Calcutta (1814-18) Text. 183

Sindbad the Sailor and Hindbad the Porter


As the version of the sixth and seventh voyages of Sindbad the Sailor contained in (197) the Calcutta Edition (1814-18) of the first two hundred Nights and in the text of the Voyages published by M. Langles (Paris, 1814) differs very materially from that of the complete Calcutta (1839-42) Edition (198) (which is, in this case, practically identical with those of Boulac and Breslau), adopted by me as my standard text in the translation of "The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night," the story of the seventh voyage in particular turning upon an altogether different set of incidents, related nearly as in the old version of M. Galland, I now give a translation of the text of the two voyages in question afforded by the Calcutta (1814-18) Edition, corrected and completed by collation with that of M. Langles, from which it differs only in being slightly less full. It will be observed that in this version of the story the name Sindbad is reserved for the Sailor, the porter being called Hindbad.


On the morrow they (199) returned to their place, as of their wont, and betook themselves to eating and drinking and merry-making and sporting till the last of the day, when Sindbad bade them hearken to his relation concerning his sixth voyage, the which (quoth he) is of the most extraordinary of pleasant stories and the most startling [for that which it compriseth] of tribulations and disasters. Then said he,


"When I returned from my fifth voyage, I gave myself up to eating and drinking and passed my time in solace and delight and forgot that which I had suffered of stresses and afflictions, nor was it long before the thought of travel again presented itself to my mind and my soul hankered after the sea. So I brought out the goods and binding up the bales, departed from Baghdad, [intending] for certain of the lands, and came to the sea-coast, where I embarked in a stout ship, in company with a number of other merchants of like mind with myself, and we [set out and] sailed till we came among certain distant islands and found ourselves in difficult and dangerous case.

[One day], as the ship was sailing along, and we unknowing where we were, behold, the captain came down [from the mast] and casting his turban from his head, fell to buffeting his face and plucking at his beard and weeping and supplicating [God for deliverance]. We asked him what ailed him, and he answered, saying, 'Know, O my masters, that the ship is fallen among shallows and drifteth upon a sand-bank of the sea. Another moment [and we shall be upon it]. If we clear the bank, [well and good]; else, we are all dead men and not one of us will be saved; wherefore pray ye to God the Most High, so haply He may deliver us from these deadly perils, or we shall lose our lives.' So saying, he mounted [the mast] and set the sail, but at that moment a contrary wind smote the ship, and it rose upon the crest of the waves and sank down again into the trough of the sea.

Now there was before us a high mountain, (200) rising [abruptly] from the sea, and the ship fell off into an eddy, (201) which bore it on till presently it struck upon the skirt (202) of the mountain and broke in sunder; whereupon the captain came down [from the mast], weeping, and said, 'God's will be done! Take leave of one another and look yourselves out graves from to-day, for we have fallen into a predicament (203) from which there is no escape, and never yet hath any been cast away here and come off alive.' So all the folk fell a-weeping and gave themselves up for lost, despairing of deliverance; friend took leave of friend and sore was the mourning and lamentation; for that hope was cut off and they were left without guide or pilot. (204) Then all who were in the ship landed on the skirt of the mountain and found themselves on a long island, whose shores were strewn with [wrecks], beyond count or reckoning, [of] ships that had been cast away [there] and whose crews had perished; and there also were dry bones and dead bodies, heaped upon one another, and goods without number and riches past count So we abode confounded, drunken, amazed, humbling ourselves [in supplication to God] and repenting us [of having exposed ourselves to the perils of travel]; but repentance availed not in that place.

In this island is a river of very sweet water, issuing from the shore of the sea and entering in at a wide cavern in the skirt of an inaccessible mountain, and the stones of the island are all limpid sparkling crystal and jacinths of price. Therein also is a spring of liquid, welling up like [molten] pitch, and when it cometh to the shore of the island, the fish swallow it, then return and cast it up, and it becometh changed from its condition and that which it was aforetime; and it is crude ambergris. Moreover, the trees of the island are all of the most precious aloes-wood, both Chinese and Comorin; but there is no way of issue from the place, for it is as an abyss midmost the sea; the steepness of its shore forbiddeth the drawing up of ships, and if any approach the mountain, they fall into the eddy aforesaid; nor is there any resource (205) in that island.

