Archive for the ‘Beautiful & Inspirational Islamic Stories’ Category
Table of Content – The Arabian Nights
NOW during this time Scheherazade had borne the King three boy children, so when she had made an end of the story, she rose to her feet and kissing ground before him, said, “O King of the Time and unique one of the Age and the Tide, I am thine handmaid, and these thousand nights and a night have I entertained thee with stories of folk gone before and admonitory instances of the men of yore. May I then make bold to crave a boon of thy Highness?” He replied, “Ask, O Scheherazade, and it shall be granted to thee.” Whereupon she cried out to the nurses and the eunuchs, saying, “Bring me my children.” So they brought them to her in haste, and they were three boy children, one walking, one crawling, and one suckling. She took them, and setting them before the King, again kissed the ground and said: “O King of the Age, these are thy children, and I crave that thou release me from the doom of death, as a dole to these infants. For an thou kill me, they will become motherless and will find none among women to rear them as they should he reared.”
When the King heard this, he wept, and straining the boys to his bosom, said: “By Allah, O Scheherazade, I pardoned thee before the coming of these children, for that I found thee chaste, pure, ingenuous, and pious! Allah bless thee and thy father and thy mother and thy root and thy branch! I take the Almighty to witness against me that I exempt thee from aught that can harm thee.” So she kissed his hands and feet and rejoiced with exceeding joy, saying, “The Lord make thy life long and increase thee in dignity and majesty!” presently adding: “Thou marveledst at that which befell thee on the part of women; yet there betided the Kings of the Chosroes before thee greater mishaps and more grievous than that which hath befallen thee; and indeed I have set forth unto thee that which happened to caliphs and kings and others with their women, but the relation is longsome and hearkening groweth tedious, and in this is all-sufficient warning for the man of wits and admonishment for the wise.”
Then she ceased to speak, and when King Shahryar heard her speech and profited by that which she said, he summoned up his reasoning powers and cleansed his heart and caused his understanding revert and turned to Allah Almighty and said to himself: “Since there befell the Kings of the Chosroes more than that which hath befallen me, never whilst I live shall I cease to blame myself for the past. As for this Scheherazade, her like is not found in the lands, so praise be to Him who appointed her a means for delivering His creatures from oppression and slaughter!” Then he arose from his seance and kissed her head, whereat she rejoiced, she and her sister Dunyazade, with exceeding joy.
When the morning morrowed, the king went forth and sitting down on the throne of the kingship, summoned the lords of his land, whereupon the chamberlains and nabobs and captains of the host went in to him and kissed ground before him. He distinguished the Wazir, Scheherazade’s sire, with special favor and bestowed on him a costly and splendid robe of honor and entreated him with the utmost kindness, and said to him: “Allah protect thee for that thou gavest me to wife thy noble daughter, who hath been the means of my repentance from slaying the daughters of folk. Indeed I have found her pure and pious, chaste and ingenuous, and Allah hath vouchsafed me by her three boy children, wherefore praised be He for his passing favor.” Then he bestowed robes of honor upon his wazirs and emirs and chief officers, and he set forth to them briefly that which had betided him with Scheherazade and how he had turned from his former ways and repented him of what he had done and purposed to take the Wazir’s daughter, Scheherazade, to wife and let draw up the marriage contract with her. When those who were present heard this, they kissed the ground before him and blessed him and his betrothed Scheherazade, and the Wazir thanked her. Then Shahryar made an end of his sitting in all weal, whereupon the folk dispersed to their dwelling places and the news was bruited abroad that the King purposed to marry the Wazir’s daughter, Scheherazade.
Then he proceeded to make ready the wedding gear, and presently he sent after his brother, King Shah Zaman, who came, and King Shahryar went forth to meet him with the troops. Furthermore, they decorated the city after the goodliest fashion, and diffused scents from censers and burnt aloes wood and other perfumes in all the markets and thoroughfares, and rubbed themselves with saffron, what while the drums beat and the flutes and pipes sounded and mimes and mountebanks played and plied their arts and the King lavished on them gifts and largess. And in very deed it was a notable day. When they came to the palace, King Shahryar commanded to spread the tables with beasts roasted whole and sweetmeats and all manner of viands, and bade the crier cry to the folk that they should come up to the Divan and eat and drink, and that this should be a means of reconciliation between him and them. So high and low, great and small, came up unto him, and they abode on that wise, eating and drinking seven days with their nights.
Then the King shut himself up with his brother and related to him that which had betided him with the Wazir’s daughter, Scheherazade, during the past three years, and told him what he had heard from her of proverbs and parables, chronicles and pleasantries, quips and jests, stories and anecdotes, dialogues and histories and elegies and other verses. Whereat King Shah Zaman marveled with the uttermost marvel and said: “Fain would I take her younger sister to wife, so we may be two brothers german to two sisters german, and they on like wise be sisters to us; for that the calamity which befell me was the cause of our discovering that which befell thee, and all this time of three years past I have taken no delight in woman, save that I lie each night with a damsel of my kingdom, and every morning I do her to death. But now I desire to marry thy wife’s sister, Dunyazade.”
When King Shahryar heard his brother’s words, he rejoiced with joy exceeding and arising forthright, went in to his wife, Scheherazade, and acquainted her with that which his brother purposed, namely that he sought her sister, Dunyazade in wedlock, whereupon she answered: “O King of the Age, we seek of him one condition; to wit, that he take up his abode with us, for that I cannot brook to be parted from my sister an hour, because we were brought up together and may not endure separation each from other. If he accept this pact, she is his handmaid.” King Shahryar returned to his brother and acquainted him with that which Scheherazade had said, and he replied: “Indeed, this is what was in my mind, for that I desire nevermore to be parted from thee one hour. As for the kingdom, Allah the Most High shall send to it whomso He chooseth, for that I have no longer a desire for the kinship.” When King Shahryar heard his brother’s words, he rejoiced exceedingly and said: “Verily, this is what I wished, O my brother. So Alhamdolillah- praised be Allah- who hath brought about union between us.”
Then he sent after the kazis and ulema, captains and notables, and they married the two brothers to the two sisters. The contracts were written out and the two Kings bestowed robes of honor of silk and satin on those who were present, whilst the city was decorated and the rejoicings were renewed. The King commanded each emir and wazir and chamberlain and nabob to decorate his palace, and the folk of the city were gladdened by the presage of happiness and contentment. King Shahryar also bade slaughter sheep and set up kitchens and made bride feasts and fed all comers, high and low; and he gave alms to the poor and needy and extended his bounty to great and small. Then the eunuchs went forth, that they might perfume the hammam for the brides, so they scented it with rose-water and willow-flower water and pods of musk and fumigated it with Kakili eagle wood and ambergris. Then Scheherazade entered, she and her sister Dunyazade, and they cleansed their heads and clipped their hair.
When they came forth of the hammam bath, they donned raiment and ornaments such as men were wont prepare for the Kings of the Chosroes; and among Scheherazade’s apparel was a dress purfled with red gold and wrought with counterfeit presentments of birds and beasts. And the two sisters encircled their necks with necklaces of jewels of price, in the like whereof Iskandar rejoiced not, for therein were great jewels such as amazed the wit and dazzled the eye. And the imagination was bewildered at their charms, for indeed each of them was brighter than the sun and the moon. Before them they lighted brilliant flambeaux of wax in candelabra of gold, but their faces outshone the flambeaux, for that they had eyes sharper than unsheathed swords and the lashes of their eyelids bewitched all hearts. Their cheeks were rosy red and their necks and shapes gracefully swayed and their eyes wantoned like the gazelle’s. And the slave girls came to meet them with instruments of music. Then the two Kings entered the hammam bath, and when they came forth, they sat down on a couch set with pearls and gems, whereupon the two sisters came up to them and stood between their hands, as they were moons, bending and leaning from side to side in their beauty and loveliness.
