Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/852

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ENTERTAINING VARIETIES.



THE MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON;[1]

OR,

TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES OF HAKIM BEN SHEYTAN.

Translated by F. L. O.
CHAPTER II.

The grace of Allah be with all who walk in his ways, and with all those who read my words and ponder in their hearts the wonders by him to me revealed! And the peace.

There is a mountain in Monghistan which forms the boundary between the hunting-grounds and the cultivated lands, and, two hours after we had left the rock-tombs, we passed the last brook at the foot of that mountain and entered an open hill-country, with a few inclosed fields here and there, but without a drop of drinking-water. The sun went down before we had reached a human habitation, and, as the sky was almost cloudless, we decided to camp under a hedge of mulberry-trees, whose boughs would shelter us from the night-dew. There was no house in sight, but, walking along the hedge in hopes of assuaging my thirst with a few berries, I saw a light that seemed to flicker in a grove on the opposite bank of a ravine. The Karman had seen it, too, for I saw him climb down the rocks with our water-skin under his arm. But he soon returned. "It was no house," said he. "It was the camp-fire of a traveler, a vagrant, who had made his bivouac in that grove."

"Is he a Monakee?" I asked.

"Yes, sir," said my guide. "You can smell him without crossing this ravine. He is burning pest-weed,[2] to befuddle himself, after the vile fashion of these people."

I instantly put on my sandals and clambered down the cliffs. The presage had been fulfilled. # I had dreamed that I should see the first Monakee in the night. The grove consisted of a copse of tamarinds, with an undergrowth of thorn-trees; and I had already made my way to the upper line of bushes, when I stopped and stood spell-bound at the sight that met my eyes. The fire rose from a pile of brush-wood, under a large tamarind, on the top of the hillock, and at the foot of the tree sat a creature with the form of a human being, but with the face of a hog-baboon.[3] His eyes were small and furtive, his beard a mere fringe of bristles, and his nose, which was bluish-red, had the shape of a cucumber.[4] He wore neither a turban nor a sword-belt,

  1. Copyright by D. Appleton & Company, 1882
  2. Yerba-pesta, pest-plant, or stink-weed.
  3. Schweins-Pavian, the Papio Anubis.
  4. "En forma de un pepino."