The Seven Voyages Of Sindbad The Sailor





In the times of the Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid there lived in Bagdad a

poor porter named Hindbad, who on a very hot day was sent to carry a

heavy load from one end of the city to the other. Before he had

accomplished half the distance he was so tired that, finding himself in

a quiet street where the pavement was sprinkled with rose water, and a

cool breeze was blowing, he set his burden upon the ground, and sat

down to rest in the shade of a grand house. Very soon he decided that

he could not have chosen a pleasanter place; a delicious perfume of

aloes wood and pastilles came from the open windows and mingled with

the scent of the rose water which steamed up from the hot pavement.

Within the palace he heard some music, as of many instruments cunningly

played, and the melodious warble of nightingales and other birds, and

by this, and the appetising smell of many dainty dishes of which he

presently became aware, he judged that feasting and merry making were

going on. 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

some splendidly dressed servants who stood at the door, and asked one

of them the name of the master of the mansion.



"What," replied he, "do you live in Bagdad, and not know that here

lives the noble Sindbad the Sailor, that famous traveller 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, Mighty Creator of all things, the differences between

Sindbad's life and mine. Every day I suffer a thousand hardships and

misfortunes, and have hard work to get even enough bad barley bread to

keep myself and my family alive, while the lucky Sindbad spends money

right and left and lives upon the fat of the land! What has he done

that you should give him this pleasant life--what have I done to

deserve so hard a fate?"



So saying he stamped upon the ground like one beside himself with

misery and despair. Just at this moment a servant came out of the

palace, and taking him by the arm said, "Come with me, the noble

Sindbad, my master, wishes to speak to you."



Hindbad was not a little surprised at this summons, and feared that his

unguarded words might have drawn upon him the displeasure of Sindbad,

so he tried to excuse himself upon the pretext that he could not leave

the burden which had been entrusted to him in the street. However the

lackey promised him that it should be taken care of, and urged him to

obey the call so pressingly that at last the porter was obliged to

yield.



He followed the servant into a vast room, where a great company was

seated round a table covered with all sorts of delicacies. In the

place of honour sat a tall, grave man whose long white beard gave him a

venerable air. Behind his chair stood a crowd of attendants eager to

minister to his wants. This was the famous Sindbad himself. The

porter, more than ever alarmed at the sight of so much magnificence,

tremblingly saluted the noble company. Sindbad, making a sign to him

to approach, caused him to be seated at his right hand, and himself

heaped choice morsels upon his plate, and poured out for him a draught

of excellent wine, and presently, when the banquet drew to a close,

spoke to him familiarly, asking his name and occupation.



"My lord," replied the porter, "I am called Hindbad."



"I am glad to see you here," continued Sindbad. "And I will answer for

the rest of the company that they are equally pleased, but 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 was covered with confusion, and hanging down

his head, replied, "My lord, I confess that, overcome by weariness and

ill-humour, I uttered indiscreet words, which I pray you to pardon me."



"Oh!" replied Sindbad, "do not imagine that I am so unjust as to blame

you. On the contrary, I understand your situation and can pity you.

Only you appear to be mistaken about me, and I wish to set you right.

You doubtless imagine that I have acquired all the wealth and luxury

that you see me enjoy without difficulty or danger, but this is far

indeed from being the case. I have only reached this happy state after

having for years suffered every possible kind of toil and danger.



"Yes, my noble friends," he continued, addressing the company, "I

assure you that my adventures have been strange enough to deter even

the most avaricious men from seeking wealth by traversing the seas.

Since you have, perhaps, heard but confused accounts of my seven

voyages, and the dangers and wonders that I have met with by sea and

land, I will now give you a full and true account of them, which I

think you will be well pleased to hear."



As Sindbad was relating his adventures chiefly on account of the

porter, he ordered, before beginning his tale, that the burden which

had been left in the street should be carried by some of his own

servants to the place for which Hindbad had set out at first, while he

remained to listen to the story.





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