HotFreeBooks.com
The Nile Tributaries of Abyssinia
by Samuel W. Baker
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"I immediately jumped on Tetel, and, taking the little Fletcher rifle, as lighter and handier than the heavy No. 10, I ordered Taher Noor and Hassan to mount the other horses, and to follow me with spare rifles. I found the rhinoceros lying dead about two hundred yards from the spot where he had received the shot, and I immediately perceived the companion, that was standing beneath a small tree. The ground was firm and stony, all the grass had been burnt off, except in a few small patches; the trees were not so thick together as to form a regular jungle.

"The rhinoceros saw us directly, and he valiantly stood and faced me as I rode up within fifty yards of him. Tetel is worth his weight in gold as a shooting horse: he stands like a rock, and would face the devil. I was unable to take a shot in this position, therefore I ordered the men to ride round a half-circle, as I knew the rhinoceros would turn towards the white horses, and thus expose his flank; this he did immediately, aud firing well, exactly at the shoulder, I dropped him as though stone dead. Taher Noor shouted, 'Samme durrupto!' (well shot); the rhinoceros lay kicking upon the ground, and I thought he was bagged. Not a bit of it! the No. 24 bullet had not force to break the massive shoulder bone, but had merely paralysed it for the moment; up he jumped and started off in full gallop. Now for a hunt! up the hill he started, then obliquely he chose a regular rhinoceros path, and scudded away, Tetel answering to the spur and closing with him; through the trees; now down the hill over the loose rocks, where he gained considerably upon the horse. 'Easy down the hill, gently over the stones, Tetel,' and I took a pull at the reins until I reached the level ground beneath, which was firm and first-rate. I saw the rhinoceros pelting away about a hundred and twenty yards ahead, and spurring hard, I shot up to him at full speed until within twenty yards, when round he came with astonishing quickness and charged straight at the horse. I was prepared for this, as was my horse also; we avoided him by a quick turn, and again renewed the chase, and regained our position within a few yards of the game. Thus the hunt continued for about a mile and a half, the rhinoceros occasionally charging, but always cleverly avoided by the horse. Tetel seemed to enjoy the fun, and hunted like a greyhound. Nevertheless I had not been able to pass the rhinoceros, who had thundered along at a tremendous pace whenever I had attempted to close; however, the pace began to tell upon his wounded shoulder; he evidently went lame, and, as I observed at some distance before us the commencement of the dark-coloured rotten ground I felt sure that it would shortly be a case of 'stand still.' In this I was correct, and, upon reaching the deep and crumbling soil, he turned sharp round, made a clumsy charge that I easily avoided, and he stood panting at bay. Taher Noor was riding Gazelle; this was a very timid horse and was utterly useless as a hunter, but, as it reared and plunged upon seeing the rhinoceros, that animal immediately turned towards it with the intention of charging. Riding Tetel close to his flank, I fired both barrels of the little Fletcher into the shoulder; he fell to the shots, and, stretching out his legs convulsively, he died immediately."

This was a capital termination to the hunt; as I had expected the death of my good horse Tetel, when the first rhinoceros had so nearly horned him. The sun was like a furnace, therefore I rode straight to camp, and sent men and camels for the hides and flesh. As I passed the body of the first rhinoceros, I found a regiment of vultures already collected around it, while fresh arrivals took place every minute, as they gathered from all quarters; they had already torn out the eyes, and dragged a portion of flesh from the bullet-wound in the shoulder; but the tough hide of the rhinoceros was proof against their greedy beaks. A number of Marabou storks had also arrived, and were standing proudly among the crowd of vultures, preparing to perform the duty of sextons, when the skin should become sufficiently decomposed. Throughout all the countries that I had traversed, these birds were in enormous numbers. The question has been frequently discussed whether the vulture is directed to his prey by the sense of smell, or by keenness of vision; I have paid much attention to their habits, and, although there can be no question that their power of scent is great, I feel convinced that all birds of prey are attracted to their food principally by their acuteness of sight. If a vulture were blind, it would starve; but were the nostrils plugged up with some foreign substance to destroy its power of smell, it would not materially interfere with its usual mode of hunting. Scent is always stronger near the surface of the ground; thus hyaenas, lions, and other beasts of prey will scent a carcase from a great distance, provided they are to leeward; but the same animals would be unaware of the presence of the body if they were but a short distance to windward.

If birds of prey trusted to their nostrils, they would keep as near the ground as possible, like the carrion crow, which I believe is the exception that proves the rule. It is an astonishing sight to witness the sudden arrival of vultures at the death of an animal, when a few moments before not a bird has been in sight in the cloudless sky. I have frequently laid down beneath a bush after having shot an animal, to watch the arrival of the various species of birds in regular succession; they invariably appear in the following order:—

No. 1, the black and white crow: this knowing individual is most industrious in seeking for his food, and is generally to be seen either perched upon rocks or upon trees; I believe he trusts much to his sense of smell, as he is never far from the ground, at the same time he keeps a vigilant look-out with a very sharp pair of eyes.

No. 2 is the common buzzard: this bird, so well known for its extreme daring, is omnipresent, and trusts generally to sight, as it will stoop at a piece of red cloth in mistake for flesh; thus proving that it depends more upon vision than smell.

No. 3 is the red-faced small vulture.

No. 4 is the large bare-throated vulture.

No. 5, the Marabou stork, sometimes accompanied by the adjutant.

When employed in watching the habits of these birds, it is interesting to make the experiment of concealing a dead animal beneath a dense bush. This I have frequently done; in which case the vultures never find it unless they have witnessed its death; if so, they will already have pounced in their descent while you have been engaged in concealing the body: they will then upon near approach discover it by the smell. But, if an animal is killed in thick grass, eight or ten feet high, the vultures will seldom discover it. I have frequently known the bodies of large animals, such as elephants and buffaloes, to lie for days beneath the shade of the dense nabbuk bushes, unattended by a single vulture; whereas, if visible, they would have been visited by these birds in thousands.

Vultures and the Marabou stork fly at enormous altitudes. I believe that every species keeps to its own particular elevation, and that the atmosphere contains regular strata of birds of prey, who, invisible to the human eye at their enormous height, are constantly resting upon their wide-spread wings, and soaring in circles, watching with telescopic sight the world beneath. At that great elevation they are in an exceedingly cool temperature, therefore they require no water; but some birds that make long flights over arid deserts, such as the Marabou stork, and the buzzard, are provided with water-sacks; the former in an external bag a little below the throat, the latter in an internal sack, both of which carry a large supply. As the birds of prey that I have enumerated, invariably appear at a carcase in their regular succession, I can only suggest that they travel from different distances or altitudes. Thus, the Marabou stork would be farthest from the earth; the large bare-necked vulture would be the next below him, followed by the red-faced vulture, the buzzard, and the crow that is generally about the surface. From their immense elevation, the birds of prey possess an extraordinary field of vision; and, although they are invisible from the earth, there can be no doubt that they are perpetually hunting in circles within sight of each other. Thus, should one bird discover some object upon the surface of the earth below, his sudden pounce would be at once observed and imitated by every vulture in succession. Should one vulture nearest the earth perceive a body, or even should he notice the buzzards collecting at a given point, he would at once become aware of a prey; his rush towards the spot would act like a telegraphic signal to others, that would be rapidly communicated to every vulture at successive airy stations.

If any animal be skinned, the red surface will attract the vultures in an instant; this proves that their sight, and not their scent, has been attracted by an object that suggests blood. I have frequently watched them when I have shot an animal, and my people have commenced the process of skinning. At first, not a bird has been in sight, as I have lain on my back and gazed into the spotless blue sky; but hardly has the skin been half withdrawn, than specks have appeared in the heavens, rapidly increasing. "Caw, caw," has been heard several times from the neighbouring bushes; the buzzards have swept down close to my people, and have snatched a morsel of clotted blood from the ground. The specks have increased to winged creatures, at the great height resembling flies, when presently a rushing sound behind me, like a whirlwind, has been followed by the pounce of a red-faced vulture, that has fallen from the heavens in haste with closed wings to the bloody feast, followed quickly by many of his brethren. The sky has become alive with black specks in the far-distant blue, with wings hurrying from all quarters. At length a coronet of steady, soaring vultures, forms a wide circle far above, as they hesitate to descend, but continue to revolve around the object of attraction. The great bare-necked vulture suddenly appears. The animal has been skinned, and the required flesh secured by the men; we withdraw a hundred paces from the scene. A general rush and descent takes place; hundreds of hungry beaks are tearing at the offal. The great bare-necked vulture claims respect among the crowd; but another form has appeared in the blue sky, and rapidly descends. A pair of long, ungainly legs, hanging down beneath the enormous wings, now touch the ground, and Abou Seen (father of the teeth or beak, the Arab name for the Marabou) has arrived, and he stalks proudly towards the crowds, pecking his way with his long bill through the struggling vultures, and swallowing the lion's share of the repast. Abou Seen, last but not least, had arrived from the highest region, while others had the advantage of the start. This bird is very numerous through the Nile tributaries of Abyssinia, and may generally be seen perched upon the rocks of the water-side, watching for small fish, or any reptile that may chance to come within his reach. The well-known feathers are situated in a plume beneath the tail.

