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First footsteps in East Africa by Richard F. Burton

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preserve, or pickle their limes and citrons. No vegetables but gourds are
known. From the cane, which thrives upon these hills, a little sugar is
made: the honey, of which, as the Abyssinians say, "the land stinks," is
the general sweetener. The condiment of East Africa, is red pepper.

* * * * *

To resume, dear L., the thread of our adventures at Harar.

Immediately after arrival, we were called upon by the Arabs, a strange
mixture. One, the Haji Mukhtar, was a Maghrebi from Fez: an expatriation
of forty years had changed his hissing Arabic as little as his "rocky
face." This worthy had a coffee-garden assigned to him, as commander of
the Amir's body-guard: he introduced himself to us, however, as a
merchant, which led us to look upon him as a spy. Another, Haji Hasan, was
a thorough-bred Persian: he seemed to know everybody, and was on terms of
bosom friendship with half the world from Cairo to Calcutta, Moslem,
Christian and Pagan. Amongst the rest was a boy from Meccah, a Muscat man,
a native of Suez, and a citizen of Damascus: the others were Arabs from
Yemen. All were most civil to us at first; but, afterwards, when our
interviews with the Amir ceased, they took alarm, and prudently cut us.

The Arabs were succeeded by the Somal, amongst whom the Hammal and Long
Guled found relatives, friends, and acquaintances, who readily recognised
them as government servants at Aden. These visitors at first came in fear
and trembling with visions of the Harar jail: they desired my men to
return the visit by night, and made frequent excuses for apparent want of
hospitality. Their apprehensions, however, soon vanished: presently they
began to prepare entertainments, and, as we were without money, they
willingly supplied us with certain comforts of life. Our three Habr Awal
enemies, seeing the tide of fortune settling in our favour, changed their
tactics: they threw the past upon their two Harari companions, and
proposed themselves as Abbans on our return to Berberah. This offer was
politely staved off; in the first place we were already provided with
protectors, and secondly these men belonged to the Ayyal Shirdon, a clan
most hostile to the Habr Gerhajis. They did not fail to do us all the harm
in their power, but again my good star triumphed.

After a day's repose, we were summoned by the Treasurer, early in the
forenoon, to wait upon the Gerad Mohammed. Sword in hand, and followed by
the Hammal and Long Guled, I walked to the "palace," and entering a little
ground-floor-room on the right of and close to the audience-hall, found
the minister sitting upon a large dais covered with Persian carpets. He
was surrounded by six of his brother Gerads or councillors, two of them in
turbans, the rest with bare and shaven heads: their Tobes, as is customary
on such occasions of ceremony, were allowed to fall beneath the waist. The
lower part of the hovel was covered with dependents, amongst whom my Somal
took their seats: it seemed to be customs' time, for names were being
registered, and money changed hands. The Grandees were eating Kat, or as
it is here called "Jat." [37] One of the party prepared for the Prime
Minister the tenderest twigs of the tree, plucking off the points of even
the softest leaves. Another pounded the plant with a little water in a
wooden mortar: of this paste, called "El Madkuk," a bit was handed to each
person, who, rolling it into a ball, dropped it into his mouth. All at
times, as is the custom, drank cold water from a smoked gourd, and seemed
to dwell upon the sweet and pleasant draught. I could not but remark the
fine flavour of the plant after the coarser quality grown in Yemen.
Europeans perceive but little effect from it--friend S. and I once tried
in vain a strong infusion--the Arabs, however, unaccustomed to stimulants
and narcotics, declare that, like opium eaters, they cannot live without
the excitement. It seems to produce in them a manner of dreamy enjoyment,
which, exaggerated by time and distance, may have given rise to that
splendid myth the Lotos, and the Lotophagi. It is held by the Ulema here
as in Arabia, "Akl el Salikin," or the Food of the Pious, and literati
remark that it has the singular properties of enlivening the imagination,
clearing the ideas, cheering the heart, diminishing sleep, and taking the
place of food. The people of Harar eat it every day from 9 A.M. till near
noon, when they dine and afterwards indulge in something stronger,--
millet-beer and mead.

The Gerad, after polite inquiries, seated me by his right hand upon the
Dais, where I ate Kat and fingered my rosary, whilst he transacted the
business of the day. Then one of the elders took from a little recess in
the wall a large book, and uncovering it, began to recite a long Dua or
Blessing upon the Prophet: at the end of each period all present intoned
the response, "Allah bless our Lord Mohammed with his Progeny and his
Companions, one and all!" This exercise lasting half an hour afforded me
the opportunity,--much desired,--of making an impression. The reader,
misled by a marginal reference, happened to say, "angels, Men, and Genii:"
the Gerad took the book and found written, "Men, Angels, and Genii."
Opinions were divided as to the order of beings, when I explained that
human nature, which amongst Moslems is _not_ a little lower than the
angelic, ranked highest, because of it were created prophets, apostles,
and saints, whereas the other is but a "Wasitah" or connection between the
Creator and his creatures. My theology won general approbation and a few
kinder glances from the elders.

Prayer concluded, a chamberlain whispered the Gerad, who arose, deposited
his black coral rosary, took up an inkstand, donned a white "Badan" or
sleeveless Arab cloak over his cotton shirt, shuffled off the Dais into
his slippers, and disappeared. Presently we were summoned to an interview
with the Amir: this time I was allowed to approach the outer door with
covered feet. Entering ceremoniously as before, I was motioned by the
Prince to sit near the Gerad, who occupied a Persian rug on the ground to
the right of the throne: my two attendants squatted upon the humbler mats
in front and at a greater distance. After sundry inquiries about the
changes that had taken place at Aden, the letter was suddenly produced by
the Amir, who looked upon it suspiciously and bade me explain its
contents. I was then asked by the Gerad whether it was my intention to buy
and sell at Harar: the reply was, "We are no buyers nor sellers [38]; we
have become your guests to pay our respects to the Amir--whom may Allah
preserve!--and that the friendship between the two powers may endure."
This appearing satisfactory, I added, in lively remembrance of the
proverbial delays of Africa, where two or three months may elapse before a
letter is answered or a verbal message delivered, that perhaps the Prince
would be pleased to dismiss us soon, as the air of Harar was too dry for
me, and my attendants were in danger of the small-pox, then raging in the
town. The Amir, who was chary of words, bent towards the Gerad, who
briefly ejaculated, "The reply will be vouchsafed:" with this
unsatisfactory answer the interview ended.

Shortly after arrival, I sent my Salam to one of the Ulema, Shaykh Jami of
the Berteri Somal: he accepted the excuse of ill health, and at once came
to see me. This personage appeared in the form of a little black man aged
about forty, deeply pitted by small-pox, with a protruding brow, a tufty
beard and rather delicate features: his hands and feet were remarkably
small. Married to a descendant of the Sherif Yunis, he had acquired great
reputation as an Alim or Savan, a peace-policy-man, and an ardent Moslem.
Though an imperfect Arabic scholar, he proved remarkably well read in the
religious sciences, and even the Meccans had, it was said, paid him the
respect of kissing his hand during his pilgrimage. In his second
character, his success was not remarkable, the principal results being a
spear-thrust in the head, and being generally told to read his books and
leave men alone. Yet he is always doing good "lillah," that is to say,
gratis and for Allah's sake: his pugnacity and bluntness--the prerogatives
of the "peaceful"--gave him some authority over the Amir, and he has often
been employed on political missions amongst the different chiefs. Nor has
his ardour for propagandism been thoroughly gratified. He commenced his
travels with an intention of winning the crown of glory without delay, by
murdering the British Resident at Aden [39]: struck, however, with the
order and justice of our rule, he changed his intentions and offered El
Islam to the officer, who received it so urbanely, that the simple Eastern
repenting having intended to cut the Kafir's throat, began to pray
fervently for his conversion. Since that time he has made it a point of
duty to attempt every infidel: I never heard, however, that he succeeded
with a soul.

The Shaykh's first visit did not end well. He informed me that the old
Usmanlis conquered Stamboul in the days of Umar. I imprudently objected to
the date, and he revenged himself for the injury done to his fame by the
favourite ecclesiastical process of privily damning me for a heretic, and
a worse than heathen. Moreover he had sent me a kind of ritual which I had
perused in an hour and returned to him: this prepossessed the Shaykh
strongly against me, lightly "skimming" books being a form of idleness as
yet unknown to the ponderous East. Our days at Harar were monotonous
enough. In the morning we looked to the mules, drove out the cats--as
great a nuisance here as at Aden--and ate for breakfast lumps of boiled
beef with peppered holcus-scones. We were kindly looked upon by one
Sultan, a sick and decrepid Eunuch, who having served five Amirs, was
allowed to remain in the palace. To appearance he was mad: he wore upon
his poll a motley scratch wig, half white and half black, like Day and
Night in masquerades. But his conduct was sane. At dawn he sent us bad
plantains, wheaten crusts, and cups of unpalatable coffee-tea [40], and,
assisted by a crone more decrepid than himself, prepared for me his water-
pipe, a gourd fitted with two reeds and a tile of baked clay by way of
bowl: now he "knagged" at the slave girls, who were slow to work, then
burst into a fury because some visitor ate Kat without offering it to him,
or crossed the royal threshold in sandal or slipper. The other inmates of
the house were Galla slave-girls, a great nuisance, especially one
Berille, an unlovely maid, whose shrill voice and shameless manners were a
sad scandal to pilgrims and pious Moslems.

About 8 A.M. the Somal sent us gifts of citrons, plantains, sugar-cane,
limes, wheaten bread, and stewed fowls. At the same time the house became
full of visitors, Harari and others, most of them pretexting inquiries
after old Sultan's health. Noon was generally followed by a little
solitude, the people retiring to dinner and siesta: we were then again
provided with bread and beef from the Amir's kitchen. In the afternoon the
house again filled, and the visitors dispersed only for supper. Before
sunset we were careful to visit the mules tethered in the court-yard;
being half starved they often attempted to desert. [41]

It was harvest home at Harar, a circumstance which worked us much annoy.
In the mornings the Amir, attended by forty or fifty guards, rode to a
hill north of the city, where he inspected his Galla reapers and
threshers, and these men were feasted every evening at our quarters with
flesh, beer, and mead. [42] The strong drinks caused many a wordy war, and
we made a point of exhorting the pagans, with poor success I own, to purer

We spent our _soiree_ alternately bepreaching the Gallas, "chaffing" Mad
Said, who, despite his seventy years, was a hale old Bedouin, with a salt
and sullen repartee, and quarrelling with the slave-girls. Berille the
loud-lunged, or Aminah the pert, would insist upon extinguishing the fat-
fed lamp long ere bed-time, or would enter the room singing, laughing,
dancing, and clapping a measure with their palms, when, stoutly aided by
old Sultan, who shrieked like a hyaena on these occasions, we ejected her
in extreme indignation. All then was silence without: not so--alas!--
within. Mad Said snored fearfully, and Abtidon chatted half the night with
some Bedouin friend, who had dropped in to supper. On our hard couches we
did not enjoy either the _noctes_ or the _coenoe deorum_.

The even tenor of such days was varied by a perpetual reference to the
rosary, consulting soothsayers, and listening to reports and rumours
brought to us by the Somal in such profusion that we all sighed for a
discontinuance. The Gerad Mohammed, excited by the Habr Awal, was curious
in his inquiries concerning me: the astute Senior had heard of our leaving
the End of Time with the Gerad Adan, and his mind fell into the fancy that
we were transacting some business for the Hajj Sharmarkay, the popular
bugbear of Harar. Our fate was probably decided by the arrival of a youth
of the Ayyal Gedid clan, who reported that three brothers had landed in
the Somali country, that two of them were anxiously awaiting at Berberah
the return of the third from Harar, and that, though dressed like Moslems,
they were really Englishmen in government employ. Visions of cutting off
caravans began to assume a hard and palpable form: the Habr Awal ceased
intriguing, and the Gerad Mohammed resolved to adopt the _suaviter in
modo_ whilst dealing with his dangerous guest.

Some days after his first visit, the Shaykh Jami, sending for the Hammal,
informed him of an intended trip from Harar: my follower suggested that we
might well escort him. The good Shaykh at once offered to apply for leave
from the Gerad Mohammed; not, however, finding the minister at home, he
asked us to meet him at the palace on the morrow, about the time of Kat-

We had so often been disappointed in our hopes of a final "lay-public,"
that on this occasion much was not expected. However, about 6 A.M., we
were all summoned, and entering the Gerad's levee-room were, as usual,
courteously received. I had distinguished his complaint,--chronic
bronchitis,--and resolving to make a final impression, related to him all
its symptoms, and promised, on reaching Aden, to send the different
remedies employed by ourselves. He clung to the hope of escaping his
sufferings, whilst the attendant courtiers looked on approvingly, and
begged me to lose no time. Presently the Gerad was sent for by the Amir,
and after a few minutes I followed him, on this occasion, alone. Ensued a
long conversation about the state of Aden, of Zayla, of Berberah, and of
Stamboul. The chief put a variety of questions about Arabia, and every
object there: the answer was that the necessity of commerce confined us to
the gloomy rock. He used some obliging expressions about desiring our
friendship, and having considerable respect for a people who built, he
understood, large ships. I took the opportunity of praising Harar in
cautious phrase, and especially of regretting that its coffee was not
better known amongst the Franks. The small wizen-faced man smiled, as
Moslems say, the smile of Umar [43]: seeing his brow relax for the first
time, I told him that, being now restored to health, we requested his
commands for Aden. He signified consent with a nod, and the Gerad, with
many compliments, gave me a letter addressed to the Political Resident,
and requested me to take charge of a mule as a present. I then arose,
recited a short prayer, the gist of which was that the Amir's days and
reign might be long in the land, and that the faces of his foes might be
blackened here and hereafter, bent over his hand and retired. Returning to
the Gerad's levee-hut, I saw by the countenances of my two attendants that
they were not a little anxious about the interview, and comforted them
with the whispered word "Achha"--"all right!"

