I was very unwilling to leave the battlements of the tower; but the increasing darkness at length drove me back into my chamber. Shortly afterwards a priest and a lay brother appeared, and with them Mr. Bartlett. The priest’s errand was to bring me my supper and bedding, and my English fellow-traveller had kindly come to inquire if I would have a few servants as a guard, as it must be rather a dreary thing to pass a night quite alone in that solitary tower. I was much flattered by Mr. Bartlett’s politeness to a total stranger, but, summoning all my courage, replied that I was not in the least afraid. Thereupon they all took their leave; I heard the door creak, the bolt was drawn, and the ladder removed, and I was left to my meditations for the night.
After a good night’s rest, I rose with the sun, and had been waiting some time before my warder appeared with the coffee for my breakfast. He afterwards accompanied me to the convent gate, where my companions greeted me with high praises; some of them even confessed that they would not like to pass a solitary night as I had done.
Ride through the wilderness to the Dead Sea—The Dead Sea—The river Jordan—Horde of Bedouins—Arab horses—The Sultan’s well—Bivouac in the open air—Return to Jerusalem—Bethany—Departure from Jerusalem—Jacob’s grave—Nablus or Sichem—Sebasta—Costume of Samaritan women—Plain of Esdralon—Sagun.
At five o’clock in the morning we departed, and bent our course towards the Dead Sea. After a ride of two hours we could see it, apparently at such a short distance, that we thought half an hour at the most would bring us there. But the road wound betwixt the mountains, sometimes ascending, sometimes descending, so that it took us another two hours to reach the shore of the lake. All around us was sand. The rocks seem pulverised; we ride through a labyrinth of monotonous sand-heaps and sand-hills, behind which the robber-tribes of Arabs and Bedouins frequently lurk, making this part of the journey exceedingly unsafe.
Before we reach the shore, we ride across a plain consisting, like the rest, of deep sand, so that the horses sink to the fetlocks at every step. On the whole of our way we had not met with a single human being, with the exception of the horde of Bedouins whom we had found encamped in the river-bed: this was a fortunate circumstance for us, for the people whom the traveller meets during these journeys are generally unable to resist the temptation of seizing upon his goods, so that broken bones are frequently the result of such meetings.
[Illustration 4. The Dead Sea. ill4.jpg]