On 14th April we left our camp in the afternoon, and, after marching nine miles, during which we passed two small streams, flowing, like all others, from this point, west to the Atbara, we slept by a large pool in a third stream of considerable size. A waterfall flowed over a row of perpendicular basalt columns that surrounded a deep basin, resembling piles of ebony artificially arranged. On the following morning we started before sunrise, and rode over the usual pathless burnt prairies, until we reached the base of Nahoot Guddabi, the mountain for which we had been steering. Eight miles farther, we arrived at Metemma, a Tokroori village, in the heart of the mountains, twenty-seven miles from our last resting-place, and fifty-one miles from our camp on the Salaam river. From this point to the river Salaam, the entire country slopes perceptibly to the west—the drainage being carried to the Atbara by numerous streams. The country that we had now entered, was inhabited exclusively by Tokrooris, although belonging to Abyssinia. They came out to meet us upon our arrival at the village, and immediately fraternised with those of our people that belonged to their tribe, from whom they quickly learnt all about us. They brought us a he-goat, together with milk and honey. The latter we had revelled in for some months past, as the countries through which we travelled abounded with a supply in the rocks and hollow trees; but the milk was a luxury, as our goats were nearly dry. The he-goat was a regular old patriarch of the flock, and, for those who are fond of savoury food, it might have been a temptation, but as it exhaled a perfume that rendered its presence unbearable, we were obliged to hand it over as a present to our Tokrooris—even they turned up their noses at the offer. A crowd of natives surrounded us, and the account of our travels was related with the usual excitement, amidst the ejaculations of the hearers, when they heard that we had been in the country of the Base, and had trusted ourselves in the power of Mek Nimmur.

On the following morning we were off before sunrise, and marched rapidly over a good path through low forest, at the foot of a range of hills; and after a journey of twenty miles, during which we had passed several small villages, and many brooks that flowed from the mountains, we arrived at our old friend, the Atbara river, at the sharp angle as it issues from the mountains. At this place it was in its infancy. The noble Atbara whose course we had tracked for hundreds of weary miles, and whose tributaries we had so carefully examined, was a second-class mountam torrent, about equal to the Royan, and not to be named in comparison with the Salaam or Angrab. The power of the Atbara depended entirely upon the western drainage of the Abyssinian Alps: of itself it was insignificant, until aided by the great arteries of the mountain chain. The junction of the Salaam at once changed its character; and the Settite or Taccazzy completed its importance as the great river of Abyssinia, that has washed down the fertile soil of those regions to create the Delta of Lower Egypt; and to perpetuate that Delta by annual deposits, that ARE NOW FORMING A NEW EGYPT BENEATH THE WATERS OF THE MEDITERRANEAN. We had seen the Atbara a bed of glaring sand—a mere continuation of the burning desert that surrounded its course, fringed by a belt of withered trees, like a monument sacred to the memory of a dead river. We had seen the sudden rush of waters when, in the still night, the mysterious stream had invaded the dry bed, and swept all before it like an awakened giant; we knew at that moment "the rains were falling in Abyssinia," although the sky above us was without a cloud. We had subsequently witnessed that tremendous rainfall, and seen the Atbara at its grandest flood. We had traced each river, and crossed each tiny stream, that fed the mighty Atbara from the mountain chain, and we now, after our long journey, forded the Atlara in its infancy, hardly knee deep, over its rocky bed of about sixty yards width, and camped in the little village of Toganai, on the rising ground upon the opposite side. It was evening, and we sat upon an angarep among the lovely hills that surrounded us, and looked down upon the Atbara for the last time, as the sun sank behind the rugged mountain of Ras el Feel (the elephant's head). Once more I thought of that wonderful river Nile, that could flow for ever through the exhausting deserts of sand, while the Atbara, during the summer months, shrank to a dry skeleton, although the powerful affluents, the Salaam and the Settite, never ceased to flow, every drop of their waters was evaporated by the air and absorbed by the desert sand in the bed of the Atbara, two hundred miles above its junction with the Nile!

The Atbara exploration was completed; and I looked forward to the fresh enterprise of new rivers and lower latitudes, that should unravel the mystery of the Nile!

CHAPTER XX.

ARRIVAL AT METEMMA, OR GALLABAT.

WE left the village of Toganai at 5 A.M. and, after a rapid march of sixteen miles, we came in view of Metemma, or Gallabat, in the bottom of a valley surrounded by hills, and backed on the east by the range of mountains of which Nahoot Guddabi formed the extremity of a spur. As we descended the valley, we perceived great crowds of people in and about the town, which, in appearance, was merely a repetition of Katariff. It was market-day, and as we descended the hill and arrived in the scene below, with our nine camels heavily laden with the heads and horns of a multitude of different beasts, from the gaping jaws of hippopotami to the vicious-looking heads of rhinoceros and buffalo, while the skins of lions and various antelopes were piled above masses of the much-prized hide of the rhinoceros, we were beset by crowds of people who were curious to know whence so strange a party had appeared. We formed a regular procession through the market, our Tokrooris feeling quite at home among so many of their brethren. Upon our arrival at the extremity of the valley, we were horribly disgusted at the appearance of the water. A trifling stream of about two inches in depth trickled over a bed of sand, shaded by a grove of trees. The putrefying bodies of about half a dozen donkeys, three or four camels, and the remains of a number of horses, lay in and about the margin of the water. Nevertheless, the natives had scraped small holes in the sand, as filters, and thus they were satisfied with this poisonous fluid; in some of these holes, the women were washing their filthy clothes. I immediately determined to follow up stream, until I should arrive at some clear spot above these horrible impurities, that were sufficient to create a pestilence. Ascending the rising ground, I found on the summit, at about half a mile distant, an immense sycamore (Ficus sycamorus), whose green and wide-spreading branches afforded a tempting shade. Not far from this spot, I found the bed of a dry torrent that flowed into the poisoned stream of Gallabat. I ordered my men to dig a deep hole in the sand, which fortunately discovered clear and good-flavoured water. We immediately pitched tents close to the sycamore. From this elevation, about a hundred and fifty feet above Gallabat, we had a beautiful view of the amphitheatre of hills and mountains, while the crowded town lay below, as in the bottom of a basin. The Atbara was not far distant in the ravine between the hill ranges, as it had made a sharp angle at Toganai, and altered its direction to the north.

Our arrival had made some stir in Gallabat, and many people had followed us, and stared with much curiosity at the collection of hunting trophies. Among our visitors was an Abyssinian merchant, Jusef, whose acquaintance I had formerly made at Cassala; he was an agreeable and well-informed man, who had been in Paris and London and spoke French and English tolerably. I accompanied him for a stroll through the market, and was introduced by him to a number of the principal Abyssinian merchants. The principal trade of Gallabat, which is the market-place for all commerce between Abyssinia and the Egyptian provinces, is in cotton, coffee, bees'-wax, and hides. Coffee is brought in large quantities by the Abyssinian merchants, who buy cotton in exchange, for the manufacture of clothes according to their own fashion. I bought a quantity of excellent coffee at the rate of two dollars for thirty-five pounds, equal to about two and three-quarters pence a pound. Sheds were arranged in lines; these were occupied by the coffee merchants with their stores, while a great stock of cotton in bales, to the number of some thousand, were piled in rows in an open space. Not far from the mass of goods was a confusion of camels, asses, and mules that had formed the means of transport. I now met an Italian merchant, with whom I subsequently became intimately acquainted, Signor Angelo Bolognesi—he had arrived from Khartoum to purchase coffee and bees'-wax. We were delighted to meet a civilized European after so long an absence. For some months we had had little intercourse with any human beings beyond the hunters that had composed our party, in countries that were so wild and savage, that the print of a naked foot upon the sand had instinctively brought the rifle upon full cock. Our European society was quickly increased: two German missionaries had arrived, en ronte for an establishment that had been set on foot in the heart of Abyssinia, under the very nose of the King Theodore, who regarded missionaries as an unsavoury odour. Both were suffering from fever, having foolishly located themselves in a hut close to the foul stench of dead animals on the margin of the polluted stream, the water of which they drank. One of these preachers was a blacksmith, whose iron constitution had entirely given way, and the little strength that remained, he exhausted in endless quotations of texts from the Bible, which he considered applicable to every trifling event or expression. I regretted that I could not agree with him in the propriety of invading Abyssinia with Bible extracts, as the natives attached as great importance to their own particular form of Christianity, as any other of the numerous sects that unhappily divide that beautiful religion into schisms; any fresh dogma introduced by strangers might destroy the union of the Abyssinian Church, and would be not only a source of annoyance to the priesthood, but would most probably influence them and the king against all Europeans.

The blacksmith assured me that the special mission upon which he was employed was the conversion of the Abyssinian Jews. I suggested that we had a few Jews in England, that might offer a fair field for an experiment at home, before we commenced at so distant a country as Abyssinia; but I could not persuade the blacksmith, whose head was as hard as his anvil; he had fully persuaded himself that the word of God (according to HIS OWN translation of it) was the hammer with which, selon son metier, he was to drive his views of the truth into the thick skulls of the people. If he could twist iron, and hammer a ploughshare into a sword, or reverse the form, why should he be unable to effect a change in their opinions? It was perfectly useless to continue the argument; but I prophesied trouble, as the king was already discontented, and an influx of missionaries would not improve his humour. I advised him to stick to his trade, which would obtain for him far more respect than preaching. He replied, that "the word of God must be preached in all countries; that the Apostle Paul had encountered dangers and difficulties, but, nevertheless, he preached to, and converted the heathen," &c.

Whenever I have met an exceedingly ignorant missionary, he has invariably compared himself to the Apostle Paul. In half an hour I found, that I was conversing with St. Paul in the person of the blacksmith. Whether this excellent apostle is among the captives in Abyssinia at the present moment, I do not know; but, if so, their memory of the Bible will be continally refreshed by quotations, which fly from the tongue of the smith like sparks from his anvil. His companion was very ill, and incapable of moving. I went to see the poor fellow upon several occasions, and found him suffering from dysentery and diseased liver. These excellent but misguided people had a first-rate medicine chest, filled with useful drugs and deadly poisons, that had been provided for them cheaply, by the agent for their society at Cairo, who had purchased the stock in trade of a defunct doctor. This had been given to the missionaries, together with the caution that many of the bottles were not labelled, and that some contained poison. Thus provided with a medicine chest that they did not comprehend, and with a number of Bibles printed in the Tigre language which they did not understand, they were prepared to convert the Jews, who could not read. The Bibles were to be distributed as the word of God, like "seed thrown upon the wayside;" and the medicines, I trust, were to be kept locked up in the chest, as their distribution might have been fatal to the poor Jews. These worthy and well-meaning missionaries were prepared to operate mentally and physically upon the Abyssinians, to open their minds as well as their bowels; but as their own (not their minds) were out of order, I was obliged to assist them by an examination of their medicine-chest, which they had regarded with such dread and suspicion that, although dangerously ill, they had not dared to attempt a dose. This medicine-chest accompanied them like a pet dog suspected of hydrophobia, which they did not like to part with, and were yet afraid to touch. I labelled the poisons, and weighed out some doses, that in a few days considerably relieved them; at the same time I advised the missionaries to move to a healthier locality, and to avoid the putrid water.

