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the Egyptian authorities had cautioned me not to trust myself
within his territory. I explained that I was bound towards an
unknown point, in search of the sources of the White Nile, which
might occupy some years, but that I wished to perfect the
exploration by the examination of all the Abyssinian Nile
affluents: and I concluded by asking for his assistance in my
journey to the Bahr Angrab and the Salaam. He replied very
politely, and gave me much local information; he said that the
Egyptians gave him no peace, that he was obliged to fight in
self-defence; but that, if I could make overtures on his part to
the Egyptian authorities, he would engage never to cross the
Atbara, provided they observed a similar condition. I promised to
represent his offer to the Governor-General on my arrival at
Khartoum. He agreed to give me a guide to the rivers Angrab and
Salaam, that were not far distant, and he at once pointed out to
me the two dark gorges, about twelve and sixteen miles distant,
in the chain of precipitous mountains from which they flowed. He
described the country upon the other side of the mountains to be
the elevated plateau of Abyssinia, and he advised me to visit the
king before my departure from his territory; this I could not
conveniently accomplish, as my route lay in an opposite
direction. He begged me for a telescope, so that he should be
able to see the approach of the Turks (Egyptians) from a great
distance, as he explained that he had spies upon all the mountain
tops, so that no stranger could enter his country without his
knowledge. He confessed that my movements while in the Base
country had been watched by his spies, until he had felt assured
that I had no sinister motive. I laughed at the idea; he replied,
that we were most fortunate to have escaped an attack from the
natives, as they were far worse than wild beasts, and he
immediately pointed out several Base slaves who were present in
the crowd, who had been captured when children; they appeared to
be the same as the woolly-headed natives of the south bank of the
Blue Nile, and not at all peculiar in appearance. He cautioned me
against bathing in the stream, or drinking the water in the
neighbourhood of our camp, as it was extremely poisonous, and
would produce an irritation of the skin. I told him that I had
discovered copper, and that I attributed the poisonous quality of
the water to the presence of that mineral. This announcement was
received with a general expression of approbation. "That is very
curious," he said, "that we who live in this country are
ignorant, and that you, a stranger, should at once explain the
cause of the poison." He at once agreed to the suggestion, as he
said, that during the rains, when the torrents were full, the
water was not unwholesome, but in the dry weather, when the
supply was scanty, and the stream feeble, the strength of the
poison was necessarily increased. He assured me that, although
the pasturage was excellent, all cattle that drank in that hor or
stream became as thin as skeletons.

Mek Nimmur had been ignorant of the existence of copper, but he
informed me that gold dust was common in the sand of most of the
ravines, and that, if I would remain in his country, I might
discover considerable quantities. I informed him that I had
already discovered the existence of both gold and lead. He
requested me to give him every information respecting the lead,
as he should prefer it to gold, as he could manufacture bullets
to shoot the Turks (as the Egyptians are called by the
neighbouring tribes). After a long and satisfactory conversation,
I made my salaam, and retired. Immediately on my arrival at the
camp, I despatched Wat Gamma on horseback with Taher Noor, in
charge of a pair of beautiful double-barrelled pistols, with the
name of Tatham as the manufacturer; these were loaded, and I sent
a polite message, begging Mek Nimmur's acceptance of the present;
they were accompanied by a supply of ammunition.

In the evening Wat Gamma returned with the pistols; --they had
BURST! Mek Nimmur had requested him to fire at a mark, and one
barrel of each pistol had given way; thus, the double rifle and
the pistols of the same name "Tatham" had all failed; fortunately
no one was injured. I was afraid that this would lead to some
complication, and I was much annoyed; I had never used these
pistols, but I had considered that they were first rate; thus I
had given them to Mek Nimmur as a valuable present, and they had
proved their utter worthlessness. I immediately mounted my horse,
and with my revolver in my belt, and my beautiful single Beattie
rifle in my hand, I galloped off to Mek Nimmur; he was seated in
the same spot, watching the harvest of dhurra, enormous piles of
which were being thrashed by a number of Abyssinians. The instant
that I arrived, I went straight to him, and explained my regret
and disappointment at the failure of the pistols, and I begged
him to take his choice between my rifle and revolver. He behaved
remarkably well; he had begged my messenger to leave the broken
pistols with him, and not to mention the circumstance to me, as
he felt sure that I should feel even more annoyed than himself;
he now declined my offer, as he said I should require the weapons
during my proposed journey up the White Nile, and he could not
deprive me of their use. He was afraid of the revolver, as it was
too complicated, but I tore from my note-book a small piece of
paper, which I requested one of his people to stick upon a rock
about ninety yards distant. I took a steady shot with the single
rifle, and was fortunate enough to hit the paper exactly. This
elicited general applause, and Mek Nimmur called one of his
people, an Abyssinian, who he declared to be a celebrated shot,
and he requested that he might be allowed to fire the rifle. I
placed a similar mark upon the rock, and the Abyssinian fired
from a rest, and struck the stone, in a good line, about six
inches below the paper. The crowd were in raptures with the
rifle, which I at once insisted upon Mek Nimmur accepting. I then
made my salaam, and mounted my horse amidst general expressions
of approval.

