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observable amongst them. Even in this secluded spot so inveterate is the force of habit, that the Arab women, whenever they made their appearance, had their faces closely veiled. Hassan had two wives, Amra and Mirrha, the one young and the other elderly, and we often heard their voices in the adjoining tent; sometimes they appeared to be in altercation, from the shrill and scolding tone of the senior bride. To vary the scene, I sometimes climbed up the rocks, and sat for hours, but the view was bounded by the narrow glen beneath, and the precipices above, behind which the sun sunk at an early hour; and when the gloom of evening fell, and the air became chill, we were glad to assemble in our tent round a fire. It is said that men in a state of extreme hunger often dream of banquets and tables of luxury:—the imagination was bere perpetually wandering to scenes of verdure and loveliness; often Crusoe's lonely island floated before me, and groves of orangetrees, sweet fountains, and banks of perfume, became almost embodied in this scene of desolation. There was no water nearer to the camp than the well at which we stopped on our approach, and the camels were sent there every day. No situation could be better adapted to the Bedouins than this: it was scarcely possible for a stranger to discover it, and it was still more difficult to attack it. Yet their condition possessed few things to attach them to it, save its unbounded liberty: surrounded by lands of despotism, they were beyond the reach of power or pursuit, and might truly call these wild and waste regions their own.
In appearance these men were light and active, though very slender, and had all of them expressive dark eyes and beautiful teeth. The quantity of food they consumed was excessively small, little else than coarse cake baked in the embers, and a little coffee twice a day. They were not very cleanly in their way of eating; for their favourite dish, of which they invited us to partake, consisted of a number of warm cakes, broken up into a large wooden vessel, a quantity of warm water was then poured on them, and, some fat being also mixed, the whole was stirred well with the hand; and then the Arabs formed in a circle round the dish, and plunged their dark hands promiscuously into it. After they had devoured about half the contents, they rose, and another circle took their place and finished them. One evening, however, they killed a goat, which they procured from the mountains, for our supper, and we formed in a large party about it; and though the pieces of meat and bones into which the poor animal was dissected, were by no means sightly or delicate, the whole was devoured without ceremony. These people appeared to live on the most kind and amicable terms with each other, as if they formed but one large family. But the silence of the camp was very oppressive, the human voice was not often heard, and the tread of the foot was scarcely distinguishable on the soft sand. The women sometimes passed the door of our abode, but they dared not stop even to gaze. One evening, as we were sitting in the tent and engaged in conversation, the curtain of Hassan's tent was slowly lifted up behind, and a dark hand, the wrist loaded with massive bracelets of silver and horn, made its appearance, and, soon after, the countenance of the young wife of Hassan. The girl gazed earnestly at the Christians, of whose nation she had probably never seen one before, and then pointed expressively to her eyes, and waved her hand to and fro; she
VOL. IX. No. 49.-1825.
imagined, do doubt, we were hakims or physicians, as the Arabs think every Christian is; and her eyes had been evidently injured, perhaps by the glare of the sunbeams on the sands. Mr. C. however, who had some knowledge of medicine, shook his head at the idea of meddling with the eyes of an Arab beauty; she looked very disappointed, but, the voice of Hassan being heard at no great distance, the curtain was instantly dropped, and she disappeared. Several times this interview was repeated: one or two parts of our dress attracted her extreme curiosity, particularly the frill of a shirt, which she pulled towards her dark eyes and examined minutely, and spoke earnestly in a tone of intreaty, and thinking it was removable, strove to retain it; but the chief was at a distance on these occasions, or else his jealousy would have been excited.
Of all the evils that ever befel mankind, the confusion of tongues was surely one of the worst: it would have been a luxury to have been able to hold converse with this poor Arab bride, whose knowledge of the world was probably bounded by the rocks around the solitary encampment. But our companion's knowledge of Arabic was of little use on this occasion, as he stood in that singular apprehension of women, or of the consequences resulting from their presence here, that the moment the girl put her head into the tent, he fled over the sand as if pursued by a wild beast.
