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Friday, October 26, 2007

Sasha, Mansoor and the evil wizard

Once upon a time...in Persia there lived a young king called Sasha, who was the Ruler and greatly loved by all. Sasha had only one enemy, Khaleed, a cruel wicked wizard whose desire was to put his own son Mirza on Sasha's throne.
Sasha loved to collect ancient precious objects, and he always granted an audience to any passing merchants. One day, Khaleed, disguised as a merchant, was taken by Mansoor, the Chief Minister, before Sasha. The Ruler bought everything the merchant offered him, but he also asked what was inside a small drawer in an antique box.
"I really don't know myself," replied Khaleed, pulling out of the drawer an old roll of paper written in a long-forgotten language, together with a tobacco jar full of black powder.
"I'll give it to you as a present," he told the Ruler. Sasha wanted to know what the writing meant, so he gave the paper to his wise men, and a few days later, they told him what it said:
"The man that reads these words will acquire the power to turn himself into an animal, any animal he likes, and to know its language. All he must do is to sniff the black powder and say the word MUTABOR. To turn back to a man again, he must bow three times to the east and repeat the word!"
But the roll of paper also contained a warning. It told the reader he must never laugh when in his animal shape, for he would then forget the magic word forever. "Did you hear that, Mansoor!" exclaimed the Ruler. "We can turn into animals! Let us try it tomorrow"
At dawn next day, the Ruler and his Minister left the palace, and when they were well out of sight, Sasha took the tobacco jar from his pocket. "What animal shall we choose?" he asked the Minister. Now Mansoor had no idea, till he noticed a stork glide past.
"Storks!" he said. "Let's become storks!"
Sasha sniffed the powder and together the two said the word MUTABOR. Suddenly, their legs changed into long thin limbs and their clothes became snowy white feathers, covering their whole bodies and they became storks. The two storks gaped at each other in astonishment. They flapped their wings and discovered they knew how to fly. At first, they were awkward, but soon became quite good at it.
"Doesn't the ground look different from the air? Let us go and find other storks," suggested Sasha cheerfully, so they headed towards a river estuary. What a lot of bird things they learned on the way. Sasha and Mansoor found it so silly to see a stork prancing stiffly around in his funny dance that they forgot all about the warning and began to laugh. They were later to regret bitterly that laughter...
Full of their new knowledge, the two storks decided, as the afternoon wore on, to return to the palace. Slowly and majestically they flew over the city. Something had happened in their absence, for they could see that the streets were thronged with spectators and a long procession was entering the portals of the palace. Sasha was furious to see a stranger sitting in his golden carriage, escorted by his own servants and guards. Wicked Khaleed's trick had worked, for the wizard's son was on his way to seize the Ruler's throne.
"Hurry!" urged Sasha. "We must dash back to the palace. Who is that impostor?" "It is the son of Khaleed, that wizard you once banned from the palace," replied Mansoor in horror. "He swore he'd get even. Remember?"
But even as he spoke, the Chief Minister shook with fear, for what he himself could not remember was the magic word. The two storks landed on the ground, ready to become humans again, but Sasha could only stammer... "I don't remember...I don't remember..." They looked at each other sadly: "We will never be human beings again!" Followed by the Ruler, the Chief Minister rose into the air.
"We will go to Mecca and pray on the Prophet's tomb. Perhaps he will help us remember the magic word." But Mecca was a long way away and the sun was setting. Tired and hungry, the two storks landed amongst the ruins of an old temple. As they looked around them, seeking food and water, a sudden long-drawn out screech made them jump in fright. Who on earth was living in such a lonely place? Sasha plucked up courage. "Let's go and find out!" he said, and off they went through the crumbled buildings. From a dark corner a pair of big yellow eyes glowed and the mournful cry of some strange creature echoed louder than before. It was a huge owl.
"Thank goodness," it said, "I've been waiting for years. The spell is sure now to be broken..." Sasha and Mansoor stared at each other in amazement on hearing the owl talk.
"Who are you?" they asked it.
"I am Naja, the King of India's daughter. Many years ago, an evil wizard called Khaleed wanted me to marry his son Mirza, so that he could seize my father's kingdom. One day, disguised as a slave, Khaleed gave me a cool drink in the garden. That turned me into an owl. Khaleed said I would remain a horrible bird till the day someone came, wanting to marry me. That's why I have been sentenced to making my home in these ruins."
"So you are one of Khaleed's victims too!" exclaimed the Ruler, and he went on to tell the owl his own story.
"What shall we do now?" they asked themselves.
"There is hope yet," replied the owl. "For now and again, Khaleed meets the other wizards in one of the ruined halls. While they are banqueting, they boast of what they have done. If Khaleed should brag of what he did to you, then he might repeat the magic word you've forgotten!"
"Goodness, yes!" agreed the storks. "Let's go to the hall." But the owl sat where she was.
"Before we go," she said, "one of you must promise to marry me. Otherwise I will remain a bird forever!"
"Very well! I promise I will marry you, but only if I manage to hear the magic word and break the spell," said the Ruler. So the owl led the storks along a narrow passage beneath the temple, to a hall.
"This is their meeting place. We can spy on them from this hole." The three birds took turns at keeping watch. Then one evening, the murmur of voices announced the arrival of the wizards. As they ate and toasted each other's health, Khaleed rose to his feet.
"Guess how I succeeded in placing my son on the Ruler's throne?" he said, and when the wicked wizard said the word MUTABOR, the two storks thrilled with delight. "Mutabor! Mutabor!" they repeated. "That's the magic word!"
Outside in the open air, the storks bowed three times to the east and said the magic word. Instantly they became men again, and the owl magically turned into a beautiful young lady. The three hugged each other with joy.
"I will keep my promise," he assured her, "and when I am on my throne, I shall marry you."
The Ruler's next task was to depose Mirza. Stealing the wizards' camels, they rode all night, and dawn found them at the city gates.
"The Ruler is alive!" cried the first people to see them. As they rode through the streets, the citizens pressed round, cheering wildly.
"Sasha has come back! Mirza has lied to us!" The wizard's nasty plan had failed. With a handful of followers, Mirza had succeeded in seizing the throne, certain that Sasha would never be seen again. But when he heard the news, the wizard's son tried to escape.
However, he was captured and thrown into prison. Khaleed too was put in chains and put in the prison for the rest of his life. Sasha married Naja and they lived happily ever after.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Big lion and a clever rabbit

Once upon a time, there lived a big lion in a jungle. Every day he hunted and killed many animals. The animals wanted this killing spree to end and they all go to the lion with a proposal. They told the lion that he could stay home, and every day one animal would come to him as food and he does not have to hunt. The lion agreed to this offer on the condition that if they ever failed to send him an animal, he would go on a killing spree and finish all of them off.
From then on, each day an animal was sent to the lion and the lion was happy. One day it was the turn of a little rabbit to become the food for the lion and he did not want to be the lion's next meal. So he thought up a plan that would save his life as well as the lives of all the other animals in the jungle.

The rabbit slowly made his way to the lion's den. The lion was pacing up and down, extremely hungry. He was furious when all he saw was a little rabbit. He wanted to kill all the animals in a rage. The rabbit timidly explained that the animals had actually sent him six rabbits, but five of them were killed and devoured by another lion. The lion roared in anger. He wanted to know who this other lion was who dared to steal his food. The rabbit stuttered that it was a very big lion. The lion was furious. He asked the rabbit to take him to the other lion as he wanted to kill him.

The little rabbit led the lion to a well and told him that the other lion was in there. The lion peered into the well and saw his own reflection. He thought it was the other lion. He let out a huge roar which echoed back at him. He immediately jumped into the well to attack what he thought was the other lion. The lion drowned in the water and died. Thus the clever little rabbit not only saved his own life but the lives of the rest of the animals in the jungle.

Moral : Mind power is more valuable than muscle power

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Brahmin and the crooks

Long, long ago, there lived a Brahmin in a small village. Once his father told him to purchase a healthy goat for that purpose. The Brahmin visited the cattle fair and bought a healthy and fat goat. He slung the goat over his shoulder and headed back for his home.