Presently appeared the Gerad, accompanied by two men, who brought my
servants' arms, and the revolver which I had sent to the prince. This was
a _contretemps_. It was clearly impossible to take back the present,
besides which, I suspected some finesse to discover my feelings towards
him: the other course would ensure delay. I told the Gerad that the weapon
was intended especially to preserve the Amir's life, and for further
effect, snapped caps in rapid succession to the infinite terror of the
august company. The minister returned to his master, and soon brought back
the information that after a day or two another mule should be given to
me. With suitable acknowledgments we arose, blessed the Gerad, bade adieu
to the assembly, and departed joyful, the Hammal in his glee speaking
broken English, even in the Amir's courtyard.

Returning home, we found the good Shaykh Jami, to whom we communicated the
news with many thanks for his friendly aid. I did my best to smooth his
temper about Turkish history, and succeeded. Becoming communicative, he
informed me that the original object, of his visit was the offer of good
offices, he having been informed that, in the town was a man who brought
down the birds from heaven, and the citizens having been thrown into great
excitement by the probable intentions of such a personage. Whilst he sat
with us, Kabir Khalil, one of the principal Ulema, and one Haji Abdullah,
a Shaykh of distinguished fame who had been dreaming dreams in our favour,
sent their salams. This is one of the many occasions in which, during a
long residence in the East, I have had reason to be grateful to the
learned, whose influence over the people when unbiassed by bigotry is
decidedly for good. That evening there was great joy amongst the Somal,
who had been alarmed for the safety of my companions: they brought them
presents of Harari Tobes, and a feast of fowls, limes, and wheaten bread
for the stranger.

On the 11th of January I was sent for by the Gerad and received the second
mule. At noon we were visited by the Shaykh Jami, who, after a long
discourse upon the subject of Sufiism [44], invited me to inspect his
books. When midday prayer was concluded we walked to his house, which
occupies the very centre of the city: in its courtyard is "Gay Humburti,"
the historic rock upon which Saint Nur held converse with the Prophet
Khizr. The Shaykh, after seating us in a room about ten feet square, and
lined with scholars and dusty tomes, began reading out a treatise upon the
genealogies of the Grand Masters, and showed me in half a dozen tracts the
tenets of the different schools. The only valuable MS. in the place was a
fine old copy of the Koran; the Kamus and the Sihah were there [45], but
by no means remarkable for beauty or correctness. Books at Harar are
mostly antiques, copyists being exceedingly rare, and the square massive
character is more like Cufic with diacritical points, than the graceful
modern Naskhi. I could not, however, but admire the bindings: no Eastern
country save Persia surpasses them in strength and appearance. After some
desultory conversation the Shaykh ushered us into an inner room, or rather
a dark closet partitioned off from the study, and ranged us around the
usual dish of boiled beef, holcus bread, and red pepper. After returning
to the study we sat for a few minutes,--Easterns rarely remain long after
dinner,--and took leave, saying that we must call upon the Gerad Mohammed.

Nothing worthy of mention occurred during our final visit to the minister.
He begged me not to forget his remedies when we reached Aden: I told him
that without further loss of time we would start on the morrow, Friday,
after prayers, and he simply ejaculated, "It is well, if Allah please!"
Scarcely had we returned home, when the clouds, which had been gathering
since noon, began to discharge heavy showers, and a few loud thunder-claps
to reverberate amongst the hills. We passed that evening surrounded by the
Somal, who charged us with letters and many messages to Berberah. Our
intention was to mount early on Friday morning. When we awoke, however, a
mule had strayed and was not brought back for some hours. Before noon
Shaykh Jami called upon us, informed us that he would travel on the most
auspicious day--Monday--and exhorted us to patience, deprecating departure
upon Friday, the Sabbath. Then he arose to take leave, blessed us at some
length, prayed that we might be borne upon the wings of safety, again
advised Monday, and promised at all events to meet us at Wilensi.

I fear that the Shaykh's counsel was on this occasion likely to be
disregarded. We had been absent from our goods and chattels a whole
fortnight: the people of Harar are famously fickle; we knew not what the
morrow might bring forth from the Amir's mind--in fact, all these African
cities are prisons on a large scale, into which you enter by your own
will, and, as the significant proverb says, you leave by another's.
However, when the mosque prayers ended, a heavy shower and the stormy
aspect of the sky preached patience more effectually than did the divine:
we carefully tethered our mules, and unwillingly deferred our departure
till next morning.


[1] The Ashantees at customs' time run across the royal threshold to
escape being seized and sacrificed; possibly the trace of the pagan rite
is still preserved by Moslem Harar, where it is now held a mark of respect
and always exacted from the citizens.

[2] I afterwards learned that when a man neglects a summons his door is
removed to the royal court-yard on the first day; on the second, it is
confiscated. The door is a valuable and venerable article in this part of
Africa. According to Bruce, Ptolemy Euergetes engraved it upon the Axum
Obelisk for the benefit of his newly conquered AEthiopian subjects, to whom
it had been unknown.

[3] In Abyssinia, according to the Lord of Geesh, this is a mark of royal
familiarity and confidence.

[4] About seven years ago the Hajj Sharmarkay of Zayla chose as his agent
at Harar, one of the Amir's officers, a certain Hajj Jamitay. When this
man died Sharmarkay demanded an account from his sons; at Berberah they
promised to give it, but returning to Harar they were persuaded, it is
believed, by the Gerad Mohammed, to forget their word. Upon this
Sharmarkay's friends and relations, incited by one Husayn, a Somali who
had lived many years at Harar in the Amir's favour, wrote an insulting
letter to the Gerad, beginning with, "No peace be upon thee, and no
blessings of Allah, thou butcher! son of a butcher &c. &c.!" and
concluding with a threat to pinion him in the market-place as a warning to
men. Husayn carried the letter, which at first excited general terror;
when, however, the attack did not take place, the Amir Abubakr imprisoned
the imprudent Somali till he died. Sharmarkay by way of reprisals
persuaded Alu, son of Sahlah Salaseh, king of Shoa, to seize about three
hundred Harari citizens living in his dominions and to keep them two years
in durance.

The Amir Abubakr is said on his deathbed to have warned his son against
the Gerad. When Ahmad reported his father's decease to Zayla, the Hajj
Sharmarkay ordered a grand Maulid or Mass in honour of the departed. Since
that time, however, there has been little intercourse and no cordiality
between them.

[5] Thus M. Isenberg (Preface to Ambaric Grammar, p. iv.) calls the city
Harrar or Ararge.

[6] "Harar," is not an uncommon name in this part of Eastern Africa:
according to some, the city is so called from a kind of tree, according to
others, from the valley below it.

[7] I say _about_: we were compelled to boil our thermometers at Wilensi,
not venturing upon such operation within the city.

[8] The other six were Efat, Arabini, Duaro, Sharka, Bali and Darah.

[9] A circumstantial account of the Jihad or Moslem crusades is, I am
told, given in the Fath el Habashah, unfortunately a rare work. The Amir
of Harar had but one volume, and the other is to be found at Mocha or

[10] This prince built "Debra Berhan," the "Hill of glory," a church
dedicated to the Virgin Mary at Gondar.

[11] A prince of many titles: he is generally called Wanag Suggad, "feared
amongst the lions," because he spent the latter years of his life in the

[12] Yemen submitted to Sulayman Pasha in A.D. 1538.

[13] "Gragne," or in the Somali dialect "Guray," means a left-handed man;
Father Lobo errs in translating it "the Lame."

[14] This exploit has been erroneously attributed to Nur, the successor of

[15] This reverend Jesuit was commissioned in A.D. 1622, by the Count de
Vidigueira, Viceroy of the Indies, to discover where his relative Don
Christopher was buried, and to procure some of the relics. Assisted by the
son in law of the Abyssinian Emperor, Lobo marched with an army through
the Gallas, found the martyr's teeth and lower jaw, his arms and a picture
of the Holy Virgin which he always carried about him. The precious remains
were forwarded to Goa.

I love the style of this old father, so unjustly depreciated by our
writers, and called ignorant peasant and liar by Bruce, because he claimed
for his fellow countrymen the honor of having discovered the Coy
Fountains. The Nemesis who never sleeps punished Bruce by the justest of
retributions. His pompous and inflated style, his uncommon arrogance, and
over-weening vanity, his affectation of pedantry, his many errors and
misrepresentations, aroused against him a spirit which embittered the last
years of his life. It is now the fashion to laud Bruce, and to pity his
misfortunes. I cannot but think that he deserved them.

[16] Bruce, followed by most of our modern authors, relates a
circumstantial and romantic story of the betrayal of Don Christopher by
his mistress, a Turkish lady of uncommon beauty, who had been made

The more truth-like pages of Father Lobo record no such silly scandal
against the memory of the "brave and holy Portuguese." Those who are well
read in the works of the earlier eastern travellers will remember their
horror of "handling heathens after that fashion." And amongst those who
fought for the faith an _affaire de coeur_ with a pretty pagan was held to
be a sin as deadly as heresy or magic.

[17] Romantic writers relate that Mohammed decapitated the Christian with
his left hand.

[18] Others assert, in direct contradiction to Father Lobo, that the body
was sent to different parts of Arabia, and the head to Constantinople.

[19] Bruce, followed by later authorities, writes this name Del Wumbarea.

[20] Talwambara, according to the Christians, after her husband's death,
and her army's defeat, threw herself into the wilds of Atbara, and
recovered her son Ali Gerad by releasing Prince Menas, the brother of the
Abyssinian emperor, who in David's reign had been carried prisoner to

The historian will admire these two widely different accounts of the left-
handed hero's death. Upon the whole he will prefer the Moslem's tradition
from the air of truth pervading it, and the various improbabilities which
appear in the more detailed story of the Christians.

[21] Formerly the Waraba, creeping through the holes in the wall, rendered
the streets dangerous at night. They are now destroyed by opening the
gates in the evening, enticing in the animals by slaughtering cattle, and
closing the doors upon them, when they are safely speared.

[22] The following are the names of the gates in Harari and Somali:

_Eastward._ Argob Bari (Bar in Amharic is a gate, _e.g._ Ankobar, the gate
of Anko, a Galla Queen, and Argob is the name of a Galla clan living in
this quarter), by the Somal called Erar.

_North._ Asum Bari (the gate of Axum), in Somali, Faldano or the Zayla

_West._ Asmadim Bari or Hamaraisa.

_South._ Badro Bari or Bab Bida.

_South East._ Sukutal Bari or Bisidimo.

At all times these gates are carefully guarded; in the evening the keys
are taken to the Amir, after which no one can leave the city till dawn.

[23] Kabir in Arabic means great, and is usually applied to the Almighty;
here it is a title given to the principal professors of religious science.

[24] This is equivalent to saying that the language of the Basque
provinces is French with an affinity to English.

[25] When ladies are bastinadoed in more modest Persia, their hands are
passed through a hole in a tent wall, and fastened for the infliction to a
Falakah or pole outside.

[26] The hate dates from old times. Abd el Karim, uncle to the late Amir
Abubakr, sent for sixty or seventy Arab mercenaries under Haydar Assal the
Auliki, to save him against the Gallas. The matchlockmen failing in
ammunition, lost twenty of their number in battle and retired to the town,
where the Gallas, after capturing Abd el Karim, and his brother Abd el
Rahman, seized the throne, and, aided by the citizens, attempted to
massacre the strangers. These, however, defended themselves gallantly, and
would have crowned the son of Abd el Rahman, had he not in fear declined
the dignity; they then drew their pay, and marched with all the honors of
war to Zayla.

Shortly before our arrival, the dozen of petty Arab pedlars at Harar,
treacherous intriguers, like all their dangerous race, had been plotting
against the Amir. One morning when they least expected it, their chief was
thrown into a prison which proved his grave, and the rest were informed
that any stranger found in the city should lose his head. After wandering
some months among the neighbouring villages, they were allowed to return
and live under surveillance. No one at Harar dared to speak of this event,
and we were cautioned not to indulge our curiosity.

[27] This agrees with the Hon. R. Curzon's belief in Central African
"diggings." The traveller once saw an individual descending the Nile with
a store of nuggets, bracelets, and gold rings similar to those used as
money by the ancient Egyptians.

[28] M. Krapf relates a tale current in Abyssinia; namely, that there is a
remnant of the slave trade between Guineh (the Guinea coast) and Shoa.
Connexion between the east and west formerly existed: in the time of John
the Second, the Portuguese on the river Zaire in Congo learned the
existence of the Abyssinian church. Travellers in Western Africa assert
that Fakihs or priests, when performing the pilgrimage pass from the
Fellatah country through Abyssinia to the coast of the Red Sea. And it has
lately been proved that a caravan line is open from the Zanzibar coast to

[29] All male collaterals of the royal family, however, are not imprisoned
by law, as was formerly the case at Shoa.

