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First footsteps in East Africa by Richard F. Burton

Part 3 out of 7

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then for rice, now for dates, then for provisions in general. No wonder
that the Prophet made his Paradise for the Poor a mere place of eating and
drinking. The half-famished Bedouins, Somal or Arab, think of nothing
beyond the stomach,--their dreams know no higher vision of bliss than mere
repletion. A single article of diet, milk or flesh, palling upon man's
palate, they will greedily suck the stones of eaten dates: yet, Abyssinian
like, they are squeamish and fastidious as regards food. They despise the
excellent fish with which Nature has so plentifully stocked their seas.
[32] "Speak not to me with that mouth which eateth fish!" is a favourite
insult amongst the Bedouins. If you touch a bird or a fowl of any
description, you will be despised even by the starving beggar. You must
not eat marrow or the flesh about the sheep's thigh-bone, especially when
travelling, and the kidneys are called a woman's dish. None but the
Northern Somal will touch the hares which abound in the country, and many
refuse the sand antelope and other kinds of game, not asserting that the
meat is unlawful, but simply alleging a disgust. Those who chew coffee
berries are careful not to place an even number in their mouths, and
camel's milk is never heated, for fear of bewitching the animal. [33] The
Somali, however, differs in one point from his kinsman the Arab: the
latter prides himself upon his temperance; the former, like the North
American Indian, measures manhood by appetite. A "Son of the Somal" is
taught, as soon as his teeth are cut, to devour two pounds of the toughest
mutton, and ask for more: if his powers of deglutition fail, he is derided
as degenerate.

On the next day (Friday, 1st Dec.) we informed the Abban that we intended
starting early in the afternoon, and therefore warned him to hold himself
and his escort, together with the water and milk necessary for our march,
in readiness. He promised compliance and disappeared. About 3 P.M. the
Bedouins, armed as usual with spear and shield, began to gather round the
hut, and--nothing in this country can be done without that terrible
"palaver!"--the speechifying presently commenced. Raghe, in a lengthy
harangue hoped that the tribe would afford us all the necessary supplies
and assist us in the arduous undertaking. His words elicited no hear!
hear!--there was an evident unwillingness on the part of the wild men to
let us, or rather our cloth and tobacco, depart. One remarked, with surly
emphasis, that he had "seen no good and eaten no Bori [34] from that
caravan, why should he aid it?" When we asked the applauding hearers what
they had done for us, they rejoined by inquiring whose the land was?
Another, smitten by the fair Shehrazade's bulky charms, had proposed
matrimony, and offered as dowry a milch camel: she "temporised," not
daring to return a positive refusal, and the suitor betrayed a certain
Hibernian _velleite_ to consider consent an unimportant part of the
ceremony. The mules had been sent to the well, with orders to return
before noon: at 4 P.M. they were not visible. I then left the hut, and,
sitting on a cow's-hide in the sun, ordered my men to begin loading,
despite the remonstrances of the Abban and the interference of about fifty
Bedouins. As we persisted, they waxed surlier, and declared that all which
was ours became theirs, to whom the land belonged: we did not deny the
claim, but simply threatened sorcery-death, by wild beasts and foraging
parties, to their "camels, children, and women." This brought them to
their senses, the usual effect of such threats; and presently arose the
senior who had spat upon us for luck's sake. With his toothless jaws he
mumbled a vehement speech, and warned the tribe that it was not good to
detain such strangers: they lent ready ears to the words of Nestor,
saying, "Let us obey him, he is near his end!" The mules arrived, but when
I looked for the escort, none was forthcoming. At Zayla it was agreed that
twenty men should protect us across the desert, which is the very passage
of plunder; now, however, five or six paupers offered to accompany us for
a few miles. We politely declined troubling them, but insisted upon the
attendance of our Abban and three of his kindred: as some of the Bedouins
still opposed us, our aged friend once more arose, and by copious abuse
finally silenced them. We took leave of him with many thanks and handfuls
of tobacco, in return for which he blessed us with fervour. Then, mounting
our mules, we set out, followed for at least a mile by a long tail of
howling boys, who, ignorant of clothing, except a string of white beads
round the neck, but armed with dwarf spears, bows, and arrows, showed all
the impudence of baboons. They derided the End of Time's equitation till I
feared a scene;--sailor-like, he prided himself upon graceful
horsemanship, and the imps were touching his tenderest point.

Hitherto, for the Abban's convenience, we had skirted the sea, far out of
the direct road: now we were to strike south-westwards into the interior.
At 6 P. M. we started across a "Goban" [35] which eternal summer gilds
with a dull ochreish yellow, towards a thin blue strip of hill on the far
horizon. The Somal have no superstitious dread of night and its horrors,
like Arabs and Abyssinians: our Abban, however, showed a wholesome mundane
fear of plundering parties, scorpions, and snakes. [36] I had been careful
to fasten round my ankles the twists of black wool called by the Arabs
Zaal [37], and universally used in Yemen; a stock of garlic and opium,
here held to be specifics, fortified the courage of the party, whose fears
were not wholly ideal, for, in the course of the night, Shehrazade nearly
trod upon a viper.

At first the plain was a network of holes, the habitations of the Jir Ad
[38], a field rat with ruddy back and white belly, the Mullah or Parson, a
smooth-skinned lizard, and the Dabagalla, a ground squirrel with a
brilliant and glossy coat. As it became dark arose a cheerful moon,
exciting the howlings of the hyenas, the barkings of their attendant
jackals [39], and the chattered oaths of the Hidinhitu bird. [40] Dotted
here and there over the misty landscape, appeared dark clumps of a tree
called "Kullan," a thorn with an edible berry not unlike the jujube, and
banks of silvery mist veiled the far horizon from the sight.

We marched rapidly and in silence, stopping every quarter of an hour to
raise the camels' loads as they slipped on one side. I had now an
opportunity of seeing how feeble a race is the Somal. My companions on the
line of march wondered at my being able to carry a gun; they could
scarcely support, even whilst riding, the weight of their spears, and
preferred sitting upon them to spare their shoulders. At times they were
obliged to walk because the saddles cut them, then they remounted because
their legs were tired; briefly, an English boy of fourteen would have
shown more bottom than the sturdiest. This cannot arise from poor diet,
for the citizens, who live generously, are yet weaker than the Bedouins;
it is a peculiarity of race. When fatigued they become reckless and
impatient of thirst: on this occasion, though want of water stared us in
the face, one skin of the three was allowed to fall upon the road and
burst, and the second's contents were drunk before we halted.

At 11 P.M., after marching twelve miles in direct line, we bivouacked upon
the plain. The night breeze from the hills had set in, and my attendants
chattered with cold: Long Guled in particular became stiff as a mummy.
Raghe was clamorous against a fire, which might betray our whereabouts in
the "Bush Inn." But after such a march the pipe was a necessity, and the
point was carried against him.

After a sound sleep under the moon, we rose at 5 A.M. and loaded the
camels. It was a raw morning. A large nimbus rising from the east obscured
the sun, the line of blue sea was raised like a ridge by refraction, and
the hills, towards which we were journeying, now showed distinct falls and
folds. Troops of Dera or gazelles, herding like goats, stood, stared at
us, turned their white tails, faced away, broke into a long trot, and
bounded over the plain as we approached. A few ostriches appeared, but
they were too shy even for bullet. [41] At 8 P.M. we crossed one of the
numerous drains which intersect this desert--"Biya Hablod," or the Girls'
Water, a fiumara running from south-west to east and north-east. Although
dry, it abounded in the Marer, a tree bearing yellowish red berries full
of viscous juice like green gum,--edible but not nice,--and the brighter
vegetation showed that water was near the surface. About two hours
afterwards, as the sun became oppressive, we unloaded in a water-course,
called by my companions Adad or the Acacia Gum [42]: the distance was
about twenty-five miles, and the direction S. W. 225 of Kuranyali.

We spread our couches of cowhide in the midst of a green mass of tamarisk
under a tall Kud tree, a bright-leaved thorn, with balls of golden gum
clinging to its boughs, dry berries scattered in its shade, and armies of
ants marching to and from its trunk. All slept upon the soft white sand,
with arms under their hands, for our spoor across the desert was now
unmistakeable. At midday rice was boiled for us by the indefatigable
women, and at 3 P.M. we resumed our march towards the hills, which had
exchanged their shadowy blue for a coat of pronounced brown. Journeying
onwards, we reached the Barragid fiumara, and presently exchanged the
plain for rolling ground covered with the remains of an extinct race, and
probably alluded to by El Makrizi when he records that the Moslems of Adel
had erected, throughout the country, a vast number of mosques and
oratories for Friday and festival prayers. Places of worship appeared in
the shape of parallelograms, unhewed stones piled upon the ground, with a
semicircular niche in the direction of Meccah. The tombs, different from
the heaped form now in fashion, closely resembled the older erections in
the island of Saad El Din, near Zayla--oblong slabs planted deep in the
soil. We also observed frequent hollow rings of rough blocks, circles
measuring about a cubit in diameter: I had not time to excavate them, and
the End of Time could only inform me that they belonged to the "Awwalin,"
or olden inhabitants.

At 7 P.M., as evening was closing in, we came upon the fresh trail of a
large Habr Awal cavalcade. The celebrated footprint seen by Robinson
Crusoe affected him not more powerfully than did this "daaseh" my
companions. The voice of song suddenly became mute. The women drove the
camels hurriedly, and all huddled together, except Raghe, who kept well to
the front ready for a run. Whistling with anger, I asked my attendants
what had slain them: the End of Time, in a hollow voice, replied, "Verily,
0 pilgrim, whoso seeth the track, seeth the foe!" and he quoted in tones
of terror those dreary lines--

"Man is but a handful of dust,
And life is a violent storm."

We certainly were a small party to contend against 200 horsemen,--nine men
and two women: moreover all except the Hammal and Long Guled would
infallibly have fled at the first charge.

Presently we sighted the trails of sheep and goats, showing the proximity
of a village: their freshness was ascertained by my companions after an
eager scrutiny in the moon's bright beams. About half an hour afterwards,
rough ravines with sharp and thorny descents warned us that we had
exchanged the dangerous plain for a place of safety where horsemen rarely
venture. Raghe, not admiring the "open," hurried us onward, in hope of
reaching some kraal. At 8 P.M., however, seeing the poor women lamed with
thorns, and the camels casting themselves upon the ground, I resolved to
halt. Despite all objections, we lighted a fire, finished our store of bad
milk--the water had long ago been exhausted--and lay down in the cold,
clear air, covering ourselves with hides and holding our weapons.

At 6 A.M. we resumed our ride over rough stony ground, the thorns tearing
our feet and naked legs, and the camels slipping over the rounded waste of
drift pebbles. The Bedouins, with ears applied to the earth, listened for
a village, but heard none. Suddenly we saw two strangers, and presently we
came upon an Eesa kraal. It was situated in a deep ravine, called Damal,
backed by a broad and hollow Fiumara at the foot of the hills, running
from west to east, and surrounded by lofty trees, upon which brown kites,
black vultures, and percnopters like flakes of snow were mewing. We had
marched over a winding path about eleven miles from, and in a south-west
direction (205) of, Adad. Painful thoughts suggested themselves: in
consequence of wandering southwards, only six had been taken off thirty
stages by the labours of seven days.

As usual in Eastern Africa, we did not enter the kraal uninvited, but
unloosed and pitched the wigwam under a tree outside. Presently the elders
appeared bringing, with soft speeches, sweet water, new milk, fat sheep
and goats, for which they demanded a Tobe of Cutch canvass. We passed with
them a quiet luxurious day of coffee and pipes, fresh cream and roasted
mutton: after the plain-heats we enjoyed the cool breeze of the hills, the
cloudy sky, and the verdure of the glades, made doubly green by comparison
with the parched stubbles below.

The Eesa, here mixed with the Gudabirsi, have little power: we found them
poor and proportionally importunate. The men, wild-looking as open mouths,
staring eyes, and tangled hair could make them, gazed with extreme
eagerness upon my scarlet blanket: for very shame they did not beg it, but
the inviting texture was pulled and fingered by the greasy multitude. We
closed the hut whenever a valuable was produced, but eager eyes peeped
through every cranny, till the End of Time ejaculated "Praised be Allah!"
[43] and quoted the Arab saying, "Show not the Somal thy door, and if he
find it, block it up!" The women and children were clad in chocolate-
coloured hides, fringed at the tops: to gratify them I shot a few hawks,
and was rewarded with loud exclamations,--"Allah preserve thy hand!"--"May
thy skill never fail thee before the foe!" A crone seeing me smoke,
inquired if the fire did not burn: I handed my pipe, which nearly choked
her, and she ran away from a steaming kettle, thinking it a weapon. As my
companions observed, there was not a "Miskal of sense in a Maund of
heads:" yet the people looked upon my sun-burnt skin with a favour they
denied to the "lime-white face."

I was anxious to proceed in the afternoon, but Raghe had arrived at the
frontier of his tribe: he had blood to settle amongst the Gudabirsi, and
without a protector he could not enter their lands. At night we slept
armed on account of the lions that infest the hills, and our huts were
surrounded with a thorn fence--a precaution here first adopted, and never
afterwards neglected. Early on the morning of the 4th of December heavy
clouds rolled down from the mountains, and a Scotch mist deepened into a
shower: our new Abban had not arrived, and the hut-mats, saturated with
rain, had become too heavy for the camels to carry.

