"Sidi Mohammed, praise be to his name!" said he, "was once applied to by a poor man, whose speculations in trade always turned out disadvantageously; his children died, and nothing flourished with him. Mohammed told him, that horses were nearly connected with his fate, and that he must buy horses before he would be fortunate. 'If I cannot afford to keep myself,' said the man, 'how can I feed horses?'—'No matter,' said the prophet; alive or dead, no good fortune will come upon your house until you have them.' The poor man went and purchased the head of a dead horse, which was all his means enabled him to do, and this he placed over his house, little dreaming of the good fortune, which by this means he was to enjoy. Before the first day passed, to his extreme surprise and joy, he saw a bird, with a chain attached to its neck, entangled with the horse's head; and, on mounting to the housetop to extricate the bird, he found it one of the greatest beauty, and that the chain was of diamonds. He was not long in discovering the bird had escaped from the window of the favourite of a certain sultan, who, on its being restored, gave the poor man the chain as his reward, and by means of which he became rich and happy. Now," said Boo Khaloom, "I dreamt of this story last night, and that I was the poor man."
During their stay at Sockna, the marriage of the son of one of the richest inhabitants, Haji Mohammed-el-Hair-Trigge, was celebrated in the true Arab style. There is something so rudely chivalric in their ceremonies, so very superior to the dull monotony of a Tripolitan wedding, where from one to five hundred guests, all males assemble, covered with gold lace, and look at one another from the evening of one day until daylight the next, that we cannot refrain from transcribing it.
The morning of the marriage-day, (for the ceremony is always performed in the evening, that is, the final ceremony, for they are generally betrothed, and the fatah read a year before,) is ushered in by the music of the town or tribe, consisting of a bagpipe and two small drums, serenading the bride first, and then the bridegroom, who generally walks through the streets, very finely dressed, with all the town at his heels; during which all the women assemble at the bride's house, dressed in their finest clothes, and place themselves at the different holes in the walls, which serve as windows, and look into the court-yard. When they are so placed, and the bride is in front of one of the windows, with her face entirely covered with her barracan, the bridal clothes, consisting of silk shifts, shawls, silk trousers, and fine barracans, to show her riches, are hung from the top of the house, quite reaching to the ground. The young Arab chiefs are permitted to pay their respects; they are preceded from the skiffa, or entrance, by their music, and a dancing woman or two advance with great form, and with slow steps, to the centre of the court, under the bride's window; here the ladies salute their visitors with "loo! loo! loo!" which they return by laying their right hand on their breasts, as they are conducted quite round the circle. Ample time is afforded them to survey the surrounding beauties, and there are but few who on those occasions are so cruel as to keep the veil quite closed. Such an assemblage of bright black eyes, large ear-rings, and white teeth, are but rarely seen in any country. After having made the circuit, the largess is given, and exposed to view by the chief danseuse, and according to its amount, is the donor hailed and greeted by the spectators. Previously to their departure, all visitors discharge their pistols, and then again the ladies salute with the loo! loo!
So far from being displeased at Major Denham asking permission to pay his respects, it was considered as a favour conferred, and the bridegroom, although he could not himself be admitted, attended him to and from the house of his mistress. This ceremony being ended, a little before sunset, the bride prepares to leave her father's house; a camel is sent for her, with a jaafa or sedan chair of basket work on its back, covered with skins of animals, shawls from Soudan, Cairo, and Timbuctoo; she steps into this, and so places herself as to see what is going forward, and yet to lie entirely hidden from the view of others. She is now conducted outside the town, where all the horsemen and footmen, who have arms are assembled. The escort of the travellers on this occasion added to the effect, as they were all by Boo Khaloom's order in the field, consisting of sixty mounted Arabs, and when they all charged and fired at the foot of the bride's camel, Major Denham says, he really felt for the virgin's situation, but it was thought a great honour, and that, he supposes, consoled her for the fright. They commenced by skirmishing by twos and fours, and charging in sections at full speed, always firing close under the bride's jaafa; in this manner they proceeded three times round the town, the scene occasionally relieved by a little interlude of the bridegroom; approaching the camel, which was surrounded by the negresses, who instantly commenced a cry, and drove him away, to the great amusement of the bystanders, exclaiming, "burra! Burra!" (be off! be off!) mazal shouia, (a little yet.) With discharges of musketry, and the train of horsemen, &c., she is then conveyed to the bridegroom's house, upon which it is necessary for her to appear greatly surprised, and refuse to dismount; the women scream, and the men shout, and she is at length persuaded to enter, when after receiving a bit of sugar in her mouth, from the bridegroom's hand, and placing another bit in his, with her own fair fingers, the ceremony is finished, and they are declared man and wife.
They had now to pass the Gibel Assoud, or Black Mountains; the northernmost part of this basaltic chain commences on leaving Sockna. They halted at Melaghi the place of meeting; immediately at the foot of the mountain is the well of Agutifa, and from hence probably the most imposing view of these heights will be seen. To the south, the mountain path of Niffdah presents its black, overhanging peaks, the deep chasm round which, the path winds, bearing a most cavern-like appearance; a little to the west, the camel path, called El Nishka, appears scarcely less difficult and precipitous; the more southern crags close in the landscape, while the foreground is occupied by the dingy and barren wadey of Agutifa, with the well immediately overhung by red ridges of limestone and clay; the whole presenting a picture of barrenness not to be perfectly described either by poet or painter.
The first four days of their journey after leaving Agutifa, were all dreariness and misery. This was the third time that they had passed these deserts, but no familiarity with the scenery at all relieves the sense of wretchedness which the dread barrenness of the place inspires. They marched from dawn until dark, for the sake of getting over them as soon as possible, and as scarcely sufficient fuel was to be found to boil a little water, a mass of cold tumuta was usually their supper.
On leaving Tingazeer they had the blessing of a rainy day, for such it was to all, but particularly to the poor negroes who accompanied the kafila; although Boo Khaloom always gave something to drink from his skins once a day, an unusual kindness; yet, marching as they were for twelve and fourteen hours, a single draught was scarcely sufficient to satisfy nature. In consequence of the rain, they found water fresh and pure during almost every day's march, and arrived at Zeghren with the loss of only one camel. On the last day, previously to arriving at the well, Omhul Abeed, a skeleton of a man, with some flesh still hanging about him, lay close to the road, but it was passed by the whole kafila with scarcely a remark.
After these dreary wastes, it was no small pleasure to rest a day at Zeghren, the native town of a considerable merchant, who accompanied the kafila. When they first left Sockna for Mourzouk, Abdi Zeleel had before taken Major Denham to his house, and presented him to his mother and sister, and he now insisted upon his taking up his quarters there altogether. Almost the first person who presented herself, was his friend the merchant's sister, he had almost said, the fair Omhal Henna, (the mother of peace.) We shall allow Major Denham to relate this African amour in his own words:—
"She had a wooden bowl of haleb (fresh milk) in her hand, the greatest rarity she could offer, and holding out the milk, with some confusion, towards me, with both her hands, the hood, which should have concealed her beautiful features, had fallen back. As my taking my milk from her, would have prevented the amicable salutation we both seemed prepared for, and which consisted of four or five gentle pressures of the hand, with as many aish harleks, and tiels, and ham-dulillahs, she placed the bowl upon the ground, while the ceremonies of greeting, which take up a much longer time in an African village, than in an English drawing room, were by mutual consent most cordially performed. I really could not help looking at her with astonishment, and I heartily wish I had the power of conveying an idea of her portrait. It was the jemma (Friday,) the sabbath, and she was covered, for I cannot call it dressed, with only a blue linen barracan, which passed under one arm, and was fastened on the top of the opposite shoulder, with a silver pin, the remaining part thrown round the body behind, and brought over her head as a sort of hood, which, as I have before remarked, had fallen off, and my having taken her hand, when she set down the milk, had prevented its being replaced. This accident displayed her jet black hair, in numberless plaits, all round her expressive face and neck, and her large sparkling eyes and little mouth, filled with the whitest teeth imaginable. She had various figures burnt on her chin, with gunpowder; her complexion was a deep brown, and round her neck were eight or ten necklaces, of coral and different coloured beads. So interesting a person I had not seen in the country, and on my remaining some moments with my eyes fixed on her, she recommenced the salutation. How is your health? &c., and smiling, asked with great naivete, whether I had not learned, during the last two months, a little more Arabic? I assured her that I had. Looking round to see if any body heard her, and having brought the hood over her face, she said, 'I first heard of your coming last night, and desired the slave to mention it to my brother. I have always looked for your coming, and at night, because at night I have sometimes seen you. You were the first man whose hand I ever touched, but they all said it did not signify with you, an Insara (a Christian.) God turn your heart! But my brother says you will never become Moslem—won't you, to please Abdi Zeleel's sister? my mother says, God would never have allowed you to come, but for your conversion.' By this time again the hood had fallen back, and I had again taken her hand, when the unexpected appearance of Abdi Zeleel, accompanied by the governor of the town, who came to visit me, was a most unwelcome interruption. Omhal Henna quickly escaped; she had overstepped the line, and I saw her no more."
