(This book cannot be returned.)
To a distant observer it would have appeared as though they were moving without support on the very face of the mountain. They wore European garments, and the briefest inspection of their features would have sufficed to tell that they were Englishmen. Behind them, at some little distance, rode eight or ten bearded men of swarthy hue, whose turbans, tunics, and long boots proclaimed them as sowars of a regiment of Border cavalry. Still farther behind, in a long straggling line, came a caravan of laden mules, each in charge of a half-naked Astori. The tail of this singular procession, perhaps a mile behind the head, consisted of two native troopers like those who preceded them. It was now nearly dark. Presently the three Englishmen halted, and the eldest of them, turning in his saddle, addressed a few words in Urdu to the dafadar of the sowars behind. The riders, English and native alike, dismounted, and led their horses up a slight ascent to the left, halting again when they reached a stretch of level ground which the leader had marked as a suitable camping place. A thin rill trickled musically down at the edge of this convenient plateau, forming a small quagmire in its passage across the track, and plunging over the brink to merge in the broader stream, now obliterated by the night, hundreds of feet below. The three Englishmen tethered their horses to some young pines that bounded the level space, then sat themselves upon a neighbouring rock, lit their pipes, and looked on in silence as the dusky troopers removed their saddle-bags and stood in patient expectancy.