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frighten them away. They rise like a cloud at the crack of your gun, wheel round and round for a few minutes, cawing furiously at you, and then settle down again to their work of robbery as if nothing had happened. They fly to an immense distance in their foraging excursions. I have met them at least fifty miles from this their roosting-place. It is curious to see them in the afternoon preparing to return hither from the wadies around the north end of Hermon. They assemble in groups, caw and scream, and wheel round and round in ascending circles, until almost lost in the blue depths of the sky; then they sail in a straight line for this marsh, chattering to each other all the way. Assembled in the evening, they report the adventures of the day in noisy conclave, loud as the voice of many waters.
But, lunch over, we must be on the march, for the sun will set ere we can visit the shore of the Hûleh and return to Kūdes, on this high mountain west of us. Do you notice any thing peculiar in this clump of thorn-trees on our left?
Nothing, except that they seem to be stuffed full of dry stubble.
That is the deserted nests of the field-sparrow. The tree is called sidr, and abounds all over Palestine, but I have nowhere seen it so large as around the Hûleh. I passed this way last year on the twenty-first of May, and these trees were covered with those birds. There were literally thousands of them, and they were holding an angry and troubled consultation as to the safest means of expelling a couple of hawks that had called there for their breakfast. I drove away their enemies, and they speedily calmed down into comparative silence, though they are never absolutely quiet except when asleep.
This white-domed mazar above us, on our right, is Neby Hûshâ—Prophet Joshua—and is a place of great resort. A little farther on, the Wady el Mûaddumîyeh comes precipitately down from the mountains. Notice the immense quantity of boulders which this impetuous torrent has brought hither in the winter, and spread far and wide over the plain. We shall cross this wild wady to-morrow on our road to Safed. From this to el Mellâhah is forty minutes : there the marsh ends, and the splendid plain of the Ard el Kheît begins. We have been more than two hours coasting the west side of the marsh, and have ridden hard; it can not, therefore, be less than ten miles long. Here is the celebrated fountain of el Mellahah. The water is brackish and slightly tepid, and this is the reason why it is so crowded with fish. It is only a mile from the northwest corner of the lake, and from it, in cold weather, come up an incredible number of fish. The pool is about four hundred feet in circumference, and from it the whole country round is supplied with fish. The water is led directly from the pool on to these mills, which are now the only houses in this neighborhood, although there was once a considerable town here, as appears from the foundations of old buildings, and from the rock-tombs in these cliffs above the fountain. Let us hasten down to the shore of the lake, for time is precious, and the neighborhood is any thing but safe.
What a splendid plain! and evidently as fertile as it is beautiful.
I saw it last May covered with golden harvests ready for the sickle. There were then many tents pitched here and there for the reapers, who come from Kūdes and other villages on the mountains. There is not an inhabited house on all this plain, and this is entirely owing to insecurity, not insalubrity. 'Ard el Kheît, as the district is called, is peculiarly exposed to incursions from the Desert east of the Jordan. I came near being plundered by Bedawîn from the Ghor the first time I visited the lake.
Here we are at the shore, and, though somewhat soft, it is as well defined as that of any other lake, and there is no difficulty whatever in reaching it. There are also many fresh-water shells along the bank.
Though the reports on this subject were great exaggerations, still it is quite impossible to get to the lake except on the east side and along this southwestern shore. From the ritter desertion of this region, it has become the favorite re
rt of water-fowl, and they have it all to themselves. No
OUTLET OF JORDAN-BABEER CANE.
boat is ever seen on the tranquil bosom of the Hûleh-no hunter disturbs them here. The plain down to the exit of the Jordan is level as a floor, and much of it is carpeted with the softest, richest sward in all the East. One feels tempted to leap from the saddle, and gambol and roll about on it like a little child. The lake ends in a triangular marsh, the largest part of which is on the eastern bank of the river. It is an impenetrable jungle of ordinary cane, mingled with that peculiar kind called babeer, from whose stems the Arabs make coarse mats for the walls and roofs of their huts. This cane is the prominent and distinctive production of these marshes, both at the north and south end of the lake. I have seen it also on the banks of brooks in the plain of Sharon, north of Jaffa. The stalk is not round, but triangular. It grows eight or ten feet high, and ends above in a wide-spreading tuft of stems like broomcorn, shooting out in every direction with surprising regularity and beauty. It imparts a singular appearance to the whole marsh, as if ten thousand thousand brooms were waving over it. Through this jungle the Jordan creeps slug
gishly for half a mile, and then glides tranquilly between green sloping banks for another mile to Jisr Benat Yacobe. Thence it commences its headlong race over basaltic rocks down to the Lake of Tiberias, a distance of about six miles,