Stories from the Thousand and One Nights. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
The Seventh Voyage of Es-Sindibad of the Sea
WHEN I relinquished voyaging, and the affairs of commerce, I said within myself, What hath happened to me sufficeth me. And my time was spent in joy and pleasures. But while I was sitting one day, the door was knocked: so the door-keeper opened, and a page of the khalifeh entered and said, The Khalifeh summoneth thee. I therefore went with him to his majesty, and kissed the ground before him and saluted him, whereupon he welcomed me and treated me with honour; and he said to me, O Sindibad, I have an affair for thee to perform. Wilt thou do it?So I kissed his hand, and said to him, O my lord, what affair hath the master for the slave to perform? And he answered me, I desire that thou go to the King of Sarandib, and convey to him our letter and our present; for he sent to us a present and a letter. And I trembled thereat, and replied, By Allah the Great, O my lord, I have taken a hatred to voyaging; and when a voyage on the sea, or any other travel, is mentioned to me, my joints tremble, in consequence of what hath befallen me and what I have experienced of troubles and horrors, and I have no desire for that whatever. Moreover I have bound myself by an oath not to go forth from Baghdad.Then I informed the Khalifeh of all that had befallen me from the first to last; and he wondered exceedingly, and said, By Allah the Great, O Sindibad, it hath not been heard from timed of old that such events have befallen any one as have befallen thee, and it is incumbent on thee that thou never mention the subject of travel. But for my sake thou wilt go this time, and convey our present and our letter to the King of Sarandib; and thou shalt return quickly if it be the will of God (whose name be exalted!), that we may no longer have a debt of favour and courtesy to the King.So I replied that I heard and obeyed, being unable to oppose his command. He then gave me the present and the letter, with money for my expenses, and I kissed his hand and departed from him.
I went from Baghdad to the sea, and embarked in a ship, and we proceeded days and nights, by the aid of God (whose name be exalted!), until we arrived at the island of Sarandib, and with us were many merchants. As soon as we arrived, we landed at the city, and I took the present and the letter, and went in with them to the King, and kissed the ground before him. And when he saw me, he said, A friendly welcome to thee, O Sindibad! By Allah the Great, we have longed to see thee, and praise be to God who hath shewn us thy face a second time!Then he took me by the hand, and seated me by his side, welcoming me, and treating me with familiar kindness, and he rejoiced greatly. He began to converse with me, and addressed me with courtesy, and said, What was the cause of thy coming to us, O Sindibad? So I kissed his hand, and thanked him, and answered him, O my lord, I have brought thee a present and a letter from my master the Khalifeh Harun Er-Rashid. I then offered to him the present and the letter, and he read the letter, and rejoiced at it greatly. The present was a horse worth ten thousand pieces of gold, with its saddle adorned with gold set with jewels; and a book, and a sumptuous dress, and a hundred different kinds of white cloths of Egypt, and silks of Es-Suweys1 and El-Kufeh and Alexandria, and Greek carpets, and a hundred menns of silk and flax, and a wonderful extraordinary cup of crystal, in the midst of which was represented the figure of a lion with a man kneeling before him and having drawn an arrow in his bow with his utmost force, and also the table of Suleyman the son of Daud, on whom be peace! And the contents of the letter were as follows:Peace from the King Er-Rashid, strengthened by God (who hath given to him and to his ancestors the rank of the noble, and wide-spread glory), on the fortunate Sultan. To proceed: thy letter hath reached us, and we rejoiced at it; and we have sent the book [entitled] the Delight of the Intelligent, and the Rare Present for Friends; together with varieties of royal rarities therefore do us the favour to accept them: and peace be on the thee!Then the King conferred upon me abundant presents, and treated me with the utmost honour; so I prayed for him, and thanked him for his beneficence; and some days after that, I begged his permission to depart; but he, permitted me not save after great pressing. Thereupon I took leave of him and went forth from his city, with merchants and other companions, to return to my country, without any desire for travel or commerce.
We continued our voyage until we had passed many islands; but in the midst of our course over the sea, there appeared to us a number of boats, which surrounded us, and in them were men like devils, having, in their hands, swords and daggers, and equipped with coats of mail, and arms and bows. They smote us, and wounded and slew those of us who opposed them, and, having taken the ship with its contents, conveyed us to an island, where they sold us as slaves, for the smallest price. But a rich man purchased me, and took me into his house, fed me and gave me to drink, and clad me and treated me in a friendly manner. So my soul was tranquillized, and I rested a little. Then, one day, he said to me, Dost thou not know any art or trade? I answered him, O my lord, I am a merchant: I know nothing but traffic. And he said, Dost thou know the art of shooting with the bow and arrow?Yes, I answered: I know that. And thereupon he brought me a bow and arrows, and mounted me behind him upon an elephant: then he departed at the close of night, and, conveying me among some great trees, came to a lofty and firm tree, upon which he made me climb; and he gave me the bow and arrows, saying to me, Sit here now, and when the elephants come in the daytime to this place, shoot at them with the arrows: perhaps thou wilt strike one of them; and if one of them fall, come to me and inform me. He then left me and departed; and I was terrified and frightened. I remained concealed in the tree until the sun rose; when the elephants came forth wandering about among the trees, and I ceased not to discharge my arrows till I shot one of them. I therefore went in the evening to my master, and informed him; and he was delighted with me, and treated me with honour; and he went and removed the slain elephant.
