Sindbad The Sailor

Sindbad the sailor, after all his adventures and wanderings, settled down in happiness and prosperity in Bagdad. Here are the stories which he told to his friends of his seven marvelous voyages.


My father died while I was young and left me a fortune. Having no one to restrain me, I fell into bad ways, by which I not only wasted my time, but injured my health, and destroyed my property.

When I recovered, I collected together what was left of my fortune, and bought merchandise, which I loaded on board a vessel for the port of Balsora.

During the voyage we touched at several islands, where we sold or exchanged our goods. We were one day becalmed near a small island. As its appearance was inviting, we determined to dine upon it. But while we were laughing and preparing for dinner, the island began to move, and at the same moment the people in the ship called out that we were on the back of a monstrous whale. Some jumped into the boat, and others swam to the ship; but before I could get off the animal dived into the sea, and I had only time to catch hold of a piece of wood that had been brought from the ship to serve as a table. Upon this piece of timber I was carried away by the current. The others reached the vessel, but a gale sprang up and the ship sailed without me. I floated during that and the next night, but the following morning was thrown on a small island.

I found fresh water and fruit. I looked about for some house, but found none. There were a number of colts grazing together, but no traces of other animals. When evening approached I took some more fruit and climbed in a tree to sleep. About midnight the sound of trumpets and drums seemed to pass around the island, which continued until morning, when again it seemed to be uninhabited. On the next day I found that the island was small, and that no other land was in sight. I therefore gave myself up as lost. Nor were my fears lessened when I found that the shore abounded with enormous serpents and other sea monsters. I found, however, that they were timid, and that the rattling of sticks would make them dive into the water.

I climbed the tree next night, and the drums and trumpets returned as before. On the third day, I had the satisfaction of seeing a body of men, who, on landing, were astonished to see me there. Having related to them how I came hither, they told me they were grooms of King Mihrage; that the island belonged to genii, who visited it every night with drums and trumpets; that the genii had allowed their sovereign to train his colts upon the island; and that they, being sent every six months to select some, had arrived for that purpose.

The grooms carried me to King Mihrage, who allowed me apartments in his palace.

One day I saw men unloading a ship in the harbor, and saw that some of the bales were those which I had sent to Balsora. Going up to the captain, I said:

"Captain, I am Sindbad."

"Surely," said he, "I and the passengers saw Sindbad swallowed in the waves many hundred miles away."

Some others, however, coming up, I was recognized; and the captain then restored me the bales, with many congratulations. I made a valuable present to King Mihrage, who bestowed a rich gift on me in return; and, having made some advantageous purchases, I arrived at Balsora, where, after I had sold my goods, I found myself possessed of a hundred thousand sequins.


Becoming weary of a quiet life in Balsora, and having bought trading goods, I again went to sea with some merchants. After touching at several places, we landed at an uninhabited island. We amused ourselves in different ways, but I, having taken my wine and provisions, sat down and fell asleep. When I awoke, I found that my companions were gone, and that the ship had sailed. I climbed to the top of a very high tree, and perceived at a distance an object that was very large and white. I descended to the ground, and ran toward this strange-looking object. When I approached it I found it was about fifty paces in circumference, quite round, and as smooth as ivory, but had no sort of opening. It was now almost sunset, and suddenly the sky became darkened. I looked up and beheld a bird of enormous size, moving like a prodigious cloud toward me. I recollected that I had heard of a bird called the roc, so large that it could carry away young elephants, and I therefore conjectured that the large object I had been looking at was the egg of this bird.

As the bird approached I crept close to the egg, so that I had one of the legs of this winged animal before me when it alighted. This limb being as large as the trunk of a tree, I tied myself firmly to it with my turban.

