The landscape is nearly all glare: monotonous levels or low ranges of hillocks, with as little character upon them as the waves of the sea, and shimmering in mirage under a cloudless heaven. This bewildering monotony is broken by only two exceptions.
The plain was undulating from the effects of the mirage; and when, after travelling for an hour, we reached the trunks of the palm-trees, which appeared like masts in the horizon, we observed with astonishment how many things are connected with the existence of a single plant. The winds, losing their velocity when in contact with the foliage and the branches, accumulate sand around the trunk.
As they went farther, the illusion of the mirage became more instead of less convincing; a shallow silver lake that spread for many miles, a little misty in the sunlight. Here and there one saw reflected the image of a heifer, turned loose to live upon the sparse sand-grass.
The mirage, indeed, suddenly became reality a mirage only because she had proclaimed it such. She had beheld in it, as he spoke, a Grenoble which was paradise regained. And why should paradise regained be a paradox? Why paradise regained? Paradise gained. She had never known it, until he had flung wide the gates. She had sought for it, and never found it until now, and her senses doubted it.
Single flowers are too thin and sketchy of outline to affect the imagination, but the full fields have the misty blue of mirage waters rolled across desert sand, and quicken the senses to the anticipation of things ethereal. A very poet's flower, I thought; not fit for gathering up, and proving a nuisance in the pastures, therefore needing to be the more loved.
Another fact, not so noteworthy in view of the general perversity of inanimate things, is, that you never see a mirage when you are watching for it to decide an argument. It always presents itself when you have no interest in it. In this quality of irredeemable cussedness it resembles the emu's nest.
After all, perhaps this religion was but another mirage that had come into her moral vision, as many another had come in all the years she had been seeking truth and happiness. Happiness! Had she forgotten that for two years that word had been dropped from her vocabulary? That she had resolved to live on the best intellectual food the world could offer, without tasting its heart viands?
The only creature which can journey comfortably over the dreary waste of the Sa-ha´ra is the camel, whose stomach is made in a peculiar way, so that it can drink a large quantity of water at a time, and store it up for future use. Undaunted by fatigue or danger, Alexander pressed onward. Like his soldiers, he suffered from heat and thirst; and like them, too, he was deceived by the mirage.
When, every now and then, in the pauses of their own conversation, Elsmere caught something of the chatter going on at the other end of the table, or when the party became fused into one for a while under the genial influence of a good story or the exhilaration of a personal skirmish, the whole scene the dainty oval room, the lights, the servants, the exquisite fruit and flowers, the gleaming silver, the tapestried wall would seem to him for an instant like a mirage, a dream, yet with something glittering and arid about it which a dream never has.
From afar, and beyond the cold years of my boyhood, that family table came before me like a mirage of warm homelife; how often had it become a sort of nostalgia to me when I sat between my mother and M. Termonde on my horrid half-holidays. And now I found proof in my father's letters that a divorce of the heart already existed between the two persons who, to my filial tenderness, were but one.