THE FIRST VOYAGE

THE FIRST VOYAGE

My father was a rich merchant. He bequeathed me a large estate, which I wasted in riotous living. I quickly, perceived that I was misspending my time, which is of all things the most valuable. I remembered the saying of the great Solomon, which I had frequently heard from my father, "A good name is better than precious ointment"; and again, "Wisdom is good with an inheritance." I resolved to walk in my father's ways, and I Sindbadentered into a contract with some merchants, and embarked with them on board a ship we had fitted out in partnership.

We set sail, and steered our course toward the Indies, through the Persian Gulf. At first I was troubled with sea-sickness, but speedily recovered my health. In our voyage we touched at several islands, where we sold or exchanged our goods. One day we were becalmed near a small island, but little elevated above the level of the water, and resembling a green meadow. The captain ordered his sails to be furled, and permitted such persons as were so inclined to land. While we were enjoying ourselves eating and drinking, and recovering from the fatigue of the sea, the island of a sudden trembled and shook us terribly.

The trembling of the island was noticed on board ship, and we were called upon to re-embark speedily, lest we should all be lost; for what we took for an island proved to be the back of a sea monster.

The nimblest got into the sloop, others betook themselves to swimming; but as for myself, I was still upon the island when it disappeared into the sea, and I had only time to catch hold of a piece of wood that we had brought out of the ship to make a fire. Meanwhile, the captain, having received on board those who were in the sloop, and taken up some of those that swam, resolved to take advantage of the favorable gale that had just risen, and, hoisting his sails, pursued his voyage.

Thus was I exposed to the mercy of the waves the rest of that day and the following night. By this time I found my strength gone, and despaired of saving my life, when happily a wave threw me on an island. The bank was high and rugged, so that I could scarcely have got up had it not been for some roots of trees which I found within reach. When the sun arose I was very feeble. I found some herbs fit to eat, and had the good luck to discover a spring of excellent water. After this I advanced further into the island, and at last reached a fine plain, where I perceived some horses feeding. On my way toward them I heard the voice of a man, who asked me who I was. I related to him my adventure, after which, taking me by the hand, he led me into a cave, where there were several other people, no less amazed to see me than I was to see them.

I partook of some provisions which they offered me, and asked them what they did in such a desert place; to which they answered that they were grooms belonging to the sovereign of the island, and that every year they brought thither the king's horses for pasturage. They were to return home on the morrow, and had I been one day later I must have perished, because the inhabited part of the island was a great distance off, and it would have been impossible for me to have reached it without a guide.

Next morning they returned to the capital of the island, took me with them, and presented me to their king. He asked me who I was, and by what adventure I had come into his dominions. After I had satisfied him, he ordered that I should want for nothing.

Being a merchant, I frequented men of my own profession, and particularly inquired for those who were strangers, that perchance I might hear news from Bagdad, or find an opportunity to return. For the Maharaja's capital is situated on the sea-coast, and has a fine harbor, where ships arrive daily from the different quarters of the world. I frequented also the society of the learned Indians, and took delight to hear them converse; but withal, I took care to make my court regularly to the Maharaja, and conversed with the governors and petty kings, his tributaries, that were about him. They put a thousand questions respecting my country; and I, being willing to inform myself as to their laws and customs, asked them concerning everything which I thought worth knowing.

There belongs to this king an island named Cassel.

They assured me that every night a noise of drums was heard there, whence the mariners fancied that it was the residence of Degial. I determined to visit this wonderful place, and in my way thither saw fishes of 100 and 200 cubits long that occasion more fear than hurt; for they are so timorous that they will fly upon the rattling of two sticks or boards. I saw likewise other fish about a cubit in length, that had heads like owls.

As I was one day at the port after my return, the ship arrived in which I had embarked at Bussorah. I at once knew the captain, and I went and asked him for my bales. "I am Sindbad," said I, "and those bales marked with his name are mine." When the captain heard me speak thus, "Heavens!" he exclaimed, "whom can we trust in these times? I saw Sindbad perish with my own eyes, as did also the passengers on board, and yet you tell me you are that Sindbad. What impudence is this! and what a false tale to tell, in order to possess yourself of what does not belong to you!" "Have patience," replied I; "do me the favor to hear what I have to say." The captain was at length persuaded that I was no cheat; for there came people from his ship who knew me, paid me great compliments, and expressed much joy at seeing me alive. At last he recollected me himself, and embracing me, "Heaven be praised," said he, "for your happy escape! I cannot express the joy it affords me. There are your goods; take and do with them as you please."

I took out what was most valuable in my bales, and presented them to the Maharaja, who, knowing my misfortune, asked me how I came by such rarities. I acquainted him with the circumstance of their recovery. He was pleased at my good luck, accepted my present, and in return gave me one much more considerable. Upon this I took leave of him, and went aboard the same ship, after I had exchanged my goods for the commodities of that country. I carried with me wood of aloes, sandals, camphire, nutmegs, cloves, pepper, and ginger. We passed by several islands, and at last arrived at Bussorah, from whence I came to this city, with the value of 100,000 sequins.

Sindbad stopped here, and ordered the musicians to proceed with their concert, which the story had interrupted. When it was evening, Sindbad sent for a purse of 100 sequins, and giving it to the porter, said, "Take this, Hindbad, return to your home, and come back to-morrow to hear more of my adventures." The porter went away, astonished at the honor done him and the present made him. The account of this adventure proved very agreeable to his wife and children, who did not fail to return thanks for what Providence had sent them by the hand of Sindbad.

Hindbad put on his best robe next day, and returned to the bountiful traveller, who received him with a pleasant air, and welcomed him heartily. When all the guests had arrived, dinner was served, and continued a long time. When it was ended, Sindbad, addressing himself to the company, said, "Gentlemen, be pleased to listen to the adventures of my second voyage. They deserve your attention even more than those of the first." Upon which every one held his peace, and Sindbad proceeded.




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