There were three crooks also roaming in the fair, and when they saw the Brahmin going back to his home with the goat, they thought of a plan to get the goat by tricking the Brahmin. Then they separated from one another and took hiding positions at three different places on the path of the Brahmin. As soon as the Brahmin reached a lonely spot, one of the crooks came to him and said in a surprised tone, "Sir, what's this? I don't understand why a pious man like you should carry a dog on his shoulders!" The Brahmin was shocked to hear these words. He shouted back, "Can't you see? It's not a dog but a goat, you fool." "I beg for your apology, sir. I told you what I saw. I am sorry if you don't believe it," said the crook and went away.
The Brahmin had hardly walked a hundred yards when another crook came up to him and said, "Sir, why do you carry a dead calf on your shoulders? You seem to be a wise person. Such an act is sheer foolishness on your part." "What!" the Brahmin shouted. "How do you mistake a living goat for a dead calf?"
"Sir," replied the second crook, "you seem to be highly mistaken in this respect yourself. Either you come from such a country where goats are not found, or you do it knowingly. I just told you what I saw. " The second crook went away laughing.
The Brahmin walked further. But again, he had hardly covered a little distance when the third crook confronted him laughing "Sir, why do you carry a donkey on your shoulders? It makes you a laughing stock", said the thug and began to laugh again. The Brahmin hearing the words of the third thug became highly worried. 'Is it really not a goat!' He began to think. "Is it some kind of a ghost!"
The Brahmin got frightened. He thought to himself that the animal he was carrying on his shoulders might certainly be some sort of a ghost, because, it transformed itself from goat into a dog, from dog into a dead calf and from dead calf into a donkey. The Brahmin was then terrified to such an extent that he flung the goat on to the roadside and fled. The crooks caught the goat and feasted on it happily.

Moral : Do not be swayed by strangers opinions

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fool and the crooks

Long, long ago, there lived a foolish man in a village. He had one horse and one goat, as his pets. One day, the fool decided to sell his horse and the goat in the market. He tied a bell round the neck of the goat so that ha can be sure that the goat is following. He then, mounted his horse and set out for the market place.

Some crooks saw the fool and made a plan to steal the horse and goat. So, one of the crooks, on the way, untied the bell from the goat's neck and, instead, tied it with the horse's tail. The fool didn't ever realize what went on behind his back. The bell tied to the tail of the horse went on ringing and the fool believed that all was well.

On the way, another crook asked the fool to stop and look behind. When the fool looked behind the crook said, "Sir, how is it that you have hung a bell by your horse's tail? What purpose does it serve?"

The fool was sad to find the goat missing. In the meantime, the third crook came near the fool and said, "Sir, I've seen a man running away with your goat. If you like, I'll chase the thief on your horse and get back your goat?"

The fool became very happy to hear this. He immediately got down fron1 his horse and handed it over to the third crook. The crook mounted the horse and rode away.

The fool waited and waited for his goat and the horse to come back, but it never happened.

Moral :Fools loose whatever they own

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Four friends and a hunter

Long, long ago, there lived four friends in a jungle. They were-a deer, a crow, a mouse and a turtle. One day a hunter came to the jungle. Seeing the hunter, the deer ran away, the crow flew away and the mouse ran into a hole. The turtle tried to crawl away fast, but he was caught by the hunter. The hunter tied him up in the net. The turtle's three friends became much worried about their friend and thought up a plan to free their friend from the hunter.

The crow flew high up in the sky and spotted the hunter walking along the river bank. As per the plan the deer ran ahead of the hunter unnoticed and lay on the hunter's path as if dead. The hunter saw the deer from a distance, lying on the ground and wanted to catch the deer. He put down the turtle on to the ground and ran to pick up the deer.

In the meantime, as planned, the rat gnawed through the net and freed the turtle. The turtle hurriedly crawled away into the river water.

When the hunter reached near the deer, the deer stood up and ran away in the jungle, leaving the hunter empty handed.

Thus the friends of the turtle rescued the turtle from the hunter.

Moral : It is important to have friends who can bail you out in case you are stuck in danger

Monday, August 27, 2007

Shrewd Crab and a cunning crane

Once upon a time a crane lived on the edge of a large lake in the middle of a jungle. Because of old age, it was not able to prey on fish . Unable to bear the hunger, the crane stood on the edge of the lake and began crying . A crab passing by felt sorry for the crane and asked the crane: “Friend, what is the matter? Why are you crying?”

The cunning old crane said “I have heard from a fortune teller that there will be no rains for the coming twelve years in this region. This lake will dry up and these poor fish and other creatures in the lake will die. I am crying for them”The crab, and the fish living in the lake were shocked to hear it. The crane then said, "There is another lake at some distance from here which is full of water and which will not dry up. I would like to help the fish and other creatures that can not travel on the land, reach the other lake. I will carry them on my back and put them in the distant lake safely"

The fish and other creatures in the lake agreed to this idea by the crane. Each day the crane started carrying few fish at a time, on his back. But, instead of taking them to the big lake, he took them to a nearby hill and ate them.

Soon it was the turn of the crab to go to the “safety of the distant lake”. He climbed on the back of the Crane. As the crane was about to land on the hill, the crab noticed the fish bones and realized what the evil crane did to all the fish. He quickly grabbed the long neck of the crane with his sharp claws and told him to return to the old lake. And when they returned to the old lake he cut the neck of the crane with his sharp claws. He then told the fish about the evil deeds of the crane.

Moral : Always be alert and observant

Sunday, August 26, 2007

About Panchatantra

Panchatantra is a collection of Hindu fables originally written in Sanskrit. It is believed to be written about 200 B.C. by a Hindu scholar called Vishnu Sharma.
It is believed that around 200 B.C., a king called Amarasakthi who ruled the city-state of Mahilaropyam in the southern part of India had commissioned Vishnu Sharma to educate his three sons who were not very bright. To educate these princes who are dull witted, Vishnu Sharma composed tales that could be easily understood while imparting lifes lessons at the same time.

These tales are divided into five parts and are known as Panchatantra (This word can be roughly translated to five strategies)

Mitra Bhedha (The Loss of Friends)

Mitra Laabha (Gaining Friends)

Suhrudbheda (Causing Dissension Between Friends)

Vigraha (Separation)

Sandhi(Union)

Friday, July 20, 2007

About

Over the centuries, many great thinkers shared their intellect by way of their writings. It is the intent of this website to make available this wealth of writings to kids in a way that is easy for them to understand. I have drawn mainly from Indian collection, but I intend add more from other countries as well in future.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Magic Bowls

Once upon a time there lived a man who was lazy, and his wife nagged him every day for being such a lazy good-for-nothing. The poor fellow would listen to all her abuse patiently, slip out of the house whenever he could, and stay out till it felt safe to come home

