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Lander's Travels by Robert Huish

Part 6 out of 15

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had quitted. They blundered and stumbled on until ten at night, when
they found the resting place, after a toilsome and most distressing
day. This was the eighth day since the camels had tasted water; they
were weak and sore-footed, from the stony nature of the passes in
these hills of Elwahr.

They had now a stony plain, with low hills of sand and gravel, till
they reached El Garha, and here they rested for the night. Several of
the camels during this day were drunk--their eyes heavy, and wanting
their usual animation; their gait staggering, and every now and then
falling, as a man in a state of intoxication. This arose from eating
dates after drinking water; these probably pass into a spirituous
fermentation in the stomach.

On the 22nd of December, they moved before daylight, and halted at
the maten called El Hammar, close under a bluff head, which had been
in view since quitting their encampment in the morning. Strict orders
were given this day for the camels to keep close up, and for the
Arabs not to straggle, the Tibboo Arabs having been seen on the look
out. During the last two days, they had passed, on an average, from
sixty to ninety skeletons each day, but the numbers that lay about
the wells at El Hammar were countless; those of two young women,
whose perfect and regular teeth bespoke them young, were particularly
shocking; their arms still remained clasped round each other as they
had expired, although the flesh had long since perished by being
exposed to the burning rays of the sun, and the blackened bones only
left; the nails of the fingers, and some of the sinews of the hand
also remained, and part of the tongue of one of them still appeared
through the teeth.

They had now passed six days of desert, without the slightest
appearance of vegetation, and a little branch of the snag, _(Caparis
sodada,)_ was brought as a comfort and curiosity. On the following,
day, they had alternately plains of sand and loose gravel, and had a
distant view of some hills to the westward. While Major Denham was
dozing on his horse about noon, overcome by the heat of the sun,
which, at that time of the day, shone with great power, he was
suddenly awakened by a crashing under his feet, which startled him
excessively. He found that his steed had, without any sensation of
shame or alarm, stepped upon the perfect skeletons of two human
beings, cracking their brittle bones under his feet, and by one trip
of his foot, separating a skull from the trunk, which rolled on like
a ball before him. This event imparted a sensation to him, which it
took him a long time to remove. His horse was for many days
afterwards not looked upon with the same regard as formerly.

One of their nagas had this day her accouchement on the road, and
they all looked forward to the milk, which the Arabs assured them she
had in abundance, and envied them not a little their morning
draughts, which they were already quaffing in imagination. However,
one of the many slips between the cup and the lip was to befall them.
The poor naga suddenly fell, and as suddenly died. The exclamations
of the Arabs were dreadful. "The evil eye! the evil eye!" they all
exclaimed; "she was sure to die, I knew it. Well! if she had been
mine, I would rather have lost a child, or three slaves. God be
praised! God is great, powerful, and wise; those looks of the people
are always fatal."

On the 1st January 1823, they arrived at the wadey Ikbar. The Arabs
here caught a hyena, and brought it to Major Denham; he, nor any
other of the party, had any other wish than to have merely a look at
it. They then tied it, to a tree, and shot at it, until the poor
animal was literally knocked to pieces. This was the most refreshing
spot they had seen for many days; there were dome trees laden with
fruit, though not ripe, which lay in clusters, and grass in
abundance. They could have stayed here a week, says Major Denham,
with pleasure; so reviving is the least appearance of cultivation, or
rather a sprinkling of nature's beauty, after the parching wilds of
the long and dreary desert they had passed.

Looking back with great regret at leaving the few green branches in
Ikbar, with nothing before them but the dark hills and sandy desert,
they ascended slightly from the wadey, and leaving the hills of
Ikbar, proceeded towards a prominent head in a low range to the east
of their course, called Tummer as Kumma, meaning "You'll soon drink
water;" and about two miles in advance, they halted just under a
ridge of the same hills, after making twenty-four miles. Four camels
were knocked up during this day's march: on such occasions, the Arabs
wait in savage impatience in the rear, with their knives in their
hands, ready, on the signal of the owner, to plunge them into the
poor animal, and bear off a portion of the flesh for their evening
meal. They were obliged to kill two of them on the spot; the other
two, it was hoped, would come up in the night. Major Denham attended
the slaughter of one, and despatch being the order of the day, a
knife is struck into the camel's heart, while his head is turned to
the east, and he dies almost in an instant; but before that instant
expires, a dozen knives are thrust into different parts of the
carcass, in order to carry off the choicest parts of the flesh. The
heart, considered as the greatest delicacy, is torn out, the skin
stripped from the breast and haunches, part of the meat cut, or
rather torn from the bones, and thrust into bags, which they carry
for the purpose, and the remainder of the carcass is left for the
crows, vultures, and hyenas, while the Arabs quickly follow the

On the 4th, they arrived at Anay, a town which consists of a few huts
built on the top of a mass of stone, round the base of which are also
habitations, but the riches of the people are always kept above. The
Tuaricks annually, and sometimes oftener, pay them a most destructive
visit, carrying off cattle and every thing they can lay their hands
upon. The people, on those occasions, take refuge at the top of the
rock, ascending by a rude ladder, which is drawn up after them; and
as the sides of their citadel are always precipitous, they defend
themselves with their missiles, and by rolling down stones on the

The sultan Tibboo, whose territory extends from this place to Bilma,
was at this time visiting a town to the south-west of Anay, called
Kisbee, and he requested Boo Khaloom to halt there one day, promising
to proceed with him to Bilma. They accordingly reached Kisbee on the
evening of the 5th, where the camels got some pickings of dry grass.

Kisbee is a great place of rendezvous for all kafilas and merchants,
and it is here that the sultan always takes his tribute for
permission to pass through his country. The sultan himself had
neither much majesty nor cleanliness of appearance; he came to Boo
Khaloom's tent, accompanied by six or seven Tibboos, some of them
really hideous. They take a quantity of snuff, both in their mouths
and noses; their teeth were of a deep yellow; the nose resembles
nothing so much as a round lump of flesh stuck on the face, and the
nostrils are so large, that their fingers go up as far as they can
reach, in order to ensure the snuff an admission into the head. The
watch, compass, and musical snuff-box of one of the party created but
little astonishment; they looked at their own faces in the bright
covers, and were most stupidly inattentive to what would have excited
the wonder of almost any imagination, however savage. Here was "the
_os sublime,_" but the "_spiritus intus,_" the "_mens divinior,_"
were scarcely discoverable. Boo Khaloom gave the sultan a fine
scarlet bornouse, which seemed a little to animate his stupid

In the evening, they had a dance by Tibboo men, performed in front of
their tents. It is graceful and slow, but not so well adapted to the
male as the female. It was succeeded by one performed by some free
slaves from Soudan, who were living with the Tibboos, enjoying, as
they said, their liberty. It appeared to be most violent exertion;
one man is placed in the middle of a circle, which he endeavours to
break, and each one whom he approaches, throws him off, while he adds
to the impetus by a leap, and ascends several feet from the ground;
when one has completed the round, another lakes his place.

Whilst they were on the road, a violent disturbance arose amongst
the Arabs, one of them having shot a ball through the shirt of
another of the Magarha tribe; the sheik of the Magarha took up the
quarrel, and the man saved himself from being punished, by hanging to
the stirrup-leather of Major Denham's saddle. The Arab sheik made use
of some expressions, in defending his man, which displeased Boo
Khaloom, who instantly knocked him off his horse, and his slaves
soundly bastinadoed him.

Tiggema, near which they halted, is one of the highest points in the
range, and hangs over the mud houses of the town; this point stands
at the south extremity of the recess, which the hills here form, and
is about four hundred feet high; the sides are nearly perpendicular,
and it is detached from the other hills by a chasm. On the approach
of the Tuaricks, the whole population flock to the top of these
heights, with all their property, and make the best defence they can.
The interior of some of the houses is neat and tidy; the men are
generally travelling merchants, or rather pedlars, and probably do
not pass more than four months in the year with their families, for
the Tibboos rarely go beyond Bornou to the south, or Mourzouk to the
north; they appeared light-hearted, and happy as people constantly in
dread of such visitors as the Tuaricks can be, who spare neither age
nor sex.

They proceeded from Tiggema nearly in a south-west direction, leaving
the hills; and while resting under the shade of acacia trees, which
were here very abundant, they had the agreeable, and to them very
novel sight, of a drove of oxen; the bare idea of once more being in
a country that afforded beef and pasture, was consoling in the
extreme; and the luxurious thought of fresh milk, wholesome food, and
plenty, were highly exhilarating to the whole of the party.

In the afternoon, they came to a halt at Dirkee, A good deal of
powder was here expended in honour of the sultan, who again met them
on their approach: his new scarlet bornouse was thrown over a filthy
check shirt, and his turban and cap, though once white, were rapidly
approaching to the colour of the head which they covered; when,
however, on the following morning, his majesty condescended to ask
one of the party for a little soap, these little negligences in his
outward appearance were more easily accounted for.

They had rather a numerous assembly of females, who danced for some
hours before the tents. Some of their movements were very elegant,
and not unlike the Greek dances, as they are represented. They were
regaled by the sultan with cheese and ground nuts from Soudan; the
former of a pleasant flavour, but so hard that they were obliged to
moisten it with water previously to eating. During the time that they
halted at Dirkee, the women brought them dates, fancifully strung on
rushes, in the shape of hearts, with much ingenuity, and a few pots
of honey and fat.

They halted at Dirkee rather more than two days. So many of Boo
Khaloom's camels had fallen on the road, that, notwithstanding the
very peaceable professions which the travelling party held forth, a
marauding party was sent out to plunder some maherhies, and bring
them in; an excursion that was sanctioned by the sultan, who gave
them instructions as to the route they were to take. The former deeds
of the Arabs are, however, still in the memory of the Tibboos, and
they had therefore increased the distance between their huts and the
high road, by a timely striking of their tents. Nine camels, of the
maherhy species, were brought in, but not without a skirmish; and a
fresh party were despatched, which did not return that night. All the
party were ordered to remain loaded, and no one was allowed to quit
the circle in which the tents were pitched.

On the following day, the Arabs, who had been out foraging, returned
with thirteen camels, which they had much difficulty in bringing to
the halting place, as the Tibboos had followed them several miles.
Patrols were placed during the whole of the night, who, to awaken the
sleepers for the purpose of assuring them they were awake themselves,
were constantly exclaiming, _Balek ho!_ the watchword of the Arabs.

They had this day the enjoyment of a dish of venison, one of the
Arabs having succeeded in shooting two gazelles, many of which had
crossed their path for the last three days. On finding a young one,
only a few days old, the wily Arab instantly laid down on the grass,
imitating the cry of the young one, and as the mother came bounding
towards the spot, he shot her in the throat.

On the 12th, they reached Bilma, the capital of the Tibboos, and the
residence of their sultan, who having always managed to get before
and receive them, advanced a mile from the town attended by some
fifty of his men-at-arms, and double the number of the sex, styled in
Europe, the fair. The men had most of them bows and arrows, and all
carried spears; they approached Boo Khaloom, shaking the spears in
the air over their heads, and after this salutation, the whole party
moved on towards the town, the females dancing, and throwing
themselves about with screams and songs quite original, at least to
the European portion of the party. They were of a superior class to
those of the minor towns; some having extremely pleasing features,
while the pearly whiteness of their regular teeth, was beautifully
contrasted with the glossy black of their skin, and the triangular
flaps of plaited hair, which hung down on each side of their faces,
streaming with oil, with the addition of the coral in the nose, and
large amber necklaces, gave them a very-seducing appearance. Some of
them carried a _sheish,_ a fan made of soft grass or hair, for the
purpose of keeping off the flies; others a branch of a tree, and
some, fans of ostrich feathers, or a branch of the date palm. All had
something in their hands, which they waved over their heads as they
advanced. One wrapper of Soudan, tied on the top of the left
shoulder, leaving the right breast bare, formed their covering, while
a smaller one was thrown over the head, which hung down to their
shoulders, or was thrown back at pleasure; notwithstanding the
apparent scantiness of their habiliments, nothing could be farther
from indelicate than was their appearance or deportment.

On arriving at Bilma, they halted under the shade of a large tulloh
tree, whilst the tents were pitching, and the women danced with great
taste, and, as Major Denham was assured by the sultan's nephew, with
great skill also. As they approached each other, accompanied by the
slow beat of an instrument formed out of a calabash, covered with
goat's skin, for a long time their movements were confined to the
head, hands, and body, which they throw from one side to the other,
flourish in the air, and bend without moving their feet; suddenly,
however, the music becomes quicker and louder, when they start into
the most violent gestures, rolling their heads round, gnashing their
teeth, and shaking their hands at each other, leaping up, and on each
side, until one or both are so exhausted that they fall to the
ground, another pair then take their place.

