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Sinbad the Sailor and the Valley of the Diamonds

2006-07-13 23:13

  Long ago, in the City of Bagdad, in the land of Persia, there lived a man called Sinbad the Sailor.

  Sinbad lived in beautiful, big house. The streets of Bagdad were hot and dusty - but in the house Sinbad it was cool and pleasant. The floors and the walls were covered with fine rugs. And all through the house there was small of flowers and rose water.

  In the evenings, Sinbad invited his friends. His friends liked the good food. They liked the music. But most of all they liked to listen to Sinbad's stories.

  One evening after dinner, Sinbad picked up a bag, turned it over, and out came a shower of diamonds. His friends were dazzled.

  “Diamonds! How beautiful!” his friends cried.

  “The biggest diamonds I've ever seen!” said one friend. “Where did you get them, Sinbad?”

  Sinbad smiled. “That's quite a story,” he said.

  “Tell us,” begged his friends.

  Soon the big room was quite. And Sinbad told his story:

  My friends, you know what a sailor I am! Soon after I came home from my first voyage, I was eager to sail off again.

  I found some sailor and merchants whose ship was about to sail. And I got together some goods. You know, my friends, I am not only a sailor, I am a merchant too. I trade with people in faraway lands.

  Soon our ship was out on the open sea. We sailed from island to island. And we made many a good trade.

  One morning we landed on a small island. We found no houses, no people on it. There were many flowers, and trees full of ripe fruit. Our men walked around the island. They picked flowers and ate some of the fruit. I had brought food from the ship, and I found a nice spot for a picnic. After I ate, I took a nap.

  When I woke up, it was late in the day. How quite it was on the island? Where were our men?

  “Hi! Ho!” I called. But no one answered. I ran to board ship. The ship was gone! I was left on the island, all alone. What was I to do?

  I climbed a tall tree. From up high, I looked out to sea. I saw nothing but water. I looked over the island. I saw nothing. . . . No, wait! Far off, in the middle of the island, I saw a strange thing. It towered above the trees-big and dazzling white. I set out at once to see what it was.

  Close by, the big white thing looked like an enormous ball! I touched it. It was smooth. I tried to get inside it. But there was no door, no opening. I tried to climb it. It was too slippery. I slid right off.

  Suddenly the sky was very dark, as though a storm cloud covered the sun. I looked up. It was a giant bird. What a bird, my friend! And that bird was flying down to the island.

  Now I remembered that some sailors had told me of such a bird. They had called it a roc. The roc was coming closer and closer. Gently, gently, this great bird settled down on the big white ball. The roc was warming the ball with its body and its wings.

  Now I understood: This big, strange, white thing was the roc's egg!

  I waited until the roc had gone to sleep. Then I crawled close to one of the bird's big legs. The leg looked to me like a tall tree. I unwound the turban I was wearing, so I had a long strip of cloth. Then I wound that strip of cloth tightly around myself and the roc's leg. I hoped that the roc would fly away in the morning. I hoped it would take me to a place where I would find people to rescue me.

  In the morning I woke up high in the air. The roc was carrying the away, over land and sea. Soon we were zooming down, down at great speed.

  Thud! We hit the ground. Nearby was an enormous snake! Quickly I untied myself from the roc's leg. Not a moment too soon-the roc pounced on the snake and flew away with it.

  When the roc had flown off, I looked around. Where was I now?

  The roc had brought me into a deep, dark, narrow valley. The ground was so full of stones that it was hard to walk. All around, on all sides, were high mountains. They were steep and rocky, impossible to climb.

  I walked up and down the valley, looked for a way out. I found none. I kicked some of the stones out of my way, to make it easier to walk. I saw a sparkle here, a dazzle there. I looked more closely. All over the ground there were diamonds! I picked up a big diamond. “How these at home in Bagdad.

  Just them I heard a terrible hissing.

  I looked around. Not far away, some enormous snakes were crawling out of a big cave. The smallest of them could have swallowed an elephant!

  By now, it was almost night. In the dark, I looked for a place to hide. I found a cave, a cave too small for those giant snakes. I crawled inside and put a big rock in front of it. Would I be safe here from the snakes?

  I ate some of the food that was left in my bag, and I lay down to sleep. But I did not dare to aloes my eyes. All night I heard the snakes crawling around the valley. All night I heard their terrible hissing.

  When morning came, the valley was quite. The snakes had crawled back into their hiding places. They were hiding from the roc swooped down on the valley by day.

  I came out of my cave. Under my feet lay the sparkling diamonds. I kicked them out of the way. What help could these riches be to me here? Oh, would I ever get out of this valley of snakes?

  I sat down on a big stone to rest. Suddenly I heard - Plop! Thud!

  All around me, enormous pieces of raw meat were falling, hitting the ground hard. Someone was throwing them from up high in the mountains.

  As I looked at one of these big chunks of meat, I saw that some of the diamonds on the ground had stuck to it.

  I remembered that I had heard sailors talk of the Valley of the Diamonds. They told me that in the mountains high above the Valley of the Diamonds, great eagles have their nests. Every year, when the eagles hatch their young, clever merchants come to these mountains with big chunks of meat. The merchants throw these pieces of meat down into the Valley of the Diamonds. They throw them hard, so that some diamonds will get stuck in the meat. The eagles swoop down. They carry the meat-and the diamonds along with it-up to their nests, to feed their young.

  Then the merchants make a terrible noise. They scare the big eagles away. They take the diamonds out of the eagles' nests, and they carry them off. This, the sailors told me, is the way the clever merchants get their diamonds.

  Could this be the real Valley of Diamonds? Were eagles really going to come and take these pieces of meat? I must be ready for them.

  Once more I unwound my turban until it was a long strip of cloth. I emptied all the food out of my bag. I stuffed the bag with some very fine diamonds. Then I tied an enormous chunk of meat to my back. I put my face down to the stony ground, and I waited.

  At last, I heard the flapping of wings. The eagles were coming! An eagle picked up the chunk of meat that was tied to my back and he carried me with it into the mountains. I was dropped into a nest, among the young eagles!

  Soon I heard shouting and banging. The merchants were making a terrible racket. It scared the big eagles away. One of the merchants came to the nest. He was surprised to see me. He was angry too.

  “Thief!” he cried. “Are you trying to take away my diamonds?”

  “If you knew me better, you would not talk to me like this,” I said to him. I told him my story. Then I opened my bag, filled with the very fine diamonds. I offered him half of them.

  “What diamonds!” cried the merchant. “There isn't a prince in the world who has anything like them. Just give me one of these, and I will live well for the rest of my life.” And all he would take was one diamond.

  All the merchants were amazed and dazzled by the sight of my diamonds. They took me to their ship, and soon we set sail for home.

  How glad I was to see our City of Bagdad again! My diamonds indeed proved to be a great treasure. I gave many presents to the poor.

  And now, for a while, I am setting down to a most pleasant life. But you know me well, my friends. . . . I can't stay home for long. Soon again, your friend Sinbad the Sailor will go to sea and sail to faraway lands.

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