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The Story of the Greeks by  H. A. Guerber

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THE RETURN TO BABYLON

[251] UPON reaching the Hyphasis River, Alexander would have liked to cross it, and continue his conquests; but his soldiers now refused to go any farther. They were tired of fighting and danger, and were longing to go back to Macedon.

Although he was unwilling to do so, Alexander was therefore obliged to stop in his conquests; but, instead of going home as he had come, he now built a fleet and sailed down the Indus River to the sea.

Now, the Greeks had no maps such as we have; and their knowledge of geography was very small. When Alexander came to the sea, however, he thought it must be the same as that into which the Euphrates flowed.

To find out if this was true, he bade his admiral, Nearchus, sail along the coast and explore it, while the army went homeward on foot. Alexander himself staid with the army, and led the soldiers along a new way, which was very wearisome and dangerous.

The Macedonians had to pass through large wastes of burning sand, where they suffered a great deal. They were cheered and encouraged, however, by the example of Alexander, who nobly shared their hardships, and always went ahead of them on foot, carrying his own armor.

Once, when they were panting with thirst, some of his men found a little water, which they brought him. Rather than indulge in anything which all could not share with him, Alexander poured the water out upon [252] the sand, saying he would refresh himself only when his men could do so too.

After many months of weary travel and great suffering, the army finally joined the fleet at the mouth of the Euphrates, for Nearchus had in the mean while sailed all along the northern coast of the Indian Ocean and up the Persian Gulf.

He wrote an account of this wonderful sea journey, which was of great importance, as it opened a new and convenient road for Eastern commerce. The people soon took advantage of it to establish colonies and trading stations, and to carry on a lively business with the East.


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