In the forenoon the Eesa kraal, loading their Asses [44], set out towards
the plain. This migration presented no new features, except that several
sick and decrepid were barbarously left behind, for lions and hyaenas to
devour. [45] To deceive "warhawks" who might be on the lookout, the
migrators set fire to logs of wood and masses of sheep's earth, which,
even in rain, will smoke and smoulder for weeks.

About midday arrived the two Gudabirsi who intended escorting us to the
village of our Abbans. The elder, Rirash, was a black-skinned, wild-
looking fellow, with a shock head of hair and a deep scowl which belied
his good temper and warm heart: the other was a dun-faced youth betrothed
to Raghe's daughter. They both belonged to the Mahadasan clan, and
commenced operations by an obstinate attempt to lead us far out of our way
eastwards. The pretext was the defenceless state of their flocks and
herds, the real reason an itching for cloth and tobacco. We resisted
manfully this time, nerved by the memory of wasted days, and, despite
their declarations of Absi [46], we determined upon making westward for
the hills.

At 2 P.M. the caravan started along the Fiumara course in rear of the
deserted kraal, and after an hour's ascent Rirash informed us that a well
was near. The Hammal and I, taking two water skins, urged our mules over
stones and thorny ground: presently we arrived at a rocky ravine, where,
surrounded by brambles, rude walls, and tough frame works, lay the wells--
three or four holes sunk ten feet deep in the limestone. Whilst we bathed
in the sulphureous spring, which at once discolored my silver ring,
Rirash, baling up the water in his shield, filled the bags and bound them
to the saddles. In haste we rejoined the caravan, which we found about
sunset, halted by the vain fears of the guides. The ridge upon which they
stood was a mass of old mosques and groves, showing that in former days a
thick population tenanted these hills: from the summit appeared distant
herds of kine and white flocks scattered like patches of mountain quartz.
Riding in advance, we traversed the stony ridge, fell into another ravine,
and soon saw signs of human life. A shepherd descried us from afar and ran
away reckless of property; causing the End of Time to roll his head with
dignity, and to ejaculate, "Of a truth said the Prophet of Allah, 'fear is
divided.'" Presently we fell in with a village, from which the people
rushed out, some exclaiming, "Lo! let us look at the kings!" others,
"Come, see the white man, he is governor of Zayla!" I objected to such
dignity, principally on account of its price: my companions, however, were
inexorable; they would be Salatin--kings--and my colour was against claims
to low degree. This fairness, and the Arab dress, made me at different
times the ruler of Aden, the chief of Zayla, the Hajj's son, a boy, an old
woman, a man painted white, a warrior in silver armour, a merchant, a
pilgrim, a hedgepriest, Ahmed the Indian, a Turk, an Egyptian, a
Frenchman, a Banyan, a sherif, and lastly a Calamity sent down from heaven
to weary out the lives of the Somal: every kraal had some conjecture of
its own, and each fresh theory was received by my companions with roars of

As the Gudabirsi pursued us with shouts for tobacco and cries of wonder, I
dispersed them with a gun-shot: the women and children fled precipitately
from the horrid sound, and the men, covering their heads with their
shields, threw themselves face foremost upon the ground. Pursuing the
Fiumara course, we passed a number of kraals, whose inhabitants were
equally vociferous: out of one came a Zayla man, who informed us that the
Gudabirsi Abbans, to whom we bore Sharmarkay's letter of introduction,
were encamped within three days' march. It was reported, however, that a
quarrel had broken out between them and the Gerad Adan, their brother-in-
law; no pleasant news!--in Africa, under such circumstances, it is
customary for friends to detain, and for foes to oppose, the traveller. We
rode stoutly on, till the air darkened and the moon tipped the distant
hill peaks with a dim mysterious light. I then called a halt: we unloaded
on the banks of the Darkaynlay fiumara, so called from a tree which
contains a fiery milk, fenced ourselves in,--taking care to avoid being
trampled upon by startled camels during our sleep, by securing them in a
separate but neighbouring inclosure,--spread our couches, ate our frugal
suppers, and lost no time in falling asleep. We had travelled five hours
that day, but the path was winding, and our progress in a straight line
was at most eight miles.

And now, dear L., being about to quit the land of the Eesa, I will sketch
the tribe.

The Eesa, probably the most powerful branch of the Somali nation, extends
northwards to the Wayma family of the Dankali; southwards to the
Gudabirsi, and midway between Zayla and Berberah; eastwards it is bounded
by the sea, and westwards by the Gallas around Harar. It derives itself
from Dirr and Aydur, without, however, knowing aught beyond the ancestral
names, and is twitted with paganism by its enemies. This tribe, said to
number 100,000 shields, is divided into numerous clans [47]: these again
split up into minor septs [48] which plunder, and sometimes murder, one
another in time of peace.

A fierce and turbulent race of republicans, the Eesa own nominal
allegiance to a Ugaz or chief residing in the Hadagali hills. He is
generally called "Roblay"--Prince Rainy,--the name or rather title being
one of good omen, for a drought here, like a dinner in Europe, justifies
the change of a dynasty. Every kraal has its Oddai (shaikh or head man,)
after whose name the settlement, as in Sindh and other pastoral lands, is
called. He is obeyed only when his orders suit the taste of King Demos, is
always superior to his fellows in wealth of cattle, sometimes in talent
and eloquence, and in deliberations he is assisted by the Wail or Akill--
the Peetzo-council of Southern Africa--Elders obeyed on account of their
age. Despite, however, this apparatus of rule, the Bedouins have lost none
of the characteristics recorded in the Periplus: they are still
"uncivilised and under no restraint." Every freeborn man holds himself
equal to his ruler, and allows no royalties or prerogatives to abridge his
birthright of liberty. [49] Yet I have observed, that with all their
passion for independence, the Somal, when subject to strict rule as at
Zayla and Harar, are both apt to discipline and subservient to command.

In character, the Eesa are childish and docile, cunning, and deficient in
judgment, kind and fickle, good-humoured and irascible, warm-hearted, and
infamous for cruelty and treachery. Even the protector will slay his
protege, and citizens married to Eesa girls send their wives to buy goats
and sheep from, but will not trust themselves amongst, their connexions.
"Traitorous as an Eesa," is a proverb at Zayla, where the people tell you
that these Bedouins with the left hand offer a bowl of milk, and stab with
the right. "Conscience," I may observe, does not exist in Eastern Africa,
and "Repentance" expresses regret for missed opportunities of mortal
crime. Robbery constitutes an honorable man: murder--the more atrocious
the midnight crime the better--makes the hero. Honor consists in taking
human life: hyaena-like, the Bedouins cannot be trusted where blood may be
shed: Glory is the having done all manner of harm. Yet the Eesa have their
good points: they are not noted liars, and will rarely perjure themselves:
they look down upon petty pilfering without violence, and they are
generous and hospitable compared with the other Somal. Personally, I had
no reason to complain of them. They were importunate beggars, but a pinch
of snuff or a handful of tobacco always made us friends: they begged me to
settle amongst them, they offered me sundry wives and,--the Somali
Bedouin, unlike the Arab, readily affiliates strangers to his tribe--they
declared that after a few days' residence, I should become one of

In appearance, the Eesa are distinguished from other Somal by blackness,
ugliness of feature, and premature baldness of the temples; they also
shave, or rather scrape off with their daggers, the hair high up the nape
of the neck. The locks are dyed dun, frizzled, and greased; the Widads or
learned men remove them, and none but paupers leave them in their natural
state; the mustachios are clipped close, the straggling whisker is
carefully plucked, and the pile--erroneously considered impure--is removed
either by vellication, or by passing the limbs through the fire. The eyes
of the Bedouins, also, are less prominent than those of the citizens: the
brow projects in pent-house fashion, and the organ, exposed to bright
light, and accustomed to gaze at distant objects, acquires more
concentration and power. I have seen amongst them handsome profiles, and
some of the girls have fine figures with piquant if not pretty features.

Flocks and herds form the true wealth of the Eesa. According to them,
sheep and goats are of silver, and the cow of gold: they compare camels to
the rock, and believe, like most Moslems, the horse to have been created
from the wind. Their diet depends upon the season. In hot weather, when
forage and milk dry up, the flocks are slaughtered, and supply excellent
mutton; during the monsoon men become fat, by drinking all day long the
produce of their cattle. In the latter article of diet, the Eesa are
delicate and curious: they prefer cow's milk, then the goat's, and lastly
the ewe's, which the Arab loves best: the first is drunk fresh, and the
two latter clotted, whilst the camel's is slightly soured. The townspeople
use camel's milk medicinally: according to the Bedouins, he who lives on
this beverage, and eats the meat for forty-four consecutive days, acquires
the animal's strength. It has perhaps less "body" than any other milk, and
is deliciously sweet shortly after foaling: presently it loses flavour,
and nothing can be more nauseous than the produce of an old camel. The
Somal have a name for cream--"Laben"--but they make no use of the article,
churning it with the rest of the milk. They have no buffaloes, shudder at
the Tartar idea of mare's-milk, like the Arabs hold the name Labban [50] a
disgrace, and make it a point of honor not to draw supplies from their
cattle during the day.

The life led by these wild people is necessarily monotonous. They rest but
little--from 11 P.M. till dawn--and never sleep in the bush, for fear of
plundering parties, Few begin the day with prayer as Moslems should: for
the most part they apply themselves to counting and milking their cattle.
The animals, all of which have names [51], come when called to the pail,
and supply the family with a morning meal. Then the warriors, grasping
their spears, and sometimes the young women armed only with staves, drive
their herds to pasture: the matrons and children, spinning or rope-making,
tend the flocks, and the kraal is abandoned to the very young, the old,
and the sick. The herdsmen wander about, watching the cattle and tasting
nothing but the pure element or a pinch of coarse tobacco. Sometimes they
play at Shahh, Shantarah, and other games, of which they are passionately
fond: with a board formed of lines traced in the sand, and bits of dry
wood or camel's earth acting pieces, they spend hour after hour, every
looker-on vociferating his opinion, and catching at the men, till
apparently the two players are those least interested in the game. Or, to
drive off sleep, they sit whistling to their flocks, or they perform upon
the Forimo, a reed pipe generally made at Harar, which has a plaintive
sound uncommonly pleasing. [52] In the evening, the kraal again resounds
with lowing and bleating: the camel's milk is all drunk, the cow's and
goat's reserved for butter and ghee, which the women prepare; the numbers
are once more counted, and the animals are carefully penned up for the
night. This simple life is varied by an occasional birth and marriage,
dance and foray, disease and murder. Their maladies are few and simple
[53]; death generally comes by the spear, and the Bedouin is naturally
long-lived. I have seen Macrobians hale and strong, preserving their
powers and faculties in spite of eighty and ninety years.


[1] By this route the Mukattib or courier travels on foot from Zayla to
Harar in five days at the most. The Somal reckon their journeys by the
Gedi or march, the Arab "Hamleh," which varies from four to five hours.
They begin before dawn and halt at about 11 A.M., the time of the morning
meal. When a second march is made they load at 3 P.M. and advance till
dark; thus fifteen miles would be the average of fast travelling. In
places of danger they will cover twenty-six or twenty-seven miles of
ground without halting to eat or rest: nothing less, however, than regard
for "dear life" can engender such activity. Generally two or three hours'
work per diem is considered sufficient; and, where provisions abound,
halts are long and frequent.

[2] The Mikahil is a clan of the Habr Awal tribe living near Berberah, and
celebrated for their bloodthirsty and butchering propensities. Many of the
Midgan or serviles (a term explained in Chap. II.) are domesticated
amongst them.

[3] So the Abyssinian chief informed M. Krapf that he loved the French,
but could not endure us--simply the effect of manner.

[4] The first is the name of the individual; the second is that of her

[5] This delicate operation is called by the Arabs Daasah (whence the
"Dosch ceremony" at Cairo). It is used over most parts of the Eastern
world as a remedy for sickness and fatigue, and is generally preferred to
Takbis or Dugmo, the common style of shampooing, which, say many Easterns,
loosens the skin.

[6] The Somal, from habit, enjoy no other variety; they even showed
disgust at my Latakia. Tobacco is grown in some places by the Gudabirsi
and other tribes; bat it is rare and bad. Without this article it would be
impossible to progress in East Africa; every man asks for a handful, and
many will not return milk for what they expect to receive as a gift. Their
importunity reminds the traveller of the Galloway beggars some generations
ago:--"They are for the most part great chewers of tobacco, and are so
addicted to it, that they will ask for a piece thereof from a stranger as
he is riding on his way; and therefore let not a traveller want an ounce
or two of roll tobacco in his pocket, and for an inch or two thereof he
need not fear the want of a guide by day or night."

[7] Flesh boiled in large slices, sun-dried, broken to pieces and fried in

[8] The Bahr Assal or Salt Lake, near Tajurrah, annually sends into the
interior thousands of little matted parcels containing this necessary.
Inland, the Bedouins will rub a piece upon the tongue before eating, or
pass about a lump, as the Dutch did with sugar in the last war; at Harar a
donkey-load is the price of a slave; and the Abyssinians say of a
_millionaire_ "he eateth salt."

