I soon again grew weary of living a life of idleness, and hardening myself against the thought of any danger, I embarked with some merchants on another long voyage. We touched at several ports, where we traded. One day we were overtaken by a dreadful tempest, which drove us from our course.
The storm continued several days, and brought us before the port of an island, which the captain was very unwilling to enter; but we were obliged to cast anchor. When we had furled our sails, the captain told us that this and some other neighboring islands were inhabited by hairy savages, who would speedily attack us; and though they were but dwarfs, yet that we must make no resistance, for they were more in number than the locusts; and if we happened to kill one, they would all fall upon us and destroy us.
We soon found that what the captain had told us was but too true. An innumerable multitude of frightful savages, about two feet high, covered all over with red hair, came swimming toward us and encompassed our ship. They chattered as they came near, but we understood not their language. They climbed up the sides of the ship with such agility as surprised us. They took down our sails, cut the cable, and, hauling to the shore, made us all get out, and afterward carried the ship into another island, whence they had come. As we advanced, we perceived at a distance a vast pile of buildings and made toward it. We found it to be a palace, elegantly built, and very lofty, with a gate of ebony of two leaves, which we opened. We saw before us a large apartment, with a porch, having on one side a heap of human bones, and on the other a vast number of roasting-spits. We trembled at this spectacle and were seized with deadly apprehension when suddenly the gate of the apartment opened with a loud crash, and there came out the horrible figure of a black man, as tall as a lofty palm tree. He had but one eye, and that in the middle of his forehead, where it blazed bright as burning coal. His fore teeth were very long and sharp and stood out of his mouth, which was as deep as that of a horse. His upper lip hung down upon his breast. His ears resembled those of an elephant and covered his shoulders, and his nails were as long and crooked as the talons of the greatest birds.
At the sight of so frightful a genie, we became insensible and lay like dead men.
At last, we came to ourselves and saw him sitting on the porch looking at us. When he had considered us well, he advanced toward us, and laying his hand upon me, took me up by the nape of my neck, and turned me around, as a butcher would do a sheep’s head. After having examined me, and perceiving me to be so lean that I had nothing but skin and bone, he let me go. He took up all the rest one by one and viewed them in the same manner.
The captain being the fattest, he held him with one hand, as I would do a sparrow, and thrust a spit through him; he then kindled a great fire, roasted, and ate him in his apartment for his supper. Having finished his repast, he returned to his porch, where he lay and fell asleep, snoring louder than thunder. He slept thus till morning. As to ourselves, it was not possible for us to enjoy any rest so that we passed the night in the most painful apprehension that can be imagined. When day appeared the giant awoke, got up, went out, and left us in the palace.
The next night we determined to revenge ourselves on the brutish giant and did so in the following manner. After he had again finished his inhuman supper on another of our seamen, he lay down on his back and fell asleep. As soon as we heard him snore according to his custom, nine of the boldest among us, and myself, took each of us a spit, and putting the points of them into his fire till they were burning hot, we thrust them into his eye all at once and blinded him. The pain made him break out into a frightful yell: he started up, and stretched out his hands, in order to sacrifice I some of us to his rage; but we ran to such places as he could not reach; and after having sought for us in vain, he groped for the gate, and went out, howling in agony.
We immediately left the palace and came to the shore, where we made some rafts, each large enough to carry three men, with some timber that lay about in great quantities. We waited till day in order to get upon them, for we hoped if the giant did not appear by sun rising, and give over his howling, which we still heard, that he would prove to be dead; and if that happened to be the case, we resolved to stay in that island, and not to risk our lives upon the rafts. But the day had scarcely appeared when we perceived our cruel enemy, accompanied by two others, almost of the same size, leading him; and a great number more coming before him at a quick pace.
We did not hesitate to take to our rafts and put to sea with all the speed we could. The giants, who perceived this, took up great stones, and, running to the shore, entered the water up to the middle, and threw so exactly that they sunk all the rafts but that I was upon; and all my companions except the two with me were drowned. We rowed with all our might and got out of the reach of the giants. But when we got out to sea, we were exposed to the mercy of the waves and winds, and spent that day and the following night under the most painful uncertainty as to our fate; but next morning we had the good fortune to be thrown upon an island, where we landed with much joy. We found excellent fruit, which afforded us great relief, and recruited our strength.