On Wednesday the 30th October, they made their entree into Mourzouk, with all the parade and show that they could muster. By Boo Khaloom's presents to the bashaw, but chiefly on account of his having undertaken to conduct the travellers to Bornou, he had not only gained the bashaw's favour, but had left Tripoli with strong proofs of his master's consideration. The inhabitants came out to meet them, and they entered the gates amidst the shouts of the people, preceded by singing and dancing women. And the Arabs who formed their escort, made such repeated charges, upon their jaded and tired animals, that Major Denham expected some of them would "fall to rise no more." No living creatures can be treated worse than an Arab's wife and his horse, and if plurality could be transferred from the marriage bed to the stable, both wives and horses would be much benefited by the change.
Major Denham could not quite resist a sensation of disappointment, that no friends came out to meet him, but as the sun was insufferably powerful, and as he had received a message by Boo Khaloom's brother, from Dr. Oudney, that he was unwell, and that Lieutenant Clapperton had the ague, he did not much expect to see them. He was, however, by no means prepared to see either of them so much reduced as they were. He found that both his companions and Hillman, had been confined to their beds with hemma, (fever and ague,) had been delirious, and the doctor and Hillman only a little recovered. Clapperton was still on his bed, which for fifteen days he had not quitted. Doctor Oudney was suffering also from a severe complaint in his chest, arising from a cold caught during his excursion to Ghraat, and nothing could be more disheartening than their appearance. The opinion of every body, Arabs, Tripolines, and Ritchie, and Lyon, their predecessors, were all unanimous as to the insalubrity of the air. Every one belonging to the present expedition had been seriously disordered, and amongst the inhabitants themselves, any thing like a healthy-looking person was a rarity.
Notwithstanding Boo Khaloom made every exertion in his power to get away from Mourzouk, as early as possible, yet, from the numerous arrangements, which it was necessary for him to make, for the provisioning of so many persons, during a journey through a country possessing no resources, it was the 29th November before those arrangements were complete. Dr. Oudney and Mr. Clapperton, from a most praiseworthy impatience to proceed on their journey, and at the same time thinking their health might be benefited by the change of air, preceded him to Gatrone by ten days. Major Denham remained behind to urge Boo Khaloom, and expedite his departure, as it was considered, by those means, that any wish might be obviated, which he might have to delay, on account of his private affairs, even for a day. Their caution was, however, needless, no man could be more anxious to obey the orders he had received, and forward their views than himself; indeed so peremptory had been the commands of the bashaw, in consequence of the representation of our consul general, when complaining of former procrastinations, that Boo Khaloom's personal safety depended on his expedition, and of this he was well aware.
The following is a correct account of the strength of the party, as it proceeded from Mourzouk. Major Denham had succeeded in engaging, on his return to Tripoli, as an attendant to accompany him to Bornou, a native of the island of St. Vincent, whose real name was Adolphus Sympkins, but who, in consequence of his having run away from home, and as a merchant traversed hall the world over, had acquired the name of Columbus. He had been several years in the service of the bashaw, spoke three European languages, and perfect Arabic. [*] They had besides, three free negroes, who had been hired in Tripoli as private servants. Jacob, a Gibraltar Jew, who was a sort of store-keeper, four men to look after the camels, and these, with Mr. Hillman and the remainder of the Europeans, made up the number of their household to thirteen persons. They were also accompanied by several merchants from Mesurata, Tripoli, Sockna, and Mourzouk, who gladly embraced the protection of their escort, to proceed to the interior with their merchandize.
[Footnote: This person afterwards accompanied Captain Clapperton on his second journey.]
The Arabs in the service of the bashaw of Tripoli, by whom they were to be escorted to Bornou, and on whose good conduct their success almost wholly depended, were now nearly all assembled, and had been chosen from amongst the most convenient tribes. They gained considerably in the good opinion of the travellers, each day as they became better acquainted with them; they were not only a great and most necessary protection to them, breaking the ground, as they were, for any Europeans who might follow their steps, but enlivened them greatly on their dreary desert way, by their infinite wit and sagacity, as well as by their poetry, extempore and traditional. There were several amongst the party, who shone as orators in verse, to use the idiom of their own expressive language, particularly one of the tribe of Boo Saiff Marabooteens, or gifted persons, who would sing for an hour together, faithfully describing the whole of their journey for the preceding fortnight, relating the most trifling occurrence that had happened, even to the name of the well, and the colour and taste of the water, with astonishing rapidity and humour, and in very tolerable poetry, while some of his traditional ballads were beautiful.
The Arabs are generally thin, meagre figures, though possessing expressive and sometimes handsome features; great violence of gesture and muscular action; irritable and fiery, they are unlike the dwellers in towns and cities; noisy and loud, their common conversational intercourse appears to be a continual strife and quarrel. They are, however, brave, eloquent, and deeply sensible of shame. Major Denham once knew an Arab of the lower class refuse his food for days together, because in a skirmish his gun had missed fire; to use his own words, "Gulbi wahr, (my heart aches,) Bin-dikti kadip hashimtui gedam el naz. (my gun lied, and shamed me before the people.)" Much has been said of their want of cleanliness; they may, however, be pronounced to be much more cleanly than the lower orders of people in any European country. Circumcision, and the shaving the hair from the head, and every other part of the body; the frequent ablutions, which their religion compels them to perform; all tend to enforce practices of cleanliness. Vermin, from the climate of their country, they, as well as every other person, must be annoyed with; and although the lower ranks have not the means of frequently changing their covering, for it can be scarcely called apparel, yet they endeavour to free themselves as much as possible from the persecuting vermin. Their mode of dress has undergone no change for centuries back, and the words of Fenelon will at this day apply with equal truth to their present appearance. "Leurs habits sont aises a faire, car en ce doux climat on ne porte qu'une piece d'etoffe fine et legere, qui n'est point taillee et que chacun met a long plis autour de son corps pour la modestie; lui donnant la forme qu'il veut."
During the time that Major Denham had been occupied with transacting his business with the bashaw of Tripoli, Dr. Oudney and Lieutenant Clapperton had determined to make an excursion to the westward of Mourzouk, for the purpose of ascertaining the course of the rivers, and the local curiosities of the country. Accordingly on the 8th June 1822, Dr. Oudney, Lieutenant Clapperton, and Mr. Hillman, departed from Mourzouk, accompanied by Hadje Ali, brother of Ben Bucher, Ben Khalloom, Mahommed Neapolitan Mamelouk, and Mahomet, son of their neighbour Hadje Mahmud. It was their intention to have proceeded direct to Ghraat, and laboured hard to accomplish their object; obstacle after obstacle was, however, thrown in their way by some individuals in Mourzouk. Several came begging them not to go, as the road was dangerous, and the people not all under the bashaw's control. They at length hired camels from a Targee, Hadge Said, but only to accompany them as far as the wadey Ghrurby.
This course was over sands skirted with date trees, the ground strewed with fragments of calcareous crust, with a vitreous surface from exposure to the weather. About mid-day, after an exhausting journey from oppressive heat, they arrived at El Hummum, a straggling village, the houses of which were mostly constructed of palm leaves. They remained until the sun was well down and then proceeded on their course. The country had the same character. At eight they arrived at Tessouwa.
The greater number of inhabitants were Turiacks. They had a warlike appearance, a physiognomy and costume different from the Fezzaners. More than a dozen muffled-up faces were seated near their tents, with every one's spear stuck forcibly in the ground before him. This struck them forcibly, from being very different from that which they had been accustomed to see. The Arab is always armed in his journey, with his long gun and pistols, but there is something more imposing in the spear, dagger, and broad straight sword.
Their course now lay over an extensive high plain, with a long range of hills, running nearly east and west. They entered them by a pass, in which were numerous recesses, evidently leading to more extensive wadeys. This pass led to another, the finest they had yet seen, and the only part approaching to the sublime, which they had beheld in Fezzan. It was rugged and narrow; its sides high, and overhanging in some places near the end of the pass, the wady Ghrarby opens, with groves of date palms, and high sandy hills. The change was sudden and striking, and instead of taking away, added to the effect of the pass they were descending.
Having travelled up the valley for about four miles, they halted at a small town, called Kharaik, having passed two in their course. The number of date trees in the eastern and western division of the valley, is said to be 340,000. The first division, or wadey Shirgi, extends from near Siba to within a few miles of Thirtiba, the other from the termination of Shirgi to Aubari.