On the day following our arrival, I paid a visit to the Sheik of Gallabat—Jemma. He was ill, as were most people. They were too much accustomed to the use of the filthy water to trouble themselves about a pure supply; thus a frightful amount of sickness was prevalent among all classes.

The Sheik Jemma was a Tokroori; and as these people hate the Turks or Egyptians, although fanatical Mussulmans, he was exceedingly cold when he read my firman, that I had produced as a passport. He replied to my demand for assistance in men and camels, that "this was Abyssinia, and the firman of the Viceroy of Egypt was a bad introduction, as the Egyptians forced them to pay tribute at the point of the bayonet, although they had no right to enter this country;" they paid taxes willingly to the King of Abyssinia, as he had a right to exact them. I explained that I was an Englishman, and no Turk, but that, as I had travelled through the dominions of the Viceroy, I had been favoured with the sign-manual of his Excellency Said Pasha, and I narrated in a few words the object of our expedition. He paid very little attention, and merely asked me if I could send him some goat's milk, as he was very ill. I was astonished at such a request, as there were great numbers of these animals in the neighbourhood; but he explained that his doctor had ordered him to drink the milk of a black goat, and he had heard that I had two of that colour. I promised him a supply, and he agreed to assist me in engaging camels and fresh men, as I had formerly arranged with my people that their term of service should expire upon our arrival at Gallabat or Metemma. The latter name merely signifies "the capital:" as many places are designated by the same word, it creates much confusion.

The Sheik Jemma was the successor of Hamed, who formerly governed the Tokrooris. The Egyptians had captured Hamed three years previously, during which time he had been imprisoned in Cairo. Upon his release, he wrote to Jemma (who had governed pro tempore) to prepare for his arrival; but Jemma had no intention of vacating his seat, and he replied by an impertinent message. Hamed immediately applied to the Governor-General of the Soudan for assistance, declaring himself to be the subject of Egypt. Having obtained a powerful force, he advanced upon Gallabat, and attacked Jemma, who came out to meet him. This happened about three months before our arrival. In a pitched battle, the Tokrooris were defeated with great loss, and Jemma, with the greater portion of the population, sought the assistance of Theodore, the king of Abyssinia. Theodore summoned the rival chiefs before him, and decided that, as Hamed had appealed to Egypt for assistance, he should lose his seat, and remain a prisoner in Abyssinia. Accordingly, Jemma was declared to be the governor of the town of Gallabat, and the sheik over all Tokrooris.

The Tokrooris are natives of Darfur, who were converted to Mahometanism after the conquest of Northern Africa by the Arabs. They are governed by a sultan in their own country, who strictly prohibits the entrance of white men; thus Darfur remains impenetrable to civilization. That country is extremely arid and unfruitful; thus, as the pilgrims journeyed towards Mecca from their own inhospitable soil, they passed through a land flowing with milk and honey, with excellent pasturage and fertile soil, in the district of Gallabat. As first settlements of men have always been caused by some local attraction and advantage, so the Tokroori pilgrims, on their return from Mecca, originally rested from the fatigues of their journey in the neighbourhood of Gallabat, as a country preferable to their own. The establishment of a few settlers formed a nucleus, and, as successive pilgrimages to Mecca were annually undertaken from Darfur, the colony rapidly increased by the settlement of the returned pilgrims. Thus commenced the establishment of a new tribe upon foreign soil, and, as the numbers of settlers increased to an important amount, permission was granted by the King of Abyssinia that they should occupy this portion of his territory, upon payment of taxes as his subjects. The Tokrooris are a fine, powerful race, exceedingly black, and of the negro type, but differing from all negroes that I have hitherto known, as they are particularly industrious. They are great drunkards, very quarrelsome, and are bad servants, as, although they will work hard for themselves, they will do as little as they can for their master. They are seldom unemployed; and, while the Arab may be seen lazily stretched under the shade of a tree, the Tokroori will be spinning cotton, or working at something that will earn a few piastres. Even during the march, I have frequently seen my men gather the cotton from some deserted bush, and immediately improvise a spindle, by sticking a reed through a piece of camel-dung, with which they would spin the wool into thread, as they walked with the caravan. My Tokrooris had never been idle during the time they had been in my service, but they were at work in the camp during every spare minute, either employed in making sandals from elephant's or buffalo's hide, or whips and bracelets from the rhinoceros' skin, which they cleverly polished. Upon our arrival at Gallabat, they had at least a camel-load of all kinds of articles they had manufactured. On the following morning I found them sitting in the market-place, having established stalls, at which they were selling all the various trophies of their expedition—fat, hides, whips, sandals, bracelets, &c.

The district inhabited by the Tokrooris is about forty miles in length, including a population of about twenty thousand. Throughout the country, they have cultivated cotton to a considerable extent, notwithstanding the double taxes enforced by both Abyssinians and Egyptians, and their gardens are kept with extreme neatness. Although of the negro type, the Tokrooris have not the flat nose; the lips are full, but not to be compared with those of the negroes of West Africa; neither is the jaw prognathous. The men are extremely independent in manner. They are armed with lances of various patterns; their favourite weapon is a horrible instrument barbed with a diabolical intention, as it can neither be withdrawn nor pushed completely through the body, but, if once in the flesh, there it must remain. This is called the chimbane; it is usually carried with two other lances with plain heads. The Tokrooris despise shields; therefore, in spite of their superior personal strength, they would be no match for the Arabs.

There is a curious weapon, the trombash, that is used by these people, somewhat resembling the Australian boomerang; it is a piece of flat, hard wood, about two feet in length, the end of which turns sharply at an angle of about 30 degrees. They throw this with great dexterity, and inflict severe wounds with the hard and sharp edge; but, unlike the boomerang, the weapon does not return to the thrower.

The women are very powerful, but exceedingly plain. They are good workers, and may be constantly seen either spinning or weaving; they keep their huts remarkably clean, and are rarely idle.

The greater portion of the cotton exhibited in the market of Gallabat is produced by the Tokrooris; it is uncleaned, and simply packed in mat bales of a hundred pounds weight, which at that date (April 1862) sold for one dollar each.

Much might be done to improve these peculiar people. Were the frontiers of Abyssinia positively determined, and security insured to the new settlers, the whole of that magnificent country through which we had travelled between the Settite and Gallabat might be peopled and cultivated. In many countries, both soil and climate may be favourable for the cultivation of cotton; but such natural advantages may be neutralized either by the absence of population, or by the indolence of the natives. The Tokroori is a most industrious labourer; and, were he assured of protection and moderate taxation, he would quickly change the character of these fertile lands, that are now uninhabited, except by wild animals. If the emigration of Tokrooris from Darfur were encouraged, and advantages offered to settlers, by grants of land for a short term exempt from taxation, at a future time to bear a certain rate per acre, a multitude of emigrants would quit their own inhospitable country, and would people the beautiful waste lands of the Settite and the Salaam. These countries would produce an important supply of cotton, that might be delivered at Souakim at an exceedingly low rate, and find a market in England. Not only would the Tokrooris benefit by the change, but, should it be decided that the Abyssinian frontier, instead of extending to the Atbara river, should be confined to the ridge of the great mountain chain, the revenues of Upper Egypt might be enormously increased by the establishment of a Tokroori colony, as proposed.

I paid all my Tokrooris their wages, and I gave them an entertainment after their own taste, by purchasing several enormous bowls of honey wine. The Abyssinians are celebrated for this drink, which is known as "tetch." It is made of various strengths; that of good quality should contain, in ten parts, two of honey and eight of water; but, for a light wine, one of honey and nine of water is very agreeable. There is a plant of an intoxicating quality known by the Abyssinians as "jershooa," the leaves of which are added to the tetch while in a state of fermentation; a strong infusion of these leaves will render the tetch exceedingly heady, but without this admixture the honey wine is by no means powerful. In our subsequent journey in Central Africa, I frequently made the tetch by a mixture of honey and water, flavoured with wild thyme and powdered ginger; fermentation was quickly produced by the addition of yeast from the native beer, and the wine, after six or eight days, became excellent, but never very strong, as we could not procure the leaves of the jershooa.

My Arabs and Tokrooris enjoyed themselves amazingly, and until late at night they were playing rababas (guitars) and howling in thorough happiness; but on the following morning at sunrise I was disturbed by Wat Gamma, who complained that during the night some person had stolen three dollars, that had for some months been carefully sewn up in his clothes; he exhibited the garment that bore the unmistakeable impression of the dollars, and the freshly-cut ends of the thread proved that it had been ripped open very recently. Of course I was magistrate, and in all cases I was guided by my own code of laws, being at some thousand miles from an Act of Parliament.

Wat Gamma had no suspicion of any person in particular, but his money had evidently been stolen.

"Who was drunk last night?" I inquired. "We were all drunk," replied the plaintiff. "Who was very drunk, and who was the least drunk?" I inquired. This entailed a discussion among the people who had now assembled. It appeared that most of them had been "very drunk;" others only a little drunk; and one old white-headed Arab camel-driver had been perfectly sober, as he never drank anything but water. This was old Mini, a splendid specimen of a fine patriarchal Arab; he declared that he had not even joined the party. Wat Gamma had left his garment rolled up in the mat upon which he usually slept; this was in the same spot where the camel-drivers lived, and where old Mini declared he was fast asleep during the drinking bout.