[9] The element found upon the maritime plain is salt or brackish. There
is nothing concerning which the African traveller should be so particular
as water; bitter with nitre, and full of organic matter, it causes all
those dysenteric diseases which have made research in this part of the
world a Upas tree to the discoverer. Pocket filters are invaluable. The
water of wells should be boiled and passed through charcoal; and even then
it might be mixed to a good purpose with a few drops of proof spirit. The
Somal generally carry their store in large wickerwork pails. I preferred
skins, as more portable and less likely to taint the water.

[10] Here, as in Arabia, boxes should be avoided, the Bedouins always
believe them to contain treasures. Day after day I have been obliged to
display the contents to crowds of savages, who amused themselves by
lifting up the case with loud cries of "hoo! hoo!! hoo!!!" (the popular
exclamation of astonishment), and by speculating upon the probable amount
of dollars contained therein.

[11] The following list of my expenses may perhaps be useful to future
travellers. It must be observed that, had the whole outfit been purchased
at Aden, a considerable saving would have resulted:--

Cos. Rs.
Passage money from Aden to Zayla............................ 33
Presents at Zayla...........................................100
Price of four mules with saddles and bridles................225
Price of four camels........................................ 88
Provisions (tobacco, rice, dates &c.) for three months......428
Price of 150 Tobes..........................................357
Nine pieces of indigo-dyed cotton........................... 16
Minor expenses (cowhides for camels, mats for tents,
presents to Arabs, a box of beads, three handsome
Abyssinian Tobes bought for chiefs).....................166
Expenses at Berberah, and passage back to Aden.............. 77
Total Cos. Rs. 1490 = L149

[12] I shall frequently use Somali terms, not to display my scanty
knowledge of the dialect, but because they perchance may prove serviceable
to my successors.

[13] The Somal always "side-line" their horses and mules with stout stiff
leathern thongs provided with loops and wooden buttons; we found them upon
the whole safer than lariats or tethers.

[14] Arabs hate "El Sifr" or whistling, which they hold to be the chit-
chat of the Jinns. Some say that the musician's mouth is not to be
purified for forty days; others that Satan, touching a man's person,
causes him to produce the offensive sound. The Hejazis objected to
Burckhardt that he could not help talking to devils, and walking about the
room like an unquiet spirit. The Somali has no such prejudice. Like the
Kafir of the Cape, he passes his day whistling to his flocks and herds;
moreover, he makes signals by changing the note, and is skilful in
imitating the song of birds.

[15] In this country camels foal either in the Gugi (monsoon), or during
the cold season immediately after the autumnal rains.

[16] The shepherd's staff is a straight stick about six feet long, with a
crook at one end, and at the other a fork to act as a rake.

[17] These utensils will be described in a future chapter.

[18] The settled Somal have a holy horror of dogs, and, Wahhabi-like,
treat man's faithful slave most cruelly. The wild people are more humane;
they pay two ewes for a good colley, and demand a two-year-old sheep as
"diyat" or blood-money for the animal, if killed.

[19] Vultures and percnopters lie upon the wing waiting for the garbage of
the kraals; consequently they are rare near the cow-villages, where
animals are not often killed.

[20] They apply this term to all but themselves; an Indian trader who had
travelled to Harar, complained to me that he had always been called a
Frank by the Bedouins in consequence of his wearing Shalwar or drawers.

[21] Generally it is not dangerous to write before these Bedouins, as they
only suspect account-keeping, and none but the educated recognise a
sketch. The traveller, however, must be on his guard: in the remotest
villages he will meet Somal who have returned to savage life after
visiting the Sea-board, Arabia, and possibly India or Egypt.

[22] I have often observed this ceremony performed upon a new turban or
other article of attire; possibly it may be intended as a mark of
contempt, assumed to blind the evil eye.

[23] Such is the general form of the Somali grave. Sometimes two stumps of
wood take the place of the upright stones at the head and foot, and around
one grave I counted twenty trophies.

[24] Some braves wear above the right elbow an ivory armlet called Fol or
Aj: in the south this denotes the elephant-slayer. Other Eesa clans assert
their warriorhood by small disks of white stone, fashioned like rings, and
fitted upon the little finger of the left hand. Others bind a bit of red
cloth round the brow.

[25] It is sufficient for a Bedouin to look at the general appearance of
an animal; he at once recognises the breed. Each clan, however, in this
part of Eastern Africa has its own mark.

[26] They found no better word than "fire" to denote my gun.

[27] "Oddai", an old man, corresponds with the Arab Shaykh in etymology.
The Somal, however, give the name to men of all ages after marriage.

[28] The "Dihh" is the Arab "Wady",--a fiumara or freshet. "Webbe" (Obbay,
Abbai, &c.) is a large river; "Durdur", a running stream.

[29] I saw these Dihhs only in the dry season; at times the torrent must
be violent, cutting ten or twelve feet deep into the plain.

[30] The name is derived from Kuranyo, an ant: it means the "place of
ants," and is so called from the abundance of a tree which attracts them.

[31] The Arabs call these pillars "Devils," the Somal "Sigo."

[32] The Cape Kafirs have the same prejudice against fish, comparing its
flesh, to that of serpents. In some points their squeamishness resembles
that of the Somal: he, for instance, who tastes the Rhinoceros Simus is at
once dubbed "Om Fogazan" or outcast.

[33] This superstition may have arisen from the peculiarity that the
camel's milk, however fresh, if placed upon the fire, breaks like some
cows' milk.

[34] "Bori" in Southern Arabia popularly means a water-pipe: here it is
used for tobacco.

[35] "Goban" is the low maritime plain lying below the "Bor" or Ghauts,
and opposed to Ogu, the table-land above. "Ban" is an elevated grassy
prairie, where few trees grow; "Dir," a small jungle, called Haija by the
Arabs; and Khain is a forest or thick bush. "Bor," is a mountain, rock, or
hill: a stony precipice is called "Jar," and the high clay banks of a
ravine "Gebi."

[36] Snakes are rare in the cities, but abound in the wilds of Eastern
Africa, and are dangerous to night travellers, though seldom seen by day.
To kill a serpent is considered by the Bedouins almost as meritorious as
to slay an Infidel. The Somal have many names for the reptile tribe. The
Subhanyo, a kind of whipsnake, and a large yellow rock snake called Got,
are little feared. The Abesi (in Arabic el Hayyeh,--the Cobra) is so
venomous that it kills the camel; the Mas or Hanash, and a long black
snake called Jilbis, are considered equally dangerous. Serpents are in
Somali-land the subject of many superstitions. One horn of the Cerastes,
for instance, contains a deadly poison: the other, pounded and drawn
across the eye, makes man a seer and reveals to him the treasures of the
earth. There is a flying snake which hoards precious stones, and is
attended by a hundred guards: a Somali horseman once, it is said, carried
away a jewel; he was pursued by a reptile army, and although he escaped to
his tribe, the importunity of the former proprietors was so great that the
plunder was eventually restored to them. Centipedes are little feared;
their venom leads to inconveniences more ridiculous than dangerous.
Scorpions, especially the large yellow variety, are formidable in hot
weather: I can speak of the sting from experience. The first symptom is a
sensation of nausea, and the pain shoots up after a few minutes to the
groin, causing a swelling accompanied by burning and throbbing, which last
about twelve hours. The Somal bandage above the wound and wait patiently
till the effect subsides.

[37] These are tightened in case of accident, and act as superior
ligatures. I should, however, advise every traveller in these regions to
provide himself with a pneumatic pump, and not to place his trust in Zaal,
garlic, or opium.

[38] The grey rat is called by the Somal "Baradublay:" in Eastern Africa
it is a minor plague, after India and Arabia, where, neglecting to sleep
in boots, I have sometimes been lamed for a week by their venomous bites.

[39] In this country the jackal attends not upon the lion, but the Waraba.
His morning cry is taken as an omen of good or evil according to the note.

[40] Of this bird, a red and long-legged plover, the Somal tell the
following legend. Originally her diet was meat, and her society birds of
prey: one night, however, her companions having devoured all the
provisions whilst she slept, she swore never to fly with friends, never to
eat flesh, and never to rest during the hours of darkness. When she sees
anything in the dark she repeat her oaths, and, according to the Somal,
keeps careful watch all night. There is a larger variety of this bird,
which, purblind daring daytime, rises from under the traveller's feet with
loud cries. The Somal have superstitions similar to that above noticed
about several kinds of birds. When the cry of the "Galu" (so called from
his note Gal! Gal! come in! come in!) is heard over a kraal, the people
say, "Let us leave this place, the Galu hath spoken!" At night they listen
for the Fin, also an ill-omened bird: when a man declares "the Fin did not
sleep last night," it is considered advisable to shift ground.

[41] Throughout this country ostriches are exceedingly wild: the Rev. Mr.
Erhardt, of the Mombas Mission, informs me that they are equally so
farther south. The Somal stalk them during the day with camels, and kill
them with poisoned arrows. It is said that about 3 P.M. the birds leave
their feeding places, and traverse long distances to roost: the people
assert that they are blind at night, and rise up under the pursuer's feet.

[42] Several Acacias afford gums, which the Bedouins eat greedily to
strengthen themselves. The town's people declare that the food produces
nothing but flatulence.

[43] "Subhan' Allah!" an exclamation of pettishness or displeasure.

[44] The hills not abounding in camels, like the maritime regions, asses
become the principal means of transport.

[45] This barbarous practice is generally carried out in cases of small-
pox where contagion is feared.

[46] Fear--danger; it is a word which haunts the traveller in Somali-land.

[47] The Somali Tol or Tul corresponds with the Arabic Kabilah, a tribe:
under it is the Kola or Jilib (Ar. Fakhizah), a clan. "Gob," is synonymous
with the Arabic Kabail, "men of family," opposed to "Gum," the caste-less.
In the following pages I shall speak of the Somali _nation_, the Eesa
tribe, the Rer Musa _clan_, and the Rer Galan _sept_, though by no means
sure that such verbal gradation is generally recognised.

[48] The Eesa, for instance, are divided into--

1. Rer Wardik (the royal clan). 6. Rer Hurroni.
2. Rer Abdullah. 7. Rer Urwena.
3. Rer Musa. 8. Rer Furlabah.
4. Rer Mummasan. 9. Rer Gada.
5. Rer Guleni. 10. Rer Ali Addah.

These are again subdivided: the Rer Musa (numbering half the Eesa), split
up, for instance, into--

1. Rer Galan. 4. Rer Dubbah.
2. Rer Harlah. 5. Rer Kul.
3. Rer Gadishah. 6. Rer Gedi.

[49] Traces of this turbulent equality may be found amongst the slavish
Kafirs in general meetings of the tribe, on the occasion of harvest home,
when the chief who at other times destroys hundreds by a gesture, is
abused and treated with contempt by the youngest warrior.

[50] "Milk-seller."

[51] For instance, Anfarr, the "Spotted;" Tarren, "Wheat-flour;" &c. &c.

[52] It is used by the northern people, the Abyssinians, Gallas, Adail,
Eesa and Gudabirsi; the southern Somal ignore it.

[53] The most dangerous disease is small-pox, which history traces to
Eastern Abyssinia, where it still becomes at times a violent epidemic,
sweeping off its thousands. The patient, if a man of note, is placed upon
the sand, and fed with rice or millet bread till he recovers or dies. The
chicken-pox kills many infants; they are treated by bathing in the fresh
blood of a sheep, covered with the skin, and exposed to the sun. Smoke and
glare, dirt and flies, cold winds and naked extremities, cause ophthalmia,
especially in the hills; this disease rarely blinds any save the citizens,
and no remedy is known. Dysentery is cured by rice and sour milk, patients
also drink clarified cows' butter; and in bad cases the stomach is
cauterized, fire and disease, according to the Somal, never coexisting.
Haemorroids, when dry, are reduced by a stick used as a bougie and allowed
to remain in loco all night. Sometimes the part affected is cupped with a
horn and knife, or a leech performs excision. The diet is camels' or
goats' flesh and milk; clarified butter and Bussorab dates--rice and
mutton are carefully avoided. For a certain local disease, they use senna
or colocynth, anoint the body with sulphur boiled in ghee, and expose it
to the sun, or they leave the patient all night in the dew;--abstinence
and perspiration generally effect a cure. For the minor form, the
afflicted drink the melted fat of a sheep's tail. Consumption is a family
complaint, and therefore considered incurable; to use the Somali
expression, they address the patient with "Allah, have mercy upon thee!"
not with "Allah cure thee!"

There are leeches who have secret simples for curing wounds. Generally the
blood is squeezed out, the place is washed with water, the lips are sewn
up and a dressing of astringent leaves is applied. They have splints for
fractures, and they can reduce dislocations. A medical friend at Aden
partially dislocated his knee, which half-a-dozen of the faculty insisted
upon treating as a sprain. Of all his tortures none was more severe than
that inflicted by my Somali visitors. They would look at him, distinguish
the complaint, ask him how long he had been invalided, and hearing the
reply--four months--would break into exclamations of wonder. "In our
country," they cried, "when a man falls, two pull his body and two his
legs, then they tie sticks round it, give him plenty of camel's milk, and
he is well in a month;" a speech which made friend S. groan in spirit.

