ABDURREHMAN THE MOOR'S STORY OF THE ROC

There was once a man of the people of Morocco, called Abdurrehman the Moor, and he was known, to boot, as the Chinaman, for his long sojourn in Cathay. He had journeyed far and wide and traversed many seas and deserts and was wont to relate wondrous tales of his travels. He was once cast upon an island, where he abode a long while and returning thence to his native country, brought with him the quill of the wing-feather of a young roe, whilst yet unhatched and in the egg; and this quill was big enough to hold a skinful of water, for it is said that the length of the young roe's wing, when it comes forth of the egg, is a thousand fathoms. The folk marvelled at this quill, when they saw it, and Abdurrehman related to them the following adventure.

He was on a voyage in the China seas, with a company of merchants, when they sighted a great island so they steered for it and casting anchor before it, saw that it was large and spacious. The ship's people went ashore to get wood and water, taking with them skins and ropes and axes, and presently espied a great white gleaming dome, a hundred cubits high. So they made towards it and drawing near, found that it was a roe's egg and fell on it with axes and stones and sticks, till they uncovered the young bird and found it as it were a firm-set mountain. They went about to pluck out one of its wing-feathers, but could not win to do so, save by helping one another, for all the feathers were not full grown; after which they took what they could carry of the young bird's flesh and cutting the quill away from the feather-part, returned to the ship. Then they spread the canvas and putting out to sea, sailed with a fair wind all that night, till the sun rose, when they saw the old roc come flying after them, as he were a vast cloud, with a rock in his talons, like a great mountain, bigger than the ship. As soon as he came over the vessel, he let fall the rock upon it; but the ship, having great way on her, forewent the rock, which fell into the sea with a terrible crash. So God decreed them safety and delivered them from destruction; and they cooked the young bird's flesh and ate it. Now there were amongst them old grey bearded men; and when they awoke on the morrow, they found that their beards had turned black, nor did any who had eaten of the young roc ever grow grey. Some held the cause of the return of youth to them and the ceasing of hoariness from them to be that they had heated the pot with arrow-wood, whilst others would have it that it came of eating the young roe's flesh; and this is indeed a wonder of wonders.




Prev
Home
Next