I had my suspicions, but to express them would have defeated the chance of discovery. I therefore adopted my usual rule in cases of theft. I counted my people: nine camel-men, five Tokrooris, Taher Noor, and Bacheet; in all sixteen, without Wat Gamma. Three dollars were sixty piastres,—sixty divided by sixteen equalled three piastres and thirty paras. Thus I condemned the whole party to make up the loss, by each paying his share of the amount stolen, unless the thief could be discovered.

This plan was generally successful, as the thief was the only man contented with the arrangement. Every innocent man became a detective, as he was determined not to pay a fine for another's theft. A tremendous row took place, every one was talking and no one listening, and the crowd went away from my court of justice, determined to search the affair to the bottom.

In about half an hour they all returned, with the exception of old Mini; they had searched everywhere, and had found three dollars concealed in the stuffing of a camel's saddle, that belonged to Mini. He was the sober man, who had been asleep while the others were drinking. I considered the case proved; and Mini, having confessed, requested that I would flog him rather than deliver him to the Tokroori authorities, who wonld imprison him and take away his camel. I told him that I would not disgrace his tribe by flogging one of their oldest men, but that I should take him before the Sheik of Gallabat, and fine him the amount that he had stolen. This I immediately did, and Mini handed over to Jemma, with reluctance, three dollars for the poor-box of Gallabat, or the private pocket of the sheik, as the case may be.

On my return to camp I visited the establishments of the various slave merchants: these were arranged under large tents formed of matting, and contained many young girls of extreme beauty, ranging from nine to seventeen years of age. These lovely captives, of a rich brown tint, with delicately-formed features, and eyes like those of the gazelle, were natives of the Galla, on the borders of Abyssinia, from which country they were brought by the Abyssinian traders to be sold for the Turkish harems. Although beautiful, these girls are useless for hard labour; they quickly fade away and die unless kindly treated. They are the Venuses of that country, and not only are their faces and figures perfection, but they become extremely attached to those who show them kindness, and they make good and faithful wives. There is something peculiarly captivating in the natural grace and softness of these young beauties, whose hearts quickly respond to those warmer feelings of love that are seldom known among the sterner and coarser tribes. Their forms are peculiarly elegant and graceful—the hands and feet are exquisitely delicate; the nose is generally slightly aquiline, the nostrils large and finely shaped; the hair is black and glossy, reaching to about the middle of the back, but rather coarse in texture. These girls, although natives of Galla, invariably call themselves Abyssinians, and are generally known under that denomination. They are exceedingly proud and high-spirited, and are remarkably quick at learning. At Khartoum, several of the Europeans of high standing have married these charming ladies, who have invariably rewarded their husbands by great affection and devotion. The price of one of these beauties of nature at Gallabat was from twenty-five to forty dollars.

On the 24th April we were refreshed by a shower of rain, and in a few days the grass sprang from the ground several inches high. There was an unpleasant dampness in the air, and, although the rainy season would not commence until June, showers would occasionally fall among the mountains throughout the month of May. I accordingly purchased a number of large tanned ox-hides, that are rendered waterproof by a preparation with milk. These skins cost the trifling sum of nine piastres each (not two shillings), and were subsequently of great value during our White Nile expedition, as coverlets during the night's bivouac, &c.

The horse-fair was a disappointment. At this season the entire country in the neighbourhood of Gallabat was subject to an epidemic, fatal to these animals; therefore there were no good horses present. I had nothing to detain me at this place, after having procured fresh camels, therefore I paid all my people, and we parted excellent friends. To the Arabs and Tokrooris I gave all the hides of rhinoceros, elephants, &c. that I did not require, and, with our loads considerably lightened, we started from Gallabat, 12.30 P.M., 28th April, 1862, and marched due west towards the river Rahad. The country was hilly and wooded, the rocks were generally sandstone, and after a march of three hours we halted at a Tokroori village. I never witnessed more unprovoked insolence than was exhibited by these people. They considered me to be a Turk, to whom their natural hatred had been increased by the chastisement they had lately received from the Egyptians. It was in vain that my two lads, Wat Gamma and Bacheet, assured them that I was an Englishman: they had never heard of such a country as England; in their opinion, a white man must be a Turk. Not contented with refusing all supplies, they assembled in large numbers and commenced a quarrel with my men, several of whom were Tokrooris that I had hired to accompany us to Khartoum. These men, being newly engaged and entirely strange, were of little service; but, having joined in the quarrel like true Tokrooris, who are always ready for a row, the altercation grew so hot that it became rather serious. The natives determined that we should not remain in their village, and, having expressed a threat to turn us out, they assembled around us in a large crowd with their lances and trombashes. My wife was sitting by me upon an angarep, when the people closed around my men, and one very tall specimen of a Tokroori came forward, and, snatching a knife from its sheath that was worn upon the arm of my servant, he challenged him to fight. As Tokrooris are always more or less under the influence of drink, their fights are generally the effect of some sudden impulse. It was necessary to do something, as the crowd were determined upon a row; this was now commenced by their leader, who was eyeing me from head to foot with the most determined insolence, holding the knife in his hand that he had taken from my man. I therefore rose quietly from my seat, and, approaching him to within a convenient distance for striking, if necessary, I begged him very politely to leave my people to themselves, as we should depart on the following morning. He replied with great impertinence, and insisted upon fighting one or all of our party. I accommodated him without a moment's delay, as, stepping half a pace backwards, I came in with a left and right as fast as a rapid double-hit could be delivered, with both blows upon his impudent mouth. In an instant he was on his back, with his heels in the air; and, as I prepared to operate upon his backer, or upon any bystander who might have a penchant for fighting, the crowd gave way, and immediately devoted themselves to their companion, who lay upon the ground in stupid astonishment, with his fingers down his throat searching for a tooth; his eyes were fixed upon my hands to discover the weapon with which he had been wounded. His friends began to wipe the blood from his face and clothes, and at this juncture the sheik of the village appeared for the first time.

To my astonishment he was extremely civil; a sudden reaction had taken place, the Tokrooris had had their row, and were apparently satisfied. The sheik begged me not to kill his people by hitting them, "as they were mere chickens, who would at once die if I were to strike them with my fist." I begged him to keep his "chickens" in better order, and at once to order them away from our immediate neighbourhood. In a few minutes the sheik drove the crowd away, who picked up their man and led him off. The sheik then begged us to accept a hut for the night, and he paid us every attention.

On the following morning, we left shortly after sunrise; the natives very civilly assisted to load our camels, and among the most active was my fighting friend of yesterday, who, with his nose and mouth all swollen into one, had been rapidly converted from a well-featured Tokroori into a real thick-lipped, flat-nosed African nigger, with prognathous jaw, that would have delighted the Ethnological Society.

"April 29.—It rained hard during the night. Our course was due west, along the banks of a hor, from which the natives procure water by sinking wells about twelve feet deep in the sandy bed, which is dry in the hot season. Throughout this country the water is bad. At 11 A.M. we reached Roumele; this is the last village between Gallabat and the river Rahad. The natives say that there is no water on the road, and their accounts of the distance are so vague and contradictory that I cannot rely upon the information.

"I could procure only one water-skin, and none of my old stock were serviceable; I therefore arranged to water all the animals, and push on throughout the night, by which plan I hoped to arrive by a forced march at the Rahad on the following morning, without exhausting both men and beasts by a long journey through an unknown distance in the heat of the sun. Hardly were the horses watered at a well in the dry bed of the stream, when Aggahr was taken ill with inflammation. I left two men to attend upon him, with orders to bring him on if better on the following day: we started on our journey, but we had not proceeded a quarter of a mile when Gazelle, that I was riding, was also seized with illness, and fell down; with the greatest difficulty I led the horse back again to the village. My good old hunter Aggahr died in great agony a few minutes after our return, and Gazelle died during the night; the natives declared this to be the horse sickness that was annually prevalent at this season. The disease appeared to be inflammation of the bowels, which I attributed to the sudden change of food; for months past they had lived principally upon dry grass, but within the past few days they had greedily eaten the young herbage that had appeared after a few showers; with this, may have been poisonous plants that they had swallowed unawares. We had now only one horse, Tetel, that was ridden by my wife; I therefore determined to start on foot on the following morning, and to set the pace at four miles an hour, so as to reach the Rahad by a forced march in one rapid stretch, and thus to eke out our scanty supply of water. Accordingly we started, and marched at that rate for ten hours, including a halt when half-way, to rest for one hour and a half. Throughout the distance, the country was a dead flat of the usual rich soil, covered with mimosa forest. We marched thirty-four miles, steering due west for a distant hill, which in the morning had been a faint blue streak upon the horizon.

"Upon our arrival at the hill, we found that the river was some miles beyond, while a fine rugged mountain that we had seen for two days previous rose about fifteen miles south of this point, and formed an unmistakeable landmark; the name of this mountain is Hallowa. We had marched with such rapidity across this stretch of thirty-four miles, that our men were completely exhausted from thirst, as they had foolishly drunk their share of water at the middle of the journey, instead of reserving it for the moment of distress. Upon arrival at the Rahad they rushed down the steep bank, and plunged into the clear water of the river.

"The Rahad does not exceed eighty or ninety yards in breadth. The rain that had recently fallen in the mountain had sent a considerable stream down the hitherto dry bed, although the bottom was not entirely covered. By dead reckoning, this point of the river is fifty-five miles due west from Gallabat or Metemma; throughout this distance we had seen no game, neither the tracks of any animals except giraffes. We were rather hard up for provisions, therefore I took my rod, and tried for a fish in a deep pool below the spot where we had pitched the tent. I only had one run, but I fortunately landed a handsome little baggar about twelve pounds weight, which afforded us a good dinner. The river Dinder is between fifty and sixty miles from the Rahad at this point, but towards the north the two rivers approximate closely, and keep a course almost parallel. The banks of the Rahad are in many places perpendicular, and are about forty-five feet above the bed. This river flows through rich alluvial soil; the country is a vast level plane, with so trifling a fall that the current of the river is gentle; the course is extremely circuitous, and although, when bank full, the Rahad possesses a considerable volume, it is very inferior as a Nile tributary to any river that I have visited to the east of Gallabat."