Firing and clarified butter are the farrier's panaceas. Camels are cured
by sheep's head broth, asses by chopping one ear, mules by cutting off the
tail, and horses by ghee or a drench of melted fat.



I have now, dear L., quitted the maritime plain or first zone, to enter
the Ghauts, that threshold of the Ethiopian highlands which, beginning at
Tajurrah, sweeps in semicircle round the bay of Zayla, and falls about
Berberah into the range of mountains which fringes the bold Somali coast.
This chain has been inhabited, within History's memory, by three distinct
races,--the Gallas, the ancient Moslems of Adel, and by the modern Somal.
As usual, however, in the East, it has no general vernacular name. [1]

The aspect of these Ghauts is picturesque. The primitive base consists of
micaceous granite, with veins of porphyry and dykes of the purest white
quartz: above lie strata of sandstone and lime, here dun, there yellow, or
of a dull grey, often curiously contorted and washed clear of vegetable
soil by the heavy monsoon. On these heights, which are mostly conoid with
rounded tops, joined by ridges and saddlebacks, various kinds of Acacia
cast a pallid and sickly green, like the olive tree upon the hills of
Provence. They are barren in the cold season, and the Nomads migrate to
the plains: when the monsoon covers them with rich pastures, the people
revisit their deserted kraals. The Kloofs or ravines are the most
remarkable features of this country: in some places the sides rise
perpendicularly, like gigantic walls, the breadth varying from one hundred
yards to half a mile; in others cliffs and scaurs, sapped at their
foundations, encumber the bed, and not unfrequently a broad band of white
sand stretches between two fringes of emerald green, delightful to look
upon after the bare and ghastly basalt of Southern Arabia. The Jujube
grows to a height already betraying signs of African luxuriance: through
its foliage flit birds, gaudy-coloured as kingfishers, of vivid red,
yellow, and changing-green. I remarked a long-tailed jay called Gobiyan or
Fat [2], russet-hued ringdoves, the modest honey-bird, corn quails,
canary-coloured finches, sparrows gay as those of Surinam, humming-birds
with a plume of metallic lustre, and especially a white-eyed kind of
maina, called by the Somal, Shimbir Load or the cow-bird. The Armo-creeper
[3], with large fleshy leaves, pale green, red, or crimson, and clusters
of bright berries like purple grapes, forms a conspicuous ornament in the
valleys. There is a great variety of the Cactus tribe, some growing to the
height of thirty and thirty-five feet: of these one was particularly
pointed out to me. The vulgar Somal call it Guraato, the more learned
Shajarat el Zakkum: it is the mandrake of these regions, and the round
excrescences upon the summits of its fleshy arms are supposed to resemble
men's heads and faces. On Tuesday the 5th December we arose at 6 A.M.,
after a night so dewy that our clothes were drenched, and we began to
ascend the Wady Darkaynlay, which winds from east to south. After an
hour's march appeared a small cairn of rough stones, called Siyaro, or
Mazar [4], to which each person, in token of honor, added his quotum. The
Abban opined that Auliya or holy men had sat there, but the End of Time
more sagaciously conjectured that it was the site of some Galla idol or
superstitious rite. Presently we came upon the hills of the White Ant [5],
a characteristic feature in this part of Africa. Here the land has the
appearance of a Turkish cemetery on a grand scale: there it seems like a
city in ruins: in some places the pillars are truncated into a resemblance
to bee-hives, in others they cluster together, suggesting the idea of a
portico; whilst many of them, veiled by trees, and overrun with gay
creepers, look like the remains of sylvan altars. Generally the hills are
conical, and vary in height from four to twelve feet: they are counted by
hundreds, and the Somal account for the number by declaring that the
insects abandon their home when dry, and commence building another. The
older erections are worn away, by wind and rain, to a thin tapering spire,
and are frequently hollowed and arched beneath by rats and ground
squirrels. The substance, fine yellow mud, glued by the secretions of the
ant, is hard to break: it is pierced, sieve-like, by a network of tiny
shafts. I saw these hills for the first time in the Wady Darkaynlay: in
the interior they are larger and longer than near the maritime regions.

We travelled up the Fiumara in a southerly direction till 8 A.M., when the
guides led us away from the bed. They anticipated meeting Gudabirsis:
pallid with fear, they also trembled with cold and hunger. Anxious
consultations were held. One man, Ali--surnamed "Doso," because he did
nothing but eat, drink, and stand over the fire--determined to leave us:
as, however, he had received a Tobe for pay, we put a veto upon that
proceeding. After a march of two hours, over ground so winding that we had
not covered more than three miles, our guides halted under a tree, near a
deserted kraal, at a place called El Armo, the "Armo-creeper water," or
more facetiously Dabadalashay: from Damal it bore S. W. 190. One of our
Bedouins, mounting a mule, rode forward to gather intelligence, and bring
back a skin full of water. I asked the End of Time what they expected to
hear: he replied with the proverb "News liveth!" The Somali Bedouins have
a passion for knowing how the world wags. In some of the more desert
regions the whole population of a village will follow the wanderer. No
traveller ever passes a kraal without planting spear in the ground, and
demanding answers to a lengthened string of queries: rather than miss
intelligence he will inquire of a woman. Thus it is that news flies
through the country. Among the wild Gudabirsi the Russian war was a topic
of interest, and at Harar I heard of a violent storm, which had damaged
the shipping in Bombay Harbour, but a few weeks after the event.

The Bedouin returned with an empty skin but a full budget. I will offer
you, dear L., a specimen of the "palaver" [6] which is supposed to prove
the aphorism that all barbarians are orators. Demosthenes leisurely
dismounts, advances, stands for a moment cross-legged--the favourite
posture in this region--supporting each hand with a spear planted in the
ground: thence he slips to squat, looks around, ejects saliva, shifts his
quid to behind his ear, places his weapons before him, takes up a bit of
stick, and traces lines which he carefully smooths away--it being ill-
omened to mark the earth. The listeners sit gravely in a semicircle upon
their heels, with their spears, from whose bright heads flashes a ring of
troubled light, planted upright, and look stedfastly on his countenance
over the upper edges of their shields with eyes apparently planted, like
those of the Blemmyes, in their breasts. When the moment for delivery is
come, the head man inquires, "What is the news?" The informant would
communicate the important fact that he has been to the well: he proceeds
as follows, noting emphasis by raising his voice, at times about six
notes, and often violently striking at the ground in front.

"It is good news, if Allah please!"

"Wa Sidda!"--Even so! respond the listeners, intoning or rather groaning
the response.

"I mounted mule this morning:"

"Even so!"

"I departed from ye riding."

"Even so!"

"_There_" (with a scream and pointing out the direction with a stick).

"Even so!"

"_There_ I went."

"Even so!"

"I threaded the wood."

"Even so!"

"I traversed the sands."

"Even so!"

"I feared nothing."

"Even so!"

"At last I came upon cattle tracks."

"Hoo! hoo!! hoo!!!" (an ominous pause follows this exclamation of

"They were fresh."

"Even so!"

"So were the earths."

"Even so!"

"I distinguished the feet of women."

"Even so!"

"But there were no camels."

"Even so!"

"At last I saw sticks"--

"Even so!"


"Even so!"


"Even so!"

"A well!!!"

Then follows the palaver, wherein, as occasionally happens further West,
he distinguishes himself who can rivet the attention of the audience for
at least an hour without saying anything in particular. The advantage of
_their_ circumlocution, however, is that by considering a subject in every
possible light and phase as regards its cause and effect, antecedents,
actualities, and consequences, they are prepared for any emergency which,
without the palaver, might come upon them unawares.

Although the thermometer showed summer heat, the air was cloudy and raw
blasts poured down from the mountains. At half past 3 P.M. our camels were
lazily loaded, and we followed the course of the Fiumara, which runs to
the W. and S. W. After half an hour's progress, we arrived at the gully in
which are the wells, and the guides halted because they descried half-a-
dozen youths and boys bathing and washing their Tobes. All, cattle as well
as men, were sadly thirsty: many of us had been chewing pebbles during the
morning, yet, afraid of demands for tobacco, the Bedouins would have
pursued the march without water had I not forced them to halt. We found
three holes in the sand; one was dry, a second foul, and the third
contained a scanty supply of the pure element from twenty to twenty-five
feet below the surface. A youth stood in the water and filled a wicker-
pail, which he tossed to a companion perched against the side half way up:
the latter in his turn hove it to a third, who catching it at the brink,
threw the contents, by this time half wasted, into the skin cattle trough.
We halted about half an hour to refresh man and beast, and then resumed
our way up the Wady, quitting it where a short cut avoids the frequent
windings of the bed. This operation saved but little time; the ground was
stony, the rough ascents fatigued the camels, and our legs and feet were
lacerated by the spear-like thorns. Here, the ground was overgrown with
aloes [7], sometimes six feet high with pink and "pale Pomona green"
leaves, bending in the line of beauty towards the ground, graceful in form
as the capitals of Corinthian columns, and crowned with gay-coloured
bells, but barbarously supplied with woody thorns and strong serrated
edges. There the Hig, an aloetic plant with a point so hard and sharp that
horses cannot cross ground where it grows, stood in bunches like the
largest and stiffest of rushes. [8] Senna sprang spontaneously on the
banks, and the gigantic Ushr or Asclepias shed its bloom upon the stones
and pebbles of the bed. My attendants occupied themselves with gathering
the edible pod of an Acacia called Kura [9], whilst I observed the view.
Frequent ant-hills gave an appearance of habitation to a desert still
covered with the mosques and tombs of old Adel; and the shape of the
country had gradually changed, basins and broad slopes now replacing the
thickly crowded conoid peaks of the lower regions.

As the sun sank towards the west, Long Guled complained bitterly of the
raw breeze from the hills. We passed many villages, distinguished by the
barking of dogs and the bleating of flocks, on their way to the field: the
unhappy Raghe, however, who had now become our _protege_, would neither
venture into a settlement, nor bivouac amongst the lions. He hurried us
forwards till we arrived at a hollow called Gud, "the Hole," which
supplied us with the protection of a deserted kraal, where our camels,
half-starved and knocked-up by an eight miles' march, were speedily
unloaded. Whilst pitching the tent, we were visited by some Gudabirsi, who
attempted to seize our Abban, alleging that he owed them a cow. We replied
doughtily, that he was under our sandals: as they continued to speak in a
high tone, a pistol was discharged over their heads, after which they
cringed like dogs. A blazing fire, a warm supper, dry beds, broad jests,
and funny stories, soon restored the flagging spirits of our party.
Towards night the moon dispersed the thick mists which, gathering into
clouds, threatened rain, and the cold sensibly diminished: there was
little dew, and we should have slept comfortably had not our hungry mules,
hobbled as they were, hopped about the kraal and fought till dawn.

On the 6th December, we arose late to avoid the cold morning air, and at 7
A.M. set out over rough ground, hoping to ascend the Ghauts that day.
After creeping about two miles, the camels, unable to proceed, threw
themselves upon the earth, and we unwillingly called a halt at Jiyaf, a
basin below the Dobo [10] fiumara. Here, white flocks dotting the hills,
and the scavengers of the air warned us that we were in the vicinity of
villages. Our wigwam was soon full of fair-faced Gudabirsi, mostly Loajira
[11] or cow-herd boys, who, according to the custom of their class, wore
their Tobes bound scarf-like round their necks. They begged us to visit
their village, and offered a heifer for each lion shot on Mount Libahlay:
unhappily we could not afford time. These youths were followed by men and
women bringing milk, sheep, and goats, for which, grass being rare, they
asked exorbitant prices,--eighteen cubits of Cutch canvass for a lamb, and
two of blue cotton for a bottle of ghee. Amongst them was the first really
pretty face seen by me in the Somali country. The head was well formed,
and gracefully placed upon a long thin neck and narrow shoulders; the
hair, brow, and nose were unexceptionable, there was an arch look in the
eyes of jet and pearl, and a suspicion of African protuberance about the
lips, which gave the countenance an exceeding _naivete_. Her skin was a
warm, rich nut-brown, an especial charm in these regions, and her
movements had that grace which suggests perfect symmetry of limb. The poor
girl's costume, a coif for the back hair, a cloth imperfectly covering the
bosom, and a petticoat of hides, made no great mystery of forms: equally
rude were her ornaments; an armlet and pewter earrings, the work of some
blacksmith, a necklace of white porcelain beads, and sundry talismans in
cases of tarnished and blackened leather. As a tribute to her prettiness I
gave her some cloth, tobacco, and a bit of salt, which was rapidly
becoming valuable; her husband stood by, and, although the preference was
marked, he displayed neither anger nor jealousy. She showed her gratitude
by bringing us milk, and by assisting us to start next morning. In the
evening we hired three fresh camels [12] to carry our goods up the ascent,
and killed some antelopes which, in a stew, were not contemptible. The End
of Time insisted upon firing a gun to frighten away the lions, who make
night hideous with their growls, but never put in an appearance.

