Seventh And Last Voyage

: The Arabian Nights Entertainments

After my sixth voyage I was quite determined that I would go to sea no

more. I was now of an age to appreciate a quiet life, and I had run

risks enough. I only wished to end my days in peace. One day,

however, when I was entertaining a number of my friends, I was told

that an officer of the Caliph wished to speak to me, and when he was

admitted he bade me follow him into the presence of Haroun al Raschid,

which I ac
ordingly did. After I had saluted him, the Caliph said:

"I have sent for you, Sindbad, because I need your services. I have

chosen you to bear a letter and a gift to the King of Serendib in

return for his message of friendship."

The Caliph's commandment fell upon me like a thunderbolt.

"Commander of the Faithful," I answered, "I am ready to do all that

your Majesty commands, but I humbly pray you to remember that I am

utterly disheartened by the unheard of sufferings I have undergone.

Indeed, I have made a vow never again to leave Bagdad."

With this I gave him a long account of some of my strangest adventures,

to which he listened patiently.

"I admit," said he, "that you have indeed had some extraordinary

experiences, but I do not see why they should hinder you from doing as

I wish. You have only to go straight to Serendib and give my message,

then you are free to come back and do as you will. But go you must; my

honour and dignity demand it."

Seeing that there was no help for it, I declared myself willing to

obey; and the Caliph, delighted at having got his own way, gave me a

thousand sequins for the expenses of the voyage. I was soon ready to

start, and taking the letter and the present I embarked at Balsora, and

sailed quickly and safely to Serendib. Here, when I had disclosed my

errand, I was well received, and brought into the presence of the king,

who greeted me with joy.

"Welcome, Sindbad," he cried. "I have thought of you often, and

rejoice to see you once more."

After thanking him for the honour that he did me, I displayed the

Caliph's gifts. First a bed with complete hangings all cloth of gold,

which cost a thousand sequins, and another like to it of crimson stuff.

Fifty robes of rich embroidery, a hundred of the finest white linen

from Cairo, Suez, Cufa, and Alexandria. Then more beds of different

fashion, and an agate vase carved with the figure of a man aiming an

arrow at a lion, and finally a costly table, which had once belonged to

King Solomon. The King of Serendib received with satisfaction the

assurance of the Caliph's friendliness toward him, and now my task

being accomplished I was anxious to depart, but it was some time before

the king would think of letting me go. At last, however, he dismissed

me with many presents, and I lost no time in going on board a ship,

which sailed at once, and for four days all went well. On the fifth

day we had the misfortune to fall in with pirates, who seized our

vessel, killing all who resisted, and making prisoners of those who

were prudent enough to submit at once, of whom I was one. When they

had despoiled us of all we possessed, they forced us to put on vile

raiment, and sailing to a distant island there sold us for slaves. I

fell into the hands of a rich merchant, who took me home with him, and

clothed and fed me well, and after some days sent for me and questioned

me as to what I could do.

I answered that I was a rich merchant who had been captured by pirates,

and therefore I knew no trade.

"Tell me," said he, "can you shoot with a bow?"

I replied that this had been one of the pastimes of my youth, and that

doubtless with practice my skill would come back to me.

Upon this he provided me with a bow and arrows, and mounting me with

him upon his own elephant took the way to a vast forest which lay far

from the town. When we had reached the wildest part of it we stopped,

and my master said to me: "This forest swarms with elephants. Hide

yourself in this great tree, and shoot at all that pass you. When you

have succeeded in killing one come and tell me."

So saying he gave me a supply of food, and returned to the town, and I

perched myself high up in the tree and kept watch. That night I saw

nothing, but just after sunrise the next morning a large herd of

elephants came crashing and trampling by. I lost no time in letting

fly several arrows, and at last one of the great animals fell to the

ground dead, and the others retreated, leaving me free to come down

from my hiding place and run back to tell my master of my success, for

which I was praised and regaled with good things. Then we went back to

the forest together and dug a mighty trench in which we buried the

elephant I had killed, in order that when it became a skeleton my

master might return and secure its tusks.