But our captivity was soon to be put an end to, and that by a singular and unexpected circumstance. In passing through Suez, we had an audience of the governor, and Ibrahim, a young Arab chief, had seen that we were courteously received: he was unwell, and begged some medicine, which Mr. C. gave him, and it proved of great benefit. One day, Mr. W. had strolled to the other end of the camp, and was astonished to meet with Ibrahim, who, travelling through the desert, had chanced to stop for a short time at this spot. The young man instantly inquired what could possibly have brought us there, and Mr. W. informed him of all the circumstances of our detention, at which he expressed great indignation, and the other offered him a present of some money on our joint account, if he would endeavour to procure our liberation. The prospect of the reward, and the gratitude which he really felt for the kindness shewn him at Suez, both conspired to induce him to use every effort to this end. He mounted his camel, and, though it was night, instantly rode off to the residence of his brother Saléh, who was the superior chief in the whole territory. Early the next morning, Saléh arrived in company with Ibrahim; and having sent word to the surrounding parts in the course of the day, above thirty sheiks had arrived in the camp, being an assembly, as Ibrahim expressed it in his Oriental style, of "all the great, the wise, and the glorious."
Their consultations now began; and it was very interesting to see them formed in a large circle on the sand, debating on the subject of our liberation many of them were venerable men, with long beards descending on their breasts. The dispute sometimes grew warm, and was accompanied with vehement action. Saléh, who was a man of mild and dignified aspect, had great influence over them: he was employed and trusted on some occasions by Mahmoud Ali, and was resolved we
should be set at liberty; and all the chiefs, except the tribe of Hassan, seconded his opinion. "I know well," said Saléh, "that the English are favoured by the Pacha; their Consul is his friend: and when he hears that you have taken some of this nation prisoners, he will send Turkish soldiers to attack your camp, and either put you to death or carry you and your families captives to Cairo." This chief spoke little, but seemed to listen attentively to the debates of the others, several of whom sometimes spoke at once in a loud tone of voice, at other times the whole listened with deep attention to the discourse of one of their number. During the heat of the day they assembled in a large tent, and formed two long rows, at the head of which one of the sheiks presided. For a long time Hassan and his people sullenly refused to consent to set us free; and it was not till the evening of the second day that they were obliged to accede, and we were informed that on the following morning we were to depart. It was delightful news to us. The sheiks seated themselves at the door of our tent at night, and we sipped our coffee, smoked, and conversed in good fellowship. The chiefs then mounted their camels, and departed. Ibrahim, our friend, lingered behind the others. The scene was now entirely changed; and we felt how much sweeter it is to have a little power than to be subject to that of others. Before their departure, the superior sheik requested us to write a letter to Cairo to the authorities, and to say, that whereas some persons, void of understanding, ha taken us prisoners, the chief Saléh was resolved to have them punished. This, most probably, would never be done; or, at least, only on the young Arab who was about to give one of us the contents of his pistol at our first meeting them, and who was angrily menaced by Saléh. On the afternoon of the following day we left the camp, well mounted and attended; for Hassan, passing from one extreme to another, now resolved to conduct us himself to Cairo with his own camels and some of his people. We had not travelled many hours ere we arrived at a tent or two of a friend of the chief's, with whom we were to pass the night. Having supped, one or two songs were sung by the Arabs, and the evening passed pleasantly.
Franco had now joined us; and being relieved from all his fears, besides being refreshed by a good supper, commenced his German psalmody with great fervor, but was soon compelled to stop by the Arabs, who never could abide the music of his voice.
It was useless now to think of returning to Mount Sinai, as we must have retraced our steps again; so we resolved to proceed direct to Cairo. These Arabs sell their camels occasionally, and purchase corn and coffee at a cheap rate in Egypt. By their use of the brandy and sugar in our possession when they met with us, they would consume those articles with avidity, could they have them; but tea they disliked extremely. The camel of Hassan was a fine animal, much superior to any of the others. One day that Hassan was mounted on another camel, he was run off with over the desert at full speed, as far nearly as the eye could reach; and though a very strong man, he could not stop the animal. The only way on these occasions is to pass the bridle tightly over the nose, which instantly arrests their speed. On all occasions where swiftness is required, the dromedary is used, and very frequently
by the Tartar messengers, who will travel night and day with incredible diligence. In three days, travelling slowly, we reached the shores of the Red Sea it is here a fine sheet of water, about ten miles broad. This is the place where the Israelites are supposed to have crossed. Directly opposite on the other side, the mountains, which above and below form a continued range, are divided; and, sloping gently down, leave a space or valley of about six miles broad, through which the Israelites passed on their way from Pihahiroth. Near the spot where we were, are the hot springs; they are several in number, and are warm enough to boil an egg in a few minutes. Our provisions had fallen very short; and two birds having lighted not far off, one of the Arabs shot them. both at one fire with his matchlock gun, and Franco undertook to make a savoury stew of them; but, to our great disappointment, they had a flavour of carrion, and we were obliged to yield them up to Franco, who despatched them both with considerable gout. A good part of next day we passed in the small valley of Hirondel, covered with stunted palm-trees, amongst which, and on the sand, a number of locusts were flying about. They were nearly as long as one's finger, very like a grasshopper, and of a light red colour. Michell joined us here with our effects from the convent, having quite recovered from his fever. The superior, who had bitterly bewailed our misfortune, exclaiming that no travellers would come again to the convent, if they were thus exposed to the rapacity of the Arabs, had spent several hours in his chamber every day during his illness, conversing with great avidity on the affairs of Greece. His solitude had not deadened his interest in the concerns of the world, with which he appeared to be well acquainted; and his manners shewed that he had not always led a monastic life,
Departing for Suez, we fell in at night with a small caravan; and, a number of large fires being lighted, we passed the night together, and supped on a small deer or antelope, which had been shot by one of the Arabs.
