Page:Thirty-five years in the East.djvu/75

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35
THIRTY FIVE YEARS IN THE EAST.

two o'clock after midnight, entrusting our Agoo with our wallet, ia which our provisions ( roast meat and bread ) were packed ; we put also the horses' provender under his care, and left the place, hoping to reach a watering-place about nine or ten in the morning, where we might likewise meet with some Arab tents, and breakfast, and allow our horses to rest; but the Agoo missed the road, and it was not till the afternoon that we became aware of the fact, when we observed him deviating first to the right and then to the left. The Tartar, in a rage, menaced the guide continually, and added that he would cut off his nose and ears. I did my best to appease him, making him understand that the guide, who was already perplexed, would get still more puzzled by his continued threats, and that he ought to consider that he had not intentionally misled us ; but my admonitions were of no avail. The evening was now drawing near, and in the darkness of the night our guide decamped. Imagine our state ! in a desert, without a guide, not knowing the way, even by daylight, no human being visible, forsaken by all the world, riding hungry, thirsty and exhausted horses, without nutriment for either man or beast, and, above all, the anxiety as to whether we should ever get out of that maze. The sky was clouded, it was raining, and we were chilled by the cold, it being the end of the year. In the heavens not a star was visible, to guide us ; we were like blind men, not knowing whither to direct our steps. We left the horses to their own instinct, but, like ourselves, they did not know the way. In this desperate dilemma, my happy star, beneath whose influence, perhaps, I was born, and which has often guided me in difficulties, shone again. We observed at some distance, a small fire, towards which we directed our steps with renewed courage ; but it appeared and disappeared, as the rain and wind either extinguished or revived it. We heard, also, in the stillness of the desert, the barking of a dog. We followed the sound till we arrived at a thicket, which we had some trouble in getting through, found a river, and perceiving that the fire and the barking came from the opposite bank, to which we could