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chants said that the other camels were of too good a race, and of too much value, while, as to this young boy, what business had he to have a camel of his own? It would be better far, they said, for him to lose his camel than for him to die, like the rest, of thirst. And so it was decided that Meek-eye should be killed, unless water were found the next morning.
8. Ali slept no more. His heart was full of grief; but his grief was mixed with courage and resolution. He said to himself that Meek-eye should not die. His father had trusted him to bring the camel to him, and what would he say if he should arrive at Suez without him? He would run the risk of finding his way alone. He would leave the caravan that very night.
9. Presently, when all was silent, and the merchant and camel-driver had left off talking, and composed themselves to sleep, Ali arose, and quietly and gently patting the neck of Meek-eye, awoke him. He placed his empty bag and water-skins on his back, and seating himself on him, made signs for the creature to rise, and then suddenly started off.
10. Tramp, tramp, tramp, went Meek-eye over the soft sand. The night was cool and refreshing, and Ali felt stronger and braver with every tramp. The stars were twinkling brightly in the deep blue sky, and they were his only guides. He knew the star which was always in the north, and the one which was in the west after the sun had gone down; and which was so bright and large, and had not yet set. He must keep that star to his right, and then he would be sure to be going towards the south.
What did the burning winds do in the desert? What did the men and camels do during the storm? When were they able to find the west? What did Ali hear the chief driver say they should do if they did not find water? Whose camel did the merchant say should be killed ? Why was Ali's camel to be killed? What did Ali resolve to do that very night? What did he do when the camp was quiet? Which star did he keep to his right hand
ALI THE BOY CAMEL-DRIVER.
1. Ali journeyed on till day began to dawn. The great fiery ball came up on the edge of the desert, and rose higher and higher. Ali felt faint, weary, and thirsty, and could scarcely hold himself on to Meek-eye. When he thought of his father and mother, he took courage again, and bore up bravely. The sun was now at his height. Ali fancied he saw a palm-tree in the distance. It seemed as if Meekeye saw it also, and was cheered by the sight, for he raised his head and quickened his steps, so that it was not long before Ali found himself at one of those pleasant islands of verdure, which are so mercifully scattered about the desert.
2. He threw himself from the camel's back, and hunted out the pool of water, that he knew he should find in the midst of the reeds and rushes, which grew there. He dipped in his water-skin and drank, while Meek-eye, doubling up his long legs beneath him, and lying down, stretched out his long neck, and greedily sucked up great draughts of it. How sweet was the sleep which crept over them as they lay down in the shade of the great palm-tree, now that they had quenched their thirst!
3. Refreshed and rested, Ali was able to satisfy his hunger on a bunch of ripe dates from the palmtree, while Meek-eye browsed upon the grass and leaves around. Ali noticed, while eating his dates, that other travellers had been there recently; as the grass at the side of the pool was trampled down, and date-stones lay strewn around the palm-tree. This greatly cheered him. He quickly followed in their track, still going in a southerly direction.
4. He took care to keep the setting sun to his right hand, and when he had gone down, Ali observed the large bright star that had guided him before. He travelled on, tired and faint with hunger for many a mile, till at last he saw, a long way off, the fires of the caravan which had halted for the night. Ali soon came up to them. He alighted from Meekeye, and leading him by the bridle, came towards a
group of camel-drivers, who were sitting in a circle and resting themselves.
5. He told them his story, and asked permission to join the party, and begged a little rice, for which he was ready to pay with the piece of money that his mother had sewn into the lining of his tunic. Ali was kindly received by them, and allowed to partake of their supper. The men admired the courage with which he had endeavoured to save his. favourite camel. Ali soon slept soundly by the side of Meek-eye, upon whose long neck his head as usual rested for a pillow.
6. In the midst of a pleasant dream, Ali was suddenly aroused by the sound of tinkling bells, and on waking up, and looking round him, he saw, that another caravan had arrived, which had come from the south. The merchants sat down to wait until their supper was brought to them by their attendants, and a party of camel-drivers drew round the fire near which Ali had been sleeping. They raked up its ashes, put on fresh fuel, and then prepared to boil their rice.
7. What voice was that which roused Ali as he was beginning to sink again into a dose? He listened, he started to his feet, he looked about him, and waited for a flash of flame from the fire to fall on the faces of the camel-drivers who stood around it. It came; the flame flickering up at first, and then, all at once, blazing out. It flashed upon the face of the camel-driver who stood stooping over it, and it lit up the face of Ali's father!
8. The father had waited at Suez many days, wondering why Ali did not come with the camel, and then thinking there had been some mistake, he had determined at last to return home with the caravan,
which was starting for Gaza. We need hardly describe the joy of both father and son at thus meeting each other in the desert, nor the pleasure with which the father listened to the history of all the fears and dangers to which his young son had been exposed. He was glad too, that their precious Meek-eye had been saved.
9. There was no camel-driver in the whole caravan so happy as Hassan, when, the next morning, he continued his journey to Gaza in company with Meek-eye and his beloved son Ali.