Presently they brought forward Scheherazade and displayed her, for the first dress, in a red suit, whereupon King Shahryar rose to look upon her and the wits of all present, men and women, were bewitched for that she was even as saith of her one of her describers:
A sun on wand in knoll of sand she showed,
Clad in her cramoisy-hued chemisette.
Of her lips’ honeydew she gave me drink
And with her rosy cheeks quencht fire she set.
Then they attired Dunyazade in a dress of blue brocade and she became as she were the full moon when it shineth forth. So they displayed her in this, for the first dress, before King Shah Zaman, who rejoiced in her and well-nigh swooned away for love longing and amorous desire. Yea, he was distraught with passion for her whenas he saw her, because she was as saith of her one of her describers in these couplets:
She comes appareled in an azure vest,
Ultramarine as skies are deckt and dight.
I view’d th’ unparalleled sight, which showed my eyes
A summer moon upon a winter night.
Then they returned to Scheherazade and displayed her in the second dress, a suit of surpassing goodliness, and veiled her face with her hair like a chin veil. Moreover, they let down her side locks, and she was even as saith of her one of her describers in these couplets:
O hail to him whose locks his cheeks o’ershade,
Who slew my life by cruel hard despite.
Said I, “Hast veiled the morn in night?” He said,
“Nay I but veil moon in hue of night.”
Then they displayed Dunyazade in a second and a third and a fourth dress, and she paced forward like the rising sun, and swayed to and fro in the insolence of beauty, and she was even as saith the poet of her in these couplets:
The sun of beauty she to all appears
And, lovely coy, she mocks all loveliness.
And when he fronts her favor and her smile
A-morn, the sun of day in clouds must dress.
Then they displayed Scheherazade in the third dress and the fourth and the fifth, and she became as she were a ban branch snell or a thirsting gazelle, lovely of face and perfect in attributes of grace, even as saith of her one in these couplets:
She comes like fullest moon on happy night,
Taper of waist with shape of magic might.
She hath an eye whose glances quell mankind,
And ruby on her cheeks reflects his light.
Enveils her hips the blackness of her hair-
Beware of curls that bite with viper bite!
Her sides are silken-soft, that while the heart
Mere rock behind that surface ‘scapes our sight.
From the fringed curtains of her eyne she shoots
Shafts that at furthest range on mark alight.
Then they returned to Dunyazade and displayed her in the fifth dress and in the sixth, which was green, when she surpassed with her loveliness the fair of the four quarters of the world, and outvied with the brightness of her countenance the full moon at rising tide, for she was even as saith of her the poet in these couplets:
A damsel ’twas the tirer’s art had decked with snare and sleight,
And robed with rays as though the sun from her had borrowed light.
She came before us wondrous clad in chemisette of green,
As veiled by his leafy screen Pomegranate hides from sight.
And when he said, “How callest thou the fashion of thy dress?”
She answered us in pleasant way with double meaning dight:
“We call this garment crevecoeur, and rightly is it hight,
For many a heart wi’ this we brake and harried many a sprite.”
Then they displayed Scheherazade in the sixth and seventh dresses and clad her in youth’s clothing, whereupon she came forward swaying from side to side and coquettishly moving, and indeed she ravished wits and hearts and ensorceled all eyes with her glances. She shook her sides and swayed her haunches, then put her hair on sword hilt and went up to King Shahryar, who embraced her as hospitable host embraceth guest, and threatened her in her ear with the taking of the sword, and she was even as saith of her the poet in these words:
Were not the murk of gender male,
Than feminines surpassing fair,
Tirewomen they had grudged the bride,
Who made her beard and whiskers wear!
Thus also they did with her sister Dunyazade, and when they had made an end of the display, the King bestowed robes of honor on all who were present and sent the brides to their own apartments. Then Scheherazade went in to King Shahryar and Dunyazade to King, Shah Zaman, and each of them solaced himself with the company of his beloved consort and the hearts of the folk were comforted.
When morning morrowed, the Wazir came in to the two Kings and kissed ground before them, wherefore they thanked him and were large of bounty to him. Presently they went forth and sat down upon couches of kingship, whilst all the wazirs and emirs and grandees and lords of the land presented themselves and kissed ground. King Shahryar ordered them dresses of honor and largess, and they prayed for the permanence and prosperity of the King and his brother.
Then the two sovereigns appointed their sire-in-law, the Wazir, to be Viceroy in Samarkand, and assigned him five of the chief emirs to accompany him, charging them attend him and do him service. The Minister kissed the ground and prayed that they might be vouchsafed length of life. Then he went in to his daughters, whilst the eunuchs and ushers walked before him, and saluted them and farewelled them. They kissed his hands and gave him joy of the kingship and bestowed on him immense treasures, after which he took leave of them and setting out, fared days and nights till he came near Samarkand, where the townspeople met him at a distance of three marches and rejoiced in him with exceeding joy. So he entered the city and they decorated the houses, and it was a notable day. He sat down on the throne of his kingship and the wazirs did him homage and the grandees and emirs of Samarkand, and all prayed that he might be vouchsafed justice and victory and length of continuance. So he bestowed on them robes of honor and entreated them with distinction, and they made him Sultan over them.
As soon as his father-in-law had departed for Samarkand, King Shahryar summoned the grandees of his realm and made them a stupendous banquet of all manner of delicious meats and exquisite sweetmeats. He also bestowed on them robes of honor and guerdoned them, and divided the kingdoms between himself and his brother in their presence, whereat the folk rejoiced. Then the two Kings abode, each ruling a day in turn, and they were ever in harmony each with other, while on similar wise their wives continued in the love of Allah Almighty and in thanksgiving to Him. And the peoples and the provinces were at peace and the preachers prayed for them from the pulpits, and their report was bruited abroad and the travelers bore tidings of them to all lands.
In due time King Shahryar summoned chroniclers and copyists and bade them write all that had betided him with his wife, first and last. So they wrote this and named it The Stories of the Thousand Nights and a Night. The book came to thirty volumes, and these the King laid up in his treasury. And the two brothers abode with their wives in all pleasaunce and solace of life and its delights, for that indeed Allah the Most High had chanced their annoy into joy, and on this wise they continued till there took them the Destroyer of delights and the Severer of societies, the Desolator of dwelling places and Gamerer of graveyards, and they were translated to the ruth of Almighty Allah. Their houses fell waste and their palaces lay in ruins and the kings inherited their riches.
Then there reigned after them a wise ruler, who was just, keen-witted, and accomplished, and loved tales and legends, especially those which chronicle the doings of sovereigns and sultans, and he found in the treasury these marvelous stories and wondrous histories, contained in the thirty volumes aforesaid. So he read in them a first book and a second and a third and so on to the last of them, and each book astounded and delighted him more than that which preceded it, till he came to the end of them. Then he admired whatso he had read therein of description and discourse and rare traits and anecdotes and moral instances and reminiscences, and bade the folk copy them and dispread them over all lands and climes, wherefore their report was bruited abroad and the people named them The Marvels and Wonders of the Thousand Nights and a Night. This is all that hath come down to us of the origin of this book, and Allah is All-knowing. So Glory he to Him Whom the shifts of Time waste not away, nor doth aught of chance or change affect His sway, Whom one case diverteth not from other case and Who is sole in the attributes of perfect grace. And prayer and peace he upon the Lord’s Pontiff and Chosen One among His creatures, our lord MOHAMMED, the Prince of mankind, through whom we supplicate Him for a goodly and a godly.
Table of Content – The Arabian Nights
KNOW, O my brothers, that when I had been awhile on shore after my fourth voyage, and when, in my comfort and pleasures and merrymakings and in my rejoicing over my large gains and profits, I had forgotten all I had endured of perils and sufferings, the carnal man was again seized with the longing to travel and to see foreign countries and islands. Accordingly I bought costly merchandise suited to my purpose and, making it up into bales, repaired to Bassorah, where I walked about the river quay till I found a fine tall ship, newly builded, with gear unused and fitted ready for sea. She pleased me, so I bought her and, embarking my goods in her, hired a master and crew, over whom I set certain of my slaves and servants as inspectors. A number of merchants also brought their outfits and paid me freight and passage money. Then, after reciting the fatihah, we set sail over Allah’s pool in all joy and cheer, promising ourselves a prosperous voyage and much profit.