Major Denham now, for the first time, produced Captain Lyon's book,
in Boo Khaloom's tent, and on turning over the prints of the natives,
he swore, and exclaimed, and insisted upon it, that he knew every
face. This was such a one's slave--that was his own--he was
right,--he knew it. Praised be God for the talents he gave the
English: they were _shater; walla shater,_ (very clever.) Of a
landscape, however, it was found, that he had not the least idea, nor
could he be made at all to understand the intention of the print of
the sand-wind in the desert; he would look at it upside down, and
when it was twice reversed for him, he exclaimed, _why! why!_ (it is
all the same.) A camel, or a human figure, was all he could be made
to understand, and at these he was all agitation and delight. _Gieb!
gieb!_ (wonderful! wonderful!) The eyes first took his attention,
then the other features; at the sight of the sword, he cried out,
_Allah! allah!_ and on discovering the guns, instantly exclaimed,
"Where is the powder?" This want of perception as was imagined in so
intelligent a man, excited at first the surprise of Major Denham, but
perhaps, just the same would a European have felt, under similar
circumstances. Were a European to attain manhood without ever casting
his eye upon the representation of a landscape on paper, would he
immediately feel the particular beauties of it, the perspective and
the distant objects of it? It is from our opportunities of
contemplating works of art, even in the common walks of life, as well
as to cultivation of mind, and associations of the finer feelings, by
an intercourse with the enlightened and accomplished, that we derive
our quick perception in matters of this kind, rather than from

On leaving Bilma their road lay over loose hills of sand, in which
the camels sunk nearly knee-deep. In passing these desert wilds,
where hills disappear in a single night by the drifting of the sand,
and where all traces of the passage of even a large kafila sometimes
vanish in a few hours, the Tibboos have certain points in the dark
sandstone ridges, which from time to time raise their heads in the
midst of this dry ocean of sand, and form the only variety, and by
them they steer their course. From one of these land-marks they waded
through sand formed into hills from twenty to sixty feet in height,
with nearly perpendicular sides, the camels blundering and falling
with their heavy loads. The greatest care is taken by the drivers in
descending these banks; the Arabs hang with all their weight on the
animal's tail, by which means they steady him in his descent. Without
this precaution the camel generally falls forward, and of course all
he carries goes over his head.

In the evening they bivouacked under a head called Zow, (the
difficult,) where they found several wells. On the following day, the
sand-hills were less than on the preceding one. But the animals still
sank so deep that it was a tedious day, for all the four camels of
Boo Khaloom gave in; two were killed by the Arabs, and two were left
to the chance of coming up before the following morning. Tremendously
dreary are these marches, as far as the eye can reach, billows of
sand bound the prospect. On seeing the solitary foot passenger of the
kafila, with his water flask in his hand, and the bag of zumeeta on
his head, sink at a distance beneath the slope of one of these, as he
plods his way along, hoping to gain a few paces in his long day's
work, by not following the track of the camels, one trembles for his
safety; the obstacle passed which concealed him from the view, the
eye is strained towards the spot, in order to be assured that he has
not been hurried quickly in the treacherous overwhelming sand.

An unfortunate merchant of Tripoli, Mahomet N' Diff, who had suffered
much on the road from an enlarged spleen, was here advised to undergo
the operation of burning with a red hot iron, the sovereign Arab
remedy for almost every disorder; he gave his consent, and previously
to their proceeding, he was laid on his back, and while five or six
Arabs held him on the sand, the rude operators burnt him on the left
side under the ribs in three places, nearly the size of a sixpence
each. The iron was again placed in the fire, and while heating, the
thumbs of about a dozen Arabs were thrust into different parts of the
poor man's side, to know if the pressure pained him, until his flesh
was so bruised, that he declared all gave him pain: four more marks
with the iron were now made near the former ones, upon which he was
turned on his face, and three larger made within two inches of the
back-bone. It might have been supposed that the operation was now at
an end, but an old Arab, who had been feeling his throat for some
time, declared that a hot iron and a large burn were absolutely
necessary just above the collar bone on the same side. The poor man
submitted with wonderful patience to all this mangling, and after
drinking a draught of water moved on with the camels. More than
twenty camels were lost this day, on account of their straying out of
the path. After travelling several days over the desert, encountering
great distress and many privations, they arrived at an extensive
wadey called Agbadem. Here there were several wells of excellent
water, forage, and numbers of the tree called Suag, the red berries
of which are nearly as good as cranberries. They here broke in upon
the retreats of about a hundred gazelles, who were enjoying the
fertility of the valley. It was, however, not without great
difficulty, from their extreme shyness, that one was shot, which
afforded an ample and salutary meal to the distressed travellers.
Aghadem is a great rendezvous, and the dread of all small kafilas and
travellers. It is frequented by freebooters of all descriptions.

On the 24th January, the thermometer, in the shade of Major Denham's
tent, was 101 degrees at half-past two. The animals were all enjoying
the blessings of plenty in the ravines, which run through the range
of low black hills, extending nearly north and south, quite across
the valley. The camels, in particular, feasted on the small branches
of the suag, of which they are fond to excess. The tracks of the
hyena had been numerous for the last three days, and one night they
approached in droves quite close to the encampment.

The evening of the 25th being beautifully serene, the telescope of
Major Denham afforded great delight to Boo Khaloom; the brother of
the kadi at Mourzouk, Mohamed Abedeen, and several others, for more
than an hour. Major Denham usually passed some time every evening in
Boo Khaloom's tent, and had promised them a sight of the moon _greeb_
(near) for some time. An old hadje, who obtained a sight by the
assistance of the major, for he could not fix the glass on the
object, after an exclamation of wonder, looked him fully in the face,
spoke not a word, but walked off as last as he could, repeating some
words from the Koran. This conduct the major was pleased to see,
brought down the ridicule of the others, who were gratified beyond
measure, and asked a hundred questions. The night was beautifully
serene and clear, and the three splendid constellations, Orion, Canis
Major, and Taurus, presented a coup d'oeil at once impressive and

On the 25th January, the camels moved off soon after eight, and they
took shelter from the sun, under the shade of some clumps, covered
with high grass, near the wells, in order that the horses might drink
at the moment of their departure. They had three or four long days to
the next water, and the camels were too much fatigued to carry more
than one day's food for the horses. While they were in this
situation, two Arabs, who had gone on with the camels, came galloping
back, to say that they had encountered two Tibboo couriers, on their
way from Bornou to Mourzouk. They soon made their appearance, mounted
on maherhies, only nine days from Kouka. They brought news, that the
sheik el Kanemy, who now governed Bornou, had just returned from a
successful expedition against the sultan of Bergharmi; that he had
attacked and routed a powerful tribe of Arabs, called La Sala; and
that the sultan, on hearing this, had fled, as before, to the south
side of the great river, amongst the Kirdies.

They proceeded on their route, which was along a continued desert,
and at sunset halted on the sand, without either wood or water, after
twenty-four miles. The courier from Bornou to Mourzouk assured them,
that he should not be more than thirty days on the road from where
they left him. The Tibboos are the only people who will undertake
this most arduous service, and the chances are so much against both
returning in safety, that one is never sent alone. The two men whom
they had encountered were mounted on two superb maherhies, and
proceeding at the rate of about six miles an hour. A bag of zumeeta
(some parched corn), and one or two skins for water, with a small
brass basin, and a wooden bowl, out of which they ate and drank, were
all their comforts. A little meat, cut in strips, and dried in the
sun, called _gedeed,_ is sometimes added to the store, which they eat
raw; for they rarely light a fire for the purpose of cooking;
although the want of this comfort during the nights, on approaching
Fezzan, where the cold winds are sometimes biting after the day's
heat, is often fatal to such travellers. A bag is suspended under the
tail of the maherhy, by which means the dung is preserved, and this
serves as fuel on halting in the night. Without a kafila, and a
sufficient number of camels to carry such indispensables as wood and
water, it is indeed a perilous journey.

On the 27th, they appeared gradually to approach something resembling
vegetation. They had rising lands and clumps of fine grass the whole
of the way, and the country was not unlike some of the heaths in
England. A herd of more than a hundred gazelles crossed them towards
the evening, and the footmarks of the ostrich, and some of its
feathers, were discovered by the Arabs. The spot where they halted
was called Geogo Balwy.

Early on the following morning, they made Beere-Kashifery, and soon
afterwards Mina Tahr, (the black bird,) the sheik of the Gunda
Tibboos, attended by three of his followers, approached the camp.
Beere-Kashifery lay within his territories, and no kafilas pass
without paying tribute, which, as he is absolute, sometimes amounts
to half what they possess. In the present case, the visit was one of
respect. Boo Khaloom received him in his tent, and clothed him in a
scarlet bornouse of coarse cloth, and a tawdry silk caftan, which was
considered as a superb present. The Tibboos are smart active fellows,
mounted on small horses of great swiftness; their saddles are of
wood, small and light, open along the bone of the back; the pieces of
wood, of which they are composed, are lashed together with thongs of
hide; the stuffing is camels' hair, wound and plaited so as to be a
perfect guard; the girths and stirrup-leathers are also of plaited
thongs, and the stirrups themselves of iron, very small and light;
into these, four toes only are thrust, the great toe being left to
take its chance. They mount quickly, in half the time an Arab does,
by the assistance of a spear, which they place in the ground, at the
same time the left foot is planted in the stirrup, and thus they
spring into the saddle.

Their camels had not finished drinking until the sun was full six
fathoms high, as the Arabs term it; and as the expedition was in want
of fresh meat, and indeed of every thing, Mina Tahr proposed that
they should go to a well nearer his people, which, he assured them,
was never yet shown to an Arab.

On the 29th January, therefore, they moved on, accompanied by the
Tibboos; and after travelling about ten miles, they came to the well
of Duggesheinga. This was a retired spot, undiscoverable from the
ordinary route of travellers, being completely hidden from it by
rising sand-hills. Here the Tibboos left them, promising to return
early on the following day, with sheep, an ox, honey, and fat. This
was joyful news to persons who had not tasted fresh animal food for
fourteen or fifteen days, with the exception of a little camel's

On the following day, the wind and drifting sand were so violent,
that they were obliged to keep their tents during the whole of it.
Major Denham found a loose shirt only the most convenient covering,
as the sand could be shaken off as soon as it made a lodgement, which
with other articles of dress, could not be done, and the irritation
it caused, produced a soreness almost intolerable. A little oil or
fat, from the hand of a negress, all of whom are early taught the art
of shampooing to perfection, rubbed well round the neck, loins, and
back, is the best cure, and the greatest comfort in cases of this
kind; and although, from his Christian belief, he was deprived of the
luxury of possessing half a dozen of these shampooing beauties, yet,
by marrying his negro, Barca, to one of the freed women slaves, as he
had done at Sockna, he became, to a certain degree, also the master
of Zerega, whose education in the castle had been of a superior kind,
and she was of the greatest use to the major on these occasions of
fatigue or sickness. It is an undoubted fact, and in no case probably
better exemplified than in this, that man naturally longs for
attentions and support from female hands, of whatever colour or
country, so soon as debility or sickness comes upon him.

Towards the evening, when the wind became hushed, and the sky
re-assumed its bright and truly celestial blue, the Tibboo sheik, and
about thirty of his people, male and female, returned; but their
supplies were very scanty for a kafila of nearly three hundred
persons. The sweet milk turned out to be nothing but sour camel's
milk, full of dirt and sand; and the fat was in small quantities, and
very rancid. They, however, purchased a lean sheep for two dollars,
which was indeed a treat.

Some of the girls who brought the milk were really pretty, as
contrasted with the extreme ugliness of the men. They were different
from those of Bilma, were more of a copper colour, with high
foreheads, and a sinking between the eyes. They have fine teeth, and
are smaller and more delicately formed than the Tibboos who inhabit
the towns.