On the following morning, Mek Nimmur sent us two camel-loads of
corn; a large gourd of honey, weighing about fifty pounds; and
four cows that must have been a detachment of Pharaoh's lean
kine, with a polite message that I was to select the FATTEST.
These cattle were specimens of the poisonous qualities of the
water; but, although disappointed in the substance of the
present, my people were delighted with the acquisition, and they
immediately selected a cow; but just as they were licking their
lips at the prospect of fresh meat, which they had not tasted for
some days, the cow broke away and made off across country. In
despair at the loss, my men followed in hot pursuit, and two of
the Tokrooris overtook her, and held on to her tail like
bull-dogs, although dragged for some distance, at full gallop
through thorns and ruts, until the other men arrived and
overpowered the thin, but wiry animal. When slaughtered, there
was a great squabble between my men and the Abyssinians, who
endeavoured to steal the meat.

CHAPTER XVIII.

A CAMEL FALLS, AND DIES.

I EXTRACT a few notes from my journal:--

"March 25, 1862.--Mai Gubba is about twelve miles E.N.E. of our
camp. Mek Nimmur's stronghold is upon a lofty table-mountain, due
south of this spot, from which great elevation (about 5,000 feet)
the granite mountain of Cassala is said to be plainly visible.

"March 27.--We started for the Bahr Salaam, and said good-bye to
Mek Nimmur, as we passed his position on our march; he had given
us a guide; an awful-looking scoundrel.

"We had hardly marched two miles, when one of the baggage-camels
suddenly fell down to die; the Arabs immediately cut its throat
with a sword, and Bacheet, having detached one ear as a witness
of its death, galloped back to borrow a fresh camel of Mek
Nimmur, which he very kindly sent without delay. We were obliged
to bivouac on the spot for the night, as the Arabs required the
flesh of their camel, which was cut into thin strips. As they
were employed in skinning it, they ate large quantities raw and
quivering. The stream, or hor, that flows through this country,
parallel with our route, is the Ma Serdi; all this district is
rich in copper.

"March 28.--Started at 5 A.M. course S.W. We crossed two hors,
flowing from N.N.W. and joining the Ma Serdi; also a beautiful
running stream of deep and clear water twelve miles from our
bivouac of last evening: this stream is never dry; it springs
from a range of hills about ten miles distant. The whole of this
country is well watered by mountain streams, the trees are no
longer the thorny mimosas, but as the land is not only fertile,
but sufficiently moist, it gives birth to a different kind of
vegetation, and the trees are mostly free from thorns, although
at this season devoid of foliage. The country is ornamented by
extensive cultivation, and numerous villages. We halted at 5 P.M.
having marched twenty-one miles. The fertile soil of this country
is thoroughly melted by rain during the wet season, and in the
intense heat of the drought it becomes a mass of gaping crevices
many feet deep, that render hunting on horseback most dangerous.
Fortunately, as we halted, I observed a herd of tetel, and three
ostriches: the latter made off immediately, but I succeeded in
stalking the tetel, and shot two, right and left, one of which
escaped, but the other became the prize of my Tokrooris.

"March 29.--Started at 5.30 A.M. and reached the river Salaam at
8 A.M.; the total distance from our camp in Mek Nimmur's country
is thirty-five miles S.W. The Bahr Salaam is precisely similar in
character to the Settite, but smaller; it has scooped through the
rich lands a deep valley, like the latter river, and has
transported the fertile loam to the Atbara, to increase the rich
store of mud which that river delivers to the Nile. The Salaam is
about two hundred yards wide; it flows through perpendicular
cliffs that form walls of rock, in many places from eighty to a
hundred and fifty feet above its bed; the water is as clear as
crystal, and of excellent quality; even now, a strong though
contracted stream is running over the rounded pebbles that form
its bed, similar to that of the Settite. We descended a difficult
path, and continued along the dry portion of the river's bed up
the stream. While we were searching for a spot to encamp, I saw
a fine bull mehedehet (A. Redunca Ellipsiprymna) by the water
side; I stalked him carefully from behind a bed of high rushes,
and shot him across the river with the Fletcher rifle; he went
on, although crippled, but the left-hand barrel settled him by a
bullet through the neck. We camped on the bank of the river.

