Accident, However, Prevented Me From Availing Myself Of This
The caravan being ready for departure on the 15th of December, I packed
up my effects in the morning, and at noon a gun was fired, to announce
that Soleyman Pasha had quitted the plain of Sheikh Mahmoud, where the
caravan had been encamped; but still my Bedouin had not arrived.
out towards Sheikh Mahmoud, when I understood that a rumour, whether
false or true, having been spread, that Mohammed Aly was only waiting to
see the camels all assembled in the morning upon the plain, that he
might seize and send them to Tayf, several Bedouins had made their
escape during the night: it was evident that those with whom I had
bargained were among the number. In the hurry and bustle of departure no
other camels could possibly be found; and I was therefore obliged to
return to the town, together with several Mekkans, who had been
disappointed in the same manner.
At the moment of starting, the leader of the Damascus caravan always
distributes a certain quantity of provision to the poor. Soleyman Pasha
had, for this purpose, heaped up two hundred camel-loads near his tent;
and when he mounted his horse, at a given signal it was seized upon by
those who were waiting, in the most outrageous and
[p.288] disorderly manner: a party of about forty negro pilgrims, armed
with sticks, secured a considerable part of the heap to themselves.
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