The next morning the bird flew away, and carried me from this desert island. I was borne so high that I could not see the earth, and then carried downward so swiftly that I lost my senses. When I recovered, I was on the ground. I quickly untied the cloth that bound me, and scarcely was I free when the bird, having taken up a large serpent, again flew away. I found myself in a deep valley, the sides of which were too steep to be climbed. As I walked up and down in despair I noticed that the valley was covered with diamonds of enormous size. But I soon saw other objects of much less agreeable appearance. Immense serpents were peeping out of holes on every side. When night came, I took shelter in a cave, the entrance of which I guarded with the largest stones I could find, but the hissing of the serpents entirely deprived me of sleep. When day returned, the serpents retired to their holes; and I came out of my cave, but with extreme fear. I walked heedless of the serpents until I became weary, and then sat down and fell asleep. I was awakened by something which fell near me. It was a large piece of fresh meat, and presently I saw several other pieces.

I was now convinced that I must be in the famous valley of diamonds, and that the pieces of meat were thrown in by merchants, who expected eagles to pounce upon the flesh, to which diamonds were almost sure to adhere. I hastened to pick up some of the largest diamonds I could find, which I put into a little bag, and fastened it to my girdle. I then selected the largest piece of flesh in the valley, which I tied to my waist with the cloth of my turban, and then lay down upon my face to wait for the eagles. Very soon one of the strongest pounced upon the meat on my back, and flew with me to its nest on the top of the mountain. The merchants began shouting to frighten the eagles, and when they had forced the birds to quit their prey, one of them came to the nest where I was. At first the man was frightened when he saw me there, but after recovering himself, asked me how I got there. I told him and the rest of the merchants my story. I then opened my bag, and they declared that they had never seen diamonds of equal luster and size with mine. The merchants having gathered their diamonds together, we left the place the next morning, and crossed the mountains until we reached a port. We there took ship and proceeded to the island of Roha. At that place I exchanged some of my diamonds for other merchandise, and we went on to Balsora. From Balsora I reached my native city, Bagdad, in which I lived easily upon the vast riches I had won.


I soon resolved upon a third voyage, and once more took ship at Balsora. After we had been at sea a few weeks, we were overtaken by a dreadful storm, and were obliged to cast anchor near an island which the captain had endeavored to avoid; for he assured us that it was inhabited by pigmy savages, covered with hair, who would speedily attack us in great numbers. Soon an innumerable multitude of frightful savages, about two feet high, boarded the ship. Resistance was useless. They took down our sails, cut our cable, towed the ship to land, and made us all go on shore. We went towards the interior of the island and discovered a large building. It was a lofty palace, having a gate of ebony, which we pushed open, and soon discovered a room in which were human bones and roasting spits. Presently there appeared a hideous black man, who was as tall as a palm tree. He had but one eye, his teeth were long and sharp, and his nails like the talons of a bird. He took me up as I would a kitten, but finding I was little better than skin and bone, put me down with contempt. The captain, being the fattest of the party, was sacrificed to his appetite. When the monster had finished his meal he stretched himself upon a great stone bench in the portico, and fell asleep, snoring louder than thunder. In this manner he slept till morning. In the morning he went out. I said to my companions:

"Do not waste time in useless sorrow; let us hurry to look for timber to make rafts."