"March 30.--I went out to explore the country, and, steering due
east, I arrived at the river Angrab or Angarep, three miles from
the Salaam; from a high rock I could trace its course from the
mountain gorge to this spot, the stream flowing N.W. This noble
river or mountain torrent is about a hundred and fifty yards
wide, although the breadth varies according to the character of
the country through which it passes; in most places it rushes
through frightful precipices; sometimes it is walled within a
channel of only forty or fifty yards, and in such places the
cliffs, although at least a hundred feet perpendicular height,
bear the marks of floods that have actually overtopped the rocks,
and have torn away the earth, and left masses of bamboos and
withered reeds clinging to the branches of trees, which, growing
on still higher rocks, have dipped in the swollen torrent. I
followed the circuitous course of the river for some miles,
until, after a most fatiguing exploration among precipices and
deep ravines, I arrived at the junction of the Salaam river. On
the way, I came upon a fine bull nellut (A. Strepsiceros) beneath
a shady nabbuk by the river's side; I could only obtain an
oblique shot, as his hind quarters were towards me; the bullet
passed through the ribs, and reached the shoulder upon the
opposite side. This nellut had the finest horns that I had yet
obtained; they measured four feet in the curve, three feet one
inch and a half in a straight line, with a spread of two feet
seven inches from point to point. I found tracks of hippopotami
upon the high grassy hills; these animals climb up the most
difficult places during the night, when they ascend from the
river to seek for pasturage. I was not far from the tent when I
arrived at the junction of the Angrab with the Bahr Salaam, but
the rivers were both sunk in stupendous precipices, so that it
was impossible to descend. The mouth of the river Angrab was an
extraordinary sight; it was not wider than about fifteen yards,
although the river averaged a width of at least a hundred and
fifty yards. The exit of the water was between two lofty walls of
basalt rock, which overhung the stream, which in the rainy season
not only forced its way for about a hundred yards through this
narrow cleft, but it had left proof of inundations that had leapt
over the summit of the obstruction, when the rush of water had
been too great for the area of the contracted passage.
Altogether, the two rivers Sahaam and Angrab are interesting
examples of the destructive effect of water, that has during the
course of ages cut through, and hollowed out in the solid rock,
a succession of the most horrible precipices and caverns, in
which the maddened torrents, rushing from the lofty chain of
mountains, boil along until they meet the Atbara, and assist to
flood the Nile. No one could explore these tremendous torrents,
the Settite, Royan, Angrab, Salaam, and Atbara, without at once
comprehending their effect upon the waters of the Nile. The
magnificent chain of mountains from which they flow, is not a
simple line of abrupt sides, but the precipitous slopes are the
walls of a vast plateau, that receives a prodigious rainfall in
June, July, August, until the middle of September, the entire
drainage of which is carried away by the above-named channels to
inundate Lower Egypt."

Not being able to cross the river at the point of junction with
the Salaam, I continued along the margin of the precipice that
overhangs the latter river, until I should find a place by which
we could descend with the camel, as this animal had made a great
circuit to avoid the difficulties of the Angrab. We were at
length united, and were continuing our route parallel with the
river, over undulations of withered grass about three feet high,
interspersed with trees, when I perceived above the surface the
long horns of a mehedehet (R. Ellipsiprymna). I knew that he must
be lying down, and, as he was about a hundred and fifty yards
distant, I stalked him carefully from tree to tree; presently I
observed three other pairs of horns at various distances; two
were extremely large; but, unfortunately, an animal with smaller
horns was lying between me and the largest. I could do no more
than creep quietly from point to point, until the smaller animal
should start and alarm the larger. This it did when I was about
a hundred yards from the large bull, and both mehedehets sprang
up, and, as is usual with this species, they stood for a few
moments seeking for the danger. My clothes and hunting cap
matched so well with the bark of the tree behind which I was
kneeling, that I was unobserved, and, taking a rest against the
stem with the little Fletcher, I fired both barrels, the right at
the most distant bull. Both animals simply sprang for an instant
upon their hind legs, and fell. This was capital; but at the
report of the rifle, up jumped two other mehedehets, which
appeared the facsimiles of those I had just shot; having missed
their companions, and seeing no one, they stood motionless and
gazed in all directions.

I had left my people far behind when I had commenced the stalk,
therefore I had no spare rifle. I reloaded behind the tree with
all haste. I had capped the nipples, and, as I looked out from my
covering point, I saw them still in the same spot; the larger,
with superb horns, was about a hundred and twenty yards distant.
Again I took a rest, and fired. He sprang away as though
untouched for the first three or four bounds, when he leapt
convulsively in the air, and fell backwards. This was too much
for the remaining animal, that was standing about a hundred yards
distant--he bounded off; but the last barrel of the little
Fletcher caught him through the neck at full gallop, and he fell
all of a heap, stone dead.

These were the prettiest shots I ever recollect to have made, in
a very long experience; I had bagged four with the same rifle in
as many shots, as quickly as I could load and fire.

