Caldrons were boiling, and a savory odor penetrated the air. Men were talking in groups, and a little dervish was spinning around nimbly in a sort of dance. Yusuf looked at him for a moment. There seemed to be something familiar about his figure and movements, but in the darkness he could not be distinctly seen, and Yusuf soon forgot to pay any attention to him.
He drew the boy, who had now fallen asleep, close to him. What would he, Yusuf, not give to learn fully of that source from whence the few meagre crumbs picked up by this poor child were yet precious enough to give him, all wandering as he was at times, the assurance of a sympathetic God, and render him happy in the realization of his presence! What must be the joy of a full revelation of these blessed truths, if, indeed, truths they were!
The longing for such companionship filled Yusuf, as he lay there, with an intense desire. He could scarcely define, in truth he scarcely understood, exactly what he wanted. There was a lack in his life which no human agency had, as yet, been able to satisfy. His heart was “reaching out its arms” to know God—that was all; and he called it searching for Truth.
[Illustration: A head was thrust forward.... It was the little dervish.—See page 15.]
Far into the night the Persian pondered, his mind beating against the darkness of what was to him the great mystery; and he prayed for light. He thought of the Father, yet again he prayed to the spirits of the planets which were shining so brightly above him. But did not an echo of that prayer ascend to the throne of grace? Was not the eye of Him who notes even the sparrows when they fall, upon his poor, struggling child?
And the end was not yet.
Wherein Yusuf encounters A sand-storm in the desert, and has somewhat of an experience with the little dervish.
“A column high and vast,
A form of fear and dread.”
With but few events worthy of notice the journey to Mecca was concluded. After a short halt at Medina, the caravan set out by one of the three roads which then led from Medina to Mecca.
The way led through a country whose aspect had every indication of volcanic agency in the remote ages of the earth’s history. Bleak plains—through whose barren soil outcrops of blackened scoriae, or sharp edges of black and brittle hornblende, appeared at every turn—were interspersed with wadies, bounded by ridges of basalt and green-stone, rising from one hundred to two hundred feet high, and covered with a scanty vegetation of thorny acacias and clumps of camel-grass. Here and there a rolling hill was cut by a deep gorge, showing where, after rain, a mighty torrent must foam its way; and, more rarely still, a stagnant pool of saltish or brackish water was marked out by a cluster of daum palms.