merchandise in token of my gratitude, but he
would take nothing. Of the choicest of my goods I prepared
a present for King Mihrage, who was at first amazed, having known
that I had lost my all. However, when I had explained to him
how my bales had been miraculously restored to me, he graciously
accepted my gifts, and in return gave me many valuable things.
I then took leave of him, and exchanging my merchandise for sandal
and aloes wood, camphor, nutmegs, cloves, pepper, and ginger,
I embarked upon the same vessel and traded so successfully upon
our homeward voyage that I arrived in Balsora with about one
hundred thousand sequins. My family received me with as much joy
as I felt upon seeing them once more. I bought land and slaves,
and built a great house in which I resolved to live happily, and in
the enjoyment of all the pleasures of life to forget my past sufferings.
Here Sindbad paused, and commanded the musicians to play again,
while the feasting continued until evening. When the time came
for the porter to depart, Sindbad gave him a purse containing
one hundred sequins, saying, "Take this, Hindbad, and go home,
but to-morrow come again and you shall hear more of my adventures."
The porter retired quite overcome by so much generosity, and you
may imagine that he was well received at home, where his wife and
children thanked their lucky stars that he had found such a benefactor.
The next day Hindbad, dressed in his best, returned to the
voyager's house, and was received with open arms. As soon
as all the guests had arrived the banquet began as before,
and when they had feasted long and merrily, Sindbad addressed them thus:
"My friends, I beg that you will give me your attention while I
relate the adventures of my second voyage, which you will find
even more astonishing than the first."
I had resolved, as you know, on my return from my first voyage,
to spend the rest of my days quietly in Bagdad, but very soon I grew
tired of such an idle life and longed once more to find myself upon
I procured, therefore, such goods as were suitable for the places I
intended to visit, and embarked for the second time in a good ship
with other merchants whom I knew to be honourable men. We went from
island to island, often making excellent bargains, until one day we
landed at a spot which, though covered with fruit trees and abounding
in springs of excellent water, appeared to possess neither houses
nor people. While my companions wandered here and there gathering
flowers and fruit I sat down in a shady place, and, having heartily
enjoyed the provisions and the wine I had brought with me, I
fell asleep, lulled by the murmur of a clear brook which flowed close by.
How long I slept I know not, but when I opened my eyes and started
to my feet I perceived with horror that I was alone and that
the ship was gone. I rushed to and fro like one distracted,
uttering cries of despair, and when from the shore I saw the vessel
under full sail just disappearing upon the horizon, I wished
bitterly enough that I had been content to stay at home in safety.
But since wishes could do me no good, I presently took courage
and looked about me for a means of escape. When I had climbed
a tall tree I first of all directed my anxious glances towards
the sea; but, finding nothing hopeful there, I turned landward,
and my curiosity was excited by a huge dazzling white object,
so far off that I could not make out what it might be.
Descending from the tree I hastily collected what remained of my
provisions and set off as fast as I could go towards it. As I drew
near it seemed to me to be a white ball of immense size and height,
and when I could touch it, I found it marvellously smooth and soft.
As it was impossible to climb it--for it presented no foot-hold--
I walked round about it seeking some opening, but there was none.
I counted, however, that it was at least fifty paces round.
By this time the sun was near setting, but quite suddenly it
fell dark, something like a huge black cloud came swiftly over me,
and I saw with amazement that it was a bird of extraordinary size
which was hovering near. Then I remembered that I had often
heard the sailors speak of a wonderful bird called a roc, and it
occurred to me that the white object which had so puzzled me must be
Sure enough the bird settled slowly down upon it, covering it
with its wings to keep it warm, and I cowered close beside the egg
in such a position that one of the bird's feet, which was as large
as the trunk of a tree, was just in front of me. Taking off my turban
I bound myself securely to it with the linen in the hope that the roc,
when it took flight next morning, would bear me away with it from
the desolate island. And this was precisely what did happen.
As soon as the dawn appeared the bird rose into the air carrying
me up and up till I could no longer see the earth, and then
suddenly it descended so swiftly that I almost lost consciousness.
When I became aware that the roc had settled and that I was once
again upon solid ground, I hastily unbound my turban from its foot
and freed myself, and that not a moment too soon; for the bird,
pouncing upon a huge snake, killed it with a few blows from its
powerful beak, and seizing it up rose into the air once more and
soon disappeared from my view. When I had looked about me I began
to doubt if I had gained anything by quitting the desolate island.
The valley in which I found myself was deep and narrow, and surrounded
by mountains which towered into the clouds, and were so steep
and rocky that there was no way of climbing up their sides.
