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103

THE CARAVAN.

Again the slow lines onward stretch
In moody silence, till at last
The longed-for resting-place they reach ;
While, sun-touched still, the eye may scan
The far-off towers of Kairouan.*
 
Beneath a thin acacia's shade,
The captive laid his burning head,
And prayed for death. His weary feet
Were blistered by the scorching heat
Of flint and sand, through which, unshod,
With bleeding step he long had trod.
Speechless, the parched and stiffened tongue
To the mouth dry and fevered clung ;
The swollen, cracked lips were purple grown,
The eyes, that once as purely shone
As sapphire in a crystal sea,
Had lost their dewy brilliancy ;
 
  * Kairouan, situated in a sterile sandy plain, almost entirely without
vegetation, was the African capital of the Moslem conquerors in the eighth
and ninth centuries.