THE CITIES OF THE SOUTH.
Wády Serám. — El Birein. — Reception by the Arabs. — Descriptions of the Ruins. — Wády Hanein. — Indications of extensive Cultivation. — El 'Aujeh. — "Grape Mounds." — Ruined Church and Fort. — El Meshrifeh and Sebaita identified with Zepbath and Hormah. — Date of the Churches. — The Hill Country of the Amorites. — Sa'adí. — Rehoboth and Sitnah. — Khalasah. — Beersheba. — Haurá. — Wády el Khalíl.
IN three hours from our camp at Gaseimeh we reached Rás Serám, the hills in which the valley of that name takes its rise; ascending these, we found, as usual, an immense number of ruins belonging to the "Stone Period," consisting of flat mounds, circles, and. cairns, and covering all the surrounding heights. At the base of the hills, too, were some patches of cultivated ground like those in Wády el 'Ain, two pits for storing wheat, and, near the latter, a threshing-floor. In Wády Dammáth, one of the wádies intervening between Wády el 'Ain and Wády Serám, we put up a flock of bustards, but did not succeed in getting a shot at them. When we had camped for the evening, Sheik Suleimán came into our tent, with a very grave face, to say that the Arabs would not allow us to come near the neighboring ruins at El Birein, for which we were bound. He declared that the 'Azázimeh were encamped in the very midst of them, and would, if necessary, prevent us by blows, adding that "they were terrible ruffians to deal with." We answered that any one who assaulted us would get a bullet through his head. "Then," said he, "they would kill us; we are only eight, and they have over a hundred guns." "Never mind," said we, "you know your brother is bound to carry on the blood-feud if you are killed." An Arab always avoids, as far as possible, the ill-omened mention of death, and we rightly judged that our cool contemplation