In the evening, they saw some of the preparatory steps for a marriage. The woman belonged to Kharaik, and the man to the next town. A band of musicians, accompanied by all the women of the village, with every now and then a volley of musketry, formed the chief part of the procession. One woman carried a basket on her head, for the purpose of collecting gomah to form a feast, and pay the musicians. They came from the village of the bridegroom, which was about a mile distant.
The sheik of this town, whose name was Ali, was a good-natured Tibboo, exceedingly poor, but very attentive, and always in good humour. The place was so poor that they had sometimes to wait half a day before they could get a couple of fowls, or a feed of dates or barley for their horses. They were in hourly expectation of the arrival of camels from the friends of Hateeta, for the purpose of conveying them to Ghraat; no camels, however, arrived, and they were obliged to remain, much against their inclination. On Hateeta conversing with Dr. Oudney, on the difficulty they experienced in getting away from Mourzouk, on account of the obstacles thrown in the way by the people, he said, that the dread, which they had of the Turiacks, was unfounded, and that they should soon be convinced of it. He further added, that he could by his influence alone conduct them in perfect safety to Timbuctoo, and would answer with his head. He was indignant at the feelings, which the people of Mourzouk had against the Turiacks, who, he said, pride themselves on having but one word, and performing whatever they promise.
The promised camels not having arrived, they hired two of Mahomet el Buin, and with these they proceeded on to Gorma, which they found to be a larger town than any in the wadey, but both walls and houses have the marks of time. The sheik, Mustapha Ben Ussuf, soon visited them. He was an old man, a Fezzaner. His ancestors were natives of the place, and his features might be considered as characteristic of the natives of Fezzan.
They had many accounts of inscriptions being in this place, which the people could not read. They were conducted by sheik Mustapha to examine a building, different, as he stated, from any in the country. When they arrived, they found to their satisfaction, it was a structure which had been erected by the Romans.
There were no inscriptions to be found, although they carefully turned up a number of the stones strewed about, but a few figures and letters rudely hewn out, and evidently of recent date. They imagined they could trace some resemblance to the letters of Europe, and conjectured that they had been hewn out by some European traveller at no very distant period. Their thoughts naturally went back to Horneman, but again they had no intelligence of his having been there, "In short," as Dr. Oudney says, "to confess the truth, we did not know what to make of them, till we afterwards made the discovery of the Targee writing."
This building is about twelve feet high, and eight broad. It is built of sandstone well finished, and dug from the neighbouring hills. Its interior is solid, and of small stones, cemented by mortar. It stands about three miles from Gorma, and a quarter of a mile from the foot of the mountain. It is either a tomb or an altar; those well acquainted with Roman architecture will easily determine which. The finding a structure of these people proves, without doubt, their intercourse here. It is probable they had no extensive establishment, otherwise they would have seen more remains as they went along; they passed by, and saw to the westward, the remains of ancient Gorma. It appeared to occupy a space more extensive than the present town. They were not able to learn from the old sheik, whether any antique coins were ever found, or any building similar to this in the vicinity. Was this the tract of the Romans merely into the interior, or did they come to the valley for dates?
Hateeta arrived during the night of the 18th June; their departure was, however, delayed on account of his illness. On the following morning, they struck their tents by daylight, and commenced their journey. They sent their horses home, that is, to Mourzouk, by their servant, Adam, and set out on foot. They intended mounting the camels, but the loads were so ill arranged that they dared not venture. Their course lay through groves of date trees, growing in the salt plains. These extended about four miles, and two miles further west, was a small Arab town. They halted about an hour under the shade of the date trees, waiting for the coming up of the camels. They then mounted, and in the afternoon entered the date groves of Oubari, where they halted. Hateeta joined them in the evening. They had numerous Tuarick visitors, some residents of the town, and others belonging to a kafila about to depart for the Tuarick country. They are an independent-looking race. They examine with care every thing they see, and are not scrupulous in asking for different articles, such as tobacco, powder, and flints.
The camel men not coming forward with their camels, the party took the advantage of their detention to visit the neighbouring hills. One part appeared at a distance as an artificial excavation, which, however, disappeared as they approached, and they found it to be a smooth surface, with a portion so removed as to give rise to the delusion.
In ascending this by the track of a mountain torrent, they fell in with numerous inscriptions, in characters similar to those on the Roman building. Some were evidently done centuries ago, others very recently. To the southward there was another portion of the same range. When they got to the top, they were perspiring copiously, and had to take care that the perspiration was not checked too suddenly, as a strong cool breeze was blowing on the top. Many places were cleared away for prayer, in the same manner as they had observed in places on all the roads, on which they had travelled. The form in general is an oblong square, with a small recess in one of the longer sides, looking to the rising sun, or it is semicircular, with a similar recess. On the top of a steep precipice, "God save the king" was sung with great energy and taste by Hillman.
The new moon was seen on this evening, to the great joy of all the followers of Mahomet. Muskets and pistols were discharged, and all the musicians began their labours. This sport was continued until night. A party of musicians came out to visit them, but several of them were so drunk that they could scarcely walk. The fast was kept by all with a bad grace, and scarcely one was to be seen who had not a long visage. It was even laughable to see some young men going about the streets, with long walking-sticks, leaning forward like men bent with age. As soon as the maraboot calls, not a person was to be seen in the streets; all commence, as soon as he pronounces "Allah Akber!" All pretend to keep it, and if they do not, they take care that no one shall know it; but from the wry faces and pharasaical shows, the rigidity may be called in question. None of the European party kept the fast, except for a day now and then; for all travellers, after the first day, are allowed exemption, but they have to make it up at some other time.
They were greatly amused with stories of the great powers of eating of the Tuaricks. They were told that two men have consumed three sheep at one meal, another eating a kail of bruised dates, and a corresponding quantity of milk, and another eating about a hundred loaves, about the size of an English penny loaf. They had many inquiries respecting the English females; for a notion prevailed, that they always bore more than one child at a time, and that they went longer than nine calendar months. On being told that they were the same in that respect as other women, they appeared pleased. They were also asked, how the women were kept; if they were locked up as the moorish women, or allowed to go freely abroad. The Tuarick women are allowed great liberties that way, and are not a little pleased at having such an advantage. The customs and manners of Europe, which they related to their friends, were so similar to some of theirs, that an old Targee exclaimed, in a forcible manner, "that he was sure they had the same origin as us." The Tuarick women have full round faces, black curling hair, and, from a negro mixture, inclined to be crispy; eyebrows a little arched, eyes black and large, nose plain and well formed. The dress a barracan, neatly wrapped round, with a cover of dark blue cloth for the head, sometimes coming over the lower part of the face, as in the men. They are not very fond of beads, but often have shells suspended to the ears as ear-drops.
Being obliged to postpone their departure for ten days, in consequence of the indisposition of Hateeta, Dr. Oudney determined in the mean time to visit Wady Shiati, whilst Mr. Hillman was sent back to Mourzouk, to send down supplies, and to take charge of the property. They arranged about the fare for their camels, and made every preparation for their immediate departure. Before, however, they could set out, a guide for the sands was necessary; and for that purpose they engaged an old Targee, who professed to know every part of the track. They travelled by moonlight, over a sandy soil, with numerous tufts of grass, and mound hillocks covered with shrubs, the surface in many places hard and crusty, from saline incrustations. The old men told them, that the mounds of earth were formed by water, as the wadey, at the times of great rains, was covered with water.
At daylight they resumed their journey, and a little after sunrise entered among the sand-hills, which were here two or three hundred feet high. The ascent and descent of these proved very fatiguing to both their camels and themselves. The precipitous sides obliged them often to make a circuitous route, and rendered it necessary to form with their hands a track, by which the camels might ascend. Beyond this boundary there was an extensive sandy plain, with here and there tufts of grass.
In the afternoon, their track was on the same plain; and near sunset they began ascending high sand-hills, one appearing as if heaped upon the other. The guide ran before, to endeavour to find out the easiest track, with all the agility of a boy. The presence of nothing but deep sandy valleys and high sand-hills strikes the mind most forcibly. There is something of the sublime mixed with the melancholy; who can contemplate without admiration masses of loose sand, fully four hundred feet high, ready to be tossed about by every breeze, and not shudder with horror at the idea of the unfortunate traveller being entombed in a moment by one of those fatal blasts, which sometimes occur. They halted for the night on the top of one of these sand-hills.
