The adventure was strange, the mystery inexplicable. A blazing noontide in the month of Moharram. Away across the barren desert to the distant horizon nothing met the aching eye but a dreary waste of burning red-brown sand under a cloudless sky shining like burnished copper. Not an object relieved the wearying monotony of the waterless region forsaken by nature, not a palm, not a rock, not a knoll, not a vestige of herbage; nothing but the boundless silent expanse of that wild and wonderful wilderness, the Great Sahara, across which the sand-laden wind swept ever and anon in short stifling gusts hot as the breath from an oven.
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