So we abode there, daily expecting death, and whoso of us had with him a day's victual ate it in five days, and after this he died; and whoso had with him a month's victual ate it in five months and died also. As for me, I had with me great plenty of victual; so I buried it in a certain place and brought it out, [little by little,] and fed on it; and we ceased not to be thus, burying one the other, till all died but myself and I abode alone, having buried the last of my companions, and but little victual remained to me. So I said in myself, 'Who will bury me in this place?' And I dug me a grave and abode in expectation of death, for that I was in a state of exhaustion. Then, of the excess of my repentance, I blamed and reproached myself for my much [love of] travel and said, 'How long wilt thou thus imperil thyself?' And I abode as I were a madman, unable to rest; but, as I was thus melancholy and distracted, God the Most High inspired me with an idea, and it was that I looked at the river aforesaid, as it entered in at the mouth of the cavern in the skirt of the mountain, and said in myself, 'Needs must this water have issue in some place.'

So I arose and gathering wood and planks from the wrecks, wrought of them the semblance of a boat [to wit, a raft,] and bound it fast with ropes, saying, 'I will embark thereon and fare with this water into the inward of the mountain. If it bring me to the mainland or to a place where I may find relief and safety, [well and good]; else I shall [but] perish, even as my companions have perished.' Then I collected of the riches and gold and precious stuffs, cast up there, whose owners had perished, a great matter, and of jacinths and crude ambergris and emeralds somewhat past count, and laid all this on the raft [together with what was left me of victual]. Then I launched it on the river and seating myself upon it, put my trust in God the Most High and committed myself to the stream.

The raft fared on with me, running along the surface of the river, and entered into the inward of the mountain, where the light of day forsook me and I abode dazed and stupefied, unknowing whither I went. Whenas I hungered, I ate a little of the victual I had with me, till it was all spent and I abode expecting the mercy of the Lord of all creatures. (206) Presently I found myself in a strait [channel] in the darkness and my head rubbed against the roof of the cave; and in this case I abode awhile, knowing not night from day, whilst anon the channel grew straiter and anon widened out; and whenas my breast was straitened and I was confounded at my case, sleep took me and I knew neither little nor much.

When I awoke and opened my eyes, I found myself [in the open air] and the raft moored to the bank of the stream, whilst about me were folk of the blacks of Hind. When they saw that I was awake, they came up to me, to question me; so I rose to them and saluted them. They bespoke me in a tongue I knew not, whilst I deemed myself in a dream, and for the excess of my joy, I was like to fly and my reason refused to obey me. Then there came to my mind the verses of the poet and I recited, saying:

          Let destiny with loosened rein its course appointed fare And lie thou down to sleep by night, with heart devoid of care;
          For 'twixt the closing of an eye and th'opening thereof, God hath it in His power to change a case from foul to fair.

When they heard me speak in Arabic, one of them came up to me and saluting me [in that language], questioned me of my case. Quoth I, 'What [manner of men] are ye and what country is this?' 'O my brother,' answered he, 'we are husbandmen and come to this river, to draw water, wherewithal to water our fields; and whilst we were thus engaged to-day, as of wont, this boat appeared to us on the surface of the water, issuing from the inward of yonder mountain. So we came to it and finding thee asleep therein, moored it to the shore, against thou shouldst awake. Acquaint us, therefore, with thy history and tell us how thou camest hither and whence thou enteredst this river and what land is behind yonder mountain, for that we have never till now known any make his way thence to us.' But I said to them, 'Give me somewhat to eat and after question me.' So they brought me food and I ate and my spirits revived and I was refreshed. Then I related to them all that had befallen me, whereat they were amazed and confounded and said, 'By Allah, this is none other than a marvellous story, and needs must we carry thee to our king, that thou mayst acquaint him therewith.' So they carried me before their king, and I kissed his hand and saluted him.