For three or four days their course still lay among the sand-hills; their guide, whom they now styled Mahomet Ben Kami, or son of the sand, was almost always on before, endeavouring to find out the best way. They could detect in the sand numerous footmarks of the jackal and the fox, and here and there a solitary antelope. In some of the wadeys there were a great many fragments of the ostrich egg. About mid-day, they halted in a valley, and remained under the shade of some date trees for a few hours. The heat was oppressive, and their travelling was difficult They next came to an extensive level plain, which was some refreshment, for they were completely tired of ascending and descending sand-hills. The servants strayed, proceeding on a track, which was pointed out to them as the right one, and, before they were aware of their error, they went so far that they were not able to send after them. They, as well as themselves, thought the town was near, and they went forwards, with the intention of getting in before the remainder of the party could come up. They felt exceedingly uneasy respecting them, as they might so easily lose themselves in such intricate travelling. They halted in low spirits, and, after a little refreshment, went to sleep with heavy hearts.
During the night, some strong breezes sprang up, by which their trunks and bed-clothes were all covered with sand in the morning. They heard nothing of their servants, and consoled themselves that they had perhaps found some place of shelter or rest. They commenced their journey early, and in a short time the hills of Wadey Shiati were seen stretching east and west, and the date-palms in several groves; but some high sand-hills were seen between them. They wished their old guide to take them a more direct course, but notwithstanding their desire, and even threats, he persevered in having his way; and, to do the old man justice, they afterwards found it would almost have been impossible for the camels to have gone the way they wished. After passing the base of some high sand-hills, they came to a strong pass, of gentle descent, covered with loose fragments of quartz rock, a yellowish feldspar, and iron ore, very similar to the rocks in the Sebah district. From this place the town opened to their view, erected on a hill about three hundred feet high, standing in the middle of the valley, and has the appearance, at a distance, of a hill studded over with basaltic columns. They had no idea that the town was built on the hill, and consequently that the deception was produced by it.
The majority of the inhabitants soon visited them, and all appeared pleased at their arrival. The kadi of the two neighbouring towns paid them many compliments, and pressed them much to spend a few days in his towns. They could not take advantage of this offer, which was no doubt of a selfish nature, for Dr. Oudney had not conversed long with him, before he began to beg a shirt. The doctor told him that his could be of no use to him, as it was very different from those of the country. On being told that, he asked for a dollar to buy one, which Dr. Oudney took care to refuse, saying that he only gave presents of money to the poor. The people made numerous urgent demands for medicines, and in a very short time, their large tent was surrounded with sick, the female part forming the majority. Some beautiful faces and forms were clothed in rags; the plaited hair and necks of these even were loaded with ornaments. The females were rather under the middle stature, strongly built, and possess considerable vivacity, and liveliness. The complexion of those not much exposed to the sun was of a dirty white.
Dr. Oudney was also applied to in a new capacity, that of a charm-writer. A man came and offered him two fowls, if he would give him a charm for a disease of the stomach; he was, however, obliged to decline the office of charm-writer, and confine himself to the cure of diseases by medicine. A buxom widow applied for a medicine to obtain her a husband, but the doctor told her he had no such medicine along with him. The same worthy personage took Lieutenant Clapperton for an old man, on account of his light-coloured beard and mustachios; but although this afforded some amusement to the party, Clapperton felt some chagrin at it, for he had prided himself on the strength and bushiness of his beard, and was not a little hurt that light colour should be taken as a mark of old age. None of them had ever seen a light-coloured beard before, and all the old men dye their grey beards with henna, which gives them a colour approaching to that of Lieutenant Clapperton.
They now proceeded to visit the interior of the town. The houses were built of mud, and erected on the sides of the hill, appearing as if one were pulled on the other. The passages or streets between them are narrow, and in two or three instances, some excavations were made through the rocks. The ascent was steep in some places, and they had to pass through the mosque before they arrived at the highest portion. From this they had a line view of Wadey Shiati in every direction, running nearly east and west; in the former direction it was well inhabited as far as Oml' Abeed, which is the westernmost town. Many houses were in ruins, and many more were approaching to that state, still it was called the new town, although its appearance little entitles it to that appellation; but the ancient inhabitants lived in excavations in the rocks, the remains of which are very distinct. At the bottom of the hill, they entered several, not much decayed by time. At a hundred yards, however, from the base of the hill, and now used as a burying-ground, there is a subterranean house, of large dimensions, and probably the residence of the great personage. Dr. Oudney and Clapperton entered this excavation, and found three extensive galleries, which communicated only by small openings, on passing through which, they had to stoop considerably. The galleries were, however, high, and of considerable length, about one hundred and fifty feet, and each had several small recesses, like sleeping rooms. The whole had neatness about it, and showed a taste in the excavation. There are no traces of similar abodes in Fezzan. The people are so afraid, and so superstitious, that scarcely one of the town had ever entered it. They were astonished when the Europeans entered it without ceremony, and two, encouraged by their example, brought them a light, by which they were enabled to look into the different recesses.
On the 6th July, they started, with a beautiful moonlight, over a sandy plain, with a great many small hillocks. They stopped at Dalhoon, a well nearly filled up with sand, and containing water so brackish that they were unable to drink it. They started again, and got in amongst the sand-hills. Their new guide proved neither such an active man, nor so experienced a pilot, as their old Tuarick, as they had several times to retrace their steps.
After visiting several places of no particular note, they arrived at Ghraat, and were soon visited by a number of Hateeta's relations, one of whom was his sister; some were much affected, and wept at the sufferings that had detained him so long from them. A number of his male relations soon came, and many of the inhabitants of the town. The ladies were a free and lively set. They were not a little pleased with the grave manner in which their visitors uttered the various complimentary expressions. Hateeta was not well pleased with something he had heard, but he told them not to be afraid, as he had numerous relations. They informed him that fear never entered their breasts, and begged him not to be uneasy on their account.
Early on the following morning, numerous visitors paid their respects to Hateeta, and were introduced in due form to the Europeans, who felt the length of time spent in salutations quite fatiguing, and so absurd in their eyes, that they could scarcely at times retain their gravity. The visitors were mostly residents of the city, and all were decorated in their best. There were also a sedateness and gravity in the appearance of all, which the dress tended greatly to augment.
In the afternoon, they visited the sultan. Mats had been spread in the castle in a small anti-chamber. The old man was seated, but rose up to receive them, and welcomed them to his city. He apologized for not waiting on them, but said he was sick, and had been very little out for some time. He had guinea-worm, and cataract was forming in his eyes. He was dressed in a nearly worn-out robe, and trousers of the same colour, and round his head was wrapped an old piece of yellow coarse cloth for a turban. Notwithstanding the meanness of the dress, there was something pleasing and prepossessing in his countenance, and such as made them quite as much at home, as if in their tents. They presented him with a sword, with which he was highly pleased. Hateeta wished it had been a Bornouse; but they had none with them which they considered sufficiently good. They were led away by the title sultan, having no idea that the Tuaricks were so vain; for they used to fill them with high notions of the wealth and greatness of the people of Ghraat.
On the whole, their interview was highly pleasing, and every one seemed much pleased with their visitors. The old sultan showed them every kindness, and they had every reason to believe him sincere in his wishes. After their visit, they called at the house of Lameens, son of the kadi. He was a young man of excellent character, and universally respected. His father was then in Ghadames, arranging, with some of the other principal inhabitants, the affairs of the community. He had left directions with his son, to show the strangers every attention. His house was neatly fitted up, and carpets spread on a high bed, on which the visitors seated themselves. Several of the people who were in the castle came along with them, and by the assistance of those, who could speak Arabic, they were able to keep up a tolerably good conversation. On inquiring about the Tuarick letters, they found the same sounds given them as they had before heard from others. They were here at the fountain-head, but were disappointed at not being able to find a book in the Tuarick language; they were informed, that there was not one extant.
In the evening Hateeta's kinswomen returned. They were greatly amused, and laughed heartily at their visitors blundering out a few Tuarick words. It may be well supposed they were very unfit companions for the ladies, as they spoke no other language than their own, and the strangers knew very little of it. Still, however, they got on very well, and were mutually pleased. Dr. Oudney could scarcely refrain laughing several times, at the grave manner which Clapperton assumed. He had been tutored by Hateeta, and fully acted up to his instructions; no Tuarick could have done it better. Their friend Hateeta was anxious that they should shine, if not make an impression on the hearts of the ladies, and therefore read a number of lectures to Clapperton, as to the manner in which he should deport himself. He was directed not to laugh nor sing, but to look as grave as possible, which Hateeta said would be sure to please the grave Tuaricks. The liveliness of the women, their freeness with the men, and the marked attention the latter paid them, formed a striking contrast with other Mahommedan states.
They now proceeded to take a circuit of the town, and during their walk they fell in with a number of females, who had come out to see them. All were free and lively, and riot at all deferred by the presence of the men. Several of them had fine features, but only one or two could be called beautiful. Many of the natives came out of their houses as they passed along, and cordially welcomed them to their town. It was done with so much sincerity and good heartedness, that they could not but be pleased and highly flattered.