As I wandered about, seeking anxiously for some means of escaping
from this trap, I observed that the ground was strewed with diamonds,
some of them of an astonishing size. This sight gave me great pleasure,
but my delight was speedily damped when I saw also numbers of horrible
snakes so long and so large that the smallest of them could have
swallowed an elephant with ease. Fortunately for me they seemed
to hide in caverns of the rocks by day, and only came out by night,
probably because of their enemy the roc.
All day long I wandered up and down the valley, and when it grew dusk
I crept into a little cave, and having blocked up the entrance to it
with a stone, I ate part of my little store of food and lay down
to sleep, but all through the night the serpents crawled to and fro,
hissing horribly, so that I could scarcely close my eyes for terror.
I was thankful when the morning light appeared, and when I judged
by the silence that the serpents had retreated to their dens I came
tremblingly out of my cave and wandered up and down the valley
once more, kicking the diamonds contemptuously out of my path, for I
felt that they were indeed vain things to a man in my situation.
At last, overcome with weariness, I sat down upon a rock, but I had
hardly closed my eyes when I was startled by something which fell
to the ground with a thud close beside me.
It was a huge piece of fresh meat, and as I stared at it several
more pieces rolled over the cliffs in different places. I had
always thought that the stories the sailors told of the famous
valley of diamonds, and of the cunning way which some merchants had
devised for getting at the precious stones, were mere travellers'
tales invented to give pleasure to the hearers, but now I perceived
that they were surely true. These merchants came to the valley
at the time when the eagles, which keep their eyries in the rocks,
had hatched their young. The merchants then threw great lumps
of meat into the valley. These, falling with so much force upon
the diamonds, were sure to take up some of the precious stones
with them, when the eagles pounced upon the meat and carried it off
to their nests to feed their hungry broods. Then the merchants,
scaring away the parent birds with shouts and outcries, would secure
their treasures. Until this moment I had looked upon the valley
as my grave, for I had seen no possibility of getting out of it alive,
but now I took courage and began to devise a means of escape.
I began by picking up all the largest diamonds I could find and storing
them carefully in the leathern wallet which had held my provisions;
this I tied securely to my belt. I then chose the piece of meat
which seemed most suited to my purpose, and with the aid of my turban
bound it firmly to my back; this done I laid down upon my face
and awaited the coming of the eagles. I soon heard the flapping
of their mighty wings above me, and had the satisfaction of feeling
one of them seize upon my piece of meat, and me with it, and rise
slowly towards his nest, into which he presently dropped me.
Luckily for me the merchants were on the watch, and setting up their
usual outcries they rushed to the nest scaring away the eagle.
Their amazement was great when they discovered me, and also
their disappointment, and with one accord they fell to abusing me
for having robbed them of their usual profit. Addressing myself
to the one who seemed most aggrieved, I said: "I am sure, if you knew
all that I have suffered, you would show more kindness towards me,
and as for diamonds, I have enough here of the very best for you
and me and all your company." So saying I showed them to him.
The others all crowded round me, wondering at my adventures
and admiring the device by which I had escaped from the valley,
and when they had led me to their camp and examined my diamonds,
they assured me that in all the years that they had carried on their
trade they had seen no stones to be compared with them for size
I found that each merchant chose a particular nest, and took his
chance of what he might find in it. So I begged the one who owned
the nest to which I had been carried to take as much as he would
of my treasure, but he contented himself with one stone, and that by
no means the largest, assuring me that with such a gem his fortune
was made, and he need toil no more. I stayed with the merchants
several days, and then as they were journeying homewards I gladly
accompanied them. Our way lay across high mountains infested
with frightful serpents, but we had the good luck to escape them
and came at last to the seashore. Thence we sailed to the isle
of Rohat where the camphor trees grow to such a size that a hundred
men could shelter under one of them with ease. The sap flows
from an incision made high up in the tree into a vessel hung there
to receive it, and soon hardens into the substance called camphor,
but the tree itself withers up and dies when it has been so treated.
In this same island we saw the rhinoceros, an animal which is smaller
than the elephant and larger than the buffalo. It has one horn
about a cubit long which is solid, but has a furrow from the base
to the tip. Upon it is traced in white lines the figure of a man.
The rhinoceros fights with the elephant, and transfixing him
with his horn carries him off upon his head, but becoming blinded
with the blood of his enemy, he falls helpless to the ground,
and then comes the roc, and clutches them both up in his talons
and takes them to feed his young. This doubtless astonishes you,
but if you do not believe my tale go to Rohat and see for yourself.