[30] This is a mere superstition; none but the most credulous can believe
that a man ever lives after an Eastern dose.

[31] The name and coin are Abyssinian. According to Bruce,

20 Mahallaks are worth 1 Grush.
12 Grush " " 1 Miskal.
4 Miskal " " 1 Wakiyah (ounce).

At Harar twenty-two plantains (the only small change) = one Mahallak,
twenty-two Mahallaks = one Ashrafi (now a nominal coin,) and three Ashrafi
= one dollar.

Lieut. Cruttenden remarks, "The Ashrafi stamped at the Harar mint is a
coin peculiar to the place. It is of silver and the twenty-second part of
a dollar. The only specimen I have been able to procure bore the date of
910 of the Hagira, with the name of the Amir on one side, and, on its
reverse, 'La Ilaha ill 'Allah.'" This traveller adds in a note, "the value
of the Ashrafi changes with each successive ruler. In the reign of Emir
Abd el Shukoor, some 200 years ago, it was of gold." At present the
Ashrafi, as I have said above, is a fictitious medium used in accounts.

[32] An old story is told of the Amir Abubakr, that during one of his
nocturnal excursions, he heard three of his subjects talking treason, and
coveting his food, his wife, and his throne. He sent for them next
morning, filled the first with good things, and bastinadoed him for not
eating more, flogged the second severely for being unable to describe the
difference between his own wife and the princess, and put the third to

[33] El Makrizi informs us that in his day Hadiyah supplied the East with
black Eunuchs, although the infamous trade was expressly forbidden by the
Emperor of Abyssinia.

[33] The Arusi Gallas are generally driven direct from Ugadayn to

[34] "If you want a brother (in arms)," says the Eastern proverb, "buy a
Nubian, if you would be rich, an Abyssinian, and if you require an ass, a
Sawahili (negro)." Formerly a small load of salt bought a boy in Southern
Abyssinia, many of them, however, died on their way to the coast.

[35] The Firman lately issued by the Sultan and forwarded to the Pasha of
Jeddah for the Kaimakan and the Kazi of Mecca, has lately caused a kind of
revolution in Western Arabia. The Ulema and the inhabitants denounced the
rescript as opposed to the Koran, and forced the magistrate to take
sanctuary. The Kaimakan came to his assistance with Turkish troops, the
latter, however, were soon pressed back into their fort. At this time, the
Sherif Abd el Muttalib arrived at Meccah, from Taif, and almost
simultaneously Reshid Pasha came from Constantinople with orders to seize
him, send him to the capital, and appoint the Sherif Nazir to act until
the nomination of a successor, the state prisoner Mohammed bin Aun.

The tumult redoubled. The people attributing the rescript to the English
and French Consuls of Jeddah, insisted upon pulling down their flags. The
Pasha took them under his protection, and on the 14th January, 1856, the
"Queen" steamer was despatched from Bombay, with orders to assist the
government and to suppress the contest.

[36] This weight, as usual in the East, varies at every port. At Aden the
Farasilah is 27 lbs., at Zayla 20 lbs., and at Berberah 35 lbs.

[37] See Chap. iii. El Makrizi, describing the kingdom of Zayla, uses the
Harari not the Arabic term; he remarks that it is unknown to Egypt and
Syria, and compares its leaf to that of the orange.

[38] In conversational Arabic "we" is used without affectation for "I."

[39] The Shaykh himself gave me this information. As a rule it is most
imprudent for Europeans holding high official positions in these barbarous
regions, to live as they do, unarmed and unattended. The appearance of
utter security may impose, where strong motives for assassination are
wanting. At the same time the practice has occasioned many losses which
singly, to use an Indian statesman's phrase, would have "dimmed a

[40] In the best coffee countries, Harar and Yemen, the berry is reserved
for exportation. The Southern Arabs use for economy and health--the bean
being considered heating--the Kishr or follicle. This in Harar is a
woman's drink. The men considering the berry too dry and heating for their
arid atmosphere, toast the leaf on a girdle, pound it and prepare an
infusion which they declare to be most wholesome, but which certainly
suggests weak senna. The boiled coffee-leaf has been tried and approved of
in England; we omit, however, to toast it.

[41] In Harar a horse or a mule is never lost, whereas an ass straying
from home is rarely seen again.

[42] This is the Abyssinian "Tej," a word so strange to European organs,
that some authors write it "Zatsh." At Harar it is made of honey dissolved
in about fifteen parts of hot water, strained and fermented for seven days
with the bark of a tree called Kudidah; when the operation is to be
hurried, the vessel is placed near the fire. Ignorant Africa can ferment,
not distil, yet it must be owned she is skilful in her rude art. Every
traveller has praised the honey-wine of the Highlands, and some have not
scrupled to prefer it to champagne. It exhilarates, excites and acts as an
aphrodisiac; the consequence is, that at Harar all men, pagans and sages,
priests and rulers, drink it.

[43] The Caliph Umar is said to have smiled once and wept once. The smile
was caused by the recollection of his having eaten his paste-gods in the
days of ignorance. The tear was shed in remembrance of having buried
alive, as was customary amongst the Pagan Arabs, his infant daughter, who,
whilst he placed her in the grave, with her little hands beat the dust off
his beard and garment.

[44] The Eastern parent of Free-Masonry.

[45] Two celebrated Arabic dictionaries.



Long before dawn on Saturday, the 13th January, the mules were saddled,
bridled, and charged with our scanty luggage. After a hasty breakfast we
shook hands with old Sultan the Eunuch, mounted and pricked through the
desert streets. Suddenly my weakness and sickness left me--so potent a
drug is joy!--and, as we passed the gates loudly salaming to the warders,
who were crouching over the fire inside, a weight of care and anxiety fell
from me like a cloak of lead.

Yet, dear L., I had time, on the top of my mule for musing upon how
melancholy a thing is success. Whilst failure inspirits a man, attainment
reads the sad prosy lesson that all our glories

"Are shadows, not substantial things."

Truly said the sayer, "disappointment is the salt of life"--a salutary
bitter which strengthens the mind for fresh exertion, and gives a double
value to the prize.

This shade of melancholy soon passed away. The morning was beautiful. A
cloudless sky, then untarnished by sun, tinged with reflected blue the
mist-crowns of the distant peaks and the smoke wreaths hanging round the
sleeping villages, and the air was a cordial after the rank atmosphere of
the town. The dew hung in large diamonds from the coffee trees, the spur-
fowl crew blithely in the bushes by the way-side:--briefly, never did the
face of Nature appear to me so truly lovely.

We hurried forwards, unwilling to lose time and fearing the sun of the
Erar valley. With arms cocked, a precaution against the possibility of
Galla spears in ambuscade, we crossed the river, entered the yawning chasm
and ascended the steep path. My companions were in the highest spirits,
nothing interfered with the general joy, but the villain Abtidon, who
loudly boasted in a road crowded with market people, that the mule which
he was riding had been given to us by the Amir as a Jizyah or tribute. The
Hammal, direfully wrath, threatened to shoot him upon the spot, and it was
not without difficulty that I calmed the storm.

Passing Gafra we ascertained from the Midgans that the Gerad Adan had sent
for my books and stored them in his own cottage. We made in a direct line
for Kondura. At one P.M. we safely threaded the Galla's pass, and about an
hour afterwards we exclaimed "Alhamdulillah" at the sight of Sagharrah and
the distant Marar Prairie. Entering the village we discharged our fire-
arms: the women received us with the Masharrad or joy-cry, and as I passed
the enclosure the Geradah Khayrah performed the "Fola" by throwing over me
some handfuls of toasted grain. [1] The men gave cordial _poignees de
mains_, some danced with joy to see us return alive; they had heard of our
being imprisoned, bastinadoed, slaughtered; they swore that the Gerad was
raising an army to rescue or revenge us--in fact, had we been their
kinsmen more excitement could not have been displayed. Lastly, in true
humility, crept forward the End of Time, who, as he kissed my hand, was
upon the point of tears: he had been half-starved, despite his dignity as
Sharmarkay's Mercury, and had spent his weary nights and days reciting the
chapter Y.S. and fumbling the rosary for omens. The Gerad, he declared,
would have given him a sheep and one of his daughters to wife,
temporarily, but Sherwa had interfered, he had hindered the course of his
sire's generosity: "Cursed be he," exclaimed the End of Time, "who with
dirty feet defiles the pure water of the stream!"

We entered the smoky cottage. The Gerad and his sons were at Wilensi
settling the weighty matter of a caravan which had been plundered by the
Usbayhan tribe--in their absence the good Khayrah and her daughters did
the duties of hospitality by cooking rice and a couple of fowls. A
pleasant evening was spent in recounting our perils as travellers will do,
and complimenting one another upon the power of our star.

At eight the next morning we rode to Wilensi. As we approached it all the
wayfarers and villagers inquired Hibernically if we were the party that
had been put to death by the Amir of Harar. Loud congratulations and
shouts of joy awaited our arrival. The Kalendar was in a paroxysm of
delight: both Shehrazade and Deenarzade were affected with giggling and
what might be blushing. We reviewed our property and found that the One-
eyed had been a faithful steward, so faithful indeed, that he had well
nigh starved the two women. Presently appeared the Gerad and his sons
bringing with them my books; the former was at once invested with a gaudy
Abyssinian Tobe of many colours, in which he sallied forth from the
cottage the admired of all admirers. The pretty wife Sudiyah and the good
Khayrah were made happy by sundry gifts of huge Birmingham ear-rings,
brooches and bracelets, scissors, needles, and thread. The evening as
usual ended in a feast.

"We halted a week at Wilensi to feed,--in truth my companions had been
faring lentenly at Harar,--and to lay in stock and strength for the long
desert march before us. A Somali was despatched to the city under orders
to load an ass with onions, tobacco, spices, wooden platters, and Karanji
[2], which our penniless condition had prevented our purchasing. I spent
the time collecting a vocabulary of the Harari tongue under the auspices
of Mad Said and All the poet, a Somali educated at the Alma Mater. He was
a small black man, long-headed and long-backed, with remarkably prominent
eyes, a bulging brow, nose pertly turned up, and lean jaws almost
unconscious of beard. He knew the Arabic, Somali, Galla, and Harari
languages, and his acuteness was such, that I found no difficulty in what
usually proves the hardest task,--extracting the grammatical forms. "A
poet, the son of a Poet," to use his own phrase, he evinced a Horatian
respect for the beverage which bards love, and his discourse, whenever it
strayed from the line of grammar, savoured of over reverence for the
goddess whom Pagans associated with Bacchus and Ceres. He was also a
patriot and a Tyrtaeus. No clan ever attacked his Girhis without smarting
under terrible sarcasms, and his sneers at the young warriors for want of
ardour in resisting Gudabirsi encroachments, were quoted as models of the
"withering." Stimulated by the present of a Tobe, he composed a song in
honor of the pilgrim: I will offer a literal translation of the exordium,
though sentient of the fact that modesty shrinks from such quotations.

"Formerly, my sire and self held ourselves songsters:
Only to day, however, I really begin to sing.
At the order of Abdullah, Allah sent, my tongue is loosed,
The son of the Kuraysh by a thousand generations,
He hath visited Audal, and Sahil and Adari [3];
A hundred of his ships float on the sea;
His intellect," &c. &c. &c.

When not engaged with Ali the Poet I amused myself by consoling Mad Said,
who was deeply afflicted, his son having received an ugly stab in the
shoulder. Thinking, perhaps, that the Senior anticipated some evil results
from the wound, I attempted to remove the impression. "Alas, 0 Hajj!"
groaned the old man, "it is not that!--how can the boy be _my boy_, I who
have ever given instead of receiving stabs?" nor would he be comforted, on
account of the youth's progeniture. At other times we summoned the heads
of the clans and proceeded to write down their genealogies. This always
led to a scene beginning with piano, but rapidly rising to the strepitoso.
Each tribe and clan wished to rank first, none would be even second,--what
was to be done? When excitement was at its height, the paper and pencil
were torn out of my hand, stubby beards were pitilessly pulled, and
daggers half started from their sheaths. These quarrels were, however,
easily composed, and always passed off in storms of abuse, laughter, and

With the end of the week's repose came Shaykh Jami, the Berteri, equipped
as a traveller with sword, praying-skin, and water-bottle. This bustling
little divine, whose hobby it was to make every man's business his own,
was accompanied by his brother, in nowise so prayerful a person, and by
four burly, black-looking Widads, of whose birth, learning, piety, and
virtues he spoke in terms eloquent. I gave them a supper of rice, ghee,
and dates in my hut, and with much difficulty excused myself on plea of
ill health from a Samrah or night's entertainment--the chaunting some
serious book from evening even to the small hours. The Shaykh informed me
that his peaceful errand on that occasion was to determine a claim of
blood-money amongst the neighbouring Bedouins. The case was rich in Somali
manners. One man gave medicine to another who happened to die about a
month afterwards: the father of the deceased at once charged the mediciner
with poisoning, and demanded the customary fine. Mad Said grumbled certain
disrespectful expressions about the propriety of divines confining
themselves to prayers and the Koran, whilst the Gerad Adan, after
listening to the Shaykh's violent denunciation of the Somali doctrine,
"Fire, but not shame!" [4] conducted his head-scratcher, and with sly
sarcasm declared that he had been Islamized afresh that day.