In the evening they heard a numerous band of females, singing at a distance, which was continued till near midnight. The women were principally those of the country. This custom is very common among the people, and is one of the principal amusements in the mountain recesses. Hateeta said they go out when their work is finished, in the evening, and remain till near midnight, singing and telling stories; return home, take supper, and go to bed.
Dr. Oudney and his companions now determined to return to Mourzouk, where they arrived in November, and on the 29th of the same month, they again departed, accompanied by nearly all those of the town, who could muster horses; the camels had moved early in the day, and at Zerzow, they found the tents pitched. From Zerzow to Traghan there is a good high road, with frequent incrustations of salt. A marabout of great sanctity, is the principal person in Traghan, as his father was before him. After being crammed as it were by the hospitality of this marabout, they left Traghan for Maefen, an assemblage of date huts, with but one house. The road to this place lies over a mixture of sand and salt, having a curious and uncommon appearance. The path, by which all the animals move for some miles, is a narrow space, or strip, worn smooth, bearing a resemblance both in appearance and hardness to ice.
Quitting Maefen, they quickly entered on a desert plain, and after a dreary fourteen hours march for camels, they arrived at Mestoota, a maten or resting place, where the camels found some little grazing, from a plant called ahgul. Starting at sunrise, they had another fatiguing day, over the same kind of desert, without seeing one living thing that did not belong to the kafila, not a bird, nor even an insect; the sand is beautifully fine, round, and red. It is difficult to give the most distant idea of the stillness and beauty of a night scene, on a desert of this description. The distance between the resting places is not sufficiently great, for the dread of want of water to be alarmingly felt, and the track, though a sandy one, is well known to the guides. The burning heat of the day is succeeded by cool and refreshing breezes, and the sky ever illumined by large and brilliant stars, or an unclouded moon. By removing the loose and pearl-like sand, to the depth of a few inches, the effects of the sunbeams of the day are not perceptible, and a most soft and refreshing couch is easily formed. The ripple of the driving sand resembles that of a slow and murmuring stream, and after escaping from the myriads of fleas, which day and night persecute you, in the date-bound valley in which Mourzouk stands, the luxury of an evening of this description is an indescribable relief. Added to the solemn stillness, so peculiarly striking and impressive, there is an extraordinary echo in all deserts, arising probably from the closeness and solidity of a sandy soil, which does not absorb the sound. They now arrived at Gabrone. The Arabs watch for a sight of the high date trees, which surround this town, as sailors look for land, and after discovering these land marks, they shape their course accordingly.
Here Major Denham joined his companions, whom he found in a state of health but ill calculated for undertaking a long and tedious journey. During the stay of the major at Mourzouk, he had suffered from a severe attack of fever, which had kept him for ten days in his bed, and although considerably debilitated, yet he was strong in comparison with his associates. Dr. Oudney was suffering much from his cough, and still complaining of his chest. Mr. Clapperton's ague had not left him, and Hillman had been twice attacked so violently, as to be given over by the doctor. They all, however, looked forward anxiously to proceeding on their journey, and fancied that change of scene and warmer weather, would bring them all round.
Gabrone is not unpleasantly situated; it is surrounded by sandhills and mounds of earth, covered with a small tree, called athali. The person of the greatest importance at Gabrone, is one Hagi el Raschid, a large proprietor, and a marabout. He was a man of very clear understanding and amiable manners, and as he uses the superstition of the people as the means of making them happy, and turning them from vicious pursuits, we become, as it were, almost reconciled to an impostor.
They departed from Gabrone at 11 o'clock, a.m. The marabout accompanied Boo Khaloom outside the town, and having drawn, not a magic circle, but a parallelogram on the sand, with his wand, he wrote in it certain words of great import, from the Koran; the crowd looked on him in silent astonishment, while he assumed a manner both graceful and imposing, so as to make it impossible for any one to feel at all inclined to ridicule his motions. When he had finished repeating the fatah aloud, he invited the party singly to ride through the spot he had consecrated, and having obeyed him, they silently proceeded on their journey, without repeating even an idea.
They passed a small nest of huts in the road, prettily situated, called El Bahhi, from whence the women of the place followed them with songs for several miles. Having halted at Medroosa, they moved on the next morning, and leaving an Arab castle to the south-east, and some table-top hills, they arrived at Kasrowa by three in the afternoon.
On the 9th December, they were to arrive at Tegerhy. The Arabs commenced skirmishing as soon as they came within sight of it, and kept it up in front of the town for half an hour after their arrival. They were to halt here for a day or two, for the purpose of taking in the remainder of their dates and provisions, and never was halt more acceptable. Almost the whole of the party were afflicted with illness; the servants were all so ill, that one of the negro women made them a mess of kouscasou, with some preserved fat, which had been prepared in Mourzouk, it was a sorry meal, for the fat was rancid, and although tired and not very strong, Major Denham could not refuse an invitation about nine at night, after he had laid down to sleep, to eat camels' heart with Boo Khaloom; it was woefully hard and tough, and the major suffered the next morning from indulging too much at the feast.
The Tibboos and Arabs kept them awake half the night with their singing and dancing, in consequence of the bousafer or feast, on entering the Tibboo country. Boo Khaloom gave two camels, and the major and his party gave one. The sick seemed to gain a little strength; they had succeeded in purchasing a sheep, and a little soup seemed to revive them much, but they feared that Hillman and one of the servants must be left behind. However distressing such an event would have been, it was impossible for men, who could not sit upright on a mule, to commence a journey of fifteen days over a desert, during which travellers are obliged to march from sunrise until dark.
The morning of the 12th December was beautifully mild. After breakfast, all seemed revived, but it was with great pain that Major Denham observed the exceeding weakness of Dr. Oudney and Hillman; he fancied that he already saw in them, two more victims to the noxious climate of central Africa.
Almost every town in Africa has its charm or wonder, and Tegerhy is not without one. There is a well just outside the castle gates, the water of which, they were told most gravely, always rose when a kafila was coming near the town; that the inhabitants always prepared what they had to sell, on seeing this water increase in bulk, for it never deceived them. In proof of this assertion, they pointed out to Major Denham, how much higher the water had been previously to their arrival, than it was at the moment, when they were standing on the brink. This Major Denham could have explained, by the number of camels that had drunk at it, but he saw it was better policy to believe what every body allowed to be true, even Boo Khaloom exclaimed, "Allah! God is great, powerful, and wise. How wonderful! Oh!" Over the inner gate of the castle, there is a large hole through to the gateway underneath, and they tell a story, of a woman dropping from thence a stone on the head of some leader, who had gained the outer wall, giving him by that means the death of Abimelech in sacred history.
The natives of Tegerhy are quite black, but have not the negro face; the men are slim, very plain, with high cheek bones, the negro nose, large mouth, teeth much stained by the quantity of tobacco, and trona or carbonate of soda, which they eat, and even snuff, when given to them, goes directly into their mouths.
The young girls are most of them pretty, but less so than those of Gabrone. The men always carry two daggers, one about eighteen inches, and the other six inches; the latter of which is attached to a ring, and worn on the arm or wrist. A Tibboo once told Major Denham, pointing to the long one, "This is my gun, and this" showing the smaller of the two, "is my pistol."
On the 13th they left Tegerhy and proceeded on the desert. After travelling six miles they arrived at a well called Omah, where their tents were pitched, and here they halted three days. Near these wells, numbers of human skeletons, or parts of them, lay scattered on the sands. Hillman, who had suffered dreadfully since leaving Tegerhy, was greatly shocked at these whitened skulls, and unhallowed remains, so much so as to stand in need of all the encouragement which Major Denham could administer to him.
On the 17th they continued their course over a stony plain, without the least appearance of vegetation. About sunset, they halted near a well, within half a mile of Meshroo. Round this spot were lying more than a hundred skeletons, some of them with the skin still remaining attached to the bones, not even a little sand thrown over them. The Arabs laughed heartily at the expression which Major Denham evinced, and said, "they were only blacks, nam boo! (d—n their fathers,)" and began knocking about the limbs with the butt end of their firelocks, saying, "this was a woman: this was a youngster," and such like unfeeling expressions. The greater part of the unhappy people, of whom these were the remains, had formed the spoils of the sultan of Fezzan the year before. Major Denham was assured, that they had left Bornou, with not above a quarter's allowance for each; and that more died from want than fatigue; they were marched off with chains round their necks and legs; the most robust only arrived in Fezzan in a very debilitated state, and were there fattened for the Tripoli slave market.
