XXXI. While they were coasting along the territory of the Fish-eaters, they heard a rumour about an island,' which lies some little distance from the mainland in this direction, about a hundred stades, but is uninhabited. The natives said that it was sacred to the Sun and was called Nosala, and that no human being ever of his own will put in there; but that anyone who ignorantly touched there at once disappeared. Nearchus, however, says that one of his galleys with an Egyptian crew was lost with all hands not far from this island, and that the pilots stoutly averred about it that they had touched ignorantly on the island and so had disappeared. But Nearchus sent a thirty-oar to sail round the island, with orders not to put in, but that the crew should shout loudly, while coasting round as near as they dared; and should call on the lost helmsman by name, or any of the crew whose name they knew. As no one answered, he tells us that he himself sailed up to the island, and compelled his unwilling crew to put in; then he went ashore and exploded this island fairy-tale. They heard also another current story about this island, that one of the Nereids dwelt there; but the name of this Nereid was not told. She showed much friendliness to any sailor who approached the island; but then turned him into a fish and threw him into the sea. The Sun then became irritated with the Nereid, and bade her leave the island; and she agreed to remove thence, but begged that the spell on her be removed; the Sun consented; and such human beings as she had turned into fishes he pitied, and turned them again from fishes into human beings, and hence arose the people called Fish-eaters, and so they descended to Alexander's day. Nearchus shows that all this is mere legend; but I have no commendation for his pains and his scholarship; the stories are easy enough to demolish; and I regard it as tedious to relate these old tales and then prove them all false. XXXII. Beyond these Fish-eaters the Gadrosians inhabit the interior, a poor and sandy territory; this was where Alexander's army and Alexander himself suffered so seriously, as I have already related in my other book. But when the fleet, leaving the Fish-eaters, put in at Carmania, they anchored in the open, at the point where they first touched Carmania; since there was a long and rough line of surf parallel with the coast. From there they sailed no further due west, but took a new course and steered with their bows pointing between north and west. Carmania is better wooded than the country of the Fisheaters, and bears more fruits; it has more grass, and is well watered. They moored at an inhabited place called Badis, in Carmania; with many cultivated trees growing, except the olive tree, and good vines; it also produced corn. Thence they set out and voyaged eight hundred stades, and moored off a desert shore; and they sighted a long cape jutting out far into the ocean; it seemed as if the headland itself was a day's sail away. Those who had knowledge of the district said that this promontory belonged to Arabia, and was called Maceta; and that thence the Assyrians imported cinnamon and other spices. From this beach of which the fleet anchored in the open roadstead, and the promontory, which they sighted opposite them, running out into the sea, the bay (this is my opinion, and Nearchus held the same) runs back into the interior, and would seem to be the Red Sea. When they sighted this cape, Onesicritus bade them take their course from it and sail direct to it, in order not to have the trouble of coasting round the bay. Nearchus, however, replied that Onesicritus was a fool, if he was ignorant of Alexander's purpose in despatching the expedition. It was not because he was unequal to the bringing all his force safely through on foot that he had despatched the fleet; but he desired to reconnoitre the coasts that lay on the line of the voyage, the roadsteads, the islets; to explore thoroughly any bay which appeared, and to learn of any cities which lay on the sea-coast; and to find out what land was fruitful, and what was desert. They must therefore not spoil Alexander's undertaking, especially when they were almost at the close of their toils, and were, moreover, no longer in any difficulty about provisions on their coasting cruise. His own fear was, since the cape ran a long way southward, that they would find the land there waterless and sun-scorched. This view prevailed; and I think that Nearchus evidently saved the expeditionary force by this decision; for it is generally held that this cape and the country about it are entirely desert and quite denuded of water. XXXIII. They sailed then, leaving this part of the shore, hugging the land; and after voyaging some seven hundred stades they anchored off another beach, called Neoptana. Then at dawn they moved off seaward, and after traversing a hundred stades, they moored by the river Anamis; the district was called Harmozeia. All here was friendly, and produced fruit of all sorts, except that olives did hot grow there. There they disembarked, and had a welcome rest from their long toils, remembering the miseries they had endured by sea and on the coast of the Fish-eaters; recounting one to another the desolate character of the country, the almost bestial nature of the inhabitants, and their own distresses. Some of them advanced some distance inland, breaking away from the