Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sindbad: First Voyage

As you will see, these stories are written in first-person style, as Sindbad is telling the stories to another man he meets, also named Sindbad, an impoverished fellow who has nothing in common with Sindbad the Sailor except for their shared name. Sindbad takes a liking to the man, invites him to his house, and regales him with these stories over a banquet fit for a king. You can see more about the context for these stories in Lang's book here: The Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor (Lang calls the other fellow "Hindbad," a variant spelling of Sindbad, just to keep things from getting too confusing).

So, as you begin reading about the first voyage, remember that the "I" who is speaking to you is Sindbad himself!

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Voyages of Sindbad unit. Story source: The Arabian Nights' Entertainments by Andrew Lang and illustrated by H. J. Ford (1898).

First Voyage

I had inherited considerable wealth from my parents and, being young and foolish, I at first squandered it recklessly upon every kind of pleasure, but presently, finding that riches speedily take to themselves wings if managed as badly as I was managing mine, and remembering also that to be old and poor is misery indeed, I began to bethink me of how I could make the best of what still remained to me. I sold all my household goods by public auction,and joined a company of merchants who traded by sea, embarking with them at Balsora in a ship which we had fitted out between us.

We set sail and took our course towards the East Indies by the Persian Gulf, having the coast of Persia upon our left hand and upon our right the shores of Arabia Felix. I was at first much troubled by the uneasy motion of the vessel, but speedily recovered my health, and since that hour have been no more plagued by sea-sickness.

From time to time we landed at various islands, where we sold or exchanged our merchandise, and one day, when the wind dropped suddenly, we found ourselves becalmed close to a small island like a green meadow, which only rose slightly above the surface of the water. Our sails were furled, and the captain gave permission to all who wished to land for a while and amuse themselves.

I was among the number, but when, after strolling about for some time, we lighted a fire and sat down to enjoy the repast which we had brought with us, we were startled by a sudden and violent trembling of the island, while at the same moment those left upon the ship set up an outcry bidding us come on board for our lives, since what we had taken for an island was nothing but the back of a sleeping whale.


Those who were nearest to the boat threw themselves into it, others sprang into the sea, but before I could save myself the whale plunged suddenly into the depths of the ocean, leaving me clinging to a piece of the wood which we had brought to make our fire. Meanwhile a breeze had sprung up, and in the confusion that ensued on board our vessel in hoisting the sails and taking up those who were in the boat and clinging to its sides, no one missed me and I was left at the mercy of the waves.

All that day I floated up and down, now beaten this way, now that, and when night fell I despaired for my life, but, weary and spent as I was, I clung to my frail support, and great was my joy when the morning light showed me that I had drifted against an island. The cliffs were high and steep, but luckily for me some tree-roots protruded in places, and by their aid I climbed up at last, and stretched myself upon the turf at the top, where I lay, more dead than alive, till the sun was high in the heavens.

By that time I was very hungry, but after some searching, I came upon some eatable herbs and a spring of clear water, and much refreshed I set out to explore the island. Presently I reached a great plain where a grazing horse was tethered, and as I stood looking at it I heard voices talking apparently underground, and in a moment a man appeared who asked me how I came upon the island.

I told him my adventures and heard in return that he was one of the grooms of Mihrage, the king of the island, and that each year they came to feed their master's horses in this plain. He took me to a cave where his companions were assembled, and when I had eaten of the food they set before me, they bade me think myself fortunate to have come upon them when I did, since they were going back to their master on the morrow, and without their aid I could certainly never have found my way to the inhabited part of the island.


(700 words)









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