We found some timber on the seashore, and labored hard; but having no tools, it was evening before we had finished; and while we were on the point of pushing the raft off the beach, our hideous tyrant returned and drove us to his palace, as if we had been a flock of sheep. We saw another of our companions sacrificed, and the giant lay down to sleep as before. Our desperate condition gave us courage; nine of us got up very softly, and held the points of the roasting spits in the fire until we made them red-hot; we then thrust them at once into the monster's eye. He uttered a frightful scream, and having tried in vain to find us, opened the ebony gate and left the palace. We did not stay long behind him, but ran to the seashore, got our rafts ready, and waited for daylight to embark. But at dawn we beheld our monstrous enemy, led by two giants of equal size, and followed by many others. We jumped upon our rafts, and pushed them from the shore, the tide helping us. The giants seeing us likely to escape, tore great pieces of rock, and wading in the water up to their waists, hurled them at us with all their might. They sank every one of the rafts but that on which I was; thus all my companions, except two, were drowned. We rowed as fast as we could, and got out of the reach of these monsters. We were at sea two days, but at last found a pleasant island. After eating some fruit, we lay down to sleep, but were soon awakened by the hissing of an enormous serpent. One of my comrades was instantly devoured by this terrific creature. I climbed up a tree as fast as I could, and reached the topmost branches; my remaining companion was following me, but the dreadful reptile entwined itself round the tree and caught him. The serpent then went down and glided away. I waited until late the next day before I ventured to descend. Evening again approached, and I gathered together a great quantity of small wood, brambles, and thorns. Having made them into fagots, I formed a circle round the tree, and fastened the uppermost to the branches of the tree. I then climbed up to the highest branches. At night the serpent came again, but could not reach the tree; and crawling vainly round and round my little fortification until daylight, he went away. The next day I spied a ship in full sail a long way off. With the linen of my turban I made a signal, which was perceived. I was taken on board the ship and there told my adventures. The captain was very kind to me. He said that he had some bales of goods which had belonged to a merchant who had unintentionally left him some time ago on an uninhabited island. As this man was undoubtedly dead, he intended to sell the goods for the benefit of his relatives, and I should have the profit of selling them. I now recollected this was the captain with whom I sailed on my second voyage. I soon convinced him that I was really Sindbad, whom he supposed to have been lost. He was delighted at the discovery, and eagerly acknowledged that the property was mine. I continued my voyage, sold my goods to great advantage, and returned to Bagdad.


My desire of seeing foreign countries rendered my pleasures at home unsatisfactory. I therefore arranged my affairs, commenced a voyage to Persia, and having bought a large stock of goods loaded a ship and again embarked. The ship struck upon a rock, and the cargo was lost. A few others and myself were borne by the current to an island, on which we were surrounded by black savages, and carried to their huts. The savages offered us herbs; my companions eagerly took them, for they were hungry. Grief would not allow me to eat; and presently I saw that the herbs had made my comrades senseless. Rice, mixed with oil of cocoanuts, was then offered to us, which my companions ate greedily and grew fat. My unhappy friends were then devoured one after another, having become appetizing to the cannibals. But I languished so much that they did not think me fit to eat. They left me to the care of an old man, from whom I managed to escape; and taking care to go a contrary way from that which the savages had taken I never stopped till night. At the end of seven days, on the seashore I found a number of white persons gathering pepper. They asked me in Arabic who I was, and whence I came; and I gave them an account of the shipwreck, and of my escape. They treated me kindly and presented me to their King, who treated me with great liberality. During my stay with them, I observed that when the King and his nobles went hunting, they rode their horses without bridle or saddle. With the assistance of some workmen I made a bridle and saddle, and having put them upon one of the King's horses, presented the animal, thus equipped, to His Majesty. He was so delighted that he instantly mounted and rode about the grounds almost the whole day. All the ministers of state and the nobility induced me to make saddles and bridles for them, for which they made me such magnificent presents that I soon became very rich. The King at last requested that I would marry, and become one of his nation. From a variety of circumstances I could not refuse, and he therefore gave me one of the ladies of his Court, who was young, rich, beautiful, and virtuous. We lived in the greatest harmony in a palace belonging to my wife. I had made a good friend of a very worthy man who lived in this place. Hearing one day that his wife had just died, I went to condole with him on this unexpected calamity. We were alone together, and he appeared to be in the deepest grief. After I had talked with him some time on the uselessness of so much sorrow, he told me that it was an established law that the living husband should be buried with the deceased wife, and that within an hour he must submit. I shuddered at the dreadful custom. In a short time the woman was attired in her most costly dress and jewels, and placed in an open coffin. The procession then began, the husband following the corpse. They ascended to the top of an exceedingly high mountain, and a great stone was removed, which covered the mouth of a deep pit. The corpse was let down, and the husband, having taken leave of his friends, was put into another open coffin, with a pot of water and seven small loaves, and he was let down. The stone was replaced and they all returned. The horror of this was still fresh upon my mind, when my wife fell sick and died. The King and the whole Court, out of respect to me, instantly prepared to assist at a similar ceremony with me. I restrained the feeling of despair until we arrived at the top of the mountain, when I fell at the feet of the King and begged him to spare my life. All I said was ineffectual, and after my wife was let down, I also was put into the deep pit, everyone being totally indifferent to my cries and lamentations. I made the cave echo with my vain complaints. I lived some days on the bread and water which had been put into my coffin, but this supply was at length exhausted. I then wandered to a remote part of this frightful cave and lay down to prepare for death. I was thus wishing only for a speedy termination of my misery, when I heard something walking and panting. I started up, upon which the thing panted still more, and then ran away. I pursued it, and sometimes it seemed to stop, but on my approach continued to go on before me. I pursued it, until at last I saw a glimmering light like a star. This redoubled my eagerness, until at last I discovered a hole large enough to allow my escape. I crept through the aperture, and found myself on the seashore, and discovered that the creature was a sea monster which had been accustomed to enter at that hole to feed upon the dead bodies. Having eaten some shellfish, I returned to the cave, where I collected all the jewels I could find in the dark. These I carried to the seashore, and tied them up very neatly into bales with the cords that let down the coffins. I laid them on the beach, waiting till some ship should pass. In two days a ship came out of the harbor, and passed by that part of the coast. I made a signal, and a boat took me on board. I was obliged to say that I had been wrecked; for, had they known my real story, I should have been carried back, as the captain was a native of this country. We touched at several islands, and at the port of Kela, where I found a ship ready to sail for Balsora; and having presented some jewels to the captain who had brought me to Kela, I sailed, and at last arrived at Bagdad.


