The author of the following story is unknown. It was gathered with others in Persia, brought to England and presented to the Bodleian Library.
The Story of The Sailor and the Pearl Merchant is a splendid example of the Persian story-teller’s fantastic and magical art.
The present version is from a translation by Reuben Levy, M.A., of MS. Ouseley 231, Bodleian Library. Copyright, 1923, by Oxford University Press, by whose permission it is here reprinted.
The Sailor and The Pearl Merchant
It is related that in the city of Basrah there was a man, Abu’l Fawaris, who was the chief of the sailors of the town, for in the great ocean there was no port at which he had not landed. One day, as he sat on the seashore, with his sailors round him, an old man arrived in a ship, landed where Abu’l Fawaris was sitting, and said: “Friend, I desire you to give me your ship for six months, and I will pay you whatever you desire.” “I demand a thousand gold dinars,” said the sailor, and at once received the gold from the old man, who, before departing, said that he would come again on the next day, and warned Abu’l Fawaris that there was to be no holding back.
The sailor took home his gold, made his ship ready, and then, taking- leave of his wife and sons, he went down to the shore, where he found the old man waiting for him with a slave and twenty ass-loads of empty sacks. Abu’l Fawaris greeted him, and together they loaded the ship and set sail. Taking a particular star for their mark, they sailed for three months, when an island appeared to one side of them. For this the old man steered, and they soon landed upon it.
Having loaded his slave with some sacks, the old man with his companions set out towards a mountain which they could see in the distance. This they reached after some hours of travel, and climbed to the summit, upon which they found a broad plain where more than two hundred pits had been dug. The old man then explained to the sailor that he was a merchant, and that he had, on that spot, found a mine ol jewels. “Now that I have given you my confidence,” he continued, “1 expect faithfulness from you too.