I soon again grew weary of living a life of idleness, and hardening myself against the thought of any danger, I embarked with some merchants on another long voyage. We touched at several ports, where we traded. One day we were overtaken by a dreadful tempest, which drove us from our course.
The storm continued several days, and brought us before the port of an island, which the captain was very unwilling to enter; but we were obliged to cast anchor. When we had furled our sails, the captain told us that this and some other neighboring islands were inhabited by hairy savages, who would speedily attack us; and though they were but dwarfs, yet that we must make no resistance, for they were more in number than the locusts; and if we happened to kill one, they would all fall upon us and destroy us.
We soon found that what the captain had told us was but too true.
An innumerable multitude of frightful savages, about two feet high, covered all over with red hair, came swimming toward us and encompassed our ship. They chattered as they came near, but we understood not their language. They climbed up the sides of the ship with such agility as surprised us. They took down our sails, cut the cable, and, hauling to the shore, made us all get out, and afterward carried the ship into another island, whence they had come. As we advanced, we perceived at a distance a vast pile of building, and made toward it. We found it to be a palace, elegantly built, and very lofty, with a gate of ebony of two leaves, which we opened. We saw before us a large apartment, with a porch, having on one side a heap of human bones, and on the other a vast number of roasting-spits. We trembled at this spectacle, and were seized with deadly apprehension, when suddenly the gate of the apartment opened with a loud crash, and there came out the horrible figure of a black man, as tall as a lofty palm- tree. He had but one eye, and that in the middle of his forehead, where it blazed bright as a burning coal. His fore teeth were very long and sharp, and stood out of his mouth, which was as deep as that of a horse. His upper lip hung down upon his breast. His ears resembled those of an elephant, and covered his shoulders; and his nails were as long and crooked as the talons of the greatest birds.
At the sight of so frightful a genie, we became insensible, and lay like dead men.
At last we came to ourselves, and saw him sitting in the porch looking at us. When he had considered us well, he advanced toward us, and laying his hand upon me, took me up by the nape of my neck, and turned me round, as a butcher would do a sheep's head.
After having examined me, and perceiving me to be so lean that I had nothing but skin and bone, he let me go. He took up all the rest one by one, and viewed them in the same manner. The captain being the fattest, he held him with one hand, as I would do a sparrow, and thrust a spit through him; he then kindled a great fire, roasted, and ate him in his apartment for his supper. Having finished his repast, he returned to his porch, where he lay and fell asleep, snoring louder than thunder. He slept thus till morning. As to ourselves, it was not possible for us to enjoy any rest, so that we passed the night in the most painful apprehension that can be imagined. When day appeared the giant awoke, got up, went out, and left us in the palace.
The next night we determined to revenge ourselves on the brutish giant, and did so in the following manner. After he had again finished his inhuman supper on another of our seamen, he lay down on his back, and fell asleep. As soon as we heard him snore according to his custom, nine of the boldest among us, and myself, took each of us a spit, and putting the points of them into his fire till they were burning hot, we thrust them into his eye all at once, and blinded him. The pain made him break out into a frightful yell: he started up, and stretched out his hands, in order to sacrifice I some of us to his rage; but we ran to such places as he could not reach; and after having sought for us in vain, he groped for the gate, and went out, howling in agony.
We immediately left the palace, and came to the shore, where we made some rafts, each large enough to carry three men, with some timber that lay about in great quantities. We waited till day in order to get upon them, for we hoped if the giant did not appear by sunrising, and give over his howling, which we still heard, that he would prove to be dead; and if that happened to be the case, we resolved to stay in that island, and not to risk our lives upon the rafts. But day had scarcely appeared when we perceived our cruel enemy, accompanied by two others, almost of the same size, leading him; and a great number more coming before him at a quick pace.