Having forgotten my former perils, I built a ship at my own expense, loaded it with a rich cargo, and, taking with me other merchants, once more set sail. We were much driven about by a storm, and at length landed upon a desert island to search for fresh water. There we found a roc's egg, equal in size to the one I had seen before. The merchants and sailors gathered round it, and though I advised them not to meddle with it, they nevertheless made a hole in it with their hatchets, and picked out the young roc, piece after piece, and roasted it. They had scarcely finished when two of the old birds appeared in the air. We hurried on board ship and set sail, but had not gone far before we saw the immense birds approaching us, and soon after they hovered over the ship. One of them let fall an enormous fragment of stone, which fell into the sea close beside the ship, but the other let fall a piece which split our ship. I caught hold of a bit of the wreck, on which I was borne by the wind and tide to an island, the shore of which was very steep. I reached the dry land, and found the most delicious fruits and excellent water, which refreshed me. Farther in the island I saw a feeble old man sitting near a rivulet. When I enquired of him how he came there, he only answered by signs for me to carry him over the rivulet, that he might eat some fruit. I took him on my back, and crossed the brook, but instead of getting down, he clasped his legs so firmly round my throat that I thought he would strangle me. I soon fainted with pain and fright. When I recovered, the old fellow was still sitting on my neck, and he quickly made me rise up and walk under the trees, while he gathered the fruit at his ease. This lasted a long time. One day, while carrying him about, I picked up a large gourd called a calabash, and, having cleared out the inside, I pressed into it the juice of grapes. Having filled it, I left it for several days, and at length found that it became excellent wine. I drank of this, and for a while forgot my sorrows, so that I began to sing with cheerfulness. The old man made me give him the calabash, and liking the flavor of the wine, he drank it off, soon became intoxicated, fell from my shoulders, and, died in convulsions. I hastened to the seaside, and presently found the crew of a ship. They told me I had fallen into the hands of the Old Man of the Sea, and was the first person that had ever escaped. I sailed with them, and the captain, when we landed, took me to some persons whose employment was to gather cocoanuts. We all took up stones and pelted the monkeys that were at the very top of the cocoanut trees, and these animals in return pelted us with cocoanuts. When we had obtained as many as we could carry, we returned to the town. I soon obtained a considerable sum by the cocoanuts I thus gathered, and at length sailed for my native land.