For two months I hunted thus, and no day passed without my securing, an

elephant. Of course I did not always station myself in the same tree,

but sometimes in one place, sometimes in another. One morning as I

watched the coming of the elephants I was surprised to see that,

instead of passing the tree I was in, as they usually did, they paused,

and completely surrounded it, trumpeting horribly, and shaking the very

ground with their heavy tread, and when I saw that their eyes were

fixed upon me I was terrified, and my arrows dropped from my trembling

hand. I had indeed good reason for my terror when, an instant later,

the largest of the animals wound his trunk round the stem of my tree,

and with one mighty effort tore it up by the roots, bringing me to the

ground entangled in its branches. I thought now that my last hour was

surely come; but the huge creature, picking me up gently enough, set me

upon its back, where I clung more dead than alive, and followed by the

whole herd turned and crashed off into the dense forest. It seemed to

me a long time before I was once more set upon my feet by the elephant,

and I stood as if in a dream watching the herd, which turned and

trampled off in another direction, and were soon hidden in the dense

underwood. Then, recovering myself, I looked about me, and found that

I was standing upon the side of a great hill, strewn as far as I could

see on either hand with bones and tusks of elephants. "This then must

be the elephants' burying place," I said to myself, "and they must have

brought me here that I might cease to persecute them, seeing that I

want nothing but their tusks, and here lie more than I could carry away

in a lifetime."

Whereupon I turned and made for the city as fast as I could go, not

seeing a single elephant by the way, which convinced me that they had

retired deeper into the forest to leave the way open to the Ivory Hill,

and I did not know how sufficiently to admire their sagacity. After a

day and a night I reached my master's house, and was received by him

with joyful surprise.

"Ah! poor Sindbad," he cried, "I was wondering what could have become

of you. When I went to the forest I found the tree newly uprooted, and

the arrows lying beside it, and I feared I should never see you again.

Pray tell me how you escaped death."

I soon satisfied his curiosity, and the next day we went together to

the Ivory Hill, and he was overjoyed to find that I had told him

nothing but the truth. When we had loaded our elephant with as many

tusks as it could carry and were on our way back to the city, he said:

"My brother--since I can no longer treat as a slave one who has

enriched me thus--take your liberty and may Heaven prosper you. I will

no longer conceal from you that these wild elephants have killed

numbers of our slaves every year. No matter what good advice we gave

them, they were caught sooner or later. You alone have escaped the

wiles of these animals, therefore you must be under the special

protection of Heaven. Now through you the whole town will be enriched

without further loss of life, therefore you shall not only receive your

liberty, but I will also bestow a fortune upon you."

To which I replied, "Master, I thank you, and wish you all prosperity.

For myself I only ask liberty to return to my own country."

"It is well," he answered, "the monsoon will soon bring the ivory ships

hither, then I will send you on your way with somewhat to pay your


So I stayed with him till the time of the monsoon, and every day we

added to our store of ivory till all his ware-houses were overflowing

with it. By this time the other merchants knew the secret, but there

was enough and to spare for all. When the ships at last arrived my

master himself chose the one in which I was to sail, and put on board

for me a great store of choice provisions, also ivory in abundance, and

all the costliest curiosities of the country, for which I could not

thank him enough, and so we parted. I left the ship at the first port

we came to, not feeling at ease upon the sea after all that had

happened to me by reason of it, and having disposed of my ivory for

much gold, and bought many rare and costly presents, I loaded my pack

animals, and joined a caravan of merchants. Our journey was long and

tedious, but I bore it patiently, reflecting that at least I had not to

fear tempests, nor pirates, nor serpents, nor any of the other perils

from which I had suffered before, and at length we reached Bagdad. My

first care was to present myself before the Caliph, and give him an

account of my embassy. He assured me that my long absence had

disquieted him much, but he had nevertheless hoped for the best. As to

my adventure among the elephants he heard it with amazement, declaring

that he could not have believed it had not my truthfulness been well

known to him.

By his orders this story and the others I had told him were written by

his scribes in letters of gold, and laid up among his treasures. I

took my leave of him, well satisfied with the honours and rewards he

bestowed upon me; and since that time I have rested from my labours,

and given myself up wholly to my family and my friends.

Thus Sindbad ended the story of his seventh and last voyage, and

turning to Hindbad he added:

"Well, my friend, and what do you think now? Have you ever heard of

anyone who has suffered more, or had more narrow escapes than I have?

Is it not just that I should now enjoy a life of ease and tranquillity?"

Hindbad drew near, and kissing his hand respectfully, replied, "Sir,

you have indeed known fearful perils; my troubles have been nothing

compared to yours. Moreover, the generous use you make of your wealth

proves that you deserve it. May you live long and happily in the

enjoyment in it."

Sindbad then gave him a hundred sequins, and hence-forward counted him

among his friends; also he caused him to give up his profession as a

porter, and to eat daily at his table that he might all his life

remember Sindbad the Sailor.