There was once a sailor from Baghdad called Sindbad. He made seven long voyages in his life. They were all full of adventures. He met many strange people and saw many strange things. When he was old, he liked telling people about his adventures and they liked listening. This is the story of his second voyage.
'When I returned home from my first voyage, I lived a comfortable life in the city for some years. Then I began to get bored. I dreamt of sailing the seas again. I wanted new adventures. One morning I packed my chest and travelled to the port of Basra.
'There was a good, strong ship in the harbor and it was ready to sail. I got on it. We travelled from port to port and from island to island. The other passengers on the ship were merchants and, when we stopped, they bought and sold things. Soon I began to do the same. Weeks and months passed pleasantly but without adventure.
'Then one day the wind took our ship to a strange and beautiful island. There were trees with delicious fruit, flowers of many colors, and streams of sweet water. The air was full of the songs of birds, but there weren't any people. The other passengers started to explore the island. I was tired so I sat under a tree. I ate some of the delicious fruit from the trees and drank some of the sweet water from the streams. Then I fell asleep. When I woke up, I looked around. I was alone on the island! I looked out to sea and saw my ship on the horizon. I began to feel afraid. «Oh, poor me!» I said. «What shall I do now?»
'I walked around the island for an hour or more. Then I climbed a tall tree. «I can get a better view of the island from the top of a tree,» I thought. I looked left and right but I saw only trees, flowers, birds, the sea and the sky. Then I looked more carefully. There was a big, white object in the distance. I decided to go and have a look at it.
'When I got nearer, I saw that it was a dome. I touched it and walked round it. It was very smooth and very big, but there were no doors or windows in it. Suddenly, it became dark. I looked up and I saw an enormous bird above me. It covered the sun. «A roc!» I said to myself. «And this white dome is her egg.» I remembered a travelers' story about these birds. It said that rocs caught elephants for their babies to eat. Just at that moment, the bird landed on top of her egg and soon she was asleep.
'I quickly took off my turban and tied one end of it to the roc's foot and the other around my waist.
'«Perhaps this bird will take me to a land where there are cities and people,» I thought. I waited all night. In the morning the roc woke up and flew away and she took me with her.
'She didn't take me very far. We landed on the side of a mountain. I quickly untied my turban and hid behind a rock.
'The roc picked up a huge snake in its talons and flew away. I looked around me. I saw a lot more snakes. They were sleeping among the rocks. «This is a terrible place,» I thought. «There was fruit to eat and water to drink on the island. But there are only snakes here.'»
I walked down into the valley. There weren't any trees or flowers, only sand and rocks. The small stones under my feet sparkled in the sunshine. I looked at them more carefully. They weren't stones, they were diamonds! Then I knew where I was. «This is the Valley of Diamonds,» I said to myself.
«Nobody escapes from here!» I began to feel very afraid. I looked around. The snakes were still asleep among the rocks. Their bodies were as thick as tree trunks. «They'll wake up when it is dark,» I thought, «and come out to look for food. I must find a safe place to sleep tonight. Perhaps there are some caves here.» It was beginning to get dark and I could hear the snakes. They were waking up. I walked faster. Soon I found a cave. It was big and dark inside but the floor was dry. «This is a good place to sleep,» I thought. «I'll put a big rock in the mouth of the cave to keep the snakes out. I'll be safe here until the morning.» I went in and looked around. At the back of the cave I could see two small red lights. Two eyes! There was a huge snake there. She was sitting on her eggs. She was looking at me! I ran out of the cave. It was completely dark in the valley now and the snakes in the rocks were coming out. They made a terrible noise. I was very afraid. I decided to stay in the cave. «One snake is better than a hundred,» I thought. «And she is more interested in her eggs than she is in me.» So I found a rock and closed the cave. I was awake all night. I could hear the snakes outside. The noise was terrible. The snake at the back of the cave sat on her eggs and looked at me. When I saw the first light from the sun, I moved the rock and went out. It was quiet. The snakes were asleep so I left the cave and started walking down the valley.
'Suddenly, something fell out of the sky and landed at my feet. It was a big piece of meat. Then another piece of meat fell out of the sky. I was very surprised but I remembered another travelers' story about the Valley of Diamonds. The story said that diamond merchants never came into the valley because it was a very dangerous place, but they had a very clever way of getting the diamonds out. They stood on the tops of the mountains and threw big pieces of meat down into the valley. The meat was soft so the precious stones stuck to it. At midday rocs and eagles flew down into the valley. They picked up the pieces of meat and carried them up to the tops of the mountains. When the birds landed, the merchants shouted loudly and made a lot of noise. The birds were afraid and flew away. Then the merchants took the diamonds out of the meat and put them into chests. This was the only way of getting the diamonds out of the valley. Later, the merchants sold the precious stones in the cities for a lot of money.
'The story gave me an idea. I filled my pockets with the biggest diamonds I could find. Then I tied myself to a piece of meat with my turban. Soon an eagle came down. It picked up the piece of meat and me and flew up to the top of a mountain with it.
'As soon as we landed, there was a lot of noise and shouting. The bird was afraid and flew away. I untied myself quickly and started to run.
"'Hey you! Stop!" a man shouted. I stopped.
"'Don't hurt me, sir," I said. «I'm an honest man. I don't want your diamonds.» I took three big diamonds out of my pocket. «Look!» I said, «Take these! I picked them up in the valley,» and I gave him the stones. The man was very happy and thanked me. He took me to meet his friends. They were all diamond merchants. They gave me food and drink and listened to my story. One of them said, «You're the first man to escape from this valley.»
'I travelled with them for many weeks. We visited many countries and we had many adventures. I gave them diamonds and they gave me food and drink.
'In one port there was a ship that was going to Basra. I was tired of travelling and I wanted to see my family again so I got on it. From Basra I travelled back to Baghdad. I was happy to be home again.
'I was a rich man. I gave many presents to my family and money to the poor people of the city. I enjoyed my comfortable life at home. But after a few years, I started to get bored. I wanted to travel the seas again and have new adventures!'
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