My Tokroori, Abdoolahi, who had been intently watching the shots
from a distance, came rushing up in hot excitement with one of my
sharp hunting knives, and, springing forward to hamstring one of
the animals, that was still struggling, he foolishly made a
downward cut, and, missing his blow, he cut his own leg terribly
across the shin, the knife flying out of his hand as it struck
against the bone: he was rendered helpless immediately. I tied up
the wound with my handkerchief, and, having at length loaded the
camel with as much meat as we could cut off the animals,
Abdoolahi was assisted upon its back; my men carried the two
finest heads. It was very late, and we now sought for a path by
which we could descend to the river.

At length we discovered a dangerous antelope-track, that
descended obliquely, by skirting an exceedingly steep side of a
hill, with a perpendicular precipice immediately below, that fell
for about seventy feet sheer to the river. My horse Tetel was as
sure-footed as a goat, therefore, having taken off my shoes to
avoid slipping, I led him to the bottom safely. Taher Noor called
to the camel-driver not to attempt to follow. Although warned,
this fellow persisted in leading the heavily-laden animal down
the slippery and dangerous path. Hardly had he gone a few paces,
when the camel's feet slipped, and it shot down the rapid
incline, and disappeared over the edge of the precipice. I heard
the camel roar, and, hastening up the path, I looked over the
cliff, holding to a rope that Taher Noor fastened to a tree. I
perceived that the animal was fortunately caught upon a narrow
ledge of rock, and was prevented from falling to the bottom by a
tough bush that grew from a cleft; this alone supported it in
mid-air. My Arabs were wild and stupid. Abdoolahi had held on
like a leech, and, as we were well provided with strong ropes, we
soon hauled him up, but the Arabs declared their camel to be
dead, as no power on earth could save it. Having examined the
cliff, I felt sure that we could assist the camel, unless it had
already broken some bones by the fall; accordingly, I gave orders
to the Arabs, who obeyed implicitly, as they were so heart-broken
at the idea of losing their animal, that they had lost all
confidence in themselves. We lowered down Taher Noor by a rope to
the bush, and after some difficulty, he unfastened the load of
flesh, which he threw piece by piece to a platform of rock below,
about ten feet square, which formed a shelf a few inches above
the level of the water. The camel being relieved of both the load
and its saddle, I ordered the Arabs to fasten together all their
ropes; these, being made of twisted antelope's hide, were
immensely strong, and, as I had established a rule that seven
extra bundles should invariably accompany the water-camel, we had
a large supply. The camel was now secured by a rope passed round
the body beneath the forelegs, and the cloths of the Arabs were
wrapped around the cord to prevent it from cutting the skin. This
being arranged, I took a double turn of the rope round a tree, as
thick as a man's thigh, that grew in a cleft of the rock where we
stood, and throwing the honey axe to Taher Noor, I told him to
cut away the bushes that supported the camel, and I would lower
it gently down to the shelf by the water's edge. In a few minutes
the bushes were cut away, and the camel, roaring with fright,
swung in mid-air. Taher Noor held on to the rope, while I slacked
off the line from the tree, and lowered both man and beast safely
to the shelf, about seventy feet below. The camel was unhurt, and
the Arabs were delighted; two other men now descended. We threw
them down a quantity of dry wood to make a fire, and, as they
were well off for meat, we left them prisoners upon the ledge of
rock with the profoundly deep river before them, walled in by
abrupt precipices upon either side.* It was nearly dark, and,
having to find my way to the camp among dangerous ravines, I rode
fast ahead of my men to discover a ford, and to reach home before
complete darkness should increase the danger. Tetel was as
sure-footed and as nimble as a cat, but we very nearly ended our
days together, as the bank of a precipice gave way while we were
skirting the edge. I felt it sinking, but the horse sprang
forward and saved himself, as I heard the mass fall beneath.

* On the following morning the camel was safely
floated across the river, supported by the inflated
skins of the mehedehets.

That night we received a very audacious visit. I was asleep in my
tent, when I was suddenly awakened by a slight pull at my sleeve,
which was the signal always given by my wife if anything was
wrong; on such occasions, I never replied until I had gently
grasped my little Fletcher, which always slept with me beneath my
mat. She now whispered that a hyaena had been within the tent,
but that it had just bolted out, as these animals are so wary
that they detect the slightest movement or noise. As a rule, I
never shot at hyaenas, but, as I feared it might eat our saddles,
I lay in bed with the rifle to my shoulder, pointed towards the
tent door through which the moon was shining brightly. In a few
minutes, a grey-looking object stood like an apparition at the
entrance, peering into the tent to see if all were right before
it entered. I touched the trigger, and the hyaena fell dead, with
the bullet through its head. This was a regular veteran, as his
body was covered with old scars from continual conflicts with
other hyaenas. This was the first time that one of these animals
had taken such a liberty; they were generally contented with
eating the bones that were left from our dinner outside the tent
door, which they cleared away regularly every night.

