WANDERINGS IN THE WILDERNESS.
Desert Shore of the Red Sea. — Wády Dhaghadeh. — A Mud Bath. — The Plain of El Gá'ah. — Wády Sigillíyeh. — Beautiful Landscape effects. — We explore an unknown Gorge, and take to the Water. — Horror of Old Sálem. — Another Desert Walk. — The Mirage. — Abu Suweirah. — Jebel Nágús. — Curious Acoustic Phenomenon. — Legend of the Origin of the Sound. — Moses's Hot-bath. — Excavated Chapels. — The Village of Tor. — Wády Hebrán. — More primeval Dwellings. — Head of Wády Sigillíyeh. — Ruined Convents. — Wády Feirán. — An Arab Strike.
A DREARIER walk than that from the mines in Wády Igné to the coast of the Red Sea can scarcely be imagined. Leaving, on our right the Nagb Buderah, the pass by which travelers from Egypt usually approach Mukatteb, we followed the course of the Seih Sidreh, past monotonous banks of cretaceous conglomerate, which, becoming gradually lower and lower, lose themselves at last in the general level of the sandy plain, and by noon on the second day we found ourselves on the sea-shore.
Familiar as we had grown with desert scenes, we were not prepared for such utter and oppressive desolation as this. The blue waters lay calm, or rather dead before us, a realization of the "Ancient Mariner's" dreary vision, while on either hand, as far as eye could reach, there stretched a dull, flat, sandy waste, unrelieved by any green or living thing — the barren wilderness and the still more "sterile sea" side by side. It was as though Nature had left this spot to point out to man how awful, indeed, were the fulfillment of the ancient sentence, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake," did not her bounteous and regenerating hand temper the dreadful doom.
A walk of sixteen miles over yielding sand, beneath a scorching sun, is not interesting either to perform or describe, and the task of writing our journals when we