This section is from the book "Stories From The Thousand And One Nights", by Edward William Lane and Stanley Lanepoole. Also available from Amazon: Stories From Thousand And One Nights: The Arabian Nights' Entertainments.
At length my provision became greatly diminished, little remaining with me. During each day, or in more than a day, I had eaten but once, and drunk one draught, fearing the exhaustion of the water and food that was with me before my death; and I ceased not to do this until I was sitting one day, and while I sat, meditating upon my case, thinking what I should do when my food and water were exhausted, lo, the mass of rock was removed from its place, and the light beamed down upon me. So I said, What can be the matter? And, behold, the people were standing at the top of the pit, and they let down a dead man with his wife with him alive, and she was weeping and crying out for **rself; and they let down with her a large quantity of food and water. I saw the woman; but she saw not me; and they covered the mouth of the pit with the stone, and went their ways. Then I arose, and, taking in my hand a long bone of a dead man, I went to the woman, and struck her upon the middle of the head; whereupon she fell down senseless; and I struck her a second and a third time, and she died. So I took her bread and what else she had, and I found upon her abundance of ornaments and apparel, necklaces and jewels and minerals. And having taken the water and food that was with her, I sat in a place that I had prepared in a side of the cavern, wherein to sleep, and proceeded to eat a little of that food, as much only as would sustain me, lest it should be exhausted quickly, and I should die of hunger and thirst.
I remained in that cavern a length of time; and whenever they buried a corpse, I killed the person who was buried with it alive, and took that person's food and drink, to subsist upon it, until I was sleeping one day, and I awoke from my sleep, and heard something make a noise in a side of the cavern. So I said, What can this be? I then arose and walked towards it, taking with me a long bone of a dead man; and when it was sensible of my presence, it ran away, and fled from me; and, lo, it was a wild beast. But I followed it to the upper part of the cavern, and thereupon a light appeared to me from a small spot, like a star. Sometimes it appeared to me, and sometimes it was concealed from me. Therefore when I saw it, I advanced towards it ; and the nearer I approached to it, the larger did the light from it appear to me. So upon this I was convinced that it was a hole in that cavern, communicating with the open country; and I said within myself, There must be some cause for this: either it is a second mouth, like that from which they let me down, or it is a fissure in this place. I meditated in my mind a while, and advanced towards the light; and, lo, it was a perforation in the back of that mountain, which the wild beasts had made, and through which they entered this place; and they ate of the dead bodies until they were satiated, and went forth through this perforation. When I saw it, therefore, my mind was quieted, my soul was tranquillized, and my heart was at ease; I made sure of life after death, and became as in a dream. . Then I managed to force my way through that perforation, and found myself on the shore of the sea, upon a great mountain, which formed a barrier between the sea on the one side, and the island and city on the other, and to which no one could gain access. So I praised God (whose name be exalted!), and thanked Him, and rejoiced exceedingly, and my heart was strengthened. I then returned through that perforation into the cavern, and removed all the food and water that was in it, that I had spared. I also took the clothes of the dead, and clad myself in some of them, in addition to those I had on me; and I took abundance of the things that were on the dead, consisting of varieties of necklaces and jewels, long necklaces of pearls, ornaments of silver and gold set with various minerals, and rarities; and, having tied up some clothes of the dead in apparel of my own, I went forth from the perforation to the back of the mountain, and stood upon the shore of the sea. Every day I entered the cavern, and explored it; and whenever they buried a person alive, I took the food and water, and killed that person, whether male or female; after which I went forth from the perforation, and sat upon the shore of the sea, to wait for relief from God (whose name be exalted!), by means of a ship passing by me. And I removed from that cavern all the ornaments that I found, and tied them up in the clothes of the dead.
I ceased not to remain in this state for a length of time; and afterwards, as I was sitting one day, upon the shore of the sea, meditating upon my case, lo, a vessel passed along in the midst of the roaring sea agitated with waves. So I took in my hand a white garment, of the clothes of the dead, and tied it to a staff, and ran with it along the seashore, making a sign to the people with that garment, until they happened to look, and saw me upon the summit of the mountain. They therefore approached me, and heard my voice, and sent to me a boat in which was a party of men from the ship; and when they drew near to me they said to me, Who art thou, and what is the reason of thy sitting in this place, and how didst thou arrive at this mountain; fpr in our lives we have never seen any one who hath come unto it? So I answered them, I am a merchant The vessel that I was in was wrecked, and I got upon a plank, together with my things, and God facilitated my landing at this place, with my things, by means of my exertion and my skill, after severe toil. They therefore took me with them in the boat, and embarked all that I had taken from the cavern, tied up in the garments and grave-clothes, and they proceeded with me until they took me up into the ship, to the master, and all my things with me. And the master said to me, O man, how didst thou arrive at this place, which is a great mountain, with a great city behind it? All my life I have been accustomed to navigate this sea, and to pass by this mountain; but have never seen any thing there except the wild beasts and the birds.-I answered him, I am a merchant. I was in a great ship, and it was wrecked, and all my merchandise, consisting of these stuffs and clothes which thou seest, was submerged; but I placed it upon a great plank, one of the planks of the ship, and destiny and fortune aided me, so that I landed upon this mountain, where I waited for some one to pass by and take me with him.