The morning cold greatly increased, and we did not start till 8 A.M. After
half an hour's march up the bed of a fiumara, leading apparently to a _cul
de sac_ of lofty rocks in the hills, we quitted it for a rude zig-zag
winding along its left side, amongst bushes, thorn trees, and huge rocks.
The walls of the opposite bank were strikingly perpendicular; in some
places stratified, in others solid and polished by the course of stream
and cascade. The principal material was a granite, so coarse, that the
composing mica, quartz, and felspar separated into detached pieces as
large as a man's thumb; micaceous grit, which glittered in the sunbeams,
and various sandstones, abounded. The road caused us some trouble; the
camels' loads were always slipping from their mats; I found it necessary
to dismount from my mule, and, sitting down, we were stung by the large
black ants which infest these hills. [13]

About half way up, we passed two cairns, and added to them our mite like
good Somal. After two hours of hard work the summit of this primitive pass
was attained, and sixty minutes more saw us on the plateau above the
hills,--the second zone of East Africa. Behind us lay the plains, of which
we vainly sought a view: the broken ground at the foot of the mountains is
broad, and mists veiled the reeking expanse of the low country. [14] The
plateau in front of us was a wide extent of rolling ground, rising
slightly towards the west; its colour was brown with a threadbare coat of
verdure, and at the bottom of each rugged slope ran a stony water-course
trending from south-west to north-east. The mass of tangled aloes, ragged
thorn, and prim-looking poison trees, [15] must once have been populous;
tombs and houses of the early Moslems covered with ruins the hills and

About noon, we arrived at a spot called the Kafir's Grave. It is a square
enceinte of rude stones about one hundred yards each side; and legends say
that one Misr, a Galla chief, when dying, ordered the place to be filled
seven times with she-camels destined for his Ahan or funeral feast. This
is the fourth stage upon the direct road from Zayla to Harar: we had
wasted ten days, and the want of grass and water made us anxious about our
animals. The camels could scarcely walk, and my mule's spine rose high
beneath the Arab pad:--such are the effects of Jilal [16], the worst of
travelling seasons in Eastern Africa.

At 1 P.M. we unloaded under a sycamore tree, called, after a Galla
chieftain [17], "Halimalah," and giving its name to the surrounding
valley. This ancient of the forest is more than half decayed, several huge
limbs lie stretched upon the ground, whence, for reverence, no one removes
them: upon the trunk, or rather trunks, for its bifurcates, are marks
deeply cut by a former race, and Time has hollowed in the larger stem an
arbour capable of containing half-a-dozen men. This holy tree was,
according to the Somal, a place of prayer for the infidel, and its ancient
honors are not departed. Here, probably to commemorate the westward
progress of the tribe, the Gudabirsi Ugaz or chief has the white canvass
turban bound about his brows, and hence rides forth to witness the
equestrian games in the Harawwah Valley. As everyone who passes by, visits
the Halimalah tree, foraging parties of the Northern Eesa and the Jibril
Abokr (a clan of the Habr Awal) frequently meet, and the traveller wends
his way in fear and trembling.

The thermometer showed an altitude of 3,350 feet: under the tree's cool
shade, the climate reminded me of Southern Italy in winter. I found a
butter-cup, and heard a wood-pecker [18] tapping on the hollow trunk, a
reminiscence of English glades. The Abban and his men urged an advance in
the afternoon. But my health had suffered from the bad water of the coast,
and the camels were faint with fatigue: we therefore dismissed the hired
beasts, carried our property into a deserted kraal, and, lighting a fire,
prepared to "make all snug" for the night. The Bedouins, chattering with
cold, stood closer to the comfortable blaze than ever did pater familias
in England: they smoked their faces, toasted their hands, broiled their
backs with intense enjoyment, and waved their legs to and fro through the
flame to singe away the pile, which at this season grows long. The End of
Time, who was surly, compared them to demons, and quoted the Arab's
saying:--"Allah never bless smooth man, or hairy woman!" On the 8th of
December, at 8 A.M., we travelled slowly up the Halimalah Valley, whose
clayey surface glistened with mica and quartz pebbles from the hills. All
the trees are thorny except the Sycamore and the Asclepias. The Gub, or
Jujube, grows luxuriantly in thickets: its dried wood is used by women to
fumigate their hair [19]: the Kedi, a tree like the porcupine,--all
spikes,--supplies the Bedouins with hatchet-handles. I was shown the Abol
with its edible gum, and a kind of Acacia, here called Galol. Its bark
dyes cloth a dull red, and the thorn issues from a bulb which, when young
and soft, is eaten by the Somal, when old it becomes woody, and hard as a
nut. At 9 A.M. we crossed the Lesser Abbaso, a Fiumara with high banks of
stiff clay and filled with large rolled stones: issuing from it, we
traversed a thorny path over ascending ground between higher hills, and
covered with large boulders and step-like layers of grit. Here appeared
several Gudabirsi tombs, heaps of stones or pebbles, surrounded by a fence
of thorns, or an enceinte of loose blocks: in the latter, slabs are used
to make such houses as children would build in play, to denote the number
of establishments left by the deceased. The new grave is known by the
conical milk-pails surmounting the stick at the head of the corpse, upon
the neighbouring tree is thrown the mat which bore the dead man to his
last home, and hard by are the blackened stones upon which his funeral
feast was cooked. At 11 A.M. we reached the Greater Abbaso, a Fiumara
about 100 yards wide, fringed with lovely verdure and full of the antelope
called Gurnuk: its watershed was, as usual in this region, from west and
south-west to east and north-east. About noon we halted, having travelled
eight miles from the Holy Tree.

At half past three reloading we followed the course of the Abbaso Valley,
the most beautiful spot we had yet seen. The presence of mankind, however,
was denoted by the cut branches of thorn encumbering the bed: we remarked
too, the tracks of lions pursued by hunters, and the frequent streaks of
serpents, sometimes five inches in diameter. Towards evening, our party
closed up in fear, thinking that they saw spears glancing through the
trees: I treated their alarm lightly, but the next day proved that it was
not wholly imaginary. At sunset we met a shepherd who swore upon the stone
[20] to bring us milk in exchange for tobacco, and presently, after a five
miles' march, we halted in a deserted kraal on the left bank of a Fiumara.
Clouds gathered black upon the hill tops, and a comfortless blast,
threatening rain, warned us not to delay pitching the Gurgi. A large fire
was lighted, and several guns were discharged to frighten away the lions
that infest this place. Twice during the night our camels started up and
rushed round their thorn ring in alarm.

* * * * *

Late in the morning of Saturday, the 9th December, I set out, accompanied
by Rirash and the End of Time, to visit some ruins a little way distant
from the direct road. After an hour's ride we turned away from the Abbaso
Fiumara and entered a basin among the hills distant about sixteen miles
from the Holy Tree. This is the site of Darbiyah Kola,--Kola's Fort,--so
called from its Galla queen. It is said that this city and its neighbour
Aububah fought like certain cats in Kilkenny till both were "eaten up:"
the Gudabirsi fix the event at the period when their forefathers still
inhabited Bulhar on the coast,--about 300 years ago. If the date be
correct, the substantial ruins have fought a stern fight with time.
Remnants of houses cumber the soil, and the carefully built wells are
filled with rubbish: the palace was pointed out to me with its walls of
stone and clay intersected by layers of woodwork. The mosque is a large
roofless building containing twelve square pillars of rude masonry, and
the Mihrab, or prayer niche, is denoted by a circular arch of tolerable
construction. But the voice of the Muezzin is hushed for ever, and
creepers now twine around the ruined fane. The scene was still and dreary
as the grave; for a mile and a half in length all was ruins--ruins--ruins.

Leaving this dead city, we rode towards the south-west between two rugged
hills of which the loftiest summit is called Wanauli. As usual they are
rich in thorns: the tall "Wadi" affords a gum useful to cloth-dyers, and
the leaves of the lofty Wumba are considered, after the Daum-palm, the
best material for mats. On the ground appeared the blue flowers of the
"Man" or "Himbah," a shrub resembling a potatoe: it bears a gay yellow
apple full of brown seeds which is not eaten by the Somal. My companions
made me taste some of the Karir berries, which in color and flavor
resemble red currants: the leaves are used as a dressing to ulcers.
Topping the ridge we stood for a few minutes to observe the view before
us. Beneath our feet lay a long grassy plain-the sight must have gladdened
the hearts of our starving mules!--and for the first time in Africa horses
appeared grazing free amongst the bushes. A little further off lay the
Aylonda valley studded with graves, and dark with verdure. Beyond it
stretched the Wady Harawwah, a long gloomy hollow in the general level.
The background was a bold sweep of blue hill, the second gradient of the
Harar line, and on its summit closing the western horizon lay a golden
streak--the Marar Prairie. Already I felt at the end of my journey. About
noon, reaching a kraal, whence but that morning our Gudabirsi Abbans had
driven off their kine, we sat under a tree and with a pistol reported
arrival. Presently the elders came out and welcomed their old acquaintance
the End of Time as a distinguished guest. He eagerly inquired about the
reported quarrel between the Abbans and their brother-in-law the Gerad
Adan. When, assured that it was the offspring of Somali imagination, he
rolled his head, and with dignity remarked, "What man shutteth to us, that
Allah openeth!" We complimented each other gravely upon the purity of our
intentions,--amongst Moslems a condition of success,--and not despising
second causes, lost no time in sending a horseman for the Abbans.
Presently some warriors came out and inquired if we were of the Caravan
that was travelling last evening up a valley with laden camels. On our
answering in the affirmative, they laughingly declared that a commando of
twelve horsemen had followed us with the intention of a sham-attack. This
is favourite sport with the Bedouin. When however the traveller shows
fright, the feint is apt to turn out a fact. On one occasion a party of
Arab merchants, not understanding the "fun of the thing," shot two Somal:
the tribe had the justice to acquit the strangers, mulcting them, however,
a few yards of cloth for the families of the deceased. In reply I fired a
pistol unexpectedly over the heads of my new hosts, and improved the
occasion of their terror by deprecating any practical facetiousness in

We passed the day under a tree: the camels escorted by my two attendants,
and the women, did not arrive till sunset, having occupied about eight
hours in marching as many miles. Fearing lions, we pitched inside the
kraal, despite crying children, scolding wives, cattle rushing about,
barking dogs, flies and ticks, filth and confinement.

I will now attempt a description of a village in Eastern Africa.

The Rer or Kraal [21] is a line of scattered huts on plains where thorns
are rare, beast of prey scarce, and raids not expected. In the hills it is
surrounded by a strong fence to prevent cattle straying: this, where
danger induces caution, is doubled and trebled. Yet the lion will
sometimes break through it, and the leopard clears it, prey in mouth with
a bound. The abattis has usually four entrances which are choked up with
heaps of bushes at night. The interior space is partitioned off by dwarf
hedges into rings, which contain and separate the different species of
cattle. Sometimes there is an outer compartment adjoining the exterior
fence, set apart for the camels; usually they are placed in the centre of
the kraal. Horses being most valuable are side-lined and tethered close to
the owner's hut, and rude bowers of brush and fire wood protect the
weaklings of the flocks from the heat of the sun and the inclement night

At intervals around and inside the outer abattis are built the Gurgi or
wigwams--hemispheric huts like old bee-hives about five feet high by six
in diameter: they are even smaller in the warm regions, but they increase
in size as the elevation of the country renders climate less genial. The
material is a framework of "Digo," or sticks bent and hardened in the
fire: to build the hut, these are planted in the ground, tied together
with cords, and covered with mats of two different kinds: the Aus composed
of small bundles of grass neatly joined, is hard and smooth; the Kibid has
a long pile and is used as couch as well as roof. The single entrance in
front is provided with one of these articles which serves as a curtain;
hides are spread upon the top during the monsoon, and little heaps of
earth are sometimes raised outside to keep out wind and rain.

The furniture is simple as the building. Three stones and a hole form the
fireplace, near which sleep the children, kids, and lambs: there being no
chimney, the interior is black with soot. The cow-skin couches are
suspended during the day, like arms and other articles which suffer from
rats and white ants, by loops of cord to the sides. The principal
ornaments are basket-work bottles, gaily adorned with beads, cowris, and
stained leather. Pottery being here unknown, the Bedouins twist the fibres
of a root into various shapes, and make them water-tight with the powdered
bark of another tree. [22] The Han is a large wicker-work bucket, mounted
in a framework of sticks, and used to contain water on journeys. The Guraf
(a word derived from the Arabic "Ghurfah") is a conical-shaped vessel,
used to bale out the contents of a well. The Del, or milk pail, is shaped
like two cones joined at the base by lateral thongs, the upper and smaller
half acting as cup and cover. And finally the Wesi, or water bottle,
contains the traveller's store for drinking and religious ablution.

When the kraal is to be removed, the huts and furniture are placed upon
the camels, and the hedges and earth are sometimes set on fire, to purify
the place and deceive enemies, Throughout the country black circles of
cinders or thorn diversify the hill sides, and show an extensive
population. Travellers always seek deserted kraals for security of
encampment. As they swarm with vermin by night and flies by day [23], I
frequently made strong objections to these favourite localities: the
utmost conceded to me was a fresh enclosure added by a smaller hedge to
the outside abattis of the more populous cow-kraals.

On the 10th December we halted: the bad water, the noon-day sun of 107,
and the cold mornings--51 being the average--had seriously affected my
health. All the population flocked to see me, darkening the hut with
nodding wigs and staring faces: and,--the Gudabirsi are polite knaves,--
apologised for the intrusion. Men, women, and children appeared in crowds,
bringing milk and ghee, meat and water, several of the elders remembered
having seen me at Berberah [24], and the blear-eyed maidens, who were in
no wise shy, insisted upon admiring the white stranger.