Their camels did not come up until it was quite dark, and they bivouacked in the midst of these unearthed remains of the victims of persecution and avarice, after a long day's journey of twenty-six miles, in the course of which, one of the party counted one hundred and seven of these skeletons.
Their road now lay over a long plain with a slight ridge. A fine naga (she camel), lay down on the road, as it was supposed from fatigue. The Arabs crowded round and commenced unloading her, when, upon inquiry, it was found that she was suddenly taken in labour; about five minutes completed the operation; a very fine little animal was literally dragged into light. It was then thrown across another camel, and the mother, after being reloaded, followed quietly after her offspring.
One of the skeletons which they passed this day, had a very fresh appearance, the beard was still hanging to the skin of the face, and the features were still discernible. A merchant, travelling with the kafila, suddenly exclaimed, "That was my slave I left behind four months ago, near this spot." "Make haste! take him to the fsug (market)," said an Arab wag, "for fear any body else should claim him."
On the 20th December, they arrived at the Hormut el Wahr, which were the highest hills they had seen since leaving Fezzan; the highest peak being from five to six hundred feet. They had a bold black appearance, and were a relief to the eye, after the long level they had quitted. They blundered and stumbled on until ten at night, when they found the resting place, after a toilsome and most distressing day. This was the eighth day since the camels had tasted water; they were weak and sore-footed, from the stony nature of the passes in these hills of Elwahr.
They had now a stony plain, with low hills of sand and gravel, till they reached El Garha, and here they rested for the night. Several of the camels during this day were drunk—their eyes heavy, and wanting their usual animation; their gait staggering, and every now and then falling, as a man in a state of intoxication. This arose from eating dates after drinking water; these probably pass into a spirituous fermentation in the stomach.
On the 22nd of December, they moved before daylight, and halted at the maten called El Hammar, close under a bluff head, which had been in view since quitting their encampment in the morning. Strict orders were given this day for the camels to keep close up, and for the Arabs not to straggle, the Tibboo Arabs having been seen on the look out. During the last two days, they had passed, on an average, from sixty to ninety skeletons each day, but the numbers that lay about the wells at El Hammar were countless; those of two young women, whose perfect and regular teeth bespoke them young, were particularly shocking; their arms still remained clasped round each other as they had expired, although the flesh had long since perished by being exposed to the burning rays of the sun, and the blackened bones only left; the nails of the fingers, and some of the sinews of the hand also remained, and part of the tongue of one of them still appeared through the teeth.
They had now passed six days of desert, without the slightest appearance of vegetation, and a little branch of the snag, (Caparis sodada,) was brought as a comfort and curiosity. On the following, day, they had alternately plains of sand and loose gravel, and had a distant view of some hills to the westward. While Major Denham was dozing on his horse about noon, overcome by the heat of the sun, which, at that time of the day, shone with great power, he was suddenly awakened by a crashing under his feet, which startled him excessively. He found that his steed had, without any sensation of shame or alarm, stepped upon the perfect skeletons of two human beings, cracking their brittle bones under his feet, and by one trip of his foot, separating a skull from the trunk, which rolled on like a ball before him. This event imparted a sensation to him, which it took him a long time to remove. His horse was for many days afterwards not looked upon with the same regard as formerly.
One of their nagas had this day her accouchement on the road, and they all looked forward to the milk, which the Arabs assured them she had in abundance, and envied them not a little their morning draughts, which they were already quaffing in imagination. However, one of the many slips between the cup and the lip was to befall them. The poor naga suddenly fell, and as suddenly died. The exclamations of the Arabs were dreadful. "The evil eye! the evil eye!" they all exclaimed; "she was sure to die, I knew it. Well! if she had been mine, I would rather have lost a child, or three slaves. God be praised! God is great, powerful, and wise; those looks of the people are always fatal."
On the 1st January 1823, they arrived at the wadey Ikbar. The Arabs here caught a hyena, and brought it to Major Denham; he, nor any other of the party, had any other wish than to have merely a look at it. They then tied it, to a tree, and shot at it, until the poor animal was literally knocked to pieces. This was the most refreshing spot they had seen for many days; there were dome trees laden with fruit, though not ripe, which lay in clusters, and grass in abundance. They could have stayed here a week, says Major Denham, with pleasure; so reviving is the least appearance of cultivation, or rather a sprinkling of nature's beauty, after the parching wilds of the long and dreary desert they had passed.
Looking back with great regret at leaving the few green branches in Ikbar, with nothing before them but the dark hills and sandy desert, they ascended slightly from the wadey, and leaving the hills of Ikbar, proceeded towards a prominent head in a low range to the east of their course, called Tummer as Kumma, meaning "You'll soon drink water;" and about two miles in advance, they halted just under a ridge of the same hills, after making twenty-four miles. Four camels were knocked up during this day's march: on such occasions, the Arabs wait in savage impatience in the rear, with their knives in their hands, ready, on the signal of the owner, to plunge them into the poor animal, and bear off a portion of the flesh for their evening meal. They were obliged to kill two of them on the spot; the other two, it was hoped, would come up in the night. Major Denham attended the slaughter of one, and despatch being the order of the day, a knife is struck into the camel's heart, while his head is turned to the east, and he dies almost in an instant; but before that instant expires, a dozen knives are thrust into different parts of the carcass, in order to carry off the choicest parts of the flesh. The heart, considered as the greatest delicacy, is torn out, the skin stripped from the breast and haunches, part of the meat cut, or rather torn from the bones, and thrust into bags, which they carry for the purpose, and the remainder of the carcass is left for the crows, vultures, and hyenas, while the Arabs quickly follow the kafila.
On the 4th, they arrived at Anay, a town which consists of a few huts built on the top of a mass of stone, round the base of which are also habitations, but the riches of the people are always kept above. The Tuaricks annually, and sometimes oftener, pay them a most destructive visit, carrying off cattle and every thing they can lay their hands upon. The people, on those occasions, take refuge at the top of the rock, ascending by a rude ladder, which is drawn up after them; and as the sides of their citadel are always precipitous, they defend themselves with their missiles, and by rolling down stones on the assailants.
The sultan Tibboo, whose territory extends from this place to Bilma, was at this time visiting a town to the south-west of Anay, called Kisbee, and he requested Boo Khaloom to halt there one day, promising to proceed with him to Bilma. They accordingly reached Kisbee on the evening of the 5th, where the camels got some pickings of dry grass.
Kisbee is a great place of rendezvous for all kafilas and merchants, and it is here that the sultan always takes his tribute for permission to pass through his country. The sultan himself had neither much majesty nor cleanliness of appearance; he came to Boo Khaloom's tent, accompanied by six or seven Tibboos, some of them really hideous. They take a quantity of snuff, both in their mouths and noses; their teeth were of a deep yellow; the nose resembles nothing so much as a round lump of flesh stuck on the face, and the nostrils are so large, that their fingers go up as far as they can reach, in order to ensure the snuff an admission into the head. The watch, compass, and musical snuff-box of one of the party created but little astonishment; they looked at their own faces in the bright covers, and were most stupidly inattentive to what would have excited the wonder of almost any imagination, however savage. Here was "the os sublime," but the "spiritus intus," the "mens divinior," were scarcely discoverable. Boo Khaloom gave the sultan a fine scarlet bornouse, which seemed a little to animate his stupid features.
In the evening, they had a dance by Tibboo men, performed in front of their tents. It is graceful and slow, but not so well adapted to the male as the female. It was succeeded by one performed by some free slaves from Soudan, who were living with the Tibboos, enjoying, as they said, their liberty. It appeared to be most violent exertion; one man is placed in the middle of a circle, which he endeavours to break, and each one whom he approaches, throws him off, while he adds to the impetus by a leap, and ascends several feet from the ground; when one has completed the round, another lakes his place.
Whilst they were on the road, a violent disturbance arose amongst the Arabs, one of them having shot a ball through the shirt of another of the Magarha tribe; the sheik of the Magarha took up the quarrel, and the man saved himself from being punished, by hanging to the stirrup-leather of Major Denham's saddle. The Arab sheik made use of some expressions, in defending his man, which displeased Boo Khaloom, who instantly knocked him off his horse, and his slaves soundly bastinadoed him.
Tiggema, near which they halted, is one of the highest points in the range, and hangs over the mud houses of the town; this point stands at the south extremity of the recess, which the hills here form, and is about four hundred feet high; the sides are nearly perpendicular, and it is detached from the other hills by a chasm. On the approach of the Tuaricks, the whole population flock to the top of these heights, with all their property, and make the best defence they can. The interior of some of the houses is neat and tidy; the men are generally travelling merchants, or rather pedlars, and probably do not pass more than four months in the year with their families, for the Tibboos rarely go beyond Bornou to the south, or Mourzouk to the north; they appeared light-hearted, and happy as people constantly in dread of such visitors as the Tuaricks can be, who spare neither age nor sex.