It is quite surprising with what terror these children of the desert
view the Arabs, and the idea they have of their invincibility, while
they are smart, active fellows themselves, and both ride and move
better and quicker; but the guns! the guns! are their dread; and five
or six of them will go round a tree, where an Arab has laid down his
gun for a minute, stepping on tiptoe, as if afraid of disturbing it,
talking to each other in a whisper, as if the gun could understand
their exclamations, and, it may be presumed, praying to it not to do
them an injury, as fervently as ever man Friday did Robinson Crusoe's

None of the Gunda Tibboos were above the middle size, well made, with
sharp, intelligent, copper-coloured faces, large prominent eyes, flat
noses, large mouth, and teeth regular, but stained a deep red, from
the immoderate use of tobacco; the forehead is high, and the turban,
which is a deep indigo colour, is worn high on the head, and brought
under the chin, and across the face, so as to cover all the lower
part, from the nose downwards; they have sometimes fifteen or twenty
charms, in red, green, or black leather cases, attached to the folds
of their turbans.

The majority of them have scars on different parts of their faces;
these generally denote their rank, and are considered as an ornament.
Their sheik had one under each eye, with one more on each side of his
forehead, in shape resembling a half-moon. Like the Arabs of the
north, their chieftainship is hereditary, provided the heir be
worthy, any act of cowardice disqualifies, and the command devolves
upon the next successor. Their guide a sheik, Mina Tahr ben Soogo
Lammo, was the seventh in regular succession. This tribe is called
Nafra Sunda, and are always near Beere-Kashifery.

The watch of Major Denham pleased him wonderfully at first but after
a little time, it was found that looking at himself in the bright
part of the inside of the case, gave him the greatest satisfaction;
they are vainer than the vainest. Mina Tahr was now habited in the
finest clothes that had ever been brought to Beere-Kashifery, and
what to him could be so agreeable as contemplating the reflection of
his own person so decked out? Major Denham, therefore, could not help
giving him a small looking-glass, and he took his station in one
corner of the major's tent, for hours, surveying himself with a
satisfaction that burst from his lips in frequent exclamations of
joy, and which he also occasionally testified by sundry high jumps
and springs into the air.

After regaining the road, they moved till noon, when their horses
were watered at a well called Kanimani, or the sheep's well, where
some really sweet milk was brought to them, in immensely large basket
bottles, some holding two gallons and more. They had drank and
acknowledged its goodness, and how grateful it was to their weak
stomachs, before they found out that it was camel's milk.

No traveller in Africa should imagine that _this_ he could not bear,
or _that_ could not be endured. It is most wonderful how a man's
taste conforms itself to his necessities. Six months ago camel's milk
would have acted upon them as an emetic, now they thought it a most
refreshing and grateful cordial.

The face of the country now improved in appearance every mile, and on
this day they passed along, what seemed to them a most joyous valley,
smiling in flowery grasses, tulloh trees, and kossom. About mid-day,
they halted in a luxurious shade, the ground covered with creeping
vines of the colycinth, in full blossom, which, with the red flower
of the kossom, that drooped over their heads, made their resting
place a little Arcadia.

They killed to-day one of the largest serpents they had seen: it is
called _liffa_ by the Arabs, and its bite is said to be mortal,
unless the part is instantly cut out. It is a mistaken idea that all
the serpent tribe are called liffa; this species alone bears the
name; it has two horns, and is of a light brown colour. Major
Denham's old Choush Ghreneim had a distorted foot, which was but of
little use to him except on horseback, from the bite of one of those
poisonous reptiles, notwithstanding the part infected was cut out; he
was for thirteen months confined to his hut, and never expected to

Arabs are always on the look out for plunder, "'Tis my vocation,
Hal," none were ashamed to acknowledge it, but they were on this
occasion to act as an escort, to oppose banditti, and not play the
part of one. Nevertheless, they were greatly dissatisfied at having
come so far, and _done_ so little; they formed small parties for
reconnoitering on each side of the road, and were open-mouthed for
any thing that might offer. One fellow on foot had traced the marks
of a flock of sheep, to a small village of tents to the east of their
course, and now gave notice of the discovery he had made, but that
the people had seen him, and he believed struck their tents. Major
Denham felt that he should be a check upon them in their
plunderings, and he, Boo Khaloom, and about a dozen horsemen, with
each a footman behind him, instantly started for their retreat, which
lay over the hills to the east. On arriving at the spot, in a valley
of considerable beauty, where these flocks and tents had been
observed, they found the place quite deserted. The poor affrighted
shepherds had moved off with their all, knowing too well what would
be their treatment from the Naz Abiad (white people), as they call
the Arabs. Their caution, however, was made the excuse for plundering
them, and a pursuit was instantly determined upon. "What! not stay to
sell their sheep--the rogues, we'll take them without payment." They
scoured two valleys, without discovering the fugitives, and Major
Denham began to hope that the Tibboos had eluded their pursuers, when
after crossing a deep ravine, and ascending the succeeding ridge,
they came directly on two hundred head of cattle, and about twenty
persons, men, women, and children, with ten camels, laden with their
tents and other necessaries, all moving off. The extra Arabs
instantly slipped from behind their leaders, and with a shout rushed
down the hill; part headed the cattle to prevent their escape, and
the most rapid plunder immediately commenced. The camels were
instantly brought to the ground, and every part of their load rifled;
the poor girls and women lifted up their hands to Major Denham,
stripped as they were to the skin, but he could do nothing more for
them beyond saving their lives. A sheik and a marabout assured Major
Denham, it was quite lawful to plunder those, who left their tents
instead of supplying travellers. Boo Khaloom now came up and was
petitioned. Major Denham saw that he was ashamed of the paltry booty
which his followers had obtained, as well as moved by the tears of
the sufferers. The major seized the favourable moment, and advised
that the Arabs should give every thing back, and have a few sheep and
an ox for a bousafer (feast), he accordingly gave the orders, and the
Arabs from under their barracans, threw down the wrappers they had
torn off the bodies of the Tibboo women, and the major was glad in
his heart, when taking ten sheep and a fat bullock, they left these
poor creatures to their fate, as had more Arabs arrived, they would
most certainly have stripped them of every thing.

On the 31st, Boo Khaloom had thought it right to send on a Tibboo,
with the news of their approach to the sheik El Kanemy who, they
understood, resided at Kouka, and one was despatched with a camel,
and a man of Mina Tahr. On their arrival at Kofei, the Tibboo only,
who had been despatched, was found alone and naked, some Tibboo Arabs
of a tribe called Wandela, had met them near the well, on the
preceding evening, and robbed him even to his cap, and taking from
him the letters, saying they cared not for the sheik or Boo Khaloom,
tied him to a tree and there left him. In this state he was found by
Major Denham's party, and Mr. Clapperton coming up soon afterwards,
gave him from his biscuit bag, wherewithal to break his fast, after
being twenty-four hours without eating. Eighteen men had stripped
him, he said, and taken off the camel and Mina Tahr's man, who, they
also said, should be ransomed, or have his throat cut. Mina Tahr
represented these people as the worst on the road, in every sense of
the word. "They have no flocks," said he, "and have not more than
three hundred camels, although their numbers are one thousand and
more; they live by plunder, and have no connexion with any other
people. No considerable body of men can follow them; their tents are
in the heart of the desert, and there are no wells for four days in
the line of their retreat. Geddy Ben Agah is their chief, and I alone
would give fifty camels for his head: these are the people, who often
attack and murder travellers and small kafilas, and the Gundowy, who
respect strangers, have the credit of it."

The men of Traita, with their chief Eskou Ben Cogla, came in the
evening to welcome them; the well Kofei belongs to them, and greatly
enraged they appeared to be at the conduct of the Wandelas. This
chief returned to Boo Khaloom his letters, which he said, the chief
of the Wandelas had sent him that morning, begging that he would meet
the kafila at the well, and deliver them to Boo Khaloom; had he known
then what had taken place, "the slave," he said, "should have been
stabbed at his father's grave, before he would have delivered them."
Boo Khaloom was greatly enraged, and Major Denham was almost afraid,
that he would have revenged himself on the Traita chiefs. However the
Tibboo courier was again clothed and mounted, and once more started
for Bornou.

Their course during the early part of the following day, was due
south, and through a country more thickly planted by the all tasteful
hand of bounteous nature. Boo Khaloom, Major Denham, and about six
Arabs had ridden on in front; it was said they had lost the track,
and should miss the well; the day had been oppressively hot--the
major's companions were sick and fatigued, and they dreaded the want
of water. A fine dust, arising from a light clayey and sandy soil,
had also increased their sufferings; the exclamations of the Arab who
first discovered the wells, were indeed music to their ears, and
after satisfying his own thirst, with that of his weary animals,
Major Denham laid himself down by one of the distant wells, far from
his companions, and these moments of tranquillity, the freshness of
the air, with the melody of the hundred songsters that were perched
amongst the creeping plants, whose flowers threw an aromatic odour
all around, were a relief scarcely to be described. Ere long,
however, the noisy kafila, and the clouds of dust, which accompanied
it, disturbed him from the delightful reverie into which he had

Previously to their arrival at Lari, they came upon two encampments
of the Traita Tibboos, calling themselves the sheik's people; their
huts were not numerous, but very regularly built in a square, with a
space left in the north and south faces of the quadrangle, for the
use of the cattle. The huts were entirely of mats, which excluding
the sun, yet admitted both the light and the air. These habitations
for fine weather are preferable to the bete shars or tents of the
Arabs of the north. The interior was singularly neat; clean wooden
bowls, with each a cover of basketwork, for holding their milk, were
hung against the wall. In the centre of the enclosure were about one
hundred and fifty head of cattle, feeding from cradles; these were
chiefly milch cows with calves, and sheep. The Tibboos received them
kindly at first, but presumed rather too much on sheik Kaneny's
protection, which they claim or throw off, it is said, accordingly as
it suits their purpose. The modest request of a man with two hundred
armed Arabs, for a little milk, was refused, and ready as the Arabs
are to throw down the gauntlet, a slight expression of displeasure
from their leader, was followed by such a rapid attack on the
Tibboos, that before Major Denham could mount, half the stock was
driven off, and the sheik well bastinadoed. Boo Khaloom was, however,
too kind to injure them, and after driving their cattle for about a
mile, he allowed them to return, with a caution to be more
accommodating for the future. Accustomed as these people are to
plunder one another, they expect no better usage from any one, who
visits them, provided they are strong enough, and _vice versa._ They
are perfect Spartans in the art of thieving, both male and female.

An old woman, who was sitting at the door of one of the huts, sent a
very pretty girl to Major Denham, as he was standing by his horse,
whose massy amber necklace, greased head, and coral nose-studs and
ear-rings, announced a person of no common order, to see what she
could pick up; and after gaining possession of his handkerchief and
some needles, while he turned his head, in an instant thrust her hand
into the pocket of the saddle cloth, as she said, to find some beads,
for she knew he had plenty.

Another and much larger nest of the Traitas, lay to the east of their
course, a little further on, with numerous flocks and herds. About
two in the afternoon, they arrived at Lari, ten miles distant from
Mittimee. On ascending the rising ground on which the town stands,
the distressing sight presented itself of all the female, and most of
the male inhabitants with their families, flying across the plain in
all directions, alarmed at the strength of the kafila. Beyond,
however, was an object full of interest to them, and the sight of
which conveyed to their minds a sensation so gratifying and
inspiring, that it would be difficult for language to convey an idea
of its force and pleasure. The great Lake Tchad, glowing with the
golden rays of the sun in its strength, appeared to be within a mile
of the spot on which they stood. The hearts of the whole party
bounded within them at the prospect, for they believed this lake to
be the key to the great object of their search: and they could not
refrain from silently imploring Heaven's continued protection, which
had enabled them to proceed so far in health and strength, even to
the accomplishment of their task.

It was long before Boo Khuloom's best endeavours could restore
confidence; the inhabitants had been plundered by the Tuaricks only
the year before, and four hundred of their people butchered, and but
a few days before, a party of the same nation had again pillaged
them, though partially. When at length these people were satisfied
that no harm was intended them, the women came in numbers with
baskets of gussub, gafooly, fowls and honey, which were purchased by
small pieces of coral and amber of the coarsest kinds, and coloured
beads. One merchant bought a fine lamb for two bits of amber, worth
about two pence each in Europe; two needles purchased a fowl, and a
handful of salt, four or five good-sized fish from the lake.

Lari is inhabited by the people of Kanem, who are known by the name
of Kanimboo; the women are good looking, laughing negresses, and all
but naked; but this they were now used to, and it excited no emotions
of surprise. Most of them had a square of silver or tin hanging at
the back of the head, suspended from the hair, which was brought down
in narrow plaits, quite round the neck.

