At the picket-house, which was some distance from the town, there lived a soap-boiler and tallow-chandler, who was very kind to us while we were there on duty, killing a bullock almost every night for our use, as he only required the skin and tallow, and any one may suppose that two hundred hungry men knew what to do with the rest of it.
And so he had to battle with his thirst while they still hurried on. Suddenly the officer in command called a halt they had now reached the picket-house at Tractir Bridge and rode out to the flank of the party. He seemed perturbed, anxious in his mind, and raised his hand to shroud his eyes as he peered eagerly across the plain. "Here!" he shouted, rising in his stirrups and turning round.
"Take me at once before him; I am not afraid." "You will wait till it suits us, dog; meanwhile, lie there." They had reached a rough shelter built of mud and long reeds. It was the picket-house, the headquarters of the troop of Cossacks, and a number of them were lying and hanging about, their horses tethered close by.
Our picket only just managed to get through safely into the town, leaving one of our men asleep in the picket-house, and he must certainly have met his death if he had been caught there singly; but the tallow-chandler, though himself a Spaniard, concealed him under a quantity of dry hides while the enemy were scouring the place in search of stragglers, and so saved his life.
Five nights I journeyed, and at last one morning beautiful Beirut appeared in the distance and I found myself in the forest of pines that leads into the city. The fresh dawn was filled with the balmy breath of the pines and all the odors of the Lebanon. Driving my donkey before me, I boldly approached the first picket-house and saluted the non-commissioned officer in military fashion.