main force, some in pursuit of this, and some of that. There a man appeared to them, wearing a Greek cloak, and dressed otherwise in the Greek fashion, and speaking Greek also. Those who first sighted him said that they burst into tears, so strange did it seem after all these miseries to see a Greek, and to hear Greek spoken. They asked whence he came, who he was; and he said that he had become separated from Alexander's camp, and that the camp, and Alexander himself, were not very far distant. Shouting aloud and clapping their hands they brought this man to Nearchus; and he told Nearchus everything, and that the camp and the King himself were distant five days' journey from the coast. He also promised to show Nearchus, the governor of this district and did so; and Nearchus took counsel with him how to march inland to meet the King. For the moment indeed he returned to the ship; but at dawn he had the ships drawn up on shore, to repair any which had been damaged on the voyage; and also because he had determined to leave the greater part of his force behind here. So he had a double stockade built round the ships' station, and a mud wall with a deep trench, beginning from the bank of the river and going on to the beach, where his ships had been dragged ashore. XXXIV. While Nearchus was busied with these arrangements, the governor of the country, who had been told that Alexander felt the deepest concern about this expedition, took for granted that he would receive some great reward from Alexander if he should be the first to tell him of the safety of the expeditionary force, and that Nearchus would presently appear before the King. So then he hastened by the shortest route and told Alexander: 'See, here is Nearchus coming from the ships.' On this Alexander, though not believing what was told him, yet, as he naturally would be, was pleased by the news itself. But when day succeeded day, and Alexander, reckoning the time when he received the good news, could not any longer believe it, when, moreover, relay sent after relay, to escort Nearchus, either went a part of the route, and meeting no one, came back unsuccessful, or went on further, and missing Nearchus' party, did not themselves return at all, then Alexander bade the man be arrested for spreading a false tale and making things all the worse by this false happiness; and Alexander showed both by his looks and his mind that he was wounded with a very poignant grief. Meanwhile, however, some of those sent to search for Nearchus, who had horses to convey him, and chariots, did meet on the way Nearchus and Archias, and five or six others; that was the number of the party which came inland with him. On this meeting they recognized neither Nearchus nor Archias -- so altered did they appear; with their hair long, unwashed, covered with brine, wizened, pale from sleeplessness and all their other distresses; when, however, they asked where Alexander might be, the search party gave reply as to the locality and passed on. Archias, however, had a happy thought, and said to Nearchus: 'I suspect, Nearchus, that these persons who are traversing the same road as ours through this desert country have been sent for the express purpose of finding us; as for their failure to recognize us, I do not wonder at that; we are in such a sorry plight as to be unrecognizable. Let us tell them who we are and ask them why they come hither.' Nearchus approved; they did ask whither the party was going; and they replied: 'To look for Nearchus and his naval force.' Whereupon, 'Here am I, Nearchus,' said he, 'and here is Archias. Do you lead on; we will make a full report to Alexander about the expeditionary force.' XXXV. The soldiers took them up in their cars and drove back again. Some of them , anxious to be beforehand with the good news, ran forward and told Alexander: 'Here is Nearchus; and with him Archias and five besides, coming to your presence.' They could not, however, answer any questions about the fleet. Alexander thereupon became possessed of the idea that these few had been miraculously saved, but that his whole army had perished; and did not so much rejoice at the safe arrival of Nearchus and Archias, as he was bitterly pained by the loss of all his force. Hardly had the soldiers told this much, when Nearchus and Archias approached; Alexander could only with great difficulty recognize them; and seeing them as he did long-haired and ill-clad, his grief for the whole fleet and its personnel received even greater surety. Giving his right hand to Nearchus and leading him aside from the Companions and the bodyguard, for a long time he wept; but at length recovering himself he said: 'That you come back safe to us, and Archias here, the entire disaster is tempered to me; but how perished the fleet and the force?' 'Sir,' he replied, 'your ships and men are safe; we are come to tell with our own lips of their safety.' On this Alexander wept the more, since the safety of the force had seemed too good to be true; and then he enquired where the ships were anchored. Nearchus replied: 'They are all drawn up at the mouth of the river Anamis, and are undergoing a refit.' Alexander then called to witness Zeus of the Greeks and the Libyan, Ammon that in good truth he rejoiced more at this news than because he had conquered all Asia since the grief he had felt at the supposed loss of the fleet cancelled all his other good fortune.