They now proceeded to take a circuit of the town, and during their walk they fell in with a number of females, who had come out to see them. All were free and lively, and riot at all deferred by the presence of the men. Several of them had fine features, but only one or two could be called beautiful. Many of the natives came out of their houses as they passed along, and cordially welcomed them to their town. It was done with so much sincerity and good heartedness, that they could not but be pleased and highly flattered.
In the evening they heard a numerous band of females, singing at a distance, which was continued till near midnight. The women were principally those of the country. This custom is very common among the people, and is one of the principal amusements in the mountain recesses. Hateeta said they go out when their work is finished, in the evening, and remain till near midnight, singing and telling stories; return home, take supper, and go to bed.
Dr. Oudney and his companions now determined to return to Mourzouk, where they arrived in November, and on the 29th of the same month, they again departed, accompanied by nearly all those of the town, who could muster horses; the camels had moved early in the day, and at Zerzow, they found the tents pitched. From Zerzow to Traghan there is a good high road, with frequent incrustations of salt. A marabout of great sanctity, is the principal person in Traghan, as his father was before him. After being crammed as it were by the hospitality of this marabout, they left Traghan for Maefen, an assemblage of date huts, with but one house. The road to this place lies over a mixture of sand and salt, having a curious and uncommon appearance. The path, by which all the animals move for some miles, is a narrow space, or strip, worn smooth, bearing a resemblance both in appearance and hardness to ice.
Quitting Maefen, they quickly entered on a desert plain, and after a dreary fourteen hours march for camels, they arrived at Mestoota, a maten or resting place, where the camels found some little grazing, from a plant called ahgul. Starting at sunrise, they had another fatiguing day, over the same kind of desert, without seeing one living thing that did not belong to the kafila, not a bird, nor even an insect; the sand is beautifully fine, round, and red. It is difficult to give the most distant idea of the stillness and beauty of a night scene, on a desert of this description. The distance between the resting places is not sufficiently great, for the dread of want of water to be alarmingly felt, and the track, though a sandy one, is well known to the guides. The burning heat of the day is succeeded by cool and refreshing breezes, and the sky ever illumined by large and brilliant stars, or an unclouded moon. By removing the loose and pearl-like sand, to the depth of a few inches, the effects of the sunbeams