Now he was the king of the land of Serendib, (207) and he welcomed me and entreated me with kindness, bidding me be seated and admitting me to his table and converse. So I talked with him and called down blessings upon him and he took pleasure in my discourse and showed me satisfaction and said to me, 'What is thy name?' 'O my lord,' answered I, 'my name is Sindbad the Sailor;' and he said, 'And what countryman art thou?' Quoth I, 'I am of Baghdad.' 'And how earnest thou hither?' asked he. So I told him my story and he marvelled mightily thereat and said, 'By Allah, O Sindbad, this thy story is marvellous and it behoveth that it be written in characters of gold.'

Then they brought the raft before him and I said to him, 'O my lord, I am in thy hands, I and all my good.' He looked at the raft and seeing therein jacinths and emeralds and crude ambergris, the like whereof was not in his treasuries, marvelled and was amazed at this. Then said he, 'O Sindbad, God forbid that we should covet that which God the Most High hath vouchsafed unto thee! Nay, it behoveth us rather to further thee on thy return to thine own country.' So I called down blessings on him and thanked him. Then he signed to one of his attendants, who took me and established me in a goodly lodging, and the king assigned me a daily allowance and pages to wait on me. And every day I used to go in to him and he entertained me and entreated me friendly and delighted in my converse; and as often as our assembly broke up, I went out and walked about the town and the island, diverting myself by viewing them.

Now this island is under the Equinoctial line; its night is still twelve hours and its day the like. Its length is fourscore parasangs and its breadth thirty, and it is a great island, stretching between a lofty mountain and a deep valley. This mountain is visible at a distance of three days' journey and therein are various kinds of jacinths and other precious stones and metals of all kinds and all manner spice-trees, and its soil is of emery, wherewith jewels are wrought. In its streams are diamonds, and pearls are in its rivers. (208) I ascended to its summit and diverted myself by viewing all the marvels therein, which are such as beggar description; after which I returned to the king and sought of him permission to return to my own country. He gave me leave, after great pressure, and bestowed on me abundant largesse from his treasuries. Moreover, he gave me a present and a sealed letter and said to me, 'Carry this to the Khalif Haroun er Reshid and salute him for us with abundant salutation.' And I said, 'I hear and obey.'

Now this letter was written with ultramarine upon the skin of the hog-deer, the which is goodlier than parchment or paper and inclineth unto yellow, and was to the following effect: 'From the King of Hind, before whom are a thousand elephants and on the battlements of his palace a thousand jewels, [to the Khalif Haroun er Reshid, greeting]. To proceed: (209) we send thee some small matter of presents, which do thou accept and be to us as a brother and a friend, for that the love of thee aboundeth in our heart and we would have thee to know that we look to thee for an answer. Indeed, we are sharers with thee in love and fear, ceasing (210) never to do thee honour; and for a beginning, we send thee the Book of the Quintessence of Balms and a present after the measure of that which is fallen to our lot. Indeed, this is unworthy of thy rank, but we beseech thee, O brother, to favour us by accepting it, and peace be on thee!'

Now this present was a cup of ruby, a span high and a finger's length broad, full of fine pearls, each a mithcal (211) in weight and a bed covered with the skin of the serpent that swalloweth the elephant, marked with spots, each the bigness of a dinar, whereon whoso sitteth shall never sicken; also an hundred thousand mithcals of Indian aloes-wood and thirty grains of camphor, each the bigness of a pistachio-nut, and a slave-girl with her paraphernalia, a charming creature, as she were the resplendent moon. Then the king took leave of me, commending me to the merchants and the captain of the ship, and I set out, with that which was entrusted to my charge and my own good, and we ceased not to pass from island to island and from country to country, till we came to Baghdad, when I entered my house and foregathered with my family and brethren.

