Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/198

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the desert, the shifting wind-blown sands, uniting with the sediment discharges of periodically flowing streams, finding here secure and lasting anchorage. Our wagon stuck and our horses stuck, and no ill use of the lash would for a time induce them to budge. Mr. Le Boutillier and I dismounted and applied ourselves to the wheels, but to little purpose. Coaxing, worrying, and pushing, we succeeded in making a few yards at a time, and then dropped to a condition of seemingly hopeless immobility. It really looked for a time as though we should be obliged to remain where we were until

PSM V53 D198 Praying in the desert.jpg
The Prayer in the Desert.

assistance picked us up, just when, or of what kind of assistance that was to be, we knew not. The sun had dropped very nearly to the horizon, its long horizontal rays illumining the desert with that wonderful glow of red which nothing but an artist's brush can picture. The whole landscape was suffused with mellow light, to the pure harmony of which was added the quiet of an almost absolute silence. No bark or howl of a lurking animal, no sound of bird, whether in twitter or song, broke upon the stillness of the evening hour; we alone were the offenders—not, however, with any intent to disturb Nature's slumbers, but merely to extricate ourselves from our uncomfortable position. Between coaxing, pulling, and straining, and a generous trudge through the sand, we succeeded in covering the few miles that lay between us and the next oasis, Mreir. This oasis counts about twenty thousand palms, and, like all others that we had seen, is divided up by garden walls into distinct properties, between which meanders the trodden way of the caravan.