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The Fourth Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman

KNOW, O my brethren, that after my return from my third voyage and forgathering with my friends, and forgetting all my perils and hardships in the enjoyment of ease and comfort and repose, I was visited one day by a company of merchants who sat down with me and talked of foreign travel and traffic till the old bad man within me yearned to go with them and enjoy the sight of strange countries, and I longed for the society of the various races of mankind and for traffic and profit. So I resolved to travel with them and, buying the necessaries for a long voyage and great store of costly goods, more than ever before, transported them from Baghdad to Bassorah, where I took ship with the merchants in question, who were of the chief of the town. We set out, trusting in the blessing of Almighty Allah, and with a favoring breeze and the best conditions we salled from island to island and sea to sea till one day there arose against us a contrary wind and the captain cast out his anchors and brought the ship to a standstill, fearing lest she should founder in midocean.
Then we all fell to prayer and humbling ourselves before the Most High, but as we were thus engaged there smote us a furious squall which tore the sails to rags and tatters. The anchor cable parted and, the ship foundering, we were cast into the sea, goods and all. I kept myself afloat by swimming half the day till, when I had given myself up for lost, the Almighty threw in my way one of the planks of the ship, whereon I and some others of the merchants scrambled and, mounting it as we would a horse, paddled with our feet in the sea. We abode thus a day and a night, the wind and waves helping us on, and on the second day shortly before the midtime between sunrise and noon the breeze freshened and the sea wrought and the rising waves cast us upon an island, well-nigh dead bodies for weariness and want of sleep, cold and hunger and fear and thirst. We walked about the shore and found abundance of herbs, whereof we ate enough to keep breath in body and to stay our failing spirits, then lay down and slept till morning hard by the sea. And when morning came with its sheen and shone, we arose and walked about the island to the right and left till we came in sight of an inhabited house afar off. So we made toward it, and ceased not walking till we reached the door thereof when lo! a number of naked men issued from it, and without saluting us or a word said, laid hold of us masterfully and carried us to their King, who signed us to sit. So we sat down and they set food before us such as we knew not and whose like we had never seen in all our lives. My companions ate of it, for stress of hunger, but my stomach revolted from it and I would not eat, and my refraining from it was, by Allah’s favor, the cause of my being alive till now. For no sooner had my comrades tasted of it than their reason fled and their condition changed and they began to devour it like madmen possessed of an evil spirit. Then the savages give them to drink of coconut oil and anointed them therewith, and straightway after drinking thereof their eyes turned into their heads and they fell to eating greedily, against their wont.
When I saw this, I was confounded, and concerned for them, nor was I less anxious about myself, for fear of the naked folk. So I watched them narrowly, and it was not long before I discovered them to be a tribe of Magian cannibals whose King was a Ghul. All who came to their country or whoso they caught in their valleys or on their roads they brought to this King and fed them upon that food and anointed them with that oil, whereupon their stomachs dilated that they might eat largely, wilst their reason fled and they lost the power of thought and became idiots. Then they stuffed them with coconut oil and the aforesaid food till they became fat and gross, when they slaughtered them by cutting their throats and roasted them for the King’s eating, but as for the savages themselves, they ate human flesh raw. When I saw this, I was sore dismayed for myself and my comrades, who were now become so stupefied that they knew not what was done with them. And the naked folk committed them to one who used every day to lead them out and pasture them on the island like cattle. And they wandered amongst the trees and rested at will, thus waxing very fat.
As for me, I wasted away and became sickly for fear and hunger and my flesh shriveled on my bones, which when the savages saw, they left me alone and took no thought of me and so far forgot me that one day I gave them the slip and walking out of their place, made for the beach, which was distant, and there espied a very old man seated on a high place girt by the waters. I looked at him and knew him for the herdsman who had charge of pasturing my fellows, and with him were many others in like case. As soon as he saw me, he knew me to be in possession of my reason and not afflicted like the rest whom he was pasturing, so signed to me from afar, as who should say, "Turn back and take the right-hand road, for that will lead thee into the King’s highway." So I turned back, as he bade me, and followed the right-hand road, now running for fear and then walking leisurely to rest me, till I was out of the old man’s sight. By this time the sun had gone down and the darkness set in, so I sat down to rest and would have slept, but sleep came not to me that night for stress of fear and famine and fatigue.
When the night was half spent, I rose and walked on till the day broke in all its beauty and the sun rose over the heads of the lofty hills and athwart the low gravelly plains. Now I was weary and hungry and thirsty, so I ate my fill of herbs and grasses that grew in the island and kept life in body and stayed my stomach, after which I set out again and fared on all that day and the next night, staying my greed with roots and herbs. Nor did I cease walking for seven days and their nights, till the morn of the eighth day, when I caught sight of a faint object in the distance. So I made toward it, though my heart quaked for all I had suffered first and last, and, behold, it was a company of men gathering pepper grains. As soon as they saw me, they hastened up to me and surrounding me on all sides, said to me, "Who art thou, and whence come?" I replied, "Know, O folk, that I am a poor stranger," and acquainted them with my case and all the hardships and perils I had suffered, whereat they marveled and gave me joy of my safety, saying: "By Allah, this is wonderful! But how didst thou escape from these blacks who swarm in the island and devour all who fall in with them, nor is any safe from them, nor can any get out of their clutches?"
