Recreations for Solitary Hours
Note XVII.—Page 50 and 51
"Was I translated to the Arabian wild,
Where barren seas of sand, extending lie;
What blessings oft would be on me compiled
By panting travellers, when they'd me descry,—
When prayers are answered, how th' expressive eye
In heartfelt thanks, they'd raise to bounteous heaven;—"
Any who are acquainted with the geography of the Arabian wild, need not be told here how seldom water is there to be found, page 77and how much it is valued by all who then feel their want of it. I have heard some old soldiers, who had at times to march over such places, declare that they were glad to content themselves with their own water, after marching for days under a scorching sun. I trust it will not be out of place here to relate an anecdote of my father during the time he was in the Cape of Good Hope. He and other two of his comrades were sent on despatch with orders to another regiment lying at a distance. They accordingly set out next morning on their march, intending to reach their destination by night fall. About mid-day, travelling under a vertical sun, they came to a trackless desert, across which lay their nearest route. The supply of water which they had in their canteens failed them by the time they reached the desert, without knowing when or where they would find more. After travelling five or six miles over fervid sand, under a cloudless sky and scorching sun, my father, the weakest of the three, began much to fail through weariness and thirst. He bore up as much as he could, and exerted himself to the utmost to endure the fatigue, while every eye was in search of a water spring; the other two supported him as far as they could, but still he grew weaker and weaker, till at last all strength failed him, and he could proceed no farther. His assistants also felt themselves failing through thirst and fatigue, so there they had to leave Kim to the mercy of Heaven, lying on a sandy waste beneath a burning sun. What else could they do; so they took farewell of him and proceeded on their journey, not knowing when they would next drop down as dead, and far from any help. After travelling the space of four miles they discovered a small muddy spring of fresh water, which created no little joy to the panting travellers. After scraping away the sand a little, and the water becoming clearer, they refreshed themselves a little, and filling their canteens, they hasted back in search of my father, and found him writhing in the greatest distress, and seemingly at the point of death. They made page 78no delay in administering relief, first by washing the sand and froth from his mouth, bathing his face, and giving him of the water to drink, thus by degrees they revived him, and in a short time got him again to his feet. After a little rest, they again proceeded on their way, till they reached the water spring, where they sat down and renewed their strength, and thanked a bountiful providence for such an inestimable blessing, and the escape they had from a painful death. I may just say in conclusion, that they reached their destination about three hours after the time appointed.