In this manner I continued, every day shooting one, and my master coming and removing it, until one day, I was sitting in the tree, concealed, and suddenly elephants innumerable came forth, and I heard the sounds of their roaring and growling, which were such that I imagined the earth trembled beneath them. They all surrounded the tree in which I was sitting, their circuit being fifty cubits, and a huge elephant, enormously great, advanced and came to the tree, and, having wound his trunk around it, pulled it up by the roots, and cast it upon the ground. I fell down senseless among the elephants, and the great elephant, approaching me, wound his trunk around me, raised me on his back, and went away with me, the other elephants accompanying. And he ceased not to proceed with me, while I was absent from the world, until he had taken me into a place, and thrown me from his back, when he departed, and the other elephants followed him. So I rested a little, and my terror subsided; and I found myself among the bones of elephants. I knew therefore that this was the burial-place of the elephants, and that that elephant had conducted me to it on account of the teeth.
I then arose, and journeyed a day and a night until I arrived at the house of my master, who saw me changed in complexion by fright and hunger. And he was rejoiced at my return, and said, By Allah, thou hast pained our heart; for I went and found the tree torn up, and I imagined that the elephants had destroyed thee. Tell me, then, how it happened with thee.So I informed him of that which had befallen me; whereat he wondered greatly, and rejoiced; and he said to me, Dost thou know that place? I answered, Yes, O my master. And he took me, and we went out, mounted on an elephant, and proceeded until we came to that place; and when my master beheld those numerous teeth, he rejoiced greatly at the sight of them; and he carried away as much as he desired, and we returned to the house. He then treated me with increased favour, and said to me, O my son, thou hast directed us to a means of very great gain. May God then recompense thee well! Thou art freed for the sake of God, whose name be exalted! These elephants used to destroy many of us on account of [our seeking] these teeth; but God hath preserved thee from them, and thou hast profited us by these teeth to which thou hast directed us.I replied, O my master, my God free thy neck from the fire [of Hell]! And I request of thee, O my master, that thou give me permission to depart to my country.Yes, said he; thou shalt have that permission: but we have a fair, on the occasion of which the merchants come to us and purchase the teeth of these elephants of us. The time of the fair is now near; and when they have come to us, I will send thee with them, and will give thee what will convey thee to thy country.So I prayed for him and thanked him; and I remained with him treated with respect and honour.
Then, some days after this, the merchants came as he had said, and bought and sold and exchanged; and when they were about to depart, my master came to me, and said, The merchants are going: therefore arise that thou mayest depart with them to thy country. Accordingly I arose, determined to go with them. They had bought a great quantity of those teeth, and packed up their loads, and embarked them in the ship; and my master sent me with them. He paid for me the money for my passage in the ship, together with all that was required of me, and gave me a large quantity of goods. And we pursued our voyage from island to island until we had crossed the sea and landed on the shore, when the merchants took forth what was with them, and sold. I also sold what I had at an excellent rate; and I purchased some of the most elegant of things suited for presents, and beautiful rarities, with every thing that I desired. I likewise bought for myself a beast to ride, and we went forth, and crossed the deserts from country to country until I arrived at Baghdad; when I went in to the Khalifeh, and, having given the salutation, and kissed his hand, I informed him of what had happened and what had befallen me; whereupon he rejoiced at my safety, and thanked God (whose name be exalted!); and he caused my story to be written in letters of gold. I then entered my house, and met my family and my brethren.This is the end of the history of the events that happened to me during my voyages; and praise be to God, the One, the Creator, the Maker!
And when Es-Sindibad of the Sea had finished his story, he ordered his servant to give to Es-Sindibad of the Land a hundred prices of gold, and said to him, How now, O my brother? Hast thou heard of the like of these afflictions and calamities and distresses, or have such troubles as have befallen me befallen any one else, or hath any one else suffered such hardships as I have suffered? Know then that these pleasures are a compensation for the toil and humiliations that I have experienced.And upon this, Es-Sindibad of the Land advanced, and kissed his hands, and said to him, O my lord, by Allah, thou hast undergone great horrors, and hast deserved these abundant favours: continue then, O my lord, in joy and security; for God hath removed from thee the evils of fortune; and I beg of God that He may continue to thee thy pleasures, and bless thy days.And upon this, Es-Sindibad of the Sea bestowed favours upon him, and made him his boon-companion; and he quitted him not by night nor by day as long as they both lived.