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A MOOSLIM FAST. 431
disturbed by the noise and uproar caused by the Mooslim part of the population who, along with the Jews, were keeping a solemn but not a silent fast, on account of the great scarcity of rain, which was leaving the wheat and barley crops in a withering state. The Mohammadans were walking in procession through the town the greater part of the night, accompanied by their priests and a number of boys who chaunted portions of the Kooran, in which the female part of the procession occasionally joined in most shrill piercing tones. Annoying as this was to us, yet I could not help reflecting on the apparent dependence on the bounty of the Almighty that dictated this feeling; and which might be more frequently imitated by their Christian neighbours, who have the Scriptures revealing to them the true character of God, and pointing out the service that he requires from his creatures. We set forward for Joppa early next morning. On the previous day one of our party rode a mule; a small, wiery, bitter creature; and which, though
There were severe harsh winds, attended with much rain, shortly before we left Alexandria, as can be seen by a reference to the register of temperature in the Appendix. To winter in Egypt with advantage it must be done at Cairo, and that with warm clothing and a fire in the bed-room. I consider that the most favourable time for travelling through the country, is from the fall of the innundation, in September, to the beginning of November, or from the end of February to the middle of April.
432 A N ADVENTURE WITH A MULE.
as obstinate as mule could be, yet was not wanting in his paces; but could keep up with the horses very well when he liked. This being, however, a straightforward course, was by no means congenial to the stubborn little animal's taste; and, so having caused my friend to ride nearly one half more than any of our party, I undertook to use my influence with the beast during the remaining part of the journey to Joppa. All went on very smoothly for some time; the mule seemed to have got into good humour, and we reached the plains of Sharon, among the olive groves of which we soon espied several large storks and herons. I was anxious to get a shot at one of these ; and the mule, nothing loath to leave the direct path, carried me very quietly to where they had alighted. Arrived at the proper distance, I got down, and counting on the creature's recent good behaviour and improved disposition, I passed the bridle over my arm, and creeping stealthily among the bushes, presented my fowling-piece to fire at the birds; when, just as I was about to pull the trigger, the evil spirit of the mule returned—it reared—the gun went off, and, leaving me sprawling on my back, it kicked up its heels, gave a neigh of delight, and galloped away, shewing a determination not to be easily re-captured. Then came the chase—the whole mounted cavalcade set off after it; and, though they came up with, and several times surrounded it, the animal
A sailor's MoDE OF CAPTURE. 433
always contrived to escape, stopping and turning round with extraordinary quickness; and when its pursuers were at fault, halting to look at them with the greatest composure. After nearly an hour spent in useless endeavours to capture the obstinate animal, the majority of our party proceeded to Joppa, supposing that in a short time it would be so tired that it would easily be caught, or that the owners, who had lagged behind, would come up and recover it. They left, however, two of the sailors, who had accompanied us, to make what they could of the wild creature, and watch his movements in the meantime. For myself, I ran after the brute until I was so wearied that I was unable to proceed farther, and was compelled to lie down upon the ground quite exhausted. After some time when I recovered my strength, I made my way to the port on foot, and left the sailors in pursuit of the animal. The tars, however, were not to be overcome by a mule. Off they set, and tilting at him, from different directions, not unlike the efforts of Clown and Pantaloon, more frequently encountered each other than the object of their pursuit, which, like a nimble Harlequin, still skipt out of the way. Seeing no hope of retaking him left, they loaded their carabines with small shot, and very deliberately fired several rounds at the enemy—whom, to use their own words, they soon “brought to ;” for after having two or three rounds lodged in his hinder WOL. II 2 F
434 UN PLEASANT CONSEQUENCES.
parts he fell back on his haunches, and rushing in, they captured him, and carried off their prize to Jaffa. They might have relinquished the pursuit for all the mule was worth ; but, as it had a valuable carpet strapt upon it of as much value as itself—that could not be lost. The animal was not, however, very much hurt, as the shot which was very small only entered the skin, the distance being considerable. The whole scene was ludicrous in the extreme ; but to me its consequences were any thing but agreeable—for, when I arrived at the port, almost in a state of fever, I very injudiciously exposed myself to a cold draft of air, while resting on the housetop of the consul's residence. The Crusader had put to sea on our first landing, but was now ready to take us aboard; as soon, therefore, as the baggage was shipped and the mule-owner satisfied, we once more set sail for Europe. My feverish symptoms, however, increased; I was confined to bed for several days, and did not recover from the effects of mule-hunting for a long time. Having now completed the narrative of our eastern travel, and turned our backs upon that land of wonders; the prospects that seem in store for it, and the reflections suggested by the scenes that we had witnessed, kept our minds upon the stretch, till we gained the shores of Cyprus.
ON leaving Jaffa it blew a gale of wind, during which numbers of flying fish came aboard. It was then evident to all who observed the flight of these curious little animals, that, although they cannot, as some writers have stated, stop and turn back in their flight, they yet possess the power of making a considerable curve, nearly half a circle either to the right hand or to the left, in their transit through the air.