Page:Thirty-five years in the East.djvu/65

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THIRTY-FIVE YEARS IN THE EAST.

a hole in the ground, in the form of a grave, which they heat with fire, the patient is placed therein, and covered, and he remains there until he is either cured or dies, a matter which takes but a very short time to decide. In the case of death, they have only to fill up the grave with earth ; while, if the patient recover, he has to mount his camel and meet the enemy. Their wounds are either spear-thrusts or sword-cuts, as they very seldom use guns in the desert.

The caution with which the camel-drivers carried us through the desert is not to be described. On the third or fourth day, on our arrival at the wells, in order to give water to the camels, and to fill our leather-bags, the most sharp-sighted among them placed himself on an elevation, to ascertain whether there were any men discernible in the distance. If they found embers or ashes, they examined the place strictly. The excrement of the camels also under- went a scrutiny as to whether it was new or old, which way the animals passed, &c. We were brought from the banks of the Euphrates into Hit, as they told us that the place we were in was not perfectly secure. The governor ordered us to appear before him, and he demanded a certain sum from the two Armenians, our fellow travellers, but not from us nor the pilgrims, as we were provided with a letter of recommendation from the Pasha of Damascus to Dohud Pasha of Bagdad. This letter, which served us in the meantime as a passport, was so much respected by the Agha of Hit, that he placed it on his forehead as a token of respect.

At midnight, we were alarmed by a great noise and uproar in the town. Upon asking for an explanation, they told us that the Arabs of the desert were in pursuit of the pilgrims. This information filled us with fear and anxiety, for we were all assembled in the same house, and firmly believed that it was the husbands of the women we had met with previously, and that their intention was to plunder us; but we were mistaken. A short time afterwards the people informed us that they were the Agha's enemies, the Agelis, who were come to take revenge on him, and it was rumoured that they had forced the palace, and killed the Agha.