We sailed from city to city and from island to island and from sea to sea viewing the cities and countries by which we passed, and selling and buying in not a few, till one day we came to a great uninhabited island, deserted and desolate, whereon was a white dome of biggest bulk half buried in the sands. The merchants landed to examine this dome, leaving me in the ship, and when they drew near, behold, it was a huge roc’s egg. They fell a-beating it with stones, knowing not what it was, and presently broke it open, whereupon much water ran out of it and the young roc appeared within. So they pulled it forth of the shell and cut its throat and took of it great store of meat. Now I was in the ship and knew not what they did, but presently one of the passengers came up to me and said, “O my lord, come and look at the egg that we thought to be a dome.” So I looked, and seeing the merchants beating it with stones, called out to them: “Stop, stop! Do not meddle with that egg, or the bird roc will come out and break our ship and destroy us.” But they paid no heed to me and gave not over smiting upon the egg, when behold, the day grew dark and dun and the sun was hidden from us, as if some great cloud had passed over the firmament. So we raised our eyes and saw that what we took for a cloud was the roc poised between us and the sun, and it was his wings that darkened the day. When he came and saw his egg broken, he cried a loud cry, whereupon his mate came flying up and they both began circling about the ship, crying out at us with voices louder than thunder. I called to the rais and crew, “Put out to sea and seek safety in flight, before we be all destroyed!” So the merchants came on board and we cast off and made haste from the island to gain the open sea.
When the rocs saw this, they flew off, and we crowded all sail on the ship, thinking to get out of their country, but presently the two reappeared and flew after us and stood over us, each carrying in its claws a huge boulder which it had brought from the mountains. As soon as the he-roc came up with us, he let fall upon us the rock he held in his pounces, but the master put about ship, so that the rock missed her by some small matter and plunged into the waves with such violence that the ship pitched high and then sank into the trough of the sea, and the bottom the ocean appeared to us. Then the she-roc let fall her rock, which was bigger than that of her mate, and as Destiny had decreed, it fell on the poop of the ship and crushed it, the rudder flying into twenty pieces. Whereupon the vessel foundered and all and everything on board were cast into the main. As for me, I struggled for sweet life till Almighty Allah threw in my way one of the planks of the ship, to which I clung and bestriding it, fell a-paddling with my feet.
Now the ship had gone down hard by an island in the midst of the main, and the winds and waves bore me on till, by permission of the Most High, they cast me up on the shore of the island, at the last gasp for toil and distress and half-dead with hunger and thirst. So I landed more like a corpse than a live man, and throwing myself down on the beach, lay there awhile till I began to revive and recover spirits, when I walked about the island, and found it as it were one of the garths and gardens of Paradise. Its trees, in abundance dight, bore ripe-yellow fruit for freight, its streams ran clear and bright, its flowers were fair to scent and to sight, and its birds warbled with delight the praises of Him to whom belong Permanence and All-might. So I ate my fill of the fruits and slaked my thirst with the water of the streams till I could no more, and I returned thanks to the Most High and glorified Him, after which I sat till nightfall hearing no voice and seeing none inhabitant. Then I lay down, well-nigh dead for travail and trouble and terror, and slept without surcease till morning, when I arose and walked about under the trees till I came to the channel of a draw well fed by a spring of running water, by which well sat an old man of venerable aspect, girt about with a waistcloth made of the fiber of palm fronds. Quoth I to myself. “Haply this Sheikh is of those who were wrecked in the ship and hath made his way to this island.”
So I drew near to him and saluted him, and he returned my salaam by signs, but spoke not, and I said to him, “O nuncle mine, what causeth thee to sit here?” He shook his head and moaned and signed to me with his hand as who should say, “Take me on thy shoulders and carry me to the other side of the well channel.” And quoth I in my mind: “I will deal kindly with him and do what he desireth. It may be I shall win me a reward in Heaven, for he may be a paralytic.” So I took him on my back, and carrying him to the place whereat he pointed, said to him, “Dismount at thy leisure.” But he would not get off my back, and wound his legs about my neck. I looked at them, and seeing that they were like a buffalo’s hide for blackness and roughness, was affrighted and would have cast him off, but he clung to me and gripped my neck with his legs till I was well-nigh choked, the world grew black in my sight and I fell senseless to the ground like one dead.
But he still kept his seat and raising his legs, drummed with his heels and beat harder than palm rods my back and shoulders, till he forced me to rise for excess of pain. Then he signed to me with his hand to carry him hither and thither among the trees which bore the best fruits, and if ever I refused to do his bidding or loitered or took my leisure, he beat me with his feet more grievously than if I had been beaten with whips. He ceased not to signal with his hand wherever he was minded to go, so I carried him about the island, like a captive slave, and he dismounted not night or day. And whenas he wished to sleep, he wound his legs about my neck and leaned back and slept awhile, then arose and beat me, whereupon I sprang up in haste, unable to gainsay him because of the pain he inflicted on me. And indeed I blamed myself and sore repented me of having taken compassion on him, and continued in this condition, suffering fatigue not to be described, till I said to myself: “I wrought him a weal and he requited me with my ill. By Allah, never more will I do any man a service so long as I live!” And again and again I besought the Most High that I might die, for stress of weariness and misery.
And thus I abode a long while till one day I came with him to a place wherein was abundance of gourds, many of them dry. So I took a great dry gourd and cutting open the head, scooped out the inside and cleaned it, after which I gathered grapes from a vine which grew hard by and squeezed them into the gourd till it was full of the juice. Then I stopped up the mouth and set it in the sun, where I left it for some days until it became strong wine, and every day I used to drink of it, to comfort and sustain me under my fatigues with that froward and obstinate fiend. And as often as I drank myself drunk, I forgot my troubles and took new heart. One day he saw me and signed to me with his hand, as who should say, “What is that?” Quoth I, “It is an excellent cordial, which cheereth the heart and reviveth the spirits.” Then, being heated with wine, I ran and danced with him among the trees, clapping my hands and singing and making merry, and I staggered under him by design.
When he saw this, he signed to me to give him the gourd that he might drink, and I feared him and gave it him. So he took it, and draining it to the dregs, cast it on the ground, whereupon he grew frolicsome and began to clap hands and jig to and fro on my shoulders, and he made water upon me so copiously that all my dress was drenched. But presently, the fumes of the wine rising to his head, he became helplessly drunk and his side muscles and limbs relaxed and he swayed to and fro on my back. When I saw that he had lost his senses for drunkenness, I put my hand to his legs and, loosing them from my neck, stooped down well-nigh to the ground and threw him at full length. Then I took up a great stone from among the trees and coming up to him, smote him therewith on the head with all my might and crushed in his skull as he lay dead-drunk. Thereupon his flesh and fat and blood being in a pulp, he died and went to his deserts, The Fire, no mercy of Allah be upon him!
I then returned, with a heart at ease, to my former station on the seashore, and abode in that island many days, eating of its fruits and drinking of its waters and keeping a lookout for passing ships, till one day, as I sat on the beach recalling all that had befallen me and saying, “I wonder if Allah will save me alive and restore me to my home and family and friends!” behold, a ship was making for the island through the dashing sea and clashing waves. Presently it cast anchor and the passengers landed, so I made for them, and when they saw me all hastened up to me and gathering round me, questioned me of my case and how I came thither. I told them all that had betided me, whereat they marveled with exceeding marvel and said: “He who rode on thy shoulder is called the Sheikh-al-Bahr or Old Man of the Sea, and none ever felt his legs on neck and came off alive but thou, and those who die under him he eateth. So praised be Allah for thy safety!” Then they set somewhat of food before me, whereof I ate my fill, and gave me somewhat of clothes, wherewith I clad myself anew and covered my nakedness. After which they took me up into the ship and we sailed days and nights till Fate brought us to a place called the City of Apes, builded with lofty houses, all of which gave upon the sea, and it had a single gate studded and strengthened with iron nails.
