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The Moon hadn't shone for more than two weeks, and then at last I saw him again, round and clear above the slowly rising...


The Moon hadn't shone for more than two weeks, and then at last I saw him again, round and clear above the slowly rising mass of clouds. Listen to what the Moon told me.

"I followed a caravan out of one of the towns of Fezzan. The group halted near the sandy desert, on a salt plain, which glittered like an ice field, and was covered to but a small extent with the light drift-sand. The oldest man in the caravan, at whose girdle hung the water flask, and on whose head was a sack of unleavened bread, drew a square figure on the ground with his staff, and wrote inside it a few words from the Koran. Then the whole caravan passed over the consecrated spot. A young merchant, a son of the East, as I could see from his sparkling eyes and his handsome figure, rode thoughtfully on his white, snorting horse. Was he perhaps thinking of his pretty young wife at home? Only two days before, a camel, covered with costly furs and splendid shawls, had carried her, the lovely bride, around the walls of the city. Drums and bagpipes had sounded, and the women had sung, while all around the camel there had been rejoicing and gunshots, the greatest number of which the bridegroom had fired.

"And now - now he was journeying with the caravan far away into the desert. I followed them on their way for many nights, and saw them rest beside the wells, under the palm trees. They plunged a knife into the breast of a camel that had fallen, and roasted the meat at the fire. My rays cooled the glowing sands, and showed them the black rocks, dead islands in the immense ocean of sand. They met no hostile tribes on their pathless route; no storms arose; no wave of sand whirled destruction over the caravan.

"At home the lovely young wife prayed for her husband and her father. 'Are they dead?' she asked my golden horn. 'Are they dead?' she asked my brilliant orb.

"Now the desert lies behind them. This evening they are camped beneath tall palm trees, with the crane flying about them on long wings and the pelican watching them from the branches of mimosa. The luxuriant underbrush is trodden by the heavy feet of elephants.

A troop of Negroes are returning from a market in the interior; the women, with indigo-blue skirts and their black hair decked with brass buttons, are driving heavily laden oxen, on which the naked black children are lying asleep. A Negro is leading, by a rope, a lion cub that he has bought. They approach the caravan.

"The young merchant sits silent and motionless, thinking of his beautiful wife; in this land of the blacks he is dreaming of his white and fragrant flower, far away across the desert; he raises his head. . . . "

A cloud, and then another cloud, passed across the face of the Moon. I heard nothing more from him that evening.

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