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This story is suitable for children age 6 to 8 approx.
Sinbads sixth voyage.
From The Arabian Nights Entertainments
Start of Story
By Andrew Lang.
It must be a marvel to you how, after having five times met with
shipwreck and unheard of perils, I could again tempt fortune and risk
fresh trouble. I am even surprised myself when I look back, but
evidently it was my fate to rove, and after a year of repose I prepared
to make a sixth voyage, regardless of the entreaties of my friends and
relations, who did all they could to keep me at home. Instead of going
by the Persian Gulf, I travelled a considerable way overland, and
finally embarked from a distant Indian port with a captain who meant to
make a long voyage. And truly he did so, for we fell in with stormy
weather which drove us completely out of our course, so that for many
days neither captain nor pilot knew where we were, nor where we were
going. When they did at last discover our position we had small ground
for rejoicing, for the captain, casting his turban upon the deck and
tearing his beard, declared that we were in the most dangerous spot
upon the whole wide sea, and had been caught by a current which was at
that minute sweeping us to destruction.
It was too true! In spite of
all the sailors could do we were driven with frightful rapidity towards
the foot of a mountain, which rose sheer out of the sea, and our vessel
was dashed to pieces upon the rocks at its base, not, however, until we
had managed to scramble on shore, carrying with us the most precious of
our possessions. When we had done this the captain said to us:
"Now we are here we may as well begin to dig our graves at once, since
from this fatal spot no shipwrecked mariner has ever returned."
This speech discouraged us much, and we began to lament over our sad
The mountain formed the seaward boundary of a large island, and the
narrow strip of rocky shore upon which we stood was strewn with the
wreckage of a thousand gallant ships, while the bones of the luckless
mariners shone white in the sunshine, and we shuddered to think how
soon our own would be added to the heap. All around, too, lay vast
quantities of the costliest merchandise, and treasures were heaped in
every cranny of the rocks, but all these things only added to the
desolation 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 as rivers
generally do, turned off sharply, and flowed out of sight under a
natural archway of rock, and when I went to examine it more closely I
found that inside the cave the walls were thick with diamonds, and
rubies, and masses of crystal, and the floor was strewn with ambergris.
Here, then, upon this desolate shore we abandoned ourselves to our
fate, for there was no possibility of scaling the mountain, and if a
ship had appeared it could only have shared our doom. The first thing
our captain did was to divide equally amongst us all the food we
possessed, and then the length of each man's life depended on the time
he could make his portion last. I myself could live upon very little.
Nevertheless, by the time I had buried the last of my companions my
stock of provisions was so small that I hardly thought I should live
long enough to dig my own grave, which I set about doing, while I
regretted bitterly the roving disposition which was always bringing me
into such straits, and thought longingly of all the comfort 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 me.
This river which hid itself underground doubtless emerged again at some distant spot. Why
should I not build a raft and trust myself to its swiftly flowing
waters? If I perished before I could reach the light of day once more
I should be no worse off than I was now, for death stared me in the
face, 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
stout raft of drift-wood with strong cords, of which enough and to
spare lay strewn upon the beach. I then made up many packages of
rubies, emeralds, rock crystal, ambergris, and precious stuffs, and
bound them upon my raft, being careful to preserve the balance, and
then I seated myself upon it, having two small oars that I had
fashioned laid ready to my hand, and loosed the cord which held it to
the bank. Once out in the current my raft flew swiftly under the
gloomy archway, and I found myself in total darkness, carried smoothly
forward by the rapid river.