For fear of wearying you I pass over in silence many other wonderful
things which we saw in this island. Before we left I exchanged
one of my diamonds for much goodly merchandise by which I profited
greatly on our homeward way. At last we reached Balsora, whence I
hastened to Bagdad, where my first action was to bestow large sums
of money upon the poor, after which I settled down to enjoy tranquilly
the riches I had gained with so much toil and pain.
Having thus related the adventures of his second voyage, Sindbad again
bestowed a hundred sequins upon Hindbad, inviting him to come again
on the following day and hear how he fared upon his third voyage.
The other guests also departed to their homes, but all returned at
the same hour next day, including the porter, whose former life of hard
work and poverty had already begun to seem to him like a bad dream.
Again after the feast was over did Sindbad claim the attention
of his guests and began the account of his third voyage.
After a very short time the pleasant easy life I led made me quite
forget the perils of my two voyages. Moreover, as I was still
in the prime of life, it pleased me better to be up and doing.
So once more providing myself with the rarest and choicest
merchandise of Bagdad, I conveyed it to Balsora, and set sail
with other merchants of my acquaintance for distant lands.
We had touched at many ports and made much profit, when one day
upon the open sea we were caught by a terrible wind which blew
us completely out of our reckoning, and lasting for several days
finally drove us into harbour on a strange island.
"I would rather have come to anchor anywhere than here,"
quoth our captain. "This island and all adjoining it are inhabited by
hairy savages, who are certain to attack us, and whatever these dwarfs may
do we dare not resist, since they swarm like locusts, and if one of them
is killed the rest will fall upon us, and speedily make an end of us."
These words caused great consternation among all the ship's company,
and only too soon we were to find out that the captain spoke truly.
There appeared a vast multitude of hideous savages, not more than
two feet high and covered with reddish fur. Throwing themselves
into the waves they surrounded our vessel. Chattering meanwhile
in a language we could not understand, and clutching at ropes
and gangways, they swarmed up the ship's side with such speed and
agility that they almost seemed to fly.
You may imagine the rage and terror that seized us as we watched them,
neither daring to hinder them nor able to speak a word to deter them
from their purpose, whatever it might be. Of this we were not left long
in doubt. Hoisting the sails, and cutting the cable of the anchor,
they sailed our vessel to an island which lay a little further off,
where they drove us ashore; then taking possession of her, they made
off to the place from which they had come, leaving us helpless upon
a shore avoided with horror by all mariners for a reason which you
will soon learn.
Turning away from the sea we wandered miserably inland, finding as we
went various herbs and fruits which we ate, feeling that we might
as well live as long as possible though we had no hope of escape.
Presently we saw in the far distance what seemed to us to be a
splendid palace, towards which we turned our weary steps, but when we
reached it we saw that it was a castle, lofty, and strongly built.
Pushing back the heavy ebony doors we entered the courtyard,
but upon the threshold of the great hall beyond it we paused,
frozen with horror, at the sight which greeted us. On one
side lay a huge pile of bones--human bones, and on the other
numberless spits for roasting! Overcome with despair we sank
trembling to the ground, and lay there without speech or motion.
The sun was setting when a loud noise aroused us, the door of
the hall was violently burst open and a horrible giant entered.
He was as tall as a palm tree, and perfectly black, and had one eye,
which flamed like a burning coal in the middle of his forehead.
His teeth were long and sharp and grinned horribly, while his lower
lip hung down upon his chest, and he had ears like elephant's ears,
which covered his shoulders, and nails like the claws of some
At this terrible sight our senses left us and we lay like dead men.
When at last we came to ourselves the giant sat examining us attentively
with his fearful eye. Presently when he had looked at us enough he
came towards us, and stretching out his hand took me by the back
of the neck, turning me this way and that, but feeling that I was
mere skin and bone he set me down again and went on to the next,
whom he treated in the same fashion; at last he came to the captain,
and finding him the fattest of us all, he took him up in one hand
and stuck him upon a spit and proceeded to kindle a huge fire
at which he presently roasted him. After the giant had supped he
lay down to sleep, snoring like the loudest thunder, while we lay
shivering with horror the whole night through, and when day broke
he awoke and went out, leaving us in the castle.
When we believed him to be really gone we started up bemoaning our
horrible fate, until the hall echoed with our despairing cries.
Though we were many and our enemy was alone it did not occur to us to
kill him, and indeed we should have found that a hard task, even if we
had thought of it, and no plan could we devise to deliver ourselves.