CHAPTER XXI.

FERTILITY OF THE COUNTRY ON THE BANKS OF THE RAHAD.

WE daily followed the banks of the Rahad, the monotony of which I will not inflict upon the public. This country was a vast tract of wonderfully fertile prairie, that nearly formed an island, surrounded by the Rahad, Blue Nile, Great Nile, and Atbara; it was peopled by various tribes of Arabs, who cultivated a considerable extent upon the banks of the Rahad, which for upwards of a hundred miles to the north were bordered with villages at short intervals. Cotton and tobacco were produced largely, and we daily met droves of camels laden with these goods, en route for the Abyssinian market. We had now fairly quitted Abyssinian territory, and upon our arrival at the Rahad we were upon the soil of Upper Egypt. I was much struck with the extraordinary size and condition of the cattle. Corn (dhurra) was so plentiful that it was to be purchased in any quantity for eight piastres the rachel, or about 1s. 8d. for 500 pounds; pumpkins were in great quantities, with a description of gourd with an exceedingly strong shell, which is grown especially for bowls and other utensils; camel-loads of these gourd-basins packed in conical crates were also journeying on the road towards Gallabat. Throughout the course of the Rahad the banks are high, and, when full, the river would average forty feet in depth, with a gentle stream, the course free from rocks and shoals, and admirably adapted for small steamers.

The entire country would be a mine of wealth were it planted with cotton, which could be transported by camels to Katariff, and thence direct to Souakim. We travelled for upwards of a hundred miles along the river, through the unvarying scene of flat alluvial soil; the south bank was generally covered with low jungle. The Arabs were always civil, and formed a marked contrast to the Tokrooris; they were mostly of the Roofar tribe. Although there had been a considerable volume of water in the river at the point where we had first met it, the bed was perfectly dry about fifty miles farther north, proving the great power of absorption by the sand. The Arabs obtained water from deep pools in the river, similar to those in the Atbara, but on a small scale, of not sufficient importance to contain hippopotami, which at this season retired to the river Dinder. Wherever we slept we were besieged by gaping crowds of Arabs: these people were quite unaccustomed to strangers, as the route we had chosen along the banks of the Rahad was entirely out of the line adopted by the native merchants and traders of Khartoum, who travelled via Abou Harraz and Katariff to Gallabat. These Arabs were, as usual, perfectly wild, and ignorant of everything that did not immediately concern them. My compass had always been a source of wonder to the natives, and I was asked whether by looking into it I rould distinguish the "market days" of the different villages. My own Tokrooris continually referred to me for information on various topics, and, if I declined to reply, they invariably begged me to examine my moondera (mirror), as they termed the compass, and see what it would say. This country swarmed with Arabs, and abounded in supplies: superb fat oxen were seven dollars each; large fowls were a penny; and eggs were at the rate of nine for a penny farthing.

We arrived at a large village, Sherrem, on May 11, having marched 118 miles in a straight line along the course of the Rahad. The heat was extreme, but I had become so thoroughly accustomed to the sun that I did not feel it so much as my men, whose heads were covered with a thin cap of cotton (the tageea). My camel-men had expected to find their families at a village that we had passed about six miles from Sherrem, and they had been rejoicing in anticipation, but on arrival we found it deserted,—"family out of town;" the men were quite dejected; but upon arrival at Sherrem they found all their people, who had migrated for water, as the river was dry. We waited at Sherrem for a couple of days to rest the men, whose feet were much swollen with marching on the burning soil. Although frequent showers had fallen at Gallabat, we had quickly entered the dry country upon steering north, where neither dew nor rain had moistened the ground for many months. The country was treeless on the north bank of the Rahad, and the rich alluvial soil was free from a single stone or pebble for many miles. Although for 118 miles we had travelled along the course of the Rahad, throughout this distance only one small brook furrowed the level surface and added its waters during the rainy season to the river; the earth absorbed the entire rainfall. Our camels were nearly driven mad by the flies which swarmed throughout the fertile districts.

On the 15th of May we arrived at Kook, a small village on the banks of the Rahad, and on the following morning we started to the west for the river Dinder. The country was the usual rich soil, but covered with high grass and bush; it was uninhabited, except by wandering Arabs and their flocks, that migrate at the commencement of the rainy season, when this land becomes a mere swamp, and swarms with the seroot fly. At 6.30 we halted, and slept on the road. This was the main route to Sennaar, from which place strings of camels were passing to the Rahad, to purchase corn. On the 16th of May, we started by moonlight at 4.30 A.M. due west, and at 7.30 A.M. we arrived at the river Dinder, which, at this point, was eighteen miles from the village of Kook, on the Rahad.

We joined a camp of the Kunana Arabs, who at this season throng the banks of the Dinder. This river is similar in character to the Rahad, but larger: the average breadth is about a hundred and ten yards: the banks are about fifty feet high, and the immediate vicinity is covered with thick jungle of nabbuk and thorny acacias, with a great quantity of the Acacia Arabica, that produces the garra, already described as valuable for tanning leather. I made ink with this fruit, pounded and boiled, to which I added a few rusty nails, and allowed it to stand for about twenty-four hours. The Dinder was exceedingly deep in many places, although in others the bed was dry, with the exception of a most trifling stream that flowed through a narrow channel in the sand, about an inch in depth. The Arabs assured me that the crocodiles in this river were more dangerous than in any other, and their flocks of goats and sheep were attended by a great number of boys, to prevent the animals from descending to the water to drink, except in such places as had been prepared for them by digging small holes in the sand. I saw many of these creatures, of very large size; and, as I strolled along the banks of the river, I found a herd of hippopotami, of which I shot two, to the great delight of my people, who had been much disappointed at the absence of game throughout our journey from Gallabat. We had travelled upwards of 200 miles without having seen so much as a gazelle, neither had we passed any tracks of large game, except, upon one occasion, those of a few giraffes. I had been told that the Dinder country was rich in game, but, at this season, it was swarming with Arabs, and was so much disturbed that everything had left the country, and the elephants merely drank during the night, and retreated to distant and impenetrable jungles. At night we heard a lion roar, but this, instead of being our constant nightingale, as upon the Settite river, was now an uncommon sound. The maneless lion is found on the banks of the Dinder; all that I saw, in the shape of game, in the neighbourhood of that river and the Rahad, were a few hippopotami and crocodiles. The stream of the Dinder is obstructed with many snags and trunks of fallen trees that would be serious obstacles to rapid navigation: these are the large stems of the soont (Acacia Arabica), that, growing close to the edge, have fallen into the river when the banks have given way. I was astonished at the absence of elephants in such favourable ground; for some miles I walked along the margin of the river without seeing a track of any date. Throughout this country, these animals are so continually hunted that they have become exceedingly wary, and there can be little doubt that their numbers are much reduced. Even in the beautiful shooting country comprised between the river Gash and Gallabat, although we had excellent sport, I had been disappointed at the number of elephants, which I had expected to find in herds of many hundreds, instead of forty or fifty, which was the largest number that I had seen together. The habits of all animals generally depend upon the nature of the localities they inhabit. Thus, as these countries were subject to long drought and scarcity of water, the elephants were, in some places, contented with drinking every alternate day. Where they were much hunted by the aggageers, they would seldom drink twice consecutively in the same river; but, after a long draught in the Settite, they would march from twenty-five to thirty miles, and remain for a day between that river and the Mareb or Gash, to which they would hurry on the following night. At other times, these wily animals would drink in the Settite, and retire to the south; feeding upon Mek Nimmur's corn-fields, they would hurry forward to the river Salaam, about thirty miles distant, and from thence, in a similar manner, either to the Atbara on one side, or into the Abyssinian mountains, where, at all times, they could procure a supply of water. I have frequently discovered fresh grains of dhurra in their dung, at a great distance from the nearest corn-field; when the rapid digestion of the elephant is considered, it must be allowed that the fresh dung found in the morning bore witness to the theft of corn during the past night; thus the elephant had marched many miles after feeding. In the "Rifle and Hound in Ceylon," published in 1854, I gave a detailed description of the elephants of that country, which, although peculiar in the general absence of tusks, are the same as the Indian species.

Although the elephant is found throughout many countries, extending over an enormous area, there are only two species at present in existence,—the Indian and African; these are totally different in their habits, and are distinguished by peculiarities of form. The most striking difference is in the shape of the head and spine. The head of the Indian species is perfectly distinct; the forehead, when held in the natural position of inaction, is perpendicular; and above the slight convexity at the root of the trunk there is a depression, in shape like a herald's shield: a bullet in the lower portion of that shield would reach the brain in a direct line. The head of the African elephant is completely convex from the commencement of the trunk to the back of the skull, and the brain is situated much lower than in that of the Indian species; the bone is of a denser quality, and the cases for the reception of the tusks are so closely parallel, that there is barely room for a bullet to find a chance of penetrating to the brain; it must be delivered in the exact centre, and extremely low, in the very root of the trunk; even then it will frequently pass above the brain, as the animal generally carries his head high, and thrown slightly back. The teeth of the African elephant differ materially from those of the Indian, by containing a lesser number of laminae or plates, the surfaces of which, instead of exhibiting straight and parallel lines like those of the Indian, are shaped in slight curves, which increase the power of grinding. The ears of the African species are enormous, and when thrown back they completely cover the shoulders; they are also entirely different in shape from those of the Indian species. When an African bull elephant advances in full charge with his ears cocked, his head measures about fourteen feet from the tip of one ear to that of the other, in a direct line across the forehead. I have frequently cut off the ear to form a mat, upon which I have slept beneath the shade of a tree, while my people divided the animal.

