Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sinbad the Sailor's Second Voyage

I designed, after my first voyage, to spend the rest of my days at
Baghdad, but it was not long ere I grew weary of an indolent life, and I
put to sea a second time, with merchants of known probity. We embarked
on board a good ship, and, after recommending ourselves to God, set
sail. We traded from island to island, and exchanged commodities with
great profit. One day we landed on an island covered with several sorts
of fruit trees, but we could see neither man nor animal. We walked in
the meadows, along the streams that watered them. While some diverted
themselves with gathering flowers, and others fruits, I took my wine and
provisions, and sat down near a stream betwixt two high trees, which
formed a thick shade. I made a good meal, and afterward fell asleep. I
cannot tell how long I slept, but when I awoke the ship was gone.

In this sad condition, I was ready to die with grief. I cried out in
agony, beat my head and breast, and threw myself upon the ground, where
I lay some time in despair. I upbraided myself a hundred times for not
being content with the produce of my first voyage, that might have
sufficed me all my life. But all this was in vain, and my repentance
came too late. At last I resigned myself to the will of God. Not knowing
what to do, I climbed up to the top of a lofty tree, from whence I
looked about on all sides, to see if I could discover anything that
could give me hopes. When I gazed toward the sea I could see nothing but
sky and water; but looking over the land, I beheld something white; and
coming down, I took what provision I had left and went toward it, the
distance being so great, that I could not distinguish what it was.

As I approached, I thought it to be a white dome, of a prodigious height
and extent; and when I came up to it, I touched it, and found it to be
very smooth. I went round to see if it was open on any side, but saw it
was not, and that there was no climbing up to the top, as it was so
smooth. It was at least fifty paces round.

By this time the sun was about to set, and all of a sudden the sky
became as dark as if it had been covered with a thick cloud. I was much
astonished at this sudden darkness, but much more when I found it
occasioned by a bird of a monstrous size, that came flying toward me. I
remembered that I had often heard mariners speak of a miraculous bird
called the Roc, and conceived that the great dome which I so much
admired must be its egg. In short, the bird alighted, and sat over the
egg. As I perceived her coming, I crept close to the egg, so that I had
before me one of the legs of the bird, which was as big as the trunk of
a tree. I tied myself strongly to it with my turban, in hopes that the
roc next morning would carry me with her out of this desert island.
After having passed the night in this condition, the bird flew away as
soon as it was daylight, and carried me so high, that I could not
discern the earth; she afterward descended with so much rapidity that I
lost my senses. But when I found myself on the ground, I speedily untied
the knot, and had scarcely done so, when the roc, having taken up a
serpent of a monstrous length in her bill, flew away.

The spot where it left me was encompassed on all sides by mountains,
that seemed to reach above the clouds, and so steep that there was no
possibility of getting out of the valley. This was a new perplexity; so
that when I compared this place with the desert island from which the
roc had brought me, I found that I had gained nothing by the change.

As I walked through this valley, I perceived it was strewed with
diamonds, some of which were of surprising bigness. I took pleasure in
looking upon them; but shortly saw at a distance such objects as greatly
diminished my satisfaction, and which I could not view without terror,
namely, a great number of serpents, so monstrous that the least of them
was capable of swallowing an elephant. They retired in the day-time to
their dens, where they hid themselves from the roc, their enemy, and
came out only in the night.

I spent the day in walking about in the valley, resting myself at times
in such places as I thought most convenient. When night came on I went
into I cave, where I thought I might repose in safety. I secured the
entrance, which was low and narrow, with a great stone, to preserve me
from the serpents; but not so far as to exclude the light. I supped on
part of my provisions, but the serpents, which began hissing round me,
put me into such extreme fear that I did not sleep. When day appeared
the serpents retired, and I came out of the cave trembling. I can justly
say that I walked upon diamonds without feeling any inclination to touch
them. At last I sat down, and notwithstanding my apprehensions, not
having closed my eyes during the night, fell asleep, after having eaten
a little more of my provisions. But I had scarcely shut my eyes when
something that fell by me with a great noise awoked me. This was a large
piece of raw meat; and at the same time I saw several others fall down
from the rocks in different places.

