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Sindbad's Sixth Voyage


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ow I was once again living on my estates in Baghdad in the greatest comfort, contentment and good cheer. Just as we, noble gentlemen, now raise our glasses, so too did wine fill the goblets every evening as I sat among my companions and friends. All were full of gratitude and praised the Lord that now, after the odyssey of my adventurous voyages, I had at last returned safe and sound, firm in my resolve to remain at home and enjoy my prosperity and safety." - Sindbad the Sailor raised his glass and drank a toast to his listeners. "However," he continued, "I had forgotten about the devil of the sea, who continued to lie in wait for me far out on the broad seas. One day, as I walked without purpose on the strand, somehow - the heavens alone know how it occurred - I suddenly found myself among merchants on board a ship which, without my really being aware of what was happening, raised anchor and set out towards the open sea, propelled by a strong wind. The devil had tricked me and had me once again at his mercy. The treasures of the dead We were again shipwrecked on a distant island. Yet again, I praised God for my rescue and, seeking shelter from a terrible storm, crawled into a cave, the entrance to which resembled that of a temple and was hewn out of the rockface bordering the strand. Some distance from the entrance, I came upon an unforgettable sight. On the stony floor of the cave hundreds of human skeletons had been carefully laid out, adorned with the most costly jewelry made of gold and precious stones. Some wore crowns of solid gold, others had collars, belts, rings encrusted with all kinds of gems; jewels, pearls and the rarest of stones shimmered and glittered in splendid radiance. I recalled having heard of peoples who buried their dead with all their jewels. My senses swooned in the presence of such vast riches, but my better self prevailed and I refrained from robbing the dead. I remembered my own wealth, which indeed I was unable to measure. So while outside the night skies were illuminated by flashes of lightening, I lay down among the skeletons adorned with gold and jewels and slept the sound sleep of the virtuous.

When I left the cave the following morning, I saw a splendid ship at anchor before the island on the calm waters. I noticed that some people had already rowed to the strand. Congratulating myself on this unexpected coincidence, I approached them in great joy. The master of the vessel returned my salutation and was greatly astonished to find a living creature on this God-forsaken rock. He had been driven off course by the storms of the previous night and had anchored here not knowing where he was. "Take me on board, noble Sir, as an old sailor pursued by the devil, I shall be able to able to put you back on course. But first, in gratitude for my rescue, let me tell you the secret of the immeasurable treasure of this island: proceed to the cave yonder and you shall be surprised!" Sindbad the swimmer The captain rushed in with this men. They set to work like ants, and soon the dead had been stripped of their riches, which were taken on board the ship. Only now did I realise how unwise I had been to divulge to avaricious people the sacred burial offerings of a vanished people. Necessity alone induced me to board a ship which I knew would depart under the curse of the dead. My worst fears were soon cruel reality. Without cause - without a storm having split even one yard-arm or damaged even one plank, the ship sank, as though drawn down into the deep by supernatural force. img "Sindbad swallows water" All drowned miserably; I alone succeeded without difficulty in reaching a small island: it was as though I was accompanied by a benevolent spirit. The strand of this island was strewn with a multitude of personal belongings of shipwrecked sailors and goods from stranded ships. I felt faint: here too I had found untold wealth. A new and dreadful foreboding arose in my mind that such extraordinary good fortune could not last, that it would end in disaster, bringing ruin and perdition. For three days I searched my heart and purified it of all evil traits, in particular of the craving for wealth and possessions, that most destructive of vices. I decided, nonetheless, to carry away with me as much as possible of the riches strewn around me in abundant heaps in order to distribute alms in Baghdad to the truely needy. On a subterranean river I built a stout raft from the various materials available to me, floated it on the island's river and loaded all the treasures on to it which I could find. I began to row the raft forward using a plank as oar. I said to myself: "Just as this river has a beginning, so too must it have an end; it must lead somewhere to an inhabited land." But the river went underground, and I was soon enveloped in total darkness, while the raft was carried forward by the current. After three days the river emerged again into the light of day, flowing past towering mountains. img "On the raft" A number of Indians and Abyssinians approached, eyeing me with suspicion and hostility. I raised my arms in greeting and addressed them with due ceremony saying: "Peace be to you, my brothers: I bring you fortune, happiness, and health." This Abyssinian tribe was not to be won over, however: they hated all strangers and would have torn me into pieces had I not given them everything I had on the raft. This time I had a long wait for my deliverance. At long last, months later, a merchant arrived from my home country who brought me back to Baghdad."