Sindbad the sailor

PROLOGUE

Sindbad the sailor and Sindbad the porter

During the time of the Caliph Harun-al-Raschid, the ruler of the faithful, two people of the same name lived in the city of Baghdad. Both were called "Sindbad". One was a carrier, a very poor man who earned his daily wages by transporting goods, which he carried on his head. The other was a respected wealthy merchant who had a splendid palace, wonderful possessions and gardens. Whereas the poor man often did not earn even the small amount he needed to feed himself, the rich man lived in the lap of luxury, spending money by the handful.

Now one day it happened that when the poor man was carrying a heavy load, he passed the house of his namesake who was popularly known as "Sindbad the Sailor". As he was very tired, indeed quite exhausted, he put down his burden on the shady steps of the palace, wiped the sweat from his forehead and breathed in with delight the cool air that wafted out towards him from the hall. There the carrier began to think about the unequal distribution of fortune and said aloud: "Oh, what a difference there is between Sindbad and Sindbad! One rests on soft cushions, the other on hard stone. Why is it like that?" The carrier was about to move on, having thus given vent to his feelings, when a servant came out of the house and invited him to come in to see his master, who wanted to speak to him. Not a little taken aback, the carrier followed the slave. He was brought in to a small group of distinguished gentlemen, who were gathered among treasures of incalculable value.

An imposing old man sat in the place of honour before whom the carrier bowed low. It was rich Sindbad himself, and he had delicious food brought to the carrier. "Just now you were complaining, my dear friend," said the host after a while, "that fate has blessed you with work instead of with property. Your lament reminds me of much sorrow and poverty I had to bear myself before I reached my present wealth. I had to undertake many travels, and if it pleases you, noble gentlemen, I will tell you something about them, and you, my esteemed namesake, shall hear them too."

They all expressed their pleasure, and Sindbad the Sailor began to recount the adventures of his first journey.

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