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Water In The Desert

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The Soudan campaign, froin lirst to last, lias been a comment on the vast value of water in the East. One of the most terrible episodes ever recorded in history is the flight of the Torgote Tartars f rom the Russian front iers to those of China, about a century ago. Tbroughout this awful journey across the pathless, waterless desert the Bashkirs and Khirghises followed on the heels of the flying Kalmucks, and the continuous trail of eorpses told a fearful stoi-y of the unceasing conflict and perpetual massacre. 'J he desperate persistence of the escaping hosts in pushingt on was equaled by the frenzied cruelty of those who pursued them, until the scènes of earnage and brntality that ensued was such that it seemed as if "a nation of madmen were flying before a nation of fiends." But the horrible climax was only reached at the end of their two thousand miles of disastrous pilgrimage, when after a loss of four nundred thousand of their number, the Kalmucks, mad from thirst, carne in sight of the lake of Tengis. Hundreds of the pnrsuers and pursued had already lost their reason from their dreadful sufferings. Thousands were being borne along upon camels and horses, helplessly exhausted by two days' want of water. But as soon as the lake came in view the Bashkirs and Kalmucks alike seemed to forget their pitiless hatreds, and the vast hosts, reduced now to about two hundred thousand, rushed in a bodywith frantic Chinese Emperor, 'happsifing-wuir1- [orce of cavalry to be at the very spot, saw what was happening, and sent out i '-¦-- rntjr hia returning subjects. But there was limo ï. - oi before the horsemen reached the scène for one of the most ferocious conliicts everrecorded against man. In the general rush toward the saving water, alldiscipline andcommand were lost- all attempts to preserve a rearguard neglected- tho wild Bashkirs rode in aniong the encumbered people and slanghtered them by wholesale, and almost without resistance. Screams aud tumultuous shouts proclaimed the progresa of the massacre; but none heeded, none halted- all alike, with faces blackened by the heat and with tongues drooping f rom the mouth, continued with maniacal haste toward the lake. The Bashkir was affected by tho same misery as the wretched Kalmuck and into the lake the whole vast body of enemies rushed, forgetful of all things but one almighty instinct. The absorption of their thoughts in one maddening appetite lasted for a singlo half hour, but in the next aróse a tinal scène of parting vengeance. Far and wide the waters of the solitary lake were instantly dyed red with blood. Here rodo a p'arty of savage Bashkirs hewing off heads as fast as the swaths fall before the mower's scythe; there stood unarmed Kalmucks in adeath grapple with their detested foes, both up to the middlo in water. Every moment tho lakc grew more polluted, and vet every moment fresh hosts came up to the water and rushed in, not able to resist their f rantie thirst, and swallowing large draughts, visibly contaminated with slaughter. Wherever the lake was shallowenongh to allow of men raising their heads above the surface there, for scores of acres, were to be seen all forms of ghastly fear, of agonizing struggle, of spasms of death, and the fear of death- revengo and the lunacy of revenge - until the martial spectators, of whom there were not a few, averted their eyes with horror as they rode down to the lake to the rescue of the hapless fugitives. This, undoubtedly, is one of the most rtriking instances of catastrophe arising from the absence of water in the desert ever chronicled, but who can not recall, from numerous works of travel, or, indeed, from history, numerous other illustrations of the same fierce peril of thirst? Annals of exploration abound with disasters from this cause, and every desert bears witness against itself in the warning skeletons of man and beast which lie scattered up and down its surface. All the poetry of the nations who live upon the frontiers of these pitiless wastes gathers round the spring and well. Their daily existence, the affairs of tribes, the history of races, are determined by the position and abundance of the local water supply. It is for the possession of the oases and the life-givfng trickle of water ia the midst of it that the present iights of the pastoral nomads are fought. Their religious writings and precepts of their holy writ are replete with injunction and mándate on the subject of water, its uso and abuse, and among the supreme delights of is the luxury of unstinted springs of cold water. Nor is there any room for wonder that this should be so. We ourselves can not have failed to note how in the recent campaigns in Egypt everjlhing hinged upon the water supply. The army moved in detachments, bo as to best economizo it; camps were pitched so as to utilize it to the utmost; the hours of battle were arranged in obedience to its inexorable and aü-important detuands. It was at the wells of Teb and of Tamal that the Arabs fought their iiercest. To abandon the spring is significant of loss of country. A civilrecd race would rally for its last struggle round its capital fthe Arab reserves Ris mosfcdesperate-courage'for the conj flictround water, lfristo him tho een- tral Messing of life; and in all bis imfigination hean find na otlier simile for1 earthly beauty orheavenly blissthan tho precious fluid of which nature has beem so ruthlessly sparing. The sand is the JArab's ocean, the oases are his ports, and with all the accuracy of ships'j fcourses they steer their way over the' trackless wastes. To be betrayed froni, the