The next day we met with a small party returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca they had travelled an immense distance. A Turk, the best dressed of them, was seated in a houda. This is a light frame of wood, fixed on the back of a camel, with a seat on each side, and is a very easy and indolent mode of travelling. This Turk appeared to have been comforting himself in the howling wilderness with forbidden things, as we thought he was rather tipsy; but let not such a thing be lightly believed against one of the faithful, as it is certainly rare among them; though we afterwards met and dined with a rich Islamite merchant, who, if asked to drink wine, would be displeased at the mention of such a liquor, denied even to the Prophet; but when it was presented to him as rosolio, the name of a sweet cordial, he took off a large bumper with great heartiness.
In two days more we arrived at Suez, and again received a kind welcome from the Consul; and his good wine and dinner of Eastern dishes appeared uncommon luxuries to us, after such extreme privation. It being low water on our approaching Suez, we had forded the Red Sea on the camel's back about a mile above the town. The day after our capture by the Arabs, my servant had sent a camel from the con
vent to Cairo with intelligence of the circumstance; and the Consul being at Alexandria, as also was the Pacha, his secretary informed the Kiaya Bey, the chief officer of the latter, of the circumstance, and an order was instantly sent to the governor of Suez to despatch some of his troops to the Arab camp, to attack it and bring the Arabs prisoners, with ourselves, to Cairo. Our liberation, fortunately, was too early for the execution of this order; but the Arabs, who were eagle-eyed to discover all who pass on their deserts, would probably have been aware in time of the approach of the Turkish soldiers, struck their tents, mounted their camels, and fled with us into the heart of their deserts. The governor of Suez sent his son to wait on us, and to inquire into all the particulars, that he might transmit them to Cairo. In the former audience which he gave us, he had behaved very courteously; but the firmaun of the Grand Seignior he threw on the sofa, and pressed that of Mahmoud Ali to his lips and forehead. We had found, indeed, in Upper Egypt the Sultan's passport to be so useless, that we ceased to produce it; for some of the Sheiks do not scruple to cali him a great beast. This Aga was a handsome and mild-looking man: he had only one wife, and no mistress, and his son stood before him with his hands folded on his breast. Leaving Suez, we travelled on some hours; and, after dark, saw the lights of a caravan, that had halted on the sand. We joined the travellers, and found the scene rather interesting. They were seated in various parties round fires scattered over the desert, around the embers of which they at last lay down to repose. On the tenth day after leaving the Arab camp, we arrived at Cairo. Hassan, the chief, had grown very fearful, during the last two days, of entering the city, and entreated us earnestly to intercede, that the Pacha's anger might not fall upon him, who, he knew well, would think as little of taking off his and his people's heads, as of taking a pinch of snuff. However, we took care that no harm happened to him, and parted from the chief, after all, with something like regret; for the deserts had made us intimate. We made him a present-a poor substitute for the ransom he had expected; and he went back again to his desolate valley. The transition from thence to our spacious apartment, garden, and fountain at Cairo, was very agreeable.
We had not the opportunity of making the tour of the whole of the region of Sinai, yet we traversed three sides of the mountain, and found it every where shut in by narrow ravines, except on the north, in which direction we had first approached it. Here there is, as before observed, a valley of some extent, and a small plain, in the midst of which is a rocky hill. These appear to be the only open places in which the Israelites could have stood before the mount, as on the fourth side, though unvisited, we could observe from the summit, were only glens or small rocky valleys, as on the west and south; for the precipices opposite rose near and high. And a country like this can change little in the progress of ages. If water was not more plentiful of old than at the present time, it was impossible for so numerous a people to have been sustained without a constant miracle in their favour; the number of wells is so small, and in summer so soon exhausted.
Having hired a Cangia, we parted from Mr. W. and went down the Nile to Alexandria. With some eccentricities, arising from ignorance