The back of the Indian elephant is exceedingly convex; that of the African is exactly the reverse, and the concavity behind the shoulders is succeeded by a peculiarity in the sudden rise of the spine above the hips. The two species are not only distinct in certain peculiarities of form, but they differ in their habits. The Indian elephant dislikes the sun, and invariably retreats to thick shady forests at sunrise; but I have constantly found the African species enjoying themselves in the burning sun in the hottest hours of the day, among plains of withered grass, many miles from a jungle. The African is more active than the Indian, and not only is faster in his movements, but is more capable of enduring long marches, as proved by the great distances through which it travels to seek its food in the native's corn-fields. In all countries, the bulls are fiercer than the females. I cannot see much difference in character between the Indian and the African species; it is the fashion for some people to assert that the elephant is an innocent and harmless creature, that, like the giraffe it is almost a sin to destroy. I can only say that, during eight years' experience in Ceylon, and nearly five years' in Africa, I have found that elephants are the most formidable animals with which a sportsman has to contend. The African species is far more dangerous than the Indian, as the forehead shot can never be trusted; therefore the hunter must await the charge with a conviction that his bullet will fail to kill.

The African elephant is about a foot higher than the average of the Indian species. The bulls of the former are about ten feet six inches at the shoulder; the females are between nine feet and nine feet six. Of course there are many bulls that exceed this height, and I have seen some few of both species that might equal twelve feet, but those are the exceptional Goliaths.

The tusks of elephants vary considerably, and there appears to be no rule to determine a reason for their size and quality. In Abyssinia and Taka, a single tusk of a bull elephant seldom exceeds forty pounds, nor do they average more than twenty-five, but in Central Africa they average about forty, and I have seen them upwards of one hundred and fifty pounds. The largest that I have had the good fortune to bag was eighty pounds; the fellow-tusk was slightly below seventy. Elephants invariably use one tusk in preference, as we use the right hand; thus it is difficult to obtain an exact pair, as the Hadam (or servant), as the Arabs call the working tusk, is generally much worn. The African elephant is a more decided tree-feeder than the Indian, and the destruction committed by a large herd of such animals when feeding in a mimosa forest is extraordinary; they deliberately march forward, and uproot or break down every tree that excites their appetite. The mimosas are generally from sixteen to twenty feet high, and, having no tap-root, they are easily overturned by the tusks of the elephants, which are driven like crowbars beneath the roots, and used as levers, in which rough labour they are frequently broken. Upon the overthrow of a tree, the elephants eat the roots and leaves, and strip the bark from the branches by grasping them with their rough trunks.

The African elephant is equally docile as the Indian, when domesticated, but we have no account of a negro tribe that has ever tamed one of these sagacious animals: their only maxim is "kill and eat." Although the flesh of the elephant is extremely coarse, the foot and trunk are excellent, if properly cooked. A hole should be dug in the earth, about four feet deep, and two feet six inches in diameter, the sides of which should be perpendicular; in this a large fire should be lighted, and kept burning for four or five hours with a continual supply of wood, so that the walls become red-hot. At the expiration of the blaze, the foot should be laid upon the glowing embers, and the hole covered closely with thick pieces of green wood laid parallel together to form a ceiling; this should be covered with wet grass, and the whole plastered with mud, and stamped tightly down to retain the heat. Upon the mud, a quantity of earth should be heaped, and the oven should not be opened for thirty hours, or more. At the expiration of that time, the foot will be perfectly baked, and the sole will separate like a shoe, and expose a delicate substance that, with a little oil and vinegar, together with an allowance of pepper and salt, is a delicious dish that will feed about fifty men.

The Arabs are particularly fond of elephant's flesh, as it is generally fat and juicy. I have frequently used the fat of the animal for cooking, but it should be taken from the body without delay; as, if left for a few hours, it partakes of the peculiar smell of the elephant, which no amount of boiling will overcome. The boiling of fat for preservation requires much care, as it should attain so great a heat that a few drops of water thrown upon the surface will hiss and evaporate as though cast upon molten metal; it should then be strained, and, when tolerably cool, be poured into vessels, and secured. No salt is necessary, provided it is thoroughly boiled. When an animal is killed, the flesh should be properly dried, before boiling down, otherwise the fat will not melt thoroughly, as it will be combined with the water contained in the body. The fat should be separated as well as possible from the meat; it should then be hung in long strips upon a line and exposed in the sun to dry; when nearly dried, it should be cut into pieces of about two inches in length, and placed in a large vessel over a brisk fire, and kept constantly stirred. As the fat boils out from the meat, the residue should be taken out with a pierced ladle; this, when cool, should be carefully preserved in leathern bags. This is called by the Arabs "reveet," a supply of which is most valuable, as a quantity can be served out to each man during a long march when there is no time to halt; it can be eaten without bread, and it is extremely nourishing. With a good supply of reveet in store, the traveller need not be nervous about his dinner. Dried meat should also be kept in large quantities; the best is that of the giraffe and hippopotamus, but there is some care required in preparing the first quality. It should be cut from portions of the animals as free as possible from sinews, and should be arranged in long thin strips of the diameter of about an inch and a quarter; these ribbon-like morsels should be hung in the shade. When nearly dry, they should be taken down, and laid upon a flat rock, upon which they should be well beaten with a stone, or club of hard wood; this breaks the fibre; after which they should be hung up and thoroughly dried, care being taken that the flesh is not exposed to the sun. If many flies are present, the flesh should be protected by the smoke of fires lighted to windward.

When meat is thus carefully prepared, it can be used in various ways, and is exceedingly palatable; if pounded into small pieces like coarse sawdust, it forms an admirable material for curry and rice. The Arabs make a first-class dish of melach, by mixing a quantity of pounded dried meat with a thick porridge of dhurra meal, floating in a soup of barmian (waker), with onions, salt, and red peppers; this is an admirable thing if the party is pressed for time (if not too hot, as a large quantity can be eaten with great expedition. As the Arabs are nomadic, they have a few simple but effective arrangements for food during the journey. For a fortnight preparatory to an expedition, the women are busily engaged in manufacturing a supply of abrey. This is made in several methods: there is the sour, and the sweet abrey; the former is made of highly-fermented dhurra paste that has turned intensely acid; this is formed into thin wafers, about sixteen inches in diameter, upon the doka or hearth, and dried in the sun until the abrey has become perfectly crisp; the wafers are then broken up with the hands, and packed in bags. There is no drink more refreshing than water poured over a handful of sour abrey, and allowed to stand for half an hour; it becomes pleasantly acid, and is superior to lemonade. The residue is eaten by the Arabs: thus the abrey supplies both meat and drink. The finest quality of sweet abrey is a very delicate affair; the flour of dhurra must be well sifted; it is then mixed with milk instead of water, and, without fermenting, it is formed into thin wafers similar to those eaten with ice-creams in this country, but extremely large; these are dried in the sun, and crushed like the sour abrey; they will keep for months if kept dry in a leathern bag. A handful of sweet abrey steeped in a bowl of hot milk, with a little honey, is a luxurious breakfast; nothing can be more delicious, and it can be prepared in a few minutes during the short halt upon a journey. With a good supply of abrey and dried meat, the commissariat arrangements are wonderfully simplified, and a party can march a great distance without much heavy baggage to impede their movements.

The flesh that is the least adapted for drying is that of the buffalo (Bos Caffer), which is exceedingly tough and coarse. There are two species of the Bos Caffer in Abyssinia and Central Africa, which, similar in general appearance, differ in the horns; that which resembles the true Bos Caffer of South Africa has very massive convex horns that unite in front, and completely cover the forehead as with a shield; the other variety has massive, but perfectly flat horns of great breadth, that do not quite unite over the os frontis, although nearly so; the flatness of the horns continues in a rough surface, somewhat resembling the bark of a tree, for about twelve inches; the horns then become round, and curve gracefully inwards, like those of the convex species. Buffaloes are very dangerous and determined animals; but, although more accidents occur in hunting these than any other variety of game, I cannot admit that they are such formidable opponents as the elephant and black rhinoceros; they are so much more numerous than the latter, that they are more frequently encountered: hence the casualties.

A buffalo can always be killed with a No. 10 rifle and six drachms of powder when charging, if the hunter will only wait coolly until it is so close that he cannot miss the forehead; but the same rifle will fail against an African elephant, or a black rhinoceros, as the horns of the latter animal effectually protect the brain from a front shot. I have killed some hundreds of buffaloes, and, although in many cases they have been unpleasantly near, the rifle has always won the day. There cannot be a more convenient size than No. 10 for a double rifle, for large game. This will throw a conical projectile of three ounces, with seven drachms of powder. Although a breechloader is a luxury, I would not have more than a pair of such rifles in an expedition in a wild country, as they would require more care in a damp climate than the servants would be likely to bestow upon them, and the ammunition would be a great drawback. This should be divided into packets of ten cartridges each, which should be rolled up in flannel and hermetically sealed in separate tin canisters. Thus arranged, they would be impervious to damp, and might be carried conveniently. But I should decidedly provide myself with four double-barrelled muzzle-loading No. 10's as my regular battery; that, if first class, would never get out of order. Nothing gives such confidence to the gun-bearers as the fact of their rifles being good slayers, and they quickly learn to take a pride in their weapons, and to strive in the race to hand the spare rifles. Dust storms, such as I have constantly witnessed in Africa, would be terrible enemies to breech-loaders, as the hard sand, by grating in the joints, would wear away the metal, and destroy the exactness of the fittings.

A small handy double rifle, such as my little Fletcher 24, not exceeding eight pounds and a half, is very necessary, as it should seldom be out of the hand. Such a rifle should be a breech-loader, as the advantage of loading quickly while on horseback is incalculable. Hunting-knives should be of soft steel, similar to butchers' knives; but one principal knife to be worn daily should be of harder steel, with the back of the blade roughed and case-hardened like a butcher's steel, for sharpening other knives when required.

