The poor porter was frightened at first, for he thought some one might have overheard what he had been saying, but the servant took his arm and led him into the great dining-hall. There were many guests seated round the table, on which was spread a most delicious feast, and at the head of the table sat a grave, stately old man with a long white beard. This was Sindbad the Sailor. He smiled kindly on poor frightened Hindbad, and made a sign that he should come and sit at his right hand. Then all the most delicious things on the table were offered by the servants to Hindbad, and his glass was filled with the choicest wine, so that he began to feel it must all be a dream.
But when the feast was over Sindbad turned to him and asked him what it was he had been saying outside the window just before he came in.
Then Hindbad was very much ashamed, and hung his head as he answered: “My lord, I was tired and ill-tempered, and I said foolish words, which I trust thou wilt now pardon.”
“Oh,” replied Sindbad, “I am not so unjust as to blame thee. I am indeed only sorry for thee. But thou wert wrong in thinking that I have always led an easy life, and that these riches came to me without trouble or suffering. I have won them by years of toil and danger.”
Then turning to his other guests he said, “Yes, my friends, the tale of my adventures is enough to warn every one of you never to go in search of wealth. I have never told you the story of my voyages, but if you will listen I will begin this very night.”
So the servants were ordered to carry home the porter’s load, that he might stay in Sindbad’s palace that evening and listen to the story.
“My father left me a great deal of money when I was a young man, but I spent it so quickly and foolishly that I began to see it would soon all be gone. This made me stop and think, for I did not like the idea of being poor. So I counted up all the money that remained, and made up my mind that I would trade with it. I joined a company of merchants, and we set sail in a good ship, meaning to go from place to place, and sell or exchange our goods at whatever towns we stopped. And so began my first voyage.
“For the first few days I could think of nothing but the heaving of the waves; but by and by I began to feel better, and never again was I at all unhappy upon the sea. One afternoon, when the wind had suddenly dropped and we were lying becalmed, we found ourselves near a little low green island, which looked like a meadow, and only just showed above the sea. The captain of the ship gave us permission to land, and presently we were all enjoying ourselves on the green meadow. We walked about for some time and then sat down to rest, and some of us set to work to light a fire, that we might make our evening meal.
“But scarcely had the fire begun to burn, when we heard loud shouts from the ship warning us to come back at once, for what we had taken to be an island was indeed the back of a sleeping whale. My companions all rushed to the boats, but before I could follow them the great monster dived down and disappeared, leaving me struggling in the water.