National Geographic : 1968 Jan
the oarsmen and the beat of the oars reached, came also running down to the bank and followed, singing their own wild songs." The trip along the Jhelum, Chenab, and Indus Rivers took nine months, as the army fought its way from city to city. During one siege, Alexander became impatient at the halfhearted efforts of his men. With only three of his bodyguards, he entered the town and battled the defenders. When his army breached the walls, they found the body guards hovering over their fallen king. Pro tected by the same sacred shield that he had carried away from Troy eight years before, Alexander lay with an arrow in his lung. For days after the arrowhead was removed, Alexander was only semiconscious. When he could be moved, he was carried by boat to the main camp. The men thought they were see ing his dead body. But he raised his arm in greeting, and so that more of the army would know he was alive, he demanded to be carried ashore. He was helped onto his horse, and shouts of joy rose from the men. Desert Poses a Final Challenge At the Arabian Sea, Alexander divided his forces. Part he sent by ship along the coast. Leading the rest himself, he headed west across the Baluchistan desert. Helen and I gave long, hard thought to this part of the journey. Would we return by sea, or follow Alexander overland? Our maps showed few roads along his route; even these, for the most part, were identified as mere camel tracks. We would have to cross 1,100 miles of almost uninhabited wasteland. But we had followed Alexander too long to give up now. In Karachi, West Pakistan, we stocked up on food and water and increased our Land-Rover's gasoline capacity to 70 gal lons. On a windy March morning we headed west, out across the desert (map, page 12). Arrian writes that the suffering of the army on this march was so extreme that discipline fell to an all-time low. Soldiers broke open the royal stores; they butchered the transport animals for food and burned the baggage Last great battle: Alexander's infantry and cavalry overwhelm the Indian army of King Porus at the Jhelum River. "Maddened by the disaster," the king's elephants "kept colliding with friends and foes alike," ac cording to Arrian. Soon after this victory, Alexander's men, weary and homesick, demanded that he turn back. PAINTING © N.G.S.