way up the mountain," said Rivers. "I've got a compass on my watch-chain, and it bears just a little to the west of south from us, so we shall know the opposite bearing will take us back to the ship."
"That's a very sensible precaution of yours," said the professor. "How many miles do you reckon we are from the foot of the mountain?"
"Five or six miles," was the reply.
"Come on then, step out; we shall have the sun directly, and climbing will be no joke then," said Shaw.
So we all trudged along at a round pace. I had taken the precaution to bring a revolver with me that Mr. Urquhart lent me, and a fowling-piece and a pocketful of cartridges of my own.
After we had tramped along for about an hour over the sandy plain, and lost sight of the ship, which was hidden by projecting rocks, we reached the foot of the mountain, and found a sort of track which led us into a narrow gorge overhung by rocks on each side. We penetrated through this for about a quarter of a mile. At the end of it there were two tracks visible, one leading up the side of the mountain, and the other, branching to the left, seemed to lead to habitations of some kind, for the road was a beaten track, and the professor declared that he could see smoke in the air at a distance.
"Here's a parting of the ways," said Rivers. "Shall we start to ascend the mountain? Shall we follow the road, which may lead us to some habitations? or shall we sit down and have our tiffin?"
Rivers' proposals being put to the vote, that for tiffin was carried unanimously; so finding the softest stones for seats, we very soon disposed of the provender in our hamper, the Lascars refreshing themselves in their own fashion.
"Now, I think," said Rivers, "as we haven't met with anything of interest during our walk, we'd better