On Sunday, the 21st of January, our messenger returned from Harar,
bringing with him supplies for the road: my vocabulary was finished, and
as nothing delayed us at Wilensi, I determined to set out the next day.
When the rumour went abroad every inhabitant of the village flocked to our
hut, with the view of seeing what he could beg or borrow: we were soon
obliged to close it, with peremptory orders that none be admitted but the
Shaykh Jami. The divine appeared in the afternoon accompanied by all the
incurables of the country side: after hearing the tale of the blood-money,
I determined that talismans were the best and safest of medicines in those
mountains. The Shaykh at first doubted their efficacy. But when my diploma
as a master Sufi was exhibited, a new light broke upon him and his
attendant Widads. "Verily he hath declared himself this day!" whispered
each to his neighbour, still sorely mystified. Shaykh Jami carefully
inspected the document, raised it reverently to his forehead, and muttered
some prayers: he then in humble phrase begged a copy, and required from me
"Ijazah" or permission to act as master. The former request was granted
without hesitation, about the latter I preferred to temporize: he then
owned himself my pupil, and received, as a well-merited acknowledgment of
his services, a pencil and a silk turban.

The morning fixed for our departure came; no one, however, seemed ready to
move. The Hammal, who but the night before had been full of ardour and
activity, now hung back; we had no coffee, no water-bags, and Deenarzade
had gone to buy gourds in some distant village. This was truly African:
twenty-six days had not sufficed to do the work of a single watch! No
servants had been procured for us by the Gerad, although he had promised a
hundred whenever required. Long Guled had imprudently lent his dagger to
the smooth-tongued Yusuf Dera, who hearing of the departure, naturally
absconded. And, at the last moment, one Abdy Aman, who had engaged himself
at Harar as guide to Berberah for the sum of ten dollars, asked a score.

A display of energy was clearly necessary. I sent the Gerad with
directions to bring the camels at once, and ordered the Hammal to pull
down the huts. Abdy Aman was told to go to Harar--or the other place--Long
Guled was promised another dagger at Berberah; a message was left
directing Deenarzade to follow, and the word was given to load.

By dint of shouting and rough language, the caravan was ready at 9 A.M.
The Gerad Adan and his ragged tail leading, we skirted the eastern side of
Wilensi, and our heavily laden camels descended with pain the rough and
stony slope of the wide Kloof dividing it from the Marar Prairie. At 1
P.M. the chief summoned us to halt: we pushed on, however, without
regarding him. Presently, Long Guled and the End of Time were missing;
contrary to express orders they had returned to seek the dagger. To ensure
discipline, on this occasion I must have blown out the long youth's
brains, which were, he declared, addled by the loss of his weapon: the
remedy appeared worse than the disease.

Attended only by the Hammal, I entered with pleasure the Marar Prairie. In
vain the Gerad entreated us not to venture upon a place swarming with
lions; vainly he promised to kill sheep and oxen for a feast;--we took
abrupt leave of him, and drove away the camels.

Journeying slowly over the skirt of the plain, when rejoined by the
truants, we met a party of travellers, who, as usual, stopped to inquire
the news. Their chief, mounted upon an old mule, proved to be Madar Farih,
a Somali well known at Aden. He consented to accompany us as far as the
halting place, expressed astonishment at our escaping Harar, and gave us
intelligence which my companions judged grave. The Gerad Hirsi of the
Berteri, amongst whom Madar had been living, was incensed with us for
leaving the direct road. Report informed him, moreover, that we had given
600 dollars and various valuables to the Gerad Adan,--Why then had he been
neglected? Madar sensibly advised us to push forward that night, and to
'ware the bush, whence Midgans might use their poisoned arrows.

We alighted at the village formerly beneath Gurays, now shifted to a short
distance from those hills. Presently appeared Deenarzade, hung round with
gourds and swelling with hurt feelings: she was accompanied by Dahabo,
sister of the valiant Beuh, who, having for ever parted from her graceless
husband, the Gerad, was returning under our escort to the Gurgi of her
family. Then came Yusuf Dera with a smiling countenance and smooth
manners, bringing the stolen dagger and many excuses for the mistake; he
was accompanied by a knot of kinsmen deputed by the Gerad as usual for no
good purpose. That worthy had been informed that his Berteri rival offered
a hundred cows for our persons, dead or alive: he pathetically asked my
attendants "Do you love your pilgrim?" and suggested that if they did so,
they might as well send him a little more cloth, upon the receipt of which
he would escort us with fifty horsemen.

My Somal lent a willing ear to a speech which smelt of falsehood a mile
off: they sat down to debate; the subject was important, and for three
mortal hours did that palaver endure. I proposed proceeding at once. They
declared that the camels could not walk, and that the cold of the prairie
was death to man. Pointing to a caravan of grain-carriers that awaited our
escort, I then spoke of starting next morning. Still they hesitated. At
length darkness came on, and knowing it to be a mere waste of time to
debate over night about dangers to be faced next day, I ate my dates and
drank my milk, and lay down to enjoy tranquil sleep in the deep silence of
the desert.

The morning of the 23rd of January found my companions as usual in a state
of faint-heartedness. The Hammal was deputed to obtain permission for
fetching the Gerad and all the Gerad's men. This was positively refused. I
could not, however, object to sending sundry Tobes to the cunning idiot,
in order to back up a verbal request for the escort. Thereupon Yusuf Dera,
Madar Farih, and the other worthies took leave, promising to despatch the
troop before noon: I saw them depart with pleasure, feeling that we had
bade adieu to the Girhis. The greatest danger we had run was from the
Gerad Adan, a fact of which I was not aware till some time after my return
to Berberah: he had always been plotting an _avanie_ which, if attempted,
would have cost him dear, but at the same time would certainly have proved
fatal to us.

Noon arrived, but no cavalry. My companions had promised that if
disappointed they would start before nightfall and march till morning. But
when the camels were sent for, one, as usual if delay was judged
advisable, had strayed: they went in search of him, so as to give time for
preparation to the caravan. I then had a sharp explanation with my men,
and told them in conclusion that it was my determination to cross the
Prairie alone, if necessary, on the morrow.

That night heavy clouds rolled down from the Gurays Hills, and veiled the
sky with a deeper gloom. Presently came a thin streak of blue lightning
and a roar of thunder, which dispersed like flies the mob of gazers from
around my Gurgi; then rain streamed through our hut as though we had been
dwelling under a system of cullenders. Deenarzade declared herself too ill
to move; Shehrazade swore that she would not work: briefly, that night was
by no means pleasantly spent.

At dawn, on the 24th, we started across the Marar Prairie with a caravan
of about twenty men and thirty women, driving camels, carrying grain,
asses, and a few sheep. The long straggling line gave a "wide berth" to
the doughty Hirsi and his Berteris, whose camp-fires were clearly visible
in the morning grey. The air was raw; piles of purple cloud settled upon
the hills, whence cold and damp gusts swept the plain; sometimes we had a
shower, at others a Scotch mist, which did not fail to penetrate our thin
raiment. My people trembled, and their teeth chattered as though they were
walking upon ice. In our slow course we passed herds of quagga and
gazelles, but the animals were wild, and both men and mules were unequal
to the task of stalking them. About midday we closed up, for our path
wound through the valley wooded with Acacia,--fittest place for an
ambuscade of archers. We dined in the saddle on huge lumps of sun-dried
beef, and bits of gum gathered from the trees.

Having at length crossed the prairie without accident, the caravan people
shook our hands, congratulated one another, and declared that they owed
their lives to us. About an hour after sunset we arrived at Abtidon's
home, a large kraal at the foot of the Konti cone: fear of lions drove my
people into the enclosure, where we passed a night of scratching. I was
now haunted by the dread of a certain complaint for which sulphur is said
to be a specific. This is the pest of the inner parts of Somali-land; the
people declare it to arise from flies and fleas: the European would derive
it from the deficiency, or rather the impossibility, of ablutions.

"Allah help the Goer, but the Return is Rolling:" this adage was ever upon
the End of Time's tongue, yet my fate was apparently an exception to the
general rule. On the 25th January, we were delayed by the weakness of the
camels, which had been half starved in the Girhi mountains. And as we were
about to enter the lands of the Habr Awal [5], then at blood feud with my
men, all Habr Gerhajis, probably a week would elapse before we could
provide ourselves with a fit and proper protector. Already I had been
delayed ten days after the appointed time, my comrades at Berberah would
be apprehensive of accidents, and although starting from Wilensi we had
resolved to reach the coast within the fortnight, a month's march was in
clear prospect.

Whilst thus chewing the cud of bitter thought where thought was of scant
avail, suddenly appeared the valiant Beuh, sent to visit us by Dahabo his
gay sister. He informed us that a guide was in the neighbourhood, and the
news gave me an idea. I proposed that he should escort the women, camels,
and baggage under command of the Kalendar to Zayla, whilst we, mounting
our mules and carrying only our arms and provisions for four days, might
push through the lands of the Habr Awal. After some demur all consented.

It was not without apprehension that I pocketed all my remaining
provisions, five biscuits, a few limes, and sundry lumps of sugar. Any
delay or accident to our mules would starve us; in the first place, we
were about to traverse a desert, and secondly where Habr Awal were, they
would not sell meat or milk to Habr Gerhajis. My attendants provided
themselves with a small provision of sun-dried beef, grain, and
sweetmeats: only one water-bottle, however, was found amongst the whole
party. We arose at dawn after a wet night on the 26th January, but we did
not start till 7 A.M., the reason being that all the party, the Kalendar,
Shehrazade and Deenarzade, claimed and would have his and her several and
distinct palaver.

Having taken leave of our friends and property [6], we spurred our mules,
and guided by Beuh, rode through cloud and mist towards Koralay the
Saddle-back hill. After an hour's trot over rugged ground falling into the
Harawwah valley, we came to a Gudabirsi village, where my companions
halted to inquire the news, also to distend their stomachs with milk.
Thence we advanced slowly, as the broken path required, through thickets
of wild henna to the kraal occupied by Beuh's family. At a distance we
were descried by an old acquaintance, Fahi, who straightways began to
dance like a little Polyphemus, his shock-wig waving in the air: plentiful
potations of milk again delayed my companions, who were now laying in a
four days' stock.

Remounting, we resumed our journey over a mass of rock and thicket,
watered our mules at holes in a Fiumara, and made our way to a village
belonging to the Ugaz or chief of the Gudabirsi tribe. He was a middle-
aged man of ordinary presence, and he did not neglect to hold out his hand
for a gift which we could not but refuse. Halting for about an hour, we
persuaded a guide, by the offer of five dollars and a pair of cloths, to
accompany us. "Dubayr"--the Donkey--who belonged to the Bahgobo clan of
the Habr Awal, was a "long Lankin," unable, like all these Bedouins, to
endure fatigue. He could not ride, the saddle cut him, and he found his
mule restive; lately married, he was incapacitated for walking, and he
suffered sadly from thirst. The Donkey little knew, when he promised to
show Berberah on the third day, what he had bound himself to perform:
after the second march he was induced, only by the promise of a large
present, and one continual talk of food, to proceed, and often he threw
his lengthy form upon the ground, groaning that his supreme hour was at
hand. In the land which we were to traverse every man's spear would be
against us. By way of precaution, we ordered our protector to choose
desert roads and carefully to avoid all kraals. At first, not
understanding our reasons, and ever hankering after milk, he could not
pass a thorn fence without eyeing it wistfully. On the next day, however,
he became more tractable, and before reaching Berberah he showed himself,
in consequence of some old blood feud, more anxious even than ourselves to
avoid villages.

Remounting, under the guidance of the Donkey, we resumed our east-ward
course. He was communicative even for a Somali, and began by pointing out,
on the right of the road, the ruins of a stone-building, called, as
customary in these countries, a fort. Beyond it we came to a kraal, whence
all the inhabitants issued with shouts and cries for tobacco. Three
o'clock P.M. brought us to a broad Fiumara choked with the thickest and
most tangled vegetation: we were shown some curious old Galla wells, deep
holes about twenty feet in diameter, excavated in the rock; some were dry,
others overgrown with huge creepers, and one only supplied us with
tolerable water. The Gudabirsi tribe received them from the Girhi in lieu
of blood-money: beyond this watercourse, the ground belongs to the Rer
Yunis Jibril, a powerful clan of the Habr Awal, and the hills are thickly
studded with thorn-fence and kraal.

Without returning the salutations of the Bedouins, who loudly summoned us
to stop and give them the news, we trotted forwards in search of a
deserted sheep-fold. At sunset we passed, upon an eminence on our left,
the ruins of an ancient settlement, called after its patron Saint, Ao
Barhe: and both sides of the mountain road were flanked by tracts of
prairie-land, beautifully purpling in the evening air. After a ride of
thirty-five miles, we arrived at a large fold, where, by removing the
inner thorn-fences, we found fresh grass for our starving beasts. The
night was raw and windy, and thick mists deepened into a drizzle, which
did not quench our thirst, but easily drenched the saddle cloths, our only
bedding. In one sense, however, the foul weather was propitious to us. Our
track might easily have been followed by some enterprising son of Yunis
Jibril; these tracts of thorny bush are favourite places for cattle
lifting; moreover the fire was kept blazing all night, yet our mules were
not stolen.

