The Sailor and the Pearl Merchant part 8


The next day, therefore, the sailor took on board the old man and a black slave, and for three months they sailed, until they once more reached the island of pearls. There they made fast the ship on the shore, and taking sacks, they ascended to the top of the mountain. Once arrived there, the old man made the same request to Abu`l Fawaris as before, namely, that he should go down into the pits and send up pearls.

The sailor replied that he was unacquainted with the place, and preferred that the old man should go down first, in order to prove that there was no danger. He answered that there was surely no danger; he had never in his life harmed even an ant, and he would of a certainty never send Abu`l Fawaris down into the pits if he knew any peril lay there. But the sailor was obstinate, saying that until he knew how to carry it out, he could not undertake the task.

So many pearls

Very reluctantly, therefore, the old man allowed himself to be low-ered into the first pit by a basket and a rope. He filled the basket with oysters and sent it up, crying out: “You see, there is nothing to do harm in this pit. Draw me up now, for I am an old man and have no more strength left.” The sailor replied, “Now that you are there, it were better if you remained there to complete your task. To-morrow I myself will go into another pit and will send up so many pearls as to fill the ship.” For a long time the old man worked, sending up pearls, and at last he cried out again, “O my brother, I am utterly wearied, draw me out now.”

Then the sailor turned upon him with fury, and cried out: “How is it that thou dost see ever thine own trouble and never that of others? Thou misbegotten dog, art thou blind that thou dost not know me? I am Abu`l Fawaris, the sailor, whom long ago you left in one of these pits. By the favor of Allah I was delivered, and now it is your turn. Open your eyes to the truth and remember what you have done to so many men.” The old man cried aloud for mercy, but it availed him nothing, for Abu`l Fawaris brought a great stone and covered up the mouth of the pit. The slave too he overwhelmed with threats, and then together they carried down the pearls to the ship, in which they set sail. In three months they arrived at Basrah. There Abu`l Fawaris related his adventures, to the amazement of all. Thenceforward he abandoned the sea and adopted a life of ease. Finally he died, and this story remains in memory of him. And Allah knoweth best.

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