Once more providing myself with the rarest and choicest
merchandise of Bagdad, I conveyed it to Balsora, and set sail
with other merchants of my acquaintance for distant lands
We had touched at many ports and made much profit, when one day
upon the open sea we were caught by a terrible wind which blew
us completely out of our reckoning, and lasting for several days
finally drove us into harbour on a strange island.
"I would rather have come to anchor anywhere than here,"
quoth our captain. "This island and all adjoining it are inhabited by
hairy savages, who are certain to attack us, and whatever these dwarfs
do we dare not resist, since they swarm like locusts, and if one of them
is killed the rest will fall upon us, and speedily make an end of us."
There appeared a vast multitude of hideous savages, not more than
two feet high and covered with reddish fur. Throwing themselves
into the waves they surrounded our vessel. Chattering meanwhile
in a language we could not understand, and clutching at ropes
and gangways, they swarmed up the ship's side with such speed and
agility that they almost seemed to fly.
You may imagine the rage and terror that seized us as we watched them,
neither daring to hinder them nor able to speak a word to deter them
from their purpose, whatever it might be. Of this we were not left long
in doubt. Hoisting the sails, and cutting the cable of the anchor,
they sailed our vessel to an island which lay a little further off,
where they drove us ashore; then taking possession of her, they made
off to the place from which they had come, leaving us helpless upon
a shore avoided with horror by all mariners for a reason which you
will soon learn.