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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 1 - 40/63 -
persuade myself that the whole was not a dream.
But when I was recovered from my surprise, and convinced of the reality of my escape, I perceived what I had followed to be a creature which came out of the sea, and was accustomed to enter the cavern and feed upon the bodies of the dead.
I examined the mountain, and found it to be situated betwixt the sea and the town, but without any passage to or communication with the latter; the rocks on the sea side being high and perpendicularly steep. I prostrated myself on the shore to thank God for this mercy, and afterwards entered the cave again to fetch bread and water, which I ate by daylight with a better appetite than I had done since my interment in the dark cavern
I returned thither a second time, and groped among the coffins for all the diamonds, rubies,, pearls, gold bracelets, and rich stuffs I could find; these I brought to the shore, and tying them up neatly into bales, with the cords that let down the coffins, I laid them together upon the beach, waiting till some ship might appear, without fear of rain, for it was then the dry season.
After two or three days, I perceived a ship just come out of the harbour, making for the place where I was. I made a sign with the linen of my turban, and called to the crew as loud as I could. They heard me, and sent a boat to bring me on board, when they asked by what misfortune I came thither; I told them that I had suffered shipwreck two days before, and made shift to get ashore with the goods they saw. It was fortunate for me that these people did not consider the place where I was, nor enquire into the probability of what I told them; but without hesitation took me on board with my goods. When I came to the ship, the captain was so well pleased to have saved me, and so much taken up with his own affairs, that he also took the story of my pretended shipwreck upon trust, and generously refused some jewels which I offered him.
We passed by several islands, and among others that called the isle of Bells, about ten days' sail from Serendib, with a regular wind, and six from that of Kela, where we landed. This island produces lead mines, Indian canes, and excellent camphire.
The king of the isle of Kela is very rich and powerful, and the isle of Bells, which is about two days journey in extent, is also subject to him. The inhabitants are so barbarous that they still eat human flesh. After we had finished our traffic in that island, we put to sea again, and touched at several other ports; at last I arrived happily at Bagdad with infinite riches, of which it is needless to trouble you with the detail. Out of gratitude to God for his mercies, I contributed liberally towards the support of several mosques, and the subsistence of the poor, gave myself up to the society of my kindred and friends, enjoying myself with them in festivities and amusements.
Here Sinbad finished the relation of his fourth voyage, which appeared more surprising to the company than the three former. He made a new present of one hundred sequins to Hindbad, whom he requested to return with the rest next day at the same hour to dine with him, and hear the story of his fifth voyage. Hindbad and the other guests took their leave and retired. Next morning when they all met, they sat down at table, and when dinner was over, Sinbad began the relation of his fifth voyage as follows.
The Fifth Voyage.
The pleasures I enjoyed had again charms enough to make me forget all the troubles and calamities I had undergone, but could not cure me of my inclination to make new voyages. I therefore bought goods, departed with them for the best sea-port; and there, that I might not be obliged to depend upon a captain, but have a ship at my own command, I remained till one was built on purpose, at my own charge. When the ship was ready, I went on board with my goods; but not having enough to load her, I agreed to take with me several merchants of different nations with their merchandize.
We sailed with the first fair wind, and after a long navigation the first place we touched at was a desert island, where we found an egg of a roe, equal in size to that I formerly mentioned. There was a young roc it just ready to be hatched, and its bill had begun to appear.
The merchants whom I had taken on board, and who landed with me, broke the egg with hatchets, and made a hole in it, pulled out the young roc piecemeal, and roasted it. I had earnestly intreated them not to meddle with the egg, but they would not listen to me.
Scarcely had they finished their repast, when there appeared in the air at a considerable distance from us two great clouds. The captain whom I had hired to navigate my ship, knowing by experience what they meant, said they were the male and female roc that belonged to the young one, and pressed us to re-embark with all speed, to prevent the misfortune which he saw would otherwise befall us. We hastened on board, and set sail with all possible expedition.
In the mean time, the two roes approached with a frightful noise, which they redoubled when they saw the egg broken, and their young one gone. They flew back in the direction they had come, and disappeared for some time, while we made all the sail we could to endeavour to prevent that which unhappily befell us.