We shook off our slumbers before dawn on the 27th. I remarked near our
resting-place, one of those detached heaps of rock, common enough in the
Somali country: at one extremity a huge block projects upwards, and
suggests the idea of a gigantic canine tooth. The Donkey declared that the
summit still bears traces of building, and related the legend connected
with Moga Medir. [7] There, in times of old, dwelt a Galla maiden whose
eye could distinguish a plundering party at the distance of five days'
march. The enemies of her tribe, after sustaining heavy losses, hit upon
the expedient of an attack, not _en chemise_, but with their heads muffled
in bundles of hay. When Moga, the maiden, informed her sire and clan that
a prairie was on its way towards the hill, they deemed her mad; the
manoeuvre succeeded, and the unhappy seer lost her life. The legend
interested me by its wide diffusion. The history of Zarka, the blue-eyed
witch of the Jadis tribe, who seized Yemamah by her gramarye, and our
Scotch tale of Birnam wood's march, are Asiatic and European facsimiles of
African "Moga's Tooth."

At 7 A.M. we started through the mist, and trotted eastwards in search of
a well. The guide had deceived us: the day before he had promised water at
every half mile; he afterwards owned with groans that we should not drink
before nightfall. These people seem to lie involuntarily: the habit of
untruth with them becomes a second nature. They deceive without object for
deceit, and the only way of obtaining from them correct information is to
inquire, receive the answer, and determine it to be diametrically opposed
to fact.

I will not trouble you, dear L., with descriptions of the uniform and
uninteresting scenery through which we rode,--horrid hills upon which
withered aloes brandished their spears, plains apparently rained upon by a
shower of stones, and rolling ground abounding only with thorns like the
"wait-a-bits" of Kafir land, created to tear man's skin or clothes. Our
toil was rendered doubly toilsome by the Eastern travellers' dread--the
demon of Thirst rode like Care behind us. For twenty-four hours we did not
taste water, the sun parched our brains, the mirage mocked us at every
turn, and the effect was a species of monomania. As I jogged along with
eyes closed against the fiery air, no image unconnected with the want
suggested itself. Water ever lay before me--water lying deep in the shady
well--water in streams bubbling icy from the rock--water in pellucid lakes
inviting me to plunge and revel in their treasures. Now an Indian cloud
was showering upon me fluid more precious than molten pearl, then an
invisible hand offered a bowl for which the mortal part would gladly have
bartered years of life. Then--drear contrast!--I opened my eyes to a heat-
reeking plain, and a sky of that eternal metallic blue so lovely to
painter and poet, so blank and deathlike to us, whose [Greek _kalon_] was
tempest, rain-storm, and the huge purple nimbus. I tried to talk--it was
in vain, to sing in vain, vainly to think; every idea was bound up in one
subject, water. [8]

As the sun sank into the East we descended the wide Gogaysa valley. With
unspeakable delight we saw in the distance a patch of lively green: our
animals scented the blessing from afar, they raised their drooping ears,
and started with us at a canter, till, turning a corner, we suddenly
sighted sundry little wells. To spring from the saddle, to race with our
mules, who now feared not the crumbling sides of the pits, to throw
ourselves into the muddy pools, to drink a long slow draught, and to dash
the water over our burning faces, took less time to do than to recount. A
calmer inspection showed a necessity for caution;--the surface was alive
with tadpoles and insects: prudence, however, had little power at that
time, we drank, and drank, and then drank again. As our mules had fallen
with avidity upon the grass, I proposed to pass a few hours near the well.
My companions, however, pleading the old fear of lions, led the way to a
deserted kraal upon a neighbouring hill. We had marched about thirty miles
eastward, and had entered a safe country belonging to the Bahgoba, our
guide's clan.

At sunrise on the 28th of January, the Donkey, whose limbs refused to
work, was lifted into the saddle, declaring that the white man must have
been sent from heaven, as a special curse upon the children of Ishak. We
started, after filling the water-bottle, down the Gogaysa valley. Our
mules were becoming foot-sore, and the saddles had already galled their
backs; we were therefore compelled to the additional mortification of
travelling at snail's pace over the dreary hills, and through the
uninteresting bush.

About noon we entered Wady Danan, or "The Sour," a deep chasm in the
rocks; the centre is a winding sandy watercourse, here and there grassy
with tall rushes, and affording at every half mile a plentiful supply of
sweet water. The walls of the ravine are steep and rugged, and the thorny
jungle clustering at the sides gives a wild appearance to the scene.
Traces of animals, quagga and gazelle, every where abounded: not being
however, in "Dianic humour," and unwilling to apprise Bedouins of our
vicinity, I did not fire a shot. As we advanced large trees freshly barked
and more tender plants torn up by the roots, showed the late passage of a
herd of elephants: my mule, though the bravest of our beasts, was in a
state of terror all the way. The little grey honey-bird [9] tempted us to
wander with all his art: now he sat upon the nearest tree chirping his
invitation to a feast, then he preceded us with short jerking flights to
point out the path. My people, however, despite the fondness for honey
inherent in the Somali palate [10], would not follow him, deciding that
on, this occasion his motives for inviting us were not of the purest.

Emerging from the valley, we urged on our animals over comparatively level
ground, in the fallacious hope of seeing the sea that night. The trees
became rarer as we advanced and the surface metallic. In spots the path
led over ironstone that resembled slag. In other places the soil was
ochre-coloured [11]: the cattle lick it, probably on account of the
aluminous matter with which it is mixed. Everywhere the surface was burnt
up by the sun, and withered from want of rain. Towards evening we entered
a broad slope called by the Somal Dihh Murodi, or Murodilay, the
Elephants' Valley. Crossing its breadth from west to east, we traversed
two Fiumaras, the nearer "Hamar," the further "Las Dorhhay," or the
Tamarisk waterholes. They were similar in appearance, the usual Wady about
100 yards wide, pearly sand lined with borders of leek green, pitted with
dry wells around which lay heaps of withered thorns and a herd of gazelles
tripping gracefully over the quartz carpet.

After spanning the valley we began to ascend the lower slopes of a high
range, whose folds formed like a curtain the bold background of the view.
This is the landward face of the Ghauts, over which we were to pass before
sighting the sea. Masses of cold grey cloud rolled from the table-formed
summit, we were presently shrouded in mist, and as we advanced, rain began
to fall. The light of day vanishing, we again descended into a Fiumara
with a tortuous and rocky bed, the main drain of the landward mountain
side. My companions, now half-starved,--they had lived through three days
on a handful of dates and sweetmeats,--devoured with avidity the wild
Jujube berries that strewed the stones. The guide had preceded us: when we
came up with him, he was found seated upon a grassy bank on the edge of
the rugged torrent bed. We sprang in pleased astonishment from the saddle,
dire had been the anticipations that our mules,--one of them already
required driving with the spear,--would, after another night of
starvation, leave us to carry their loads upon our own hacks. The cause of
the phenomenon soon revealed itself. In the rock was a hole about two feet
wide, whence a crystal sheet welled over the Fiumara bank, forming a
paradise for frog and tadpole. This "Ga'angal" is considered by the Somal
a "fairies' well:" all, however, that the Donkey could inform me was, that
when the Nomads settle in the valley, the water sinks deep below the
earth--a knot which methinks might be unravelled without the interposition
of a god. The same authority declared it to be the work of the "old
ancient" Arabs.

The mules fell hungrily upon the succulent grass, and we, with the most
frugal of suppers, prepared to pass the rainy night. Presently, however,
the doves and Katas [12], the only birds here requiring water, approached
in flights, and fearing to drink, fluttered around us with shrill cries.
They suggested to my companions the possibility of being visited in sleep
by more formidable beasts, and even man: after a short halt, an advance
was proposed; and this was an offer which, on principle, I never refused.
We remounted our mules, now refreshed and in good spirits, and began to
ascend the stony face of the Eastern hill through a thick mist, deepening
the darkness. As we reached the bleak summit, a heavy shower gave my
companions a pretext to stop: they readily found a deserted thorn fence,
in which we passed a wet night. That day we had travelled at least thirty-
five miles without seeing the face of man: the country was parched to a
cinder for want of water, and all the Nomads had migrated to the plains.

The morning of the 29th January was unusually fine: the last night's rain
hung in masses of mist about the hill-sides, and the rapid evaporation
clothed the clear background with deep blue. We began the day by ascending
a steep goat-track: it led to a sandy Fiumara, overgrown with Jujubes and
other thorns, abounding in water, and showing in the rocky sides, caverns
fit for a race of Troglodytes. Pursuing the path over a stony valley lying
between parallel ranges of hill, we halted at about 10 A.M. in a large
patch of grass-land, the produce of the rain, which for some days past had
been fertilising the hill-tops. Whilst our beasts grazed greedily, we sat
under a bush, and saw far beneath us the low country which separates the
Ghauts from the sea. Through an avenue in the rolling nimbus, we could
trace the long courses of Fiumaras, and below, where mist did not obstruct
the sight, the tawny plains, cut with watercourses glistening white, shone
in their eternal summer.

Shortly after 10 A.M., we resumed our march, and began the descent of the
Ghauts by a ravine to which the guide gave the name of 'Kadar.' No sandy
watercourse, the 'Pass' of this barbarous land, here facilitates the
travellers' advance: the rapid slope of the hill presents a succession of
blocks and boulders piled one upon the other in rugged steps, apparently
impossible to a laden camel. This ravine, the Splugen of Somaliland, led
us, after an hour's ride, to the Wady Duntu, a gigantic mountain-cleft
formed by the violent action of torrents. The chasm winds abruptly between
lofty walls of syenite and pink granite, glittering with flaky mica, and
streaked with dykes and veins of snowy quartz: the strata of the
sandstones that here and there projected into the bed were wonderfully
twisted around a central nucleus, as green boughs might be bent about a
tree. Above, the hill-tops towered in the air, here denuded of vegetable
soil by the heavy monsoon, there clothed from base to brow with gum trees,
whose verdure was delicious to behold. The channel was now sandy, then
flagged with limestone in slippery sheets, or horrid with rough boulders:
at times the path was clear and easy; at others, a precipice of twenty or
thirty feet, which must be a little cataract after rain, forced us to
fight our way through the obstinate thorns that defended some spur of
ragged hill. As the noontide heat, concentrated in this funnel, began to
affect man and beast, we found a granite block, under whose shady brow
clear water, oozing from the sand, formed a natural bath, and sat there
for a while to enjoy the spectacle and the atmosphere, perfumed, as in
part of Persia and Northern Arabia, by the aromatic shrubs of the desert.

After a short half-hour, we remounted and pursued our way down the Duntu
chasm. As we advanced, the hills shrank in size, the bed became more
level, and the walls of rock, gradually widening out, sank into the plain.
Brisk and elastic above, the air, here soft, damp, and tepid, and the sun
burning with a more malignant heat, convinced us that we stood once more
below the Ghauts. For two hours we urged our mules in a south-east
direction down the broad and winding Fiumara, taking care to inspect every
well, but finding them all full of dry sand. Then turning eastwards, we
crossed a plain called by the Donkey "Battaladayti Taranay"--the Flats of
Taranay--an exact representation of the maritime regions about Zayla.
Herds of camels and flocks of milky sheep browsing amongst thorny Acacia
and the tufted Kulan, suggested pleasing visions to starving travellers,
and for the first time after three days of hard riding, we saw the face of
man. The shepherds, Mikahil of the Habr Awal tribe, all fled as we
approached: at last one was bold enough to stand and deliver the news. My
companions were refreshed by good reports: there had been few murders, and
the sea-board was tolerably clear of our doughty enemies, the Ayyal Ahmed.
We pricked over the undulating growth of parched grass, shaping our
course for Jebel Almis, to sailors the chief landmark of this coast, and
for a certain thin blue stripe on the far horizon, upon which we gazed
with gladdened eyes.

Our road lay between low brown hills of lime and sandstone, the Sub-Ghauts
forming a scattered line between the maritime mountains and the sea.
Presently the path was choked by dense scrub of the Arman Acacia: its
yellow blossoms scented the air, but hardly made amends for the injuries
of a thorn nearly two inches long, and tipped with a wooden point sharp as
a needle. Emerging, towards evening, from this bush, we saw large herds of
camels, and called their guardians to come and meet us. For all reply they
ran like ostriches to the nearest rocks, tittering the cry of alarm, and
when we drew near each man implored us to harry his neighbour's cattle.
Throughout our wanderings in Somaliland this had never occurred: it
impressed me strongly with the disturbed state of the regions inhabited by
the Habr Awal. After some time we persuaded a Bedouin who, with frantic
gestures, was screaming and flogging his camels, to listen: reassured by
our oaths, he declared himself to be a Bahgoba, and promised to show us a
village of the Ayyal Gedid. The Hammal, who had married a daughter of this
clan, and had constituted his father-in-law my protector at Berberah, made
sure of a hospitable reception: "To-night we shall sleep under cover and
drink milk," quoth one hungry man to another, who straightways rejoined,
"And we shall eat mutton!"

