The Third Voyage of Sinbad
Restless for travel and adventure, Sinbad sets sail again from Basra. But by ill chance he and his companions are cast up on an island where they are captured by a huge creature in the likeness of a man. Sinbad hatches a plan to blind the beast. He and the remaining men escape on a raft they constructed the day before. However, the Giant’s mate hits most of the escaping men with rocks and they are killed. After further adventures, he returns to Baghdad, wealthier than ever.
The following evening the porter whose name was Sinbad returned to the house of the merchant whose name he shared. “Eat well, my friend,” said the merchant, “and I will continue to tell you how I paid for my wealth with pain and suffering. This is the story of my third voyage and it is even more terrible than the ones that preceded it.”
Once again, I grew weary of luxury. I could not rest well in my soft bed of silken cushions, with a belly full of fine food. Perhaps I was too restless living a life of ease, or perhaps I was too greedy for yet more gold. Gold is a tempting thing – look around my halls – you will see it brings not only luxury, but the respect of your friends and family. I was not content. I wanted as much gold as I could get.
And so, in my rashness, I took to the seas once more.
As before, I joined a ship of merchants, and we travelled from port to port trading here and there in cloths, spices, dried fruits, and trinkets of gold. For the first two weeks, we enjoyed fine weather, but on the fifteenth day of our voyage a gale blew up, and tossed our boat here and there. When the storm settled, we sighted land. The captain gathered us passengers on deck, and said:
“The wind has got the better of us, and driven us off course. Destiny has brought us to this shore. I fear it is a savage place. We shall soon find out the fate that Allah, in his wisdom, has decided for us.”
And he was right, for not long after we came up close, oh too close, to the inhabitants of that land. For here lived a tribe of apes. These creatures were not content like most of their brethren to live in the tree tops. Instead they carried spears and made mischief on land and sea. They dropped boats from the tops of the cliffs, and then jumped down into them. An armada of ape-ships sailed swiftly after us. Soon these hairy pirates were scaling up the sides of our ship. They cut the ropes of our rigging so that we could not sail. We dared not fight them, as they were too numerous. Instead we ourselves jumped overboard, into the sea, and swam for the shore.
Those of us who had survived the attack gathered on the beach. We decided it was too dangerous to linger there, and we moved inland. We spied a castle on top of a hill. I roused my comrades.
“Brothers, let us climb up to the fortress and put ourselves at the mercy of those who live there. Whatever fate awaits us on the hill is bound to be less cruel than being torn apart by apes.”
The others agreed, and followed me up the steep track. At the top we walked through a massive entrance and found ourselves in an empty courtyard. We could see no living thing, though there were signs that life had been there recently. The fire still smoked. A smell of roast meat lingered in the air, and the remains of a feast of mutton lay around. We decided to lie down and rest our weary limbs.
We were woken by a minor earthquake. The ground trembled and the solid stone walls of the castle shook: Thud, Thud, Thud… Soon the cause of all this disturbance came through the doorway – it was a monster of a man as tall and broad as a date tree. His eyes burned like coals of fire, his teeth were like boar’s tusks, his nails like lion’s claws, and his mouth gaped like a well. We ran this way and that, looking for places to hide – but there were none. He stooped down and picked me up by the arm. I dangled in front of his eyes, and he felt me as a butcher feels a sheep he is about to slaughter. But there was no meat on me. I eat little when I travel by sea, and I was all skin and bone. He put me down and picked up another of our crew. He, poor man, was fatter than I, and made a nice meal for the giant. Having satisfied his stomach, he lay down and fell asleep.
“Stop this weeping,” I said to the others. “What use is it to tear at your clothes and pour dirt in your hair? Do not mourn your own deaths yet. If Allah wills it so, we shall escape an awful fate and avenge our comrade. We are not prisoners here. The door of the castle lies open.”
The men were in two minds. Which fate did they fear most? To be eaten by a giant or torn apart by apes? In the end my view prevailed – we could not just sit and wait to be eaten for breakfast. We returned to the shore and found that The Almighty had taken pity on us. Our ship, although badly damaged had run aground. The apes were not such great sailors after all. We worked to repair it by the light of the stars and the moon and by the time the sky was reddening with the morning sun we were ready to sail. The men were eager to leave that awful shore, but I burned for revenge.
“Let us hurry back to the castle,” I said. “We may yet catch the criminal asleep.
Here is my plan. We will sharpen two sticks and harden them in the fire. If God is willing we shall have justice for our comrade’s life.”
Again the men were of two minds of what we should do, but their thirst for justice proved stronger than their love of life. We returned to the castle where we found the monster still slumbering. We split into two teams, and made our weapons in the embers of the fire. Then moving together we approached the sleeping giant and plunged our spears into his eyes. He awoke with a terrible roar and stumbled around the cave, shrieking fearfully, and groping around the ground hoping to find us.
We wasted no time in slipping out of the castle, and running as fast as we could in the direction of the beach. Thanks to the will of He who directs everything, we reached our boat safely and set sail. Three giants stood on the cliffs and threw giant boulders down into the sea. Our ships were buffeted by powerful waves but we got away safely. By mid morning on the following day we spied land, and thanking The Almighty for His mercy, we stumbled ashore.
But fate had allowed us to escape one peril only to face a far worse one. Once ashore, we discovered fresh water and fruit, but soon danger found us. A huge serpent dropped down from a tree and entwined itself around one of our men. We attacked the monster with knives and rocks, but its grip was too terrible. Then still more giant serpents slithered out of the bushes. In terror we ran this way and that, but the woods were full of these abominable and viperish monsters.
Darkness was falling, and I could not find my way back to the beach. I could not rest in the open, for fear of being crushed by a serpent. I decided to build a shelter and began to cut down branches from the trees. I used the wood to build a kind of cage around myself, and inside this I managed to get some rest for the night.
When morning came, I lifted the cage up and walked down along the path, still safe from serpents inside my wooden suit of armour. I only discarded my cage when I reached the beach. And then, looking out to sea I saw my salvation – the sail of another ship. How I jumped for joy, waved my arms, and called out – until at last they spotted me and set down a small boat. Two sailors rowed ashore and rescued me, thanks be to Allah.
On board I told my story and all of my remarkable adventures to the captain. At the end of my tale he looked at me and said:
“Truly your story proves the greatness of Allah. At first I did not recognise you. Such is the sorry state that you are in, worn down by suffering. But now I see that I know you. You are Sinbad who travelled on our ship, and whom we lost. As you described in the story of your second voyage, we set sail without you. When we realised our mistake, we debated whether or not we should divide up your merchandise between us, but I ruled that we should keep it. All your goods are safe in the hold of the ship.”
From that day on, my journey and my business went well.
We bought and sold wherever we went. I built up a stock of cloves and ginger and all manner of spices. And thence we fared on to the land of Sind, where also I sold them at a great profit.
Then we set sail again with a fair wind and the blessing of Almighty Allah, we arrived safe and sound at Bassorah.
I had gained on this voyage what was beyond count and reckoning. I gave freely to widows and orphans out of thanks for my happy return. Then fell to feasting and making merry with my friends and forgot all the hardships I had suffered.
Then Sindbad the Seaman gave Sinbad the Porter a hundred golden dinars. The porter after taking his gold passed the night in his own house, wondering at what his namesake the seaman had told him.