One day, her anger boiled over. She scraped together whatever stale food remained in her pots, tied it up in a dirty cloth, thrust it into his hand, and sent him packing. "Go somewhere, anywhere, and earn something. And don't you come back till you do!" she said, as she slammed the door.
The man took his bundle of stale food and trudged out of the village. He walked and walked for miles till he came to place where three roads crossed. A huge banyan tree had grown up there and had lent its shade to weary travelers for many years. The man was tired and his legs ached. He sat down under the tree. He tied his bundle of rice to one of its branches and soon he was fast asleep, his head pillowed on the roots of the banyan.
Now, there were forest spirits living in the banyan tree. They sighted the sleeping man below and the bundle of stale food on the branch above him. They wanted to taste his dinner. No sooner did they think of it than it was done. What's more, they liked that stale food very much. They had tasted nectar and all the dishes of heaven, but this was something new. They had never tasted stale rice before. It had a wonderful flavor of its own. They were pleased and thought they should give their poor sleeping host something in return for the food they had taken away. When the poor man woke up, he was hungry and looked for his bundle. When he found it, the food was gone. In its place, there were four odd looking empty bowls. Raging with hunger, he banged the bowls on the ground. At once, several lovely women appeared before him with all sorts of divine dishes in their hands, ready to serve him. He was dumbstruck by the magic of it all, but he was too hungry to be frightened or ask questions. And the lovely women served him gently, silently, attended to his slightest gesture, and treated him like a god. Soon he came to believe that he was indeed master of these nymphs. His marvelous dinner over, his heavenly servants disappeared without a trace, leaving the four empty bowls behind them. Then the man picked up the empty bowls and hurried home. He told his wife what happened and his wife was overjoyed.
They wanted to be charitable to their neighbors. Even as the next day dawned, the man was out of the house. He went to every door and invited every family in the village, rich and poor alike. Everyone was skeptical. Some laughed outright. Some thought it was a practical joke, some that the man must be crazy. The guests gathered by noon in his home. Many of them had taken the precaution of eating well before they arrived. They came just to see what was happening, and were they surprised! The poor man and his wife brought forth four odd-looking vessels and respectfully requested them to bestow upon the guests their gracious gifts. And lo and behold! dozens of lovely women, each lovelier than the next, adorned to the fingertips, rose out of the bowls. In their hands were plates full of the daintiest dishes. Silver platters appeared from nowhere before the bewildered guests, and service began.
As the guests ate, new dishes arrived by the dozen and the heavenly women served them so readily that everyone felt that they forestalled one's slightest wishes. The guests were fed till they were ready to burst. They had trouble getting up and carrying themselves home. The village buzzed with the news. Everyone talked about it. The poor man, no longer poor, was the rage for months. Now, there was a rich man in the village who thought no end of himself. He grew envious of the sudden wealth and the growing popularity of his neighbor who till yesterday had been a penniless beggar. He paid a visit to his fellow villager one day and was treated to the miracle of the bowls and the lovely women who rose from them for the mere asking. He quickly made friends with their owner, gave him and his wife gifts, and soon wormed the secret out of them.
"It's so easy," he thought. "There's nothing to it." He hurried home and ordered his best cook to make the most sumptuous dishes at once. Next morning, he traveled in a palanquin, as fast as his bearers could take him, and arrived at the spot where three roads crossed. He carefully arranged a big basket full of the finest dishes that money could command, right under the banyan tree. Then he dismissed his servants till evening, and composed himself as if for sleep. Of course, he wasn't going to sleep. He was too curious to see the forest spirits and what they would do. He lay there for a long time till somehow sleep stole over him. When he woke up, all in a hurry, he saw beside him four odd-looking bowls. And his basket was empty. He had succeeded. Of course, he had never once doubted he would. After all, he had brought for the spirits in the banyan tree the tastiest, the richest, the most royal of all human dishes. How could they help giving him what he wanted? Here they were, in full view, the magic bowls! He hurried home, asking his palanquin bearers to go faster. He called his entire household and sent them running with the news and invitations to every family in the village. People from all corners flocked to his dining hall. Their mouths watered at the memory of the recent banquet. Here was another, and a rich man's, too! Many starved themselves all day to do justice to his hospitality.
The rich man beamed at his guests and motioned them to their seats. Servants brought in the bowls with great ceremony and placed them on a pedestal. His head wrapped in a lace turban, wearing earrings and turquoises, their master stood before the bowls and loudly ordered them to bring forth a divine banquet for everyone assembled. Hardly had his voice stopped ringing when out came dozens of big burly men. They looked like wrestlers. They had rolls of muscle on their arms, and their looks would have scared the bravest of men. They came out of the bowls and went after the host and his hungry guests. They seized them one by one, whipped out gleaming razors, and with great gusto shaved every head in the hall, shaved them so close that every head was clean and shiny like a bronze bowl. Not a single guest escaped the barbers' banquet, not even the wives.
And as the terrified guests crawled out, a muscular fellow at the door held up a large mirror to their faces and forced them to take a good long look at themselves before they left the hall, never to return.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The foolish crocodile and a smart monkey

Once upon a time, there lived a monkey on a red apple tree. He ate the tasty and juicy apples everyday and was living happily. Then one day a crocodile swam up to that tree and told the monkey that he was very hungry. The kind monkey offered him a few rose apples. The crocodile enjoyed them very much and asked the monkey if he could come again for some more fruit. The monkey said yes.

The crocodile kept returning everyday to eat the tasty apples. Soon the monkey and the crocodile became very good friends. The crocodile told the monkey that he had a wife who lived on the other bank of the river and the monkey offered him some extra rose apples to take home to his wife. The crocodile's wife loved the rose apples. The crocodile's wife told her husband that if the monkey lived on a diet of rose apples, then his heart must be very tasty to eat. So she asked the crocodile to invite the monkey to their house in order to eat him.

So the crocodile went to the monkey and invited him to come home to have dinner. He told the monkey that he could ride across the river on the crocodile's back. The monkey agreed. As they reached the middle of the river, the crocodile began to go underneath the water. The frightened monkey asked him why he was doing that. The crocodile explained that his wife's wish to eat the monkey’s heart.

The clever monkey told him that he would gladly give up his heart to make the crocodile's wife happy, but he had left his heart behind in the rose apple tree. He asked the crocodile to go back the rose apple tree so that the monkey could go get his heart from the apple tree. The foolish crocodile quickly swam back to the rose apple tree. The monkey scampered up the tree to safety. He told the crocodile to tell his wicked wife that she had married the dumbest crocodile in the world.

Moral : Do not stop thinking even when facing grave danger

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Two Geese and a Turtle

Once upon a time, two geese and a tortoise lived near a lake. They were good friends. Once, due to a drought in the region, all the lakes and ponds went dry. There was not a drop of water to drink for the birds and animals.

The three friends decided to go to some distant lake, full of water, to live there forever. But there was a problem in migrating to a distant place. While it was easy for the geese to fly, it was difficult for the tortoise to cover that distance on foot.
So the tortoise came up with an idea, " You two hold both the ends of a strong stick in your beaks and I will hold the stick in the middle with my teeth and you carry me to the distant lake" Hearing the suggestion of the tortoise, the geese cautioned him, "It's a very good idea. We will do as you say. But you will have to be very careful. The problem with you is that you are very talkative. And if you open your mouth to say something, while we are flying, it will definitely prove to be detrimental to you. So, don't talk while you are dangling by the stick, otherwise you will lose your hold and go crashing down on the ground and die." The tortoise promised not to open his mouth during the entire journey.
The geese held the stick ends in their beaks and the tortoise held the stick in the middle with his teeth and thus, they began their long journey. They flew over hills, valleys, villages, forests and finally came over a town. While they were flying over the town, men, women and children came out of their houses to see this strange sight. The children began shouting and clapping. The foolish tortoise forgot that he was hanging precariously. He became so curious to know the reason behind all the commotion, that he opened his mouth to ask his friends-"Friends, what is this all about?" But as soon as he opened his, mouth to utter these words, he loosened his hold on the stick and fell down on the ground and died instantaneously.

