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Short Stories

      The Old Monster of the Sea   (The Fifth Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor)

Once it happened to me that, a fine day I passed a tree which produced numbers of dry gourds, and catching one of it I delighted myself with scooping out its filling and pressing it into the juice of several bunches of grapes which hung from every bush of it. When it was full I left it propped in the branch of a tree, and a few days later, I was carrying the hateful old man that way, I rushed at my gourd as I passed it and had the fulfillment of a draught of excellent wine so good and refreshing that I even forgot my hateful burden, and began to sing and dance.

The old monster was not slow to make out the result which my draught had produced and that I carried him more lightly than usual, so he stretched his skinny hand and snatching the gourd first tasted its filling carefully, then drained them to the very last drop. The wine was strong and the gourd sizeable, so he also began to sing after a fashion, and soon I had the delight of feeling the strong hold of his goblin legs unclasp, and with one dynamic shot I threw him to the ground, from which he never moved again. I was so delighted to have at last got relieve of this strange old man that I ran leaping and bounding down to the sea shore, where, by the greatest good luck, I met with some mariners who had anchored off the island to enjoy the delicious fruits, and to renew their supply of water.

They heard the story of my escape with amazement, saying, "You fell into the hands of the Old Man of the Sea, and it is a mercy that he did not suppress you as he has everyone else upon whose shoulders he has managed to perch himself.

This island is well known as the scene of his evil conducts, and no merchant or sailor who lands upon it cares to stray far away from his companion." After we had talked for a while they took me back with them on their ship, where the captain received me kindly, and we soon set sail, and after several days reached a large and prosperous-looking town where all the houses were built of stone.

Here we anchored, and one of the merchants, who had been very friendly to me on the way, took me ashore with him and showed me a place to stay apart for strange merchants. He then provided me with a large sack, and pointed out to me a party of others set in like manner.

"Go with them," he said, "and do as they do, but watch out of losing sight of them, for if you get lost, your life would be in danger."