The town of Lari stands on an eminence, and may probably contain two
thousand inhabitants. The huts are built of the rush which grows by
the side of the lake, have conical tops, and look very like
well-thatched stacks of corn in England. They have neat enclosures
round them, made with fences of the same reed, and passages leading
to them like labyrinths. In the enclosure are a goat or two, poultry,
and sometimes a cow. The women were almost always spinning cotton,
which grows well, though not abundantly, near the town and the lake.
The interior of the huts is neat, they are completely circular, with
no admission for air or light, except at the door, which has a mat,
hung up by way of safeguard. Major Denham entered one of the best
appearance, although the owner gave him no smiles of encouragement,
and followed close at his heels, with a spear and dagger in his hand.
In one corner stood the bed, a couch of rushes lashed together, and
supported by six poles, fixed strongly in the ground. This was
covered by the skins of the tiger-cat and wild bull. Round the sides
were hung the wooden bowls, used for water and milk; his tall shield
rested against the wall. The hut had a division of mat-work, one half
being allotted to the female part of the family. The owner, however,
continued to look at his unexpected visitor with so much suspicion,
and seemed so little pleased with his visit, notwithstanding all the
endeavours of Major Denham to assure him, he was his friend, that he
hurried from the inhospitable door, and resumed his walk through the

On quitting Lari, they immediately plunged into a thickly-planted
forest of acacias, with high underwood, and at the distance of only a
few hundred yards from the town, they came upon large heaps of
elephants' dung, forming hillocks three or four feet in height, and
marks of their footsteps; the tracks of these animals increased as
they proceeded. Part of the day their road lay along the banks of the
Tchad, and the elephants' footmarks of an immense size, and only a
few hours old, were in abundance. Whole trees were broken down, where
they had fed; and where they had reposed their ponderous bodies,
young trees, shrubs, and underwood, had been crushed beneath their
weight. They also killed an enormous snake, a species of coluber; it
was a most disgusting, horrible animal, but not, however, venomous.
It measured eighteen feet from the mouth to the tail, it was shot by
five balls and was still moving off, when two Arabs, with each a
sword, nearly severed the head from the body. On opening the belly,
several pounds of fat were found, and carefully taken off by the two
native guides, by whom they were accompanied. This they pronounced a
sovereign remedy for sick and diseased cattle, and much prized
amongst them. Scarcely a mile further, a drove of wild red cattle,
which were first taken for deer, were seen bounding to the westward.
They were what the Arabs called, _bugra hammar wahash_ (red cow
wild.) They appeared to partake of the bullock and buffalo, with a
tuft or lump on the shoulder.

They bivouacked near a small parcel of huts, called Nyagami, in a
beautiful spot, so thick of wood, that they could scarcely find a
clear place for their encampment. While the tents were fixing, an
alarm was given of wild boars; one of the party followed the scent,
and on his return, said he had seen a lion, and near him seven
gazelles. No information could be obtained from the natives of lions
ever being seen in the neighbourhood; numerous other animals appeared
to abound, and that confirmed the opinion.

They moved for Woodie on the 7th February, accompanied by two Arabs
of Boo Saif. Major Denham left the kafila, and proceeded a little to
the westward, making a parallel movement with the camels. Birds of
the most beautiful plumage were perched on every tree, and several
monkeys chattered at them so impudently, that separating one from the
rest, they chased him for nearly half an hour; he did not run very
fast, nor straight forward, but was constantly doubling and turning,
with his head over his shoulder, to see who was close to him. He was
a handsome fellow, of a light brown colour, and black about the
muzzle. About noon they came to a village of huts, called Barrah, and
although only three in number, the natives flew in all directions.
On their approaching the town, they beckoned to them, and got off
their horses, for the purpose of giving them confidence, and sat down
under the shade of a large tamarind tree. An old negro, who spoke a
little Arabic, was the first who ventured to approach; seeing that he
was not ill-treated, the others soon followed his example. Major
Denham begged a little sour milk, a most refreshing beverage after a
hot ride, but none was to be found, until they were assured that it
should be paid for, and at the sight of the dollar they all jumped
and skipped like so many monkeys. Major Denham now began to eat some
biscuit which he had in his saddle cloth, which created much
astonishment, and the first to whom he offered some, refused to eat
it. One, rather bolder than the rest, put a small piece in his mouth,
and pronounced it good, with such extravagant gestures, that the
visitors all became clamorous. The major refused for a long time the
man, who had been suspicious at first, to the great amusement of the
rest, who seemed to relish the joke amazingly.

The little nest of thatched huts in which they lived, was most
beautifully situated on a rising spot, in the midst of a rich and
luxuriant though not thick forest, about three miles to the northeast
of Woodie. One of the old men accompanied them, while his son carried
a sheep, which the major had purchased at Woodie, for which service
he was rewarded by two coral beads and a little snuff.

Close to the town of Woodie, they found the tents. The party had made
about fourteen miles, without leaving the banks of the lake at any
great distance. Two elephants were seen swimming in the lake this
day, and one, belonging to a drove at a distance, absolutely remained
just before the kafila. Hillman had gone on in front on his mule,
suffering sadly from weakness and fatigue, and had laid himself down
in what appeared a delightful shade, to await the arrival of the
camels, not expecting to see an elephant. He was actually reposing
within a dozen yards of a very large one, without being aware of it;
and on an Arab striking the animal with a spear, he roared out, and
moved off.

Poor Hillman's alarm was extreme.

The courier had been sent off a second time, after being re-clothed
and remounted, to receive the sheik's orders, and they were not to
proceed beyond Woodie until his pleasure was known. So jealous and
suspicious are these negro princes of the encroachments of the Arabs,
that divers were the speculations as to whether the sheik would or
would not allow the Arabs to proceed with the party nearer his

A weekly fsug, or market, was held about a mile from the town, and
the women, flocking from the neighbouring negro villages, mounted on
bullocks, who have a thong of hide passed through the cartilage of
the nose when young, and are managed with great ease, had a curious
appearance. A skin is spread on the animal's back, upon which, after
hanging the different articles they take for sale, they mount
themselves. Milk, sour and sweet, a little honey, lowls, gussub, and
gafooly, are amongst their wares; fat and _meloheea_ (ochra), a green
herb, which, with the bazeen, all negroes eat voraciously, and indeed
Christians too, as was afterwards experienced. The men brought oxen,
sheep, goats, and slaves; the latter were few in number, and in
miserable condition.

Woodie is a capital, or, as they say, blad kebir, and is governed by
a sheik, who is a eunuch, and a man of considerable importance; they
appear to have all the necessaries of life in abundance, and are the
most indolent people which the travellers ever met with. The women
spin a little cotton, and weave it into a coarse cloth of about six
inches width. The men either lie idling in their huts during the
whole of the day, or in the shade of a building formed by four
supporters and a thatched roof, which stands in an open space amongst
the huts; this is also the court of justice and the house of prayer.
The men are considerably above the common stature, and of an athletic
make, but have an expression of features particularly dull and heavy.
The town stands about one mile west of the Tchad, four short days'
march from Bornou.

The women, like the Tibboos, have a square piece of blue or white
cloth tied over one shoulder, which forms their whole covering; their
hair is, however, curiously and laboriously trained, and it was
observed, that no one of tender years had any thing like a perfect head
of hair. From childhood the head is shaved, leaving only the top
covered; the hair from hence falls down quite round, from the
forehead to the pole of the neck, and is there formed into one solid
plait, which in front lying quite flat just over the eyes, and,
behind, being turned up with a little curl, has just the appearance
of an old-fashioned coachman's wig in England; some of them are,
however, very pretty.

On the morning of the 10th February, Major Denham went to the
eastward, in order to see the extent of the forest, and also, if
possible, to get a sight of the herd of upwards of one hundred and
fifty elephants, which some of the Arabs had seen the day before,
while their camels were feeding. He was not disappointed, for he
found them about six miles from the town, on the grounds annually
overflowed by the waters of the lake, where the coarse grass is twice
the height of a man; they seemed to cover the face of the country,
and far exceeded the number which was reported. When the waters flow
over these their pasturages, they are forced by hunger to approach
the towns, and spread devastation throughout their march; whole
plantations, the hopes of the inhabitants for the next year, are
sometimes destroyed in a single night.

When quite fatigued, Major Denham determined on making for some huts,
and begged a little milk, sweet or sour. No knowing landlady of a
country ever scanned the character of her customer more than did this
untaught, though cunning negro, who was found there. He first denied
that he had any, notwithstanding the bowls were scarcely ten paces
behind him, and then asked, what they had got to pay for it? Major
Denham had in reality nothing with him; and after offering his pocket
handkerchief, which was returned to him, as not worth any thing, he
was about to depart, though ten long miles from the tents, thirsty as
he was, when the Arab pointed to a needle, which was sticking in the
major's jacket; for this and a white bead, which the Arab produced,
they had a bowl of fine milk and a basket of nuts, which refreshed
them much. On their way to the tents, they saw a flock of at least
five hundred pelicans, but could not get near enough to fire at them.

On the 11th, two of the sheik's officers arrived, with letters and a
present of goroo nuts of Soudan; they have a pleasant bitter taste,
and are much esteemed by all the Tripoli people. These letters
pressed Boo Khaloom to continue his march towards Kouka, with all his
people, a very great proof of his confidence in the peaceable
disposition of their chief. In the evening of the same day, they
reached a town called Burwha. It is walled, and it was the first
negro one they had seen. It may be called in that country a place of
some strength, in proof of which, the inhabitants have always defied
the Tuarick marauders, who never entered the town. The walls may be
about thirteen or fourteen feet high, and have a dry ditch which runs
quite round them. The town probably covers an extent equal to three
square miles, and contains five or six thousand inhabitants. There is
a covered way, from which the defenders lance their spears at the
besiegers, and instantly conceal themselves. There are but two gates,
which are nearly east and west; and these being the most vulnerable
part for an enemy to attack, are defended by mounds of earth thrown
up on each side, and carried out at least twenty yards in front of
the gate, and have nearly perpendicular faces. These advanced posts
are always thickly manned, and they conceive them to be a great
defence to their walls; they cannot, however, calculate upon their
being abandoned, as an enemy once in possession of them, would so
completely command the town, that from thence every part of it may be
seen. Nevertheless, Burwha is a strong place, considering the means
of attack which the Arabs have.

Major Denham rode nearly the whole of this day with Min Ali Tahar,
the Gundowy Tibbo sheik, who was accompanying them to Bornou; he had
some little difference with the sheik, of whom he was perfectly
independent, and Boo Khaloom, ever politic, undertook to make up the
misunderstanding; thereby not only showing his influence, but
securing in a manner the future friendship of Tahar, whose district
was always considered the most dangerous part of the Tibboo country,
on the road to Mourzouk. Tahar was a sharp, intelligent fellow, spoke
a little Arabic, and had often asked Major Denham many questions
about his country, and his sultan or king, but on this day he was
more inquisitive than usual. "Rais Khaleel," said he, "what would
your sultan do to Min Ali, if he was to go to England? Would he kill
me, or would he keep me there a prisoner? I should like to be there
for about a month."

"Certainly neither the one nor the other," replied Major Denham; "he
would be much more inclined to make you a handsome present, and send
you back again."

"Oh!" exclaimed Min Ali, "I should take him something; but what could
I give him? nothing but the skins of a dozen ostriches, some
elephants' teeth, and a lion's skin."

"The value of the present," said Major Denham, "could be of no
importance to my sultan; he would look at the intention. Do you,
however, befriend his people; remember the Inglezi that you have
seen; and should any more ever find their way to your tents, give
them milk and sheep, and put them in the road they are going.
Promise me to do this, and I can almost promise you, that my sultan
shall send you a sword, such a one as Hateeta had on my return,
without your going to England, or giving him any thing."

"Is he such a man?" exclaimed Min Ali. "Barak Allah! what is his

"George," replied Major Denham.

"George," repeated Min Ali. "Health to George; much of it! _Salem
Ali; George yassur._ Tell him, Min Ali Tahar wishes him all health
and happiness; that he is a Tibboo, who can command a thousand
spears, and fears no man. Is he liberal? Is his heart large? _Gulba
kablr,_ does he give presents to his people?"

"Very much so indeed," replied Major Denham; "some of his people
think him too generous."

"By the head of my father!" _"Raas el Booe!_" exclaimed Min Ali, they
are wrong; the sultan of a great people should have a large heart, or
he is unworthy of them. Who will succeed him when he dies?"

"His brother," answered Major Denham. "What is his name?" asked Min
Ali. "Frederick," replied the major.

"Barak Allah!" cried Min Ali; "I hope he will be like George,
_matlook_ (liberal). _Salem Ali Frederick!_ How many wives have

"No Englishman," replied Major Denham, "has more than one."