We remained in this beautiful country from March 29th until April
14th, during which time I seldom remained for an hour in camp,
from sunrise to sunset; I was always in the saddle or on foot.
Two of my best Tokrooris, Hadji Ali and Hassan, usually
accompanied me on horseback, while Taher Noor and a couple of
Arabs rode upon camels with a good supply of water. In this
manner I traversed the entire country, into the base of the great
mountain chain, and thence down the course of the river towards
the Atbara junction. This district was entirely composed of the
most fertile soil, through which the great rivers Angrab and
Salaam had cut their way in a similar manner to the Atbara and
Settite. The Salaam, after the junction of the Angrab, was equal
in appearance to the Atbara, but the inclination of this great
mountain torrent is so rapid, that it quickly becomes exhausted
at the cessation of rain in the lofty mountains that form its
source. Both the Angrab and the Salaam are short rivers, but, as
they are the two main channels for the reception of the entire
drainage of a vast mountain area, they bring down most violent
floods, that materially affect the volume of the main artery.

The whole of this country abounded in game beyond any that I had
hitherto seen, and I had most glorious sport. Among the varieties
of antelopes, was a new species that I had seen upon several
occasions on the Settite, where it was extremely rare. On the
high open plains above the valley of the Salaam, this antelope
was very numerous, but so wild and wary that it was impossible to
approach nearer than from 350 to 500 yards. This magnificent
animal, the largest of all the antelopes of Abyssinia and Central
Africa, is known to the Arabs as the Maarif (Hippotragus
Bakerii). It is a variety of the sable antelope of South Africa
(Hippotragus Niger). The colour is mouse-grey, with a black
stripe across the shoulders, and black and white lines across the
nose and cheeks. The height at the shoulder would exceed fourteen
hands, and the neck is ornamented with a thick and stiff black
mane. The shoulders are peculiarly massive, and are extremely
high at the withers; the horns are very powerful, and, like those
of the roan and the sable antelope, they are annulated, and bend
gracefully backwards. Both the male and female are provided with
horns; those of the former are exceedingly thick, and the points
frequently extend so far as to reach the shoulders.

The Maarif invariably inhabits open plains, upon which it can see
an enemy at a great distance, thus it is the most difficult of
all animals to stalk. Nothing can be more beautiful than a herd
of these superb animals, but the only successful method of
hunting would be to course them with greyhounds; my dogs were
dead, thus I depended entirely upon the rifle. I was also
deprived of the assistance of the aggageers, whom I had left at
the Royan.

Rhinoceros and giraffes were very numerous throughout this
country; but the ground was most unfavourable for riding. The
surface resembled a beautiful park, composed of a succession of
undulations, interspersed with thornless trees, and watered by
streamlets at intervals of five or eight miles, while the
magnificent Alps of Abyssinia bounded the view to the south; but
there was no enjoyment in this country on horseback. The rainy
season converted this rich loam into a pudding, and the dry
season baked it into a pie-crust. The entire surface was loose,
flaky, and hollow; there was not a yard of ground that was not
split into deep crevices, that were regular pitfalls; and so
unsound was the general character of the country, that a horse
sank above his fetlocks at every footstep. I usually rode during
the day when exploring; but whenever I shot, it was necessary to
dismount, as it was impossible to follow an animal successfully
on horseback. I had on several occasions attempted to ride down
a giraffe, but upon such ground I had not the slightest chance;
thus the aggageers, who invariably hunt the giraffe by riding at
full speed until they can hamstring it with the sword, never
visit this country. This accounted for the presence of so large
a number of animals, as they were never disturbed by these
untiring hunters.