Now every night as soon as it is dusk the dwellers in this city used to come forth of the gates and, putting out to sea in boats and ships, pass the night upon the waters in their fear lest the apes should come down on them from the mountains. Hearing this, I was sore troubled, remembering what I had before suffered from the ape kind. Presently I landed to solace myself in the city, but meanwhile the ship set sail without me, and I repented of having gone ashore, and calling to mind my companions and what had befallen me with the apes, first and after, sat down and fell aweeping and lamenting. Presently one of the townsfolk accosted me and said to me, “O my lord, meseemeth thou art a stranger to these parts?” “Yes,” answered I, “I am indeed a stranger and a poor one, who came hither in a ship which cast anchor here, and I landed to visit the town. But when I would have gone on board again, I found they had sailed without me.” Quoth he, “Come and embark with us, for if thou lie the night in the city, the apes will destroy thee.” “Hearkening and obedience,” replied I, and rising, straightway embarked with him in one of the boats, whereupon they pushed off from shore, and anchoring a mile or so from the land, there passed the night. At daybreak they rowed back to the city, and landing, went each about his business. Thus they did every night, for if any tarried in the town by night the apes came down on him and slew him. As soon as it was day, the apes left the place and ate of the fruits of the gardens, then went back to the mountains and slept there till nightfall, when they again came down upon the city.
Now this place was in the farthest part of the country of the blacks, and one of the strangest things that befell me during my sojourn in the city was on this wise. One of the company with whom I passed the night in the boat asked me: “O my lord, thou art apparently a stranger in these parts. Hast thou any craft whereat thou canst work?” and I answered: “By Allah, O my brother, I have no trade nor know I any handicraft, for I was a merchant and a man of money and substance and had a ship of my own, laden with great store of goods and merchandise. But it foundered at sea and all were drowned excepting me, who saved myself on a piece of plank which Allah vouchsafed to me of His favor.”
Upon this he brought me a cotton bag and giving it to me, said: “Take this bag and fill it with pebbles from the beach and go forth with a company of the townsfolk to whom I will give a charge respecting thee. Do as they do and belike thou shalt gain what may further thy return voyage to thy native land.” Then he carried me to the beach, where I filled my bag with pebbles large and small, and presently we saw a company of folk issue from the town, each bearing a bag like mine, filled with pebbles. To these he committed me, commending me to their care, and saying: “This man is a stranger, so take him with you and teach him how to gather, that he may get his daily bread, and you will earn your reward and recompense in Heaven.” “On our head and eyes be it!” answered they, and bidding me welcome, fared on with me till we came to a spacious wady, full of lofty trees with trunks so smooth that none might climb them.
Now sleeping under these trees were many apes, which when they saw us rose and fled from us and swarmed up among the branches, whereupon my companions began to pelt them with what they had in their bags, and the apes fell to plucking of the fruit of the trees and casting them at the folk. I looked at the fruits they cast at us and found them to be Indian or coconuts, so I chose out a great tree full of apes, and going up to it, began to pelt them with stones, and they in return pelted me with nuts, which I collected, as did the rest. So that even before I had made an end of my bagful of pebbles, I had gotten great plenty of nuts. And as soon as my companions had in like manner gotten as many nuts as they could carry, we returned to the city, where we arrived at the fag end of day. Then I went in to the kindly man who had brought me in company with the nut-gatherers and gave him all I had gotten, thanking him for his kindness, but he would not accept them, saying, “Sell them and make profit by the price,” and presently he added (giving me the key of a closet in his house): “Store thy nuts in this safe place and go thou forth every morning and gather them as thou hast done today, and choose out the worst for sale and supplying thyself; but lay up the rest here, so haply thou mayst collect enough to serve thee for thy return home.” “Allah requite thee!” answered I, and did as he advised me, going out daily with the coconut gatherers, who commended me to one another and showed me the best-stocked trees. Thus did I for some time, till I had laid up great store of excellent nuts, besides a large sum of money, the price of those I had sold. I became thus at my ease and bought all I saw and had a mind to, and passed my time pleasantly, greatly enjoying my stay in the city, till as I stood on the beach one day a great ship steering through the heart of the sea presently cast anchor by the shore and landed a company of merchants, who proceeded to sell and buy and barter their goods for coconuts and other commodities.
Then I went to my friend and told him of the coming of the ship and how I had a mind to return to my own country, and he said, ” ‘Tis for thee to decide.” So I thanked him for his bounties and took leave of him. Then, going to the captain of the ship, I agreed with him for my passage and embarked my coconuts and what else I possessed. We weighed anchor the same day and sailed from island to island and sea to sea, and whenever we stopped, I sold and traded with my coconuts, and the Lord requited me more than I erst had and lost.
Amongst other places, we came to an island abounding in cloves and cinnamon and pepper, and the country people told me that by the side of each pepper bunch groweth a great leaf which shadeth it from the sun and casteth the water off it in the wet season; but when the rain ceaseth, the leaf turneth over and droopeth down by the side of the bunch. Here I took in great store of pepper and cloves and cinnamon, in exchange for coconuts, and we passed thence to the Island of Al-Usirat, whence cometh the Comorin aloes wood, and thence to another island, five days’ journey in length, where grows the Chinese lign aloes, which is better than the Comorin. But the people of this island are fouler of condition and religion than those of the other, for that they love fornication and wine bibbing, and know not prayer nor call to prayer.
Thence we came to the pearl fisheries, and I gave the divers some of my coconuts and said to them, “Dive for my luck and lot!” They did so and brought up from the deep bright great store of large and priceless pearls, and they said to me, “By Allah, O my master, thy luck is a lucky!” Then we sailed on, with the blessing of Allah (Whose name be exalted!), and ceased not sailing till we arrived safely at Bassorah. There I abode a little and then went on to Baghdad, where I entered my quarter and found my house and forgathered with my family and saluted my friends, who gave me joy of my safe return, and I laid up all my goods and valuables in my storehouses. Then I distributed alms and largess and clothed the widow and the orphan and made presents to my relations and comrades, for the Lord had requited me fourfold that I had lost. After which I returned to my old merry way of life and forgot all I had suffered in the great profit and gain I had made.
Such, then, is the history of my fifth voyage and its wonderments, and now to supper, and tomorrow, come again and I will tell you what befell me in my sixth voyage, for it was still more wonderful than this. (Saith he who telleth the tale): Then he called for food, and the servants spread the table, and when they had eaten the evening meal, he bade give Sindbad the Porter a hundred golden dinars and the landsman returned home and lay him down to sleep, much marveling at all he had heard. Next morning, as soon as it was light, he prayed the dawn prayer, and, after blessing Mohammed the Cream of all creatures, betook himself to the house of Sindbad the Seaman and wished him a good day. The merchant bade him sit, and talked with him till the rest of the company arrived. Then the servants spread the table, and when they had well eaten and drunken and were mirthful and merry, Sindbad the Seaman began in these words the narrative of…
Table of Content – The Arabian Nights
KNOW, O my brothers and friends and companions all, that I abode some time, after my return from my fifth voyage, in great solace and satisfaction and mirth and merriment, joyance and enjoyment, and I forgot what I had suffered, seeing the great gain and profit I had made, till one day as I sat making merry and enjoying myself with my friends, there came in to me a company of merchants whose case told tales of travel, and talked with me of voyage and adventure and greatness of pelf and lucre. Hereupon I remembered the days of my return abroad, and my joy at once more seeing my native land and forgathering with my family and friends, and my soul yearned for travel and traffic. So, compelled by Fate and Fortune, I resolved to undertake another voyage, and, buying me fine and costly merchandise meet for foreign trade, made it up into bales, with which I journeyed from Baghdad to Bassorah.