"A gieb! a gieb! wonderful! wonderful!" exclaimed Min Ali; why, they
should have a hundred."

"No, no," said Major Denham, "we think that a sin." "Wallah! really!"
(literally, by God!) cried Min Ali; "why, I have four now, and I have
had more than sixty. She, however, whom I like best, always says, one
would be more lawful; she may be right; you say she is. You are a
great people; I see you are a great people, and know every thing. I,
a Tibboo, am little better than a gazelle."


The 17th of February was a momentous day to the Europeans, as well as
to their conductors. Notwithstanding all the difficulties that had
presented themselves at the various stages of their journey, they
were at last within a few short miles of their destination; they were
about to become acquainted with a people, who had never seen, or
scarcely heard of a European, and to tread on ground, the knowledge
and true situation of which had hitherto been wholly unknown. These
ideas of course excited no common sensations, and could scarcely be
unaccompanied by strong hopes of their labours being beneficial to
the race amongst whom they were shortly to mix; of their laying the
first stone of a work, which might lead to their civilization, if not
their emancipation from all their prejudices and ignorance, at the
same time open a field of commerce to their own country, which might
increase its wealth and prosperity.

The accounts, which they had received of the state of this country,
had been so contradictory, that no opinion could be formed as to the
real condition, or the number of its inhabitants. They had been told
that the sheik's soldiers were a few ragged negroes, armed with
spears, who lived upon the plunder of the black kaffir countries, by
which he was surrounded, and which he was enabled to subdue by the
assistance of a few Arabs, who were in his service; and again they
had been assured that his forces were not only numerous, but to a
certain degree well trained. The degree of credit which might be
attached to these reports, was nearly balanced in the scales of
probability, and they advanced towards the town of Kouka, in a most
interesting state of uncertainty, whether they should find its chief
at the head of thousands, or be received by him under a tree,
surrounded by a few naked slaves.

These doubts, however, were quickly removed; Major Denham had ridden
on a short distance in front of Boo Khaloom, with his train of Arabs
all mounted, and dressed out in their best apparel, and from the
thickness of the leaves soon lost sight of them, fancying that the
road could not be mistaken. He rode still onwards, and on approaching
a spot less thickly planted, was not a little surprised to see in
front of him a body of several thousand cavalry, drawn up in a line,
and extending right and left as far as he could see; checking his
horse, he awaited the arrival of his party, under the shade of a
wide-spreading acacia. The Bornou troops remained quite steady
without noise or confusion, and a few horsemen, who were moving about
in front giving directions, were the only persons out of the ranks.
On the Arabs appearing in sight, a shout or yell was given by the
sheik's people, which rent the air; a blast was blown from their rude
instruments of music equally loud, and they moved on to meet Boo
Khaloom and his Arabs. There was an appearance of tact and management
in their movements, which astonished every one; three separate small
bodies from the centre and each flank, kept charging rapidly towards
them, to within a few feet of their horses' heads, without checking
the speed of their own, until the movement of their halt, while the
whole body moved onwards. These parties, shaking their spears over
their heads, exclaimed, _Barca! barca! Alla hiakkum, cha, alla
cheraga;_ Blessing! blessing! sons of your country! sons of your
country. While all this was going on, they closed in their left and
right flanks, and surrounded the little body of Arab warriors so
completely, as to give the compliment of welcoming them, very much
the appearance of a declaration of their contempt of their weakness.
They were all now so closely pressed as to be nearly smothered, and
in some danger from the crowding of the horses, and clashing of the
spears; moving on was impossible, and they therefore came to a full
stop. Boo Khaloom was much enraged, but it was all to no purpose; he
was only answered by shrieks of welcome, and the spears most
unpleasantly rattled over their heads, expressive of the same
feeling. This annoyance, however, was not of long duration. Barca
Gana, the sheik's first general, a negro of noble aspect, clothed in
a figured silk tobe, and mounted on a beautiful Mandara horse, made
his appearance, and after a little delay, the rear was cleared of
those, who had pressed in upon the Europeans and Arabs, and they
moved on, although very slowly, from the frequent impediments thrown
in their way by these wild equestrians.

The sheik's negroes as they were called, meaning the black chiefs and
favourites, all raised to that rank by some deed of bravery, were
habited in coats of mail composed of iron chain, which covered them
from the throat to the knees, dividing behind, and coming on each
side of the horse. Their horses heads were also defended by plates of
iron, brass, and silver, just leaving sufficient room for the eyes of
the animal.

At length, on arriving at the gate of the town, the Europeans, Boo
Khaloom, and about a dozen of his followers, were alone allowed to
enter the gates, and they proceeded along a wide street, completely
lined with spearmen on foot, with cavalry in front of them to the
door of the sheik's residence. Here the horsemen were formed up three
deep, and they came to a stand; some of the chief attendants came
out, and after a great many Barcas! barcas! retired, when others
performed the same ceremony. They were now again left sitting on
their horses in the sun. Boo Khaloom began to lose all patience, and
swore by the bashaw's head, that he would return to the tents, if he
was not immediately admitted, he got, however, no satisfaction but a
motion of the hand from one of the chiefs, meaning "wait patiently;"
and Major Denham whispered to him the necessity of obeying, as they
were hemmed in on all sides, and to retire without permission would
have been as difficult as to advance. Barca Gana now appeared, and
made a sign that Boo Khaloom should dismount; the Europeans were
about to follow his example, when an intimation that Boo Khaloom was
alone to be admitted, fixed them again to their saddles. Another half
hour at least elapsed, without any news from the interior of the
building, when the gates opened, and the four Englishmen only were
called for, and they advanced to the skiffa (entrance). Here they
were stopped most unceremoniously by the black guards in waiting, and
were allowed one by one only to ascend a staircase; at the top of
which they were again brought to a stand by crossed spears, and the
open flat hand of a negro laid upon their breast. Boo Khaloom came
from the inner chamber, and asked, "If we were prepared to salute the
sheik, as we did the bashaw." They replied, "certainly;" which was
merely an inclination of the head, and laying the right hand on the
heart. He advised their laying their hands also on their heads--but
they replied the thing was impossible. They had but one manner of
salutation for any body, except their own sovereign.

Another parley now took place, but in a minute or two he returned,
and they were ushered into the presence of the sheik of spears.
They found him in a small dark room, sitting on a carpet, plainly
dressed in a blue tobe of Soudan, and a shawl turban. Two negroes
were on each side of him, armed with pistols, and on his carpet lay a
brace of those instruments. Fire arms were hanging in different
parts of the room, presents from the bashaw and Mustapha L'Achmar,
the sultan of Fezzan, which are here considered as invaluable. His
personal appearance was prepossessing, apparently not more than
forty-five or forty-six, with an expressive countenance and
benevolent smile. They delivered their letter from the bashaw, and
after he had read it, he inquired, "What was our object in coming?"
They answered, "to see the country merely, and to give an account of
its inhabitants, produce, and appearance; as our sultan was desirous
of knowing every part of the globe." His reply was, "that we were
welcome, and whatever he could show us would give him pleasure; that
he had ordered huts to be built for us in the town, and that we might
then go, accompanied by one of his people, to see them, and that when
we were recovered from the fatigue of our long journey, he would be
happy to see us." With this, they took their leave. Their huts were
little round mud buildings, placed within a wall, at no great
distance from the residence of the sheik. The enclosure was
quadrangular, and had several divisions, formed by partitions of
straw mats, where nests of huts were built, and occupied by the
stranger merchants, who accompanied the kafila. One of these
divisions was assigned to the Europeans, and they crept into the
shade of their earthly dwellings, not a little fatigued with their
entree and presentation.

Their huts were immediately so crowded with visitors, that they had
not a moment's peace, and the heat was insufferable. Boo Khaloom had
delivered his presents from the bashaw, and brought the Europeans a
message of compliment, together with an intimation, that their
presents would be received on the following day. About noon, a
summons was received for them to attend the sheik, and they proceeded
to the palace, preceded by their negroes, bearing the articles
destined for the sheik by their government, consisting of a
double-barrelled gun, with a box, and all the apparatus complete, a
pair of excellent pistols, in a case; two pieces of superfine
broad-cloth, red and blue, to which were added a set of china and two
bundles of spices.

The ceremony of getting into the presence was ridiculous enough,
although nothing could be more plain and devoid of pretension than
the appearance of the sheik himself. They entered through passages
lined with attendants, the front men sitting on their hams; and when
they advanced too quickly, they were suddenly arrested by these
fellows, who caught forcibly hold of them by their legs, and had not
the crowd prevented their falling, they would most infallibly have
become prostrate before arriving in the presence. Previously to
entering into the open court in which they were received; their
papouches, or slippers, were whipped off by those active, though
sedentary gentlemen of the chamber, and they were seated on some
clean sand, on each side of a raised bench of earth, covered with a
carpet, on which the sheik was reclining. They laid the gun and the
pistols together before him, and explained to him the locks,
turnscrews, and steel shot cases, holding two charges each, with all
of which he seemed exceedingly well pleased; the powder-flask, and
the manner in which the charge is divided from the body of the
powder, did not escape his observation. The other articles were taken
off by the slaves, as soon as they were laid before him. Again they
were questioned as to the object of their visit. The sheik, however,
showed evident satisfaction at their assurance that the king of
England had heard of Bornou and himself, and immediately turning to
his kaganawha (counsellors), said, "This is in consequence of our
defeating the Begharmis." Upon which the chief who had most
distinguished himself in these memorable battles, Ragah Turby, (the
gatherer of horses,) seating himself in front of them, demanded, "Did
he ever hear of me?" The immediate reply of _"Certainly,"_ did
wonders for the European cause. Exclamations were general, and "Ah!
then your king must be a great man," was re-echoed from every side.
They had not any thing offered them by way of refreshment, and took
their leave.

It may be here observed, that besides occasional presents of
bullocks, camel loads of wheat and rice, leathern skins of butter,
jars of honey, and honey in the comb, five or six wooden bowls were
sent them morning and evening, containing rice with meat, paste made
of barley flour, savoury but very greasy, and on their first arrival,
as many had been sent of sweets, mostly composed of curd and honey.

In England a brace of trout might be considered as a handsome present
to a traveller sojourning in the neighbourhood of a stream, but at
Bornou things are managed differently. A camel load of bream and a
sort of mullet were thrown before their huts on the second morning
after their arrival, and for fear that should not be sufficient, in
the evening another was sent.

The costume of the women, who attended the fsug, or market, was
various; those of Kanem and Bornou were most numerous, and the former
was as becoming as the latter had a contrary appearance. The variety
in costume amongst the ladies consists entirely in the head
ornaments; the only difference in the scanty covering which is
bestowed on the other parts of the person, lies in the choice of the
wearer, who either ties the piece of linen, blue or white, under the
arms and across the breasts, or fastens it rather fantastically on
one shoulder, leaving one breast naked. The Kanamboo women have small
plaits of hair hanging down all round the head, quite to the poll of
the neck, with a roll of leather, or string of little brass beads in
front, hanging down from the centre on each side of the face, which
has by no means an unbecoming appearance; they have sometimes strings
of silver rings instead of the brass, and a large round silver
ornament in front of their foreheads. The female slaves from Musgow,
a large kingdom to the south-east of Mandara, are particularly
disagreeable in their appearance, although considered as very
trustworthy, and capable of great labour; their hair is rolled up in
three large plaits, which extend from the forehead to the back of the
neck, like the Bornowy; one larger in the centre, and two smaller on
each side; they have silver studs in their nose, and one large one
just under the lower lip, of the size of a shilling, which goes quite
through into the mouth; to make room for this ornament, a tooth or
two are sometimes displaced.

Amongst the articles offered to Major Denham in the market, was a
young lion and a monkey; the latter appeared really the more
dangerous of the two, and from being a degree or two lighter in
complexion than his master, he seemed to have taken a decided
aversion to the European.

The lion walked about with great unconcern, confined merely by a
small rope round his neck, held by the negro who had caught him when
he was not two months old, and having had him for a period of three
months, now wished to part with him; he was about the size of a
donkey colt, with very large limbs, and the people seemed to go very
close to him without much alarm, notwithstanding he struck with his
foot the leg of one man who stood in his way, and made the blood flow
copiously. They opened the ring which was formed round the noble
animal, as Major Denham approached, and coming within two or three
yards of him, he fixed his eye upon him, in a way that excited
sensations, which it was impossible to describe, and from which the
major was awakened, by a fellow calling him to come nearer, at the
same time laying his hand on the animal's back; a moment's
recollection convinced him, that there could be no more danger
nearer, than where he was, and he stepped boldly up beside the negro,
and he believed he should have laid his hand on the lion the next
moment, but the beast, after looking carelessly at him, brushed past
his legs, broke the ring, overturning several who stood before him,
and bounded off to another part, where there were fewer people.

