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Short Stories

      The Rescue Boat   (The Third Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor)

When the sun has risen I jumped down from the tree with hardly a hope of escaping the horrible destiny which had over-taken my companions; but life is sweet, and I resolute to do all I could to save myself from this danger. All day long I toiled with worried speed and collected quantities of dry brushwood, reeds and thorns, which I tied it with faggots, and making a circle of them under my tree I placed them firmly one upon another until I had a kind of tent in which I entered like a mouse in a hole when she sees the cat coming near it. You may imagine what a fearful night I had passed over, for the snake returned eager to catch hold of me, and glided round and round my delicate shelter in search of an entrance.

Each and every moment I feared that it would succeed in pushing aside some of the faggots, but happily for me they held together, and when it grew light my enemy went back again, puzzled and hungry, to his place. As for me I was more dead than alive! Shivering with fright and half choked by the poisonous breath of those monsters, I came out of my tent and moved down to the sea, feeling that it would be better than to end my life at once than pass such another night of horror. But to my joy and relief I saw a ship sailing by, and by shouting wildly and waving my turban I managed to attract the attention of those sailors.

A boat was sent to rescue me, and very soon I found myself on floorboard surrounded by a wondering crowd of sailors and merchants excited to know by what chance I found myself in that dangerous island. After I had told my story they amused me with the delicious food that the ship afforded with itself, and the captain, seeing that I was in a bad condition, charitably gave me one of his own coats. After sailing about for some time and touching at many ports we came at last to the island of Salahat, where sandal wood grows in great quantity. Here we sailed the ship, and as I stood watching the merchants disloading their goods and preparing to sell or exchange them, the captain came up to me and said,

"I have here, brother, some goods belonging to a passenger of mine who is dead. Will you do me the favor to trade with it, and when I meet with his inheritor I shall be able to give them the money, though it will be only just that you shall have a portion for your work."

I accepted gladly to do it so, for I did not like standing by idle. Whereupon he pointed the bales out to me, and sent for the person whose duty it was to keep a list of the goods that were upon the ship. When this man came he asked in what name the merchandise was to be registered.

"In the name of Sinbad the Sailor," replied the captain.

At this I was greatly surprised, but looking carefully at him I recognized him to be the captain of the ship upon which I had made my second voyage, though he had altered much since that time. As for him, believing me to be dead it was no wonder that he had not knowing me.

"So, captain," I said, "the merchant who owned those bales was it Sinbad?"

"Yes," he replied. "He was so named as Sinbad. He belonged to Baghdad, and joined my ship at Balsora, but by co-incidence he was left behind upon a desert island where we had landed to fill up our water-casks, and it was not until four hours later that he was missed. By that time the wind had freshened, and it was impossible to go back for helping him."

"You suppose him to have perished then?" I said.

"Alas! yes," he answered.

"Why, captain!" I cried, "Look well at me. I am that Sinbad who fell asleep upon the island and awoke to find himself alone!"

The captain stared at me in amazement, but was presently sure that I was really speaking the truth, and delighted greatly at my escape.

"I am glad to have that piece of inattentiveness off my principles at any rate," said he. "Now take your goods, and the profits I have made for you upon them, and may you do well in future."

I took them with great care, and as we went from one island to another I rest in stores of cloves, cinnamon, and other spices. In one place I saw a tortoise which was much longer I have never seen before and was much extensive, also a fish that was like a cow and had skin so thick that it was used to make shields. Another I saw that was like a camel in shape and color. So by degrees we returned to Balsora, and I came back to Baghdad with so much money that I could not myself was able to count it, besides treasures which was never-ended. I gave largely amount of it to the poor, and bought much land to add to what I already overcome, and thus ended my third voyage.

When Sinbad had finished his story he gave another hundred tinsels to Hindbad, who then departed with the other guests, but next day when they had all reappeared, and the feast was over, Sinbad continued his adventures again.