Moral : Do not get distracted when working on important things

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

5th Voyage of Sindbad

All the guests who had listened to Sindbad the previous four days returned at the same hour next day, including the porter, whose former life of hard work and poverty had already begun to seem to him like a bad dream. Again after the banquet, their host continued relating his adventures with an account of his fifth voyage….
Not even all that I had gone through could make me contented with a quiet and happy life. I soon started longing for change and adventure. Therefore I set out once more, but this time in a ship of my own, which I built and fitted out at the nearest seaport. I wished to be able to call at whatever port I chose, taking my own time; but as I did not intend carrying enough goods for a full cargo, I invited several merchants of different nations to join me. We set sail with the first favorable wind, and after a long voyage upon the open seas we landed upon an unknown island which proved to be uninhabited. We determined, however, to explore it, but had not gone far when we found a roc's egg, as large as the one I had seen before and evidently very nearly hatched, for the beak of the young bird had already pierced the shell. In spite of all I could say to deter them, the merchants who were with me fell upon it with their hatchets, breaking the shell, and killing the young roc. Then lighting a fire upon the ground they hacked morsels from the bird, and proceeded to roast them while I stood by in anger.
Barely had they finished eating what they cooked, when the air above us was darkened by two mighty shadows. The captain of my ship, knowing by experience what this meant, cried out to us that the parent birds were coming, and urged us to get on board with all speed. This we did, and the sails were hoisted, but before we had made any way the rocs reached their despoiled nest and hovered about it, uttering frightful cries when they discovered the mangled remains of their young one. For a moment we lost sight of them, and were flattering ourselves that we had escaped, when they reappeared and soared into the air directly over our vessel, and we saw that each held in its claws an immense rock ready to crush us. There was a moment of breathless suspense, then one bird loosed its hold and the huge block of stone hurtled through the air, but thanks to the presence of mind of the helmsman, who turned our ship violently in another direction, it fell into the sea close beside us. We had hardly time to draw a breath of relief before the other rock fell with a mighty crash right in the midst of our luckless vessel, smashing it into a thousand fragments, and crushing, or hurling into the sea, passengers and crew. I myself went down with the rest, but had the good fortune to rise unhurt, and by holding on to a piece of driftwood with one hand and swimming with the other I kept myself afloat and was washed up by the tide on to an island. Its shores were steep and rocky, but I scrambled up safely and threw myself down to rest upon the green turf.
When I had somewhat recovered I began to examine the spot in which I found myself, and truly it seemed to me that I had reached a garden of delights. There were trees everywhere, and they were laden with flowers and fruit, while a crystal stream wandered in and out under their shadow. When night came I slept sweetly in a cosy nook, though the remembrance that I was alone in a strange land made me sometimes start up and look around me in alarm, and then I wished heartily that I had stayed at home at ease. However, the morning sunlight restored my courage, and I once more wandered among the trees, but always with some anxiety as to what I might see next. I had walked inland into the island some distance when I saw an old man bent and feeble sitting upon the river bank, and at first I took him to be some ship-wrecked mariner like myself. Going up to him I greeted him in a friendly way, but he only nodded his head at me in reply. I then asked what he did there, and he made signs to me that he wished to get across the river to gather some fruit, and seemed to beg me to carry him on my back. Pitying his age and feebleness, I took him up, and wading across the stream I bent down that he might more easily reach the bank, and bade him get down. But instead of allowing himself to be set upon his feet (even now it makes me laugh to think of it!), this creature who had seemed to me so decrepit leaped nimbly upon my shoulders, and hooking his legs round my neck gripped me so tightly that I was nearly choked, and so overcome with terror that I fell insensible to the ground. When I recovered my enemy was still in his place, though he had released his hold enough to allow me breathing space, and seeing me revive he prodded me adroitly first with one foot and then with the other, until I was forced to get up and stagger about with him under the trees while he gathered and ate the choicest fruits. This went on all day, and even at night, when I threw myself down half dead with weariness, the terrible old man held on tight to my neck, nor did he fail to greet the first glimmer of morning light by drumming upon me with his heels, until I perforce awoke and resumed my dreary march with rage and bitterness in my heart.
It happened one day that I passed a tree under which lay several dry gourds, and catching one up I amused myself with scooping out its contents and pressing into it the juice of several bunches of grapes which hung from every bush. When it was full I left it propped in the fork of a tree, and a few days later, carrying the hateful old man that way, I snatched at my gourd as I passed it and had the satisfaction of a draught of excellent wine so good and refreshing that I even forgot my detestable burden, and began to sing and caper.
The old monster was not slow to perceive the effect which my draught had produced and that I carried him more lightly than usual, so he stretched out his skinny hand and seizing the gourd first tasted its contents cautiously, then drained them to the very last drop. The wine was strong and the gourd capacious, so he also began to sing after a fashion, and soon I had the delight of feeling the iron grip of his goblin legs unclasp, and with one vigorous effort I threw him to the ground, from which he never moved again. I was so rejoiced to have at last got rid of this uncanny old man that I ran leaping and bounding down to the sea shore, where, by the greatest good luck, I met with some mariners who had anchored off the island to enjoy the delicious fruits, and to renew their supply of water.
They heard the story of my escape with amazement, saying, "You fell into the hands of the Old Man of the Sea, and it is a mercy that he did not strangle you as he has everyone else upon whose shoulders he has managed to perch himself. This island is well known as the scene of his evil deeds, and no merchant or sailor who lands upon it cares to stray far away from his comrades." After we had talked for a while they took me back with them on board their ship, where the captain received me kindly, and we soon set sail, and after several days reached a large and prosperous-looking town where all the houses were built of stone. Here we anchored, and one of the merchants, who had been very friendly to me on the way, took me ashore with him and showed me a lodging set apart for strange merchants. He then provided me with a large sack, and pointed out to me a party of others equipped in like manner.
"Go with them," said he, "and do as they do, but beware of losing sight of them, for if you strayed your life would be in danger."
With that he supplied me with food, and bade me farewell, and I set out with my new companions. I soon learnt that the object of our expedition was to fill our sacks with cocoanuts, but when at length I saw the trees and noted their immense height and the slippery smoothness of their slender trunks, I did not at all understand how we were to do it. The crowns of the cocoa-palms were all alive with monkeys, big and little, which skipped from one to the other with surprising agility, seeming to be curious about us and disturbed at our appearance, and I was at first surprised when my companions after collecting stones began to throw them at the lively creatures, which seemed to me quite harmless. But very soon I saw the reason of it and joined them heartily, for the monkeys, annoyed and wishing to pay us back in our own coin, began to tear the nuts from the trees and cast them at us with angry and spiteful gestures, so that after very little labor our sacks were filled with the fruit which we could not otherwise have obtained.
As soon as we had as many as we could carry we went back to the town, where my friend bought my share and advised me to continue the same occupation until I had earned money enough to carry me to my own country. This I did, and before long had amassed a considerable sum. Just then I heard that there was a trading ship ready to sail, and taking leave of my friend I went on board, carrying with me a goodly store of cocoanuts; and we sailed first to the islands where pepper grows, then to Comari where the best aloes wood is found, and where men drink no wine by an unalterable law. Here I exchanged my nuts for pepper and good aloes wood, and went fishing for pearls with some of the other merchants, and my divers were so lucky that very soon I had an immense number, and those very large and perfect. With all these treasures I came joyfully back to Bagdad, where I disposed of them for large sums of money, of which I did not fail as before to give the tenth part to the poor, and after that I rested from my labours and comforted myself with all the pleasures that my riches could give me.
Having thus ended his story, Sindbad ordered that one hundred coins should be given to Hindbad, and the guests then left. All of them promised themselves to return the next day.