At the expiration of another year, I prepared for a sixth voyage. This proved very long and unfortunate, for the pilot lost his course and knew not where to steer. At length he told us we must inevitably be dashed to pieces against a rock, which we were fast approaching. In a few moments the vessel was a complete wreck. We saved our lives, our provisions, and our goods.

The shore on which we were cast was at the foot of a mountain which it was impossible to climb, so that I shortly beheld my companions die one after another. There was a frightful cavern in the rock, through which flowed a river. To this, in a fit of desperation, I resolved to trust myself. I went to work and made a long raft. I loaded it with bales of rich stuffs, and large pieces of rock crystal, of which the mountain was in a great measure formed. I went on board the raft, and the current carried me along. I was carried in darkness during many days, and at last fell asleep. When I awoke, I found myself in a pleasant country. My raft was tied up and some blacks, who were near me, said that they had found me floating in the river which waters their land. They took me to their King, and carefully conducted my cargo with me. When we came to the city of Serindib, I related my story to the monarch, who ordered it to be written in letters of gold. I presented the King with some of the most beautiful pieces of rock crystal, and entreated him to let me return to my own country, which he readily agreed to, and even gave me a letter and a present to my sovereign, the Caliph Haroun Alrashid. The present consisted of a ruby made into a cup, and decorated with pearls; the skin of a serpent, which appeared like burnished gold, and which could repel disease; some aloe-wood, camphire, and a beautiful female slave. I returned to my native country, delivered the present to the Caliph, and received his thanks, with a reward.


The Caliph Haroun Alrashid one day sent for me, and told me I must bear a present to the King of Serindib. I ventured to protest on account of my age, but I could not persuade him to give up his plan. I arrived at Serindib, and prayed an audience with the King. I was conducted to the palace with great respect, and delivered to the monarch the Caliph's letter and present. The present consisted of the most ingenious and valuable works of art, with which the King was exceedingly delighted, and he was also pleased to acknowledge how much he esteemed my services. When I departed, the monarch bestowed on me some rich gifts; but the ship had not long been at sea, before it was attacked by pirates, who seized the vessel, and carried us away as slaves. I was sold to a merchant. When my master found that I could use the bow and arrow with skill, he took me upon an elephant, and carried me to a vast forest in the country. My master ordered me to climb a high tree, and wait there until I saw a troop of elephants pass by. I was then to shoot at them, and if one of them fell, I was to go to the city and give the merchant notice. Having given me these directions, and a bag of provisions, he left me. On the morning of the second day, I saw a great number of elephants. I succeeded in shooting one of them, upon which the others went away, and I returned to the city and told my employer, who praised my work. We went back to the forest and dug a hole, in which the elephant was to remain until it decayed and left the teeth free. I continued this trade nearly two months, and killed an elephant almost every day. One morning all the elephants came up to the tree in which I was and trumpeted dreadfully. One of them fastened his trunk round the tree and tore it up by the roots. I fell with the tree; the animal took me up with his trunk, and placed me on his back, and then, at the head of his troop, he brought me to a place where he gently laid me on the ground, and they all went away. I discovered that I was upon a large broad hill, covered all over with the bones and teeth of elephants, and was soon convinced that this was their burying-place. I reached the city once more; my master thought I was lost, for he had seen the torn tree, and found my bow and arrows. I told him what had happened, and led him to the hill. We loaded the elephant on which we had come, and thus collected more teeth than a man could have obtained in his whole life. The merchant told me that not only he himself, but the whole city, was indebted to me, and that I should return to my own country with sufficient wealth to make me happy. My patron loaded a ship with ivory, and the other merchants made me valuable presents. I reached Balsora and landed my ivory, which I found to be more valuable than I had expected. I set out with caravans to travel overland, and at last reached Bagdad, where I presented myself to the Caliph, and gave an account of my embassy. He was so astonished at my adventure with the elephants that he ordered the narrative of it to be written in letters of gold and to be deposited in his treasury.