Here I found a great ship ready for sea and full of merchants and notables, who had with them goods of price, so I embarked my bales therein. And we left Bassorah in safety and good spirits under the safeguard of the King, the Preserver, and continued our voyage from place to place and from city to city, buying and selling and profiting and diverting ourselves with the sight of countries where strange folk dwell. And Fortune and the voyage smiled upon us till one day, as we went along, behold, the captain suddenly cried with a great cry and cast his turban on the deck. Then he buffeted his face like a woman and plucked out his beard and fell down in the waist of the ship well-nigh fainting for stress of grief and rage, and crying, “Oh, and alas for the ruin of my house and the orphanship of my poor children!” So all the merchants and sailors came round about him and asked him, “O master, what is the matter?” For the light had become night before, their sight. And he answered, saying: “Know, O folk, that we have wandered from our course and left the sea whose ways we wot, and come into a sea whose ways I know not, and unless Allah vouchsafe us a means of escape, we are all dead men. Wherefore pray ye to the Most High that He deliver us from this strait. Haply amongst you is one righteous whose prayers the Lord will accept.” Then he arose and clomb the mast to see an there were any escape from that strait. And he would have loosed the sails, but the wind redoubled upon the ship and whirled her round thrice and drave her backward, whereupon her rudder brake and she fell off toward a high mountain.
With this the captain came down from the mast, saying: “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great, nor can man prevent that which is foreordained of Fate! By Allah, we are fallen on a place of sure destruction, and there is no way of escape for us, nor can any of us be saved!” Then we all fill a-weeping over ourselves and bidding one another farewell for that our days were come to an end, and we had lost an hopes of life. Presently the ship struck the mountain and broke up, and all and everything on board of her were plunged into the sea. Some of the merchants were drowned and others made shift to reach the shore and save themselves upon the mountain, I amongst the number. And when we got ashore, we found a great island, or rather peninsula, whose base was strewn with wreckage and crafts and goods and gear cast up by the sea from broken ships whose passengers had been drowned, and the quantity confounded count and calculation. So I climbed the cliffs into the inward of the isle and walked on inland till I came to a stream of sweet water that welled up at the nearest foot of the mountains and disappeared in the earth under the range of hills on the opposite side. But all the other passengers went over the mountains to the inner tracts, and, dispersing hither and thither, were confounded at what they saw and became like madmen at the sight of the wealth and treasures wherewith the shores were strewn.
As for me, I looked into the bed of the stream aforesaid and saw therein great plenty of rubies, and great royal pearls and all kinds of jewels and precious stones, which were as gravel in the bed of the rivulets that ran through the fields, and the sands sparkled and glittered with gems and precious ores. Moreover, we found in the island abundance of the finest lign aloes, both Chinese and Comorin. And there also is a spring of crude ambergris, which floweth like wax or gum over the stream banks, for the great heat of the sun, and runneth down to the seashore, where the monsters of the deep come up and, swallowing it, return into the sea. But it burneth in their bellies, so they cast it up again and it congealeth on the surface of the water, whereby its color and quantities are changed, and at last the waves cast it ashore, and the travelers and merchants who know it collect it and sell it. But as to the raw ambergris which is not swallowed, it floweth over the channel and congealeth on the banks, and when the sun shineth on it, it melteth and scenteth the whole valley with a musk-like fragrance. Then when the sun ceaseth from it, it congealeth again. But none can get to this place where is the crude ambergris, because of the mountains which enclose the island on all sides and which foot of man cannot ascend.
We continued thus to explore the island, marveling at the wonderful works of Allah and the riches we found there, but sore troubled for our own case, and dismayed at our prospects. Now we had picked up on the beach some small matter of victual from the wreck and husbanded it carefully eating but once every day or two, in our fear lest it should fail us and we die miserably of famine and affright. Moreover, we were weak for colic brought on by seasickness and low diet, and my companions deceased, one after other, till there was but a small company of us left. Each that died we washed and shrouded in some of the clothes and linen cast ashore by the tides, and after a little, the rest of my fellows perished one by one, till I had buried the last of the party and abode alone on the island, with but a little provision left, I who was wont to have so much. And I wept over myself, saying: “Would Heaven I had died before my companions and they had washed me and buried me! It had been better than I should perish and none wash me and shroud me and bury me. But there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the glorious, the Great!” Now after I had buried the last of my party and abode alone on the island, I arose and dug me a deep grave on the seashore, saying to myself: “Whenas I grow weak and know that death cometh to me, I will cast myself into the grave and die there, so the wind may drift the sand over me and cover me and I be buried therein.”
Then I fell to reproaching myself for my little wit in leaving my native land and betaking me again to travel after all I had suffered during my first five voyages, and when I had not made a single one without suffering more horrible perils and more terrible hardships than in its forerunners, and having no hope of escape from my present stress. And I repented me of my folly and bemoaned myself, especially as I had no need of money, seeing that I had enough and could not spend what I had- no, nor a half of it in all my life. However, after a while Allah sent me a thought, and I said to myself: “By God, needs must this stream have an end as well as a beginning, ergo an issue somewhere, and belike its course may lead to some inhabited place. So my best plan is to make me a little boat big enough to sit in, and carry it and, launching it on the river, embark therein and drop down the stream. If I escape, I escape, by God’s leave, and if I perish, better die in the river than here.” Then, sighing for myself, I set to work collecting a number of pieces of Chinese and Comorin aloes wood and I bound them together with ropes from the wreckage. Then I chose out from the broken-up ships straight planks of even size and fixed them firmly upon the aloes wood, making me a boat raft a little narrower than the channel of the stream, and I tied it tightly and firmly as though it were nailed. Then I loaded it with the goods, precious ores and jewels, and the union pearls which were like gravel, and the best of the ambergris crude and pure, together with what I had collected on the island and what was left me of victual and wild herbs. Lastly I lashed a piece of wood on either side, to serve me as oars, and launched it, and embarking, did according to the saying of the poet:
Fly, fly with life whenas evils threat,
Leave the house to tell of its builder’s fate!
Land after land shalt thou seek and find,
But no other life on thy wish shall wait.
Fret not thy soul in thy thoughts o’ night,
All woes shall end or sooner or late.
Whoso is born in one land to die,
There and only there shall gang his pit.
Nor trust great things to another wight,
Soul hath only soul for confederate.
My boat raft drifted with the stream, I pondering the issue of my affair, and the drifting ceased not till I came to the place where it disappeared beneath the mountain. I rowed my conveyance into the place, which was intensely dark, and the current carried the raft with it down the underground channel. The thin stream bore me on through a narrow tunnel where the raft touched either side and my head rubbed against the roof, return therefrom being impossible. Then I blamed myself for having thus risked my life, and said, “If this passage grow any straiter, the raft will hardly pass, and I cannot turn back, so I shall inevitably perish miserably in this place.” And I threw myself down upon my face on the raft, by reason of the narrowness of the channel, whilst the stream ceased not to carry me along, knowing not night from day for the excess of the gloom which encompassed me about and my terror and concern for myself lest I should perish. And in such condition my course continued down the channel, which now grew wider and then straiter. Sore a-weary by reason of the darkness which could be felt, I feel asleep as I lay prone on the craft, and I slept knowing not an the time were long or short.
When I awoke at last, I found myself in the light of Heaven and opening my eyes, I saw myself in a broad of the stream and the raft moored to an island in the midst of a number of Indians and Abyssinians. As soon as these blackamoors saw that I was awake, they came up to me and bespoke me in their speech. But I understood not what they said and thought that this was a dream and a vision which had betided me for stress of concern and chagrin. But I was delighted at my escape from the river. When they saw I understood them not and made them no answer, one of them came forward and said to me in Arabic: “Peace be with thee, O my brother! Who art thou, and whence faredst thou hither? How camest thou into this river, and what manner of land lies behind yonder mountains, for never knew we anyone make his way thence to us?” Quoth I: “And upon thee be peace and the ruth of Allah and His blessing! Who are ye, and what country is this?” “O my brother,” answered he, “we are husbandmen and tillers of the soil, who came out to water our fields and plantations, and finding thee asleep on this raft, laid hold of it and made it fast by us, against thou shouldst awake at thy leisure. So tell us how thou camest hither.” I answered, “For Allah’s sake, O my lord, ere I speak give me somewhat to eat, for I am starving, and after ask me what thou wilt.”