They proceeded from Tiggema nearly in a south-west direction, leaving the hills; and while resting under the shade of acacia trees, which were here very abundant, they had the agreeable, and to them very novel sight, of a drove of oxen; the bare idea of once more being in a country that afforded beef and pasture, was consoling in the extreme; and the luxurious thought of fresh milk, wholesome food, and plenty, were highly exhilarating to the whole of the party.
In the afternoon, they came to a halt at Dirkee, A good deal of powder was here expended in honour of the sultan, who again met them on their approach: his new scarlet bornouse was thrown over a filthy check shirt, and his turban and cap, though once white, were rapidly approaching to the colour of the head which they covered; when, however, on the following morning, his majesty condescended to ask one of the party for a little soap, these little negligences in his outward appearance were more easily accounted for.
They had rather a numerous assembly of females, who danced for some hours before the tents. Some of their movements were very elegant, and not unlike the Greek dances, as they are represented. They were regaled by the sultan with cheese and ground nuts from Soudan; the former of a pleasant flavour, but so hard that they were obliged to moisten it with water previously to eating. During the time that they halted at Dirkee, the women brought them dates, fancifully strung on rushes, in the shape of hearts, with much ingenuity, and a few pots of honey and fat.
They halted at Dirkee rather more than two days. So many of Boo Khaloom's camels had fallen on the road, that, notwithstanding the very peaceable professions which the travelling party held forth, a marauding party was sent out to plunder some maherhies, and bring them in; an excursion that was sanctioned by the sultan, who gave them instructions as to the route they were to take. The former deeds of the Arabs are, however, still in the memory of the Tibboos, and they had therefore increased the distance between their huts and the high road, by a timely striking of their tents. Nine camels, of the maherhy species, were brought in, but not without a skirmish; and a fresh party were despatched, which did not return that night. All the party were ordered to remain loaded, and no one was allowed to quit the circle in which the tents were pitched.
On the following day, the Arabs, who had been out foraging, returned with thirteen camels, which they had much difficulty in bringing to the halting place, as the Tibboos had followed them several miles. Patrols were placed during the whole of the night, who, to awaken the sleepers for the purpose of assuring them they were awake themselves, were constantly exclaiming, Balek ho! the watchword of the Arabs.
They had this day the enjoyment of a dish of venison, one of the Arabs having succeeded in shooting two gazelles, many of which had crossed their path for the last three days. On finding a young one, only a few days old, the wily Arab instantly laid down on the grass, imitating the cry of the young one, and as the mother came bounding towards the spot, he shot her in the throat.
On the 12th, they reached Bilma, the capital of the Tibboos, and the residence of their sultan, who having always managed to get before and receive them, advanced a mile from the town attended by some fifty of his men-at-arms, and double the number of the sex, styled in Europe, the fair. The men had most of them bows and arrows, and all carried spears; they approached Boo Khaloom, shaking the spears in the air over their heads, and after this salutation, the whole party moved on towards the town, the females dancing, and throwing themselves about with screams and songs quite original, at least to the European portion of the party. They were of a superior class to those of the minor towns; some having extremely pleasing features, while the pearly whiteness of their regular teeth, was beautifully contrasted with the glossy black of their skin, and the triangular flaps of plaited hair, which hung down on each side of their faces, streaming with oil, with the addition of the coral in the nose, and large amber necklaces, gave them a very-seducing appearance. Some of them carried a sheish, a fan made of soft grass or hair, for the purpose of keeping off the flies; others a branch of a tree, and some, fans of ostrich feathers, or a branch of the date palm. All had something in their hands, which they waved over their heads as they advanced. One wrapper of Soudan, tied on the top of the left shoulder, leaving the right breast bare, formed their covering, while a smaller one was thrown over the head, which hung down to their shoulders, or was thrown back at pleasure; notwithstanding the apparent scantiness of their habiliments, nothing could be farther from indelicate than was their appearance or deportment.
On arriving at Bilma, they halted under the shade of a large tulloh tree, whilst the tents were pitching, and the women danced with great taste, and, as Major Denham was assured by the sultan's nephew, with great skill also. As they approached each other, accompanied by the slow beat of an instrument formed out of a calabash, covered with goat's skin, for a long time their movements were confined to the head, hands, and body, which they throw from one side to the other, flourish in the air, and bend without moving their feet; suddenly, however, the music becomes quicker and louder, when they start into the most violent gestures, rolling their heads round, gnashing their teeth, and shaking their hands at each other, leaping up, and on each side, until one or both are so exhausted that they fall to the ground, another pair then take their place.
Major Denham now, for the first time, produced Captain Lyon's book, in Boo Khaloom's tent, and on turning over the prints of the natives, he swore, and exclaimed, and insisted upon it, that he knew every face. This was such a one's slave—that was his own—he was right,—he knew it. Praised be God for the talents he gave the English: they were shater; walla shater, (very clever.) Of a landscape, however, it was found, that he had not the least idea, nor could he be made at all to understand the intention of the print of the sand-wind in the desert; he would look at it upside down, and when it was twice reversed for him, he exclaimed, why! why! (it is all the same.) A camel, or a human figure, was all he could be made to understand, and at these he was all agitation and delight. Gieb! gieb! (wonderful! wonderful!) The eyes first took his attention, then the other features; at the sight of the sword, he cried out, Allah! allah! and on discovering the guns, instantly exclaimed, "Where is the powder?" This want of perception as was imagined in so intelligent a man, excited at first the surprise of Major Denham, but perhaps, just the same would a European have felt, under similar circumstances. Were a European to attain manhood without ever casting his eye upon the representation of a landscape on paper, would he immediately feel the particular beauties of it, the perspective and the distant objects of it? It is from our opportunities of contemplating works of art, even in the common walks of life, as well as to cultivation of mind, and associations of the finer feelings, by an intercourse with the enlightened and accomplished, that we derive our quick perception in matters of this kind, rather than from nature.
On leaving Bilma their road lay over loose hills of sand, in which the camels sunk nearly knee-deep. In passing these desert wilds, where hills disappear in a single night by the drifting of the sand, and where all traces of the passage of even a large kafila sometimes vanish in a few hours, the Tibboos have certain points in the dark sandstone ridges, which from time to time raise their heads in the midst of this dry ocean of sand, and form the only variety, and by them they steer their course. From one of these land-marks they waded through sand formed into hills from twenty to sixty feet in height, with nearly perpendicular sides, the camels blundering and falling with their heavy loads. The greatest care is taken by the drivers in descending these banks; the Arabs hang with all their weight on the animal's tail, by which means they steady him in his descent. Without this precaution the camel generally falls forward, and of course all he carries goes over his head.
In the evening they bivouacked under a head called Zow, (the difficult,) where they found several wells. On the following day, the sand-hills were less than on the preceding one. But the animals still sank so deep that it was a tedious day, for all the four camels of Boo Khaloom gave in; two were killed by the Arabs, and two were left to the chance of coming up before the following morning. Tremendously dreary are these marches, as far as the eye can reach, billows of sand bound the prospect. On seeing the solitary foot passenger of the kafila, with his water flask in his hand, and the bag of zumeeta on his head, sink at a distance beneath the slope of one of these, as he plods his way along, hoping to gain a few paces in his long day's work, by not following the track of the camels, one trembles for his safety; the obstacle passed which concealed him from the view, the eye is strained towards the spot, in order to be assured that he has not been hurried quickly in the treacherous overwhelming sand.
An unfortunate merchant of Tripoli, Mahomet N' Diff, who had suffered much on the road from an enlarged spleen, was here advised to undergo the operation of burning with a red hot iron, the sovereign Arab remedy for almost every disorder; he gave his consent, and previously to their proceeding, he was laid on his back, and while five or six Arabs held him on the sand, the rude operators burnt him on the left side under the ribs in three places, nearly the size of a sixpence each. The iron was again placed in the fire, and while heating, the thumbs of about a dozen Arabs were thrust into different parts of the poor man's side, to know if the pressure pained him, until his flesh was so bruised, that he declared all gave him pain: four more marks with the iron were now made near the former ones, upon which he was turned on his face, and three larger made within two inches of the back-bone. It might have been supposed that the operation was now at an end, but an old Arab, who had been feeling his throat for some time, declared that a hot iron and a large burn were absolutely necessary just above the collar bone on the same side. The poor man submitted with wonderful patience to all this mangling, and after drinking a draught of water moved on with the camels. More than twenty camels were lost this day, on account of their straying out of the path. After travelling several days over the desert, encountering great distress and many privations, they arrived at an extensive wadey called Agbadem. Here there were several wells of excellent water, forage, and numbers of the tree called Suag, the red berries of which are nearly as good as cranberries. They here broke in upon the retreats of about a hundred gazelles, who were enjoying the fertility of the valley. It was, however, not without great difficulty, from their extreme shyness, that one was shot, which afforded an ample and salutary meal to the distressed travellers. Aghadem is a great rendezvous, and the dread of all small kafilas and travellers. It is frequented by freebooters of all descriptions.