It remained that Major Denham should be introduced to the sultan, in
his royal residence at Birnie, where all the real state and pomp of
the kingdom, with none of its real power were concentrated. On the
2nd March, the English accompanied Boo Khaloom to that city, and on
their arrival, the following day was fixed for the interview. Fashion
even in the most refined European courts, does not always follow the
absolute guidance of taste or reason, and her magic power is often
displayed in converting deformities into beauties, but there is
certainly no court, of which the taste is so absurd, grotesque, and
monstrous, as that to which Major Denham was now introduced. An
enormous protruding belly, and a huge misshapen head, are the two
features, without which it is vain to aspire to the rank of a
courtier, or fine gentleman. The form, valued perhaps as the type of
abundance and luxury, is esteemed so essential, that where nature has
not bestowed, and the most excessive feeding and cramming cannot
supply it, wadding is employed, and a false belly produced, which in
riding appears to hang over the saddle. Turbans are also wrapped
round the head, in fold after fold, till it appears swelled on one
side to the most unnatural dimensions, and only one half of the face
remains visible. The fictitious bulk of the lords of Bornou is still
further augmented by drawing round them, even in this burning
climate, ten or twelve successive robes of cotton or silk, while the
whole is covered with numberless charms enclosed in green leathern
cases. Yet under all these incumbrances, they do sometimes mount and
take the field, but the idea of such unwieldy hogsheads being of any
avail in the day of battle, appeared altogether ridiculous, and it
proved accordingly, that on such high occasions, they merely
exhibited themselves as ornaments, without making even a show of
encountering the enemy.

With about three hundred of this puissant chivalry before and around
him, the sultan was himself seated in a sort of cage of cane or wood
near the door of his garden, on a seat, which at the distance
appeared to be covered with silk or satin, and through the railing
looked upon the assembly before him, who formed a kind of semicircle,
extending from his seat to nearly where the English were waiting. The
courtiers having taken their seats in due form, the embassy was
allowed to approach within about pistol shot of the spot where the
sultan was sitting, and desired to sit down, when the ugliest black
that can be imagined, his chief eunuch, the only person who
approached the sultan's seat, asked for the presents. Boo Khaloom's
were produced in a large shawl, and were carried unopened to the
presence. The glimpse which the English obtained of the sultan, was
but a faint one, through the lattice work of his pavilion,
sufficient, however, to show that his turban was larger than any of
his subjects, and that his face from the nose downwards was
completely covered. A little to the left, and nearly in front of the
sultan, was an extempore declaimer, shouting forth praises of his
master, with his pedigree; near him was one who bore the long wooden
frumfrum, on which ever and anon he blew a blast loud and unmusical.
Nothing could be more ridiculous than the appearance of these people,
squatting under the weight and magnitude of their bellies, while the
thin legs that appeared underneath, but ill accorded with the bulk of
the other parts.

This was all that was ever seen of the sultan of Bornou. The party
then set out for Kouka, passing on their way through Angornou, the
largest city in the kingdom, containing at least thirty thousand

During his residence at Kouka and Angornou, Major Denham frequently
attended the markets, where besides the proper Bornouese, he saw the
Shouass, an Arab tribe, who are the chief breeders of cattle; the
Kanemboos from the north, with their hair neatly and tastefully
plaited, and the Musgow, a southern clan of the most savage aspect.
A loose robe or shirt of the cotton cloth of the country, often
finely and beautifully dyed, was the universal dress, and high rank
was indicated by six or seven of these, worn one above another.
Ornament was studied chiefly in plaiting the hair, in attaching to it
strings of brass or silver beads, in inserting large pieces of amber
or coral into the nose, the ear, and the lip, and when to these was
added a face, streaming with oil, the Bornouese belle was fully
equipped for conquest. Thus adorned, the wife or daughter of a rich
Shouaa might be seen entering the market in full style, bestriding an
ox, which she managed dexterously, by a leathern thong passed through
the nose, and whose unwieldy bulk she even contrived to torture into
something like capering and curvetting. Angornou is the chief market,
and the crowd there is sometimes immense, amounting to eighty or one
hundred thousand individuals. All the produce of the country is
bought and sold in open market, for shops and warehouses do not enter
into the system of African traffic.

Bornou taken altogether forms an extensive plain, stretching two
hundred miles along the western shore of Lake Tchad, and nearly the
same distance inland. This sea periodically changes its bed in a
singular manner. During the rains, when its tributary rivers pour in
thrice the usual quantity of water, it inundates an extensive tract,
from which it retires in the dry season. This space, then overgrown
with dense underwood, and with grass double the height of a man,
contains a motley assemblage of wild beasts--lions, panthers, hyenas,
elephants, and serpents of extraordinary form and bulk. These
monsters, while undisturbed in this mighty den, remain tranquil, or
war only with each other, but when the lake swells, and its waters
rush in, they of necessity seek refuge among the abodes of men, to
whom they prove the most dreadful scourge. Not only the cattle but
the slaves attending the grain, often fall victims; they even rush in
large bodies into the towns. The fields beyond the reach of this
annual inundation are very fertile, and land may be had in any
quantity, by him who has slaves to cultivate it. This service is
performed by females from Musgow, who, aiding their native ugliness,
by the insertion of a large piece of silver into the upper lip, which
throws it entirely out of shape, are estimated according to the
quantity of hard work which they can execute. The processes of
agriculture are extremely simple. Their only fine manufacture is that
of tobes, or vestments of cotton skilfully woven and beautifully
dyed, but still not equal to those of Soudan.

The Bornouese are complete negroes both in form and feature; they are
ugly, simple, and good natured, but destitute of all intellectual
culture. Only a few of the great fighis or doctors, of whom the sheik
was one, can read the Koran. "A great writer" is held in still higher
estimation than with us, but his compositions consist only of words
written on scraps of paper, to be enclosed in cases, and worn as
amulets. They are then supposed to defend their possessor against
every danger, to act as charms to destroy his enemies, and to be the
main instrument in the cure of all diseases. For this last purpose
they are assisted only by a few simple applications, yet the Bornou
practice is said to be very successful, either through the power of
imagination, or owing to the excellence of their constitutions. In
the absence of all refined pleasure, various rude sports are pursued
with eagerness, and almost with fury. The most favourite is
wrestling, which the chiefs do not practise in person, but train
their slaves to it as our jockeys do game cocks, taking the same
pride in their prowess and victory. Nations are often pitched against
each other; the Musgowy and the Bughami being the most powerful. Many
of them are extremely handsome, and of gigantic size, and hence their
contests are truly terrific. Their masters loudly cheer them on,
offering high premiums for victory, and sometimes threatening instant
death in case of defeat. They place their trust not in science, but
in main strength and rapid movements. Occasionally, the wrestler,
eluding his adversary's vigilance, seizes him by the thigh, lifts him
into the air, and dashes him against the ground. When the match is
decided, the victor is greeted with loud plaudits by the spectators,
some of whom even testify their admiration by throwing to him
presents of fine cloth. He then kneels before his master, who not
unfrequently bestows upon him a robe worth thirty or forty dollars,
taken perhaps from his own person. Death or maiming is no unfrequent
result of these encounters. The ladies even of rank engage in another
very odd species of contest. Placing themselves back to back, they
cause certain parts to strike together with the most violent
collision, when she who maintains her equilibrium, while the other
lies stretched upon the ground, is proclaimed victor with loud
cheers. In this conflict the girdle of beads worn by the more opulent
females, very frequently bursts, when these ornaments are seen flying
about in every direction. To these recreations is added gaming,
always the rage of uncultivated minds. Their favourite game is one
rudely played with beans, by means of holes made in the sand.

Boo Khaloom having despatched his affairs in Bornou, wished to turn
his journey to some farther account, and proposed an expedition into
the more wealthy and commercial region of Houssa or Soudan, but the
eager wishes of his follower pointed to a different object. They
called upon him to lead them into the mountains of Mandara, in the
south, to attack a village of the Kerdies or unbelievers, and carry
off the people as slaves to Fezzan. He long stood out against this
nefarious proposal, but the sheik who also had his own views, took
part against him; even his own brother joined the malcontents, and at
length there appeared no other mode in which he could return with
equal credit and profit. Influenced by these inducements, he suffered
his better judgement to be overpowered, and determined to conduct his
troops upon this perilous and guilty excursion. Major Denham allowed
his zeal for discovery to overcome other considerations, and
contrived, notwithstanding the prohibition of the sheik, to be one of
the party. They were accompanied by Barca Gana, the principal
general, a negro of huge strength and great courage, along with other
warriors, and a large troop of Bournouse cavalry. These last are a
fine military body in point of external appearance. Their persons are
covered with iron plate and mail, and they manage with surprising
dexterity their little active steeds, which are also supplied with
defensive armour. They have one fault only, but it is a serious one,
they cannot stand the shock of an enemy. While the contest continues
doubtful, they hover round as spectators, ready, should the tide turn
against them, to spur on their coursers to a rapid flight; but if
they see their friends victorious, and the enemy turning their backs,
they come forward and display no small vigour in pursuit and plunder.

The road to Mandara formed a continual ascent through a fertile
country, which contained some populous towns. The path being quite
overgrown with thick and prickly underwood, twelve pioneers went
forward with long poles, opening a track, pushing back the branches,
and giving warning to beware of holes. These operations they
accompanied with loud praises of Barca Gana, calling out, "Who is in
battle like the rolling of thunder? Barca Gana. In battle, who
spreads terror around him like the buffalo in his rage? Barca Gana."
Even the chiefs on this expedition carried no provisions, except a
paste of rice, flour, and honey, with which they contented
themselves, unless when sheep could be procured; in which case, half
the animal, roasted over a frame-work of wood, was placed on the
table, and the sharpest dagger present was employed in cutting it
into large pieces, to be eaten without bread or salt. At length they
approached Mora, the capital of Mandara. This was another kingdom,
which the energy of its present sultan had rescued from the yoke of
the Fellata empire; and the strong position of its capital, enclosed
by lofty ridges of hills, had enabled it to defy repeated attacks. It
consists of a fine plain, bordered on the south by an immense and
almost interminable range of mountains. The eminences directly in
front were not quite so lofty as the hills of Cumberland, but bold,
rocky, and precipitous, and distant summits appeared towering much
higher, and shooting up a line of sharp pinnacles, resembling the
Needles of Mont Blanc. It was reported that two months were required
to cross their greatest breadth, and reach the other side, where they
rose ten times higher, and were called large _moon_ mountains. They
there overlooked the plain of Adamowa, through which a great river,
that has erroneously been supposed to be the Quorra or Niger, was
said to flow from the westward. The hills immediately in view were
thickly clustered with villages perched on their sides, and even on
their tops, and were distinctly seen from the plain of Mandara. They
were occupied by half-savage tribes, whom the ferocious bigotry of
the nations in the low country branded as pagans, and whom they
claimed a right to plunder, seize, and drive in crowds for sale to
the markets of Fezzan and Bornou. The fires, which were visible, in
the different nests of these unfortunate beings, threw a glare upon
the bold rocks and blunt promontories of granite by which they were
surrounded, and produced a picturesque and somewhat awful appearance.
A baleful joy beamed on the visage of the Arabs, as they eyed these
abodes of their future victims, whom they already fancied themselves
driving in bands across the desert. "A Kerdy village to plunder!" was
all their cry, and Boo Khaloom doubted not that he would be able to
gratify their wishes. Their common fear of the Fellatas had united
the sultan of Mandara in close alliance with the sheik, to whom he
had lately married his daughter; and the nuptials had been celebrated
by a great slave-hunt amongst the mountains, when, after a dreadful
struggle, three thousand captives, by their tears and bondage,
furnished out the materials of a magnificent marriage festival.