Monday, April 9, 2007

4th Voyage of Sindbad

All the guests who had listened to Sindbad the previous three days returned at the same hour next day, including the porter, whose former life of hard work and poverty had already begun to seem to him like a bad dream. Again after the banquet, their host continued relating his adventures with an account of his fourth voyage….
Rich and happy as I was after my third voyage, I could not make up my mind to stay at home altogether. My love of traversing the seas, and the pleasure I took in anything that was new and strange, made me set out on a voyage once again. I took ship at a distant seaport, and for some time all went well, but at last, being caught in a violent hurricane, our vessel became a total wreck in spite of all our worthy captain could do to save her, and many of our company perished in the waves. I, with a few others, had the good fortune to be washed ashore clinging to pieces of the wreck, for the storm had driven us near an island, and scrambling up beyond the reach of the waves we threw ourselves down quite exhausted, to wait for morning.
At daylight we wandered inland, and soon saw some huts, to which we directed our steps. As we drew near their black inhabitants swarmed out in great numbers and surrounded us, and we were led to their houses, and as it were divided among our captors. I with five others was taken into a hut, where we were made to sit upon the ground, and certain herbs were given to us, which the blacks made signs to us to eat. Observing that they themselves did not touch them, I was careful only to pretend to taste my portion; but my companions, being very hungry, eagerly ate up all that was set before them, and very soon I had the horror of seeing them become perfectly mad. Though they chattered incessantly I could not understand a word they said, nor did they heed when I spoke to them. The savages now produced large bowls full of rice prepared with cocoanut oil, of which my crazy comrades ate eagerly, but I only tasted a few grains, understanding clearly that the object of our captors was to fatten us speedily for their own eating, and this was exactly what happened. My unlucky companions having lost their reason, felt neither anxiety nor fear, and ate greedily all that was offered them. So they were soon fat and there was an end of them, but I grew leaner day by day, for I ate but little, and even that little did me no good by reason of my fear of what lay before me. However, as I was so far from being a tempting morsel, I was allowed to wander about freely, and one day, when all the blacks had gone off upon some expedition leaving only an old man to guard me, I managed to escape from him and plunged into the forest, running faster the more he cried to me to come back, until I had completely distanced him.
For seven days I hurried on, resting only when the darkness stopped me, and living chiefly upon cocoanuts, which afforded me both meat and drink, and on the eighth day I reached the seashore and saw a party of white men gathering pepper, which grew abundantly all about. Reassured by the nature of their occupation, I advanced towards them and they greeted me in Arabic, asking who I was and how I came there. My delight was great on hearing this familiar speech, and I willingly satisfied their curiosity, telling them how I had been shipwrecked, and captured by the blacks. "But these savages devour men!" said they. "How did you escape?" I repeated to them what I have just told you, at which they were mightily astonished. I stayed with them until they had collected as much pepper as they wished, and then they took me back to their own country and presented me to their king, by whom I was hospitably received. To him also I had to relate my adventures, which surprised him much, and when I had finished he ordered that I should be supplied with food and clothes and treated with consideration.
The island on which I found myself was full of people, and abounded in all sorts of desirable things, and a great deal of traffic went on in the capital, where I soon began to feel at home and contented. Moreover, the king treated me with special favor, and seeing this everyone, whether at the court or in the town, sought to make life pleasant to me. One thing I remarked which I thought very strange; this was that, from the greatest to the least, all men rode their horses without bridle or stirrups. I one day presumed to ask his majesty why he did not use them, to which he replied, "You speak to me of things of which I have never before heard!" This gave me an idea. I found a clever workman, and made him cut out under my direction the foundation of a saddle, which I wadded and covered with choice leather, adorning it with rich gold embroidery. I then got a lock-smith to make me a bit and a pair of spurs after a pattern that I drew for him, and when all these things were completed I presented them to the king and showed him how to use them. When I had saddled one of his horses he mounted it and rode about quite delighted with the novelty, and to show his gratitude he rewarded me with large gifts. After this I had to make saddles for all the principal officers of the king's household, and as they all gave me rich presents I soon became very wealthy and quite an important person in the city.
One day the king sent for me and said, "Sindbad, I am going to ask a favor of you. Both I and my subjects esteem you, and wish you to live with us forever. Therefore I desire that you will marry a rich and beautiful lady whom I will find for you. Do not ever think of going back to your own country."
As the king's will was law I accepted the charming bride he presented to me, and lived happily with her. Nevertheless I had every intention of escaping at the first opportunity, and going back to Bagdad. Things were thus going prosperously with me when it happened that the wife of one of my neighbours, with whom I had struck up quite a friendship, fell very ill and died. I went to his house to offer my consolations, and found him in the depths of woe.
I said to my neighbor "Sorry to hear about your loss. May God give you a long life!"
"Alas!" he replied, "what is the good of saying that when I have but an hour left to live!"
"Come, come!" said I, "why do you say that ? You are healthy and I trust you will live for many more years."
"I hope," answered he, "that your life may be long, but as for me, all is finished. I have set my house in order, and to-day I shall be buried with my wife. This has been the law upon our island from the earliest ages--the living husband goes to the grave with his dead wife, the living wife with her dead husband. So did our fathers, and so must we do. The law changes not, and all must obey it!"
As he spoke the friends and relations of the unhappy pair began to assemble. The body, decked in rich robes and sparkling with jewels, was laid upon an open bier, and the procession started, taking its way to a high mountain at some distance from the city, the wretched husband, clothed from head to foot in a black mantle, following mournfully.
When the place of interment was reached the corpse was lowered, just as it was, into a deep pit. Then the husband, bidding farewell to all his friends, stretched himself upon another bier, upon which were laid seven little loaves of bread and a pitcher of water, and he also was let down-down-down to the depths of the horrible cavern, and then a stone was laid over the opening, and the friends and relatives returned to the city.
You may imagine that I was no unmoved spectator of these proceedings; to all the others it was a thing to which they had been accustomed from their youth up; but I was so horrified that I could not help telling the king how it struck me.
"Sir," I said, "I am very astonished at the strange custom which exists in your kingdom of burying the living with the dead. In all my travels I have never before met with so cruel and horrible a law."
"Sindbad " he replied. "It is the law for everybody. I myself would be buried with the Queen if she were the first to die."
"But, your Majesty," said I, "dare I ask if this law applies to foreigners also?"
"Why, yes," replied the king smiling, in a heartless manner, "foreigners are no exception to the rule if they have married in the country."
When I heard this I went home in a sad mood, and from that time forward my mind was never easy. If only my wife's little finger ached I fancied she was going to die, and sure enough before very long she fell really ill and in a few days died. I was greatly saddened and frightened, because it seemed to me that to be buried alive was even a worse fate than to be devoured by cannibals, but there was no escape. The body of my wife, arrayed in her richest robes and decked with all her jewels, was laid upon the bier. I followed it, and after me came a great procession, headed by the king and all his nobles, and we reached the fatal mountain, which was one of a lofty chain bordering the sea.
Here I made one more frantic effort to beg the pity of the king and those who stood by, hoping to save myself even at this last moment, but it was of nouse. No one spoke to me, and I speedily found myself descending into the gloomy pit, with my seven loaves and pitcher of water beside me. Almost before I reached the bottom the stone was rolled into its place above my head, and I was left to my fate. A feeble ray of light shone into the cavern through some chink, and when I had the courage to look about me I could see that I was in a vast vault, bestrewn with bones and bodies of the dead. I even fancied that I heard the expiring sighs of those who, like myself, had come into this dismal place alive. I shrieked aloud with rage and despair, cursing myself for the love of gain and adventure which had landed me in this situation. After a while I grew calmer, I took up my bread and water, and wrapping my face in my mantle I groped my way towards the end of the cavern, where the air was fresher.
Here I lived in darkness and misery using my food and water sparingly. One day I fancied that I heard something near me, which breathed loudly. Turning to the place from which the sound came I dimly saw a shadowy form which fled at my movement, squeezing itself through a cranny in the wall. I pursued it as fast as I could, and found myself in a narrow crack among the rocks, along which I was just able to force my way. I followed it for what seemed to me many miles, and at last saw before me a glimmer of light which grew clearer every moment until I emerged upon the sea shore with a joy which I cannot describe. When I was sure that I was not dreaming, I realized that it was doubtless some little animal which had found its way into the cavern from the sea, and when disturbed had fled, showing me a means of escape which I could never have discovered for myself. I hastily surveyed my surroundings, and saw that I was safe from all pursuit from the town.
The mountains sloped sheer down to the sea, and there was no road across them. Being assured of this I returned to the cavern, and amassed a rich treasure of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and jewels of all kinds which strewed the ground. These I made up into bales, and stored them into a safe place upon the beach, and then waited hopefully for the passing of a ship. I had looked out for two days, however, before a single sail appeared, so it was with much delight that I at last saw a ship not very far from the shore, and by waving my arms and uttering loud cries succeeded in attracting the attention of her crew. A boat was sent off to me, and in answer to the questions of the sailors as to how I came to be in such a plight, I replied that I had been shipwrecked two days before, but had managed to scramble ashore with the bales which I pointed out to them. Luckily for me they believed my story, and without even looking at the place where they found me, took up my bundles, and rowed me back to the ship. Once on board, I soon saw that the captain was too much occupied with the difficulties of navigation to pay much heed to me, though he generously made me welcome, and would not even accept the jewels with which I offered to pay my passage. Our voyage was prosperous, and after visiting many lands, and collecting in each place great store of goodly merchandise, I found myself at last in Bagdad once more with unheard of riches of every description. Again I gave large sums of money to the poor, and enriched all the mosques in the city, after which I gave myself up to my friends and relations, with whom I passed my time in feasting and merriment.
Here Sindbad paused, and everyone in his audience declared that the adventures of his fourth voyage had pleased them better than anything they had heard before. They then took their leave, followed by Hindbad, who had once more received a hundred gold coins.
When the time came all were in their places, and when they had eaten and drunk of all that was set before them Sindbad began his tale.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