Feeling somewhat restored by repose, I started the next day, "with a tail
on" to inspect the ruins of Aububah. After a rough ride over stony ground
we arrived at a grassy hollow, near a line of hills, and dismounted to
visit the Shaykh Aububah's remains. He rests under a little conical dome
of brick, clay and wood, similar in construction to that of Zayla: it is
falling to pieces, and the adjoining mosque, long roofless, is overgrown
with trees, that rustle melancholy sounds in the light joyous breeze.
Creeping in by a dwarf door or rather hole, my Gudabirsi guides showed me
a bright object forming the key of the arch: as it shone they suspected
silver, and the End of Time whispered a sacrilegious plan for purloining
it. Inside the vault were three graves apparently empty, and upon the dark
sunken floor lay several rounded stones, resembling cannon balls, and used
as weights by the more civilised Somal. Thence we proceeded to the battle-
field, a broad sheet of sandstone, apparently dinted by the hoofs of mules
and horses: on this ground, which, according to my guides, was in olden
days soft and yielding, took place the great action between Aububah and
Darbiyah Kola. A second mosque was found with walls in tolerable repair,
but, like the rest of the place, roofless. Long Guled ascended the broken
staircase of a small square minaret, and delivered a most ignorant and
Bedouin-like Azan or call to prayer. Passing by the shells of houses, we
concluded our morning's work with a visit to the large graveyard.
Apparently it did not contain the bones of Moslems: long lines of stones
pointed westward, and one tomb was covered with a coating of hard mortar,
in whose sculptured edge my benighted friends detected magical
inscriptions. I heard of another city called Ahammed in the neighbouring
hills, but did not visit it. These are all remains of Galla settlements,
which the ignorance and exaggeration of the Somal fill with "writings" and
splendid edifices.

Returning home we found that our Gudabirsi Bedouins had at length obeyed
the summons. The six sons of a noted chief, Ali Addah or White Ali, by
three different mothers, Beuh, Igah, Khayri, Nur, Ismail and Yunis, all
advanced towards me as I dismounted, gave the hand of friendship, and
welcomed me to their homes. With the exception of the first-named, a hard-
featured man at least forty years old, the brothers were good-looking
youths, with clear brown skins, regular features, and graceful figures.
They entered the Gurgi when invited, but refused to eat, saying, that they
came for honor not for food. The Hajj Sharmarkay's introductory letter was
read aloud to their extreme delight, and at their solicitation, I perused
it a second and a third time; then having dismissed with sundry small
presents, the two Abbans Raghe and Rirash, I wrote a flattering account of
them to the Hajj, and entrusted it to certain citizens who were returning
in caravan Zayla-wards, after a commercial tour in the interior.

Before they departed, there was a feast after the Homeric fashion. A sheep
was "cut," disembowelled, dismembered, tossed into one of our huge
caldrons, and devoured within the hour: the almost live food [25] was
washed down with huge draughts of milk. The feasters resembled
Wordsworth's cows, "forty feeding like one:" in the left hand they held
the meat to their teeth, and cut off the slice in possession with long
daggers perilously close, were their noses longer and their mouths less
obtrusive. During the dinner I escaped from the place of flies, and
retired to a favourite tree. Here the End of Time, seeing me still in
pain, insisted upon trying a Somali medicine. He cut two pieces of dry
wood, scooped a hole in the shorter, and sharpened the longer, applied
point to socket, which he sprinkled with a little sand, placed his foot
upon the "female stick," and rubbed the other between his palms till smoke
and char appeared. He then cauterized my stomach vigorously in six
different places, quoting a tradition, "the End of Physic is Fire."

On Tuesday the 12th December, I vainly requested the two sons of White
Ali, who had constituted themselves our guides, to mount their horses:
they feared to fatigue the valuable animals at a season when grass is rare
and dry. I was disappointed by seeing the boasted "Faras" [26] of the
Somal, in the shape of ponies hardly thirteen hands high. The head is
pretty, the eyes are well opened, and the ears are small; the form also is
good, but the original Arab breed has degenerated in the new climate. They
are soft, docile, and--like all other animals in this part of the world--
timid: the habit of climbing rocks makes them sure-footed, and they show
the remains of blood when forced to fatigue. The Gudabirsi will seldom
sell these horses, the great safeguard against their conterminous tribes,
the Eesa and Girhi, who are all infantry: a village seldom contains more
than six or eight, and the lowest value would be ten cows or twenty Tobes.
[27] Careful of his beast when at rest, the Somali Bedouin in the saddle
is rough and cruel: whatever beauty the animal may possess in youth,
completely disappears before the fifth year, and few are without spavin,
or sprained back-sinews. In some parts of the country [28], "to ride
violently to your hut two or three times before finally dismounting, is
considered a great compliment, and the same ceremony is observed on
leaving. Springing into the saddle (if he has one), with the aid of his
spear, the Somali cavalier first endeavours to infuse a little spirit into
his half-starved hack, by persuading him to accomplish a few plunges and
capers: then, his heels raining a hurricane of blows against the animal's
ribs, and occasionally using his spear-point as a spur, away he gallops,
and after a short circuit, in which he endeavours to show himself to the
best advantage, returns to his starting point at full speed, when the
heavy Arab bit brings up the blown horse with a shock that half breaks his
jaw and fills his mouth with blood. The affection of the true Arab for his
horse is proverbial: the cruelty of the Somal to his, may, I think, be
considered equally so." The Bedouins practise horse-racing, and run for
bets, which are contested with ardor: on solemn occasions, they have rude
equestrian games, in which they display themselves and their animals. The
Gudabirsi, and indeed most of the Somal, sit loosely upon their horses.
Their saddle is a demi-pique, a high-backed wooden frame, like the
Egyptian fellah's: two light splinters leave a clear space for the spine,
and the tree is tightly bound with wet thongs: a sheepskin shabracque is
loosely spread over it, and the dwarf iron stirrup admits only the big
toe, as these people fear a stirrup which, if the horse fall, would
entangle the foot. Their bits are cruelly severe; a solid iron ring, as in
the Arab bridle, embracing the lower jaw, takes the place of a curb chain.
Some of the head-stalls, made at Berberah, are prettily made of cut
leather and bright steel ornaments like diminutive quoits. The whip is a
hard hide handle, plated with zinc, and armed with a single short broad

With the two sons of White Ali and the End of Time, at 8 A.M., on the 12th
December, I rode forward, leaving the jaded camels in charge of my
companions and the women. We crossed the plain in a south-westerly
direction, and after traversing rolling ground, we came to a ridge, which
commanded an extensive view. Behind lay the Wanauli Hills, already purple
in the distance. On our left was a mass of cones, each dignified by its
own name; no one, it is said, can ascend them, which probably means that
it would be a fatiguing walk. Here are the visitation-places of three
celebrated saints, Amud, Sau and Shaykh Sharlagamadi, or the "Hidden from
Evil," To the north-west I was shown some blue peaks tenanted by the Eesa
Somal. In front, backed by the dark hills of Harar, lay the Harawwah
valley. The breadth is about fifteen miles: it runs from south-west to
north-east, between the Highlands of the Girhi and the rolling ground of
the Gudabirsi Somal, as far, it is said, as the Dankali country. Of old
this luxuriant waste belonged to the former tribe; about twelve years ago
it was taken from them by the Gudabirsi, who carried off at the same time
thirty cows, forty camels, and between three and four hundred sheep and

Large herds tended by spearmen and grazing about the bush, warned us that
we were approaching the kraal in which the sons of White Ali were camped;
at half-past 10 A.M., after riding eight miles, we reached the place which
occupies the lower slope of the Northern Hills that enclose the Harawwah
valley. We spread our hides under a tree, and were soon surrounded by
Bedouins, who brought milk, sun-dried beef, ghee and honey in one of the
painted wooden bowls exported from Cutch. After breakfast, at which the
End of Time distinguished himself by dipping his meat into honey, we went
out gun in hand towards the bush. It swarmed with sand-antelope and
Gurnuk: the ground-squirrels haunted every ant-hill, hoopoos and spur-
fowls paced among the thickets, in the trees we heard the frequent cry of
the Gobiyan and the bird facetiously termed from its cry "Dobo-dogon-
guswen," and the bright-coloured hawk, the Abodi or Bakiyyah [29], lay on
wing high in the cloudless air.

When tired of killing we returned to our cow-hides, and sat in
conversation with the Bedouins. They boasted of the skill with which they
used the shield, and seemed not to understand the efficiency of a sword-
parry: to illustrate the novel idea I gave a stick to the best man,
provided myself in the same way, and allowed him to cut at me. After
repeated failures he received a sounding blow upon the least bony portion
of his person: the crowd laughed long and loud, and the pretending
"knight-at-arms" retired in confusion.

Darkness fell, but no caravan appeared: it had been delayed by a runaway
mule,--perhaps by the desire to restrain my vagrant propensities,--and did
not arrive till midnight. My hosts cleared a Gurgi for our reception,
brought us milk, and extended their hospitality to the full limits of even
savage complaisance.

Expecting to march on the 13th December soon after dawn, I summoned Beuh
and his brethren to the hut, reminding him that the Hajj had promised me
an escort without delay to the village of the Gerad Adan. To my instances
they replied that, although they were most anxious to oblige, the arrival
of Mudeh the eldest son rendered a consultation necessary; and retiring to
the woods, sat in palaver from 8 A.M. to past noon. At last they came to a
resolution which could not be shaken. They would not trust one of their
number in the Gerad's country; a horseman, however, should carry a letter
inviting the Girhi chief to visit his brothers-in-law. I was assured that
Adan would not drink water before mounting to meet us: but, fear is
reciprocal, there was evidently bad blood between them, and already a
knowledge of Somali customs caused me to suspect the result of our
mission. However, a letter was written reminding the Gerad of "the word
spoken under the tree," and containing, in case of recusance, a threat to
cut off the salt well at which his cows are periodically driven to drink.
Then came the bargain for safe conduct. After much haggling, especially on
the part of the handsome Igah, they agreed to receive twenty Tobes, three
bundles of tobacco, and fourteen cubits of indigo-dyed cotton. In addition
to this I offered as a bribe one of my handsome Abyssinian shirts with a
fine silk fringe made at Aden, to be received by the man Beuh on the day
of entering the Gerad's village.

I arose early in the next morning, having been promised by the Abbans
grand sport in the Harawwah Valley. The Somal had already divided the
elephants' spoils: they were to claim the hero's feather, I was to receive
two thirds of the ivory--nothing remained to be done but the killing.
After sundry pretences and prayers for delay, Beuh saddled his hack, the
Hammal mounted one mule, a stout-hearted Bedouin called Fahi took a
second, and we started to find the herds. The End of Time lagged in the
rear: the reflection that a mule cannot outrun an elephant, made him look
so ineffably miserable, that I sent him back to the kraal. "Dost thou
believe me to be a coward, 0 Pilgrim?" thereupon exclaimed the Mullah,
waxing bold in the very joy of his heart. "Of a truth I do!" was my reply.
Nothing abashed, he hammered his mule with heel, and departed ejaculating,
"What hath man but a single life? and he who throweth it away, what is he
but a fool?" Then we advanced with cocked guns, Beuh singing, Boanerges-
like, the Song of the Elephant.

In the Somali country, as amongst the Kafirs, after murdering a man or
boy, the death of an elephant is considered _the_ act of heroism: most
tribes wear for it the hair-feather and the ivory bracelet. Some hunters,
like the Bushmen of the Cape [30], kill the Titan of the forests with
barbed darts carrying Waba-poison. The general way of hunting resembles
that of the Abyssinian Agageers described by Bruce. One man mounts a white
pony, and galloping before the elephant, induces him, as he readily does,
--firearms being unknown,--to charge and "chivy." The rider directs his
course along, and close to, some bush, where a comrade is concealed; and
the latter, as the animal passes at speed, cuts the back sinew of the hind
leg, where in the human subject the tendon Achilles would be, with a
sharp, broad and heavy knife. [31] This wound at first occasions little
inconvenience: presently the elephant, fancying, it is supposed, that a
thorn has stuck in his foot, stamps violently, and rubs the scratch till
the sinew is fairly divided. The animal, thus disabled, is left to perish
wretchedly of hunger and thirst: the tail, as amongst the Kafirs, is cut
off to serve as trophy, and the ivories are removed when loosened by
decomposition. In this part of Africa the elephant is never tamed. [32]

For six hours we rode the breadth of the Harawwah Valley: it was covered
with wild vegetation, and surface-drains, that carry off the surplus of
the hills enclosing it. In some places the torrent beds had cut twenty
feet into the soil. The banks were fringed with milk-bush and Asclepias,
the Armo-creeper, a variety of thorns, and especially the yellow-berried
Jujube: here numberless birds followed bright-winged butterflies, and the
"Shaykhs of the Blind," as the people call the black fly, settled in
swarms upon our hands and faces as we rode by. The higher ground was
overgrown with a kind of cactus, which here becomes a tree, forming shady
avenues. Its quadrangular fleshy branches of emerald green, sometimes
forty feet high, support upon their summits large round bunches of a
bright crimson berry: when the plantation is close, domes of extreme
beauty appear scattered over the surface of the country. This "Hassadin"
abounds in burning milk, and the Somal look downwards when passing under
its branches: the elephant is said to love it, and in many places the
trees were torn to pieces by hungry trunks. The nearest approaches to game
were the last year's earths; likely places, however, shady trees and green
thorns near water, were by no means uncommon. When we reached the valley's
southern wall, Beuh informed us that we might ride all day, if we pleased,
with the same result. At Zayla I had been informed that elephants are
"thick as sand" in Harawwah: even the Gudabirsi, when at a distance,
declared that they fed there like sheep, and, after our failure, swore
that they killed thirty but last year. The animals were probably in the
high Harirah Valley, and would be driven downwards by the cold at a later
period: some future Gordon Cumming may therefore succeed where the Hajj
Abdullah notably failed.