The expedition obtained a reception quite as favourable as had been
expected. In approaching the capital, they were met by the sultan,
with five hundred Mandara horse, who, charging full speed, wheeled
round them with the same threatening movements which had been
exhibited at Bornou. The horses were of a superior breed, most
skilfully managed, and covered with cloths of various colours, as
well as with skins of the leopard and tiger-cat. This cavalry, of
course, made a most brilliant appearance; but Major Denham did not
yet know that their valour was exactly on a level with that of their
Bornou allies. The party were then escorted to the capital, amid the
music of long pipes, like clarionets, and of two immense trumpets.
They were introduced next day. The mode of approaching the royal
residence is to gallop up to the gate with a furious speed, which
often causes fatal accidents, and on this occasion a man was ridden
down and killed on the spot. The sultan was found in a dark-blue
tent, sitting on a mud bench, surrounded by about two hundred
attendants, handsomely arrayed in silk and cotton robes. He was an
intelligent little man, about fifty years old, with a beard dyed
sky-blue. Courteous salutations were exchanged, during which he
steadily eyed Major Denham, concerning whom he at last inquired, and
the traveller was advantageously introduced, as belonging to a
powerful distant nation, allies of the bashaw of Tripoli. At last,
however, came the fatal question,--"Is he moslem?" _"La! la!"_ (No,
no.) "What: has the great bashaw caffre friends?" Every eye was
instantly averted; the sun of Major Denham's favour was set, and he
was never again allowed to enter the palace.

The bigotry of this court seems to have surpassed even the usual
bitterness of the African tribes, and our traveller had to undergo a
regular persecution, carried on especially by Malem Chadily, the
leading fighi of the court. As Major Denham was showing to the
admiring chiefs, the mode of writing with a pencil, and effacing it
with Indian rubber; Malem wrote some words of the Koran with such
force, that their traces could not be wholly removed. He then
exclaimed with triumph, "They are the words of God delivered to his
prophet. I defy you to erase them." The major was then called upon to
acknowledge this great miracle, and as his countenance still
expressed incredulity, he was viewed with looks of such mingled
contempt and indignation, as induced him to retire. Malem, however,
again assailed him with the assurance that this was only one of the
many miracles which he could show, as wrought by the Koran, imploring
him to turn, and paradise would be his, otherwise nothing could save
him from eternal fire. "Oh!" said he, "while sitting in the third
heaven, I shall see you in the midst of the flames, crying out to
your friend Barca Gana and myself for a drop of water, but the gulf
will be between us." His tears then flowed profusely. Major Denham,
taking the general aside, entreated to be relieved from this
incessant persecution, but Gana assured him that the fighi was a
great and holy man, to whom he ought to listen. He then held out not
only paradise, but honours, slaves, and wives of the first families,
as gifts to be lavished on him by the sheik, if he would renounce his
unbelief. Major Denham asked the commander what would be thought of
himself, if he should go to England and turn Christian. "God forbid,"
exclaimed he, "but how can you compare our faiths? mine would lead
you to paradise, while yours would bring me to hell. Not a word
more." Nothing appears to have annoyed the stranger more than to be
told, that he was of the same faith with the Kerdies or savages,
little distinction being made between any who denied the Koran. After
a long discussion of this question, he thought the validity of his
reasoning would be admitted, when he could point to a party of those
wretches devouring a dead horse, and appealed to Boo Khaloom if he
had ever seen the English do the same; but to this, which after all
was not a very deep theological argument, the Arab replied, "I know
they eat the flesh of swine, and God knows, that is worse." "Grant me
patience," exclaimed the major to himself, "this is almost too much
to bear and to remain silent."

The unfortunate Kerdies, from the moment they saw Arab tents in the
valley of Mandara, knew the dreadful calamity which awaited them. To
avert it and to propitiate the sultan, numerous parlies came down
with presents of honey, asses, and slaves. Finally appeared the
Musgow, a more distant and savage race, mounted on small fiery
steeds, covered only with the skin of a goat or leopard, and with
necklaces made of the teeth of their enemies. They threw themselves
at the feet of the sultan, casting sand on their heads, and uttering
the most piteous cries. The monarch apparently moved by these gifts
and entreaties, began to intimate to Boo Khaloom his hopes, that
these savages might by gentle means be reclaimed, and led to the true
faith. These hopes were held by the latter in the utmost derision,
and he privately assured Major Denham, that nothing would more annoy
the devout Mussulmans, than to see them fulfilled, whereby he must
have forfeited all right to drive these unhappy creatures in crowds,
to the markets of Soudan and Bornou. In fact, both the sultan and the
sheik had a much deeper aim. Every effort was used to induce Boo
Khaloom to engage in the attack of some strong Fellata posts, by
which the country was hemmed in, and as the two monarchs viewed the
Arabs with extreme jealousy, it was strongly suspected that their
defeat would not have been regarded as a public calamity. The royal
councils were secret and profound, and it was not known what
influences worked upon Boo Khaloom. On this occasion, however, he was
mastered by his evil genius, and consented to the proposed attack,
but as he came out and ordered his troops to prepare for marching,
his countenance bore such marks of trouble, that Major Denham asked,
if all went well, to which he Hurriedly answered, "Please God."
The Arabs, however, who at all events expected plunder, proceeded
with alacrity.

The expedition set out on the following morning, and after passing
through a beautiful plain, began to penetrate the mighty chain of
mountains, which form the southern border of the kingdom. Alpine
heights rising around them in rugged magnificence, and gigantic
grandeur, presented scenery which our traveller had never seen
surpassed. The passes of Hairey and of Horza, amid a superb
amphitheatre of hills, closely shut in by overhanging cliffs, more
than two thousand feet high, were truly striking. Here for the first
time in Africa, did nature appear to the English to rival in the
production of vegetable life. The trees were covered with luxuriant
and bright green foliage, and their trunks were hidden by a crowd of
parasitical plants, whose aromatic blossoms perfumed the air. There
was also an abundance of animal life of a less agreeable description.
Three scorpions were killed in the tent, and a fierce but beautiful
panther, more than eight feet long, just as he had gorged himself by
sucking the blood of a newly-killed negro, was attacked and speared.
The sultan and Barca Gana were attended by a considerable body of
Bornou and Mandara cavalry, whose brilliant armour, martial aspect,
and skilful horsemanship, gave confidence to the European officer,
who had not seen them put to the proof.

It was the third day, when the expedition came in view of the Fellata
town of Dirkulla. The Arabs, supported by Barca Gana, and about one
hundred spearmen marched instantly to the attack, and carried first
that place, and then a smaller town beyond it, killing all who had
not time to escape. The enemy, however, then entrenched themselves in
a third and stronger position, called Musfeia, enclosed by high
hills, and fortified in front by numerous swamps and palisades. This
was likewise attacked and all its defences forced. The guns of the
Arabs spread terror, while Barca Gana threw eight spears with his own
hand, every one of which took effect. It was thought, that had the
two bodies of cavalry, made even a show of advancing, the victory
would have been at once decided, but Major Denham was much surprised
to see those puissant warriors, keeping carefully under cover, behind
a hill, on the opposite side of the stream, where not an arrow could
reach them. The Fellatas seeing that their antagonists were only a
handful, rallied on the top of the hills, were joined by new troops,
and turned round. Their women behind cheered them on, continually
supplied fresh arrows, and rolled down fragments of rock on the
assailants. These arrows were tipped with poison, and wherever they
pierced the body, in a few hours became black, blood gushed from
every orifice, and the victim expired in agony. The condition of the
Arabs soon became alarming, scarcely a man was left unhurt, and their
horses were dying under them. Boo Khaloom and his charger were both
wounded with poisoned arrows. As soon as the Fellatas saw the Arabs
waver, they dashed in with their horse, at the sight of which all the
heroic squadrons of Bornou and Mandara put spurs to their steeds, the
sultan at their head, and the whole became one mass of confused and
tumultuous flight. Major Denham saw too late the peril into which he
had inconsiderately plunged. His horse, wounded in to the shoulder,
could scarcely support his weight, but the cries of the pursuing
Fellatas urged him forward. At last the animal fell twice, and the
second time threw him against a tree, then, frightened by the noise
behind, started up and ran off. The Fellatas were instantly up, when
four of his companions were stabbed beside him, uttering the most
frightful cries. He himself fully expected the same fate, but happily
his clothes formed a valuable booty, through which the savages were
loath to run their spears. After inflicting some slight wounds,
therefore, they stripped him to the skin, and forthwith began to
quarrel about the plunder. While they were thus busied, he contrived
to slip away, and though hotly pursued, and nearly overtaken,
succeeded in reaching a mountain stream, gliding at the bottom of a
deep and precipitous ravine. Here he had snatched the young branches
issuing from the stump of a large over-hanging tree, in order to let
himself down into the water, when beneath his hand, a large _siffa,_
the most dangerous serpent in this country, rose from its coil, as in
the very act of darting upon him. Struck with horror, Major Denham
lost all recollection, and fell headlong into the water, but the
shock revived him, and with three strokes of his arm, he reached the
opposite bank, and felt himself for the moment in safety. Running
forward, he was delighted to see his friends Barca Gana and Boo
Khaloom, but amidst the cheers with which they were endeavouring to
rally their troops, and the cries of those who were falling under the
Fellata spears, he could not for some time make himself heard.
Then Maramy, a negro appointed by the sheik to attend upon him, rode
up and took him on his own horse. Boo Khaloom ordered a bornouse to
be thrown over the major--very seasonably, for the burning sun had
began to blister his naked body. Suddenly, however, Maramy called
out, "See! see! Boo Khaloom is dead," and that spirited chief,
overpowered by the wound of a poisoned arrow, dropped from his horse
and spoke no more. The others now only thought of pressing their
flight, and soon reached a stream, where they refreshed themselves by
copious draughts, and a halt was made to collect the stragglers.
Major Denham here fell into a swoon, during which, as he afterwards
learned, Maramy complained that the jaded horse could scarcely carry
the stranger forward, when Barca Gana said, "By the head of the
prophet! believers enough have breathed their last to-day, why should
we concern ourselves about a Christian's death." Malem Chadily,
however, so bitter as a theological opponent, showed now the
influence of a milder spirit, and said, "No, God has preserved him;
let us not abandon him;" and Maramy declared, his heart told him what
to do. They therefore moved on slowly till about midnight, when they
passed the Mandara frontier, in a state of severe suffering, but the
major met with much kindness from a dethroned prince, Mai Meagamy,
who seeing his wounds festering under the rough woollen cloak, which
formed his only covering, took off his own trousers and gave them to

The Arabs lost forty-five of their number, besides their chief; the
survivors were in a miserable plight, most of them wounded, some
mortally, and all deprived of their camels, and the rest of their
property. Renouncing their pride, they were obliged to supplicate
from Barca Gana a handful of corn to keep them from starving. The
sultan of Mandara, in whose cause they had suffered, treated them
with the utmost contumely, which, perhaps, they might deserve, but
certainly not from him. Deep sorrow was afterwards felt in Fezzan,
when they arrived in this deplorable condition, and reported the fall
of their chief, who was there almost idolized. A national song was
composed on the occasion, which the following extract will show to be
marked by great depth of feeling, and not devoid of poetical

"Oh trust not to the gun and the sword: the spear of the unbeliever

"Boo Khaloom, the good and the brave, has fallen! Fallen has he in
his might! Who shall now be safe? Even as the moon amongst the little
stars, so was Boo Khaloom amongst men! Where shall Fezzan now look
for her protector? Men hang their heads in sorrow, while women wring
their hands, rending the air with their cries! As a shepherd is to
his flock, so was Boo Khaloom to Fezzan.

"Give him songs! Give him music! What words can equal his praise! His
heart was as large as the desert! His coffers were like the rich
overflowings from the udder of the she camel, comforting and
nourishing those around him.

"Even as the flowers without rain perish in the field, so will the
Fezzaners droop; for Boo Khaloom returns no more.

"His body lies in the land of the heathen! the poisoned arrow of the
unbeliever prevails!

"Oh trust not to the gun and the sword! The spear of the heathen
conquers! Boo Khaloom, the good and the brave, has fallen! Who shall
now be safe?"

The sheik of Bornou was considerably mortified by the result of this
expedition, and the miserable figure made by his troops, though he
sought to throw the chief blame on the Mandara part of the armament.
He now invited the major to accompany an expedition against the
Mungas, a rebel tribe on his outer border, on which occasion he was
to employ his native band of Kanemboo spearmen, who, he trusted,
would redeem the military reputation of the monarchy. Major Denham
was always ready to go wherever he had a chance of seeing the manners
and scenery of Africa. The sheik took the field, attended by his
armour-bearer, his drummer, fantastically dressed in a straw hat with
ostrich feathers, and followed by-three wives, whose heads and
persons were wrapped up in brown silk robes, and each led by a
eunuch. He was preceded by five green and red flags, on each of which
were extracts from the Koran, written in letters of gold. Etiquette
even required that the sultan should follow with his unwieldy pomp,
having a harem, and attendance much more numerous; while frumfrums,
or wooden trumpets, were continually sounding before him. This
monarch is too distinguished to fight in person; but his guards, the
swollen and overloaded figures formerly described, enveloped in
multiplied folds, and groaning beneath the weight of ponderous
amulets, produced themselves as warriors, though manifestly unfit to
face any real danger.