All boxes for rough travelling should be made of strong metal, japanned. These are a great comfort, as they are proof both against insects and weather, and can be towed with their contents across a river.

Travelling is now so generally understood, that it is hardly necessary to give any instructions for the exploration of wild countries; but a few hints may be acceptable upon points that, although not absolutely essential, tend much to the comfort of the traveller. A couple of large carriage umbrellas with double lining, with small rings fixed to the extremities of the ribs, and a spike similar to that of a fishing-rod to screw into the handle, will form an instantaneous shelter from sun or rain during a halt on the march, as a few strings from the rings will secure it from the wind, if pegged to the ground. Waterproof calico sheeting should be taken in large quantities, and a tarpaulin to protect the baggage during the night's bivouac. No vulcanised India-rubber should be employed in tropical climates; it rots, and becomes useless. A quart syringe for injecting brine into fresh meat is very necessary. In hot climates, the centre of the joint will decompose before the salt can penetrate to the interior, but an injecting syringe will thoroughly preserve the meat in a few minutes. A few powerful fox-traps are useful for catching night-game in countries where there is no large game for the rifle: also wire is useful for making springs.

Several sticks of Indian-ink are convenient, as sufficient can be rubbed up in a few moments to write up the note-book during the march. All journals and note-books should be of tinted paper, green, as the glare of white paper in the intense sunlight of the open sky is most trying to the eyes. Burning glasses and flint and steels are very necessary. Lucifer matches are dangerous, as they may ignite and destroy your baggage in dry weather, and become utterly useless in the damp.

A large supply of quicksilver should be taken for the admixture with lead for hardening bullets, in addition to that required for the artificial horizon; the effect of this metal is far greater than a mixture of tin, as the specific gravity of the bullet is increased.

Throughout a long experience in wild sports, although I admire the velocity of conical projectiles, I always have retained my opinion that, in jungle countries, where in the absence of dogs you require either to disable your game on the spot, or to produce a distinct blood-track that is easily followed, the old-fashioned two-groove belted ball will bag more game than modern bullets; but, on the other hand, the facility of loading a conical bullet already formed into a cartridge is a great advantage. The shock produced by a pointed projectile is nothing compared to that of the old belted ball, unless it is on the principle of Purday's high velocity expanding bullet, which, although perfection for deer-shooting, would be useless against thick-skinned animals, such as buffalo and rhinoceros. In Africa, the variety of game is such, that it is impossible to tell, when loading, at what animal the bullet will be fired; therefore, it is necessary to be armed with a rifle suitable for all comers. My little Fletcher was the Enfield bore, No. 24, and, although a most trusty weapon, the bullets generally failed to penetrate the skull of hippopotami, except in places where the bone was thin, such as behind the ear, and beneath the eyes. Although I killed great numbers of animals with the Enfield bullet, the success was due to tolerably correct shooting, as I generally lost the larger antelopes if wounded by that projectile in any place but the neck, head, or shoulder; the wound did not bleed freely, therefore it was next to impossible to follow up the blood-track; thus a large proportion of wounded animals escaped.

I saw, and shot, thirteen varieties of antelopes while in Africa. Upon arrival at Khartoum, I met Herr von Heuglin, who commanded the expedition in search of Dr. Vogel; he was an industrious naturalist, who had been many years in the Soudan and in Abyssinia. We compared notes of all we had seen and done, and he very kindly supplied me with a list of all the antelopes that he had been able to trace as existing in Abyssinia and the Soudan; he now included my maarif, which he had never met with, and which he agreed was a new species. In the following list, which is an exact copy of that which he had arranged, those marked with an asterisk are species that I have myself shot:—

Catalogue des especes du genre "ANTILOPE," observees en Egypte, dans la Nubie, au Soudan orientale et en Abissinie.

A.—GAZELLA, Blains.

1.—Spec. G. Dorcas.* Arab. Ghasal.

2.—G. Arabica,* Ehr. A la cote de la Mer rouge.

3.—G. Loevipes, Sund. Arab. Abou Horabet? Nubie, Taka, Sennaar, Kordofan.

4.—G. spec. (?) en Tigreh Choquen (Bogos).

5.—G. Dama,* Licht. Arab. Adra, Ledra. Riel, Bajouda, Berber, Sennaar, Kordofan.

6.—G. Soemmeringii, Rupp. Arab. Om Oreba. Tigreh, Arab. Taka, Massowa, Gedaref, Berber, Sennaar.

7.—G. Leptoceros. Arab. Abou Harab. Gazelle a longues cornes, minces et paralleles. Bajouda, Berber, Taka, Sennaar, Kordofan.

B.—CALOTRAGUS, Luad.

8.—C. montanus,* Rupp. Arab. Otrab and El Mor. Amhar, Fiego, Sennaar, Abissinie, Taka, Galabat.

9.—C. Saltatrix, Forst. Amhar. Sasa. Abissinie.

C.—NANOTRAGUS, Wagn.

10.—N. Hemprichianus, Ehr. Arab. Om dig dig. Abissinie orientale et occidentale, Taka, Kordofan.

D.—CEPHALOLOPHUS, H. Smith.

11.—C. Madaqua. Amhar. Midakoua. Galabat, Barka, Abissinie.

12, 13.—Deux especes inconnues du Fleuve blanc, nominees par les Djenkes, "Amok."

E.—REDUNCA.

14.—R. Eleotragus, Schrb. Djenke, Bor. Bahr el Abiad.

15.—R. Behor, Rupp. Amhar. Behor. Abissinie centrale, Kordofan.

16.—R. Kull, nov. spec. Djenke, Koul. Bahr el Abiad.

17.—R. leucotis, Peters et Licht. Djenke, Adjel. Bahr el Abiad, Saubat.

18.—R. Wuil, nov. spec. Djenke, Ouil. Bahr el Abiad, Saubat.

19.—R. Lechee,* Gray. Bahr el Abiad.

20.—R. megcerosa,* Heuglin. Kobus Maria, Gray. Djenke, Abok, Saubat, Bahr el Abiad et Bahr Ghazal.

21.—R. Defassa,* Rupp. Arab. Om Hetehet. Amhar. Dofasa. Djenke, Bor. Bahr el Salame, Galabat, Kordofan, Bahr el Abiad, Dender, Abissinie occidentale et centrale.

22.—R. ellipsiprymna, Ogilby. Djenke, Bor. Bahr el Abiad.

F.—HIPPOTRAGUS, Sund.

23.—H. niger, Harris. Arab. Abou Maarif. Kordofan meridionale, fleuve Blanc (Chilouk).

24.—H. nov. spec. Arab. Abou Maarif.*—Bakerii.* Bahr el Salaam, Galabat Dender, fleuve BIeu, Sennaar meridionale.

25.—H. Beisa, Rupp. Arab. Beisa et Damma. Souakim, Massowa, Danakil, Somauli, Kordofan.

26.—H. ensicornis, Ehr. Arab. Ouahoh el bagr. Nubie, Berber, Kordofan.

27.—H. Addax, Licht. Arab. Akach. Bajouda, Egypte occidentale (Oasis de Siouah).

G.—TAUROTRAGUS, Wagn.

28.—T. Orcas, Pall. (Antilope Canna). Djenke, Goualgonal. Bahr el Abiad.

29.—T. gigas, nov. spec. Chez les pleuplades Atoats, au Bahr el Abiad.

H.—TRAGELAPHUS, Blains.

30.—Tr. strepsiceros (Pallas). Arab. Nellet, Miremreh. Tigreh, Garona. Ambar. Agazen. Abissinie, Sennaar, Homran, Galabat, Kordofan.

31.—Tr. sylvaticus, Spaerm. Bahr el Abiad.

32.—Tr. Dekula, Rupp. Amhar. Dekoula. Arab. Houch. Djenke, Ber. Taka, Abissinie, Bahr el Abiad.

I.—BUBALIS.

33.—B. Mauritanica, Sund. (Antilope Bubalis, Cuvier). Arab. Tetel; Tigreh, Tori. Taka, Homran, Barka, Galabat, Kordofan, Bahr el Abiad.

34.—B. Caama, Cuv. Arab. Tetel. Djenke, Awalwon. Bahr el Abiad, Kordofan meridionale.

35.—B. Senegalensis, H. Smith. Bahr el Abiad.

36.—B. Tiang, nov. spec. Djenke, Tian. Bahr el Abiad, Bahr Ghazal.

37.—B. Tian-riel, nov. spec. Bahr el Abiad.

SPECIES INCERTAE

"Soada," au Oualkait et Mareb (Taurotragus?).

"Uorobo," au Godjam, Agow (Hippotragus).

"Ouoadembi." March, Oualkait (Hippotragus).

"El Mor." Sennaar, Fazogle (Nanotragus?).

"El Khondieh." Kordofan (Redunca?).

"Om Khat." Kordofan (Gazella?).

"El Hamra." Kordofan, Bajouda (Gazella?).

CHAPTER XXII.

WE LEAVE THE DINDER.

FOR some days we continued our journey along the banks of the Dinder, and as the monotonous river turned towards the junction with the Blue Nile, a few miles distant, we made a direct cut across the flat country, to cross the Rahad and arrive at Abou Harraz on the Blue Nile. We passed numerous villages and extensive plantations of dhurra that were deserted by the Arabs, as the soldiers had arrived to collect the taxes. I measured the depths of the wells, seventy-five feet and a half, from the surface to the bottom; the alluvial soil appeared to continue the whole distance, until the water was discovered resting upon hard sand, full of small particles of mica. During the march over a portion of the country that had been cleared by burning, we met a remarkably curious hunting-party. A number of the common black and white stork were hunting for grasshoppers and other insects, but mounted upon the back of each stork was a large copper-coloured flycatcher, which, perched like a rider on his horse, kept a bright look-out for insects, which from its elevated position it could easily discover upon the ground. I watched them for some time: whenever the storks perceived a grasshopper or other winged insect, they chased it on foot, but if they missed their game, the flycatchers darted from their backs and flew after the insects like falcons, catching them in their beaks, and then returning to their steeds to look out for another opportunity.