We did not hesitate to take to our rafts, and put to sea with all the speed we could. The giants, who perceived this, took up great stones, and, running to the shore, entered the water up to the middle, and threw so exactly that they sunk all the rafts but that I was upon; and all my companions except the two with me, were drowned. We rowed with all our might, and got out of the reach of the giants. But when we got out to sea, we were exposed to the mercy of the waves and winds, and spent that day and the following night under the most painful uncertainty as to our fate; but next morning we had the good fortune to be thrown upon an island, where we landed with much joy. We found excellent fruit, which afforded us great relief, and recruited our strength.
At night we went to sleep on the sea-shore; but were awakened by the noise of a serpent of surprising length and thickness, whose scales made a rustling noise as he wound himself along. It swallowed up one of my comrades, notwithstanding his loud cries, and the efforts he made to extricate himself from it; dashing him several times against the ground, it crushed him, and we could hear it gnaw and tear the poor fellow's bones, though we had fled to a considerable distance. The following day, to our great terror, we saw the serpent again, when I exclaimed, "O Heaven, to what dangers are we exposed! We rejoiced yesterday at having escaped from the cruelty of a giant and the rage of the waves, now are we fallen into another danger equally dreadful."
As we walked about we saw a large, tall tree, upon which we designed to pass the following night for our security; and having satisfied our hunger with fruit, we mounted it accordingly.
Shortly after the serpent came hissing to the foot of the tree; raised itself up against the trunk of it, and meeting with my comrade, who sat lower than I, swallowed him at once, and went off.
I remained upon the tree till it was day, and then came down, more like a dead man than one alive, expecting the same fate with my two companions. This filled me with horror, and I advanced some steps to throw myself into the sea; but I withstood this dictate of despair, and submitted myself to the will of God, who disposes of our lives at His pleasure.
In the meantime I collected together a great quantity of small wood, brambles, and dry thorns, and making them up into fagots, made a wide circle with them round the tree, and also tied some of them to the branches over my head. Having done this, when the evening came, I shut myself up within this circle, with the melancholy satisfaction that I had neglected nothing which could preserve me from the cruel destiny with which I was threatened.
The serpent failed not to come at the usual hour, and went round the tree seeking for an opportunity to devour me, but was prevented by the rampart I had made; so that he lay till day, like a cat watching in vain for a mouse that has fortunately reached a place of safety.
When day appeared he retired, but I dared not leave my fort until the sun arose.
God took compassion on my hopeless state; for just as I was going, in a fit of desperation, to throw myself into the sea, I perceived a ship in the distance. I called as loud as I could, and, unfolding the linen of my turban, displayed it that they might observe me. This had the desired effect; the crew perceived me, and the captain sent his boat for me. As soon as I came on board, the merchants and seamen flocked about me to know how I came into that desert island; and after I had related to them all that had befallen me, the oldest among them said they had several times heard of the giants that dwelt in that island, that they were cannibals; and as to the serpents, they added that there were abundance in the island; that they hid themselves by day and came abroad by night. After having testified their joy at my escaping so many dangers, they brought me the best of their provisions; and took me before the captain, who, seeing that I was in rags, gave me one of his own suits. Looking steadfastly upon him, I knew him to be the person who, in my second voyage, had left me in the island where I fell asleep, and sailed without me, or sending to seek for me.
I was not surprised that he, believing me to be dead, did not recognize me.
"Captain," said I, "look at me, and you may know that I am Sindbad, whom you left in that desert island."
The captain having considered me attentively recognized me.
"God be praised!" said he, embracing me; "I rejoice that fortune has rectified my fault. There are your goods, which I always took care to preserve."
I took them from him, and made him my acknowledgments for his care of them.
We continued at sea for some time, touched at several islands, and at last landed at that of Salabat, where sandal-wood is obtained, which is much used in medicine.
From the isle of Salabat we went to another, where I furnished myself with cloves, cinnamon, and other spices. As we sailed from this island we saw a tortoise twenty cubits in length and breadth.
We observed also an amphibious animal like a cow, which gave milk; its skin is so hard that they usually make bucklers of it. I saw another, which had the shape and color of a camel.