After dark we arrived at a kraal, we unsaddled our mules and sat down near
it, indulging in Epicurean anticipations. Opposite us, by the door of a
hut, was a group of men who observed our arrival, but did not advance or
salute us. Impatient, I fired a pistol, when a gruff voice asked why we
disturbed the camels that were being milked. "We have fallen upon the
Ayyal Shirdon"--our bitterest enemies--whispered the End of Time. The same
voice then demanded in angrier accents, "Of what tribe be ye?" We boldly
answered, "Of the Habr Gerhajis." Thereupon ensued a war of words. The
Ayyal Shirdon inquired what we wanted, where we had been, and how we
dared, seeing that peace had not been concluded between the tribes, to
enter their lands. We replied civilly as our disappointment would permit,
but apparently gained little by soft words. The inhospitable Bedouins
declared our arrival to be in the seventeenth house of Geomancy--an advent
probable as the Greek Kalends--and rudely insisted upon knowing what had
taken us to Harar. At last, a warrior, armed with two spears, came to meet
us, and bending down recognized the End of Time: after a few short
sentences he turned on his heel and retired. I then directed Long Guled to
approach the group, and say that a traveller was at their doors ready and
willing to give tobacco in exchange for a draught of milk. They refused
point-blank, and spoke of fighting: we at once made ready with our
weapons, and showing the plain, bade them come on and receive a "belly
full." During the lull which followed this obliging proposal we saddled
our mules and rode off, in the grimmest of humours, loudly cursing the
craven churls who knew not the value of a guest.

We visited successively three villages of the Ayyal Gedid: the Hammal
failed to obtain even a drop of water from his connexions, and was taunted
accordingly. He explained their inhospitality by the fact that all the
warriors being at Berberah, the villages contained nothing but women,
children, servants, and flocks. The Donkey when strictly questioned
declared that no well nearer than Bulhar was to be found: as men and mules
were faint with thirst, I determined to push forward to water that night.
Many times the animals were stopped, a mute hint that they could go no
further: I spurred onwards, and the rest, as on such occasions they had
now learned to do, followed without a word. Our path lay across a plain
called Banka Hadla, intersected in many places by deep watercourses, and
thinly strewed with Kulan clumps. The moon arose, but cast a cloud-veiled
and uncertain light: our path, moreover, was not clear, as the guide, worn
out by fatigue, tottered on far in the rear.

About midnight we heard--delightful sound!--the murmur of the distant sea.
Revived by the music, we pushed on more cheerily. At last the Donkey
preceded us, and about 3 A.M. we found, in a Fiumara, some holes which
supplied us with bitter water, truly delicious after fifteen hours of
thirst. Repeated draughts of the element, which the late rains had
rendered potable, relieved our pain, and hard by we found a place where
coarse stubbly grass saved our mules from starvation. Then rain coming on,
we coiled ourselves under the saddle cloths, and, reckless alike of Ayyal
Ahmed and Ayyal Shirdon, slept like the dead.

At dawn on the 30th January, I arose and inspected the site of Bulhar. It
was then deserted, a huge heap of bleached bones being the only object
suggestive of a settlement. This, at different times, has been a thriving
place, owing to its roadstead, and the feuds of Berberah: it was generally
a village of Gurgis, with some stone-houses built by Arabs. The coast,
however, is open and havenless, and the Shimal wind, feared even at the
Great Port, here rages with resistless violence. Yet the place revives
when plundering parties render the plain unsafe: the timid merchants here
embark their goods and persons, whilst their camels are marched round the

Mounting at 6 A.M. we started slowly along the sea coast, and frequently
halted on the bushy Fiumara-cut plain. About noon we bathed in the sea,
and sat on the sands for a while, my people praying for permission to pass
the kraals of their enemies, the Ayyal Ahmed, by night. This, their last
request, was graciously granted: to say sooth, rapid travelling was now
impossible; the spear failed to urge on one mule, and the Hammal was
obliged to flog before him another wretched animal. We then traversed an
alluvial plain, lately flooded, where slippery mud doubled the fatigue of
our cattle; and, at 3 P.M., again halted on a patch of grass below the
rocky spur of Dabasenis, a hill half way between Bulhar and Berberah. On
the summit I was shown an object that makes travellers shudder, a thorn-
tree, under which the Habr Gerhajis [13] and their friends of the Eesa
Musa sit, vulture-like, on the look-out for plunder and murder. Advancing
another mile, we came to some wells, where we were obliged to rest our
animals. Having there finished our last mouthful of food, we remounted,
and following the plain eastward, prepared for a long night-march.

As the light of day waned we passed on the right hand a table-formed hill,
apparently a detached fragment of the sub-Ghauts or coast range. This spot
is celebrated in local legends as "Auliya Kumbo," the Mount of Saints,
where the forty-four Arab Santons sat in solemn conclave before dispersing
over the Somali country to preach El Islam. It lies about six hours of
hard walking from Berberah.

At midnight we skirted Bulho Faranji, the Franks' Watering-place [14], a
strip of ground thickly covered with trees. Abounding in grass and water,
it has been the site of a village: when we passed it, however, all was
desert. By the moon's light we descried, as we silently skirted the sea,
the kraals and folds of our foe the Ayyal Ahmed, and at times we could
distinguish the lowing of their cattle: my companions chuckled hugely at
the success of their manoeuvre, and perhaps not without reason. At
Berberah we were afterwards informed that a shepherd in the bush had
witnessed and reported our having passed, when the Ayyal Ahmed cursed the
star that had enabled us to slip unhurt through their hands.

Our mules could scarcely walk: after every bow-shot they rolled upon the
ground and were raised only by the whip. A last halt was called when
arrived within four miles of Berberah: the End of Time and Long Guled,
completely worn out, fell fast asleep upon the stones. Of all the party
the Hammal alone retained strength and spirits: the sturdy fellow talked,
sang, and shouted, and, whilst the others could scarcely sit their mules,
he danced his war-dance and brandished his spear. I was delighted with his

Now a long dark line appears upon the sandy horizon--it grows more
distinct in the shades of night--the silhouettes of shipping appear
against sea and sky. A cry of joy bursts from every mouth: cheer, boys,
cheer, our toils here touch their end!

The End of Time first listened to the small still voice of Caution. He
whispered anxiously to make no noise lest enemies might arise, that my
other attendants had protectors at Berberah, but that he, the hated and
feared, as the _locum tenens_ of Sharmarkay,--the great _bete noire_,--
depended wholly upon my defence. The Donkey led us slowly and cautiously
round the southern quarter of the sleeping town, through bone heaps and
jackals tearing their unsavoury prey: at last he marched straight into the
quarter appropriated to the Ayyal Gedid our protectors. Anxiously I
inquired if my comrades had left Berberah, and heard with delight that
they awaited me there. It was then 2 A.M. and we had marched at least
forty miles. The Somal, when in fear of forays, drive laden camels over
this distance in about ten hours.

I dismounted at the huts where my comrades were living. A glad welcome, a
dish of rice, and a glass of strong waters--pardon dear L., these details
--made amends for past privations and fatigue. The servants and the
wretched mules were duly provided for, and I fell asleep, conscious of
having performed a feat which, like a certain ride to York, will live in
local annals for many and many a year.


[1] It is an Arab as well as a Somali ceremony to throw a little Kaliyah
or Salul (toasted grain) over the honored traveller when he enters hut or

[2] Bread made of holcus grain dried and broken into bits; it is thrown
into broth or hot water, and thus readily supplies the traveller with a
wholesome _panade_.

[3] The Somal invariably call Berberah the "Sahil," (meaning in Arabic the
sea-shore,) as Zayla with them is "Audal," and Harar "Adari."

[4] "Al Nar wa la al Ar," an Arabic maxim, somewhat more forcible than our
"death rather than dishonor."

[5] This is the second great division of the Somal people, the father of
the tribe being Awal, the cadet of Ishak el Hazrami.

The Habr Awal occupy the coast from Zayla and Siyaro to the lands
bordering upon the Berteri tribe. They own the rule of a Gerad, who
exercises merely a nominal authority. The late chief's name was "Bon," he
died about four years ago, but his children have not yet received the
turban. The royal race is the Ayyal Abdillah, a powerful clan extending
from the Dabasanis Hills to near Jigjiga, skirting the Marar Prairie.

The Habr Awal are divided into a multitude of clans: of these I shall
specify only the principal, the subject of the maritime Somal being
already familiar to our countrymen. The Esa Musa inhabit part of the
mountains south of Berberah. The Mikahil tenant the lowlands on the coast
from Berberah to Siyaro. Two large clans, the Ayyal Yunis and the Ayyal
Ahmed, have established themselves in Berberah and at Bulhar. Besides
these are the Ayyal Abdillah Saad, the Ayyal Geraato, who live amongst the
Ayyal Yunis,--the Bahgobo and the Ayyal Hamed.

[6] My property arrived safe at Aden after about two months. The mule left
under the Kalendar's charge never appeared, and the camels are, I believe,
still grazing among the Eesa. The fair Shehrazade, having amassed a little
fortune, lost no time in changing her condition, an example followed in
due time by Deenarzade. And the Kalendar, after a visit to Aden, returned
to electrify his Zayla friends with long and terrible tales of travel.

[7] "Moga's eye-tooth."

[8] As a rule, twelve hours without water in the desert during hot
weather, kill a man. I never suffered severely from thirst but on this
occasion; probably it was in consequence of being at the time but in weak

[9] I have never shot this feathered friend of man, although frequent
opportunities presented themselves. He appears to be the Cuculus Indicator
(le Coucou Indicateur) and the Om-Shlanvo of the Kafirs; the Somal call
him Maris. Described by Father Lobo and Bruce, he is treated as a myth by
Le Vaillant; M. Wiedman makes him cry "Shirt! Shirt! Shirt!" Dr. Sparrman
"Tcherr! Tcherr!" Mr. Delegorgue "Chir! Chir! Chir!" His note suggested to
me the shrill chirrup of a sparrow, and his appearance that of a

Buffon has repeated what a traveller had related, namely, that the honey-
bird is a little traitor who conducts men into ambuscades prepared by wild
beasts. The Lion-Slayer in S. Africa asserts it to be the belief of
Hottentots and the interior tribes, that the bird often lures the unwary
pursuer to danger, sometimes guiding him to the midday retreat of a
grizzly lion, or bringing him suddenly upon the den of the crouching
panther. M. Delegorgue observes that the feeble bird probably seeks aid in
removing carrion for the purpose of picking up flies and worms; he acquits
him of malice prepense, believing that where the prey is, there
carnivorous beasts may be met.

The Somal, however, carry their superstition still farther. The honey-bird
is never trusted by them; he leads, they say, either to the lions' den or
the snakes' hiding-place, and often guides his victim into the jaws of the
Kaum or plundering party.

[10] The Somal have several kinds of honey. The Donyale or wasp-honey, is
scanty and bad; it is found in trees and obtained by smoking and cutting
the branch. The Malab Shinni or bee-honey, is either white, red or brown;
the first is considered the most delicate in flavour.

[11] The Somal call it Arrah As.

[12] The sand-grouse of Egypt and Arabia, the rock-pigeon of Sindh and the
surrounding countries.

[13] The Habr Gerhajis, or eldest branch of the sons of Ishak (generally
including the children of "Arab"), inhabit the Ghauts behind Berberah,
whence they extend for several days' march towards Ogadayn, the southern
region. This tribe is divided into a multitude of clans. The Ismail Arrah
supply the Sultan, a nominal chief like the Eesa Ugaz; they extend from
Makhar to the south of Gulays, number about 15,000 shields and are
subdivided into three septs. The Musa Arrah hold the land between Gulays
and the seats of the Mijjarthayn and Warsangeli tribes on the windward
coast. The Ishak Arrah count 5000 or 6000 shields, and inhabit the Gulays
Range. The other sons of Arrah (the fourth in descent from Ishak), namely,
Mikahil, Gambah, Daudan, and others, also became founders of small clans.
The Ayyal Daud, facetiously called "Idagallah" or earth-burrowers, and
sprung from the second son of Gerhajis, claim the country south of the
Habr Awal, reckon about 4000 shields, and are divided into 11 or 12 septs.

As has been noticed, the Habr Gerhajis have a perpetual blood feud with
the Habr Awal, and, even at Aden, they have fought out their quarrels with
clubs and stones. Yet as cousins they willingly unite against a common
enemy, the Eesa for instance, and become the best of friends.

[14] So called from the Mary Anne brig, here plundered in 1825.



It is interesting to compare the earliest with the latest account of the
great emporium of Eastern Africa.

Bartema, writing in the sixteenth century "of Barbara and the Island of
Ethiope," offers the following brief description:--"After that the
tempests were appeased, we gave wind to our sails, and in short time
arrived at an island named Barbara, the prince whereof is a Mahometan. [1]
The island is not great but fruitful and well peopled: it hath abundance
of flesh. The inhabitants are of colour inclining to black. All their
riches is in herds of cattle."