On the 24th January, the thermometer, in the shade of Major Denham's tent, was 101 degrees at half-past two. The animals were all enjoying the blessings of plenty in the ravines, which run through the range of low black hills, extending nearly north and south, quite across the valley. The camels, in particular, feasted on the small branches of the suag, of which they are fond to excess. The tracks of the hyena had been numerous for the last three days, and one night they approached in droves quite close to the encampment.
The evening of the 25th being beautifully serene, the telescope of Major Denham afforded great delight to Boo Khaloom; the brother of the kadi at Mourzouk, Mohamed Abedeen, and several others, for more than an hour. Major Denham usually passed some time every evening in Boo Khaloom's tent, and had promised them a sight of the moon greeb (near) for some time. An old hadje, who obtained a sight by the assistance of the major, for he could not fix the glass on the object, after an exclamation of wonder, looked him fully in the face, spoke not a word, but walked off as last as he could, repeating some words from the Koran. This conduct the major was pleased to see, brought down the ridicule of the others, who were gratified beyond measure, and asked a hundred questions. The night was beautifully serene and clear, and the three splendid constellations, Orion, Canis Major, and Taurus, presented a coup d'oeil at once impressive and sublime.
On the 25th January, the camels moved off soon after eight, and they took shelter from the sun, under the shade of some clumps, covered with high grass, near the wells, in order that the horses might drink at the moment of their departure. They had three or four long days to the next water, and the camels were too much fatigued to carry more than one day's food for the horses. While they were in this situation, two Arabs, who had gone on with the camels, came galloping back, to say that they had encountered two Tibboo couriers, on their way from Bornou to Mourzouk. They soon made their appearance, mounted on maherhies, only nine days from Kouka. They brought news, that the sheik el Kanemy, who now governed Bornou, had just returned from a successful expedition against the sultan of Bergharmi; that he had attacked and routed a powerful tribe of Arabs, called La Sala; and that the sultan, on hearing this, had fled, as before, to the south side of the great river, amongst the Kirdies.
They proceeded on their route, which was along a continued desert, and at sunset halted on the sand, without either wood or water, after twenty-four miles. The courier from Bornou to Mourzouk assured them, that he should not be more than thirty days on the road from where they left him. The Tibboos are the only people who will undertake this most arduous service, and the chances are so much against both returning in safety, that one is never sent alone. The two men whom they had encountered were mounted on two superb maherhies, and proceeding at the rate of about six miles an hour. A bag of zumeeta (some parched corn), and one or two skins for water, with a small brass basin, and a wooden bowl, out of which they ate and drank, were all their comforts. A little meat, cut in strips, and dried in the sun, called gedeed, is sometimes added to the store, which they eat raw; for they rarely light a fire for the purpose of cooking; although the want of this comfort during the nights, on approaching Fezzan, where the cold winds are sometimes biting after the day's heat, is often fatal to such travellers. A bag is suspended under the tail of the maherhy, by which means the dung is preserved, and this serves as fuel on halting in the night. Without a kafila, and a sufficient number of camels to carry such indispensables as wood and water, it is indeed a perilous journey.
On the 27th, they appeared gradually to approach something resembling vegetation. They had rising lands and clumps of fine grass the whole of the way, and the country was not unlike some of the heaths in England. A herd of more than a hundred gazelles crossed them towards the evening, and the footmarks of the ostrich, and some of its feathers, were discovered by the Arabs. The spot where they halted was called Geogo Balwy.
Early on the following morning, they made Beere-Kashifery, and soon afterwards Mina Tahr, (the black bird,) the sheik of the Gunda Tibboos, attended by three of his followers, approached the camp. Beere-Kashifery lay within his territories, and no kafilas pass without paying tribute, which, as he is absolute, sometimes amounts to half what they possess. In the present case, the visit was one of respect. Boo Khaloom received him in his tent, and clothed him in a scarlet bornouse of coarse cloth, and a tawdry silk caftan, which was considered as a superb present. The Tibboos are smart active fellows, mounted on small horses of great swiftness; their saddles are of wood, small and light, open along the bone of the back; the pieces of wood, of which they are composed, are lashed together with thongs of hide; the stuffing is camels' hair, wound and plaited so as to be a perfect guard; the girths and stirrup-leathers are also of plaited thongs, and the stirrups themselves of iron, very small and light; into these, four toes only are thrust, the great toe being left to take its chance. They mount quickly, in half the time an Arab does, by the assistance of a spear, which they place in the ground, at the same time the left foot is planted in the stirrup, and thus they spring into the saddle.
Their camels had not finished drinking until the sun was full six fathoms high, as the Arabs term it; and as the expedition was in want of fresh meat, and indeed of every thing, Mina Tahr proposed that they should go to a well nearer his people, which, he assured them, was never yet shown to an Arab.
On the 29th January, therefore, they moved on, accompanied by the Tibboos; and after travelling about ten miles, they came to the well of Duggesheinga. This was a retired spot, undiscoverable from the ordinary route of travellers, being completely hidden from it by rising sand-hills. Here the Tibboos left them, promising to return early on the following day, with sheep, an ox, honey, and fat. This was joyful news to persons who had not tasted fresh animal food for fourteen or fifteen days, with the exception of a little camel's flesh.
On the following day, the wind and drifting sand were so violent, that they were obliged to keep their tents during the whole of it. Major Denham found a loose shirt only the most convenient covering, as the sand could be shaken off as soon as it made a lodgement, which with other articles of dress, could not be done, and the irritation it caused, produced a soreness almost intolerable. A little oil or fat, from the hand of a negress, all of whom are early taught the art of shampooing to perfection, rubbed well round the neck, loins, and back, is the best cure, and the greatest comfort in cases of this kind; and although, from his Christian belief, he was deprived of the luxury of possessing half a dozen of these shampooing beauties, yet, by marrying his negro, Barca, to one of the freed women slaves, as he had done at Sockna, he became, to a certain degree, also the master of Zerega, whose education in the castle had been of a superior kind, and she was of the greatest use to the major on these occasions of fatigue or sickness. It is an undoubted fact, and in no case probably better exemplified than in this, that man naturally longs for attentions and support from female hands, of whatever colour or country, so soon as debility or sickness comes upon him.
Towards the evening, when the wind became hushed, and the sky re-assumed its bright and truly celestial blue, the Tibboo sheik, and about thirty of his people, male and female, returned; but their supplies were very scanty for a kafila of nearly three hundred persons. The sweet milk turned out to be nothing but sour camel's milk, full of dirt and sand; and the fat was in small quantities, and very rancid. They, however, purchased a lean sheep for two dollars, which was indeed a treat.
Some of the girls who brought the milk were really pretty, as contrasted with the extreme ugliness of the men. They were different from those of Bilma, were more of a copper colour, with high foreheads, and a sinking between the eyes. They have fine teeth, and are smaller and more delicately formed than the Tibboos who inhabit the towns.
It is quite surprising with what terror these children of the desert view the Arabs, and the idea they have of their invincibility, while they are smart, active fellows themselves, and both ride and move better and quicker; but the guns! the guns! are their dread; and five or six of them will go round a tree, where an Arab has laid down his gun for a minute, stepping on tiptoe, as if afraid of disturbing it, talking to each other in a whisper, as if the gun could understand their exclamations, and, it may be presumed, praying to it not to do them an injury, as fervently as ever man Friday did Robinson Crusoe's musket.
None of the Gunda Tibboos were above the middle size, well made, with sharp, intelligent, copper-coloured faces, large prominent eyes, flat noses, large mouth, and teeth regular, but stained a deep red, from the immoderate use of tobacco; the forehead is high, and the turban, which is a deep indigo colour, is worn high on the head, and brought under the chin, and across the face, so as to cover all the lower part, from the nose downwards; they have sometimes fifteen or twenty charms, in red, green, or black leather cases, attached to the folds of their turbans.
The majority of them have scars on different parts of their faces; these generally denote their rank, and are considered as an ornament. Their sheik had one under each eye, with one more on each side of his forehead, in shape resembling a half-moon. Like the Arabs of the north, their chieftainship is hereditary, provided the heir be worthy, any act of cowardice disqualifies, and the command devolves upon the next successor. Their guide a sheik, Mina Tahr ben Soogo Lammo, was the seventh in regular succession. This tribe is called Nafra Sunda, and are always near Beere-Kashifery.