3rd voyage of Sindbad

All the guests who listened to Sindbad recounting his second voyage returned at the same hour next day, including the porter, whose former life of hard work and poverty had already begun to seem to him like a bad dream. Again after the feast was over Sindbad began narrating the story of his third voyage as follows
After a very short time the pleasant easy life I led made me to completely forget the perils of my two voyages. So once I purchased the rarest and choicest merchandise of Bagdad, I conveyed it to Basra, and set sail with other merchants of my acquaintance for distant lands. We had touched at many ports and made much profit. One day upon the open sea we were caught by a terrible storm which blew us completely out of our reckoning, and after several days of being lost at sea, our ship drifted into a harbor on a strange island.
"I would rather have come to anchor anywhere than here," said our captain. "This island and all adjoining it are inhabited by hairy savages, who are certain to attack us, and whatever these dwarfs may do we dare not resist, since they swarm like locusts, and if one of them is killed the rest will fall upon us, and kill us all."
These words caused great fear and concern among all the people on the ship and soon we found out that the captain spoke truly. There appeared hundreds of savages, not more than two feet high and covered with reddish fur. Throwing themselves into the waves they surrounded our vessel. Chattering in a language we could not understand, and clutching at ropes and gangways, they swarmed up the ship's side with such speed and agility that they almost seemed to fly.
Hoisting the sails, and cutting the cable of the anchor, they sailed our ship to an island which lay a little further off, where they drove us ashore; then taking possession of our ship, they made off to the place from which they had come, leaving us helpless upon a shore avoided with horror by all mariners for a reason which we will soon learn.
We wandered miserably inland, ate various herbs and fruits that we found, hoping to live as long as possible though we had no hope of escape. We saw at a distance what seemed to us to be a splendid palace, and we marched towards it. When we reached it, we saw that it was actually a castle, lofty, and strongly built. Pushing back the heavy ebony doors we entered the courtyard, but upon the threshold of the great hall beyond it we paused, frozen with horror, at the sight which greeted us. On one side lay a huge pile of bones--human bones, and on the other numberless spits for roasting! Overcome with despair we sank trembling to the ground, and lay there without speech or motion.
The sun was setting when a loud noise aroused us, the door of the hall was violently burst open and a horrible giant entered. He was as tall as a palm tree, and perfectly black, and had one eye, which flamed like a burning coal in the middle of his forehead. His teeth were long and sharp and grinned horribly, while his lower lip hung down upon his chest, and he had ears like elephant's ears, which covered his shoulders, and nails like the claws of some fierce bird.
At this terrible sight we froze in fear. The giant sat examining us closely with his fearful eye. Then he came towards us, and stretching out his hand took me by the back of the neck, turning me this way and that, but feeling that I was mere skin and bone he set me down again and went on to the next, whom he treated in the same fashion; at last he came to the captain, and finding him the fattest of us all, he took him up in one hand and stuck him upon a spit and proceeded to kindle a huge fire and roasted him. After the giant had eaten our Captain he lay down to sleep, snoring like the loudest thunder, while we lay shivering with horror the whole night through, and when day broke he awoke and went out, leaving us in the castle.
Though we were many and our enemy was alone it did not occur to us to kill him, and indeed we should have found that a hard task, even if we had thought of it. None of us wanted to meet with the same fate as our captain. So we sat down trying to come up with an escape plan. Soon we all agreed upon a plan.
"Listen, my brothers," I said. "You know that plenty of driftwood lies along the shore. Let us make several rafts, and carry them to a suitable place. If our plot succeeds, we can wait patiently for the chance of some passing ship which would rescue us from this fatal island. If it fails, we must quickly take to our rafts; frail as they are, we have more chance of saving our lives with them than we have if we remain here."
All agreed with me, and we spent the day in building rafts, each capable of carrying three persons. At nightfall we returned to the castle, and very soon in came the giant, and one more of our number was sacrificed. But the time of our vengeance was at hand! As soon as he had finished his horrible meal he lay down to sleep as before, and when we heard him begin to snore I, and nine of the boldest of my comrades, rose softly, and took each a spit, which we made red-hot in the fire, and then at a given signal we plunged it with one accord into the giant's eye, completely blinding him. Uttering a terrible cry, he sprang to his feet clutching in all directions to try to seize one of us, but we had all fled different ways as soon as the deed was done, and thrown ourselves flat upon the ground in corners where he was not likely to touch us with his feet.
After a vain search he fumbled about till he found the door, and fled out of it howling frightfully. As for us, when he was gone we made haste to leave the fatal castle, and, stationing ourselves beside our rafts, we waited to see what would happen. Our idea was that if, when the sun rose, we saw nothing of the giant, and no longer heard his howls, which still came faintly through the darkness, growing more and more distant, we should conclude that he was dead, and that we might safely stay upon the island and need not risk our lives upon the frail rafts. But alas! morning light showed us our enemy approaching us, supported on either hand by two giants nearly as large and fearful as himself, while a crowd of others followed close upon their heels. Hesitating no longer we clambered upon our rafts and rowed with all our might out to sea. The giants, seeing their prey escaping them, seized up huge pieces of rock, and wading into the water hurled them after us with such good aim that all the rafts except the one I was upon were swamped, and their luckless crews drowned, without our being able to do anything to help them. Indeed I and my two companions had all we could do to keep our own raft beyond the reach of the giants, and by hard rowing we at last gained the open sea. Here we were at the mercy of the winds and waves, which tossed us to and fro all that day and night, but the next morning we found ourselves near an island, upon which we gladly landed.
There we found delicious fruits, and having satisfied our hunger we presently lay down to rest upon the shore. Suddenly we were aroused by a loud rustling noise, and starting up, saw that it was caused by an immense snake which was gliding towards us over the sand. So swiftly it came that it had seized one of my comrades before he had time to run, and in spite of his cries and struggles speedily crushed the life out of him in its mighty coils and proceeded to swallow him. By this time my other companion and I were running for our lives to some place where we might hope to be safe from this new horror, and seeing a tall tree we climbed up into it. When night came I fell asleep, but only to be awakened once more by the terrible snake, which after hissing horribly round the tree climbed it, and finding my sleeping comrade who was perched just below me, it swallowed him also, and crawled away leaving me half dead with terror.
When the sun rose I crept down from the tree with hardly a hope of escaping the dreadful fate which had over-taken my comrades; but life is sweet, and I determined to do all I could to save myself. I walked down to the sea, feeling that it would be better to plunge from the cliffs and end my life at once than pass another night of horror. But to my joy and relief I saw a ship sailing by, and by shouting wildly and waving my turban I managed to attract the attention of her crew.
A boat was sent to rescue me, and very soon I found myself on board surrounded by a wondering crowd of sailors and merchants eager to know by what chance I found myself in that desolate island. After I had told my story they regaled me with the choicest food the ship afforded, and the captain, seeing that I was in rags, generously bestowed upon me one of his own coats. After sailing about for some time and touching at many ports we came at last to the island of Salahat, where sandal wood grows in great abundance. Here we anchored, and as I stood watching the merchants disembarking their goods and preparing to sell or exchange them, the captain came up to me and said,
"I have here, brother, some merchandise belonging to a passenger of mine who is dead. Will you do me the favour to trade with it, and when I meet with his heirs I shall be able to give them the money, though it will be only just that you shall have a portion for your trouble."
I consented gladly, for I did not like standing by idle. Whereupon he pointed the bales out to me, and sent for the person whose duty it was to keep a list of the goods that were upon the ship. When this man came he asked in what name the merchandise was to be registered.
"In the name of Sindbad the Sailor," replied the captain.
At this I was greatly surprised, but looking carefully at him I recognised him to be the captain of the ship upon which I had made my second voyage, though he had altered much since that time. As for him, believing me to be dead it was no wonder that he had not recognized me.
"So, captain," said I, "the merchant who owned those bales was called Sindbad?"
"Yes," he replied. "He was so named. He belonged to Bagdad, and joined my ship at Balsora, but by mischance he was left behind upon a desert island where we had landed to fill up our water-casks, and it was not until four days later that we found out that he was missing. By that time the wind had freshened, and it was impossible to go back for him."
"You suppose him to have perished then?" said I.
"Alas! yes," he answered.
"Why, captain!" I cried, "look well at me. I am that Sindbad who fell asleep upon the island and awoke to find himself abandoned!"
The captain stared at me in amazement, but was convinced that I was indeed speaking the truth, and rejoiced greatly at my escape.
"I am glad to have that piece of carelessness off my conscience at any rate," said he. "Now take your goods, and the profit I have made for you upon them, and may you prosper in future."
I took them gratefully, and as we went from one island to another I laid in stores of cloves, cinnamon, and other spices. Eventually we came back to Balsora, and I returned to Bagdad with so much money that I could not myself count it, besides treasures without end. I gave largely to the poor, and bought much land to add to what I already possessed, and thus ended my third voyage.
When Sindbad had finished his story he gave another hundred gold coins to Hindbad, who then departed with the other guests.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