So he hastened to fetch me food and I ate my fill, till I was refreshed and my fear was calmed by a good bellyful and my life returned to me. Then I rendered thanks to the Most High for mercies great and small, glad to be out of the river and rejoicing to be amongst them, and I told them all my adventures from first to last, especially my troubles in the narrow channel. They consulted among themselves and said to one another, “There is no help for it but we carry him with us and present him to our King, that he may acquaint him with his adventures.” So they took me, together with raft boat and its lading of moneys and merchandise, jewels, minerals, and golden gear, and brought me to their King, who was King of Sarandib, telling him what had happened. Whereupon he saluted me and bade me welcome. Then he questioned me of my condition and adventures through the man who had spoken Arabic, and I repeated to him my story from beginning to end, whereat he marveled exceedingly and gave me joy of my deliverance. After which I arose and fetched from the raft great store of precious ores and jewels and ambergris and lip aloes and presented them to the King, who accepted them and entreated me with the utmost honor, appointing me a lodging in his own palace. So I consorted with the chief of the islanders, and they paid me the utmost respect. And I quitted not the royal palace.
Now the Island Sarandib lieth under the equinoctial line, its night and day both numbering twelve hours. It measureth eighty leagues long by a breadth of thirty and its width is bounded by a lofty mountain and a deep valley. The mountain is conspicuous from a distance of three days, and it containeth many kinds of, rubies and other minerals, and spice trees of all sorts. The surface is covered with emery, wherewith gems are cut and fashioned; diamonds are in its rivers and pearls are in its valleys. I ascended that mountain and solaced myself with a view of its marvels, which are indescribable, and afterward I returned to the King. Thereupon all the travelers and merchants who came to the place questioned me of the affairs of my native land and of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid and his rule, and I told them of him and of that wherefor he was renowned, and they praised him because of this, whilst I in turn questioned them of the manners and customs of their own countries and got the knowledge I desired.
One day the King himself asked me of the fashions and form of government of my country, and I acquainted him with the circumstance of the Caliph’s sway in the city of Baghdad and the justice of his rule. The King marveled at my account of his appointments and said: “By Allah, the Caliph’s ordinances are indeed wise and his fashions of praiseworthy guise, and thou hast made me love him by what thou tellest me. Wherefore I have a mind to make him a present and send it by thee.” Quoth I: “Hearkening and obedience, O my lord. I will bear thy gift to him and inform him that thou art his sincere lover and true friend.” Then I abode with the King in great honor and regard and consideration for a long while till one day, as I sat in his palace, I heard news of a company of merchants that were fitting out ship for Bassorah, and said to myself, “I cannot do better than voyage with these men.” So I rose without stay or delay and kissed the King’s hand and acquainted him with my longing to set out with the merchants, for that I pined after my people and mine own land. Quoth he, “Thou art thine own master, yet if it be thy will to abide with us, on our head and eyes be it, for thou gladdenest us with thy company.” “By Allah, O my lord,” answered I, “thou hast indeed overwhelmed me with thy favors and well-doings, but I weary for a sight of my friends and family and native country.”
When he heard this, he summoned the merchants in question and commended me to their care, paying my freight and passage money. Then he bestowed on me great riches from his treasuries and charged me with a magnificent present for the Caliph Harun al-Rashid. Moreover, he gave me a sealed letter, saying, “Carry this with thine own hand to the Commander of the Faithful, and give him many salutations from us!” “Hearing and obedience,” I replied. The missive was written on the skin of the khawi (which is finer than lamb parchment and of yellow color), with ink of ultramarine, and the contents were as follows: “Peace be with thee from the King of Al-Hind, before whom are a thousand elephants and upon whose palace crenelles are a thousand jewels. But after (laud to the Lord and praises to His Prophet!) we send thee a trifling gift, which be thou pleased to accept. Thou art to us a brother and a sincere friend, and great is the love we bear for thee in heart. Favor us therefore with a reply. The gift besitteth not thy dignity, but we beg of thee, O our brother, graciously to accept it, and peace be with thee.” And the present was a cup of ruby a span high, the inside of which was adorned with precious pearls; and a bed covered with the skin of the serpent which swalloweth the elephant, which skin hath spots each like a dinar and whoso sitteth upon it never sickeneth; and a hundred thousand miskals of Indian lign aloes and a slave girl like a shining moon.
Then I took leave of him and of all my intimates and acquaintances in the island, and embarked with the merchants aforesaid. We sailed with a fair wind, committing ourselves to the care of Allah (be He extolled and exalted!), and by His permission arrived at Bassorah, where I passed a few days and nights equipping myself and packing up my bales. Then I went on to Baghdad city, the House of Peace, where I sought an audience of the Caliph and laid the King’s presents before him. He asked me whence they came, and I said to him, “By Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, I know not the name of the city nor the way thither!” He then asked me, “O Sindbad, is this true which the King writeth?” and I answered, after kissing the ground: “O my lord, I saw in his kingdom much more than he hath written in his letter. For state processions a throne is set for him upon a huge elephant eleven cubits high, and upon this he sitteth having his great lords and officers and guests standing in two ranks, on his right hand and on his left. At his head is a man hending in hand a golden javelin and behind him another with a great mace of gold whose head is an emerald a span long and as thick as a man’s thumb. And when he mounteth horse there mount with him a thousand horsemen clad in gold brocade and silk, and as the King proceedeth a man precedeth him, crying, ‘This is the King of great dignity, of high authority!’ And he continueth to repeat his praises in words I remember not, saying at the end of his panegyric, ‘This is the King owning the crown whose like nor Solomon nor the Mihraj ever possessed.’ Then he is silent and one behind him proclaimeth, saying, ‘He will die! Again I say he will die!’ and the other addeth, ‘Extolled be the perfection of the Living who dieth not!’ Moreover, by reason of his justice and ordinance and intelligence, there is no kazi in his city, and all his lieges distinguish between truth and falsehood.” Quoth the Caliph: “How great is this King! His letter hath shown me this, and as for the mightiness of his dominion thou hast told us what thou hast eyewitnessed. By Allah, he hath been endowed with wisdom, as with wide rule.”
Then I related to the Commander of the Faithful all that had befallen me in my last voyage, at which he wondered exceedingly and bade his historians record my story and store it up in his treasuries, for the edification of all who might see it. Then he conferred on me exceeding great favors, and I repaired to my quarter and entered my home, where I warehoused all my goods and possessions. Presently my friends came to me and I distributed presents among my family and gave alms and largess, after which I yielded myself to joyance and enjoyment, mirth and merrymaking, and forgot all that I had suffered.
Such, then, O my brothers, is the history of what befell me in my sixth voyage, and tomorrow, Inshallah! I will tell you the story of my seventh and last voyage, which is still more wondrous and marvelous than that of the first six. (Saith he who telleth the tale): Then be bade lay the table, and the company supped with him, after which he gave the porter a hundred dinars, as of wont, and they all went their ways, marveling beyond measure at that which they had heard. Sindbad the Landsman went home and slept as of wont. Next day he rose and prayed the dawn prayer and repaired to his namesake’s house, where, after the company was all assembled, the host began to relate…
Table of Content – The Arabian Nights
KNOW, O company, that after my return from my sixth voyage, which brought me abundant profit, I resumed my former life in all possible joyance and enjoyment and mirth and making merry day and night. And I tarried sometime in this solace and satisfaction, till my soul began once more to long to sail the seas and see foreign countries and company with merchants and hear new things. So, having made up my mind, I packed up in bales a quantity of precious stuffs suited for sea trade and repaired with them from Baghdad city to Bassorah town, where I found a ship ready for sea, and in her a company of considerable merchants. I shipped with them and, becoming friends, we set forth on our venture in health and safety, and sailed with a wind till we came to a city called Madinat-al-Sin.