On the 15th December I persuaded the valiant Beuh, with his two brothers
and his bluff cousin Fahi, to cross the valley with us, After recovering a
mule which had strayed five miles back to the well, and composing sundry
quarrels between Shehrazade, whose swains had detained her from camel-
loading, and the Kalendar whose one eye flashed with indignation at her
conduct, we set out in a southerly direction. An hour's march brought us
to an open space surrounded by thin thorn forest: in the centre is an
ancient grave, about which are performed the equestrian games when the
turban of the Ugaz has been bound under the Holy Tree. Shepherds issued
from the bush to stare at us as we passed, and stretched forth the hand
for "Bori:" the maidens tripped forwards exclaiming, "Come, girls, let us
look at this prodigy!" and they never withheld an answer if civilly
addressed. Many of them were grown up, and not a few were old maids, the
result of the tribe's isolation; for here, as in Somaliland generally, the
union of cousins is abhorred. The ground of the valley is a stiff clay,
sprinkled with pebbles of primitive formation: the hills are mere rocks,
and the torrent banks with strata of small stones, showed a watermark
varying from ten to fifteen feet in height: in these Fiumaras we saw
frequent traces of the Edler-game, deer and hog. At 1 P.M. our camels and
mules were watered at wells in a broad wady called Jannah-Gaban or the
Little Garden; its course, I was told, lies northwards through the
Harawwah Valley to the Odla and Waruf, two depressions in the Wayma
country near Tajurrah. About half an hour afterwards we arrived at a
deserted sheepfold distant six miles from our last station. After
unloading we repaired to a neighbouring well, and found the water so hard
that it raised lumps like nettle stings in the bather's skin. The only
remedy for the evil is an unguent of oil or butter, a precaution which
should never be neglected by the African traveller. At first the sensation
of grease annoys, after a few days it is forgotten, and at last the "pat
of butter" is expected as pleasantly as the pipe or the cup of coffee. It
prevents the skin from chaps and sores, obviates the evil effects of heat,
cold, and wet, and neutralises the Proteus-like malaria poison. The Somal
never fail to anoint themselves when they can afford ghee, and the Bedouin
is at the summit of his bliss, when sitting in the blazing sun, or,--heat
acts upon these people as upon serpents,--with his back opposite a roaring
fire, he is being smeared, rubbed, and kneaded by a companion.

My guides, fearing lions and hyenas, would pass the night inside a foul
sheepfold: I was not without difficulty persuaded to join them. At eight
next morning we set out through an uninteresting thorn-bush towards one of
those Tetes or isolated hills which form admirable bench-marks in the
Somali country. "Koralay," a terra corresponding with our Saddle-back,
exactly describes its shape: pommel and crupper, in the shape of two huge
granite boulders, were all complete, and between them was a depression for
a seat. As day advanced the temperature changed from 50 to a maximum of
121. After marching about five miles, we halted in a broad watercourse
called Gallajab, the "Plentiful Water": there we bathed, and dined on an
excellent camel which had broken its leg by falling from a bank.

Resuming our march at 5 P.M., we travelled over ascending ground which
must be most fertile after rain: formerly it belonged to the Girhi, and
the Gudabirsi boasted loudly of their conquest. After an hour's march we
reached the base of Koralay, upon whose lower slopes appeared a pair of
the antelopes called Alakud [33]: they are tame, easily shot, and eagerly
eaten by the Bedouins. Another hour of slow travelling brought us to a
broad Fiumara with high banks of stiff clay thickly wooded and showing a
water-mark eighteen feet above the sand. The guides named these wells
Agjogsi, probably a generic term signifying that water is standing close
by. Crossing the Fiumara we ascended a hill, and found upon the summit a
large kraal alive with heads of kine. The inhabitants flocked out to stare
at us and the women uttered cries of wonder. I advanced towards the
prettiest, and fired my rifle by way of salute over her head. The people
delighted, exclaimed, Mod! Mod!--"Honor to thee!"--and we replied with
shouts of Kulliban--"May Heaven aid ye!" [34] At 5 P.M., after five miles'
march, the camels were unloaded in a deserted kraal whose high fence
denoted danger of wild beasts. The cowherds bade us beware of lions: but a
day before a girl had been dragged out of her hut, and Moslem burial could
be given to only one of her legs. A Bedouin named Uddao, whom we hired as
mule-keeper, was ordered to spend the night singing, and, as is customary
with Somali watchmen, to address and answer himself dialogue-wise with a
different voice, in order to persuade thieves that several men are on the
alert. He was a spectacle of wildness as he sat before the blazing fire,--
his joy by day, his companion and protector in the shades, the only step
made by him in advance of his brethren the Cynocephali.

We were detained four days at Agjogsi by the nonappearance of the Gerad
Adan: this delay gave me an opportunity of ascending to the summit of
Koralay the Saddleback, which lay about a mile north of our encampment. As
we threaded the rocks and hollows of the side we came upon dens strewed
with cows' bones, and proving by a fresh taint that the tenants had lately
quitted them. In this country the lion is seldom seen unless surprised
asleep in his lair of thicket: during my journey, although at times the
roaring was heard all night, I saw but one. The people have a superstition
that the king of beasts will not attack a single traveller, because such a
person, they say, slew the mother of all the lions: except in darkness or
during violent storms, which excite the fiercer carnivors, he is a timid
animal, much less feared by the people than the angry and agile leopard.
Unable to run with rapidity when pressed by hunger, he pursues a party of
travellers stealthily as a cat, and, arrived within distance, springs,
strikes down the hindermost, and carries him away to the bush.

From the summit of Koralay, we had a fair view of the surrounding country.
At least forty kraals, many of them deserted, lay within the range of
sight. On all sides except the north-west and south-east was a mass of
sombre rock and granite hill: the course of the valleys between the
several ranges was denoted by a lively green, and the plains scattered in
patches over the landscape shone with dull yellow, the effect of clay and
stubble, whilst a light mist encased the prospect in a circlet of blue and
silver. Here the End of Time conceived the jocose idea of crowning me king
of the country. With loud cries of Buh! Buh! Buh! he showered leaves of a
gum tree and a little water from a prayer bottle over my head, and then
with all solemnity bound on the turban. [35] It is perhaps fortunate that
this facetiousness was not witnessed: a crowd of Bedouins assembled below
the hill, suspecting as usual some magical practices, and, had they known
the truth, our journey might have ended abruptly. Descending, I found
porcupines' quills in abundance [36], and shot a rock pigeon called Elal-
jog--the "Dweller at wells." At the foot a "Baune" or Hyrax Abyssinicus,
resembling the Coney of Palestine [37], was observed at its favourite
pastime of sunning itself upon the rocks.

On the evening of the 20th December the mounted messenger returned, after
a six hours' hard ride, bringing back unopened the letter addressed by me
to the Gerad, and a private message from their sister to the sons of White
Ali, advising them not to advance. Ensued terrible palavers. It appeared
that the Gerad was upon the point of mounting horse, when his subjects
swore him to remain and settle a dispute with the Amir of Harar. Our
Abbans, however, withdrew their hired camels, positively refuse to
accompany us, and Beuh privily informed the End of Time that I had
acquired through the land the evil reputation of killing everything, from
an elephant to a bird in the air. One of the younger brethren, indeed,
declared that we were forerunners of good, and that if the Gerad harmed a
hair of our heads, he would slaughter every Girhi under the sun. We had,
however, learned properly to appreciate such vaunts, and the End of Time
drily answered that their sayings were honey but their doings myrrh. Being
a low-caste and a shameless tribe, they did not reply to our reproaches.
At last, a manoeuvre was successful: Beuh and his brethren, who squatted
like sulky children in different places, were dismissed with thanks,--we
proposed placing ourselves under the safeguard of Gerad Hirsi, the Berteri
chief. This would have thrown the protection-price, originally intended
for their brother-in-law, into the hands of a rival, and had the effect of
altering their resolve. Presently we were visited by two Widad or hedge-
priests, Ao Samattar and Ao Nur [38], both half-witted fellows, but active
and kindhearted. The former wore a dirty turban, the latter a Zebid cap, a
wicker-work calotte, composed of the palm leaf's mid-rib: they carried
dressed goatskins, as prayer carpets, over their right shoulders dangled
huge wooden ink bottles with Lauh or wooden tablets for writing talismans
[39], and from the left hung a greasy bag, containing a tattered copy of
the Koran and a small MS. of prayers. They read tolerably, but did not
understand Arabic, and I presented them with cheap Bombay lithographs of
the Holy Book. The number of these idlers increased as we approached
Harar, the Alma Mater of Somali land:--the people seldom listen to their
advice, but on this occasion Ao Samattar succeeded in persuading the
valiant Beuh that the danger was visionary. Soon afterwards rode up to our
kraal three cavaliers, who proved to be sons of Adam, the future Ugaz of
the Gudabirsi tribe: this chief had fully recognized the benefits of
reopening to commerce a highway closed by their petty feuds, and sent to
say that, in consequence of his esteem for the Hajj Sharmarkay, if the
sons of White Ali feared to escort us, he in person would do the deed.
Thereupon Beuh became a "Gesi" or hero, as the End of Time ironically
called him: he sent back his brethren with their horses and camels, and
valorously prepared to act as our escort. I tauntingly asked him what he
now thought of the danger. For all reply he repeated the words, with which
the Bedouins--who, like the Arabs, have a holy horror of towns--had been
dinning daily into my ears, "They will spoil that white skin of thine at

At 3 P.M., on the 21st December, we started in a westerly direction
through a gap in the hills, and presently turned to the south-west, over
rapidly rising ground, thickly inhabited, and covered with flocks and
herds. About 5 P.M., after marching two miles, we raised our wigwam
outside a populous kraal, a sheep was provided by the hospitality of Ao
Samattar, and we sat deep into the night enjoying a genial blaze.

Early the next morning we had hoped to advance: water, however, was
wanting, and a small caravan was slowly gathering;--these details delayed
us till 4 P.M. Our line lay westward, over rising ground, towards a
conspicuous conical hill called Konti. Nothing could be worse for camels
than the rough ridges at the foot of the mountain, full of thickets, cut
by deep Fiumaras, and abounding in dangerous watercourses: the burdens
slipped now backwards then forwards, sometimes the load was almost dragged
off by thorns, and at last we were obliged to leave one animal to follow
slowly in the rear. After creeping on two miles, we bivouacked in a
deserted cow-kraal,--_sub dio_, as it was warm under the hills. That
evening our party was increased by a Gudabirsi maiden in search of a
husband: she was surlily received by Shehrazade and Deenarzade, but we
insisted upon her being fed, and superintended the operation. Her style of
eating was peculiar; she licked up the rice from the hollow of her hand.
Next morning she was carried away in our absence, greatly against her
will, by some kinsmen who had followed her.

And now, bidding adieu to the Gudabirsi, I will briefly sketch the tribe.

The Gudabirsi, or Gudabursi, derive themselves from Dir and Aydur, thus
claiming affinity with the Eesa: others declare their tribe to be an
offshoot from the Bahgoba clan of the Habr Awal, originally settled near
Jebel Almis, and Bulhar, on the sea-shore. The Somal unhesitatingly
stigmatize them as a bastard and ignoble race: a noted genealogist once
informed me, that they were little better than Midgans or serviles. Their
ancestors' mother, it is said, could not name the father of her child:
some proposed to slay it, others advocated its preservation, saying,
"Perhaps we shall increase by it!" Hence the name of the tribe. [40]

The Gudabirsi are such inveterate liars that I could fix for them no
number between 3000 and 10,000. They own the rough and rolling ground
diversified with thorny hill and grassy vale, above the first or seaward
range of mountains; and they have extended their lands by conquest towards
Harar, being now bounded in that direction by the Marar Prairie. As usual,
they are subdivided into a multitude of clans. [41]

In appearance the Gudabirsi are decidedly superior to their limitrophes
the Eesa. I have seen handsome faces amongst the men as well as the women.
Some approach closely to the Caucasian type: one old man, with olive-
coloured skin, bald brow, and white hair curling round his temples, and
occiput, exactly resembled an Anglo-Indian veteran. Generally, however,
the prognathous mouth betrays an African origin, and chewing tobacco mixed
with ashes stains the teeth, blackens the gums, and mottles the lips. The
complexion is the Abyssinian _cafe au lait_, contrasting strongly with the
sooty skins of the coast; and the hair, plentifully anointed with rancid
butter, hangs from the head in lank corkscrews the colour of a Russian
pointer's coat. The figure is rather squat, but broad and well set.