So at last, submitting to our sad fate, we spent the day in wandering
up and down the island eating such fruits as we could find,
and when night came we returned to the castle, having sought in vain
for any other place of shelter. At sunset the giant returned,
supped upon one of our unhappy comrades, slept and snored till dawn,
and then left us as before. Our condition seemed to us so frightful
that several of my companions thought it would be better to leap
from the cliffs and perish in the waves at once, rather than await
so miserable an end; but I had a plan of escape which I now unfolded
to them, and which they at once agreed to attempt.
"Listen, my brothers," I added. "You know that plenty of driftwood
lies along the shore. Let us make several rafts, and carry them
to a suitable place. If our plot succeeds, we can wait patiently
for the chance of some passing ship which would rescue us from this
fatal island. If it fails, we must quickly take to our rafts;
frail as they are, we have more chance of saving our lives with them
than we have if we remain here."
All agreed with me, and we spent the day in building rafts,
each capable of carrying three persons. At nightfall we returned
to the castle, and very soon in came the giant, and one more of our
number was sacrificed. But the time of our vengeance was at hand!
As soon as he had finished his horrible repast he lay down to sleep
as before, and when we heard him begin to snore I, and nine of the
boldest of my comrades, rose softly, and took each a spit, which we
made red-hot in the fire, and then at a given signal we plunged it
with one accord into the giant's eye, completely blinding him.
Uttering a terrible cry, he sprang to his feet clutching in all
directions to try to seize one of us, but we had all fled different
ways as soon as the deed was done, and thrown ourselves flat upon
the ground in corners where he was not likely to touch us with
After a vain search he fumbled about till he found the door, and fled
out of it howling frightfully. As for us, when he was gone we made
haste to leave the fatal castle, and, stationing ourselves beside
our rafts, we waited to see what would happen. Our idea was that if,
when the sun rose, we saw nothing of the giant, and no longer
heard his howls, which still came faintly through the darkness,
growing more and more distant, we should conclude that he was dead,
and that we might safely stay upon the island and need not risk
our lives upon the frail rafts. But alas! morning light showed us
our enemy approaching us, supported on either hand by two giants
nearly as large and fearful as himself, while a crowd of others
followed close upon their heels. Hesitating no longer we clambered
upon our rafts and rowed with all our might out to sea. The giants,
seeing their prey escaping them, seized up huge pieces of rock,
and wading into the water hurled them after us with such good
aim that all the rafts except the one I was upon were swamped,
and their luckless crews drowned, without our being able to do
anything to help them. Indeed I and my two companions had all we
could do to keep our own raft beyond the reach of the giants,
but by dint of hard rowing we at last gained the open sea.
Here we were at the mercy of the winds and waves, which tossed us
to and fro all that day and night, but the next morning we found
ourselves near an island, upon which we gladly landed.
There we found delicious fruits, and having satisfied our hunger we
presently lay down to rest upon the shore. Suddenly we were aroused
by a loud rustling noise, and starting up, saw that it was caused
by an immense snake which was gliding towards us over the sand.
So swiftly it came that it had seized one of my comrades before he had
time to fly, and in spite of his cries and struggles speedily crushed
the life out of him in its mighty coils and proceeded to swallow him.
By this time my other companion and I were running for our lives
to some place where we might hope to be safe from this new horror,
and seeing a tall tree we climbed up into it, having first provided
ourselves with a store of fruit off the surrounding bushes.
When night came I fell asleep, but only to be awakened once more
by the terrible snake, which after hissing horribly round the tree
at last reared itself up against it, and finding my sleeping comrade
who was perched just below me, it swallowed him also, and crawled
away leaving me half dead with terror.
When the sun rose I crept down from the tree with hardly a hope
of escaping the dreadful fate which had over-taken my comrades;
but life is sweet, and I determined to do all I could to save myself.
All day long I toiled with frantic haste and collected quantities
of dry brushwood, reeds and thorns, which I bound with faggots,
and making a circle of them under my tree I piled them firmly one upon
another until I had a kind of tent in which I crouched like a mouse
in a hole when she sees the cat coming. You may imagine what a
fearful night I passed, for the snake returned eager to devour me,
and glided round and round my frail shelter seeking an entrance.
Every moment I feared that it would succeed in pushing aside some
of the faggots, but happily for me they held together, and when it
grew light my enemy retired, baffled and hungry, to his den.
As for me I was more dead than alive! Shaking with fright and half
suffocated by the poisonous breath of the monster, I came out of my
tent and crawled down to the sea, feeling that it would be better to
plunge from the cliffs and end my life at once than pass such another
night of horror. But to my joy and relief I saw a ship sailing by,
and by shouting wildly and waving my turban I managed to attract the
attention of her crew.
