punch-bowl with granite walls, upon whose grim surface a few thorns of
exceeding hardihood braved the sun for a season. Not a house was in
sight-it was as barren and desolate a spot as the sun ever "viewed in
his wide career." But this is what the Arabian traveller must expect.
He is to traverse, for instance, the Wady Al-Ward-the Vale of Flowers.
He indulges in sweet recollections of Indian lakes beautiful with the
Lotus, and Persian plains upon which Narcissus is the meanest of
grasses. He sees a plain like swish-work, where knobs of granite act
daisies; and where, at every fifty yards, some hapless bud or blossom
is dying of inanition among the stones.
The sun scorched our feet as we planted the tent, and, after drinking
our breakfast, we passed the usual day of perspiration and
semi-lethargy. In discomfort man naturally
[p.252] hails a change, even though it be one from bad to worse. When
our enemy began slanting towards the West, we felt ready enough to
proceed on our journey. The camels were laden shortly after 3 P.M.,
July 20th, and we started, with water jars in our hands, through a
storm of Samun.
We travelled five hours in a North-Easterly course up a diagonal
valley,[FN#18] through a country fantastic in its desolation-a mass of
huge hills, barren plains, and desert vales.