The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Biography - Life of Timur Beg

Timur at Khiva

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The region of Kharism or Khiva, in which Timur had taken refuge, is seven hundred and fifty miles long, by six hundred broad; and, with the exception of the narrow tract bordering the River Oxus, and the well watered sands of Merve, it consists of a wide desert plain, without rivers or springs, woods or mountains. Between Merve and Khiva it is a broken surface of deep sand, with a small growth of underwood {Abbott's Khiva}; and it was over this cheerless waste that Timur's little party wandered, until they came, hungry and thirsty, to a well in the desert. The weary fugitives at length found rest and refreshment, the water was delicious; a shepherd gave them part of a goat, which they roasted between stones, and, as Timur says, 'we enjoyed ourselves exceedingly.' But their future prospects were most disheartening. Aljay Turkhan Aga, the faithful and devoted wife of Timur, cheered him up in this darkest hour of his life, and said,-'Surely our fortunes are now arrived at the lowest point.' They wandered on for days and nights, without water or bread, and remained, for a month, in a ruined deserted village. At length they fell in with a troop of wild Toorkmans, under one Ali Beg Ghurbany, who took the fugitives prisoners, and confined Timur and his wife in a wretched cow house, full of fleas and vermin, for more than two months. This was the lowest ebb to which his fortunes sank, and from this time the tide began to flow, which bore him on to the empire of Asia. He escaped from his durance, collected twelve horsemen, whose numbers soon increased to a hundred, and raised the standard of royalty.