But after we had left it, as we fared on in all cheer and confidence, devising of traffic and travel, behold, there sprang up a violent head wind and a tempest of rain fell on us and drenched us and our goods. So we covered the bales with our cloaks and garments and drugget and canvas, lest they be spoiled by the rain, and betook ourselves to prayer and supplication to Almighty Allah, and humbled ourselves before Him for deliverance from the peril that was upon us. But the captain arose and, tightening his girdle, tucked up his skirts, and after taking refuge with Allah from Satan the Stoned, clomb to the masthead, whence he looked out right and left, and gazing at the passengers and crew, fell to buffeting his face and plucking out his beard. So we cried to him, “O Rais, what is the matter?” and he replied, saying: “Seek ye deliverance of the Most High from the strait into which we have fallen, and bemoan yourselves and take leave of one another. For know that the wind hath gotten the mastery of us, and hath driven us into the uttermost of the seas world.” Then he came down from the masthead and opening his sea chest, pulled but a bag of blue cotton, from which he took a powder like ashes. This he set in a saucer wetted with a little water, and after waiting a short time, smelt and tasted it. And then he took out of the chest a booklet, wherein he read awhile, and said, weeping:
“Know, O ye passengers, that in this book is a marvelous matter, denoting that whoso cometh hither shall surely die, without hope of escape. For that this ocean is called the Sea of the Clime of the King, wherein is the sepulcher of our lord Solomon, son of David (on both be peace!), and therein are serpents of vast bulk and fearsome aspect. And what ship soever cometh to these climes, there riseth to her a great fish out of the sea and swalloweth her up with all and everything on board her.” Hearing these words from the captain, great was our wonder, but hardly had he made an end of speaking when the ship was lifted out of the water and let fall again, and we applied to praying the death prayer and committing our souls to Allah.
Presently we heard a terrible great cry like the loud-pealing thunder whereat we were terror-struck and became as dead men, giving ourselves up for lost. Then, behold, there came up to us a huge fish, as big as a tall mountain, at whose sight we became wild for affright and, weeping sore, made ready for death, marveling at its vast size and gruesome semblance. When lo! a second fish made its appearance, than which we had seen naught more monstrous. So we bemoaned ourselves of our lives and farewelled one another. But suddenly up came a third fish bigger than the two first, whereupon we lost the power of thought and reason and were stupefied for the excess of our fear and horror. Then the three fish began circling round about the ship and the third and biggest opened his mouth to swallow it, and we looked into its mouth and, behold, it was wider than the gate of a city and its throat was like a long valley. So we besought the Almighty and called for succor upon His Apostle (on whom be blessing and peace!), when suddenly a violent squall of wind arose and smote the ship, which rose out of the water and settled upon a great reef, the haunt of sea monsters, where it broke up and fell asunder into planks, and all and everything on board were plunged into the sea.
As for me, I tore off all my clothes but my gown, and swam a little way, till I happened upon one of the ship’s planks, whereto I clung and bestrode it like a horse, whilst the winds and the waters sported with me and the waves carried me up and cast me down. And I was in most piteous plight for fear and distress and hunger and thirst. Then I reproached myself for what I had done and my soul was weary after a life of ease and comfort, and I said to myself: “O Sindbad, O Seaman, thou repentest not and yet thou art ever suffering hardships and travails, yet wilt thou not renounce sea travel, or an thou say, ‘I renounce,’ thou liest in thy renouncement. Endure then with patience that which thou sufferest, for verily thou deservest all that betideth thee!” And I ceased not to humble myself before Almighty Allah and weep and bewail myself, recalling my former estate of solace and satisfaction and mirth and merriment and joyance. And thus I abode two days, at the end of which time I came to a great island abounding in trees and streams. There I landed and ate of the fruits of the island and drank of its waters, till I was refreshed and my life returned to me and my strength and spirits were restored and I recited:
“Oft when thy case shows knotty and tangled skein,
Fate downs from Heaven and straightens every ply.
In patience keep thy soul till clear thy lot,
For He who ties the knot can eke untie.”
Then I walked about till I found on the further side a great river of sweet water, running with a strong current, whereupon I called to mind the boat raft I had made aforetime and said to myself: “Needs must I make another. Haply I may free me from this strait. If I escape, I have my desire and I vow to Allah Almighty to foreswear travel. And if I perish, I shall be at peace and shall rest from toil and moil.” So I rose up and gathered together great store of pieces of wood from the trees (which were all of the finest sandalwood, whose like is not albe’ I knew it not), and made shift to twist creepers and tree twigs into a kind of rope, with which I bound the billets together and so contrived a raft. Then saying, “An I be saved, ’tis of God’s grace,” I embarked thereon and committed myself to the current, and it bore me on for the first day and the second and the third after leaving the island whilst I lay in the raft, eating not and drinking, when I was athirst, of the water of the river, till I was weak and giddy as a chicken for stress of fatigue and famine and fear.
At the end of this time I came to a high mountain, whereunder ran the river, which when I saw, I feared for my life by reason of the straitness I had suffered in my former journey, and I would fain have stayed the raft and landed on the mountainside. But the current overpowered me and drew it into the subterranean passage like an archway, whereupon I gave myself up for lost and said, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!” However, after a little the raft glided into open air and I saw before me a wide valley, whereinto the river fell with a noise like the rolling of thunder and a swiftness as the rushing of the wind. I held onto the raft, for fear of falling off it, whilst the waves tossed me right and left, and the craft continued to descend with the current, nor could I avail to stop it nor turn it shoreward till it stopped me at a great and goodly city, grandly edified and containing much people. And when the townsfolk saw me on the raft, dropping down with the current, they threw me out ropes, which I had not strength enough to hold. Then they tossed a net over the craft and drew it ashore with me, whereupon I fell to the ground amidst them, as I were a dead man, for stress of fear and hunger and lack of sleep.
After a while, there came up to me out of the crowd an old man of reverend aspect, well stricken in years, who welcomed me and threw over me abundance of handsome clothes, wherewith I covered my nakedness. Then he carried me to the hammam bath and brought me cordial sherbets and delicious perfumes. Moreover, when I came out, he bore me to his house, where his people made much of me and, seating me in a pleasant place, set rich food before me, whereof I ate my fill and returned thanks to God the Most High for my deliverance. Thereupon his pages fetched me hot water, and I washed my hands, and his handmaids brought me silken napkins, with which I dried them and wiped my mouth. Also the Sheikh set apart for me an apartment in a part of his house, and charged his pages and slave girls to wait upon me and do my will and supply my wants. They were assiduous in my service, and I abode with him in the guest chamber three days, taking my ease of good eating and good drinking and good scents till life returned to me and my terrors subsided and my heart was calmed and my mind was eased.
On the fourth day the Sheikh, my host, came in to me and said: “Thou cheerest us with thy company, O my son, and praised be Allah for thy safety! Say, wilt thou now come down with me to the beach and the bazaar and sell thy goods and take their price? Belike thou mayest buy thee wherewithal to traffic. I have ordered my servants to remove thy stock in trade from the sea, and they have piled it on the shore.” I was silent awhile and said to myself, “What mean these words, and what goods have I?” Then said he: “O my son, be not troubled nor careful, but come with me to the market, and if any offer for thy goods what price contenteth thee, take it. But an thou be not satisfied, I lay em up for thee in my warehouse, against a fitting occasion for sale.” So I bethought me of my case and said to myself, “Do his bidding and see what are these goods!” and I said to him: “O my nuncle the Sheikh I hear and obey. I may not gainsay thee in aught, for Allah’s blessing is on all thou dost.”