Then I took the present and a token of service from myself to the Khalif and [presenting myself before him], kissed his hands and laid the whole before him, together with the King of Hind's letter. He read the letter and taking the present, rejoiced therein with an exceeding joy and entreated me with the utmost honour. Then said he to me, 'O Sindbad, is this king, indeed, such as he avoucheth in this letter?' I kissed the earth and answered, saying, 'O my lord, I myself have seen the greatness of his kingship to be manifold that which he avoucheth in his letter. On the day of his audience, (212) there is set up for him a throne on the back of a huge elephant, eleven cubits high, whereon he sitteth and with him are his officers and pages and session-mates, standing in two ranks on his right hand and on his left. At his head standeth a man, having in his hand a golden javelin, and behind him another, bearing a mace of the same metal, tipped with an emerald, a span long and an inch thick. When he mounteth, a thousand riders take horse with him, arrayed in gold and silk; and whenas he rideth forth, he who is before him proclaimeth and saith, "This is the king, mighty of estate and high of dominion!" And he proceedeth to praise him on this wise and endeth by saying, "This is the king, lord of the crown the like whereof nor Solomon (213) nor Mihraj (214) possessed!" Then is he silent, whilst he who is behind the king proclaimeth and saith, "He shall die! He shall die! And again I say, he shall die!" And the other rejoineth, saying, "Extolled be the perfection of the Living One who dieth not!" And by reason of his justice and judgment (215) and understanding, there is no Cadi in his [capital] city; but all the people of his realm distinguish truth from falsehood and know [and practise] truth and right for themselves.'

The Khalif marvelled at my speech and said, 'How great is this king! Indeed, his letter testifieth of him; and as for the magnificence of his dominion, thou hast acquainted us with that which thou hast seen; so, by Allah, he hath been given both wisdom and dominion.' Then he bestowed on me largesse and dismissed me, so I returned to my house and paid the poor-rate (216) and gave alms and abode in my former easy and pleasant case, forgetting the grievous stresses I had suffered. Yea, I cast out from my heart the cares of travel and traffic and put away travail from my thought and gave myself up to eating and drinking and pleasure and delight."


When Sindbad the Sailor had made an end of his story, all who were present marvelled at that which had befallen him. Then he bade his treasurer give the porter an hundred mithcals of gold and dismissed him, charging him return on the morrow, with the rest of the folk, to hear the history of his seventh voyage. So the porter went away to his house, rejoicing; and on the morrow he presented himself with the rest of the guests, who sat down, as of their wont, and occupied themselves with eating and drinking and merry-making till the end of the day, when their host bade them hearken to the story of his seventh voyage. Quoth Sindbad the Sailor,


"When I [returned from my sixth voyage, I] forswore travel and renounced commerce, saying in myself, 'What hath befallen me sufficeth me.' So I abode at home and passed my time in pleasance and delight, till, one day, as I sat at mine ease, plying the wine-cup [with my friends], there came a knocking at the door. The doorkeeper opened and found without one of the Khalif's pages, who came in to me and said, 'The Commander of the Faithful biddeth thee to him.' So I accompanied him to the presence of the Khalif and kissing the earth before him, saluted him. He bade me welcome and entreated me with honour and said to me, 'O Sindbad, I have an occasion with thee, which I would have thee accomplish for me.' So I kissed his hand and said, 'O my lord, what is the lord's occasion with the slave?' Quoth he, 'I would have thee go to the King of Serendib and carry him our letter and our present, even as he sent us a present and a letter.'

At this I trembled and replied, 'By the Most Great God, O my lord, I have taken a loathing to travel, and whenas any maketh mention to me of travel by sea or otherwise, I am like to swoon for affright, by reason of that which hath befallen me and what I have suffered of hardships and perils. Indeed, I have no jot of inclination left for this, and I have sworn never again to leave Baghdad.' And I related to him all that had befallen me, first and last; whereat he marvelled exceedingly and said, 'By the Most Great God, O Sindbad, never was heard from time immemorial of one whom there betided that which hath betided thee and well may it behove thee never again to mention travel! But for my sake go thou this once and carry my letter to the King of Serendib and return in haste, if it be the will of God the Most High, so we may not remain indebted to the king for favour and courtesy.' And I answered him with 'Hearkening and obedience,' for that I dared not gainsay his commandment

Then he gave me the present and letter and money for my expenses. So I kissed his hand and going out from before him, repaired to the sea-coast, where I took ship with many other merchants and we sailed days and nights, till, after a prosperous voyage, God vouchsafed us a safe arrival at the island of Serendib. We landed and went up to the city, where I carried the letter and present to the king and kissing the earth fell [prostrate before him], invoking blessings on him. When he saw me, 'Welcome to thee, O Sindbad!' quoth he. 'By the Most Great God, we have longed for thy sight and the day is blessed on which we behold thee once more.' Then he took my hand and seating me by his side, welcomed me and entreated me friendly and rejoiced in me with an exceeding joy; after which he fell to conversing with me and caressing me and said, 'What brings thee to us, O Sindbad?' I kissed his hand and thanking him, said, 'O my lord, I bring thee a present and a letter from my lord the Khalif Haroun er Reshid.' Then I brought out to him the present and the letter and he read the latter and accepted the former, rejoicing therein with an exceeding joy.