The route lay along the banks of the river Yeou, called also
Gambarou, through a country naturally fertile and delightful, but
presenting a dismal picture of the desolation occasioned by African
warfare. The expedition passed through upwards of thirty towns,
completely destroyed by the Fellatas in their last inroad, and of
which all the inhabitants had been either killed or carried into
slavery. These fine plains were now overgrown with forests and
thickets, in which grew tamarind and other trees, producing delicate
fruits, while large bands of monkeys, called by the Arabs "enchanted
men," filled the woods with their cries. Here, too, was found old
Birnie, the ancient but now desolate capital, evidently much larger
than any of the present cities, covering five or six miles with its
ruins. They passed also Gambarou, formerly the favourite residence of
the sultans, where the remains of a palace and two mosques gave an
idea of civilization superior to any thing that had yet been seen in
interior Africa. There were left in this country only small detached
villages, the inhabitants of which remained fixed to them by local
attachment, in spite of constant predatory inroads of the Tuaricks,
who carried off their friends, their children, and cattle. They have
recourse to one mode of defence, which consists in digging a number
of _blaquas,_ or large pits; these they cover with a false surface of
sods and grass, into which the Tuarick with his horse plunges before
he is aware, and is received at the bottom upon sharp-pointed stakes,
which often kill both on the spot. Unluckily, harmless travellers are
equally liable to fall into these living graves. Major Denham was
petrified with horror, to find how near he had approached to several
of them; indeed one of his servants stepped upon the deceitful
covering, and was saved only by an almost miraculous spring. It seems
wonderful that the sheik should not have endeavoured to restore some
kind of security to this portion of his subjects, and to re-people
those fine but deserted regions.

The troops that had been seen hastening in parties to the scene of
action were mustered at Kobshary, a town which the Mungas had nearly
destroyed. The sheik made a review of his favourite forces, the
Kanemboo spearmen, nine thousand strong. They were really a very
savage and military-looking host, entirely naked, except a girdle of
goat-skin, with the hair hanging down, and a piece of cloth wrapped
round the head. They carried large wooden shields, shaped like a
gothic window, with which they warded off the arrows of the enemy,
while they pressed forward to attack with their own spears. Unlike
almost all other barbarous armies, they kept a regular night-watch,
passing the cry every half-hour along the line, and, at any alarm,
raising a united yell, which was truly frightful. At the review they
passed in tribes before the sheik, to whom they showed the most
enthusiastic attachment, kneeling on the ground, and kissing his
feet. The Mungas again were described as terrible antagonists,
hardened by conflicts with the Tuaricks, fighting on foot with
poisoned arrows, longer and more deadly than those of the Fellatas.

The sultan, however, contemplated other means of securing success,
placing his main reliance on his powers as a mohammedan doctor and
writer. Three successive nights were spent in inscribing upon little
scraps of paper figures or words, destined to exercise a magical
influence upon the rebel host, and their effect was heightened by the
display of sky-rockets, supplied by Major Denham. Tidings of his
being thus employed were conveyed to the camp, when the Mungas, stout
and fierce warriors, who never shrunk from an enemy, yielded to the
power of superstition, and felt all their strength withered. It
seemed to them that their arrows were blunted, their quivers broken,
their hearts struck with sickness and fear, in short, that to oppose
a sheik of the Koran, who could accomplish such wonders, was alike
vain and impious. They came in by hundreds, bowing themselves to the
ground, and casting sand on their heads, in token of the most abject
submission. At length, Malem Fanamy, the leader of the rebellion, saw
that resistance was hopeless. After vain overtures of conditional
submission, he appeared in person, mounted on a white horse, with one
thousand followers. He was clothed in rags, and having fallen
prostrate, was about to pour sand on his head, when the sultan,
instead of permitting this humiliation, caused eight robes of fine
cotton cloth, one after another, to be thrown over him, and his head
to be wrapped in Egyptian turbans till it was swelled to six times
its natural size, and no longer resembled any thing human. By such
signal honours the sheik gained the hearts of those whom his pen had
subdued, and this wise policy enabled him not only to overcome the
resistance of this formidable tribe, but to convert them into
supporters and bulwarks of his power.


Major Denham, who always sought, with laudable zeal, to penetrate
into every corner of Africa, now found his way in another direction.
He had heard much of the Shary, a great river flowing into lake
Tchad, on whose banks the kingdom of Loggun was situated. After
several delays, he set out on the 23d January 1824, in company with
Mr. Toole, a spirited young volunteer, who, journeying by way of
Tripoli and Mourzouk, had thence crossed the desert to join him.
The travellers passed Angornou and Angola, and arrived at Showy,
where they saw the river, which really proved to be a magnificent
stream, fully half a mile broad, and flowing at the rate of two or
three miles an hour. They descended it through a succession of noble
reaches, bordered with fine woods and a profusion of variously tinted
and aromatic plants. At length, it opened into the wide expanse of
the Tchad, after viewing which, they again ascended, and reached the
capital of Loggun, beneath whose high walls the river was seen
flowing in majestic beauty. Major Denham entered, and found a
handsome city, with a street as wide as Pall-Mall, and bordered by
large dwellings, having spacious areas in front. Having proceeded to
the palace, for the purpose of visiting the sovereign, he was led
through several dark rooms into a wide and crowded court, at one end
of which a lattice opened, and showed a pile of silk robes, stretched
on a carpet, amid which two eyes became gradually visible; this was
the sultan. On his appearance, there arose a tumult of horns and
frumfrums, while all the attendants threw themselves prostrate,
casting sand on their heads. In a voice, which the court fashion of
Loggun required to be scarcely audible, the monarch inquired Major
Denham's object in coming to this country, observing that, if it was
to purchase handsome female slaves, he need go no further, since he
himself had hundreds, who could be afforded at a very easy rate. This
overture was rejected on other grounds than the price; yet,
notwithstanding so decided a proof of barbarism, the Loggunese were
found to be a people more advanced in the arts of peace than any
hitherto seen in Africa. By a studied neutrality they avoided
involving themselves in the dreadful wars, which had desolated the
neighbouring countries; manufacturing industry was honoured, and the
cloths woven here were superior to those of Bornou, being finely dyed
with indigo, and beautifully glazed. There was even a current coin,
made of iron, somewhat in the form of a horse-shoe, and rude as this
was, none of their neighbours possessed any thing similar. The ladies
were handsome, intelligent, and of a lively air and carriage; but,
besides pushing their frankness to excess, their general demeanour
was by no means scrupulous. They used, in particular, the utmost
diligence in stealing from Major Denham's person every thing that
could be reached, even searching the pockets of his trousers, and
when detected, only laughed, and called to each other, how sharp he
was. But the darkest feature of savage life was disclosed, when the
sultan and his son each sent to solicit poison "that would not lie,"
to be used against each other. The latter even accompanied the
request with a bribe of three lovely black damsels, and ridiculed the
horror which was expressed at the proposal.

The Loggunese live in a country abounding in grain and cattle, and
diversified with forests of lofty acacias, and many beautiful shrubs.
Its chief scourge consists in the millions of tormenting insects,
which fill the atmosphere, making it scarcely possible to go into the
open air at mid-day, without being thrown into a fever, indeed,
children have been killed by their stings. The natives build one
house within another to protect themselves against this scourge,
while some kindle a large fire of wet straw, and sit in the smoke;
but this remedy seems worse than the evil it is meant to obviate.

Major Denham was much distressed on this journey by the death of his
companion, Mr. Toole; and he could no longer delay his return, when
he learnt that the Begharmis, with a large army, were crossing the
Shary to attack Bornou. Soon after his arrival at Kouka, the sheik
led out his troops, which he mustered on the plain of Angola, and was
there furiously attacked by five thousand Begharmis, led by two
hundred chiefs. The Begharmi cavalry are stout, fierce-looking men,
and both riders and horses still more thoroughly cased in mail than
those of Bornou; but their courage, when brought to the proof, is
nearly on a level. The sheik encountered them with his Kanemboo
spearmen and a small band of musketeers, when, after a short
conflict, the whole of this mighty host was thrown into the most
disorderly flight; even the Bornou cavalry joined in the pursuit.
Seven sons of the sultan, and almost all the chiefs fell; two hundred
of their favourite wives were taken, many of whom were of exquisite

Mr. Tyrwhit, a gentleman sent out by government to strengthen the
party, arrived on the 20th May, and on the 22nd delivered to the
sheik a number of presents, which were received with the highest
satisfaction. In company with this gentleman, Major Denham, eager to
explore Africa, still further took advantage of another expedition,
undertaken against a tribe of Shouaa Arabs, distinguished by the name
of La Sala, a race of amphibious shepherds, who inhabit certain
islands along the south-eastern shores of the Tchad. These spots
afford rich pasture; while the water is so shallow, that, by knowing
the channels, the natives can ride without difficulty from one island
to the other. Barca Gana led one thousand men on this expedition, and
was joined by four hundred of a Shouaa tribe, called Dugganahs,
enemies to the La Salas. These allies presented human nature under a
more pleasing aspect than it had yet been seen in any part of central
Africa. They despise the negro nations, and all who live in houses,
and still more in cities, while they themselves reside in tents of
skin, in circular camps, which they move periodically from place to
place. They live in simple plenty on the produce of their flocks and
herds, celebrate their joys and sorrows in extemporary poetry, and
seem to be united by the strongest ties of domestic affection. Tahr,
their chief, having closely examined our traveller, as to the motives
of his journey, said, "And have you been three years from your home?
Are not your eyes dimmed with straining to the north, where all your
thoughts must ever be? If my eyes do not see the wife and children of
my heart for ten days, they are flowing with tears, when they should
be closed in sleep." On taking leave, Tahr's parting wish was, "May
you die at your own tents, and in the arms of your wife and family."
This chief might have sitten for the picture of a patriarch; his
fine, serious, expressive countenance, large features, and long bushy
beard, afforded a favourable specimen of his tribe.

The united forces now marched to the shores of the lake, and began to
reconnoitre the islands on which the Shouaas, with their cattle and
cavalry, were stationed; but the experienced eye of Barca Gana soon
discerned, that the channel, though shallow, was full of holes, and
had a muddy deceitful appearance. He proposed therefore to delay the
attack, till a resolute band of Kanemboo spearmen should arrive and
lead the way. The lowing, however, of the numerous herds, and the
bleating of the flocks on the green islands, which lay before them,
excited in the troops a degree of hunger, as well as of military
ardour, that was quite irrepressible. They called out, "What! be so
near them, and not eat them?--No, no, let us on; this night, these
flocks and women shall be ours." Barca Gana suffered himself to be
hurried away, and plunged in amongst the foremost. Soon, however, the
troops began to sink into the holes, or stick in the mud; their guns
and powder were wetted, and became useless; while the enemy, who knew
every step, and could ride through the water as quickly as on land,
at once charged the invaders in front, and sent round a detachment to
take them in the rear. The assault was accordingly soon changed into
a disgraceful flight, in which those who had been the loudest in
urging to this rash onset set the example. Barca Gana, who had
boasted himself invulnerable, was deeply wounded through his coat of
mail and four cotton tobes, and with difficulty rescued by his chiefs
from five La Sala horsemen, who had vowed his death. The army
returned to their quarters in disappointment and dismay, and with a
severe loss. During the whole night, the Dugganah women were heard
bewailing their husbands, who had fallen, in dirges composed for the
occasion, and with plaintive notes, which could not be listened to
without the deepest sympathy. Major Denham was deterred by this
disaster from making any further attempt to penetrate to the eastern
shores of the Tchad.

The Beddoomahs are another tribe who inhabit extensive and rugged
islands, in the interior of the lake, amid its deep waters, which
they navigate with nearly a thousand large boats. They neither
cultivate the ground, nor rear flocks and herds, while their manners
appeared to Major Denham, the rudest and most savage observed even
among Africans--the Musgows always excepted. They have adopted as a
religious creed, that God having withheld from them corn and cattle,
which the nations around enjoy, has given in their stead strength and
courage, to be employed in taking these good things from all in whose
possession they may be found. To this belief they act up in the most
devout manner, spreading terror and desolation over all the shores of
this inland sea, no part of which, even in the immediate vicinity of
the great capitals, is for a moment secure from their ravages. The

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