Matured Stories

Arabian night (+16) – Episode 17

.. The First Voyage of Sinbad the Sailo…

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.. 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
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 Baghdad, 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 Baghdad 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
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 recognised me.
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
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.”

Also Read:   House Of Secrets - Part 25 [Completed]
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