2nd Voyage of Sindbad

On my return from my first voyage, I have decided to spend the rest of my days quietly in Bagdad, but very soon I grew tired of such an idle life and longed once more to go travel the seas.
I purchased, goods that were suitable selling in the places I intended to visit, and embarked for the second time in a good ship with other merchants whom I knew to be honorable men. We went from island to island, often making excellent bargains, until one day we landed at a spot which, though covered with fruit trees and had springs of excellent water, appeared to have neither houses nor people. While my companions wandered here and there gathering flowers and fruit I sat down in a shady place, and, having heartily enjoyed the food and the wine I had brought with me, I fell asleep, lulled by the murmur of a clear brook which flowed close by.
How long I slept I do not know , but when I opened my eyes and up on my feet, I realized with horror that I was alone and that the ship was gone. I ran aimlessly, uttering cries of despair, and when from the shore I saw my ship under full sail just disappearing upon the horizon, I wished bitterly that I had been content to stay at home in safety. But since wishes could do me no good, I started looking for a means of escape. I had climbed a tall tree and first looked towards the sea; but found nothing hopeful there. Then I turned landward, and was excited to see a huge dazzling white object at a distance but I could not make out what it might be.
Descending from the tree I hastily collected what remained of my food and set off as fast as I could go towards the white object. As I drew near it seemed to me to be a white ball of immense size and height, and when I could touch it, I found it marvelously smooth and soft. As it was impossible to climb it, I walked around it looking for some opening, but there was none. I counted, however, that it was at least fifty feet around. By this time the sun was near setting, but quite suddenly it fell dark, something like a huge black cloud came swiftly over me, and I saw with amazement that it was a bird of extraordinary size which was hovering near. Then I remembered that I had often heard the sailors speak of a wonderful bird called a roc, and it occurred to me that the white object which had so puzzled me must be its egg.
Sure enough the bird settled slowly down upon it, covering it with its wings to keep it warm, and I cowered close beside the egg in such a position that one of the bird's feet, which was as large as the trunk of a tree, was just in front of me. Taking off my turban I bound myself securely to it with the linen in the hope that the roc, when it took flight next morning, would carry me away with it from the desolate island. And this was precisely what did happen. At dawn, the bird rose into the air carrying me up and up till I could no longer see the earth, and then suddenly it descended so swiftly that I almost lost consciousness. When I became aware that the roc had settled and that I was once again upon solid ground, I hastily unbound my turban from its foot and freed myself, and that not a moment too soon; for the bird, pouncing upon a huge snake, killed it with a few blows from its powerful beak, and seizing it up rose into the air once more and soon disappeared from my view. When I had looked about me I began to doubt if I had gained anything by leaving the desolate island.
The valley in which I found myself was deep and narrow, and surrounded by mountains which towered into the clouds, and were so steep and rocky that there was no way of climbing up their sides. As I wandered about, seeking anxiously for some means of escaping from this trap, I observed that the ground was strewed with diamonds, some of them were huge in size. This sight gave me great pleasure, but my delight turned into fear when I saw also many horrible snakes that were so long and so large that the smallest of them could have swallowed an elephant with ease. Fortunately for me they seemed to hide in caverns of the rocks by day, and only came out by night, probably because of their enemy the roc.
All day long I wandered up and down the valley, and when it grew dark I crept into a little cave, and blocked the entrance with a stone, I ate part of my little store of food and lay down to sleep, but all through the night the serpents crawled to and fro, hissing horribly, so that I could scarcely sleep. I was thankful when the morning light appeared, and when I judged by the silence that the serpents had retreated to their dens I came tremblingly out of my cave and wandered up and down the valley once more, kicking the diamonds contemptuously out of my path, for I felt that they were indeed vain things to a man in my situation. At last, overcome with weariness, I sat down upon a rock, but I had hardly closed my eyes when I was startled by something which fell to the ground with a thud next to me.
It was a huge piece of fresh meat, and as I stared at it several more pieces rolled over the cliffs in different places. I had always thought that the stories the sailors told of the famous valley of diamonds, and of the cunning way which some merchants had devised for getting at the precious stones, were mere travelers' tales invented to give pleasure to the listeners, but now I perceived that they were surely true. These merchants came to the valley at the time when the eagles, which keep their nests in the rocks, had hatched their young. The merchants then threw great lumps of meat into the valley. These, falling with so much force upon the diamonds, were sure to take up some of the precious stones with them, when the eagles pounced upon the meat and carried it off to their nests to feed their hungry broods. Then the merchants, scaring away the parent birds with shouts and drums, would secure their diamonds. Until this moment I had looked upon the valley as my grave, for I had seen no possibility of getting out of it alive, but now I took courage and began to plan my escape. I began by picking up all the largest diamonds I could find and storing them carefully in the leathern wallet which had held my food; this I tied securely to my belt. I then chose the piece of meat which seemed most suited to my purpose, and with the aid of my turban bound it firmly to my back; this done I laid down upon my face and awaited the coming of the eagles. I soon heard the flapping of their mighty wings above me, and had the satisfaction of feeling one of them seize upon my piece of meat, and me with it, and rise slowly towards his nest, into which he presently dropped me. Luckily for me the merchants were on the watch, and making noise with their drums they rushed to the nest scaring away the eagle. Their amazement was great when they discovered me, and also their disappointment. They started abusing me for having robbed them of their usual profit. I said: "I am sure, if you knew all that I have suffered, you would show more kindness towards me, and as for diamonds, I have enough here of the very best for all of us" So saying I showed them the diamonds. They then took me to their camp and examined my diamonds, they told me that they had never seen diamonds so big and beautiful.
I gave some diamonds to the merchants and kept the rest with me. I stayed with the merchants several days, and then as they were journeying homewards I gladly accompanied them. Our way lay across high mountains infested with frightful serpents, but we had the good luck to escape them and came at last to the seashore. Then we sailed to the isle of Rohat where the camphor trees grow to such a size that a hundred men could shelter under one of them with ease. The sap flows from an incision made high up in the tree into a vessel hung there to receive it, and soon hardens into the substance called camphor, but the tree itself withers up and dies when it has been so treated.
In this same island we saw the rhinoceros, an animal which is smaller than the elephant and larger than the buffalo. It has one horn about a yard long which is solid, but has a furrow from the base to the tip. Upon it is traced in white lines the figure of a man. The rhinoceros fights with the elephant, and transfixing him with his horn carries him off upon his head, but becoming blinded with the blood of his enemy, he falls helpless to the ground, and then comes the roc, and clutches them both up in his talons and takes them to feed his young. This doubtless astonishes you, but if you do not believe my tale go to Rohat and see for yourself. Before we left I exchanged one of my diamonds for much goodly merchandise by which I profited greatly on our homeward way. At last we reached Basra, and from there to Bagdad. First I gave away large sums of money to the poor, after which I settled down to enjoy tranquilly the riches I had gained with so much toil and pain.
Having thus related the adventures of his second voyage, Sindbad again bestowed a hundred gold coins upon Hindbad, inviting him to come again on the following day and hear how he fared upon his third voyage.