Our camp was pitched at the junction of a torrent, which, flowing
from the higher ground, joined the river Salaam in a succession
of waterfalls. At this season, a gentle stream, as clear as
glass, rippled over a rocky bed about twenty yards wide, and the
holes in the flat surface above the fall formed natural basins of
the purest water. I frequently strolled for some miles along the
bed of the stream, that afforded excellent pasturage for the
horses in a sweet, green grass, that was not only an attraction
to antelopes and buffaloes (Bos Caffer), but formed a covert for
incredible numbers of the beautiful francolin partridge, which
might have been shot in hundreds as they rose from the cool
herbage that afforded both food and concealment. I was returning
late one evening along the bed of the stream, after a day's
shooting, during which I had bagged several antelopes and wild
boar, when I observed at a distance a dark mass in the bright
yellow grass, which I quickly distinguished as a herd of
elephants. It was just dusk, and having endeavoured to meet them
as they came to drink, but without success, I determined to track
them up on the following morning. I started at daybreak, with all
my horses and gun-bearers. For about sixteen miles we tracked up
the herd to within a short distance of the base of the mountain
range. During the march, we had seen large quantities of
giraffes, and all the varieties of large antelopes. The country,
that had consisted of a vast plain, now changed to rapid
undulations; the trees were generally small, and, at this season
of intense dryness, were devoid of leaves. At the bottom of one
of these undulations, among a number of skeleton trees, that
afforded no shade, we discovered the elephants, standing in the
high withered grass, that entirely concealed all but the upper
portion of their heads; they were amusing themselves by tearing
up the trees, and feeding upon the succulent roots. I ordered
Taher Noor and Bacheet each to take a horse and rifle, and to
lead them, together with my hunter Aggahr, about a hundred yards
behind me, while I advanced towards the elephants on foot. At the
sound of the first shot they were to mount, and to bring my horse
and spare guns as rapidly as possible. Unfortunately, the herd
was alarmed by a large bull giraffe that was asleep in the grass,
which started up within thirty yards of us, and dashed off in
terror through the mass of elephants. Their attention was roused,
and they moved off to my left, which change of position
immediately gave them our wind. There was no time to lose, as the
herd was in retreat; and, as they were passing across my path, at
about two hundred paces distance, I ran at my best speed,
stumbling through the broken pie-crust, and sinking in the
yawning crevices, the sides of which were perfectly rotten, until
I arrived within shot of about twenty-five elephants. I was just
on the point of firing at the temple of a large animal that was
within about ten yards, when it suddenly turned, and charged
straight at me. With the right-hand barrel of a Reilly No. 10, I
was fortunate enough to turn it by a forehead shot, when so close
that it was nearly upon me. As it swerved, I fired the remaining
barrel exactly through the centre of the shoulder; this dropped
and killed the elephant as though it had been shot through the
brain.

The difficulties of the ground were such, that the horses were
not led as quickly as I had expected; thus I had to reload, which
I had just completed when Aggahr was brought by Taher Noor.
Springing into the saddle I at once gave chase. The gallant old
horse flew along through the high grass, regardless of the
crevices and rotten ground. The herd was about three hundred
yards ahead, but the long steady stride of Aggahr quickly
shortened the distance, and in a few minutes I was riding
alongside the elephants, that were shambling along at a great
pace. I determined to head them, and drive them back towards my
people, in which case I expected that we might be able to
surround them. I touched Aggahr with the spur, and he shot ahead
of the leading elephants, when I turned sharp to the right
exactly before their path, and gave a shout to check their
advance; in the same instant, Aggahr turned a complete somersault
within a few yards of their feet, having put his fore-leg into a
deep crevice, and I rolled over almost beneath the elephants with
the heavy rifle in my hand. The horse recovered quicker than I,
and, galloping off, he vanished in the high grass, leaving me
rather confused from the fall upon my head. The herd, instead of
crushing me as they ought to have done, took fright, and bolted
off at their best pace. My eyes were dancing with the fall; the
mounted gun-bearers were nowhere, as Gazelle would not face the
elephants, and Tetel was far behind. My English saddle had
vanished with Aggahr, and, as the stirrups of the Arab saddles
were simple rings for the accommodation of the big toe, they were
unserviceable. Had the aggageers been with me, I should have had
great sport with this herd; but, with the exception of Taher
Noor, the men were bad horsemen, and even he was afraid of the
ground, which was frightfully dangerous.

We discovered that the bullet had passed through the great artery
of the heart, which had caused the instantaneous death of the
elephant I had shot.

We were now at least seventeen miles from camp, and I feared that
Aggahr would be lost, and would most likely be devoured by a lion
during the night: thus I should lose not only my good old hunter,
but my English saddle. I passed several hours in searching for
him in all directions, and, in order to prevent him from straying
to the south, we fired the grass in all directions; we thus had
a line of fire between the camp and ourselves; this burnt slowly,
as the north wind had carried the blaze rapidly in the other
direction. We rode along the bottom of a watercourse and reached
the Salaam river, thus avoiding the fire; but, some hours before
we neared the camp, night had set in. We had beaten the fire, as
we had got to windward, and slowly and tediously we toiled along
the crumbling soil, stumbling among the crevices, that were
nearly invisible in the moonlight.

