An exploration of the Nile Tributaries of Abyssinia. By the English explorer and author.
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Chap, i.] ROCKS OF THE DESERT. 9 waiting his opportunity, snatched the basin from the servant, and in the agony of thirst drank nearly the whole of its contents, handing the residue to a brother Arab, with the hearty ejaculation, " El hambd el Illah !" (Thank God!) My wife was seriously ill from the fatigue and intense heat, but there can be no halt in the desert; dead or alive, with the caravan you must travel, as the party depends upon the supply of water. A few extracts verbatim from my journal will describe the journey: " May 0. Started at 12.30 P.m. and halted at 6.30. Off again at 7.30 P.m. till 2.45 A.m. About four miles from Moorahd, grey granite takes the place of the volcanic slag and schist that formed the rocks to that point. The desert is now a vast plain, bounded by a range of rugged hills on the south. On the north side of Moorahd, at a distance of above eight miles, slate is met with ; this continues for about three miles of the route, but it is of impure quality, with the exception of one vein, of a beautiful blue colour. A few miserable stunted thorny mimosas are here to be seen scattered irregularly, as though lost in this horrible desert." Many years ago, when the Egyptian troops first conquered Nubia, a regiment was destroyed by thirst in crossing this desert. The men, being upon a limited allowance of water, suffered from extreme thirst, and deceived by the appearance of a mirage that exactly resembled a beautiful lake, they insisted on being taken to its banks by the Arab guide. It was in vain that the guide assured them that the lake was unreal, and he refused to lose the precious time by wandering from his course. Words led to blows, and he was killedby the soldiers, whose lives depended upon his guidance. The whole regiment turned from the ...