Now this present was a horse worth ten thousand dinars and all its housings and trappings of gold set with jewels, and a book and five different kinds of suits of apparel and an hundred pieces of fine white linen cloths of Egypt and silks of Suez and Cufa and Alexandria and a crimson carpet and another of Tebaristan (217) make and an hundred pieces of cloth of silk and flax mingled and a goblet of glass of the time of the Pharaohs, a finger-breadth thick and a span wide, amiddleward which was the figure of a lion and before him an archer kneeling, with his arrow drawn to the head, and the table of Solomon son of David, (218) on whom be peace; and the contents of the letter were as follows: 'From the Khalif Haroun er Reshid, unto whom and to his forefathers (on whom be peace) God hath vouchsafed the rank of the noble and exceeding glory, to the august, God-aided Sultan, greeting. Thy letter hath reached us and we rejoiced therein and have sent thee the book [called] "The Divan of Hearts and the Garden of Wits," of the translation whereof when thou hast taken cognizance, its excellence will be established in thine eyes; and the superscription of this book we have made unto thee. Moreover, we send thee divers other kingly presents; (219) so do thou favour us by accepting them, and peace be on thee!'

When the king had read this letter, he rejoiced with an exceeding joy and bestowed on me great store of presents and entreated me with the utmost honour. Some days after this, I sought of him leave to depart, but he granted it not to me save after much pressing. So I took leave of him and shipped with divers merchants and others, intending for my own country and having no desire for travel or traffic. We sailed on, without ceasing, till we had passed many islands; but, one day, as we fared on over a certain tract of the sea, there came forth upon us a multitude of boats full of men like devils, clad in chain-mail and armed with swords and daggers and bows and arrows, and surrounded us on every side. They entreated us after the cruellest fashion, smiting and wounding and slaying those who made head against them, and taking the ship, with the crew and all that were therein, carried us to an island, where they sold us all for a low price. A rich man bought me and taking me into his house, gave me to eat and drink and clothed me and entreated me kindly, till my heart was comforted and I was somewhat restored.

One day my master said to me, 'Knowest thou not some art or handicraft?' And I answered, saying, 'O my lord, I am a merchant and know nought but traffic.' Quoth he, 'Knowest thou how to shoot with a bow and arrows?' And I replied, 'Yes, I know that.' So he brought me a bow and arrows and mounting me behind him on an elephant, set out with me, at the last of the night, and fared on till we came to a forest of great trees; whereupon he made me climb a high and stout tree and giving me the bow and arrows, said to me, 'Sit here, and when the elephants come hither by day, shoot at them, so haply thou shalt hit one of them; and if any of them fall, come at nightfall and tell me.' Then he went away and left me trembling and fearful. I abode hidden in the tree till the sun rose, when the elephants came out and fared hither and thither among the trees, and I gave not over shooting at them with arrows, till I brought down one of them. So, at eventide, I went and told my master, who rejoiced in me and rewarded me; then he came and carried away the dead elephant.

On this wise I abode a while of time, every day shooting an elephant, whereupon my master came and carried it away, till, one day, as I sat hidden in the tree, there came up elephants without number, roaring and trumpeting, so that meseemed the earth trembled for the din. They all made for the tree whereon I was and the girth whereof was fifty cubits, and compassed it about. Then a huge elephant came up to the tree and winding his trunk about it, tugged at it, till he plucked it up by the roots and cast it to the ground. I fell among the elephants, and the great elephant, coming up to me, as I lay aswoon for affright, wound his trunk about me and tossing me on to his back, made off with me, accompanied by the others; nor did he leave faring on with me, and I absent from the world, till he brought me to a certain place and casting me down from off his back, went away, followed by the rest. I lay there awhile, till my trouble subsided and my senses returned to me, when I sat up, deeming myself in a dream, and found myself on a great hill, stretching far and wide and all of elephants' bones. So I knew that this was their burial-place and that they had brought me thither on account of the bones.

