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to the water; the colts, as they followed, played and rolled on the grass. I spread my carpet at a distance from the group, to enjoy uninterrupted the varied scene. Rassam, now in his element, collected around him a knot of admiring Arabs, unscrewed telescopes, exhibited various ingenious contrivances, and described the wonders of Europe, interrupted by the exclamations of incredulous surprise, which his marvellous stories elicited from the hearers. Ali Effendi and his Mussulman friends, who preferred other pleasures and more definite excitement, hid themselves in the high rushes, and handed round a small silver bowl containing fragrant ruby-coloured spirits, which might have rejoiced even the heart of Hafiz. The cameldrivers and servants hurried over the lawn, tending their animals or preparing the evening meal.
We had now reached the pasture-grounds of the Shammar, and Sheikh Khalaf declared that Sofuk’s tents could not be far distant. A few days before they had been pitched almost among the ruins of Al Hather ; but he had since left them, and it was not known where he had encamped. We started early in the morning, and took the direction pointed out by Khalaf. Our view was bounded to the east by a rising ground. When we reached its summit, we looked down upon a plain, which appeared to swarm with moving objects. We had come upon the main body of the Shammar. The scene caused in me feelings of melancholy, for it recalled many hours, perhaps unprofitably, though certainly happily spent; and many friends, some who now sighed in captivity for the joyous freedom which those wandering hordes enjoyed ; others who had perished in its defence. We soon found ourselves in the midst of wide-spreading flocks of sheep and camels. As far as the eye could reach, to the right, to the left, and in front, still the same moving crowd. Long lines of asses and bullocks laden with black tents, huge cauldrons and variegated carpets; aged women and men, no longer able to walk, tied on the heap of domestic furniture; infants crammed into saddle-bags, their tiny heads thrust through the narrow opening, balanced on the animal's back bv
kids or lambs tied on the opposite side; young girls clothed only in the close-fitting Arab shirt, which displayed rather than
with long tufted spears, scouring the plain on their fleet mares; riders urging their dromedaries with short hooked sticks, and leading their high-bred steeds by the halter ; colts galloping amongst the throng; high-born ladies seated in the centre of huge wings, which extend like those of a butterfly from each side of the camel's hump, and are no less gaudy and variegated.* Such was the motley crowd through which we had to wend our way for several hours. Our appearance created a lively sensation; the women checked our horses ; the horsemen assembled round us, and rode by our side; the children yelled and ran after the Franks.
It was mid-day before we found a small party that had stopped, and were pitching their tents. A young chestnut mare belonging to the Sheikh, was one of the most beautiful creatures I ever beheld. As she struggled to free herself from the spear to which she was tied, she showed the lightness and elegance of the gazelle. Her limbs were in perfect symmetry : her ears erect, slender, and transparent; her nostrils high, dilated and deep red; her neck gracefully arched, and her mane and tail of the texture of silk. We all involuntarily stopped to gaze at ber. “Say Masha-Allah,” exclaimed the owner, who, seeing not without pride, that I admired her, feared the effect of an evil eye.That I will," answered I, “and with pleasure ; for, O Arab, you possess the jewel of the tribe.” He brought us a bowl of camel's milk, and directed us to the tents of Sofuk.
We had still two hours' ride before us, and when we reached the encampment of the Shammar Sheikh, our horses, as well as ourselves, were exhausted by the heat of the sun, and the length of the day's journey. The tents were pitched on a broad lawn in a deep ravine; they were scattered in every direction, and amongst them rose the white pavilions of the Turkish irregular cavalry. Ferhan, the son of Sofuk, and a party of horsemen, rode out to meet us as we approached, and led us to the tent of the chief, distinguished from the rest by its size, and the spears which were driven into the ground at its entrance. Sofuk advanced to receive us; he was followed by about three hundred Arabs, including many of the principal Sheikhs of the tribe. In person he was short and corpulent, more like an Osmanli than an Arab; but his eye was bright and intelligent, his features regular, well formed and expressive. His dress differed but in the quality of the materials from that of his followers. A thick kerchief, striped with red, yellow, and blue, and fringed with long plaited cords, was thrown over his head, and fell down his shoulders. It was held in its place, above the brow, by a band of spun camel's wool, tied at intervals by silken threads of many colors. A long white shirt, descending to the ankles, and a black and white cloak over it, completed his attire.
* These wings are formed by a light frame-work of cane, varying from sixteen to twenty feet in length, covered with parchment, and ornamented, as is also the body and neck of the camel, with tassels and fringes of worsted of every hue, and with strings of glass beads and shells. The lady sits in the centre in a kind of pavilion, covered with gay carpets, by which she is shaded from the sun. This singular contrivance sways from side to side, and the motion is very disagreeable to one not accustomed to it.
He led Rassam and myself to the top of the tent, where we seated ourselves on well-worn carpets. When all the party had found places, the words of welcome, which had been exchanged before we dismounted, were repeated. “Peace be with you, O Bey! upon my head you are welcome: my house is your house," exclaimed the Sheikh, addressing the stranger nearest to him. “Peace be with you, O Sofuk ! may God protect you!” was the answer, and similar compliments were made to every guest, and by every person, present. Whilst this ceremony, which took nearly half an hour, was going on, I had leisure to examine those who had assembled to meet us. Nearest to me was Ferhan, the Sheikh's eldest son, a young man of handsome appearance and intelligent countenance, although the expression was neither agreeable nor attractive. His dress resembled that of his father; but from beneath the kerchief thrown over his head hung his long black tresses plaited into many tails. His teeth were white as ivory, like those of most Arabs. Beyond
hiin sat a crowd of men of the most ferocious and forbidding exterior - warriors who had passed their lives in war and rapine, looking upon those who did not belong to their tribe as natural enemies, and preferring their wild freedom to all the riches of the earth.
Mrs. Rassam had been ushered into this crowded assembly, The scrutinising glance with which she was examined from head to foot, by all present, not being agreeable, we requested that she might be taken to the tent of the women. Sofuk called two black slaves, who led her to the harem, scarcely a stone's throw distant.
The compliments having been at length finished, we conversed upon general topics. Coffee, highly drugged with odoriferous herbs found in the desert, and with spices, a mixture for which Sofuk was celebrated, was handed round before we retired to our own tents.
Sofuk's name was so well known in the desert, and he so long played a conspicuous part in the politics of Mesopotamia, that a few words on his history may not be uninteresting. He was descended from the Sheikhs, who brought the tribe from Nedjd in Arabia Proper. At the commencement of his career he had shared the chiefship with his uncle, after whose death he became the great Sheikh of the Shammar. From an early period he had been troublesome to the Turkish governors of the provinces on the Tigris and Euphrates; but gained the confidence of the Porte by a spirited attack upon the camp of Mohammed Ali Mirza, son of Feth Ali Shah, and governor of Kirmanshah, when that prince was marching upon Baghdad and Mosul. After this exploit, to which was mainly attributed the safety of the Turkish cities, Sofuk was invested as Sheikh of the Shammar. At times, however, when he had to complain of ill-treatment from the Pasha of Baghdad, or could not control those under him, his tribes were accustomed to indulge their love of plunder, to sack villages and pillage caravans. He thus became formidable to the Turks, and was known as the King of the Desert. When Mehemet Reshid Pasha led his successful