The Road to Mecca

The Road to Mecca

The Road to Mecca

The Road to Mecca

Excerpt

We ride, ride, two men on two dromedaries, the sun flames over our heads, everything is shimmer and glimmer and swimming light. Reddish and orange-colored dunes, dunes behind dunes beyond dunes, loneliness and burning silence, and two men on two dromedaries in that swinging gait which makes you sleepy, so that you forget the day, the sun, the hot wind and the long way. Tufts of yellow grass grow sparsely on the crests of the dunes, and here and there gnarled hamdh bushes wind over the sand like giant snakes. Sleepy have become the senses, you are rocking in the saddle, you perceive hardly anything beyond the crunching of the sand under the camels' soles and the rub of the saddle-peg against the crook of your knee. Your face is wrapped in your headcloth for protection against sun and wind; and you feel as if you were carrying your own loneliness, like a tangible substance, across it, right acrossit . . . to the wells of Tayma . . . to the dark wells of Tayma that give water to him that is thirsty. . . .

". . . right across the Nufud to Tayma . . ." I hear a voice, and do not know whether it is a dream-voice or the voice of my companion.

"Didst thou say something, Zayd?"

"I was saying," replies my companion, "that not many people would venture right across the Nufud just to see the wells of Tayma. . . ."

. . . . . . . . . . .

ZAYD AND I ARE returning from Qasr Athaymin on the Najd-Iraq frontier where I went at the request of King Ibn Saud. Having ac-

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