In short, after a long voyage, I arrived at Bussorah, and thence returned to Bagdad with so much wealth that I knew not its extent.
I gave a great deal to the poor, and bought another considerable estate in addition to what I had already.
Thus Sindbad finished the story of his third voyage. He gave another hundred sequins to Hindbad, and invited him to dinner again the next day to hear.
THE FOURTH VOYAGE
After I had rested from the dangers of my third voyage, my passion for trade and my love of novelty soon again prevailed. I therefore settled my affairs, and provided a stock of goods fit for the traffic I designed to engage in. I took the route of Persia, travelled over several provinces, and then arrived at a port, where I embarked. On putting out to sea, we were overtaken by such a sudden gust of wind as obliged the captain to lower his yards and take all other necessary precautions to prevent the danger that threatened us. But all was in vain; our endeavors had no effect; the sails were split into a thousand pieces, and the ship was stranded; several of the merchants and seamen were drowned, and the cargo was lost.
I had the good fortune, with several of the merchants and mariners, to get upon some planks, and we were carried by the current to an island which lay before us. There we found fruit and spring water, which preserved our lives. We stayed all night near the place where we had been cast ashore.
Next morning, as soon as the sun was up, we explored the island, and saw some houses, which we approached. As soon as we drew near, we were encompassed by a great number of negroes, who seized us, shared us among them, and carried us to their respective habitations.
I and five of my comrades were carried to one place; here they made us sit down, and gave us a certain herb, which they made signs to us to eat. My comrades not taking notice that the blacks ate none of it themselves, thought only of satisfying their hunger, and ate with greediness. But I, suspecting some trick, would not so much as taste it, which happened well for me; for in a little time after I perceived my companions had lost their senses, and that when they spoke to me they knew not what they said.
The negroes fed us afterward with rice, prepared with oil of cocoanuts; and my comrades, who had lost their reason, ate of it greedily. I also partook of it, but very sparingly. They gave us that herb at first on purpose to deprive us of our senses, that we might not be aware of the sad destiny prepared for us; and they supplied us with rice to fatten us; for, being cannibals, their design was to eat us as soon as we grew fat. This accordingly happened, for they devoured my comrades, who were not sensible of their condition; but my senses being entire, you may easily guess that instead of growing fat, as the rest did, I grew leaner every day. The fear of death under which I labored turned all my food into poison. I fell into a languishing distemper, which proved my safety; for the negroes, having killed and eaten my companions, seeing me to be withered, lean and sick, deferred my death.
Meanwhile I had much liberty, so that scarcely any notice was taken of what I did, and this gave me an opportunity one day to get at a distance from the houses and to make my escape. An old man who saw me, and suspected my design, called to me as loud as he could to return; but instead of obeying him I redoubled my speed, and quickly got out of sight. At that time there was none but the old man about the houses, the rest being abroad, and not to return till night, which was usual with them. Therefore, being sure that they could not arrive in time to pursue me, I went on till night, when I stopped to rest a little, and to eat some of the provisions I had secured; but I speedily set forward again, and travelled seven days, avoiding those places which seemed to be inhabited, and lived for the most part upon cocoanuts, which served me both for meat and drink. On the eighth day I came near the sea, and saw some white people like myself gathering pepper, of which there was great plenty in that place. This I took to be a good omen, and went to them without any scruple.
The people who gathered pepper came to meet me as soon as they saw me, and asked me in Arabic who I was, and whence I came. I was overjoyed to hear them speak in my own language, and satisfied their curiosity by giving them an account of my shipwreck, and how I fell into the hands of the negroes. "Those negroes," replied they, "eat men; and by what miracle did you escape their cruelty?" I related to them the circumstances I have just mentioned, at which they were wonderfully surprised.
I stayed with them till they had gathered their quantity of pepper, and then sailed with them to the island from whence they had come. They presented me to their king, who was a good prince.
He had the patience to hear the relation of my adventures, which surprised him, and he afterward gave me clothes, and commanded care to be taken of me.
