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Short Stories

      The Dangerous Island   (The Sixth Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor)

It must be an amazing thing for you that, how after having five times met with wreckage of the ship and unheard of the danger, I could again appeal to the destiny and risk a more few fresh troubles. I am even surprised to see myself when I look back to those days, but clearly it was my luck to travel, and after a year when I relaxed I decided to make a sixth voyage, in spite of the request of my friends and relatives, who did all they could to keep me at home and stop me from going so.

Instead of going by the Persian Gulf, I traveled a extensive way overland and finally go aboard from a distant Indian port with a captain who intended to make a long voyage.

And he truly did so, for we met with a stormy weather which drove us completely out of our path, so that for many of the days neither the captain nor the pilot knew where we were, and even they do not know where we were going. When they at last discover our position we had small ground for satisfaction, for the captain, casting his turban upon the floor and scratching his beard, declared that we were in the most dangerous spot upon the whole wide sea, and had been caught by a stream which was at that minute trying us to take to destruction.

It was also true! In spite of all the sailors could do we were driven with fearsome quickness towards the bottom of a mountain, which rose complete out of the sea, and our vessel was broken into pieces upon the rocks at its base, not, however, until we had managed to rush on the shore, carrying with us the most precious of our belongings. When we had done this the captain said to us:

"Now we are here, so we may as well begin to dig our burial place at once, since from this terrible spot none of the mariner has ever returned."

This speech depressed us much more than before, and we began to grieve over our bad luck.

The mountain formed the seaside boundary of a large island, and the narrow strip of rocky shore upon which we stood was full with the remains of a thousand huge ships, while the bones of the unlucky mariners shone white in the sunshine, and we were alarm to think how soon our own would be added to this collection of the bones of unlucky mariners.

All around, also, there lay a huge quantity of the costliest products, and treasures which were gathered in every gap of the rocks, but all these things only added to the bleakness of the scene. It struck me as a very strange thing that a river of clear fresh water, which gushed out from the mountain not far from where we stood, instead of flowing into the sea, turned off, and flowed out of the path under a natural arcade of the rocks, and when I went more deeply to inspect it, I found more closely  that inside the cave the walls were thick with diamonds, and rubies, and collections of crystal, and the floor was covered with lots of other precious and valuable merchandise.

Here, then, upon this deserted shore we abandoned ourselves to our luck, for there was no possibility of ascending the mountain, and if a ship had appeared it could only have shared our unlucky fates. The first thing our captain did was to divide equally amongst us all the food that we had overcome, and then the length of each man's life depended on the time he could make his portion last. I myself could live upon a very little of it.

However, on the other hand, by the time I had buried the last of my companions my store of requirements was so small that I hardly thought I should live long enough to dig my own burial place, which I started about to do, while I apologize extremely for the wandering outlook which was always bringing me into such a path, and thought longingly of all the relieve and luxury that I had left. But luckily for me the fancy took me to stand once more beside the river where it plunged out of sight in the depths of the cavern, and as I did so an idea struck to my mind.

This river which hid itself underground doubtless appear again at some distant spot. Why should I not build a raft and trust myself to its swiftly flowing waters? If I might die before I could reach the light of day once more I should be no in this worse condition than I was now, for death was fixed in my eyes , while there was always the possibility that, as I was born under a lucky star, I might find myself safe and sound in some desirable land. I decided at any rate to risk it, and speedily built myself a strong raft of drift-wood with strong rope, of which enough and to spare lay marked upon the beach.

I then prepared many of the packages of rubies, emeralds, rock crystal, ambergris, and precious stuffs, and loaded them upon my raft, being careful to safeguard the balance, and then I seated myself upon it, having two small sticks that I had laid ready to my hand, and loosed the rope which held it to the bank. Once out in the stream my raft flew swiftly under the gloomy arcade, and I found myself in total darkness, carried smoothly forward by the rapid flow of the river.

On I went as it seemed to me for many nights and days. Once the path became so small that I had a slight escape of being crushed against the rocky roof, and after that I took the precaution of lying flat upon my precious bales. Though I only ate what was absolutely necessary to keep myself alive, the expected moment came when, after swallowing my last morsel of food, I began to wonder if I must after all die of hunger. Then, I was worn out with worry and weariness.