Friday, April 6, 2007

1st Voyage of Sindbad

I had inherited considerable wealth from my parents, and being young and foolish I at first wasted it recklessly upon every kind of pleasure. After spending away most of my wealth, I have decided to earn my wealth back by trading by sea. I sold all my household goods by public auction, and joined a company of merchants who traded by sea, embarking with them at Basra in a ship
We set sail and took our course towards India by the Persian Gulf, having the coast of Persia upon our left hand and upon our right the shores of Arabian peninsula. I was at first much troubled by the uneasy motion of the ship, but speedily recovered my health, and no more affected by sea-sickness.
From time to time we landed at various islands, where we sold or exchanged our merchandise, and one day, when the wind dropped suddenly, we found ourselves close to a small island like a green meadow, which only rose slightly above the surface of the water. Our sails were furled, and the captain gave permission to all who wished to land for a while and amuse themselves. I was among the number, but when after strolling about for some time we lighted a fire and sat down to enjoy the food which we had brought with us, we were startled by a sudden and violent trembling of the island. At the same moment those left upon the ship started yelling to us to come on board for our lives, since what we had taken for an island was nothing but the back of a sleeping whale. Those who were nearest to the boat threw themselves into it, others sprang into the sea, but before I could save myself the whale plunged suddenly into the depths of the ocean, leaving me clinging to a piece of the wood which we had brought to make our fire. Meanwhile a breeze had sprung up, and in the confusion that ensued on board our ship in hoisting the sails and taking up those who were in the boat and clinging to its sides, no one realized I was missing and I was left at the mercy of the waves.
All that day I floated up and down, and when night fell I despaired for my life; but I clung on to my frail support, and fell asleep and when I woke up again I noticed that I had drifted to an island.
The cliffs were high and steep, but luckily for me some tree-roots protruded in places, and by using them I climbed up at last, and stretched myself upon the turf at the top, where I lay, tired, till the afternoon. By that time I was very hungry, and after some searching I came upon some eatable herbs, and a spring of clear water. After eating and drinking I set out to explore the island. I reached a great plain where a grazing horse was tethered, and as I stood looking at it I heard voices talking , and in a moment a man appeared who asked me how I came upon the island. I told him my adventures, and heard in return that he was one of the grooms of Mihrage, the king of the island, and that each year they came to feed their master's horses in this plain. He took me to a cave where his companions were assembled, and when I had eaten the food they gave me. They were going back to their kingdom the next day and I was asked to join them.
Early the next morning we accordingly set out, and when we reached the capital I was graciously received by the king, to whom I related my adventures, upon which he ordered that I should be well cared for and provided with such things as I needed. Being a merchant I sought out men of my own profession, and particularly those who came from foreign countries, as I hoped in this way to hear news from Bagdad, and find out some means of returning thither, for the capital was situated upon the sea-shore, and visited by ships from all parts of the world. In the meantime I heard many curious things, and answered many questions concerning my own country. Also to pass the time of waiting I explored a little island named Cassel, which belonged to King Mihrage, and which was supposed to be inhabited by a spirit named Deggial. Indeed, the sailors assured me that often at night the playing of timbals could be heard upon it. However, I saw nothing strange upon my voyage, other than some fish that were full two hundred feet long and other fish that were only a feet long which had heads like owls.
One day after my return, as I went down to the quay, I saw a ship which had just cast anchor, and was discharging her cargo, while the merchants to whom it belonged were busily directing the removal of it to their warehouses. Drawing nearer I presently noticed that my own name was marked upon some of the packages, and after having carefully examined them, I felt sure that they were indeed those which I had put on board our ship at Basra. I then recognized the captain of the vessel, but as I was certain that he believed me to be dead, I went up to him and asked who owned the packages that I was looking at.
"There was on board my ship," he replied, "a merchant of Bagdad named Sindbad. One day he and several of my other passengers landed upon what we supposed to be an island, but which was really an enormous whale floating asleep upon the waves. No sooner did it feel upon its back the heat of the fire which had been kindled, than it plunged into the depths of the sea. Several of the people who were upon it perished in the waters, and among others this unlucky Sindbad. This merchandise is his, but I have resolved to dispose of it for the benefit of his family if I should ever chance to meet with them."
"Captain," said I, "I am that Sindbad whom you believe to be dead, and these are my possessions!"
When the captain heard these words he cried out in amazement, "Sindbad!!!. Did I not with my own eyes see Sindbad drown, and now you have the audacity to tell me that you are he! I should have taken you to be a just man, and yet for the sake of obtaining that which does not belong to you, you are ready to invent this horrible falsehood."
"Have patience, and do me the favor to hear my story," said I.
"Speak then," replied the captain, "I'm all attention."
So I told him of my escape and of my fortunate meeting with the king's grooms, and how kindly I had been received at the palace. Very soon I began to see that I had made some impression upon him, and after the arrival of some of the other merchants, who showed great joy at once more seeing me alive, he declared that he also recognized me.
I thanked him, and praised his honesty, begging him to accept several bales of merchandise in token of my gratitude, but he would take nothing. Of the choicest of my goods I prepared a present for King Mihrage, who was at first amazed, having known that I had lost my all. However, when I had explained to him how my bales had been miraculously restored to me, he graciously accepted my gifts, and in return gave me many valuable things. I then took leave of him, and exchanging my merchandise for sandal and aloes wood, camphor, nutmegs, cloves, pepper, and ginger, I embarked upon the same vessel and traded so successfully upon our homeward voyage that I arrived in Basra with about one hundred thousand sequins. My family received me with as much joy as I felt upon seeing them once more. I bought land and slaves, and built a great house in which I resolved to live happily, and in the enjoyment of all the pleasures of life to forget my past sufferings.
Here Sindbad paused, and commanded the musicians to play again, while the feasting continued until evening. When the time came for the porter to depart, Sindbad gave him a purse containing one hundred gold coins, saying, "Take this, Hindbad, and go home, but to-morrow come again and you shall hear more of my adventures."
The porter happily went home, where his wife and children thanked their lucky stars.
The next day Hindbad, dressed in his best, returned to the voyager's house, and was received with open arms. As soon as all the guests had arrived the banquet began as before, and when they had feasted long and merrily, Sindbad addressed them thus:
"My friends, I beg that you will give me your attention while I relate the adventures of my second voyage, which you will find even more astonishing than the first."

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor - The begining

Once upon a time a poor porter named Hindbad lived in Bagdad, who on a very hot day was sent to carry a heavy load from one end of the city to the other. Midway to his destination, he was so tired and wanted to rest a bit. He sat down to rest in the shade of a grand house. A cool breeze was blowing from the gardens of the grand house he sat in front of. The scent of exquisite perfumes came from the open windows of the grand house. He could hear the sound of soothing music from inside the grand house which mingled with the chirping of the birds relaxing in the gardens of the house.
He wondered who lived in this magnificent house which he had never seen before, the street in which it stood being one which he seldom had occasion to pass. To satisfy his curiosity he went up to the guards who stood at the door, and asked one of them the name of the master of the mansion.
The guard replied "It belongs to the noble Sindbad the Sailor, that famous traveler who sailed over every sea upon which the sun shines"
The porter, who had often heard people speak of the immense wealth of Sindbad, could not help feeling envious of one whose lot seemed to be as happy as his own was miserable. Casting his eyes up to the sky he exclaimed aloud, "Consider, O God Almighty, the differences between Sindbad's life and mine. Every day I suffer numerous hardships and misfortunes, and have to do hard work to get even a single meal to keep myself and my family alive, while the lucky Sindbad spends money to live a life full of luxury ! What has he done that you should give him this pleasant life-- what have I done to deserve all the hardships?"
A minute later, a servant came out of the palace, and said, "Come with me, the noble Sindbad, my master, wishes to speak to you."
Hindbad feared that his unguarded words might have been heard by Sindbad, so he tried to excuse himself upon the pretext that he has a delivery to complete. However the servant promised him that it would be taken care of, and urged him to see Sindbad.
He followed the servant into a vast room, where Sindbad and his friends sat around a great table full of delicacies. Sindbad, making a sign to him to approach, caused him to be seated at his right hand, and gave him a plate full of food, and glass of excellent wine, and asked his name and occupation.
"My lord," replied the porter, "I am called Hindbad and I am a porter"
"I am glad to see you here," continued Sindbad. "I wish you to tell me what it was that you said just now in the street." For Sindbad, passing by the open window before the feast began, had heard his complaint and therefore had sent for him.
At this question Hindbad replied, "My lord, I confess that, overcome by weariness, I uttered indiscreet words, which I pray you to pardon me."
"Oh!" replied Sindbad, "I understand your situation and can pity you. You doubtless imagine that I have acquired all the wealth and luxury that you see me enjoy, without difficulty or danger, but that is not the case. I have only reached this happy state after having suffered for years every possible kind of hardship and danger.
"Yes, my noble friends," he continued, addressing the company, "l assure you that my adventures have been strange enough to deter even the most brave men from seeking wealth by traversing the seas. I will now give you a full and true story of my adventures."
Thus Sindbad started relating his adventures to his friends and the porter.