At night we went to sleep on the sea-shore; but were awakened by the noise of a serpent of surprising length and thickness, whose scales made a rustling noise as he wound himself along. It swallowed up one of my comrades, notwithstanding his loud cries, and the efforts he made to extricate himself from it; dashing him several times against the ground, it crushed him, and we could hear it gnaw and tear the poor fellow’s bones, though we had fled to a considerable distance. The following day, to our great terror, we saw the serpent again, when I exclaimed, “O Heaven, to what dangers are we exposed! We rejoiced yesterday at having escaped from the cruelty of a giant and the rage of the waves, now are we fallen into another danger equally dreadful.”
As we walked about we saw a large, tall tree, upon which we designed to pass the following night for our security; and having satisfied our hunger with fruit, we mounted it accordingly. Shortly after the serpent came hissing to the foot of the tree; raised itself up against the trunk of it, and meeting with my comrade, who sat lower than I, swallowed him at once, and went off.
I remained upon the tree till it was the day, and then came down; more like a dead man than one alive, expecting the same fate with my two companions. This filled me with horror, and I advanced some steps to throw myself into the sea; but I withstood this dictate of despair, and submitted myself to the will of God, who disposes of our lives at His pleasure.
In the meantime, I collected together a great quantity of small wood, brambles, and dry thorns, and making them up into fagots, made a wide circle with them round the tree, and also tied some of them to the branches over my head. Having done this, when the evening came, I shut myself up within this circle, with the melancholy satisfaction that I had neglected nothing which could preserve me from the cruel destiny with which I was threatened. The serpent failed not to come at the usual hour, and went around the tree seeking for an opportunity to devour me, but was prevented by the rampart I had made; so that he lay till the day, like a cat watching in vain for a mouse that has fortunately reached a place of safety.
When day appeared he retired, but I dared not leave my fort until the sun arose.
God took compassion on my hopeless state; for just as I was going, in a fit of desperation, to throw myself into the sea, I perceived a ship in the distance. I called as loud as I could, and, unfolding the linen of my turban, displayed it that they might observe me. This had the desired effect; the crew perceived me, and the captain sent his boat for me. As soon as I came on board, the merchants and seamen flocked about me to know how I came into that desert island; and after I had related to them all that had befallen me, the oldest among them said they had several times heard of the giants that dwelt in that island, that they were cannibals; and as to the serpents, they added that there was abundance in the island; that they hid themselves by day and came abroad by night.
After having testified their joy at my escaping so many dangers, they brought me the best of their provisions; and took me before the captain, who, seeing that I was in rags, gave me one of his own suits. Looking steadfastly upon him, I knew him to be the person who, in my second voyage, had left me in the island where I fell asleep, and sailed without me, or sending to seek for me.
I was not surprised that he, believing me to be dead, did not recognize me.
“Captain,” said I, “look at me, and you may know that I am Sindbad, whom you left in that desert island.”
The captain having considered me attentively recognized me.
“God be praised!” said he, embracing me; “I rejoice that fortune has rectified my fault. There are your goods, which I always took care to preserve.”
I took them from him and made him my acknowledgments for his care of them.
We continued at sea for some time, touched at several islands, and at last landed at that of Salabat, where sandal-wood is obtained, which is much used in medicine.
From the isle of Salabat, we went to another, where I furnished myself with cloves, cinnamon, and other spices. As we sailed from this island we saw a tortoise twenty cubits in length and breadth. We observed also an amphibious animal like a cow, which gave milk; its skin is so hard that they usually make bucklers of it. I saw another, which had the shape and color of a camel.
In short, after a long voyage, I arrived at Bussorah, and thence returned to Bagdad with so much wealth that I knew not its extent. I gave a great deal to the poor and bought another considerable estate in addition to what I had already.
Thus Sindbad finished the story of his third voyage. He gave another hundred sequins to Sindbad and invited him to dinner again the next day to hear.