They soon returned, and we observed that each of them carried between its talons stones, or
rather rocks, of a monstrous size. When they came directly over my ship, they hovered, and one of them let fall a stone, but by the dexterity of the steersman it missed us, and falling into the sea, divided the water so that we could almost see the bottom. The other roe, to our misfortune, threw his messy burden so exactly upon the middle of the ship, as to split it into a thousand pieces. The mariners and passengers were all crushed to death, or sunk. I myself was of the number of the latter; but as I came up again, I fortunately caught hold of a piece of the wreck, and swimming sometimes with one hand, and sometimes with the other, but always holding fast my board, the wind and the tide favouring me, I came to an island, whose shore was very steep. I overcame that difficulty, however, and got ashore.
I sat down upon the grass, to recover myself from my fatigue, after which I went into the island to explore it. It seemed to be a delicious garden. I found trees everywhere, some of them bearing green, and others ripe fruits, and streams of fresh pure water running in pleasant meanders. I ate of the fruits, which I found excellent; and drank of the water, which was very light and good.
When night closed in, I lay down upon the grass in a convenient spot, but could not sleep an hour at a time, my mind being apprehensive of danger. I spent best part of the night in alarm, and reproached myself for my imprudence in not remaining at home, rather than undertaking this last voyage. These reflections carried me so far, that I began to form a design against my life; but daylight dispersed these melancholy thoughts. I got up, and walked among the trees, but not without some fears.
When I was a little advanced into the island, I saw an old man, who appeared very weak and infirm. He was sitting on the bank of a stream, and at first I took him to be one who had been shipwrecked like myself. I went towards him and saluted him, but he only slightly bowed his head. I asked him why he sat so still, but instead of answering me, he made a sign for me to take him upon my back, and carry him over the brook, signifying that it was to gather fruit.
I believed him really to stand in need of my assistance, took him upon my back, and having carried him over, bade him get down, and for that end stooped, that he might get off with ease; but instead of doing so (which I laugh at every time I think of it) the old man, who to me appeared quite decrepid, clasped his legs nimbly about my neck, when I perceived his skin to resemble that of a cow. He sat astride upon my shoulders, and held my throat so tight, that I thought he would have strangled me, the apprehension of which make me swoon and fall down.
Notwithstanding my fainting, the ill-natured old fellow kept fast about my neck, but opened his legs a little to give me time to recover my breath. When I had done so, he thrust one of his feet against my stomach, and struck me so rudely on the side with the other, that he forced me to rise up against my will. Having arisen, he made me walk under the trees, and forced me now and then to stop, to gather and eat fruit such as we found. He never left me all day, and when I lay down to rest at night, laid himself down with me, holding always fast about my neck. Every morning he pushed me to make me awake, and afterwards obliged me to get up and walk, and pressed me with his feet. You may judge then, gentlemen, what trouble I was in, to be loaded with such a burden of which I could not get rid.
One day I found in my way several dry calebashes that had fallen from a tree. I took a large one, and after cleaning it, pressed into it some juice of grapes, which abounded in the island; having filled the calebash, I put it by in a convenient place, and going thither again some days after, I tasted it, and found the wine so good, that it soon made me forget my sorrow, gave me new vigour, and so exhilarated my spirits, that I began to sing and dance as I walked along.
The old man, perceiving the effect which this liquor had upon me, and that I carried him with more ease than before, made me a sign to give him some of it. I handed him the calebash, and the liquor pleasing his palate, he drank it all off. There being a considerable quantity of it, he became drunk immediately, and the fumes getting up into his head, he began to sing after his manner, and to dance with his breech upon my shoulders. His jolting made him vomit, and he loosened his legs from about me by degrees. Finding that he did not press me as before, I threw him upon the ground, where he lay without motion; I then took up a great stone, and crushed his head to pieces.
I was extremely glad to be thus freed for ever from this troublesome fellow. I now walked towards the beach, where I met the crew of a ship that had cast anchor, to take in water. They were surprised to see me, but more so at hearing the particulars of my adventures. "You fell," said they, "into the hands of the
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