Lieut. Cruttenden of the I. N., writing in 1848, thus describes the
place:--"The annual fair is one of the most interesting sights on the
coast, if only from the fact of many different and distant tribes being
drawn together for a short time, to be again scattered in all directions.
Before the towers of Berbera were built [2], the place from April to the
early part of October was utterly deserted, not even a fisherman being
found there; but no sooner did the season change, than the inland tribes
commenced moving down towards the coast, and preparing their huts for
their expected visitors. Small craft from the ports of Yemen, anxious to
have an opportunity of purchasing before vessels from the gulf could
arrive, hastened across, followed about a fortnight to three weeks later
by their larger brethren from Muscat, Soor, and Ras el Khyma, and the
valuably freighted Bagalas [3] from Bahrein, Bussorah, and Graen. Lastly,
the fat and wealthy Banian traders from Porebunder, Mandavie, and Bombay,
rolled across in their clumsy Kotias [3], and with a formidable row of
empty ghee jars slung over the quarters of their vessels, elbowed
themselves into a permanent position in the front tier of craft in the
harbour, and by their superior capital, cunning, and influence soon
distanced all competitors."

"During the height of the fair, Berbera is a perfect Babel, in confusion
as in languages: no chief is acknowledged, and the customs of bygone days
are the laws of the place. Disputes between the inland tribes daily arise,
and are settled by the spear and dagger, the combatants retiring to the
beach at a short distance from the town, in order that they may not
disturb the trade. Long strings of camels are arriving and departing day
and night, escorted generally by women alone, until at a distance from the
town; and an occasional group of dusky and travel-worn children marks the
arrival of the slave Cafila from Hurrur and Efat."

"At Berbera, the Gurague and Hurrur slave merchant meets his correspondent
from Bussorah, Bagdad, or Bunder Abbas; and the savage Gidrbeersi
(Gudabirsi), with his head tastefully ornamented with a scarlet sheepskin
in lieu of a wig, is seen peacefully bartering his ostrich feathers and
gums with the smooth-spoken Banian from Porebunder, who prudently living
on board his ark, and locking up his puggree [4], which would infallibly
be knocked off the instant he was seen wearing it, exhibits but a small
portion of his wares at a time, under a miserable mat spread on the

"By the end of March the fair is nearly at a close, and craft of all
kinds, deeply laden, and sailing generally in parties of three and four,
commence their homeward journey. The Soori boats are generally the last to
leave, and by the first week in April, Berbera is again deserted, nothing
being left to mark the site of a town lately containing 20,000
inhabitants, beyond bones of slaughtered camels and sheep, and the
framework of a few huts, which is carefully piled on the beach in
readiness for the ensuing year. Beasts of prey now take the opportunity to
approach the sea: lions are commonly seen at the town well during the hot
weather; and in April last year, but a week after the fair had ended, I
observed three ostriches quietly walking on the beach." [5]

Of the origin of Berberah little is known. El Firuzabadi derives it, with
great probability, from two Himyar chiefs of Southern Arabia. [6] About
A.D. 522 the troops of Anushirwan expelled the Abyssinians from Yemen, and
re-established there a Himyari prince under vassalage of the Persian
Monarch. Tradition asserts the port to have been occupied in turns by the
Furs [7], the Arabs, the Turks, the Gallas, and the Somal. And its future
fortunes are likely to be as varied as the past.

The present decadence of Berberah is caused by petty internal feuds.
Gerhajis the eldest son of Ishak el Hazrami, seized the mountain ranges of
Gulays and Wagar lying about forty miles behind the coast, whilst Awal,
the cadet, established himself and his descendants upon the lowlands from
Berberah to Zayla. Both these powerful tribes assert a claim to the
customs and profits of the port on the grounds that they jointly conquered
it from the Gallas. [8] The Habr Awal, however, being in possession, would
monopolize the right: a blood feud rages, and the commerce of the place
suffers from the dissensions of the owners.

Moreover the Habr Awal tribe is not without internal feuds. Two kindred
septs, the Ayyal Yunis Nuh and the Ayyal Ahmed Nuh [9], established
themselves originally at Berberah. The former, though the more numerous,
admitted the latter for some years to a participation of profits, but when
Aden, occupied by the British, rendered the trade valuable, they drove out
the weaker sept, and declared themselves sole "Abbans" to strangers during
the fair. A war ensued. The sons of Yunis obtained aid of the Mijjarthayn
tribe. The sons of Ahmed called in the Habr Gerhajis, especially the Musa
Arrah clan, to which the Hajj Sharmarkay belongs, and, with his
assistance, defeated and drove out the Ayyal Yunis. These, flying from
Berberah, settled at the haven of Bulhar, and by their old connection with
the Indian and other foreign traders, succeeded in drawing off a
considerable amount of traffic. But the roadstead was insecure: many
vessels were lost, and in 1847 the Eesa Somal slaughtered the women and
children of the new-comers, compelling them to sue the Ayyal Ahmed for
peace. Though the feud thus ended, the fact of its having had existence
ensures bad blood: amongst these savages treaties are of no avail, and the
slightest provocation on either side becomes a signal for renewed

* * * * *

After this dry disquisition we will return, dear L., to my doings at

Great fatigue is seldom followed by long sleep. Soon after sunrise I
awoke, hearing loud voices proceeding from a mass of black face and tawny
wig, that blocked up the doorway, pressing forward to see their new
stranger. The Berberah people had been informed by the Donkey of our
having ridden from the Girhi hills in five days: they swore that not only
the thing was impossible, but moreover that we had never sighted Harar.
Having undergone the usual catechising with credit, I left the thatched
hat in which my comrades were living, and proceeded to inspect my
attendants and cattle. The former smiled blandly: they had acquitted
themselves of their trust, they had outwitted the Ayyal Ahmed, who would
be furious thereat, they had filled themselves with dates, rice, and
sugared tea--another potent element of moral satisfaction--and they
trusted that a few days would show them their wives and families. The End
of Time's brow, however, betrayed an _arriere pensee_; once more his
cowardice crept forth, and he anxiously whispered that his existence
depended upon my protection. The poor mules were by no means so easily
restored. Their backs, cut to the bone by the saddles, stood up like those
of angry cats, their heads drooped sadly, and their hams showed red marks
of the spear-point. Directing them to be washed in the sea, dressed with
cold-water bandages, and copiously fed, I proceeded to inspect the
Berberah Plain.

The "Mother of the Poor," as the Arabs call the place, in position
resembles Zayla. The town,--if such name can be given to what is now a
wretched clump of dirty mat-huts,--is situated on the northern edge of
alluvial ground, sloping almost imperceptibly from the base of the
Southern hills. The rapacity of these short-sighted savages has contracted
its dimensions to about one sixth of its former extent: for nearly a mile
around, the now desert land is strewed with bits of glass and broken
pottery. Their ignorance has chosen the worst position: _Mos Majorum_ is
the Somali code, where father built there son builds, and there shall
grandson build. To the S. and E. lies a saline sand-flat, partially
overflowed by high tides: here are the wells of bitter water, and the
filth and garbage make the spot truly offensive. Northwards the sea-strand
has become a huge cemetery, crowded with graves whose dimensions explain
the Somali legend that once there were giants in the land: tradition
assigns to it the name of Bunder Abbas. Westward, close up to the town,
runs the creek which forms the wealth of Berberah. A long strip of sand
and limestone--the general formation of the coast--defends its length from
the northern gales, the breadth is about three quarters of a mile, and the
depth varies from six to fifteen fathoms near the Ras or Spit at which
ships anchor before putting out to sea.

Behind the town, and distant about seven miles, lie the Sub-Ghauts, a bold
background of lime and sandstone. Through a broad gap called Duss Malablay
[10] appear in fine weather the granite walls of Wagar and Gulays, whose
altitude by aneroid was found to be 5700 feet above the level of the sea.
[11] On the eastward the Berberah plain is bounded by the hills of Siyaro,
and westwards the heights of Dabasenis limit the prospect. [12]

It was with astonishment that I reflected upon the impolicy of having
preferred Aden to this place.

The Emporium of Eastern Africa has a salubrious climate [13], abundance of
sweet water--a luxury to be "fully appreciated only after a residence at
Aden" [14]--a mild monsoon, a fine open country, an excellent harbour, and
a soil highly productive. It is the meeting-place of commerce, has few
rivals, and with half the sums lavished in Arabia upon engineer follies of
stone and lime, the environs might at this time have been covered with
houses, gardens, and trees.

The Eye of Yemen, to quote Carlyle, is a "mountain of misery towering
sheer up like a bleak Pisgah, with outlooks only into desolation, sand,
salt water, and despair." The camp is in a "Devil's Punchbowl," stiflingly
hot during nine months of the year, and subject to alternations of
sandstorm and Simum, "without either seed, water, or trees," as Ibn
Batutah described it 500 years ago, unproductive for want of rain,--not a
sparrow can exist there, nor will a crow thrive, [15]--and essentially
unhealthy. [156] Our loss in operatives is only equalled by our waste of
rupees; and the general wish of Western India is, that the extinct sea of
fire would, Vesuvius-like, once more convert this dismal cape into a
living crater.

After a day's rest--physical not spiritual, for the Somal were as usual
disputing violently about the Abbanship [17]--I went with my comrades to
visit an interesting ruin near the town. On the way we were shown pits of
coarse sulphur and alum mixed with sand; in the low lands senna and
colocynth were growing wild. After walking a mile south-south-east, from
present Berberah to a rise in the plain, we found the remains of a small
building about eight yards square divided into two compartments. It is
apparently a Mosque: one portion, the sole of which is raised, shows
traces of the prayer niche; the other might have contained the tomb of
some saint now obsolete, or might have been a fort to protect a
neighbouring tank. The walls are of rubble masonry and mud, revetted with
a coating of cement hard as stone, and mixed with small round pebbles.
[18] Near it is a shallow reservoir of stone and lime, about five yards by
ten, proved by the aqueduct, part of which still remains, to be a tank of
supply. Removing the upper slabs, we found the interior lined with a
deposit of sulphate of lime and choked with fine drift sand; the breadth
is about fifteen inches and the depth nine. After following it fifty yards
toward the hills, we lost the trace; the loose stones had probably been
removed for graves, and the soil may have buried the firmer portion.

Mounting our mules we then rode in a south-south-east direction towards
the Dubar Hills, The surface of the ground, apparently level, rises about
100 feet per mile. In most parts a soft sand overlying hard loam, like
work _en pise_, limestone and coralline; it shows evidences of inundation:
water-worn stones of a lime almost as compact as marble, pieces of quartz,
selenite, basalt, granite, and syenite in nodules are everywhere sprinkled
over the surface. [19] Here and there torrents from the hills had cut
channels five or six feet below the level, and a thicker vegetation
denoted the lines of bed. The growth of wild plants, scanty near the
coast, became more luxuriant as we approached the hills; the Arman Acacia
flourished, the Kulan tree grew in clumps, and the Tamarisk formed here
and there a dense thicket. Except a few shy antelope, [20] we saw no game.

A ride of seven or eight miles led us to the dry bed of a watercourse
overgrown with bright green rushes, and known to the people as Dubar Wena,
or Great Dubar. This strip of ground, about half a mile long, collects the
drainage of the hills above it: numerous Las or Pits, in the centre of the
bed, four or five feet deep, abundantly supply the flocks and herds.
Although the surface of the ground, where dry, was white with impure
nitre, the water tasted tolerably sweet. Advancing half a mile over the
southern shoulder of a coarse and shelly mass of limestone, we found the
other rushy swamp, called Dubar Yirr or Little Dubar. A spring of warm and
bitter water flowed from the hill over the surface to a distance of 400 or
500 yards, where it was absorbed by the soil. The temperature of the
sources immediately under the hill was 106 Fahr., the thermometer
standing at 80 in the air, and the aneroid gave an altitude of 728 feet
above the sea.

The rocks behind these springs were covered with ruins of mosques and
houses. We visited a little tower commanding the source; it was built in
steps, the hill being cut away to form the two lower rooms, and the second
story showed three compartments. The material was rubble and the form
resembled Galla buildings; we found, however, fine mortar mixed with
coarse gravel, bits of glass bottles and blue glazed pottery, articles now
unknown to this part of Africa. On the summit of the highest peak our
guides pointed out remains of another fort similar to the old Turkish
watchtowers at Aden.

About three quarters of a mile from the Little Dubar, we found the head of
the Berberah Aqueduct. Thrown across a watercourse apparently of low
level, it is here more substantially built than near the beach, and
probably served as a force pipe until the water found a fall. We traced
the line to a distance of ten yards, where it disappeared beneath the
soil, and saw nothing resembling a supply-tank except an irregularly
shaped natural pool. [21]

A few days afterwards, accompanied by Lieut. Herne, I rode out to inspect
the Biyu Gora or Night-running Water. After advancing about ten miles in a
south-east direction from Berberah, we entered rough and broken ground,
and suddenly came upon a Fiumara about 250 yards broad. The banks were
fringed with Brab and Tamarisk, the Daum palm and green rushes: a clear
sparkling and shallow stream bisected the sandy bed, and smaller branches
wandered over the surface. This river, the main drain of the Ghauts and
Sub-Ghauts, derives its name from the increased volume of the waters
during night: evaporation by day causes the absorption of about a hundred
yards. We found its temperature 73 Fahr. (in the air 78), and our people
dug holes in the sand instead of drinking from the stream, a proof that
they feared leeches. [22] The taste of the water was bitter and nauseous.