On the evening of the 23d May we arrived at the Rahad close to its junction with the Blue Nile: it was still dry, although the Dinder was rising. I accounted for this, from the fact of the extreme length of the Rahad's bed, which, from its extraordinary tortuous course, must absorb a vast amount of water in the dry sand, before the advancing stream can reach the Nile. Both the Rahad and Dinder rise in the mountains of Abyssinia, at no great distance from each other, and during the rains they convey a large volume of water to the Blue Nile. Upon arrival at Abou Harraz, four miles to the north of the Rahad junction, we had marched, by careful dead reckoning, two hundred and eighty miles from Gallabat. We were now about a hundred and fifteen miles from Khartoum, and we stood upon the banks of the magnificent Blue Nile, the last of the Abyssinian affluents.

About six miles above this spot, on the south bank of the river, is the large town of Wat Medene, which is the principal trading-place upon the river. Abou Harraz was a miserable spot, and was only important as the turning point upon the road to Katariff from Khartoum. The entire country upon both sides of the river is one vast unbroken level of rich soil, wlich on the north and east sides is bounded by the Atbara. The entire surface of this fertile country might be cultivated with cotton. All that is required to insure productiveness, is a regular supply of water, which might be artificially arranged without much difficulty. The character of all the Abyssinian rivers is to rise and fall suddenly; thus at one season there is an abundance of water, to be followed by a scarcity: but in all the fertile provinces adjacent to the Settite and the upper portion of the Atbara, the periodical rains can be absolutely depended upon, from June to the middle of September; thus, they are peculiarly adapted for cotton, as a dry season is insured for gathering the crop. As we advance to the north, and reach Abou Harraz, we leave the rainy zone. When we had left Gallabat, the grass had sprung several inches, owing to the recent showers; but as we had proceeded rapidly towards the north, we had entered upon vast dusty plains devoid of a green blade; the rainy season between Abou Harraz and Khartoum consisted of mere occasional storms, that, descending with great violence, quickly passed away. Nothing would be more simple than to form a succession of weirs across the Rahad and Dinder, that would enable the entire country to be irrigated at any season of the year, but there is not an engineering work of any description throughout Upper Egypt, beyond the sageer or water-wheel of the Nile. Opposite Abou Harraz, the Blue Nile was a grand river, about five hundred yards in width; the banks upon the north side were the usual perpendicular cliffs of alluvial soil, but perfectly bare of trees; while, on the south, the banks were ornamented with nabbuk bushes and beautiful palms. The latter are a peculiar species known by the Arabs as "dolape" (Borassus AEthiopicus): the stem is long, and of considerable thickness, but in about the centre of its length it swells to nearly half its diameter in excess, and after a few feet of extra thickness it continues its original size to the summit, which is crowned by a handsome crest of leaves shaped like those of the palmyra. The fruit of this palm is about the size of a cocoa-nut, and when ripe it is of a bright yellow, with an exceedingly rich perfume of apricots; it is very stringy, and, although eaten by the natives, it is beyond the teeth of a European. The Arabs cut it into slices, and boil it with water until they obtain a strong syrup. Subsequently I found this palm in great quantities near the equator.

At Abou Harraz I discharged my camels, and endeavoured to engage a boat to convey us to Khartoum, thus to avoid the dusty and uninteresting ride of upwards of a hundred miles along its flat and melancholy banks; but there was not a vessel of any kind to be seen upon the river, except one miserable, dirty affair, for which the owner demanded fourteen hundred piastres for a passage. We accordingly procured camels, and started, intending to march as rapidly as possible.

"June 2, 1862.—We packed the camels in the morning and started them off to Rufaar. We followed at 2.30 P.M. as the natives declared it was half a day's journey; but we did not arrive until 8.30 P.M. having marched about twenty-one miles. The town is considerable, and is the head-quarters of our old friend, the great Sheik Achmet Abou Sinn; he is now absent, but his son Ali is at home. He received us very kindly, and lodged us in his own house within a large inclosed court, with a well of good water in the centre. Having read my firman, be paid us the usual compliments, but he lacked the calm dignity and ease of manner of his grand old father. He sat stiffly upon the divan, occasionally relieving the monotony of his position by lifting up the cover of the cushions, and spitting beneath it. Not having a handkerchief, but only the limited natural advantages of a finger and thumb, a cold in the head gave him much trouble, and unpleasant marks upon the wall exhibited hieroglyphics of recent date, that were ill adapted to the reception-room of an Arab chieftain. In about an hour he departed, and shortly after, a dinner of four dishes was brought. No. 1 was an Arab Irish stew, but alas! MINUS the potatoes; it was very good, nevertheless, as the mutton was fat. No. 2 was an Arab stew, with no Irish element; it was very hot with red pepper, and rather dry. No. 3 was a good quick fry of small pieces of mutton in butter and garlic (very good); and No. 4 was an excellent dish of the usual melach, already described.

The wind had within the last few days changed to south, and we had been subjected to dust storms and sudden whirlwinds similar to those we had experienced at this season in the preceding year, when about to start from Berber. We left Rufaar, and continued our march along the banks of the Blue Nile, towards Khartoum. It was intensely hot; whenever we felt a breeze it was accompanied with a suffocating dust, but the sight of the broad river was cool and refreshing. During the dry season the water of the Blue Nile is clear, as its broad surface reflects the colour of the blue sky; hence the appellation, but at that time it was extremely shallow, and in many places it is fordable at a depth of about three feet, which renders it unnavigable for large boats, which, laden with corn, supply Khartoum from the fertile provinces of the south. The river had now begun to rise, although it was still low, and the water was muddy, as the swelling torrents of Abyssinia brought impurities into the main channel. It was at this same time last year, when at Berber, that we had noticed the sudden increase and equally sudden fall of the Nile, that was influenced by the fluctuations of the Blue Nile, at a time when the Atbara was dry.

From Abou Harraz throughout the route to Khartoum there is no object of interest; it is the same vast flat, decreasing rapidly in fertility until it mingles with the desert; and once more, as we journey to the north, we leave the fertile lands behind, and enter upon sterility. The glare of barren plains and the heat of the summer's sun were fearful. Bacheet had a slight coup de soleil; my Tokrooris, whose woolly heads were shaved, and simply covered with a thin skull-cap, suffered severely, as we marched throughout the burning hours of the day. The Arabs were generally very inhospitable, as this was the route frequented by all native merchants, where strangers were of daily occurrence; but towards evening we arrived at a village inhabited by a large body of Fakeers, or priests. As we entered, we were met by the principal Faky, who received us with marked attention, and with a charming courtesy of manner that quite won our hearts; he expressed himself as delighted at our arrival, hoped we were not fatigued by the heat, and trusted that we would rest for a few minutes before we departed to the enchanting village "just beyond those trees," as he pointed to a clump of green nabbuk on the yellow plain, about a mile distant; there, he assured us, we could obtain all kinds of supplies, together with shade, and a lovely view of the river. We were delighted with this very gentlemanly Faky, and, saying adieu with regret, we hurried on to the promised village "just beyond those trees."

For fourteen miles we travelled, hungry and tired, beyond the alluring clump of trees, along the wild desert of hot sand without a habitation; the only portion of truth in the Faky's description was the "lovely view of the river," that certainly accompanied us throughout our journey. We were regularly "sold" by the cunning Faky, who, not wishing to be incommoded by our party, had got rid of us in a most gentlemanly manner. At length we arrived at a village, where we had much difficulty in procuring provisions for ourselves and people.

On the 11th June, having slept at the village of Abou Dome, we started at sunrise, and at 9 A.M. we reached the bank of the river, opposite to Khartoum. We were delighted with the view, as the morning sun shone upon the capital of the Soudan provinces; the grove of date trees shaded the numerous buildings, their dark green foliage contrasting exquisitely with the many coloured houses on the extreme margin of the beautiful river; long lines of vessels and masts gave life to the scene, and we felt that once more, after twelve months of utterly wild life, we had arrived in civilization. We had outridden our camels, therefore we rode through a shallow arm of the river, and arrived upon an extensive sandbank that had been converted into a garden of melons; from this point a large ferry-boat plied regularly to the town on the south bank. In a few minutes we found ourselves on board, with our sole remaining horse, Tetel, also the donkeys that we had purchased in Berber before our expedition, and our attendants. As we gained the centre of the river, that was about 800 yards broad, we were greeted by the snort of three of our old friends, the hippopotami, who had been attracted to the neighbourhood by the garden of water-melons. We landed at Khartoum, and, having climbed up the steep bank, we inquired the way to the British Consulate.

The difference between the view of Khartoum at the distance of a mile, with the sun shining upon the bright river Nile in the foreground, to the appearance of the town upon close inspection, was about equal to the scenery of a theatre as regarded from the boxes or from the stage; even that painful exposure of an optical illusion would be trifling compared with the imposture of Khartoum; the sense of sight had been deceived by distance, but the sense of smell was outraged by innumerable nuisances, when we set foot within the filthy and miserable town. After winding through some narrow dusty lanes, hemmed in by high walls of sun-baked bricks, that had fallen in gaps in several places, exposing gardens of prickly pears and date palms, we at length arrived at a large open place, that, if possible, smelt more strongly than the landing spot. Around this square, which was full of holes where the mud had been excavated for brickmaking, were the better class of houses; this was the Belgravia of Khartoum. In the centre of a long mud wall, ventilated by certain attempts at frameless windows, guarded by rough wooden bars, we perceived a large archway with closed doors; above this entrance was a shield, with a device that gladdened my English eyes: there was the British lion and the unicorn! Not such a lion as I had been accustomed to meet in his native jungles, a yellow cowardly fellow, that had often slunk away from the very prey from which I had driven him, but a real red British lion, that, although thin and ragged in the unhealthy climate of Khartoum, looked as though he was pluck to the backbone.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse