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Short Stories

      The Whale Island   (The First Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor)

I had from my birth itself received a huge amount of wealth from my parents, and being young and foolish I at first wasted it carelessly upon every kind of pleasure, but presently, finding that wealth take to themselves wings very fast I thought that if I would have managed as badly as I was managing mine, and remembering also that to be old and poor is misery in fact, I began to bethink me of how I could make the best of what still remained to me.

I sold all my household goods by public mart, and joined a company of merchants who traded by sea, sailing with them at Balsora in a ship which we had fitted out between us.

We set sail and took our course towards the East Indies by the Persian Gulf, having the coast of Persia upon our left hand and upon our right the shores of Arabia Felix. I was at first much troubled by the movement of the ship, but speedily recovered my health, and since that hour have been no more weighed down by sickness of the sea.

From time to time we landed at various islands, where we sold and exchanged our goods, and one day, when the wind fall suddenly, we found ourselves stucked close to a small island like a green meadow, which rose slightly above the surface of the water. Our sails were wind up, and the captain gave permission to all who wished to land for a while and amuse themselves.

I was among the number who wished to land on that Island, but when after walking about for some time we lighted a fire and sat down to enjoy the feast which we had brought with us, we were worried by a sudden and violent wavering of the island, while at the same moment those who were upon the ship was shouting for us to come on board for our lives, since what we had taken for an island was nothing but the back of a sleeping whale.

Those who were nearest to the ship entered themselves into it, while others dived into the sea, but before I could save myself the whale went suddenly under the depths of the ocean, leaving me hanging to a piece of the wood which we had brought to make our fire.

Meanwhile a breeze had leap up, and in the confusion that pursued on ship our vessel in hoisting the sails and taking up those who were in the boat and hanging to its sides, no one remembered me and I was left at the mercy of the waves. All that day I floated up and down, now beaten in this way and in that, and when night fell I give up hope for my life; but, weary and spent as I was, I hang to my weak support, and great was my joy when the morning light showed me that I had landed against an island.

The sea cliff were high and steep, but luckily for me some tree-roots overhang in that place, and by their support I climbed up at last, and stretched myself upon the sod at the top, where I lay, more dead than alive, till the sun was high in the heavens. By that time I was very hungry, but after some searching I came upon some eatable herbs, and a spring of clear water, and much refreshed I set out to discover the island. Presently I reached a great plain where a horse was grazing, and as I stood looking at it I heard talking which seems to be heard underground, and in a moment a man appeared who asked me how I came upon the island.

I told him my adventures, and heard in return that he was one of the grooms of Mihrage, the king of the island, and that each year they came to feed their master's horses in this plain. He took me to a cave where his companions were together assembled, and when I had eaten of the food they set before me, they made me think myself happy to have come upon them when I did, since they were going back to their master on the morrow, and without their aid I could certainly never have found my way to the living part of the island.