The island was very well peopled, plentiful in everything, and the capital a place of great trade. This agreeable retreat was very comfortable to me after my misfortunes, and the kindness of this generous prince completed my satisfaction. In a word, there was not a person more in favor with him than myself, and consequently every man in court and city sought to oblige me, so that in a very little time I was looked upon rather as a native than a stranger.
I observed one thing, which to me appeared very extraordinary. All the people, the king himself not excepted, rode their horses without bridle or stirrups. I went one day to a workman, and gave him a model for making the stock of a saddle. When that was done, I covered it myself with velvet and leather, and embroidered it with gold. I afterward went to a smith, who made me a bit, according to the pattern I showed him, and also some stirrups.
When I had all things completed, I presented them to the king, and put them upon one of his horses. His majesty mounted immediately, and was so pleased with them that he testified his satisfaction by large presents.
I made several others for the ministers and principal officers of his household, which gained me great reputation and regard.
As I paid my court very constantly to the king, he said to me one day, "Sindbad, I love thee, I have one thing to demand of thee, which thou must grant. I have a mind thou shouldst marry, that so thou mayst stay in my dominions, and think no more of thy own country." I durst not resist the prince's will, and he gave me one of the ladies of his court, noble, beautiful, and rich. The ceremonies of marriage being over, I went and dwelt with my wife and for some time we lived together in perfect harmony. I was not, however, satisfied with my banishment; therefore designed to make my escape the first opportunity, and to return to Bagdad, which my present settlement, how advantageous soever, could not make me forget.
At this time the wife of one of my neighbors, with whom I had contracted a very strict friendship, fell sick and died. I went to see and comfort him in his affliction, and, finding him absorbed in sorrow, I said to him as soon as I saw him, "God preserve you and grant you a long life." "Alas!" replied he, "how do you think I should obtain the favor you wish me? I have not above an hour to live, for I must be buried this day with my wife.
This is a law in this island. The living husband is interred with the dead wife, and the living wife with the dead husband."
While he was giving an account of this barbarous custom, the very relation of which chilled my blood, his kindred, friends, and neighbors came to assist at the funeral. They dressed the corpse of the woman in her richest apparel and all her jewels as if it had been her wedding day; then they placed her on an open bier, and began their march to the place of burial. The husband walked first, next to the dead body. They proceeded to a high mountain, and when they had reached the place of their destination, they took up a large stone which formed the mouth of a deep pit, and let down the body with all its apparel and jewels. Then the husband, embracing his kindred and friends, suffered himself to be placed on another bier without resistance, with a pot of water and seven small loaves, and was let down in the same manner. The ceremony being over, the mouth of the pit was again covered with the stone, and the company returned.
I mention this ceremony the more particularly, because I was in a few weeks' time to be the principal actor on a similar occasion.
Alas! my own wife fell sick and died. I made every remonstrance I could to the king not to expose me, a foreigner, to this inhuman law. I appealed in vain. The king and all his court, with the most considerable persons in the city, sought to soften my sorrow by honoring the funeral ceremony with their presence; and, at the termination of the ceremony, I was lowered into the pit, with a vessel full of water and seven loaves. As I approached the bottom, I discovered, by the aid of the little light that came from above, the nature of this subterranean place. It seemed an endless cavern, and might be about fifty fathoms deep. I lived for some time there upon my bread and water, when one day, just as it was on the point of exhaustion, I heard something tread, and breathing or panting as it moved. I followed the sound. The animal seemed to stop sometimes, but always fled and breathed hard as I approached.
I pursued it for a considerable time, till at last I perceived a light, resembling a star. I went on, sometimes lost sight of it, but always found it again, and at last discovered that it came through a hole in the rock, which I got through, and found myself upon the seashore, at which I felt exceeding joy. I prostrated myself on the shore to thank God for this mercy, and shortly afterward I perceived a ship 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. It was fortunate for me that these people did not inspect the place where they found me, but without hesitation took me on board.
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. Lead mines are found in the island; also 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.