As soon as I had declared my errand I was conducted into the presence of the Caliph, to whom, after I had made my obeisance, I gave the letter and the king’s gift, and when he had examined them he demanded of me whether the Prince of Serendib was really as rich and powerful as he claimed to be.
“Commander of the Faithful,” I replied, again bowing humbly before him, “I can assure your Majesty that he has in no way exaggerated his wealth and grandeur. Nothing can equal the magnificence of his palace. When he goes abroad his throne is prepared upon the back of an elephant, and on either side of him ride his ministers, his favourites, and courtiers. On his elephant’s neck sits an officer, his golden lance in his hand, and behind him stands another bearing a pillar of gold, at the top of which is an emerald as long as my hand. A thousand men in cloth of gold, mounted upon richly caparisoned elephants, go before him, and as the procession moves onward the officer who guides his elephant cries aloud, `Behold the mighty monarch, the powerful and valiant Sultan of the Indies, whose palace is covered with a hundred thousand rubies, who possesses twenty thousand diamond crowns. Behold a monarch greater than Solomon and Mihrage in all their glory!’”
“Then the one who stands behind the throne answers: ’This king, so great and powerful, must die, must die, must die!’”
“And the first takes up the chant again, `All praise to Him who lives for evermore.’”
“Further, my lord, in Serendib no judge is needed, for to the king himself his people come for justice.”
The Caliph was well satisfied with my report.
“From the king’s letter,” said he, “I judged that he was a wise man. It seems that he is worthy of his people, and his people of him.”
So saying he dismissed me with rich presents, and I returned in peace to my own house.
When Sindbad had done speaking his guests withdrew, Hindbad having first received a hundred sequins, but all returned next day to hear the story of the seventh voyage, Sindbad thus began.
After my sixth voyage I was quite determined that I would go to sea no more. I was now of an age to appreciate a quiet life, and I had run risks enough. I only wished to end my days in peace. One day, however, when I was entertaining a number of my friends, I was told that an officer of the Caliph wished to speak to me, and when he was admitted he bade me follow him into the presence of Haroun al Raschid, which I accordingly did. After I had saluted him, the Caliph said:
“I have sent for you, Sindbad, because I need your services. I have chosen you to bear a letter and a gift to the King of Serendib in return for his message of friendship.”
The Caliph’s commandment fell upon me like a thunderbolt.
“Commander of the Faithful,” I answered, “I am ready to do all that your Majesty commands, but I humbly pray you to remember that I am utterly disheartened by the unheard of sufferings I have undergone. Indeed, I have made a vow never again to leave Bagdad.”