Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/855

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833
ENTERTAINING VARIETIES.

lieve me, we do not want to rob you," I repeated, for the clamor still continued.

"Not rob us!" cried the old man. "You have already done us a greater harm! If we had not waked up in time, the night-air would have done us an injury which no medicine could undo!"

"Not so, Aboo Mungha," said I, "we heard you groan as in a sore disease, and some of your children are certainly sick; but, if you will let them sleep in the open air, the benediction[1] of Nature will help them more than all the balm of Feringistan."

"What words are these? You must be a bold unbeliever!" rejoined the old man; "how can Nature or anything natural be possibly good? Who are you?" and putting his hand to my shoulder he pushed me out into the bright moonlight. But my dress and face soon told him that I was a stranger, and his heart then seemed to relent. "My name is Er-Masood; be welcome if you come in peace," said he, and taking my hand he led me to a deep spring at the foot of the hill. "If the men of your tribe drink water, the Holy Ones have guided you well," said he; "this spring is the best in the valley; cattle, and even deer, resort to it from a great distance." He then offered us the shelter of his rock-den, but, seeing that we preferred the open air, he advised us to cover our heads very carefully, and, bidding us good-night, he retired to his cave.

We had left our wander-sacks under the mulberry-hedge, and, as the distance was only short, the Karman offered to fetch them down, while I gathered an armful of grass for our camping-ground. The adventures of this night, however, were not yet ended, for, looking about among the brambles of the hill-side, I discovered a child, a young Monakee, who had hidden himself behind a leafy bush.

"My little brother! what is he doing here?" I asked, when he instantly covered my mouth with his hand, and implored me not to betray him.

"My head ached so that I thought my soul would leave me," he whispered; "pray, let me get a little fresh air before you drive me back!"

He had made himself a couch with his coat and an armful of leaves. To these I added some of the grass I had gathered, and bade him lie down and keep quiet. "I shall not betray him; may Allah be his helper!" I thought, for, on passing the cave, I had again heard the moans of his unfortunate brethren.

When the Karman returned, the moon was shining from a cloudless sky; in the trees and bushes the cicadas chirped their serenades, and on the slopes of the grassy hill-side we saw a swarm of rabbits chasing each other to and fro. They played and gamboled, enjoying the sweet night-air, while the Monakees lay groaning in their noisome cave.

  1. Eyn-daljah literally, "the shining face."