A boat was sent to rescue me, and very soon I found myself on board
surrounded by a wondering crowd of sailors and merchants eager
to know by what chance I found myself in that desolate island.
After I had told my story they regaled me with the choicest food
the ship afforded, and the captain, seeing that I was in rags,
generously bestowed upon me one of his own coats. After sailing
about for some time and touching at many ports we came at last to
the island of Salahat, where sandal wood grows in great abundance.
Here we anchored, and as I stood watching the merchants disembarking
their goods and preparing to sell or exchange them, the captain came up
to me and said,
"I have here, brother, some merchandise belonging to a passenger
of mine who is dead. Will you do me the favour to trade with it,
and when I meet with his heirs I shall be able to give them the money,
though it will be only just that you shall have a portion for
I consented gladly, for I did not like standing by idle. Whereupon he
pointed the bales out to me, and sent for the person whose duty it
was to keep a list of the goods that were upon the ship. When this
man came he asked in what name the merchandise was to be registered.
"In the name of Sindbad the Sailor," replied the captain.
At this I was greatly surprised, but looking carefully at him I
recognised him to be the captain of the ship upon which I had made
my second voyage, though he had altered much since that time.
As for him, believing me to be dead it was no wonder that he had not
"So, captain," said I, "the merchant who owned those bales was
"Yes," he replied. "He was so named. He belonged to Bagdad,
and joined my ship at Balsora, but by mischance he was left behind
upon a desert island where we had landed to fill up our water-casks,
and it was not until four hours later that he was missed.
By that time the wind had freshened, and it was impossible to put
back for him."
"You suppose him to have perished then?" said I.
"Alas! yes," he answered.
"Why, captain!" I cried, "look well at me. I am that Sindbad
who fell asleep upon the island and awoke to find himself abandoned!"
The captain stared at me in amazement, but was presently convinced
that I was indeed speaking the truth, and rejoiced greatly at my escape.
"I am glad to have that piece of carelessness off my conscience
at any rate," said he. "Now take your goods, and the profit I
have made for you upon them, and may you prosper in future."
I took them gratefully, and as we went from one island to another I
laid in stores of cloves, cinnamon, and other spices. In one place
I saw a tortoise which was twenty cubits long and as many broad,
also a fish that was like a cow and had skin so thick that it was
used to make shields. Another I saw that was like a camel in shape
and colour. So by degrees we came back to Balsora, and I returned
to Bagdad with so much money that I could not myself count it,
besides treasures without end. I gave largely to the poor,
and bought much land to add to what I already possessed, and thus
ended my third voyage.
When Sindbad had finished his story he gave another hundred sequins
to Hindbad, who then departed with the other guests, but next day
when they had all reassembled, and the banquet was ended, their host
continued his adventures.
Rich and happy as I was after my third voyage, I could not make
up my mind to stay at home altogether. My love of trading,
and the pleasure I took in anything that was new and strange,
made me set my affairs in order, and begin my journey through some
of the Persian provinces, having first sent off stores of goods
to await my coming in the different places I intended to visit.
I took ship at a distant seaport, and for some time all went well,
but at last, being caught in a violent hurricane, our vessel became
a total wreck in spite of all our worthy captain could do to save her,
and many of our company perished in the waves. I, with a few others,
had the good fortune to be washed ashore clinging to pieces of the wreck,
for the storm had driven us near an island, and scrambling up beyond
the reach of the waves we threw ourselves down quite exhausted,
to wait for morning.
At daylight we wandered inland, and soon saw some huts, to which we
directed our steps. As we drew near their black inhabitants swarmed
out in great numbers and surrounded us, and we were led to their houses,
and as it were divided among our captors. I with five others
was taken into a hut, where we were made to sit upon the ground,
and certain herbs were given to us, which the blacks made signs
to us to eat. Observing that they themselves did not touch them,
I was careful only to pretend to taste my portion; but my companions,
being very hungry, rashly ate up all that was set before them,
and very soon I had the horror of seeing them become perfectly mad.
Though they chattered incessantly I could not understand a word
they said, nor did they heed when I spoke to them. The savages
now produced large bowls full of rice prepared with cocoanut oil,
of which my crazy comrades ate eagerly, but I only tasted a few grains,
understanding clearly that the object of our captors was to fatten us
speedily for their own eating, and this was exactly what happened.
My unlucky companions having lost their reason, felt neither
anxiety nor fear, and ate greedily all that was offered them.
So they were soon fat and there was an end of them, but I grew
leaner day by day, for I ate but little, and even that little did me
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