Following the course of the Biyu Gora through two low parallel ranges of
conglomerate, we entered a narrow gorge, in which lime and sandstone
abound. The dip of the strata is about 45 west, the strike north and
south. Water springs from under every stone, drops copiously from the
shelves of rock, oozes out of the sand, and bubbles up from the mould. The
temperature is exceedingly variable: in some places the water is icy cold,
in others, the thermometer shows 68 Fahr., in others, 101--the maximum,
when we visited it, being 126. The colours are equally diverse. Here, the
polished surface of the sandstone is covered with a hoar of salt and
nitre. [24] There, where the stream does not flow, are pools dyed
greenish-black or rust-red by iron sediment. The gorge's sides are a vivid
red: a peculiar creeper hangs from the rocks, and water trickles down its
metallic leaves. The upper cliffs are crowned with tufts of the dragon's-
blood tree.

Leaving our mules with an attendant, we began to climb the rough and rocky
gorge which, as the breadth diminishes, becomes exceedingly picturesque.
In one part, the side of a limestone hill hundreds of feet in height, has
slipped into the chasm, half filling it with gigantic boulders: through
these the noisy stream whirls, now falling in small cascades, then gliding
over slabs of sheet rock: here it cute grooved channels and deep basins
clean and sharp as artificial baths in the sandstone, there it flows
quietly down a bed of pure sparkling sand. The high hills above are of a
tawny yellow: the huge boulders, grisly white, bear upon their summits the
drift wood of the last year's inundation. During the monsoon, when a
furious torrent sweeps down from the Wagar Hills, this chasm must afford a
curiously wild spectacle.

Returning from a toilsome climb, we found some of the Ayyal Ahmed building
near the spot where Biyu Gora is absorbed, the usual small stone tower.
The fact had excited attention at Berberah; the erection was intended to
store grain, but the suspicious savages, the Eesa Musa, and Mikahil, who
hold the land, saw in it an attempt to threaten their liberties. On our
way home we passed through some extensive cemeteries: the tombs were in
good preservation; there was nothing peculiar in their construction, yet
the Somal were positive that they belonged to a race preceding their own.
Near them were some ruins of kilns,--comparatively modern, for bits of
charcoal were mixed with broken pieces of pottery,--and the oblong tracery
of a dwelling-house divided into several compartments: its material was
the sun-dried brick of Central Asia, here a rarity.

After visiting these ruins there was little to detain me at Berberah. The
town had become intolerable, the heat under a mat hut was extreme, the
wind and dust were almost as bad as Aden, and the dirt perhaps even worse.
As usual we had not a moment's privacy, Arabs as well as the Somal
assuming the right of walking in, sitting down, looking hard, chatting
with one another, and departing. Before the voyage, however, I was called
upon to compose a difficulty upon the subject of Abbanship. The Hammal had
naturally constituted his father-in-law, one Burhale Nuh, of the Ayyal
Gedid, protector to Lieut. Herne and myself. Burhale had proved himself a
rascal: he had been insolent as well as dishonest, and had thrown frequent
obstacles in his employer's way; yet custom does not permit the Abban to
be put away like a wife, and the Hammal's services entitled him to the
fullest consideration. On the other hand Jami Hasan, a chief and a doughty
man of the Ayyal Ahmed, had met me at Aden early in 1854, and had received
from me a ring in token of Abbanship. During my absence at Harar, he had
taken charge of Lieut. Stroyan. On the very morning of my arrival he came
to the hut, sat down spear in hand, produced the ring and claimed my
promise. In vain I objected that the token had been given when a previous
trip was intended, and that the Hammal must not be disappointed: Jami
replied that once an Abban always an Abban, that he hated the Hammal and
all his tribe, and that he would enter into no partnership with Burhale
Nuh:--to complicate matters, Lieut. Stroyan spoke highly of his courage
and conduct. Presently he insisted rudely upon removing his _protege_ to
another part of the town: this passed the limits of our patience, and
decided the case against him.

For some days discord raged between the rivals. At last it was settled
that I should choose my own Abban in presence of a general council of the
Elders. The chiefs took their places upon the shore, each with his
followers forming a distinct semicircle, and all squatting with shield and
spear planted upright in the ground. When sent for, I entered the circle
sword in hand, and sat down awaiting their pleasure. After much murmuring
had subsided, Jami asked in a loud voice, "Who is thy protector?" The
reply was, "Burhale Nuh!" Knowing, however, how little laconism is prized
by an East-African audience, I did not fail to follow up this answer with
an Arabic speech of the dimensions of an average sermon, and then
shouldering my blade left the circle abruptly. The effect was success. Our
wild friends sat from afternoon till sunset: as we finished supper one of
them came in with the glad tidings of a "peace conference." Jami had asked
Burhale to swear that he intended no personal offence in taking away a
_protege_ pledged to himself: Burhale had sworn, and once more the olive
waved over the braves of Berberah.

On the 5th February 1855, taking leave of my comrades, I went on board El
Kasab or the Reed--such was the ill-omened name of our cranky craft--to
the undisguised satisfaction of the Hammal, Long Guled, and the End of
Time, who could scarcely believe in their departure from Berberah with
sound skins. [25] Coasting with a light breeze, early after noon on the
next day we arrived at Siyaro, a noted watering-place for shipping, about
nineteen miles east of the emporium. The roadstead is open to the north,
but a bluff buttress of limestone rock defends it from the north-east
gales. Upon a barren strip of sand lies the material of the town; two
houses of stone and mud, one yet unfinished, the other completed about
thirty years ago by Farih Binni, a Mikahil chief.

Some dozen Bedouin spearmen, Mikahil of a neighbouring kraal, squatted
like a line of crows upon the shore to receive us as we waded from the
vessel. They demanded money in too authoritative a tone before allowing us
to visit the wells, which form their principal wealth. Resolved not to
risk a quarrel so near Berberah, I was returning to moralise upon the fate
of Burckhardt--after a successful pilgrimage refused admittance to Aaron's
tomb at Sinai--when a Bedouin ran to tell us that we might wander where we
pleased. He excused himself and his companions by pleading necessity, and
his leanness lent conviction to the plea.

The larger well lies close to the eastern wall of the dwelling-house: it
is about eighteen feet deep, one third sunk through ground, the other two
thirds through limestone, and at the bottom is a small supply of sweet
clear water, Near it I observed some ruined tanks, built with fine mortar
like that of the Berberah ruins. The other well lies about half a mile to
the westward of the former: it is also dug in the limestone rock. A few
yards to the north-east of the building is the Furzeh or custom-house,
whose pristine simplicity tempts me to describe it:--a square of ground
surrounded by a dwarf rubble enclosure, and provided with a proportional
mosque, a tabular block of coralline niched in the direction of Meccah. On
a little eminence of rock to the westward, rise ruined walls, said by my
companions to have been built by a Frank, who bought land from the Mikahil
and settled on this dismal strand.

Taking leave of the Bedouins; whose hearts were gladdened by a few small
presents, we resumed our voyage eastwards along the coast. Next morning,
we passed two broken pyramids of dark rock called Dubada Gumbar Madu--the
Two Black Hills. After a tedious day's sail, twenty miles in twenty-four
hours, the Captain of El Kasab landed us in a creek west of Aynterad. A
few sheep-boats lay at anchor in this "back-bay," as usual when the sea is
heavy at the roadstead; and the crews informed us that a body of Bedouins
was marching to attack the village. Abdy Mohammed Diban, proprietor of the
Aynterad Fort, having constituted me his protector, and remained at
Berberah, I armed my men, and ordering the Captain of the "Reed" to bring
his vessel round at early dawn, walked hurriedly over the three miles that
separated us from the place. Arrived at the fort, we found that Abdy's
slaves knew nothing of the reported attack. They received me, however,
hospitably, and brought a supper of their only provision, vile dates and
dried meat. Unwilling to diminish the scanty store, the Hammal and I but
dipped our hands in the dish: Long Guled and the End of Time, however,
soon cleared the platters, while abusing roundly the unpalatable food.
After supper, a dispute arose between the Hammal and one of the Habr Tul
Jailah, the tribe to whom the land belongs. The Bedouin, not liking my
looks, proposed to put his spear into me. The Hammal objected that if the
measure were carried out, he would return the compliment in kind. Ensued a
long dispute, and the listeners laughed heartily at the utter indifference
with which I gave ear. When it concluded, amicably as may be expected, the
slaves spread a carpet upon a coarse Berberah couch, and having again
vented their hilarity in a roar of laughter, left me to sleep.

We had eaten at least one sheep per diem, and mutton baked in the ship's
oven is delicious to the Somali mouth. Remained on board another dinner, a
circumstance which possibly influenced the weak mind of the Captain of the
"Reed." Awaking at dawn, I went out, expecting to find the vessel within
stone's throw: it was nowhere visible. About 8 A.M., it appeared in sight,
a mere speck upon the sea-horizon, and whilst it approached, I inspected
the settlement.

Aynterad, an inconsiderable place lying east-north-east of, and about
forty miles from, Berberah, is a favourite roadstead principally on
account of its water, which rivals that of Siyaro. The anchorage is bad:
the Shimal or north wind sweeps long lines of heavy wave into the open
bay, and the bottom is a mass of rock and sand-reef. The fifty sunburnt
and windsoiled huts which compose the settlement, are built upon a bank of
sand overlying the normal limestone: at the time when I visited it, the
male population had emigrated _en masse_ to Berberah. It is principally
supported by the slave trade, the Arabs preferring to ship their purchases
at some distance from the chief emporium. [26] Lieut. Herne, when he
visited it, found a considerable amount of "black bullion" in the market.

The fort of Aynterad, erected thirty years ago by Mohammed Diban, is a
stone and mud house square and flat-roofed, with high windows, an attempt
at crenelles, and, for some reason intelligible only to its own Vitruvius,
but a single bastion at the northern angle. There is no well, and the mass
of huts cluster close to the walls. The five guns here deposited by
Sharmarkay when expelled from Berberah, stand on the ground outside the
fort, which is scarcely calculated to bear heavy carronades: they are
unprovided with balls, but that is a trifle where pebbles abound.
Moreover, Abdy's slaves are well armed with matchlock and pistol, and the
Bedouin Tul Jailah [27] find the spear ineffectual against stone walls.
The garrison has frequently been blockaded by its troublesome neighbours,
whose prowess, however, never extended beyond preliminaries.

To allay my impatience, that morning I was invited into several huts for
the purpose of drinking sour milk. A malicious joy filled my soul, as
about noon, the Machiavellian Captain of the "Reed" managed to cast
anchor, after driving his crazy craft through a sea which the violent
Shimal was flinging in hollow curves foam-fringed upon the strand. I stood
on the shore making signs for a canoe. My desires were disregarded, as
long as decency admitted. At last, about 1 P.M., I found myself upon the

"Dawwir el farman,"--shift the yard!--I shouted with a voice of thunder.

The answer was a general hubbub. "He surely will not sail in a sea like
this?" asked the trembling Captain of my companions.

"He will!" sententiously quoth the Hammal, with a Burleigh nod.

"It blows wind--" remonstrated the Rais.

"And if it blew fire?" asked the Hammal with the air _goguenard_, meaning
that from the calamity of Frankish obstinacy there was no refuge.

A kind of death-wail arose, during which, to hide untimely laughter, I
retreated to a large drawer, in the stern of the vessel, called a cabin.
There my ears could distinguish the loud entreaties of the crew vainly
urging my attendants to propose a day's delay. Then one of the garrison,
accompanied by the Captain who shook as with fever, resolved to act
forlorn hope, and bring a _feu d'enfer_ of phrases to bear upon the
Frank's hard brain. Scarcely, however, had the head of the sentence been
delivered, before he was playfully upraised by his bushy hair and a handle
somewhat more substantial, carried out of the cabin, and thrown, like a
bag of biscuit, on the deck.

The case was hopeless. All strangers plunged into the sea,--the popular
way of landing in East Africa,--the anchor was weighed, the ton of sail
shaken out, and the "Reed" began to dip and rise in the yeasty sea
laboriously as an alderman dancing a polka.

For the first time in my life I had the satisfaction of seeing the Somal
unable to eat--unable to eat mutton. In sea-sickness and needless terror,
the captain, crew, and passengers abandoned to us all the baked sheep,
which we three, not being believers in the Evil Eye, ate from head to
trotters with especial pleasure. That night the waves broke over us. The
End of Time occupied himself in roaring certain orisons, which are reputed
to calm stormy seas: he desisted only when Long Guled pointed out that a
wilder gust seemed to follow as in derision each more emphatic period. The
Captain, a noted reprobate, renowned on shore for his knowledge of erotic
verse and admiration of the fair sex, prayed with fervour: he was joined
by several of the crew, who apparently found the charm of novelty in the
edifying exercise. About midnight a Sultan el Bahr or Sea-king--a species
of whale--appeared close to our counter; and as these animals are infamous
for upsetting vessels in waggishness, the sight elicited a yell of terror
and a chorus of religious exclamations.

On the morning of Friday, the 9th February 1855, we hove in sight of Jebel
Shamsan, the loftiest peak of the Aden Crater. And ere evening fell, I had
the pleasure of seeing the faces of friends and comrades once more.


[1] I cannot guess why Bartema decided "Barbara" to be an island, except
that he used "insula" in the sense of "peninsula." The town is at very
high tides flooded round, but the old traveller manifestly speaks of the

[2] These are the four martello towers erected, upon the spot where the
town of huts generally stands, by the Hajj Sharmarkay, who garrisoned them

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