Thus we crept onwards; I had found riding impracticable,
therefore the horses were led, with much difficulty, as they
constantly slipped up to their knees in the numerous fissures. It
was difficult to recognise our position in the moonlight, and we
were doubtful whether we had not missed our route to the camp. My
watch told me that it was past nine o'clock, and we had been
sixteen hours in hard work without the slightest rest. We halted
to confer about the direction of the camp, when suddenly I heard
the report of a gun to our right; we immediately turned, and
hastened towards the welcome sound; presently I heard a distant
shout. As we approached, this was repeated, and as I hurried
forward, I recognised my own name shouted in an agonised voice.
I ran on alone at my best speed, after giving a loud shrill
whistle upon my fingers. This was quickly replied to, and I
repeated the well-known signal, until in about ten minutes I met
my wife, who had been wandering about the country half distracted
for hours, searching for me in every direction, as my horse
Aggahr had returned to the camp with the bridle broken, and the
empty saddle scratched by the boughs of trees; she had naturally
concluded that some accident had happened. She had immediately
armed herself with the little Fletcher that had been left in the
camp, being too small for elephants; with this, and several of
the Arabs armed with swords and lances, she had been hunting
throughout this wild country during the night in a state of
terrible anxiety. It was fortunate that she had fired the shot to
direct our attention, otherwise we might have passed each other
without being seen. "All's well that ends well:" we were about
three miles from camp, but the distance appeared short to
everybody, as we now knew the true direction, and we at length
perceived the glare of a large fire that our people had lighted
as a beacon.

The horse, Aggahr, must have found his way without difficulty, as
he had arrived a little before sunset. This curious instinct,
that enables a horse to find the direction to its last
halting-place in a wild and pathless country, was thoroughly
appreciated by the Arabs, who had comforted me with the
assurance, that no Abyssinian horse would lose his way to the
spot where he had last passed the night, if separated from his
rider.

CHAPTER XIX.

SEND A PARTY TO RECONNOITRE.

I HAD thoroughly explored the beautiful country of the Salaam and
Angrab; it was the 11th of April, and I intended to push on to
Gallabat, the frontier market-town of Abyssinia. We had no guide,
as the fellow that had been supplied by Mek Nimmur had absconded
the day after our arrival at the Salaam, but during the march he
had pointed out a blue outline of a distant mountain in the
south, that was called Nahoot Guddabi, or the Saddle of Guddabi.
This was an unmistakeable landmark, as it exactly resembled an
Arab saddle; at the foot of this mountain was the Tokroori
village of Guddabi, the first habitation, at a distance of about
fifty miles from the Bahr Salaam. Although, from the experience
I had had in this neighbourhood, I had little doubt of the supply
of water on the road, I sent three of my Tokrooris upon as many
camels with water-skins, to reconnoitre before I should move the
camp.

On the second day they returned, and reported the existence of
several small streams, all of which produced excellent water.

We started on the following afternoon, and, with Hassan as our
guide, and Taher Noor upon a camel, my wife and I cantered ahead
of the main body, over a high ridge of stony, and accordingly
firm ground. Upon arrival at the summit, we had a lovely view of
the surrounding country, and we commenced a gentle descent into
a vast plain sparsely covered with small trees. In the extensive
prospect before us, the dark green veins of foliage in the
otherwise yellow surface of withered grass marked out distinctly
the course of small rivulets. We hurried on, sometimes over
blackened ashes, where the fire had swept all before it, at other
times through withered grass, that had been saved from
destruction through the intervention of some ravine. At 7.30 P.M.
we arrived at an excellent halting place, by a beautiful but
small stream of water, shaded by a fringe of dome palms; this was
by dead reckoning seventeen miles from our last camp. It had been
pleasant travelling, as the moon was full; we had ridden fast,
therefore it was useless to expect the camels for some hours; we
accordingly spread the carpet on the ground, and lay down to
sleep, with the stocks of the rifles for pillows, as we had
frequently done on former occasions.

On the following morning I sent a couple of men on camels to
reconnoitre the country in advance, towards Guddabi, and to
return with the report of the supply of water. This country
abounded with large game, especially with the beautiful antelope
already described, the maarif; they were as usual extremely wild,
but I succeeded in breaking the hip of a fine bull at a long
range; and, separating him from the herd, I ran the wounded
antelope until I was thoroughly exhausted in the intense heat of
the sun, but I lost it in the thick bush not far from our camp.
That night we heard a lion roaring close to us, and, upon
searching at daybreak I found the remains of a maarif, which I
imagine must have been my wounded bull.

I mounted my horse Tetel, and, with Taher Noor and two of my
Tokrooris, Hadji Ali and Hassan, I rode towards a pyramidical
hill about three miles distant, which I intended to ascend in
order to obtain a panoramic view of the country. This hill was
about three hundred feet high, and, as the fire had swept away a
portion of the grass for several miles around, I should obtain a
clear view of all living animals that might be in the
neighbourhood. Upon arrival at the base of the hill I dismounted,
and led my horse up the steep inclination of broken basalt that
had fallen from the summit. From the top of the peak I had a
superb panorama of the country, the mountain Nahoot Guddabi
bearing S.W. about thirty miles distant. I had a complete
bird's-eye view of great extent, and I immediately distinguished,
in various positions, giraffes, buffaloes, tetel, and boars. At
this season the trees were leafless, thus any animal upon the low
ground would be at once discovered from this elevated point. I
extract from my journal the account of this day's hunt, as it was
written immediately upon my return to camp.

