Matured Stories

Arabian night (+16) – Episode 19

The Third
Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor

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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 Baghdad, 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 fierce bird.
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
“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 his feet.
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
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 your trouble.”
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 recognised me.
“So, captain,” said I, “the merchant who
owned those bales was called Sindbad?”
“Yes,” he replied. “He was so named. He
belonged to Baghdad, 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
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 Baghdad 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

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