The Gudabirsi are as turbulent and unmanageable, though not so
bloodthirsty, as the Eesa. Their late chief, Ugaz Roblay of the Bait
Samattar sept, left children who could not hold their own: the turban was
at once claimed by a rival branch, the Rer Abdillah, and a civil war
ensued. The lovers of legitimacy will rejoice to hear that when I left the
country, Galla, son of the former Prince Rainy, was likely to come to his
own again.

The stranger's life is comparatively safe amongst this tribe: as long as
he feeds and fees them, he may even walk about unarmed. They are, however,
liars even amongst the Somal, Bobadils amongst boasters, inveterate
thieves, and importunate beggars. The smooth-spoken fellows seldom betray
emotion except when cloth or tobacco is concerned; "dissimulation is as
natural to them as breathing," and I have called one of their chiefs "dog"
without exciting his indignation.

The commerce of these wild regions is at present in a depressed state:
were the road safe, traffic with the coast would be considerable. The
profit on hides, for instance, at Aden, would be at least cent. per cent.:
the way, however, is dangerous, and detention is frequent, consequently
the gain will not remunerate for risk and loss of time. No operation can
be undertaken in a hurry, consequently demand cannot readily be supplied.
What Laing applies to Western, may be repeated of Eastern Africa: "the
endeavour to accelerate an undertaking is almost certain to occasion its
failure." Nowhere is patience more wanted, in order to perform perfect
work. The wealth of the Gudabirsi consists principally in cattle,
peltries, hides, gums, and ghee. The asses are dun-coloured, small, and
weak; the camels large, loose, and lazy; the cows are pretty animals, with
small humps, long horns, resembling the Damara cattle, and in the grazing
season with plump, well-rounded limbs; there is also a bigger breed, not
unlike that of Tuscany. The standard is the Tobe of coarse canvass; worth
about three shillings at Aden, here it doubles in value. The price of a
good camel varies from six to eight cloths; one Tobe buys a two-year-old
heifer, three, a cow between three and four years old. A ewe costs half a
cloth: the goat, although the flesh is according to the Somal nutritive,
whilst "mutton is disease," is a little cheaper than the sheep. Hides and
peltries are usually collected at and exported from Harar; on the coast
they are rubbed over with salt, and in this state carried to Aden. Cows'
skins fetch a quarter of a dollar, or about one shilling in cloth, and two
dollars are the extreme price for the Kurjah or score of goats' skins. The
people of the interior have a rude way of tanning [42]; they macerate the
hide, dress, and stain it of a deep calf-skin colour with the bark of a
tree called Jirmah, and lastly the leather is softened with the hand. The
principal gum is the Adad, or Acacia Arabica: foreign merchants purchase
it for about half a dollar per Farasilah of twenty pounds: cow's and
sheep's butter may fetch a dollar's worth of cloth for the measure of
thirty-two pounds. This great article of commerce is good and pure in the
country, whereas at Berberah, the Habr Awal adulterate it, previous to
exportation, with melted sheep's tails.

The principal wants of the country which we have traversed are coarse
cotton cloth, Surat tobacco, beads, and indigo-dyed stuffs for women's
coifs. The people would also be grateful for any improvement in their
breed of horses, and when at Aden I thought of taking with me some old
Arab stallions as presents to chiefs. Fortunately the project fell to the
ground: a strange horse of unusual size or beauty, in these regions, would
be stolen at the end of the first march.


[1] Every hill and peak, ravine and valley, will be known by some striking
epithet: as Borad, the White Hill; Libahlay, the Lions' Mountain; and so

[2] The Arabs call it Kakatua, and consider it a species of parrot. The
name Cacatoes, is given by the Cape Boers, according to Delegorgue, to the
Coliphymus Concolor. The Gobiyan resembles in shape and flight our magpie,
it has a crest and a brown coat with patches of white, and a noisy note
like a frog. It is very cunning and seldom affords a second shot.

[3] The berries of the Armo are eaten by children, and its leaves, which
never dry up, by the people in times of famine; they must be boiled or the
acrid juice would excoriate the mouth.

[4] Siyaro is the Somali corruption of the Arabic Ziyarat, which,
synonymous with Mazar, means a place of pious visitation.

[5] The Somal call the insect Abor, and its hill Dundumo.

[6] The corrupted Portuguese word used by African travellers; in the
Western regions it is called Kelder, and the Arabs term it "Kalam."

[7] Three species of the Dar or Aloe grow everywhere in the higher regions
of the Somali country. The first is called Dar Main, the inside of its
peeled leaf is chewed when water cannot be procured. The Dar Murodi or
Elephant's aloe is larger and useless: the Dar Digwen or Long-eared
resembles that of Socotra.

[8] The Hig is called "Salab" by the Arabs, who use its long tough fibre
for ropes. Patches of this plant situated on moist ground at the foot of
hills, are favourite places with sand antelope, spur-fowl and other game.

[9] The Darnel or pod has a sweetish taste, not unlike that of a withered
pea; pounded and mixed with milk or ghee, it is relished by the Bedouins
when vegetable food is scarce.

[10] Dobo in the Somali tongue signifies mud or clay.

[11] The Loajira (from "Loh," a cow) is a neatherd; the "Geljira" is the
man who drives camels.

[12] For these we paid twenty-four oubits of canvass, and two of blue
cotton; equivalent to about three shillings.

[13] The natives call them Jana; they are about three-fourths of an inch
long, and armed with stings that prick like thorns and burn violently for
a few minutes.

[14] Near Berberah, where the descents are more rapid, such panoramas are

[15] This is the celebrated Waba, which produces the Somali Wabayo, a
poison applied to darts and arrows. It is a round stiff evergreen, not
unlike a bay, seldom taller than twenty feet, affecting hill sides and
torrent banks, growing in clumps that look black by the side of the
Acacias; thornless, with a laurel-coloured leaf, which cattle will not
touch, unless forced by famine, pretty bunches of pinkish white flowers,
and edible berries black and ripening to red. The bark is thin, the wood
yellow, compact, exceedingly tough and hard, the root somewhat like
liquorice; the latter is prepared by trituration and other processes, and
the produce is a poison in substance and colour resembling pitch.

Travellers have erroneously supposed the arrow poison of Eastern Africa to
be the sap of a Euphorbium. The following "observations accompanying a
substance procured near Aden, and used by the Somalis to poison their
arrows," by F. S. Arnott, Esq., M.D., will be read with interest.

"In February 1853, Dr. Arnott had forwarded to him a watery extract
prepared from the root of a tree, described as 'Wabie,' a toxicodendron
from the Somali country on the Habr Gerhajis range of the Goolies
mountains. The tree grows to the height of twenty feet. The poison is
obtained by boiling the root in water, until it attains the consistency of
an inspissated juice. When cool the barb of the arrow is anointed with the
juice, which, is regarded as a virulent poison, and it renders a wound
tainted therewith incurable. Dr. Arnott was informed that death usually
took place within an hour; that the hairs and nails dropped off after
death, and it was believed that the application of heat assisted its
poisonous qualities. He could not, however ascertain the quantity made use
of by the Somalis, and doubted if the point of an arrow would convey a
sufficient quantity to produce such immediate effects. He had tested its
powers in some other experiments, besides the ones detailed, and although
it failed in several instances, yet he was led to the conclusion that it
was a very powerful narcotic irritant poison. He had not, however,
observed the local effect said to be produced upon the point of

"The following trials were described:--

"1. A little was inserted into the inside of the ear of a sickly sheep,
and death occurred in two hours.

"2. A little was inserted into, the inside of the ear of a healthy sheep,
and death occurred in two hours, preceded by convulsions.

"3. Five grains were given to a dog; vomiting took place after an hour,
and death in three or four hours.

"4. One grain was swallowed by a fowl, but no effect produced.

"5. Three grains were given to a sheep, but without producing any effect.

"6. A small quantity was inserted into the ear and shoulder of a dog, but
no effect was produced.

"7. Upon the same dog two days after, the same quantity was inserted into
the thigh; death occurred in less than two hours.

"8. Seven grains were given to a sheep without any effect whatever.

"9. To a dog five grains were administered, but it was rejected by
vomiting; this was again repeated on the following day, with the same
result. On the same day four grains were inserted into a wound upon the
same dog; it produced violent effects in ten, and death in thirty-five,

"10. To a sheep two grains in solution were given without any effect being
produced. The post-mortem appearances observed were, absence of all traces
of inflammation, collapse of the lungs, and distension of the cavities of
the heart."

Further experiments of the Somali arrow poison by B. Haines, M. B.,
assistant surgeon (from Transactions of the Medical and Physical Society
of Bombay. No. 2. new series 1853-1854.)

"Having while at Ahmednuggur received from the secretary a small quantity
of Somali arrow poison, alluded to by Mr. Vaughan in his notes on articles
of the Materia Medica, and published in the last volume of the Society's
Transactions, and called 'Wabie,' the following experiments were made with

"September 17th. 1. A small healthy rabbit was taken, and the skin over
the hip being divided, a piece of the poisonous extract about the size of
a corn of wheat was inserted into the cellular tissue beneath: thirty
minutes afterwards, seems disinclined to move, breathing quicker, passed *
*: one hour, again passed * * * followed by * * *; has eaten a little: one
hour and a half, appears quite to have recovered from his uneasiness, and
has become as lively as before. (This rabbit was made use of three days
afterwards for the third experiment.)

"2. A full-grown rabbit. Some of the poison being dissolved in water a
portion of the solution corresponding to about fifteen grains was injected
into an opening in the peritoneum, so large a quantity being used, in
consequence of the apparent absence of effect in the former case: five
minutes, he appears to be in pain, squeaking occasionally; slight
convulsive retractions of the head and neck begin to take place, passed a
small quantity of * *: ten minutes, the spasms are becoming more frequent,
but are neither violent nor prolonged, respiration scarcely perceptible;
he now fell on his side: twelve minutes, several severe general
convulsions came on, and at the end of another minute he was quite dead,
the pulsation being for the last minute quite imperceptible. The chest was
instantly opened, but there was no movement of the heart whatever.

"September 20th. 3. The rabbit used for the first experiment was taken and
an attempt was made to inject a little filtered solution into the jugular
rein, which failed from the large size of the nozzle of the syringe; a
good deal of blood was lost. A portion of the solution corresponding to
about two grains and a half of the poison was then injected into a small
opening made in the pleura. Nine minutes afterwards: symptoms precisely
resembling those in number two began to appear. Fourteen minutes:
convulsions more violent; fell on his side. Sixteen minutes, died.

"4. A portion of the poison, as much as could be applied, was smeared over
the square iron head of an arrow, and allowed to dry. The arrow was then
shot into the buttock of a goat with sufficient force to carry the head
out of sight; twenty minutes afterwards, no effect whatever having
followed, the arrow was extracted. The poison had become softened and was
wiped completely off two of the sides, and partly off the two other sides.
The animal appeared to suffer very little pain from the wound; he was kept
for a fortnight, and then died, but not apparently from any cause
connected with the wound. In fact he was previously diseased.
Unfortunately the seat of the wound was not then examined, but a few days
previously it appeared to have healed of itself. In the rabbit of the
former experiment, three days after the insertion of the poison in the
wound, the latter was closed with a dry coagulum and presented no marks of
inflammation around it.

"5. Two good-sized village dogs being secured, to each after several
hours' fasting, were given about five grains enveloped in meat. The
smaller one chewed it a long time, and frothed much at the mouth. He
appeared to swallow very little of it, but the larger one ate the whole up
without difficulty. After more than two hours no effect whatever being
perceptible in either animal, they were shot to get rid of them. These
experiments, though not altogether complete, certainly establish the fact
that it is a poison of no very great activity. The quantity made use of in
the second experiment was too great to allow a fair deduction to be made
as to its properties. When a fourth to a sixth of the quantity was
employed in the third experiment the same effects followed, but with
rather less rapidity; death resulting in the one case in ten, in the other
in sixteen minutes, although the death in the latter case was perhaps
hastened by the loss of blood. The symptoms more resemble those produced
by nux vomica than by any other agent. No apparent drowsiness, spasms,
slight at first, beginning in the neck, increasing in intensity, extending
over the whole body, and finally stopping respiration and with it the
action of the heart. Experiments first and fourth show that a moderate
quantity, such as may be introduced on the point of an arrow, produced no
sensible effect either on a goat or a rabbit, and it could scarcely be
supposed that it would have more on a man than on the latter animal; and
the fifth experiment proves that a full dose taken into the stomach
produces no result within a reasonable time.

"The extract appeared to have been very carelessly prepared. It contained
much earthy matter, and even small stones, and a large proportion of what
seemed to be oxidized extractive matter also was left undisturbed when it
was treated with water: probably it was not a good specimen. It seems,
however, to keep well, and shows no disposition to become mouldy."

[16] The Somal divide their year into four seasons:--

1. Gugi (monsoon, from "Gug," rain) begins in April, is violent for forty-
four days and subsides in August. Many roads may be traversed at this
season, which are death in times of drought; the country becomes "Barwako
"(in Arabic Rakha, a place of plenty,) forage and water abound, the air is
temperate, and the light showers enliven the traveller.

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