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Short Stories

      The Tusk of Elephants   (The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor)

And on the fifth day we had the bad luck that we in a sudden met with pirates, who detained our vessel, and killing all who refuse to go along with them, and making prisoners of those who were practically enough to put forward at once, of whom I was one. When they had violated us of all we overcome, they forced us to put on evil raiment, and sailing to an island which was located near it, there sold us for slaves.

I fell into the hands of a rich merchant, who took me home with him and clothed and fed me well, and after some days he questioned me as to what I am and what I can do.

I answered that I was a rich merchant who had been captured by pirates, and therefore I knew no trade.

"Tell me," he said, "can you shoot with a bow?"

I replied that this had been one of the pastimes in the times of my youth, and through that doubtless with practice, my skill would come back to me.

Upon this he provided me with a bow and arrows, and he ascended me with him upon his own elephant and took the way to a huge forest which was a little far from the town. When we had reached the wildest part of it we stopped, and my master said to me: "This forest had numerous groups of elephants. Hide yourself in this great tree, and shoot all that passes you. When you have succeeded in killing one come and tell me."

So saying this, he gave me a provided me an amount of food and returned to the town, and I climbed high up in the tree and kept a watch over the animals. That night I saw nothing, but just after sunrise the next morning a large group of elephants came crashing and walking by. I lost no time in letting fly several arrows, and at last one of the great animals fell to the ground dead, and the others ran away, leaving me free to come down from my hiding place and so I ran back to tell my master about my success, for which I was honored and delighted with good things. Then we went back to the forest together and dug a large hole in which we buried the elephant I had killed, in order that when it became a skeleton my master might return and get hold of its tusks.

For two months I thus hunted in the same way, and no day passed that I did not get the hold of an elephant. Of course I did not always hid myself in the same tree, but sometimes in one place, sometimes in another one. 

One morning as I watched the coming of the herds of the elephants I was much shocked to see that, instead of passing the tree I was in, as they usually did, they stopped their selves, and completely surrounded it trumpeting horribly, and shaking the tree with their heavy trumpets, and when I saw that their eyes were fixed upon me I was much horrified because there was no one to support me, and my arrows dropped from my  hands.

In fact I had a good reason for my fear when, an on the spot, the largest of the animals harmed his trunk round the stem of my tree, and with one great try tore it up by the roots, bringing me to the ground entangled in its branches.

I thought now, that it was my last hour which was surely came; but the huge creature, picking me up very kindly, placed me upon its back, where I hung more dead than alive, and was followed by the whole herd into the dense forest. It seemed to me a long time before I was once more placed upon my feet by the elephant, and I stood as if I am in a dream, was watching the herd, which turned  off in another direction, and hid their-selves in the dense under wood.

Then, getting onto the position of betterment, I looked about me, and found that I was standing upon the side of a great hill, as far as I could see on the other hand the land was covered with bones and tusks of elephants. "Then this must be the  burying place of the elephants," I said to myself, "and they must have brought me here that I might stop to harass them, seeing that I want nothing but their tusks, and here there are more than I could carry away in a lifetime."

Whereas, I turned and made my way for the city as fast as I could, not seeing a single elephant by the way, which made me sure that they had moved deeper into the forest to leave the way open for me to go to the Ivory Hill, and I did not know how pleasingly to respect their forethought. After a day and a night I reached my master's house, and was received by him with great surprise.

"Ah! Poor Sinbad," he said, "I was questioning about what could have happened you. When I went to the forest I found that the tree was uprooted, and the arrows were lying beside, and I was feared that I should never see you again. Please tell me how you escaped from this dangerous situation."

I soon fulfilled his excitement, and the next day we went together to the Ivory Hill, and he was much surprised and was happy to find that I had told him nothing but the truth. When we had loaded our elephant with as many tusks as it could carry and when we were on our way back to the city, he said:

"My brother I can no longer treat the one as a slave who has enriched my life, thus take your independence and may God bless you. I will no longer hide from you that these wild elephants have killed numbers of our slaves every year. No matter what good advice we had given them, they were caught now or the another day. You alone have escaped from the traps of these wild-animals; therefore you must be under the special protection of God. Now only through you the whole town will be enriched without further loss of lives neither of these wild-animals nor of the human, therefore you shall not only receive your independence, but I will also grant a chance upon you."

To which I replied, "Master, I thank you a lot, and wish you all kinds of happiness to be showered unto you. For myself I only ask independence to return to my own country."

"It is well," he answered, "the monsoon will soon bring the ivory ships over here, then I will send you on your way with somewhat to continue your journey."