And after I had told them the fate of my companions, they made me sit by them till they got quit of their work, and fetched me somewhat of good food, which I ate, for I was hungry, and rested awhile. After which they took ship with me and carrying me to their island home, brought me before their King, who returned my salute and received me honorably and questioned me of my case. I told him all that had befallen me from the day of my leaving Baghdad city, whereupon he wondered with great wonder at my adventures, he and his courtiers, and bade me sit by him. Then he called for food and I ate with him what sufficed me and washed my hands and returned thanks to Almighty Allah for all His favors, praising Him and glorifying Him. Then I left the King and walked for solace about the city, which I found wealthy and populous, abounding in market streets well stocked with food and merchandise and full of buyers and sellers. So I rejoiced at having reached so pleasant a place and took my ease there after my fatigues, and I made friends with the townsfolk, nor was it long before I became more in honor and favor with them and their King than any of the chief men of the realm.
Now I saw that all the citizens, great and small, rode fine horses, high-priced and thoroughbred, without saddles or housings, whereat I wondered and said to the King: "Wherefore, O my lord, dost thou not ride with a saddle? Therein is ease for the rider and increase of power." "What is a saddle?" asked he. "I never saw nor used such a thing in all my life." And I answered, "With thy permission I will make thee a saddle, that thou mayst ride on it and see the comfort thereof." And quoth he, "Do so." So quoth I to him, "Furnish me with some woods." which being brought, I sought me a clever carpenter and sitting by him, showed him how to make the saddletree, portraying for him the fashion thereof in ink on the wood. Then I took wool and teased it and made felt of it, and, covering the saddletree with leather, stuffed it, and polished it, and attached the girth and stirrup leathers. After which I fetched a blacksmith and described to him the fashion of the stirrups and bridle bit. So he forged a fine pair of stirrups and a bit, and filed them smooth and tinned them. Moreover, I made fast to them fringes of silk and fitted bridle leathers to the bit. Then I fetched one of the best of the royal horses and saddling and bridling him, hung the stirrups to the saddle and led him to the King. The thing took his fancy and he thanked me, then he mounted and rejoiced greatly in the saddle and rewarded me handsomely for my work.
When the King’s Wazir saw the saddle, he asked of me one like it, and I made it for him. Furthermore, all the grandees and officers of state came for saddles to me, so I fell to making saddles (having taught the craft to the carpenter and blacksmith) and selling them to all who sought, till I amassed great wealth and became in high honor and great favor with the King and his household and grandees. I abode thus till one day, as I was sitting with the King in all respect and contentment, he said to me: "Know thou, O such a one, thou art become one of us, dear as a brother, and we hold thee in such regard and affection that we cannot part with thee nor suffer thee to leave our city. Wherefore I desire of thee obedience in a certain matter, and I will not have thee gainsay me." Answered I: "O King, what is it thou desirest of me? Far be it from me to gainsay thee in aught, for I am indebted to thee for many favors and bounties and much kindness, and (praised be Allah!) I am become one of thy servants." Quoth he: "I have a mind to marry thee to a fair, clever, and agreeable wife who is wealthy as she is beautiful, so thou mayest be naturalized and domiciled with us. I will lodge thee with me in my palace, wherefore oppose me not neither cross me in this." When I heard these words I was ashamed and held my peace nor could make him any answer, by reason of my much bashfulness before him. Asked he, "Why dost thou not reply to me, O my son?" and I answered, saying, "O my master, it is thine to command, O King of the Age!" So he summoned the kazi and the witnesses and married me straightway to a lady of a noble tree and high pedigree, wealthy in moneys and means, the flower of an ancient race, of surpassing beauty and grace, and the owner of farms and estates and many a dwelling place.
Now after the King my master had married me to this choice wife, he also gave me a great and goodly house standing alone, together with slaves and officers, and assigned me pay and allowances. So I became in all ease and contentment and delight and forgot everything which had befallen me of weariness and trouble and hardship. For I loved my wife with fondest love and she loved me no less, and we were as one, and abode in the utmost comfort of life and in its happiness. And I said in myself, "When I return to my native land, I will carry her with me." But whatso is predestined to a man, that needs must be, and none knoweth what shall befall him. We lived thus a great while, till Almighty Allah bereft one of my neighbors of his wife. Now he was a gossip of mine, so hearing the cry of the keeners, I went in to condole him on his loss and found him in very ill plight, full of trouble and weary of soul and mind. I condoled with him and comforted him, saying: "Mourn not for thy wife, who hath now found the mercy of Allah. The Lord will surely give thee a better in her stead, and thy name shall be great and thy life shall be long in the land, Inshallah!"
But he wept bitter tears and replied: "O my friend, how can I marry another wife, and how shall Allah replace her to me with a better than she, whenas I have but one day left to live?" "O my brother," said I, "return to thy senses and announce not glad tidings of thine own death, for thou art well, sound, and in good case." "By thy life, O my friend," rejoined he, "tomorrow thou wilt lose me, and wilt never see me again till the Day of Resurrection." I asked, "How so?" and he answered: "This very day they bury my wife, and they bury me with her in one tomb. For it is the custom with us, if the wife die first, to bury the husband alive with her, and in like manner the wife if the husband die first, so that neither may enjoy life after losing his or her mate." "By Allah," cried I, "this is a most vile, lewd custom, and not to be endured of any!" Meanwhile, behold, the most part of the townsfolk came in and fell to condoling with my gossip for his wife and for himself.

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