I had always regarded as fabulous what I had heard sailors and others
relate of the valley of diamonds, and of the stratagems employed by
merchants to obtain jewels from thence; but now I found that they had
stated nothing but the truth. For the fact is, that the merchants come
to the neighbourhood of this valley, when the eagles have young ones,
and throwing great joints of meat into the valley, the diamonds, upon
whose points they fall, stick to them; the eagles, which are stronger in
this country than anywhere else, pounce with great force upon those
pieces of meat, and carry them to their nests on the precipices of the
rocks to feed their young: the merchants at this time run to their
nests, disturb and drive off the eagles by their shouts, and take away
the diamonds that stick to the meat.

I perceived in this device the means of my deliverance.

Having collected together the largest diamonds I could find, I put them
into the leather bag in which I used to carry my provisions, I took the
largest of the pieces of meat, tied it close round me with the cloth of
my turban, and then laid myself upon the ground, with my face downward,
the bag of diamonds being made fast to my girdle.

I had scarcely placed myself in this posture when one of the eagles,
having taken me up with the piece of meat to which I was fastened,
carried me to his nest on the top of the mountain. The merchants
immediately began their shouting to frighten the eagles; and when they
had obliged them to quit their prey, one of them came to the nest where
I was. He was much alarmed when he saw me; but recovering himself,
instead of inquiring how I came thither, began to quarrel with me, and
asked why I stole his goods? "You will treat me," replied I, "with more
civility, when you know me better. Do not be uneasy; I have diamonds
enough for you and myself, more than all the other merchants together.
Whatever they have they owe to chance; but I selected for myself, in the
bottom of the valley, those which you see in this bag," I had scarcely
done speaking, when the other merchants came crowding about us, much
astonished to see me; but they were much more surprised when I told them
my story.

They conducted me to their encampment; and there having opened my bag,
they were surprised at the largeness of my diamonds, and confessed that
they had never seen any of such size and perfection. I prayed the
merchant who owned the nest to which I had been carried (for every
merchant had his own) to take as many for his share as he pleased. He
contented himself with one, and that, too, the least of them; and when I
pressed him to take more, without fear of doing me any injury, "No,"
said he, "I am very well satisfied with this, which is valuable enough
to save me the trouble of making any more voyages, and will raise as
great a fortune as I desire."

I spent the night with the merchants, to whom I related my story a
second time, for the satisfaction of those who had not heard it, I could
not moderate my joy when I found myself delivered from the danger I have
mentioned. I thought myself in a dream, and could scarcely believe
myself out of danger.

The merchants had thrown their pieces of meat into the valley for
several days; and each of them being satisfied with the diamonds that
had fallen to his lot, we left the place the next morning, and travelled
near high mountains, where there were serpents of a prodigious length,
which we had the good fortune to escape. We took shipping at the first
port we reached, and touched at the isle of Roha, where the trees grow
that yield camphire. This tree is so large, and its branches so thick,
that one hundred men may easily sit under its shade. The juice, of which
the camphire is made, exudes from a hole bored in the upper part of the
tree, and is received in a vessel, where it thickens to a consistency,
and becomes what we call camphire. After the juice is thus drawn out,
the tree withers and dies.

In this island is also found the rhinoceros, an animal less than the
elephant, but larger than the buffalo. It has a horn upon its nose,
about a cubit in length; this horn is solid, and cleft through the
middle. The rhinoceros fights with the elephant, runs his horn into his
belly, and carries him off upon his head; but the blood and the fat of
the elephant running into his eyes and making him blind, he falls to the
ground; and then, strange to relate, the roc comes and carries them both
away in her claws, for food for her young ones.

I pass over many other things peculiar to this island, lest I should
weary you. Here I exchanged some of my diamonds for merchandise. From
hence we went to other islands, and at last, having touched at several
trading towns of the continent, we landed at Bussorah, from whence I
proceeded to Baghdad. There I immediately gave large presents to the
poor, and lived honourably upon the vast riches I had brought, and
gained with so much fatigue.

Thus Sindbad ended the relation of the second voyage, gave Hindbad
another hundred sequins, and invited him to come the next day to hear
the account of the third.

No comments:

Post a Comment