Then I arose and fared on a day and a night, till I came to the house of my master, who saw me pale and disfeatured for fear and hunger. He rejoiced in my return and said to me, 'By Allah, thou hast made my heart ache on thine account; for I went and finding the tree torn up by the roots, doubted not but the elephants had destroyed thee. Tell me then how it was with thee.' So I told him what had befallen me and he marvelled exceedingly and rejoiced, saying, 'Knowst thou where this hill is?' 'Yes, O my lord,' answered I. So he took me up with him on an elephant and we rode till we came to the elephants' burial-place.

When he saw those many bones, he rejoiced therein with an exceeding joy and carried away what he had a mind to thereof. Then we returned to his house and he entreated me with increased favour and said to me, 'Verily, O my son, thou hast directed us to a passing great gain, may God requite thee with all good! Thou art free for the sake of God the Most High. Every year these elephants used to kill of us much people on account of these bones; but God delivered thee from them and thou hast done us good service in the matter of these bones, of which thou hast given us to know; wherefore thou meritest a great recompense, and thou art free.' 'O my lord,' answered I, 'may God free thy neck from the fire! I desire of thee that thou give me leave to return to my own country.' 'So be it,' replied he; 'but we have a fair, on occasion whereof the merchants come hither to us and take of us these elephants' bones. The time of the fair is now at hand, and when they come to us, I will send thee with them and give thee somewhat to bring thee to thine own country.'

I blessed him and thanked him and abode with him in all honour and consideration, till, after a little, the merchants came, even as he had said, and bought and sold and bartered; and when they were about to depart, my master came to me and said, 'The merchants are about to depart; arise, that thou mayst go with them to thy country.' So I betook myself to the folk, and behold, they had bought great store of elephants' bones and bound up their loads and embarked in the ship; and my master took passage for me with them and paid my hire and all that was chargeable upon me. (220) Moreover, he gave me great store of goods and we set sail and passed from island to island, till we traversed the sea and arrived at the port of our destination; whereupon the merchants brought out their goods and sold; and I also brought out that which was with me and sold it at a good profit.

Then I bought of the best and finest of the produce and rarities of the country and all I had a mind to and a good hackney (221) and we set out again and traversed the deserts from country to country till we came to Baghdad. Then I went in to the Khalif and saluted him and kissed his hand; after which I acquainted him with all that had passed and that which had befallen me. He rejoiced in my deliverance and thanked God the Most High; then he caused write my story in letters of gold and I betook myself to my house and foregathered with my brethren and family. This, then," added Sindbad, "is the last of that which befell me in my travels, and praise be to God, the One, the Creator, the Maker!"

When Sindbad the Sailor had made an end of his story, he bade his servant give the porter an hundred mithcals of gold and said to him, "How now, my brother! Hast ever in the world heard of one whom such calamities have betided as have betided me and hath any suffered that which I have suffered of afflictions or undergone that which I have undergone of hardships? Wherefore it behoveth that I have these pleasures in requital of that which I have undergone of travail and humiliations." So the porter came forward and kissing the merchant's hands, said to him, "O my lord, thou hast indeed suffered grievous perils and hast well deserved these bounteous favours [that God hath vouchsafed thee]. Abide, then, O my lord, in thy delights and put away from thee [the remembrance of] thy troubles; and may God the Most High crown thine enjoyments with perfection and accomplish thy days in pleasance until the hour of thine admission [to His mercy]!"

Therewithal Sindbad the Sailor bestowed largesse upon him and made him his boon-companion, and he abode, leaving him not night or day, to the last of their lives. Praise be to God the Glorious, the Omnipotent, the Strong, the Exalted of estate, Creator of heaven and earth and land and sea, to whom belongeth glorification! Amen. Amen. Praise be to God, the Lord of the Worlds! Amen.