He answered me that the people of the ship were probably enchanted on account of a crime somewhere upon the sea: he thought the spell would be dissolved by bringing them to land, but this could be done only by taking up the planks on which they lay.
In the sight of God and justice, he said that the ship, together with all the goods, belonged to me, since I had, as it were, found it; and, if I would keep it very secret, and make him a small present out of my abundance, he would assist me with his slaves to remove the bodies. I promised to reward him richly, and we set out on our expedition with five slaves, who were supplied with saws and hatchets. On the way, the magician Muley could not sufficiently praise our happy expedient of binding the sails around with the sentences from the Koran. He said this was the only means, by which we could have saved ourselves.
It was still pretty early in the day when we reached the ship. We immediately set to work, and in an hour placed four in the boat. Some of the slaves were then obliged to row to land to bury them there. They told us, when they returned, that the bodies had spared them the trouble of burying, since, the moment they laid them on the earth, they had fallen to dust.
We diligently set to work to saw off the bodies, and before evening all were brought to land. There were, at last, no more on board than the one that was nailed to the mast. Vainly sought we to draw the nail out of the wood, no strength was able to start it even a hair’s-breadth. I knew not what next to do, for we could not hew down the mast in order to bring him to land; but in this dilemma Muley came to my assistance. He quickly ordered a slave to row to land and bring a pot of earth. When he had arrived with it, the magician pronounced over it some mysterious words, and cast it on the dead man’s head. Immediately the latter opened his eyes, drew a deep breath, and the wound of the nail in his forehead began to bleed. We now drew it lightly forth, and the wounded man fell into the arms of one of the slaves.
“Who bore me hither?” he exclaimed, after he seemed to have recovered himself a little. Muley made signs to me, and I stepped up to him.
“Thank thee, unknown stranger; thou hast freed me from long torment. For fifty years has my body been sailing through these waves, and my spirit was condemned to return to it every night. But now my head has come in contact with the earth, and, my crime expiated, I can go to my fathers!”
I entreated him, thereupon, to tell how he had been brought to this horrible state, and he began—
“Fifty years ago, I was an influential, distinguished man, and resided in Algiers: a passion for gain urged me on to fit out a ship, and turn pirate. I had already followed this business some time, when once, at Zante, I took on board a Dervise, who wished to travel for nothing. I and my companions were impious men, and paid no respect to the holiness of the man; I, in particular, made sport of him. When, however, on one occasion he upbraided me with holy zeal for my wicked course of life, that same evening, after I had been drinking to excess with my pilot in the cabin, anger overpowered me. Reflecting on what the Dervise had said to me, which I would not have borne from a Sultan, I rushed upon deck, and plunged my dagger into his breast. Dying, he cursed me and my crew, and doomed us not to die and not to live, until we should lay our heads upon the earth.
“The Dervise expired, and we cast him overboard, laughing at his menaces; that same night, however, were his words fulfilled. One portion of my crew rose against me; with terrible courage the struggle continued, until my supporters fell, and I myself was nailed to the mast. The mutineers, however, also sank under their wounds, and soon my ship was but one vast grave. My eyes also closed, my breath stopped—I thought I was dying. But it was only a torpor which held me chained: the following night, at the same hour in which we had cast the Dervise into the sea, I awoke, together with all my comrades; life returned, but we could do and say nothing but what had been done and said on that fatal night. Thus we sailed for fifty years, neither living nor dying, for how could we reach the land? With mad joy we ever dashed along, with full sails, before the storm, for we hoped at last to be wrecked upon some cliff, and to compose our weary heads to rest upon the bottom of the sea; but in this we never succeeded. Now I shall die! Once again, unknown preserver, accept my thanks, and if treasures can reward thee, then take my ship in token of my gratitude.”
With these words the Captain let his head drop, and expired. Like his companions, he immediately fell to dust. We collected this in a little vessel, and buried it on the shore: and I took workmen from the city to put the ship in good condition. After I had exchanged, with great advantage, the wares I had on board for others, I hired a crew, richly rewarded my friend Muley, and set sail for my fatherland. I took a circuitous route, in the course of which I landed at several islands and countries, to bring my goods to market. The Prophet blessed my undertaking. After several years I ran into Balsora, twice as rich as the dying Captain had made me. My fellow-citizens were amazed at my wealth and good fortune, and would believe nothing else but that I had found the diamond-valley of the far-famed traveller Sinbad. I left them to their belief; henceforth must the young folks of Balsora, when they have scarcely arrived at their eighteenth year, go forth into the world, like me, to seek their fortunes. I, however, live in peace and tranquillity, and every five years make a journey to Mecca, to thank the Lord for his protection, in that holy place, and to entreat for the Captain and his crew, that He will admit them into Paradise.