"I had been observing the country for some time from my high
station, when I suddenly perceived two rhinoceros emerge from a
ravine; they walked slowly through a patch of high grass, and
skirted the base of the hill upon which we were standing:
presently they winded something, and they trotted back and stood
concealed in the patch of grass. Although I had a good view of
them from my present position, I knew that I should not be able
to see them in their covert, if on the same level; I therefore
determined to send to the tent for my other horses, and to ride
them down, if I could not shoot them on foot; accordingly, I sent
a man off, directing him to lead Tetel from the peak, and to
secure him to a tree at the foot of the hill, as I was afraid the
rhinoceros might observe the horse upon the sky line. This he
did, and we saw him tie the horse by the bridle to the branch of
a tree below us, while he ran quickly towards the camp. In the
mean time I watched the rhinoceros; both animals lay down in the
yellow grass, resembling masses of stone. They had not been long
in this position, before we noticed two pigs wandering through
the grass directly to windward, towards the sleeping rhinoceros;
in an instant these animals winded the intruders, and starting
up, they looked in all directions, but could not see them, as
they were concealed by the high grass. Having been thus
disturbed, the rhinoceros moved their quarters, and walked slowly
forward, occasionally halting, and listening; one was about a
hundred yards in advance of the other. They were taking a
direction at the base of the hill that would lead them directly
upon the spot where Tetel was tied to the tree. I observed this
to Taher Noor, as I feared they would kill the horse. 'Oh, no,'
he replied, 'they will lie down and sleep beneath the first tree,
as they are seeking for shade--the sun is like fire.' However,
they still continued their advance, and, upon reaching some
rising ground, the leading rhinoceros halted, and I felt sure
that he had a clear view of the horse, that was now about five
hundred yards distant, tied to the tree. A ridge descended from
the hill, parallel with the course the animals were taking; upon
this, I ran as quickly as the stony slope permitted, keeping my
eye fixed upon the leading rhinoceros, who, with his head raised,
was advancing directly towards the horse. I now felt convinced
that he intended to attack it. Tetel did not observe the
rhinoceros, but was quietly standing beneath the tree. I ran as
fast as I was able, and reached the bottom of the hill just as
the wilful brute was within fifty yards of the horse, which now
for the first time saw the approaching danger; the rhinoceros had
been advancing steadily at a walk, but he now lowered his head,
and charged at the horse at full speed.

"I was about two hundred yards distant, and for the moment I was
afraid of shooting the horse, but I fired one of the Reilly No.
10 rifles; the bullet, missing the rhinoceros, dashed the sand
and stones into his face, as it struck the ground exactly before
his nose, when he appeared to be just into the unfortunate Tetel.
The horse in the same instant reared, and, breaking the bridle,
it dashed away in the direction of the camp, while the
rhinoceros, astonished at the shot, and most likely half blinded
by the sand and splinters of rock, threw up his head, turned
round, and trotted back upon the track by which he had arrived.
He passed me at about a hundred yards distance, as I had run
forward to a bush, by which he trotted with his head raised,
seeking for the cause of his discomfiture. Crack! went a bullet
against his hide, as I fired my remaining barrel at his shoulder;
he cocked his tail, and for a few yards he charged towards the
shot; but he suddenly changed his course, and ran round several
times in a small circle; he then halted, and reeling to and fro,
he retreated very slowly, and lay down about a hundred yards off.
Well done, Reilly! I knew that he had his quietus, but I was
determined to bag his companion, who in alarm had now joined him,
and stood looking in all quarters for the source of danger; but
we were well concealed behind the bush. Presently, the wounded
rhinoceros stood up, and walking very slowly, followed by his
comrade, he crossed a portion of rising ground at the base of the
hill, and both animals disappeared. I at once started off Hassan,
who could run like an antelope, in search of Tetel, while I
despatched another man to the summit of the peak to see if the
rhinoceros were in view; if not, I knew they must be among the
small trees and bushes at the foot of the hill. I thus waited for
a long time, until at length the two greys, Aggahr and Gazelle,
arrived with my messenger from the camp. I tightened the girths
of the Arab saddle upon Aggahr, and I had just mounted, cursing
all Arab stirrups, that are only made for the naked big toe, when
my eyes were gladdened by the sight of Hassan cantering towards
me upon Tetel, but from the exact direction the rhinoceros had
taken. 'Quick! quick!' he cried, 'come along! One rhinoceros is
lying dead close by, and the other is standing beneath a tree not
far off.'

"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

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