straight line by a mirage, or dxirenj f rom it by the attacks of enemies, or delayed upon the road by sand storms,; uay, asiuthe case of a vessel at sea, pompei the voyager to mako lor some pther port than that for which ho had started. But the sun or the stars are' always there, and for the rest what better compass does the Bedouin ask than) ibis camel's amazing power oL scent?' Tho droniedary's nose is a needie that; Bever needs readjustment. No accidental attractions make it unfaithfuL to its dut3r. A fearful peril attaches, inevertheless, to any deviation from the shortest route; for even these hardened "children of the desert" iind the passage, ifrom one spring to another as much as itheir powers of endurance can bear, and are accustomed to time them so exactly that theyoften arrive at their journey's end with watcr-bottle and strength ialike exhausted. Kor is it easy in tho wide range of human emotions to imagine any more stirring pleasure than ,the first glimpse upon the horizon of tho jpatch of palnis which tells of a spring at their feet; nor any longing more intense than the eagerness with which tho solitary traveler presses forward towanl the friendly encampment, which his keen sight discovers jelustering around the oasis. After days of solituda and utter silent traveling perpetually in the center of an unbroken circle of blistering sand, the relief of groen palm-fronds, of human voices, of rest, must be sucli a rapture as almost to indemnify the Arab for all the drawbacks of his hard life; and no wonder that the wordl "water" is the darling of all his language. For it is a veritable miracleworker. Our soldiers in Egypt wero astonished, when tramping along the apparently hopeless desert, to see how luxuriant crops and gardens alternated with bare sand, how a mere rill of water tnrned the wilderness into a farmstead and charmed up to the surface of the soil all the latent magie of its fertility. In the Saharas of tho earth, whether in the Eastern hemisphere or the West, water is indeed a malician, as wonderful in the suddenness and ompleteness of its work as any genir sired. Industry without ÍTÍnf'pte lytic, a cripple. With it, it possesses i talisman that transügures everythinjj;. - -1 . a iriunt, and blesses cvery work of bis hand. oi-M.e of parts of Western America, a recent writeisays: "Water liere is eyerything tliat is prccious. Without it the sage brush laughs at man, aud the hom oL the jack rabbit is exalted against him. With it, corn expels the weed, and the long-eared rodent is plowed out of possession. AVithout it groase wood and gophers divide the wilderness between them. With it, homesteads spring up anil gather the orchards about them. Without it, the silence of the level desert is broken only by the coyote. With it como the l.iughtur of running brooks, the hum of busy markets, and the chcery voices of the mill-wheels by the stream. Without it, the world seems a dreary failure. Withit itbrightens intoiinlinitcpossibilities. ' Ko wonder then that men here prize it, exhausted ingenuity in obtainïng it, fought about it. I wonder they do not worship it. Men have worshiped trees, wind and sun with no greater cause." Chango tho phrases hero and 'there, and the passage might stand for Asia, fornothing is so striking in niany parts of the East, uotably Arabia and the eastern provinces of África, as tho supreme importanco of water. It determines localities, rejjulates thcir proportions, and controls tlieir prosperity. Just as in the far West men buyand soil water claims, as if theywere mines in Ml work, and appraiso each other's estates.notby the stock thatgrazes upon them, or the harvests gathered from them, but by tho water-rights that go with them, so in these oriental ootmtríes of desert and torrid sun clans measure their wealth by the flow of water within their boundaries, and the importance of all groundsby the amountiof irrigatiug power involved in the issue. Evcry etream might be a Pactolus, so precious is it; every pool a Bethesda, so great !ts virtues. Tocompassthe wonder-working thing, all energies, whether of individual or of community, are liercely employed; and prizcd above all tlua Arabs possess is the tribal right to access to a giren spring, or the privilege of encampment by a special well. Ju war it attains, if possible, to a stil! greater preciousness, for it is then thu one absolute essential of the campaign. Our troops, as we have noted, marched in obedience to the dictates of this supreme necessity. Thus, rather than waste a single draught, the cavalry on the night before the light at Tamal, risked separation from tho infantry. Then, aUo, in Hicks Pasha's disaster, the Arabs, knowing Vho point toward which all the enemy's desires would bö directed, easily planned their destruetion. An army, beguiled from the path that led to the widely separated wells of the Soudan, would need to meet no foe to find its doom, for thirst is the swiftest of tortures, andswifter than the onrush of Arab spearmen.- London Tdegraph. - An editor in California reeeived a cord of wood paid in on subscription. At a late hour in tko day it was corded Dp in front of tho office. The nextmornino- there were but half a dozen sticks lett. Whereupon the editor wrote a flaming leader declarin that "the moral of the town were steadily improving- that a year ago there would not have been a single stick of the whole eord left."- Chicago Inter-Ocean. - Jennie June observes : "There never was a time when the dsfiH counied for so little in the estímate of eharacters as now. It is getting to be prclty well understood that a woman who is celebrated for her clothes is known for nothingelse."


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