Accordingly he guided me to the market street, where I found that he had taken in pieces the raft which carried me and which was of sandalwood, and I heard the broker crying it for sale. Then the merchants came and opened the gate of bidding for the wood and bid against one another till its price reached a thousand dinars, when they left bidding and my host said to me: “Hear, O my son, this is the current price of thy goods in hard times like these. Wilt thou sell them for this, or shall I lay them up for thee in my storehouses till such time as prices rise?” “O my lord,” answered I, “the business is in thy hands. Do as thou wilt.” Then asked he: “Wilt thou sell the wood to me, O my son, for a hundred gold pieces over and above what the merchants have bidden for it?” and I answered, “Yes, I have sold it to thee for monies received.” So he bade his servants transport the wood to his storehouses, and, carrying me back to his house, seated me, and counted out to me the purchase money. After which he laid it in bags and, setting them in a privy place, locked them up with an iron padlock and gave me its key.
Some days after this the Sheikh said to me, “O my son, I have somewhat to propose to thee, wherein I trust thou wilt do my bidding.” Quoth I, “What is it?” Quoth he: “I am a very old man, and have no son, but I have a daughter who is young in years and fair of favor and endowed with abounding wealth and beauty. Now I have a mind to marry her to thee, that thou mayest abide with her in this our country. And I will make, thee master of all I have in hand, for I am an old man and thou shalt stand in my stead.” I was silent for shame and made him no answer, whereupon he continued: “Do my desire in this, O my son, for I wish but thy weal. And if thou wilt but as I say, thou shalt have her at once and be as my son, and all that is under my hand or that cometh to me shall be thine. If thou have a mind to traffic and travel to thy native land, none shall hinder thee, and thy property will be at thy sole disposal. So do as thou wilt.” “By Allah, O my uncle,” replied I, “thou art become to me even as my father, and I am a stranger and have undergone many hardships, while for stress of that which I have suffered naught of judgment or knowledge is left to me. It is for thee, therefore, to decide what I shall do.”
Hereupon he sent his servants for the kazi and the witnesses and married me to his daughter, making for us a noble marriage feast and high festival. When I went in to her, I found her perfect in beauty and loveliness and symmetry and grace, clad in rich raiment and covered with a profusion of ornaments and necklaces and other trinkets of gold and silver and precious stones, worth a mint of money, a price none could pay. She pleased me, and we loved each other, and I abode with her in all solace and delight of life till her father was taken to the mercy of Allah Almighty. So we shrouded him and buried him, and I laid hands on the whole of his property and all his servants and slaves became mine. Moreover, the merchants installed me in his office, for he was their sheikh and their chief, and none of them purchased aught but with his knowledge and by his leave. And now his rank passed on to me.
When I became acquainted with the townsfolk, I found that at the beginning of each month they were transformed, in that their faces changed and they became like unto birds and they put forth wings wherewith they flew unto the upper regions of the firmament; and none remained in the city save the women and children. And I said in my mind, “When the first of the month cometh, I will ask one of them to carry me with them, whither they go.” So when the time came and their complexion changed and their forms altered, I went in to one of the townsfolk and said to him: “Allah upon thee! Carry me with thee, that I might divert myself with the rest and return with you.” “This may not be,” answered he. But I ceased not to solicit him, and I importuned him till he consented. Then I went out in his company, without telling any of my family or servants or friends, and he took me on his back and flew up with me so high in air that I heard the angels glorifying God in the heavenly dome, whereat I wondered and exclaimed: “Praised be Allah! Extolled be the perfection of Allah!”
Hardly had I made an end of pronouncing the tasbih- praised be Allah!- when there came out a fire from Heaven and all but consumed the company. Whereupon they fied from it and descended with curses upon me and, casting me down on a high mountain, went away exceeding wroth with me, and left me there alone. As I found myself in this plight, I repented of what I had done and reproached myself for having undertaken that for which I was unable, saying: “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! No sooner am I delivered from one affliction than I fall into a worse.” And I continued in this case, knowing not whither I should go, when lo! there came up two young men, as they were moons, each using as a staff a rod of red gold. So I approached them and saluted them; and when they returned my salaam, I said to them: Allah upon you twain. Who are ye, and what are ye?” Quoth they, “We are of the servants of the Most High Allah, abiding in this mountain,” and giving me a rod of red gold they had with them, went their ways and left me.
I walked on along the mountain ridge, staying my steps with the staff and pondering the case of the two youths, when behold, a serpent came forth from under the mountain, with a man in her jaws whom she had swallowed even to below his navel, and he was crying out and saying, “Whoso delivereth me, Allah will deliver him from all adversity!” So I went up to the the serpent and smote her on the head with the golden staff, whereupon she cast the man forth of her mouth. Then I smote her a second time, and she turned and fled, whereupon he came up to me and said, “Since my deliverance from yonder serpent hath been at thy hands I will never leave thee, and thou shalt be my comrade on this mountain.” “And welcome,” answered I. So we fared on along the mountain till we fell in with a company of folk, and I looked and saw amongst them the very man who had carried me and cast me down there. I went up to him and spake him fair, excusing to him and saying, “O my comrade, it is not thus that friend should deal with friend.” Quoth he, “It was thou who well-nigh destroyed us by thy tasbih and thy glorifying God on my back.” Quoth I, “Pardon me, for I had no knowledge of this matter, but if thou wilt take me with thee, I swear not to say a word.”
So he relented and consented to carry me with him, but he made an express condition that so long as I abode on his back, I should abstain from pronouncing the tasbih or otherwise glorifying God. Then I gave the wand of gold to him whom I had delivered from the serpent and bade him farewell, and my friend took me on his back and flew with me as before, till he brought me to the city and set me down in my own house. My wife came to meet me and, saluting me, gave me joy of my safety and then said: “Beware of going forth hereafter with yonder folk, neither consort with them, for they are brethren of the devils, and know not how to mention the name of Allah Almighty, neither worship they Him.” “And how did thy father with them?” asked I, and she answered: “My father was not of them, neither did he as they. And as now he is dead, methinks thou hadst better sell all we have and with the price buy merchandise and journey to thine own country and people, and I with thee; for I care not to tarry in this city, my father and my mother being dead.” So I sold all the Sheikh’s property piecemeal, and looked for one who should be journeying thence to Bassorah that I might join myself to him.
And while thus doing I heard of a company of townsfolk who had a mind to make the voyage but could not find them a ship, so they bought wood and built them a great ship, wherein I took passage with them, and paid them all the hire. Then we embarked, I and my wife, with all our movables, leaving our houses and domains and so forth, and set sail, and ceased not sailing from island to island and from sea to sea, with a fair wind and a favoring, till we arrived at Bassorah safe and sound. I made no stay there, but freighted another vessel and, transferring my goods to her, set out forthright for Baghdad city, where I arrived in safety, and entering my quarter and repairing to my house, forgathered with my family and friends and familiars and laid up my goods in my warehouses.
When my people, who, reckoning the period of my absence on this my seventh voyage, had found it to be seven and twenty years and had given up all hope of me, heard of my return, they came to welcome me and to give me joy of my safety. And I related to them all that had befallen me, whereat they marveled with exceeding marvel. Then I foreswore travel and vowed to Allah the Most High I would venture no more by land or sea, for that this seventh and last voyage had surfeited me of travel and adventure, and I thanked the Lord (be He praised and glorified!), and blessed Him for having restored me to my kith and kin and country and home. “Consider, therefore, O Sindbad, O Landsman,” continued Sindbad the Seaman, “what sufferings I have undergone and what perils and hardships I have endured before coming to my present state.” “Allah upon thee, O my Lord!” answered Sindbad the, Landsman. “Pardon me the wrong I did thee.” And they ceased not from friendship and fellowship, abiding in all cheer and pleasures and solace of life till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of Societies, and the Shatterer of palaces and the Caterer for Cemeteries; to wit, the Cup of Death, and glory be to the Living One who dieth not! And there is a tale touching…
Table of Content – The Arabian Nights